WWE NXT Recap, July 5: Roderick Strong fights for the NXT Championship

credit: WWE.com
credit: WWE.com /

Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami team up before Bobby Roode defends his NXT Championship against Roderick Strong!

Perfect in Sanity

I had a feeling since SAnitY members Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain are trying to establish themselves as a legitimate tag team — rather than just two scary dudes I’d wet my pants if I saw on the street — they’d pick up the victory over Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami. I may have been correct about the result, but I specifically believed that it would be Itami who cost the team the win because of some selfish act that would cause him and Ohno to get into a conflict mid-match. It was quite the opposite that happened: Wolfe actually sacrificed himself after being nailed by an Itami GTS — after Dain made the hidden, backslap tag — so Dain could clean up the mess and propel them to victory.

It was a statement made by SAnitY, who could have a claim to a shot at the NXT Tag Team Championships against whoever wins at Takeover: Brooklyn, Heavy Machinery or Authors of Pain. Itami and Ohno probably won’t be teaming with each other anytime soon, but are still trying to find a way to get on the same page — not just as partners, but as friends. My mind is still set on these guys having a match together in Brooklyn, but it’s going to need to be caused by an even bigger blowout than just a loss to two tough guys who are in the same group as the super crazy Nikki Cross.

The Road to Asuka

We were privileged enough to get shown some highlights from last week’s barnburner of an NXT Women’s Championship match when Asuka was able to incapacitate Nikki Cross for 10 seconds in their Last Woman Standing match. Even though it wasn’t live, and I had already seen it, the moment where Asuka suplexed Cross off the ladder still made me cringe. These highlights were followed by an image of Asuka’s Instagram page, where she claimed to be taking time off from NXT until someone legitimately challenges her. She won’t have to wait very long.

Before the segment even started, we got to hear from Ember Moon, who has Asuka — specifically, the belt around Asuka’s waist — in her crosshairs. Since Moon was being interviewed at the WWE Performance Center, she was standing next to a ring that Ruby Riot happened to be training in. Riot told Moon that she already had her shot and that it was Riot herself who has the biggest claim to a title shot. Unlike Cross and Moon, Ruby Riot hasn’t competed against Asuka one-on-one, so it’s safe to say that Ember Moon’s road to another chance at the title will have a pretty big speed bump.

Not Strong Enough

It’s only fitting that NXT celebrated its 400th episode with Bobby Roode defending his NXT Championship against Roderick Strong. Roode has been champion since defeating Shinsuke Nakamura at Takeover: San Antonio, and hasn’t seriously been pushed to the brink in a match since winning the title. That is, until this week. Roderick Strong gave Bobby Roode every ounce of heart he had, and like all others who have tried, Strong proved that he is not the wrestler that Bobby Roode is.

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With Strong’s fiancé and mother ringside, the circumstances were set up for him to have potentially the most … um… glorious night of his life.

For a while, it seemed like Strong was going to put away the champion, and he almost did so on a couple occasions. The most upsetting moment was when Strong covered Roode for what was no doubt going to be for the win, but Roode barely (barely) got his foot under the bottom rope. After celebrating, Strong was hit by reality, and then by two Glorious DDTs for the pinfall.

In back-to-back weeks, we’ve gotten two Match of the Year candidates on NXT. With still over a month until Takeover: Brooklyn, there’s lots of room for further storytelling. Perhaps then will be Roode’s time to lose the belt. It definitely wasn’t this week.