Date: February 6, 2019
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson
We’re back to the regular shows and it’s just in time too as we’re about two months away from Takeover: New York. That could mean some matches being set up in a hurry, though it’s not clear what some of those could be. The big draw this week is Johnny Gargano appearing as North American Champion for the first time, which could be rather interesting. Let’s get to it.
Here’s Gargano to open things up and he’s very proud of his new title. The fans give him a JOHNNY CHAMPION chant and Johnny says we deserve it. He doesn’t say which we he’s talking about but here’s Tommaso Ciampa to cut him off. Ciampa says they do deserve it and that Johnny showed that he can follow the champ’s lead. Now they’re both champions and WE own NXT. There is nothing that can stop them because this is their home. Johnny: “No.”
There is no “our moment” because he only came out at the end of Takeover: Phoenix to show that he’ll never need Tommaso Ciampa. This brings out Velveteen Dream to say tonight isn’t about any of them. Tonight is about the moment and the man that stole Takeover: Phoenix. He took everything over just by showing up and while they were putting the finishing touches on their fairy tale ending, Dream was winning the Worlds Collide tournament.
That gives him a title shot of his choice so Ciampa stares him down. Dream doesn’t want him to steal the spotlight, because he’s more interested in Gargano. Johnny says he was putting on another Match of the Year and winning the title before representing the NXT Universe in the Royal Rumble. If this is what Dream wants, then go for it because Johnny wins. Dream is cool with that, but wants to know if he’s facing Johnny Champion or Johnny Jack***. The staredown is on and the fans are rather pleased.
This worked very well, as the story continues to go on and on without dropping steam. I know the end goal of all of this is Gargano taking the title from Ciampa once and for all, but that moment isn’t set in stone somewhere. We’re not counting down to some predetermined moment (Such as EVERYTHING HAS TO HAPPEN AT WRESTLEMANIA OR SUMMERSLAM!!!) and the story is getting to grow on its own. That would make a huge difference on the main roster, but for some reason it’s completely against the rules. That’s a very different way of storytelling and it works quite well.
Jaxson Ryker vs. Mansoor
Mansoor is from the Saudi Arabian tryouts. Ryker takes him into the corner and ties Mansoor into the Tree of Woe for some kicks to the ribs. Mansoor gets in a few shots but Ryker spears him out of the air, setting up a sitout chokeslam (almost more of a spinebuster) for the pin at 1:32. Just a squash.
Post match Ryker chokebusters him again.
Adam Cole cuts off an interviewer before Ricochet can be brought in. Cole says he’s championship material unlike the one trick pony Ricochet. This brings in Ricochet to say he must have knocked Cole’s screws loose when he beat him for the North American Title. A match is made for next week.
In two weeks, Gargano defends against Dream.
Drew Gulak vs. Eric Bugenhagen
Eric, with a sweet 1970s mustache, plays the air guitar on the way to the ring to a rather confused reception. He even throws out a guitar pick, which the camera tracks down. I’m sure you can imagine Nigel and Drew’s reactions to this. The fans DEMAND an encore as Bugenhagen stops so the match can begin. A very high pitched scream ensues as Gulak stomps him down, earning a BU-GEN-HA-GEN chant.
Gulak snap suplexes him for two and we hit the chinlock. Eric fights up and slaps on an abdominal stretch, which of course turns into more air guitaring (Eric: “YOU WANNA ROCK???? LET’S ROCK!!!!”). Drew has had it and suplexes him down, setting up the Gulock for the tap at 2:34. We might have the next Blue Pants here.
Post match Gulak isn’t pleased with fighting “Ben Stiller from Dodgeball” because he’s the best submission wrestler in the world. Is this the best NXT has to offer? The open challenge is on and we have a very quick answer.
Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle
They grapple against the ropes to start until Riddle takes him straight to the mat in an armbar. A pull of the hair gets Gulak out of trouble so Riddle slams him right back down to take over again. More grappling goes nowhere until Gulak takes him down into a headscissors. One heck of a kick drops Drew though and a backsplash makes things even worse. Back up and Drew stops a charge with a hard boot to the jaw, followed by a dropkick to put Riddle on the floor.
Gulak slaps on a headlock to keep things slow before switching into a double arm crank with Riddle face down on the mat. Riddle finally fights up and hits a fisherman’s buster for the break and a double knockdown. A dragon screw legwhip takes Riddle right back down and it’s off to a Fujiwara armbar. Riddle has had it with Gulak and powerbombs the heck out of him, setting up a knee to the face for a crazy close two. The Bromission makes Gulak tap at 9:25.
Rating: B+. This was a blast with both guys doing everything they could think of to each other, making for a heck of a performance. Gulak showing up is a nice touch as he’s one of the more talented people around and can wrestle with anyone. It gave Riddle a sweat and beating a main roster talent, even a lower level one like Gulak, means something. Very nice match.
Post match they do the Catch Point (stable from Evolve) handshake.
Sky Pirates/Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler/Marina Shafir/Jessamyn Duke
Baszler works on Belair’s arm to start until Belair does the same. Shafir and Duke take their turns and get slammed down without much effort. Belair presses Sane up for a drop onto Duke but Shafir takes over in the corner to take over. Sane isn’t having that and unloads with strikes to Shafir, including a hard kick to the back. Shafir gets headbutted down as the fans chant PLEASE TAG SHAYNA. Geez that’s harsh.
The fans get their wish a few seconds later as Shayna comes in and takes over on Sane, including a few shots in the corner. It’s back to Shafir for a hard headbutt before Shayna comes back in to kick at Sane. Shayna cranks on the leg to make Sane scream and Duke coming in, earning herself a YOU CAN’T WRESTLE chant. Sane finally sends Duke outside and rolls over for the tag to Sane as the pace picks way up.
Running knees to Duke in the corner set up a 619 and a springboard missile dropkick to Baszler. It’s already back to Sane for the Insane Elbow and another near fall as Shafir makes the save. Belair tags herself in (fair enough as Sane was going to tag Shirai in again) and hits the KOD but Baszler makes the save. Everything breaks down and Sane dives onto Shafir and Duke, leaving Shirai to hit a moonsault for the fast pin on Baszler at 9:28.
Rating: C+. Shafir and Duke are pretty clearly not ready for this level and need more time, but I heartily approve of Shirai going after the title. High flier vs. submission wrestler can make for some great matches and the fans are going to be behind Shirai no matter what she does. I had a lot of fun with this, though the NXT fans ripping on Duke and Shafir isn’t the best sign for their futures.
Belair doesn’t seem happy that she didn’t get the pin to end the show.
Overall Rating: B+. What didn’t this show have? You had an awesome match from Riddle and Gulak, a move forward in the women’s division, some major developments at the start of the show, and the Bugenhagen wackiness. As can be the case, NXT knows how to do a lot of things on one show and mix things up like no other show. This was an incredibly entertaining hour with so many different things running around that it’s almost impossible to get tired of any of them. Check this one out, especially Riddle vs. Gulak.
Jaxson Ryker b. Mansoor – Chokebomb
Drew Gulak b. Eric Bugenhagen – Gulock
Matt Riddle b. Drew Gulak – Bromission
Sky Pirates/Bianca Belair b. Marina Shafir/Jessamyn Duke/Shayna Baszler – Moonsault to Baszler
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