NXT – April 8, 2020

NXT
Date: April 8, 2020
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentator: Mauro Ranallo

We’re in the marathon taping session now and this time around we have a big double main event. This week’s show will feature the six woman ladder match to crown a new #1 contender, but the real big match is the final showdown between Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano in a battle years in the making. Let’s get to it.

As you might have expected, the opening video is all about Gargano vs. Ciampa.

Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai vs. Io Shirai vs. Chelsea Green vs. Mia Yim vs. Candice LeRae

Ladder match for the #1 contendership and Robert Stone and Raquel Gonzalez are here too. It’s a brawl to start with Kai being left alone in the ring. Gonzalez throws in a ladder but a bunch of the women take her out and triple team Kai in the corner. Green gets caught on the apron for a series of forearms to knock her down as well. It’s time for the first ladder as Stone tries to set up a table on the floor.

LeRae and Shirai fight over trying to drop each other onto the ladder until Green comes in with a double bulldog. Back from a break with Kai and Nox slugging it out until Nox gets in a chokeslam. Green gets shoved away so Nox climbs but has to deal with Nox again. LeRae and Green come in to take both of them down, only to have Yim and Shirai do the same.

Another ladder is set up, but everyone keeps pulling each other down. Soul Food drops LeRae but Green gets her leg caught in a ladder in the corner, leaving Yim to have to crush it with a chair. Shirai sends Yim face first into the ladder in the corner but Gonzalez shoves Shirai’s over. That’s fine with Shirai, who lands on the top rope and springboards down onto everyone else.

Back from another break with Nox sending Gonzalez and Yim off the top and through the table at ringside. Shirai knocks Kai off the top and through the ladder (always looks good), only to get dropped by Candice. Stone helps Green go up but LeRae and Shirai break that up too. Shirai shoves Candice off the top and onto the ladder in the corner (egads), allowing her to pull down the briefcase for the title shot at 16:40.

Rating: B. The lack of fans hurt things but there were some nasty bumps here. Shirai getting the title shot is a good way to go as her match against Charlotte could be great. They needed some fresh challengers in here and this is as good of a choice as they had. The rest can get back to where they need to go in the future, but Shirai was the right choice here.

We look back at Imperium attacking Finn Balor two months ago. Then Balor beat Alexander Wolfe and bailed before Imperium could take him apart.

Balor wants Walter.

We look at Indus Sher attacking Matt Riddle two weeks ago.

Killer Kross vignette.

We look at Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde being kidnapped by masked me.

Indus Sher vs. Ever Rise

Martel’s wristlock on Rinku has no effect so it’s off to Parker to drive him into the corner. An enziguri staggers Rinku again and a slingshot elbow to the back gets one. Rinku clotheslines Parker’s head off though and that might be it for the upset bid. There’s a double toss to send Parker flying and Rinku stomps away. Rinku knocks Martel off the apron and it’s off to Saurav for a big boot. A rope walkless Demolition Decapitator to Parker is good for the pin at 4:30.

Rating: D. Oh no on this one. Indus Sher were every slow, generic, monster heel team that you can think of and that’s not a good thing. I don’t know if they think so much of Rinku’s status (he was the subject of the movie Million Dollar Arm, which was mentioned several times) but my goodness this really did not work. It’s one of the worst things I can remember NXT doing in a good while as this was a complete miss.

Adam Cole says he’s for real and Velveteen Dream is a flash in the pan, twice.

Video on Charlotte defeating Rhea Ripley to become the new NXT Women’s Champion.

Charlotte talks about her dad teaching her that the man makes the suit. In her case, the woman makes the title. She’s done everything there is to do and now she is going to elevate this title. Rhea Ripley was good, but just like everyone else, she bowed down to the Queen.

Ripley says Charlotte was better than she expected.

Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae arrive at the empty building for the final battle with Tommaso Ciampa. The ominous music plays as Candice gets back in the car, but comes back out to give Gargano….something in a small package.

We go to an empty arena (like, more empty than usual as this is feeling cinematic). HHH is in the ring and says it starts and ends in this ring. In between, nothing else matters and there is a referee here to call things. After this, there is no between the two of them. HHH leaves and the door closing means it’s on.

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Ciampa kicks the chair away and they talk trash to each other before slugging it out. Gargano gets hammered down in the corner but a whip over the corner puts him in trouble. The slingshot spear is cut off with a knee to the face and we take an early break. Back with Ciampa kicking him in the arm and stomping away while shouting about the two of them being brothers. A catapult sends Gargano into the bottom buckle as the lack of commentary is really jarring.

They have stopped with the cinematic stuff for the most part, but the camera cuts are fast and furious. Gargano gets in a shot to the face though and sends the injured knee into the post. The fight goes to the floor with Gargano hammering away with left hands but Ciampa suplexes him into the post. Ciampa takes too much time bringing a table over and gets dropped again, allowing Gargano to mock him from the apron. It’s time for weapons with Gargano unloading with both a trashcan lid and the accompanying trashcan.

