1/24 Moore’s NXT Live TV Review: Johnny Gargano puts his NXT Title shot on the line against Velveteen Dream, Cezar Bononi vs. No Way Jose, final show before NXT Takeover: Philadelphia

By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped January 4 in Atlanta, Georgia at Center Stage

NXT Started off with Velveteen Dream Patrick Clark building up an environment with a blue screen. Dream talked about how everyone dreams of being NXT Champion one day. Dream talked about everyone experiencing different paths. Dream said Gargano dreams of one day becoming NXT Champ. Dream said he doesn’t doubt in Gargano, but it’s not yet. Gargano said that’s because you have a choice between Gargano and Velveteen Dream. Dream talked about how Gargano is tainted with doubt while Dream is pure. Dream said Gargano’s dream will be over. The NXT Theme played…

Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in from Center Stage as No Way Jose made his return to action on NXT…

1. No Way Jose vs. Cezar Bononi. Mauro talked about how Bononi is a pioneer in Brazil by helping bring American Football to Brazil. Percy talked about him being extremely tall. Bononi took down Jose early with a shoulder tackle. Jose came back with one of his own. No Way caught Bononi with a surprise atomic drop. Bononi slammed down No Way’s head and hit a dropkick. The Crowd tried to fire up Jose with “Jose No Way” chants. Bononi executed some strikes which led to a clunky pumphandle slam. Nigel credited the clunkyness to Jose’s size/height.

No Way hulked out of a headlock and hit a swinging neckbreaker on Bononi. No Way fired up with axe handles and a power slam. No Way hit his finisher the popup punch for the win.

No Way Jose defeated Cezar Bononi via pinfall in 3:17.

Percy Watson was advertised for an interview between Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon. The gothic video package for Adam Cole and Aleister Black played. The clip included highlights and Latin choir music…

John’s Thoughts: A little bit of ring rust from No Way and he did seem a bit out of shape compared to where he was before missing action, but Jose still is very charismatic and a solid ring worker. He might be in for an extended stint in NXT to rebuild himself.

Percy Watson thanked Asking Alexandria for providing the music for the NXT Takeover show this weekend. Bianca BelAir made her entrance.

2. Bianca BelAir vs. Latoya. BelAir dominated with the strength advantage early in the match. Mauro noted BelAir’s good showing in The Mae young Classic where she was eliminated by the winner of the tournament. Latoya went for a headscissors but it was countered into a backbreaker by BelAir. Latoya tried to get in some shoot roundhouses but BelAir countered into a modified Full Nelson hold. BelAir converted the Nelson into a modified Glam Slam. Latoya came back with a feint kick. Bianca caught her mid air with her hair whip. BelAir hit the reverse power bomb to pick up the win.

Bianca BelAir defeated Latoya via pinfall in 3:33. 

BelAir danced around with her hair whip as Nigel went over the highlights.

John’s Thoughts: Bianca BelAir continues to impress with her superhuman strength that’s unexpected from not having the muscular look. She does stall a bit more than she should but that’s probably a bit of the inexperience showing. That will develop itself in time but here’s hoping she develops well before moving to the next tier of competition.

Percy Watson introduced Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon in a pre-Takeover backstage interview face-off. Ember Moon blamed Baszler for over compensating by attacking people out of nowhere like Dakota Kai. Percy Watson agreed and tried to get more info from Baszler. Baszler smirked and said it’s not about her victims, it was about stirring water to catch fish and Moon is the big fish. Ember Moon talked about there being a code of respect in NXT. Moon said if Shayna becomes NXT women’s champion she’ll get a small glimpse at that respect, but she’s not winning at Takeover. Baszler said Moon was right. Baszler gave a patronizing congratulations. Baszler said no one knows Baszlers’s path because it was just as hard as Moon’s. Baszler said at takeover she was going to walk away with Moon’s dreams. Baszler said she doesn’t care about what the NXT Universe thinks of her journey or who she is, they just have to get used to it…[C]

John’s Thoughts: That was the first extended promo from Baszler and I have to say it was very impressive. She enhanced Ember Moon as a sympathetic figure while also coming off as a patronizing bully who can back up what she says. She has that “it” and it shows. Ember Moon isn’t killing it on the mic, but she’s much improved as champion and that documentary did a good job putting heat behind her.

It was time for Part 2 of the TM-61 documentary. Shane Thorne yelled that TM-61 was supposed to represent an actual missile but everyone keeps pointing out that it’s a “Pokemon Thing”. Shane said you shouldn’t point out that you know that it’s a Pokemon thing.

John’s Thoughts: Sadly, I admit that I know it as a Pokemon thing. It’s Will-o-wisp the Technical Machine 61 I think. Damn me and my minor otakuism.

They showed highlights of TM-61 arriving in NXT while having fun with Tom Philips. The next part of the doc focused on the Dusty Rhodes classic. Thorne talked about injuring himself in a match against Roderick Strong and how he felt like he injured himself during a double footstomp.

John’s Thoughts: Random fact, I was in attendance at this San Jose taping where Roderick’s partner was injured with a serious eye injury too. That partner was Austin Aries and his injury happened before that taping. I had no idea Thorne got injured so I’m curious to look at my report back then.

They cut to TM-61 vs. Authors of Pain in the finals with Paul Ellering in a shark cage. The next part was the injury angle that they ran with The Revival. Shane was shown in a hospital bed where he was given a seven months low end recovery time. Thorne said he thanks the revival for helping him overcome a weakness. They showed them comically botching promos. Miller talked about their other name “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” and how it was something they believe in. Corey Graves talked about them being funny and charismatic while also having a sexy accent. Harley cut a promo for TM-61 and said they wlll be the very best. Nigel McGuinness hyped up their return to the ring for next week’s taped show from Philidelphia…

John’s Thoughts: Another great NXT documentary and they gave the viewers what I originally said they had to  which was to exhibit Shane Thorne’s quirky personality and he showed that he is quite character. Nick Miller is also a great wrestler but he does lack from the character department, but that can be fixed in a few months. That’s what developmental is for right?

