By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired February 20, 2019 on WWE Network
Taped January 30, 2019 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
An intro teaser aired hyping up the Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream match for the North American Championship…
The NXT Theme aired…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson were on commentary. Aleister Black made his full entrance to open up the show. Roderick Strong made his entrance without Undisputed Era. Mauro said this match was happening because Roderick Strong left Aleister Black lying at the end of last week’s show after hitting him with End of Heartache…
1. Aleister Black vs. Roderick Strong. Strong dominated the early chain wrestling sequence with a high mount. Black got back to a vertical base and nailed Strong with a Muay Thai clinch combination. Strong got rid of Black by backtossing him outside. Strong gave Black one of his signature backbreakers on the steel steps. Strong brought Black back in the ring and gave him a backbreaker on his knee. Black tried to escape a headlock but Strong quickly brought things back to the ground into punches and a side headlock.
Black got back to standing position to tackle Strong in the corner. Strong reversed Black with a powerful Irish Whip and basement dropkick. Roderick Strong went for a Superplex but Black slipped out. Strong countered Black’s power bomb attempt with another one of his signature backbreakers. Black countered a vertical suplex with a knee. Strong missed a knee strike and accidentally hit turnbuckle. Black hit Strong with a kick combo and basement dropkick. Black played footsies with Strong by using his feet to keep Strong at bay. Black hit Strong with a brainbuster for a nearfall.
Black teased a Black Mass but Strong countered with a strike combo and gutbuster. Black and Strong brawled to the apron. Strong hit Black with a nasty looking Argentine Military Press into the steel ringpost to the back of Black’s head. The crowd finally woke up and started dueling chants for both wrestlers. Strong hit Black with a catapult into the bottom rope followed by a twisting flapjack. Strong got a nearfall. Strong went for a suplex on Black but Black pulled out a Black Mass out of nowhere for the victory.
Aleister Black defeated Roderick Strong via pinall in 8:26.
Nigel noted that no matter what happens, Black always has the Black Mass in his back pocket. As usual, the Undisputed Era ran out for the post match beatdown. Black hit O’Reilly with Black Mass but couldn’t counter the numbers game of the other three. Ricochet ran out to help Black clear the Era from the ring. The two face wrestlers stood tall with Black’s theme to close out the segment.
Sereena Deeb was trying to make some announcements about the incoming Performance Center recruits but Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir were shown walking around and yelling. They caused more yelling in the women’s locker room and more yelling ensued.
Percy Watson hyped up Mia Yim vs. Xia Li… [c]
John’s Thoughts: A good counter based match. It’s good to see Strong back in the singles division where he’s able to be the ultimate utility player of NXT. The crowd was oddly quiet early on, but Strong’s fast pace woke them up.
A Bianca Belair interview played where she talked about being close to being the next NXT Women’s Championship. Belair said “uh-uh” to Io Shirai going after a title shot. Belair bragged about being “Un-de-feat-ted” (even though she isn’t. I know she said it’s a “way of life” but what?)
Nigel McGuinness recapped DIY defeating The Revival and The Bar this past week. Nigel also recapped the other NXT wrestler appearances on WWE programming this past week.
Mauro announced that in two weeks the Dusty Rhodes Classic was returning. Mauro advertised Undisputed Era, European Union, Forgotten Sons, and Street Profits as the first four teams in the classic and the next four will be announced next week…
John’s Thoughts: The last Dusty Classic was pretty disappointing (due to awkward finishes and injuries), but I believe they have a really strong tag team division at the moment now that they’ve elevated a few teams and the Street Profits have developed a new wrestling style. The Sons are actually really good too, but they can also be forgettable in some matches, no pun intended.
2. Mia Yim vs. Xia Li. Li managed to overpower the taller Yim in the corner which impressed Yim. Yim and Li then had a test of strength with Yim winning. Nigel noted that Yim won due to her size advantage. Li missed a monkey flip but followed up with a sunset flip. Li dodged some of Yim’s strikes but Yim hit Li with a shotgun dropkick and cannonball. Yim hit a palm strike combo but Li came back with some CQC and a tornado kick.
