By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired January 9, 2019 on WWE Network
Taped January 3, 2019 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson were on commentary. Percy hyped up a “Double Main Event” with EC3 vs. Adam Cole and Bianca Belair vs. Nikki Cross (presumably in Cross’s and Ethan’s last matches on NXT)…
Johnny Gargano made his entrance to start off the show. Gargano wished the crowd a Happy New Year to a favorable reaction. Gargano talked about how he reflected over the holidays of his 2018. Gargano said he figured out that success in NXT relies on two things, wins and championships. Gargano said he’ll be better in 2019, he’ll win, and in 2019 Gargano will be a champion. A dueling “Johnny Wrestling” and “Johnny Failure” chant ensued. Gargano brought up Ciampa’s name to some boos. The boos turned into “DIY” chants. Ciampa said the moment in the cage meant nothing and DIY won’t be coming back. Gargano said that Ciampa is still a piece of trash.
Gargano brought up Ciampa’s proposal of a Gargano vs. Ricochet match for Ricochet’s North American Championship. Gargano brought up Ricochet responding and awaiting the challenge. Gargano said if Gargano wants the NA championship he’ll come and take it. Gargano’s promo was cut off by Ricochet who walked out wearing a nice suit and holding the NA championship on his shoulder. The crowd chanted “That’s a champion” at Ricochet. Ricochet called Gargano a homie and said that Gargano just had to ask for a title shot. Ricochet asked Gargano the question if Gargano was going to try to take the title face-to-face, or via a sneak attack in a parking lot.
Ricochet talked about Gargano also calling himself “Johnny Takeover” now. Ricochet said at the next Takeover, only one person will walk out as North American Champion. Tommaso Ciampa walked out to join the promo. Ciampa brought up Gargano’s claim about wins and championshps. Gargano told Ciampa to shut up and get out of here. Gargano couldn’t get out of here because Aleister Black’s entrance started. Instead of showing up in person, Black showed up on the LED big screen. Black talked about how it looks like Ciampa is grooming a dog of war in Gargano. Black said Ciampa needs to pay more attention to Black or else Ciampa will fade to black. The lights went out and Black magically appeared behind Ciampa. Ciampa had the upper hand and chased Ciampa to the black. While Ricochet was distracted at Black’s attack, Gargano caught Ricochet with a blindside superkick. Gargano slowly walked up the ramp to “Johnny Failure” chants… [c]
John’s Thoughts: A strong opening segment to forward some feuds. Aside from Ciampa, the other three were terrible to average promos at best at one point but all shined as excellent public speakers here. Black has found his voice over the past few months. Ricochet showed up in NXT and eradicated all of his nervousness and glitches in his speaking that plagued his indie career. The only thing I would recommend Ricochet tone down a bit is the filler words like “homeboy”, “son”, “homie”, etc. (Though I understand the temptation because I tend to do the same thing myself in real life).
William Regal’s twitter announced a future match between Undisputed Era and War Raiders for the tag titles…
Bianca Belair made her entrance as Mauro hyped up Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT Women’s Championshp at the next takeover. Mauro noted that Belair had unfinished business with Cross (their last two matches ended in a draw/no-contest)
1. Bianca Belair vs. Nikki Cross. Cross and Belair started the match at a standoff to soak in the dueling chants. Belair pie-faced Cross while Cross asked for the pie face. Cross then grounded Belair with a crossbody. Belair used a strong base and backflip to block a rollup. Cross responded with a run into a huracanrana. Belair sent Cross outside but Cross pulled Belair out and pummeled Belair as Belair was trapped inside of the ring apron skirt. Belair ended Cross’s momentum a bit with a forearm. Belair then hit Cross with a Gorilla Press Slam into a standing moonsault.
Belair went for a few pin attempts. After a bit of a struggle, Belair locked in the abdominal stretch on Cross. Nigel noted that Belair has a size and strength advantage. Belair turned the stretch into a backbreaker. Belair had Cross in a delayed vertical suplex, but Cross countered with a DDT. Nigel noted that the delay might have hurt Belair because it gave Cross time to come up with a counter. Cross came at Belair with a few forearms and a running crossbody into a headlock. Cross gave Belair a splash and a bulldog.
