Episode: NXT #228
Recorded: 03 December 2016 (Osaka, Japan)
Aired: 28 December 2016
Match duration: 17:25 minutes (plus one commercial break)

Match analysis

Johnny Gargano and Akira Tozawa started things off against each other for their respective teams. Both men took their time to soak in the atmosphere and let the crowd chant for their favourites. When they locked horns for the first time, both men tried to wear the other down and Akira Tozawa did first with Johnny Gargano. But that just resulted in a bit of fast-paced grappling with a following stand-off.

For the second time, both men instantly went for the arms. And Akira Tozawa again had the better standing, doing good arm work on Johnny Gargano that brought the man down to the mat. But soon enough Johnny Gargano jumped free, brought down Akira Tozawa himself and did his trademark Johnny Wrestling posing in the centre of the ring.

And Johnny Gargano also got the following body slam. But Akira Tozawa countered with a body slam of his own plus a centon. Johnny Gargano was able to counter into a cover and the fast-paced showing continued with a few shoves, runs and nearly kicks to a second stand-off that resulted in applause from the audience and double taps to the other two participants in this match.

Now, Tommaso Ciampa and Tajiri circled each other. And Tajiri used this moment of peace to mist the air above himself. Tommaso Ciampa wasn’t pleased and called for the referee to check on Tajiri’s mouth. But he had to continue regardless while Tajiri smiled. What a lovely scene!

When both men finally connected, Tommaso Ciampa went for Tajiri’s left arm but wasn’t able to get the upper hand. After a short break-up, both men connected again. And this time Tajiri went for Tommaso Ciampa’s left, then right arm. He gained control when he brought Tommaso Ciampa down to the mat. Tajiri added a head lock to the punishment. But Tommaso Ciampa was able to get back up from this, pushing Tajiri against the ropes and with second try, shoved him down to the mat. Then, they almost did the same sequence as Johnny Gargano and Akira Tozawa before with the body slam and the quick head lock.

Tommaso Ciampa went for Tajiri furiously after another short stand-off but Tajiri countered and brought Tommaso Ciampa down, went for his left arm again and tagged back in Akira Tozawa. Tajiri kept holding Tommaso Ciampa’s left arm, so Akira Tozawa jumped on it to make Tommaso Ciampa suffer even more.

Now, Akira Tozawa kicked Tommaso Ciampa on his back and chest. But then he went too far for Tommaso Ciampa’s liking because he made it obvious not liking to be grabbed by the butt with several elbow strikes to Akira Tozawa’s back. He continued to work on Akira Tozawa’s left arm. And finally tagged back in Johnny Gargano.

The man took over the left arm from Akira Towaza, turned it around and around and pushed his opponent into the corner of #DIY for a quick tag back in to Tommaso Ciampa. Then, Johnny Gargano pushed Akira Tozawa right into the turnbuckles again, so he would stay there. Then, both #DIY guys came for Akira Tozawa, Tommaso Ciampa inside the ring with the high knee, Johnny Gargano on the apron with a superkick. Classic #DIY tag team action already.

And Tommaso Ciampa tried to use the damage from that double team move by hitting another suplex on Akira Tozawa and bridging into a cover. But Akira Tozawa kicked out.

Tommaso Ciampa went straight back to Akira Tozawa’s left arm while the man was still lying on the mat. But Akira Tozawa got his right leg to the ropes, so Tommaso Ciampa had to let go. To avoid this sort of break again, Tommaso Ciampa got Akira Tozawa back in the centre of the ring and continued his handiwork on his opponent’s left arm. Akira Tozawa tried to fight back with punches against Tommaso Ciampa’s chest but the latter countered with knee kicks.

But when Tommaso Ciampa went for another high profile move, Akira Tozawa countered again, put Tommaso Ciampa into a quick cover and kicked him to the head. He then placed Tommaso Ciampa for the cover but thought otherwise a moment later by tagging Tajiri back in. Together they pushed Tommaso Ciampa against the ropes for momentum, hit a double team suplex on him, then Akira Tozawa a centon and afterwards Tajiri couldn’t get enough from covering Tommaso Ciampa. In the end he got three one-counts and two two-counts and left out his frustration from it with a kick to the head of Tommaso Ciampa. With an elbow strike to his head, Tajiri kept Tommaso Ciampa down. But he got him back up, tagged Akira Tozawa back in and held Tommaso Ciampa’s arm trapped for a kick from Akira Tozawa.

