NXT TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 28, 2018
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY JUSTIN JAMES, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
[Q1] Pre-match recap of Johnny Gargano’s heartbreaking loss last week reminded me of how well the little things were done. The ref, Drake Younger, looks like he may have deliberately slow counted (instead of merely being woozy from the elbow shot to the face) out of reluctance to count Gargano out. WWE.com had a video of Gargano signing his release from NXT, and Younger apologizing to him for screwing up, and Gargano accepting the apology. Gargano has been removed from the NXT credits, but Crutch Shot Ciampa has been added in many places.
Velveteen Dream once again starts NXT. I think he may have actually worn this entrance outfit before. He is facing Tyler Bate, in what I feel is a no-win booking scenario. Neither Bate nor Dream need a loss right now, they need to be strong, and there is no good reason for this mtch to occur. Furthermore, the in-ring work should be Takeover-quality, so why give the match away with no built? Dream shoos the ring announcer out of his way to pose on the turnbuckle.
(1) VELVETEEN DREAM vs. TYLER BATE
Dream eludes Bate’s early mat work, then applies a wristlock. Bate escapes and reverses. Bate and Dream are having an almost courtship dance-like chain sequence. Dream loses his cool and bails. [c]
They are continuing the back-and-forth on the mat out of the break. Dream slips outside to frustrate Bate. A stout backbreakber gets Dream two. He celebrates a bit and taunts Bate. Dream with sustained offence. Double axe handle with a two count. Bate with a series of European uppercuts, a big boot. Exploder suplex, Bate gets two. Bate calls for the airplane spin and gets it, until Dream gets a hand in Bate’s face.
[Q2] Dream thorws Bate into the ropes, he bounces off and lands a clothesline for two. Back body drop counters the Tyler Driver ’97. Sick spinebuster, cover, but Bate kicks out at two and a half. Bate sends Dream to the corner with uppercuts. They bump heads, Dream is knocked out and Bate is rubbing his head to wake himself up. Dream recovers, goes to the top, but a dropkick stuns him. Bate thinks superplex but gets crotched. Purple Rainmaker for the win.
WINNER: Velveteen Dream in 10:00. The beginning of this match was brilliant. This was long for a Wednesday night opener, but this pairing deserved another 5 minutes in the ring and a few more weeks before the match to tell the story properly.
Paul Ellering has a video package reminding us that the Dusty Rhodes Classic is how the Authors of Pain rose to the top. Akam and Rezar emphasis the message.
Replay of the WWE.com video of William Regal officially terminating Gargano and telling him he has to finish up a few commitments over the next few weeks. Followed by Drake Younger’s apology. Great voiceover from Mauro Ranallo, saying that while he tries to be impartial calling matches, it was hard to watch that clip.
(2) CEZAR BONONI vs. ADAM COLE (w/Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly)
After the bell rings, Cole gets a mic. He asks the crowd if they know who he is facing, the NXT 2017 “future star of the year” and asks the crowd to applaud Bononi. Cole invites Bononi to the Undisputed Era. O’Reilly tosses a UE shirt to Bononi. It looks a touch small for Bononi. He looks at it, then Cole ambushes Bononi. A couple of big boots and a celebration, so Bononi hits a big boot of his own, clears O’Reilly and Fish off the apron, covers Cole for two. Minchnoku Driver for a nearfall. Fish and O’Reilly distract Bononi, Cole lands a superkick.
[Q3] Shining Wizard to the back of Bononi’s head ends the match.
WINNER: Adam Cole in 2:53. Wow, so Cole actually almost lost to the one-win Bononi, despite having his friends on the side. This was supposed to help Cole?
Post-match, Fish and O’Reilly add a few insults to Bononi’s injury.
Video package on the Shayna Baszler – Kairi Sane feud, going back to the Mae Young Classic.
Street Profits are in the parking lot talking themselves up with regards to the Dusty Rhodes Classic. They pretend to interview each other as if they are “man on the street”.
The Dusty Rhodes Classic bracket is announced:
Left side: Street Profits vs. Heavy Machinery, and TM61 vs. The Authors of Pain
Right side: Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss vs. Sanity, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Moustache Mountain
(3) KAIRI SANE vs. SHAYNA BASZLER
Baszler paintbrushes Sane a few times, so Sane fights back. Sane leapfrogs, gets trapped on the legs. Sane uses a front facelock on Baszler who moves to a side headlock. A mat match is not what I expected here. Back-and-forth in the corner, Baszler ducks uner a top rope move. Sane slides under and rolls up baszler for two, but her follow-up sliding knee runs into a boot. Baszler with strong kicks and a two count. [c]
Baszler is picking Sane apart. Another two count. Bar bar looks like it could break Sane’s arm, but Sane suddenly rolls up Baszler. Sane dodges a knee in the corner, giving her the chance to deliver strikes to Baszler. Spear to Baszley, but Sane is too wounded to follow up. Sane with a sliding knee, elbow from the top but Baszler has a kickout in her. Baszley wants a suplex, but Sane slips out, and hits a spinning backfist.
[Q4] Sane to the top, Baszler knocks her off with a kick, hits a driver and into a submission hold. Sane taps out.
WINNER: Shayna Baszler in 6:56. Sane got lots of offence, but this wasn’t going to be Sane’s night. Where does Baszler go from here?
Post-match, Baszler goes to the announcer booth. She says that Moon can’t call her out, she is calling Ember Moon out, and she will either leave with Moon’s title or “a limb”.
NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega come out. Vega introduces Almas as the greatest champion in NXT history. She calls him “Mr. Four and O.” Vega manages to get a “clean sweep” chant going. Vega wants to know who cares about earning respext, Almas earns fame, power, and respect. Vega says “unlike most women” she doesn’t feed off a man’s success, she created it. Almas says he made Gargano into “Johnny Jobless.” If they call Gargano “Johnny Wrestling” what do they call Almas? They call him “Champion.” Almas is celebrating and walking out… and there is Aleister Black emerging from the side as he did a few weeks ago. Vega does not look happy about this turn of events. Black and Almas stare each other down. Black is about to speak when Killian Dain’s music predictably hits. Dain comes out too. Black takes off his ring jacket and prepares for a brawl. Dain huffs and puffs then charges Black. They brawl. Cross-body flattens Black as Almas and Vega decide to leave.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I am questioning the booking all over this episode, I feel like I missed four weeks of build to the Bate vs. Dream and Baszler vs. Sane matches. The Bate vs. Dream match in particular did not need to happen, except that Dream has already beaten all of the other gatekeepers, and having him win squashes is below his card position at this point. Dream desperately needs a credible feud to develop now, or else he will be at risk of missing Takeover. The same can be said for Adam Cole. Perhaps the right move is to build Cole up, embrace Dream as a face, and have them meet in New Orleans?
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 2/21 NXT TV Report: Gargano challenges Almas for NXT Title and leaves NXT if he loses, Velveteen Dream vs. No Way Jose, Cross vs. Borne