NXT TV REPORT
JANUARY 24, 2018
TAPED IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY JUSTIN JAMES, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
[Q1] Pre-credits package with Velveteen Dream. He calls for ambiance and music starts playing. Then he conjurs up fog. And lights. He talks about dreams and experiences. He finally turns around so we can see him. He smugly calls out Johnny Gargano and his dreams of being NXT champion. Dream doesn’t doubt that Gargano has that in his guture, but not while Dream is in his way. Dream says that Gargano’s dream is tainted with doubt, but Dream’s is pure.
[ J.J.’s Reax: Super unique presentation for Dream. The delivery felt a touch weird, but Dream is weird. ]
No Way Jose is out first to a nice reaction. He is facing Cezar Bononi. We mentioned Bononi recently on the PWT Talks NXT podcast, and we agreed that he has a good look and in ring talents, and is just waiting for the right moment to break out.
(1) NO WAY JOSE vs. CEZAR BONONI
A handful of hair lets Bononi reverse a headlock, then he knocks Jose down. Bononi telegraphs a lepfrog, letting Jose hit an Atomic Drop. Lots of back-and-forth here. Popup baseball punch ends it.
WINNER: No Way Jose in 3:20. OK match to keep No Way Jose on the radar as a credible member of the undercard.
They advertise for later tonight a face to face interview between Shayla Baszler and Ember Moon, with Percy Watson stuck in the middle. Michael Cole would call this “combustible”.
Video promoting Aleister Black facing Adam Cole at Takeover in an Extreme Rules Match.
[Q2] Bianca Bel Air comes out, skipping her way to the ring. She is facing the “already in the ring” LaToya
(2) BIANCA BEL AIR vs. LATOYA
Quick waislock takedown from Bel Air, she blows LaToya kisses. Bel Air drive LaToya into the corner. LaToya wants a school girl but Bel Air grabs the ropes, then wrestorys LaToya. Brutal stomps in the corner. Bel Air hefts LaToya up, but she slips out. Bel Air transitions LaToya’s head scissors attempt into a back breaker. Bel Air is just cocky at this point. LaToya tries to rally, she goes to the second rope but takes a big right to the middle coming off the ropes. Reverse powerbomb ends it.
WINNER: Bianca Bel Air in 3:36. Bel Air has a “cool heel” problem, much like Shayna Baszler. She does all of the heel work right, but she is so strong and dominant, and doesn’t cheat, it is hard to boo her. She makes it look easy, literally not even breaking a sweat despite many tests of strength in that match. I am high on Bel Air.
Sit down with Bazsler and Moon, with Watson asking the questions. Moon just eyes Baszler. Watson wants to know why Moon called out Baszler, who is just smirking and giggling. Moon says Baszler is a bully and couldn’t cut it in the women’s division without working around the right way. Baszler says it wasn’t about Sane or anyone else, it was about Moon. Moon gets fired up and says that everyone else lives by a code of sportmanship, and being the NXT Women’s Champion means you have responsibilities to do things right. Moon says that if Baszler becomes champion she will understand, but she won’t become champion over Moon. Baszler acknowledges that Moon achieved her dreams and climbed to the top from the bottom. Baszler doesn’t care if anyone knows her path, because she has worked just as hard as Moon, and promises to take the title at Takeover. The stand up, go face-to-face. Moon shoves Watson’s hand off her. Baszler doesn’t care what the NXT Universe thinks about her. Moon is huffing and puffing.
[ J.J.’s Reax: I don’t think this format did Baszler or Moon any favors, but I liked th attempt here. ]
Part 2 of “Who Are TM61?” discussion of their introduction to NXT. Miller talks about an injury he received in the Dusty Rhodes Classic, and how he tried to work through it until he just couldn’t do it anymore.
[Q3] The Authors of Pain come out for a match against a pair of jobbers. They decide to forgo the match and just destroy their opponents. Akam gets on the mic and tells Undisputed Era “you see this, this is you!” Then Rezar emphasizes it. Half of the promo was in another language but it doesn’t matter, they spoke the universal language of pure rage and poison.
[ J.J.’s Reax: I never thought I’d enjoy a short promo that I couldn’t understand so much. Don’t overuse that from them, let Ellering be their primary mouthpiece, but that worked really well, much like Brock Lesnar’s limited mic time. ]
Lacey Evans is booked to face Nikki Cross next week, which is a feud I suspected would happen based on house show activity.