Right here we went to the commercial break. After it, Tommaso Ciampa and Akira Tozawa were still in the ring, the latter obviously with the upper hand. Because Tommaso Ciampa was sitting on the mat and just got kicked in the back by Akira Tozawa. But Tommaso Ciampa let the Sicilian Psychopath out by demanding more punishment. A great slap-fest followed that was highly entertaining and enjoyable.

But all good things must come to an end, so Akira Tozawa finally surprised Tommaso Ciampa with a big right land to his head. And Tommaso Ciampa stumbling back into the far right corner where he got kicked into the chest and pushed into the opposite near left corner. But Tommaso Ciampa avoided another vicious attack by catching Akira Tozawa and hitting him into a backbreaker. From the following cover, Akira Tozawa kicked out though.

Rather quickly, Tommaso Ciampa dragged Akira Tozawa into the corner of #DIY, tagged in Johnny Gargano and put his opponent into a kneebar for Johnny Gargano to kick him into his back. Now Johnny Gargano worked on Akira Tozawa’s body with kicks and elbow strikes plus finally hit another backbreaker on him. But Akira Tozawa kicked out of the following cover.

Johnny Gargano then put Akira Tozawa into an arm stretch. And when his opponent wiggled free from it, Johnny Gargano let his fists rain down on Akira Tozawa’s body. Johnny Gargano brought his opponent to a standing position again but Akira Tozawa hit back from it. Johnny Gargano used his elbows on his opponent’s back and was then pushed into the far right corner. Akira Tozawa run for Johnny Gargano but got his boots in the face, but then countered again when Johnny Gargano tried to hit a cross body on him from the second turnbuckle by letting him land on his knees. Johnny Gargano was able to tag in Tommaso Ciampa though, and he punched Tajiri from the apron before Akira Tozawa could reach out for him.

And Akira Tozawa now had to suffer from a rampant Tommaso Ciampa who first put his opponent into the far right corner to push his own body against him for several times. But after he pushed Akira Tozawa into the opposite corner, he got a pump kick to his face. And that was finally enough for Akira Tozawa to get Tajiri tagged back in. Tommaso Ciampa wasn’t so lucky, so he had to take three vicious kicks by Tajiri. When Tommaso Ciampa tried to counter by pushing Tajiri against the ropes, the man got into a handstand and used the momentum from the ropes for throwing his whole body against Tommaso Ciampa. Classic Tajiri!

Johnny Gargano wanted to help but was also kicked in the face by Tajiri, so he rolled out to the right. Tommaso Ciampa missed with a lariat and got kicked in the face again – possibly for trying. From the following cover though, Tommaso Ciampa kicked out. Tommaso Ciampa also tried to roll out to the right while Tajiri tagged in Akira Tozawa who got Tajiri some momentum for him to kick out both of their opponents with another handstand. Then Tajiri also went outside the ring to prepare both opponents for the flying Akira Tozawa. He connects and immediately afterwards went into the ring again for a suicide dive onto Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. Crowd was at their feet!

While Akira Tozawa had to recollect himself for a moment, Tajiri grabbed Tommaso Ciampa as the legal man and shoved him back into the ring. Akira Tozawa then followed, heated up the audience and run Tommaso Ciampa into the near left corner. A suplex followed but Tommaso Ciampa kicked out of the cover.

I’m not sure what Akira Tozawa tried next with hugging Tommaso Ciampa from behind. Also from the look on Johnny Gargano’s face, he was wondering the same. Tommaso Ciampa though freed himself from it by elbow strikes and tagged in Johnny Gargano who re-introduced himself to Akira Tozawa with a spear through the ropes. But Akira Tozawa kicked out.