The Authors of Pain made their entrance as their enhancement victims were already in the ring. The Authors attacked the enhancement guys before the bell rang and decimated them with ease. An Author yelled in the microphone and said “This is You” to the undisputed era. He cut a promo in a foreign language. The other one with the heavy accent said “it’s your turn”. The Authors hit the Super Collider on the jobbers. Mauro said this scene was shades of the Road Warriors with Paul Ellering as the common link… [C]

Mauro thanked Asking Alexandria for providing both of the bumper themes for NXT  Takeover. Mauro advertised Nikki Cross vs. the newly turned heel Lacy Evans for next week’s Philadelphia taped show…

Gargano made his entrance first to a strong reaction. Velveteen Dream Patrick Clark came out next. Dream wore a red Johnny Wrestling t shirt which was cut up in a fashionable way…

3. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream with Gargano’s NXT Title shot on the line.  A loud dueling “Johnny Wrestling” and “Velveteen” chant ensued. The two men had a MMA chain wrestling sequence to start of the match. Gargano dominated with a high guard. Dream countered into the rear guard. Dream and Gargano had an old school amateur wrestling sequence. Dream paused the action by doing his pose while also taunting Dream. Gargano pulled Dream in and locked in the GarganNo Escape. Dream broke the finisher with a rope break. [C]

Dream laid in a strike on the jaw of Gargano back from the break. Dream struck his pose on the apron and was dropkicked into the broadcast table. Gargano flew at Dream with a cannonball senton. Gargano went for his slingshot spear but Dream countered into a swinging neckbreaker. Dream targeted the back of Gargano in his next sequence of strikes. Dream yelled at Gargano that he doesn’t deserve the spot meant for Velveteen Dream. Gargano fought out of a neckbreaker and turned it into a back slide attempt. Dream tossed Gargano outside for a brief respite.

Dream went high risk and teased a high impact move but drew boos when he pulled the exciting move away from the crowd. Great heat with people yelling “you suck velveteen”. Gargano fought back with knife edge chops. Dream came back with a back suplex on the ring apron. [C]

Gargano had the advantage back from the break. Gargano caught Dream with an enziguri and a Listo kick. Gargano hit Dream with a Tornado Paydirt to get a nearfall. Gargano was a step ahead of Dream’s offense with counters for every move.  Gargano returned a Dream superkick with a follow-through lariat. A “fight forever” chant ensued. Dream went for his signature cartwheel DVD. Gargano reversed it. Dream blocked the La Mistica into a twisting reverse neckbreaker. Mauro and McGuinness sold that Gargano was close to losing his main event at Takeover with the subsequent nearfall. Nigel said it’s hard not to be biased in favor of Gargano.

Gargano tripped Dream off the top rope to prevent the Purple Rainmaker. Gargano caught Dream with a suicide dive. Dream ended up crotching Johnny Gargano off the top turnbuckle. Dream hit a Super Attitude Adjustment on Johnny Gargano leading to a great nearfall. Dream sold an elbow injury which prevented him from hitting his finisher elbow drop. Gargano caught Dream with the Superkick leading to the GarganNo Escape. Dream quickly tapped out with the injured elbow arm.

Johnny Gargano defeated Velveteen Dream via submission in 12:30 to retain his NXT Takeover title shot. 

Mauro talked about how you should never doubt the heart of Gargano. Nigel noted Dream’s injured elbow costing him the ending sequence of the match. Suddenly, El Idolo Andrade Cien Almas made his entrance with his title belt and business partner Zelina Vega. Almas and Vega smirked at the ring while slowly making their way to confront the challenger. Mauro said Almas is treating Gargano like a joke with his body language.

Almas tried to get in a cheap shot but Gargano returned the favor with punches of his own. Almas still dominated the exchange and tossed out Gargano while looking strong in the center of the ring. Almas soaked up the boos while Almas held up his title belt. Gargano slowly mad it to the apron and caught Almas with a surprise feint kick and slingshot DDT. Mauro noted that the slingshot DDT gave Gargano the win over Aleister Black. Zelina Vega was yelling and livid at ringside as Gargano held the title belt and stared at it in the center of the ring. A “you deserve it” chant ensued for Gargano. Gargano held up the title to cheers as Vega was yelling and point at ringside…

John’s Thoughts: As expected with Dream raising the bar at the last Takeover, this match didn’t disappoint. Personally, I’m a bit disappointed that there were so many commercials because these two men were telling a great story. Gargano is the ultimate babyface of WWE and the master of the hope spot. Dream, ever since I saw his match in San Jose against Oney Lorcan (the night TM-61 referenced in their documentary) I saw that Dream had great instincts and psychology. Here’s hoping we get a chance to see this match again sometime down the road and it can happen with Dream having the out of being injured.

The post match stuff was simple and nothing new, but that’s not saying that simple isn’t effective. It was solid and what they should have done to hype up the upcoming Takeover title match. The only thing missing was a face-to-face interview to set this match up similar to what they did with Baszler and Moon; but I feel that Takeover is creeping up too fast as a few more months of build wouldn’t have hurt. The main roster should take notes on how to build a weekly compelling show while satisfying viewers without hotshot booking, but rather consistent storytelling. As I continue to push, NXT is the best weekly show on television and they aren’t overexposing the viewers to diminishing returns but developing and enhancing characters and storylines. I’ll be by tomorrow with my NXT Audio Review and this weekend with live NXT Takeover coverage as the show is airing.


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