Yim dropped Li with a strong knife edge chop. Yim changed up the Eat Defeat by hitting a knee version of the move which she calls “Protect Yo Neck” which she used for the victory.
Mia Yim defeated Xia Li via pinfall in 3:53.
Baszler, Shafir, and Duke ran in for the beatdown liek they did during last week’s women’s match. Three random babyfaces ran out for the save, but failed. I think they were Lacey Lane, MJ Jenkins, and Jessie Elaban (Elaban was the one I wasn’t sure of because she wasn’t in her nerd gear)…
John’s Thoughts: With Li representing the motherland and Yim representing Blasians worldwide, to me this was the most proud matches for me that NXT could put together (I exaggerate of course). While it’s a bit odd that the last two week’s of womens’ matches were just setups to Baszler, Shafir, and Duke beatdowns, I do like that they are having the heel trio run roughshod through NXT. It sets up a goal for babyfaces to overcome.
NXT was about to head to commercial with Johnny Gargano doing bicep curls with resistance bands. Candice LeRae walked in and said “you know what you have to do”. She then said “What the hell are you doing here” to Tommaso Ciampa. Gargano told Ciampa that Gargano won the title by himself and is about to show the world why he’s Johnny Freakin’ Wrestling… [c]
Percy Watson sent things over to an unnamed interviewer, it was former TNA backstage interviewer Jeremy Borash, for an interview with Matt Riddle. Borash talked about the Riddle documentary on the Performance Center YouTube channel (which Borash produced). Borash then asked Riddle about his unorthadox approach to things like wearing hats and flip flops. Riddle said he was told by a mentor that it’s always better to be told to tone things down than to tone things up, so he goes all out. Riddle then talked about how it was fun getting rid of Kassius Ohno because Ohno just wanted to ruin a good time.
Riddle said he’s now focusing on things that are important like wrestling. He brought up beating Drew Gulak recently. Riddle then said he’s going after all the NXT Championships and nothing is going to stop him. Bro. Percy Watson said you can find the rest of the interview on YouTube.
John’s Thoughts: While they are crunched for time in the one hour slot, it was cool seeing a promo (and/or vignette) air to flush out some of Riddle’s character. We didn’t learn anything new about Riddle, but it wasn’t a waste of time either because it was more of a refresher as to what Riddle is all about. We need more of these for more wrestlers and it shouldn’t just be relegated to YouTube because casual viewers aren’t going to seek that out.
Percy Watson also advertised Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler in a non-title match which was set up earlier with the brawl…
Velveteen Dream made his entrance wearing a bedazzled robe. There was about 30 minutes remaining in the hour. Johnny Gargano made his entrance. There were pockets of fans holding printer paper signs saying “Johnny Champion”…
Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions for the championship match (nice to see that for a midcard title)…
3. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT North American Championship. Mauro reminded viewers that these two have wrestled before when Johnny Gargano put his NXT championship title shot on the line where Gargano defeated Dream to defend the title shot. Gargano and Dream were pretty even early on in the inital chain wrestling sequence. Dream and Gargano then traded submissions. A camera showed that Tommasso Ciampa was watching the match in a dark room (and he wasn’t watching the TV at an awkward perpendicular angle). Back to the match, Dream slapped the spit out of Gargano’s mouth which made Gargano go to ringside for some respite.
Dream turned the subsequent test of strength into a side headlock. After tackling Gargano to the ground, Dream taunted Gargano with his signature viper pose. Dream then gyrated his hips in front of Gargano before hitting Gargano with a few punches. Gargano countered with a knife edge chop. Dream went for a springboard, but Gargano sliced at Dream’s legs to trip him off the top rope. Gargano then mounted methodical offense on Dream. Gargano hit Dream with a hangman neckbreaker for a two count. Nigel brought up a discussion on Ciampa being manipulative and pulling the strings of Gargano (but on Raw and Smackdown, they’re back to being [almost] best of buds).