Back in and Gargano blasts the knee with the chair before sitting down and telling Ciampa to get back up. A chair to the back puts Ciampa back down and the chair is wedged in the corner. As expected, that means Gargano goes head first into it instead and they’re both down. Back from another break with Gargano’s slingshot dive being knocked out of the air with a trashcan lid shot. The chair goes around the neck and Ciampa sends it into the post, allowing Ciampa to get in his applause.

Ciampa pulls out a crutch for the sake of the callback and it’s time to choke away, while shouting in Gargano’s face of course. Gargano comes back with a fire extinguisher but he can’t powerbomb Ciampa through a table. Ciampa can powerbomb him through one instead and they both need a quick breather. With Gargano down, Ciampa cuts up the ring and, despite the referee telling him that it’s too far, the pad is pulled back to expose the wood.

Gargano gets through a side door so Ciampa follows, only to get hit in the knees with an anvil case. Some left hands put Ciampa in front of a wheel on a semi truck but the anvil case misses. Ciampa gets on top of the truck (popular trope this weekend) and calls Gargano up to join him. In pure wrestler logic, Gargano follows him and gets his face pulled back because Ciampa is rather violent. That’s reversed into the Gargano Escape on top of the truck, but Gargano misses the low superkick.

The regular superkick works and a second actually puts Ciampa down as we take another break. Back again with Gargano staggering back into the arena and Ciampa slowly following behind. Gargano puts him through a table as the cinematics have been cranked up again. They’re back in the ring now with Gargano stomping him down and shouting THIS IS IT. What looks to be a super White Noise off the top to the exposed boards is instead reversed into a super White Noise onto the floor with Gargano getting the worst of two bad landings.

That gives Ciampa the first near fall of the match and we take another break. Back again with Ciampa bringing in the crutch but Gargano bends it around his neck ala New Orleans. This time though Ciampa breaks it up with the trashcan lid, only to have Gargano BLAST him with the lid. Some kicks to the head rock Ciampa again but Gargano can’t follow up. Instead, Gargano calls him a failure as a husband, friend and a father. The big crutch shot misses so Ciampa unloads on him with it instead.

We take ANOTHER break (this has to be a record) and come back with Ciampa choking with the crutch but a thumb to the referee’s eye sends him to the apron. Ciampa’s running knee takes the referee out and Gargano knocks Ciampa outside too. Back in and Ciampa plants him again so Gargano grabs Ciampa’s hand. Ciampa pulls it away and pulls himself up with the top of the broken crutch so they can hit stereo shots to knock each other down. Cue Candice and she isn’t sure what to do.

The guys get up as Candice asks Gargano what he’s doing. She asks Ciampa if he’s happy for taking away her husband. Candice kicks Gargano low and leaves but Ciampa doesn’t follow up. Ciampa shows mercy and tries to help Gargano up, saying he’s sorry. Ciampa gets up but here’s Candice to kick him low as well, with Gargano revealing that he’s wearing a cup. Gargano: “You lose.” The Fairy Tale Ending on the exposed boards finished Ciampa at 52:37.

Rating: D+. And that’s being generous as I actually let out a heavy sigh when this FINALLY ended. These two are capable of having an incredible match with each other (best match I’ve ever seen live when I was there in New Orleans) and this wasn’t it. This felt like something they put together spot by spot as a big list of options instead of something they actually planned to do and then no one told them to cut it down.

There was no drama, I never got interested, the way it was shot was annoying and we’ve seen all of this before. It just kept GOING, with no one telling them to wrap it up already and that’s not a good feeling. You really could have cut out about half an hour of this thing and it would have been the same story and match, which is never a good sign. I can’t believe how disappointing this was and really, they didn’t need to go back to it after New York didn’t work.

As for the end of the feud, egads man. This never felt like the big, final battle but rather just a really long one that they happened to have. I love the whole feud and if it had wrapped up with Gargano winning the title in New York last year, it was an all time classic. This had its moments (both of them turning into what the other was to start, some of the looks of hatred when the other wouldn’t stay down, neither of them being willing to admit they couldn’t do it), but almost no match needs to go this long and this one certainly didn’t. We’ve seen it done better and more efficiently and they had nothing to make up for that here.

A very happy Gargano staggers away with Candice as Ciampa can’t get up. The two of them leave the arena, pass a car with people sitting in it (not identified but Kross and Scarlett Bordeaux would make sense) and drive away to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. If that ladder match hadn’t been there, this would be the absolute worst thing NXT has ever done. What makes it interesting though is that they didn’t so much fail completely but rather totally missed with the big match. It was clear that they had a concept and went with it, but it wasn’t the right concept. That’s the kind of mistake that NXT NEVER made before and that scares me for the future. You can feel so much of the main roster pressure, the need to beat AEW and the the extra hour weighing on them and I’m going to be really sad if they can’t find a way out of it. Total misfire this week so watch AEW.

Results

Io Shirai won a ladder match by pulling down the briefcase

Indus Sher b. Ever Rise – Middle rope elbow/backbreaker combination to Parker

Johnny Gargano b. Tommaso Ciampa – Fairy Tale Ending onto exposed boards

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