Belair turned the reset moment into a spear in her favor leading to a nearfall on Cross. Belair went for a leapfrog splash but Cross countered into her finisher, the Purge. Belair rolled to the outside to prevent a pinfall. Cross rolled outside and put Belair in a sleeper. Belair fell on her back to drive Cross into the steel ramp. Mauro noted the referee was counting and that a previous match between both women ended via double countout. Cross and Belair managed to break the count at around 8. Cross and Belair had a punch brawl in the center of the ring. Cross managed to earn a rollup attempt on Belair for a good nearfall after Belair staggered herself on the ringpost.
Belair clocked Cross in the throat with a forearm. Belair tackled Cross into the corner. Belair took Cross to the top rope but Cross fought her off. Cross went for a top rope crossbody but crashed and burned. Belair put Cross in the Torture Rack and then hit Cross with the Burning Hammer Falcon Arrow for the victory.
Bianca Belair defeated Nikki Cross via pinfall in 10:46.
The commentators hyped Adam Cole vs. EC3 after the match. They also hyped the debut of the “European Union” of Marcel Barthel and Fabien Aichner as a tag team on US NXT… [c]
John’s Thoughts: A good effort from both women. Belair has finally gotten a chance to wrestle longer singles matches against Nikki Cross and has looked good every time (not perfect, but nobody’s perfect). The drama of this match was hurt a bit due to Cross’s impending callup so it was hard to buy into their nearfalls, but the women worked hard enough to make that one nearfall for Cross near the end be compelling enough.
The show cut to a Street Profits street promo. Dawkins was beatboxing while Ford was singing. Montez Ford talked about how they did evolve in 2018 (they are the Evolve champs. Pun intended?). The Street Profits acknowledged the other teams in the division and even included Raul Mendoza and Humberto Carrillo. Montez Ford advertised the new season of their show “Street Talk”.
John’s Thoughts: That was a really good promo by Street Profits. Street Profits and LAX are two of the most relatable wrestling acts to me in my opinion and I wouldn’t have minded that Impact vs. NXT battle that could have been, but I do understand why it never went through.
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel made their entrance to Aichner’s theme. Nigel noted that Aichner and Barthel have been feuding against the Welsh team of Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster…
2. Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner vs. Stanley Watts and Hector Kunsman. Barthel twisted Kunsman like a pretzel. Kunsman escaped and landed an armdrag on Barthel. Watts tagged in and continue to dominate Barthel in favor of his team. Barthel struggled a bit but then overpowered Watts. Aichner tagged in. Watt and Kunsman had a bit of a rally. Kunsman even dominated Aichner a bit. After some evading, Aichner hit Kunsman with a running PK. The heels then isolated Kunsman away from Watts and then beat up on him in their corner. Kunsman managed to land boots on Barthel.
Watts tagged in for the hot tag? He dominated both opponents. Barthel hit Watts with an enzuigiri. Aichner hit Watts with a Brainbuster. Barthel then hit Watts with a German Suplex with the help of Aichner for the victory.
Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner defeated Stanley Watts and Hector Kunsman via pinfall in 4:30.
John’s Thoughts: Very odd. I’m a huge proponent of Aichner and Barthel. Barthel looked really good as usual. Why the hell did they have generic enhancement wrestlers Kunsman and Watts look so competitive and dominant at times? Aichner has looked better in the matches that he lost. This is not the worst thing in the world, the regular team won. It was just odd.
Cathy Kelley was outside of Full Sail to provide an update on Tommaso Ciampa and Aleister Black. She saw Ricochet walking and then interviewed him instead. Ricochet then said he was coming after Gargano for the steak attack. Ricochet said that Gargano superkicked the respect that Ricochet had for Gargano away. Ricochet said he was going to take out Johnny Gargano… [c]
Percy Watson thanked YouTuber Poppy for providing the song “X” for the next NXT Takeover show…
A recap aired of last week’s post match beatdown of Matt Riddle at the hands of Kassius Ohno. Nigel noted that Matt Riddle is currently not cleared to compete due to the attack…
Sarah Schrieber interviewed Keith Lee about Kassius Ohno attacking his friend. Lee talked about traveling the world with Riddle and the attack by Ohno was “unsettling”. Lee called out Ohno to teach him a lesson of Respect next week. Lee said that Ohno will then have no choice but to “bask in my glory”
John’s Thoughts: A good promo until he killed it a bit with the forced catchphrase (I know, he’s done this on the indie scene but other NXT wrestlers do it too and it comes off as unnatural).
