SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This past episode of NXT was its go home show before Takeover: Philadelphia. As go home shows go, this was not the most exciting, but it served its purpose in setting up for this weekend’s premier event. We saw Johnny Gargano continue his quest in redemption as he gets closer to capturing the NXT Championship from Andrade “Cien” Almas. We also saw Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon sitting down together prior to their match this weekend for one final face off. Other than that, it was a series of squash matches that did not exactly fit into the equation of Takeover: Philadelphia. Overall, this episode was lackluster as it did not have that many hits or misses, just fillers, but it served as a precursor for an event that is sure to have everyone talking after this weekend.
Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream (Number One Contender’s Match for the NXT Championship): Last week we saw Johnny Gargano approached by the Velveteen Dream as the Dream claimed that Gargano is not deserving of the number one contender position as he did not truly earn it. So, Gargano put it all on the line this week in a match with the Dream for the top contender spot to Almas’ championship. Once again, Johnny Wrestling can make any match look good, but it was good to see that he had major assistance from the Dream as he was truly phenomenal. He aided the story by playing the cocky heel that continued to convince Gargano that he did not deserve any of this as he taunted and mocked him. Gargano continued to play the role of the underdog fighting his way to the top, and did a very good job. He fought extremely hard during this match, never giving up and found a way to overcome the Dream as he won with the Gargano Escape. After the match, Almas and Zelina Vega made their way to the ring, continuing to play mind games with Gargano. They mocked him as the Dream did and Almas attacked him, sending him out the ring. As always, Gargano bounced back by climbing back into the ring and hitting him with a slingshot DDT. As he stood there while Almas lied on the canvas, he picked up the NXT title and you could see the belief in his eyes that he can do this and become the next NXT Champion. I believe that this is truly possible as it would cap off the ultimate comeback/redemption story, but as we all know about NXT, a swerve or two can be in the making as well.
The Face-Off Between Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon: Honestly, this was very mediocre as it’s nothing that we haven’t heard before. Moon calls Baszler a bully, Baszler doesn’t care as she plays the cocky heel. The whole interaction seemed scripted and what really makes it poor is that there is not enough history there, mainly on the part of Baszler. She already has a title shot and she just came to NXT yesterday, with no major wins or matches and she is already in the title picture. This could be because of a lack of competition in the Woman’s Division, but I would honestly rather see Kairi Sane in this match, maybe even as a third competitor as this match just doesn’t seem that exciting. Honestly, a rematch between Sane and Baszler would have been more exciting. But overall, this match can go either way as I cannot predict who would win. I think that this is a major representation in the lack of competition in the Woman’s Division. Hopefully we can see more a showcase of the women in the division as there surely is not a lack of talent, but with a shift of focus, the division become lively again.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: NXT HITS & MISSES 1/17: Zelina Vega and Gargano promos, AOP vs. Street Profits, Strong vs. Eichner, Lacey vs. Aliyah
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