Gargano is out to a great reception. Dream comes out with a Gargano shirt turned into a halter top with fringes. Let’s see if Gargano can once again be defeated by a WWE Shop item. The crowd is 50/50 here.
(3) JOHNNY GARGANO vs. VELVELTEEN DREAM – Gargano’s #1 Contender Status on the line
Lockup, armbar from Dream, Gargano looks to reverse, Dream into an armbar. Gargano spins arond reverses, gets Dream into a front facelock. This is some hot, hot technical action here. The reverals and counters on the mat are too fast to keep up with. Dream eventually separates with the upperhand, then mocks Gargano. Gargano takes advantage, Gargano Escape, Dream makes it to the ropes. [c]
Back elbow gets Dream out of a hold right out of the break. Dream gets sent over the ropes but he lands on the apron and poses, so Gargano kicks him off an dinto the booth, then hits a rolling senton from the apron to take Dream down. Dream is writhing in pain on the outside, and may have hurt his arm. Dream catches the slingshot spear and hits a spinning neckbreaker. Dream with elbow drops, punch to the back, cover for two. Dream yells at Gargano for taking his spot. Dream stands on Gargano in the ropes.
[Q4] Dream wants a neckbreaker, but Gargano fights out, transitions to a backslide for two after a big fight, Dream off the mat with a kick. Dream still selling his arm while Gargano recovers on the outside. Dream heads to the top, then jumps back into the ring, hits a double axe handle from the apron. Dream is still selling his left arm. Another axe handle from the steps. Gargano fires back with chops, Dream has a forearm shiver and drops Gargano onto the apron. [c]
Gargano is rocking Dream after the break with clotheslines and punches. Enziguri puts Dream in the corner. Gargano to the top, flying tornado DDT for a nearfall. Gargano is selling his neck. Dream witha fireman’s carry, Gargano slides down, they trade covers. Superkick from Dream, Gargano hits the ropes and has a clothesline, slow cover for two. “Fight forever” from the crowd. Gargano with forearms, Dream gets the fireman’s carry, Gargano slips out again. Dream shrugs off a Gargano Escape attempt, Dream with a DDT, slow cover, nearfall. This match is just so good. Dream stumbles up to the top, Gargano cuts his legs out with his arm, sending Dream to the outside. Suicide dive slams Dream into the barricade. Gargano is bleeding from the mouth. Dream is barely moving. Dream gets rolled into the ring, Gargano tries to go up top, Dream barely gets to the ropes to knock Gargano off and crotch himself. Dream goes to the top for a Super Death Valley Driver. Dream weathers elbows from Gargano and hits it, rolls into a cover, Gargano kicks out at two and seven eighths. Ranallo is going nuts in the booth and so I am. Dream to the top, still selling the arm, so he tries the right arm, the pause lets Gargano get knees up. Dream is wreck and Gargano knows it. Super kick to the kneeling Dream, Gargano Escape on the ruined arm, Dream almost instantly taps out.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano in 13:41. Holy cow, what a great match. The story told was so good, with Dream’s arm injury slowly costing him more and more chances at victory. Once Dream showed the injury he stopped the showboating and got serious. The reversals, mat work, and overall story of Gargano desperate to show he is legit all add up to this match being an early front runner for “Wednesday night match of the year”.
Post-match, NXT champion Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega come out. Almas points at Gargano like he is a bit surprised. Almas holds the title in Gargano’s face, turns away, and tries to attack Gargano. Gargano sees it coming, blocks it, but the fresh Almas is able to overpower the worn out Gargano. Almas dispatches Gargo and gets booed. As Almas gloats, Gargano recovers and is able to attack Almas and knock him silly. Almas is down, Vega is screaming, and Gargano eyes the belt. Gargano picks it up to get a close look at it, he gives it a real look, then eventually holds it up in the air and screams like he means business.
FINAL REAX: Been a while since I enjoyed a Wednesday night this much. The Gargano – Dream match was outstanding, and the post-match events were perfectl executed. I am super psyched for Takeover. Dream has proven he can more than “hang” with top talent, he can meet them in the middle with ease; we need to see him in some matches with less talented folks to see if he can carry a match too. But right now, Dream is feeling very much so like the real deal as a long term player for WWE. I know I want to see him on my screen for a long, long time.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 1/17 NXT TV REPORT: Gargano’s landmark promo, AOP vs. Profits, Heavy Machinery vs. Moss & Sabatelli, Strong vs. Aichner