Mauro noted that the End of the Year Award winners will be announced at the NXT Takeover: Phoenix pre-show…
3. Adam Cole vs. EC3 (w/Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Roderick Strong). Cole overpowered Ethan to the corner and then did his Adam Cole Bay Bay catchphrase. EC3 turned the tables and then did his name as a catchphrase. EC3 stopped on a dime to fakeout Cole and hit Cole with a chop. Cole rolled to ringside. The rest of Undisputed Era surrounded Cole to check on him. Cole entered the ring and ran away to the other side of the ringside. Cole surprised EC3 with an enzuigiri. Cole tossed EC3 into the stairs.
John’s Thoughts: By the way, during the first part of NXT TV main events, Mauro has been doing the quote that Michael Cole or Tom Phillips would do before commercial, but there is no commercial. I like that NXT doesn’t have commercials during their main events any more, but it is strange in a Pavlovian sense.
Cole dominated EC3 in the center of the ring with methodical offense. EC3 countered an apron Suplex by Cole by giving Cole a suplex in the ring. EC3 hit a rally of strkes on Cole. EC3 hit Cole with the EC3 elbow while also mocking Cole’s Bay Bay catchphrase. Ethan hit Cole with a reverse STO. Cole countered and hit Ethan with a pump kick. Ethan escaped the fireman carry but Cole followed up on Ethan with a backstabber. Ethan countered the Last Shot Shining Wizard and hit Cole with a Northern Lariat for a nearfall. Adam Cole countered EC3 and hit EC3 with the Last Shot Ushigoroshi. EC3 then kept his hands clinched to block a Cross Arm Breaker. EC3 lifted Cole from the hold into a power bomb. The rest of Undisputed Era got on the apron to distract EC3. EC3 fought them off but Cole hit Ethan with a superkick and then followed up with the Last Shot Shining Wizard for the victory.
Adam Cole defeated Ethan Carter III via pinfall in 7:55.
The Undisputed Era quartet put the boots to Ethan after the match. War Raiders had their theme play as they ran out for the save. Hanson countered the numbers advantage with a cartwheel and some kick variations. Ray Rowe lifted both Strong and Fish at the same time and used one move to give them a power slam and power bomb. War Raiders then hit O’Reilly with the Fallout to leave War Raiders standing tall to close the show. Mauro reminded viewers that Undispued Era Vs. War Raiders is happening at the next Takeover show…
John’s Thoughts: A nice, compact television main event. EC3 has been underwhelming as a babyface, mostly because we know how great he can be as a heel. That said, his in-ring has improved a lot, not just from his old NXT days, but hit Impact days as well. EC3 was main roster ready already, but he’s gotten a chance to work with some of the best in-ring technicians during his time in NXT to get some seasoning. I don’t think we’ve seen Adam Cole wrestle on TV in a long time and he shows that it doesn’t take flips or dangerous strikes to be a great wrestler. Hopefully we see more of Cole in 2019.
The matches seemed shorter than usual, but they were really good and efficient. At least the “double main event” matches were good because that Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner tag team debut was odd with the enhancement guys looking more dominant than the contracted tag team. Aside from that odd moment in the show, this was yet another good edition of NXT. I’ll be by tomorrow with an NXT Hit List and Member’s Exclusive Audio Review….
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Mister Saint Laurent, who offers passionate words about what MLW delivers that pro wrestling has been missing, addresses criticism of MLW's contracts, straying from the path that his family paved for him, discusses the MLW Saturday Night SuperFight pay-per-view event that will be held on November 2 in Chicago, and more (62:44)...