NXT – February 20, 2019

Date: February 20, 2019
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson

I’m not sure what to think about this show as it could go in two very different directions. The major announced match is Johnny Gargano defending the North American Title against Velveteen Dream with two endings having been taped. On the other side though, WWE has promised a major announcement, which doesn’t bode well since the four biggest names from the show have appeared on this week’s Raw and Smackdown. Let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at Gargano vs. Dream, which should be a big match.

Opening sequence.

Aleister Black vs. Roderick Strong

Fallout from last week when the Undisputed Era beat down Black and Ricochet. Strong takes him down with a single leg to start and grabs an armbar, which lasts as long as an armbar is about to go. Black’s German suplex gets two but Strong sends him outside for a dropkick through the ropes. A drop onto the steps sets up a reverse chinlock with a knee in the back as Strong keeps it on the mat, where it’s hard for Black to kick very well.

Back up and Strong puts him on top, only to have Black slip out of a top rope superplex. His powerbomb doesn’t work though as it’s the first backbreaker to put Strong in control again. You would think he’d have gone there earlier. Black knees his way out of a suplex attempt and the strikes are on in a hurry. A running kick to the face sets up the brainbuster for two and Strong is in trouble. Black knees him to the face but Strong is right back with a torture rack backbreaker on the apron. The belly to back faceplant has Black in trouble but he snaps off Black Mass for the pin at 8:28.

Rating: B. I could watch these two trade backbreakers and kicks to the face for a long time and that’s what they did here. Black is someone who can beat anyone with that kick to the face and it’s not like Strong is going to lose much by getting beaten by someone as good as him. Very nice match here, which is going to be the case with any combination of the people involved.

Post match Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish run in for the beatdown, drawing in Ricochet for the save.

We see Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke invading the women’s locker room last week and nearly starting a brawl.

Bianca Belair says 2018 was her year and it was the referee’s fault that she lost at Takeover: Phoenix. Now Io Shirai and Kairi Sane are trying to get in on her title shot and that’s not cool. You know what else isn’t cool? Belair.

We look at the four NXT main roster debuts.

In two weeks: the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is back with the winners getting a title shot at the War Raiders at Takeover: New York. Four teams have been announced so far: the Undisputed Era, Fabian Aichner/Marcel Barthel, Forgotten Songs and the Street Profits. The other four will be announced next week.

Mia Yim vs. Xia Li

We get a handshake to start and they lock up to the mat with neither getting an advantage. Mia backs up in a hurry from the threat of a bunch of kicks, only to get rolled up for two instead. Now the big kick to the chest connects and even more kicks put Yim down again. Li jumps into a shot to the face though and Protect Your Neck gives Mia the pin at 3:56.

Rating: D+. I wasn’t feeling this one for the most part, though it could have been worse. The problem here was Yim getting beaten up until the very end and then hitting her pretty lame finisher. Li’s kicks looked good and those are going to get her somewhere. Throw in the cool fan entrance and she’s going to be fine.

Post match Baszler, Shafir and Duke run in for the beatdown until the unnamed rookies run in for the failed save.

Gargano is warming up when Candice LeRae comes in to ask how he’s doing. He’s fine, but Tommaso Ciampa pops in. Gargano says he needs her instead of him, but Ciampa will be watching tonight. Well until the main roster gets involved that is.

We get a sitdown interview with Jeremy Borash talking to Matt Riddle. Matt isn’t going to change who he is with the hat and flip flops because he was told a long time ago to tune himself up instead of down. Riddle wants a title and it doesn’t matter which one.

Next week: Yim vs. Baszler.

North American Title: Velveteen Dream vs. Johnny Gargano

Dream is challenging as he cashes in his Worlds Collide tournament win. They go to the mat to start with Dream getting an armbar. Gargano spins out as we see Ciampa watching from the rafters. One heck of a slap sends Gargano to the floor for a bit as frustration is setting in. The champ comes back inside but Dream slides in front of him for an OOO from the crowd.

Another slap has Gargano rocked and Dream nails a top rope ax handle. Dream takes too much time going up though and gets pulled down so Gargano can take over for the first time. Some knees have Dream in trouble and a neckbreaker gets two. The arm work continues with Gargano bending it around the rope, only to have Dream swing away anyway. Gargano sends him outside though and more shots to the face keep Dream in trouble.

Dream finally gets in a clothesline and of course things are instantly even again. A running clothesline sends Gargano outside and that’s enough for a top rope ax handle. Back in and Dream takes him up top but gets crotched instead, setting up a spinning Downward Spiral for two. They bang heads and go to the apron, with Gargano hitting a superkick. The slingshot DDT is cut off but so is the Dream Valley Driver on the apron. Gargano hits the suicide dive, only to walk into wind up DDT.

Dream misses the Purple Rainmaker though and Gargano goes up. This time it’s Dream catching him though and a super Dream Valley Driver gets a VERY close two. Gargano bails outside and superkicks a diving Dream out of the air for a big crash. The slingshot DDT gets two more, earning a standing ovation. Gargano is up first and hits a superkick but a running tornado DDT is countered into the Dream Valley Driver. A second Driver sets up the Purple Rainmaker to make Dream champion at 20:30.

Rating: A-. Well that worked. These two know how to make anything work well and they did just that here, with an awesome back and forth match as Dream FINALLY wins the big one. It also helps set things up with Gargano choking in his first title defense, which should give him even more issues with Ciampa going forward. Great match with better storytelling, as things are starting to to roll towards New York.

So I guess the Dusty Classic was the big announcement? That’s a relief, but also kind of a letdown.

Overall Rating: A. Yeah I’d say they’re still good, though with all of the main roster stuff looming, I’m more than a little nervous. The best part about NXT has been that they don’t have to deal with everything that goes on from the main roster and I’m worried that WWE is going to need to “fix” things down here, which is the last thing they need right now. At least we had another great show here, and there’s a chance that nothing will change in the near future.


Aleister Black b. Roderick Strong – Black Mass

Mia Yim b. Xia Li – Protect Your Neck

Velveteen Dream b. Johnny Gargano – Purple Rainmaker

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