Gargano worked on Dream with chickenwing variations including using the second rope as a fulcrum. Mauro said that Gargano is taking a page out of the book of his favorite team’s quarterback, Baker Mayfield and the Browns. Dream tried to mount a comeback, but Gargano tossed Dream outside. Gargano then called for cheers and even did the Hulk Hogan ear cup thing. Dueling chants of “Johnny Champion” and “Johnny Jackass” ensued. Gargano then gloated and high fived his fans (acting a bit like Ciampa to continual the parallelism). Gargano locked Dream in a modified abdominal stretch with an arm trap. Nigel pointed out the muscle groups that Gargano was targeting, like the deltoids.
Dream countered Gargano with a high angle spinebuster. Dream and Gargano traded blows, but Dream gained an advantage after a throat shot. Dream clotheslined Gargano to the outside and hit him with a top rope axe handle strike. Dream went for the twisted DDT. Gargano missed a Listo kick. Dream hit Gargano with the Fame-asser for the nearfall. They showed Ciampa in his dark room again watching the match in a bit of suspense. Gargano escaped a Super Dream Valley Driver and then put Dream on the second rope into a Twisting DDT. After trading counters, Dream and Gargano collided with each other in the corner to cause both men to fall to the ground.
Gargano nailed Dream with a superkick on the apron. Gargano went for a slingshot DDT but Dream caught Gargano with a uppercut. Gargano escaped a DVD attempt with a roundhouse. Gargano hit Dream with a suicide dive. Dream hit Gargano with a front kick. Dream hit the twisting DDT on Gargano for a nearfall. Dream crash and burned on Purple Rainmaker attempt. Gargano kicked Dream for another nearfall. An “NXT” chant ensued. Dream gave Gargano a right punch on the top rope. Gargano used elbows to prevent a DVD. Dream powered through and hit Gargano with a Super Dream Valley Driver for a really good nearfall. The crowd gave that false finish a standing ovation.
Dream went for a Purple Rainmaker but Gargano rolled to ringside. Dream went for an axe handle strike but Gargano caught him with a superkick. Gargano then suplexed Dream on the steel ramp and threw him in the steel steps. Gargano hit Dream with the Slingshot DDT for another good nearfall. A standing “NXT” chant occurred. Gargano gave Dream some stiff-arm lariats. Dream countered Gargano but Gargano came back with a rebound lariat. Both men traded counters with Dream hitting the Dream Valley Driver. Dream then followed up smoothly with another Dream Valley Driver. Velveteen Dream hit the Purple Rainmaker on Dream to become the new NA Champion.
Velveteen Dream defeated Johnny Gargano via pinfall in 20:41 to become the new NXT North American Champion.
After the match they showed a shot of Ciampa looking on from his dark room. After some celebration from Dream, they cut back to Ciampa who walked out of the dark room shaking his head. Velveteen Dream celebrated his title win to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: While, in my opinion, not as exciting as the past few weeks of NXT Television having Takeover worthy matches, this was a really good match nonetheless very good. The beginning was a bit slow, but not boring. The nearfalls at the end were really well done and I think it was the nearfalls that made this match. I believe they tried to hide the spoiler to this match by taping finishes with both Dream and Gargano winning, but they decided to go with their initial taping, which was with Dream winning. I was a bit weary after hearing Gargano lose his title so soon after winning it, but the shots of Ciampa backstage really made things work. Cutting to Ciampa and showing him shaking his head is another chapter into the Johnny Gargano dissent into darkness. Because Gargano decided to be goody-two-shoes, it cost him the title. If they go with the rematch clause, I can completely see Gargano winning by doing something nefarious.
A noteworthy show with a strong main event. This episode had a good mix of in-ring and character development which should be the goal of a weekly NXT show. I’ll be by tomorrow with my NXT Hit List and members’ exclusive audio review.