Johnny Gargano then grabbed on Akira Tozawa and announced a brain buster but instead was shoved into the Japanese corner. Tajiri tagged himself in and let his fist rain onto Johnny Gargano while Akira Tozawa trapped him there. When he was able to, Johnny Gargano hit back with elbow strikes but Tajiri came up with another hard kick. Johnny Gargano was able to push Tajiri against the near left corner though but when he went for him again, couldn’t avoid being trapped into Tajiri’s Tarantula. After the break-up, Tajiri missed with a kick but Johnny Gargano connected with a kick from a sitting position. From the following cover though, Tajiri kicked out. When both men were almost up again, Johnny Gargano was about to go at Tajiri but the man crawled through his legs to tag in Akira Tozawa.

Akira Tozawa now initially missed with a pump kick but when he finally met with Johnny Gargano in the centre of the ring, both men exchanged several elbow strikes until Johnny Gargano hit his opponent with a drop kick. Then he tagged in Tommaso Ciampa. Akira Tozawa missed with an enziguri but grabbed Johnny Gargano from behind. Tommaso Ciampa dragged his tag team partner from their opponent, so he was able to roll out of the ring. Now it was Tommaso Ciampa who grabbed Akira Tozawa from behind for hitting two German suplexes on him. He wasn’t successful at his third attempt though but the counter by Akira Tozawa was short lived, since Tommaso Ciampa got a roll-up cover from which Akira Tozawa kicked out though.

Now Akira Tozawa returned the favour on Tommaso Ciampa with a snap German suplex. And when Johnny Gargano entered the ring to help his partner, he got one for himself. And Johnny Gargano left the ring immediately. Then Akira Tozawa demonstrated his strength once again by hugging Tommaso Ciampa from behind, lifted him and suplexed him into a bridging cover. And this time Johnny Gargano had to interfere to save his team.

Also Tajiri joined in now to even the numbers and went straight for the leg of Johnny Gargano. The latter missed with a drop kick, Tajiri missed with a kick himself. But then Johnny Gargano connected with a superkick from which Tajiri rolled out of the ring. But also Johnny Gargano had to leave the ring after he was hit by a pump kick of Akira Tozawa.

As the legal men, Tommaso Ciampa and Akira Tozawa were alone in the ring again. Tommaso Ciampa went for the lariat but missed and instead got grabbed from behind by his opponent. He made it to the ropes though and avoided another suplex. But Akira Tozawa couldn’t miss with his pump kick. Then Tommaso Ciampa tried again with the lariat and this time he turned Akira Tozawa inside out. From the following Project Ciampa, he also got a cover that only Tajiri was able to break.

Finally there were This is awesome chants from the audience in Osaka, Japan at this point. Tajiri was fast with getting up again, and he went for Tommaso Ciampa. But he got thrown out of the ring. From the little distraction though, Akira Tozawa got a roll-up cover on Tommaso Ciampa. But the man kicked out.

Tommaso Ciampa now tagged in Johnny Gargano and then went straight for Tajiri to kick him, so he wasn’t able to interfere. Akira Tozawa meanwhile had been running towards Tommaso Ciampa but got kicked in the face by Johnny Gargano. Akira Tozawa stumbled in the centre of the ring while Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa announced, prepared for and executed their finisher. Johnny Gargano as the legal man got the cover and the win for his team.

Winner: #DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano)


Every single time when I watch NXT, I hope that Corey Graves isn’t on commentary. Please, WWE officials, take him off that show and draft him to all other WWE shows possible. I wouldn’t care about the WWE shows like I don’t care now. But I would be highly pleased if someone else would take this man’s seat. And the commentary to this very match just is one example. The man rants on and on. But it’s not funny any more. It never has been funny. Because there is no variation, just the same old stuff on and on. He’s like a wrestler who only knows two moves and exaggerates them to death. So, please draft him away from NXT or sit him down for lessons or even better: take him off commentary completely. The man takes off a lot of enjoyment from the very matches that I like. So, there are times when I turn off the volume. But there is still the crowd’s reaction that I miss this way. And so, I have to listen to him. Until you take him off. Please! I beg you!!

Because this very match had been highly enjoyable, apart from the commentary. It was great to see Tajiri in this tag team action. He’s still great, on and off the mat. Already legendary status does have his interaction with William Regal once in a while that William Regal kindly shares on Twitter. I only need to say: Spam! and you know what I’m talking about. The man is a legend. And together with young Akira Tozawa against my current favourite tag team by several miles, this was simply a great match to watch.


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