For a more detailed recap, check our live blog here.
Keith Lee ends a squash of Fidel Bravo with the Super Nova. Highlights of Shayna Baszler’s successful defense of the NXT Women’s title are shown, and the post-match interview where she declares she’s unstoppable with Marina Shafir & Jessamyn Duke at her side is played. The pre-show set-up of Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno airs, followed by Riddle’s knockout and post-match interview.
– NXT should use legit jobbers more often. That way they resist the temptation to give an undercard act they’ve got signed to the Performance Center roster a minute of offense against the big free agent acquisition they’re building up. We should have seen stuff like this before Lee was on-screen selling for Marcel Barthel and Kona Reeves.
Anyway, this was fun. The Limitless One looked like a star, and Bravo hammed it up in a way that maximized his minutes (somebody must like him, because he was brought back on Tuesday to put over the Akira Tozawa & Brian Kendrick team on 205 Live).
– Had already forgotten the “was Kairi Sane’s shoulder up on the third and deciding pinfall?” angle which was brought up on Triple H’s post-show interview with Cathy Kelley, and the replay here shows it definitely was. This video also backs Haitch’s explanation that Drake Wuertz wouldn’t have been able to see that shoulder from where he was counting. I’m ready to move on from the Sane/Baszler rivalry for a while (after a trios match with Io Shirai & Dakota Kai on the Pirate Princess’ team), but that’s a well-executed way to keep it going, should they choose to.
– Pretty sure a post-TakeOver special has never aired the entire set-up for a match and then the complete match before. But then, they’ve never set-up and delivered a match in five minutes at a TakeOver before. And, hey, they did promise Riddle vs. Ohno would be on this episode…
Lars Sullivan squashes Keita Murray, pinning him after a Freak Accident. He grabs a mic to say that will continue to happen to others until her gets a title shot. A follow-up assault on Murray is stopped by Lee, who runs in to pounce Lars out of the ring. After “Exclusive Footage” of Aleister Black’s victory over Johnny Gargano, we see a new post-match clip where Black has a brief, silent run-in with Candice LeRae.
– Another well executed enhancement match, not that Sullivan needs one at this point. This should be a good way for the Loquacious Leviathan to leave and put over another big man on his way out, although I still question how quickly he’ll move to Raw or SmackDown. Very much enjoyed the brief tussle with Lee, because it means there’s a hoss fight a’coming and because…
I will also often, but not always, shamelessly plug my own social media while filling space in a review of a TakeOver “aftermath”.
– Speaking of which… I usually question who (other than the fans in countries where this show airs on television) is watching these post-TakeOver episodes. I mean, if you have the Network or Hulu for them, why aren’t you just watching TakeOver? But I really dug the two “Exclusive Footage” packages. This one on Black/Gargano because some of the dramatic elements I found to be laid on a bit too thick while watching live flow better in this format.
– One fresh piece of material we got in the episode was the tense non-verbal exchange between Candice & Aleister. This is twice now we’ve been presented with a callback to their friend/partnership during the Almas/Vega feud. Where’s it going, though? Since it’s not leading to LeRae vs. Black, I still really want a mixed tag between the Garganos and Aleister & Nikki.
Tommaso Ciampa’s successful title defense against Velveteen Dream is recapped, and officials keep Lee & Sullivan apart while they shout at each other backstage. We’re told this screaming match led to General Manager William Regal setting up a real match between the two for next week. Pete Dunne, Ricochet & War Raiders’ victory over Undisputed ERA in WarGames gets the “Exclusive Footage” treatment. Nikki Cross def. Candice LeRae via pinfall with a rope hung spinning neckbreaker, after Candice’s anger seems to get the better of her.
– If you’re like me and really weren’t feeling the WarGames match at TakeOver, give this version a shot. Like the package for Aleister absolving Johnny of his sins, the “Exclusive Footage” look at WarGames was an entertaining way to take in the match. In this presentation, we’re not waiting forever to get to “the match beyond”. And we don’t have to sit through the set-up stretches for some of the admittedly impressive spots they pulled off.
– Our main event was a solid enough affair that existed mostly to raise questions about what’s going on with Candice. She came out in her colorful cupcake gear to the usual music, but immediately displayed an edge. LeRae had no time for Nikki’s “play time” antics, and her desire to push the pace cost her a few times throughout the match, including at the end.
Cross winning took me by surprise a bit, although there’s a symmetry to both the Wrestlings losing in Staples Center as a result of giving in to the dark side. The big deal the announcers made about Candice kicking out of Nikki’s finisher was supposed to build her up even in defeat… but I honestly didn’t know no one had kicked out of the Purge until now, so it’s not quite as impressive as it could have been.
Mostly, other than the aforementioned mixed tag, I’m still hoping this leads to something for LeRae. And I mean Candice, not Mrs. Gargano. This is not a new hope, of course. We’ve seen some positive signs in the past, and she is getting more screen time and matches. But her story is still at best a spin-off and at worst a supporting role in her hubby’s.
And since I didn’t talk enough about her, I’d like to close by say, “Nikki Cross rocks”.
These “aftermath” gimmicks are hard to grade, and I’m always tempted to just not rate them. Instead, we’ll call it down the middle. There are worse ways to spend your time (looking at you, Raw) but you could also watch a clip or two and be ready for next week’s show from San Jose & the start of the road to Phoenix.