Date: January 9, 2019
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson
It’s time for the final push towards Phoenix with three weeks left before the big show. The main event is already set and you can probably guess some of the other matches from here. That means it’s time for the really good shows as NXT knows hot to get things ready in a hurry, which is what we’ll be getting both this week and next. Let’s get to it.
Here’s Johnny Gargano for an opening chat. He wishes us a happy new year and gets straight to the point: you measure success around here with titles, which is why he’ll be better in 2019. In 2019, he’s going to become a champion, which the fans don’t seem to mind very much. As for Tommaso Ciampa, the moment in the cage was a one off thing and he’s still a piece of garbage with a title Johnny wants.
Ciampa did have a good idea though: Gargano winning the North American Title. Ricochet has told Johnny to come get it, so here’s Ricochet to interrupt. The fans deem Ricochet a champion, which certainly seems to please him. If Johnny wanted a title shot all he had to do was ask, but now he’s just going to take it? Is he going to take it from his face or after an attack in the parking lot?
Ricochet seems to agree to the match but here’s Ciampa to interrupt. Johnny cuts him off in a hurry and here’s Aleister Black on the screen. He promises to make Ciampa fade to black in Phoenix and then appears behind Ciampa for the beatdown. In the melee, Gargano kicks Ricochet in the face and looks down at him. I love seeing these stories merged together like this.
At Takeover, the Undisputed Era defends against the War Raiders.
Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair
Third match between the two after they fought to a double DQ and a no contest. Cross starts fast with a crossbody (always nice to have a namesake move) but Belair is right back with a dropkick. A backdrop puts Cross on the floor but she ties Belair up in the ring skirt and hammers away. Belair is fine enough for a gorilla press into a standing moonsault for two back inside and it’s off to an abdominal stretch. A backbreaker gives Belair two but her suplex is countered into a DDT for the same.
Cross hits another crossbody and a reverse DDT for two more and it’s time for the creepy smile. Belair is right back up with a spear for two of her own but a splash hits knees. The Purge sends Belair bailing to the floor so Cross follows her with a jump onto Belair’s back. The drop down onto the ramp gives us a very close double nine count as they both dive back in. Belair gets sent shoulder first into the post for two more as the fans are VERY pleased with this so far. They’re both down again so Cross goes up but misses a high crossbody, setting up KOD for the pin at 10:38.
Rating: B-. These two work well together and the result wasn’t a surprising one. You don’t want to have Belair lose when she’s getting a title shot later this month. It’s not like having Cross lose here does any real damage to her as she’s on her way to the main roster sooner rather than later. Good way to end the rivalry here as Belair finally has to work for a victory.
The Street Profits talk about evolving last year (ha) and don’t like being locked out of a building. There have been a lot of those in 2018 but they get one open, just like they’ll be doing in 2019. They have big plans this year and they’re going to beat every team in front of them.
Marcel Barthel/Fabian Aichner vs. Hector Kunsman/Stanley Watts
Oh come on I have to watch Barthel here too??? The jobbers don’t even get first names to start as Barthel takes Kunsman down with a hammerlock. It’s off to Watts (Mauro: “No relation to Cowboy Bill.”) to work on a wristlock but Barthel punches him in the face. Aichner holds Watts up but has to kick out of a sunset flip.
Kunsman comes back in and slugs away at both guys until a spinebuster into a penalty kick cuts him down for two. A baseball slide crushes Kunsman again but he kicks Aichner in the face. Watts comes back in and scores with some shots of his own, only to have Aichner powerbomb him into a German suplex (with a nasty landing) to give Barthel the pin at 4:31.
Rating: C. The match was entertaining but it’s a really bad sign when these two “stars” had this much trouble against a pair of jobbers. I haven’t liked Barthel since he debuted in NXT UK and it wasn’t much better here. The team isn’t working but I have a feeling they’re going to be pushed for a long time because there aren’t many teams over in the UK at the moment. Lucky us.
Ricochet wants Gargano now because Gargano superkicked all the respect away.
We look back at Kassius Ohno destroying Matt Riddle last week.
Keith Lee is Riddle’s friend and what Ohno did isn’t standing. Next week, Ohno can learn a lesson about respect and bask in Lee’s glory.
EC3 vs. Adam Cole
The Undisputed Era is here in full force. Feeling out process to start with an exchange of nothing holds until EC3 knocks him out to the floor. An Era distraction lets Cole get in a jumping enziguri and a whip sends EC3 shoulder first into the steps. Back in and Cole starts on the arm with an armbar, only to get suplexed right back down. A back elbow to the jaw puts Cole down and the EC3 elbow keeps him in trouble.
Cole is right back up and goes after the arm again, including a running big boot. The Backstabber gets two as Bobby Fish is having a ball playing cheerleader/coach on the floor. A heck of a clothesline with the good arm turns Cole inside out for two but the suplex onto the knee gets two. Cole can’t get a cross armbreaker as EC3 powerbombs his way out, drawing in the rest of the Era. That’s enough for Cole to hit a superkick into the Last Shot for the pin at 7:55.
Rating: C+. I liked this one more than I was expecting to as both guys were working here. The ending was fine and keeps EC3 looking strong, even if it was a little easy to guess. The Undisputed Era could be an even bigger deal in 2019 and it wouldn’t make sense to have them lose in their first match of the year. Nice stuff here, with EC3 looking better than usual.
Post match the Era comes in for the beatdown until the War Raiders run in for the save and the real beatdown to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. Good matches throughout the card, a few matches announced for Takeover and a hot finish. That’s about as good as you can get for an hour (well, unless NXT is really cranking it up that week) and I had a really easy time watching this. Takeover is going to be a blast again, because that’s just what happens on that show. Really efficient night here, as tends to be the case.
Bianca Belair b. Nikki Cross – KOD
Marcel Barthel/Fabian Aichner b. Hector Kunsman/Stanley Watts – Powerbomb into a German suplex to Watts
Adam Cole b. EC3 – Last Shot
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