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The August 8 episode of NXT brought with it the worst-kept secret in wrestling: the official announcement of Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn.
It also featured the debut of Keith Lee, action from Kassius Ohno and Nikki Cross and a Mae Young Classic Qualifying match.
Find out who emerged victorious and what it means for the brand’s long- and short-term futures with this recap of the WWE Network presentation.
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Nikki Cross returned to action to kick off the night’s action, squaring off against former Impact Wrestling star Amber Nova.
Cross granted Nova a clean break in the corner. When Nova shoved her, Cross answered with a flurry.
Nova fought out and seized control, trapping Cross in a straight jacket submission. Cross recovered, delivered a high cross body block and scored the win off a swinging neckbreaker.
Cross defeated Nova
Cross seems lost in the shuffle with NXT and at this point, would be better served joining Sanity on the main roster.
Nova was hardly competition and there is no way she re-enters the women’s division with the backlog of talent all vying for the top spot.
It is time for her to move on.
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Kassius Ohno battled Adrian Jaoude in singles competition Wednesday.
Ohno unloaded early, even hitting his running senton.
Jaoude recovered and delivered a side suplex that momentarily grounded the veteran competitor.
Ohno answered with his discus forearm to score the win.
Ohno defeated Jaoude
Other than giving Ohno another dominant victory over a low-level talent, what did this accomplish?
Ohno has had too many high-profile matches to suddenly take a step back into enhancement bouts. Like Nikki Cross, he is due a change of scenery.
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Keith Lee made his NXT debut Wednesday, battling Marcel Barthel.
Lee threw an impressive dropkick that drew a big pop from the NXT faithful but Marcel answered with a knee to the face. With Lee tied up in the ropes, Barthel delivered a dropkick that allowed him to take control of the bout.
Lee eventually fought out, delivered a pounce and finished Barthel with a fireman’s carry into a jackhammer.
Lee defeated Barthel
Lee is going to be a huge star for NXT in the near future. Fans got a taste of his physical style here and even if his pounce in this match was not as pretty as one would have hoped for, it does not take away from the fact that the NXT faithful will have plenty of reason to be excited for the star well beyond TakeOver: Brooklyn IV.
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Vanessa Borne answered Taynara Conti’s early judo throw with an aggressive, intense attack that also featured some trash talking including her insistence that she belongs in the tournament, not the Brazilian.
A missed elbow drop allowed Conti to fight her way back into the match.
A series of kicks and a belly-to-belly suplex from Conti. Borne, defiant, slapped Conti and paid for it.
The Brazilian jujitsu specialist scored the win moments later.
Conti defeated Borne
This was not a pretty match and the outcome was confusing given the video packages that have aired spotlighting Borne while Conti has been a non-factor on NXT television for months.
Why she was given the nod for entry into the Mae Young Classic when Borne has been in televised matches against top stars is a question only officials can answer.
Not the greatest advertisement for the upcoming women’s tournament.
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Before the main event pitting Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black could get started, Tommaso Ciampa rushed the ring and drew a no contest finish.
After the match, all hell broke loose, with Black leveling both Gargano and Ciampa. The former champion clubbed away at Gargano before referees showed up and pulled the competitors away from each other.
General manager William Regal arrived on the scene and officially announced a Triple Threat match for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV.
All this segment did was confirm the main event we all suspected from the get-go.
Unfortunately, a recent injury suffered by Black may force him out of the match and ensure Gargano vs. Ciampa headlines a third consecutive TakeOver.
Which is a disappointing because the dynamic is certainly there for an explosive, unforgettable main event match.