There will be a big announcement during tonight’s NXT. Speculation has been rife for days, but no one knows exactly what’s going on. We do know we’re due three matches and a visit from Matt Riddle though. Mia Yim faces Xia Li. Roderick Strong is up against Aleister Black. And the main event of the evening is Johnny Gargano versus Velveteen Dream for the NXT North American Championship. It’s going to be a big night.
Aleister Black def. Roderick Strong
Mia Yim def. Xia Li
Velveteen Dream def. Johnny Gargano
After an opening hype package for the main event, the show opened with Aleister Black’s entrance.
Aleister Black vs Roderick Strong
Well, Black has been on RAW and SmackDown this week, so his time on NXT is probably limited. Roderick Strong is unfinished business. Strong came out alone, which is nice to see but no guarantee he’ll stay that way.
There was no feeling out process required, they just got straight into a battle for supremacy and an exchange of tough strikes that set the tone for the rest of the match.
Strong took the first advantage by pitching Black over the top rope to the ramp, then dumping him back first on the steps. He threw him back into the ring and started working his new target for the night.
Black kept countering and throwing whatever offence he could get in, but Strong dominated for a good while. Another trip to the outside saw Black’s back driven into the edge of the ring. After fighting down from Strong’s superplex attempt, Black’s back gave out and he took a backbreaker instead of delivering a powerbomb.
Eventually, Black built some momentum and hit a brainbuster, but Strong kicked out at two.
Strong got out of the ring after a jumping knee from Black, but caught Black on the turnbuckles, pulled him down and threw him neck first onto the top of the ringpost. Even after that, Strong couldn’t keep Black down for three.
Strong catapulted Black’s throat into the bottom rope, the slammed him face first into the mat, but Black kicked out. They went back to it, and Aleister Black hit Roderick Strong with Black Mass for the win.
After the match, the rest of Undisputed ERA rushed the ring to attack Aleister Black. Ricochet came to make the save. Between them, they cleared Undisputed ERA from the ring.
Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir were shown terrorising the locker room after appearing in the back of a Performance Centre update. Mia Yim was at the forefront of the resistance.
Bianca Belair had a hype package/promo. It was half her talking about what a great year she’s had, and half warning to Io Shirai and Kairi Sane to stay out of her un-de-fea-ted way.
Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa all appeared on RAW and SmackDown this week, so we got a rundown of what they did and how well they did (they all won).
The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is coming back. It starts in two weeks and the winners will face War Raiders at NXT TakeOver New York. The first four teams are Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel, Street Profits, Undisputed ERA (O’Reilly/Fish), and Forgotten Sons. The other four teams will be revealed next week.
Mia Yim vs Xia Li
Mia Yim’s experience and skill advantage in this match is so big it’s faintly ridiculous. However, Li is quick and has some skills so she wasn’t going to make it easy.
Li actually did have the best of a lot of the match, her speed just caught Yim out at times.
The thing with a veteran like Yim is, they’ve always got an extra trick to pull even when they’ve been forced into defence.
Mia Yim evaded Li as she came off the turnbuckle, caught her with a spinning backfist, and won with Protect Ya Neck.
Shayna Baszler ran in to attack Yim after the match, closely followed by Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. They started the beatdown, but Lacey Lane, MJ Jenkins, and Jessie Elaban ran down to rescue Yim, or try to. They all got beaten down and thrown out, and Mia Yim took a beatdown anyway. She got some good shots in on Baszler first though. There was some yelling about respect, the Duke and Shafir held Yim still while Baszler kneed her in the face.
Shayna Baszler versus Mia Yim was later announced for next week.
Candice LeRae interrupted Johnny Gargano warming up, to wish him luck. Tommaso Ciampa came over and LeRae asked him what the hell he was doing there. Ciampa told Gargano if he needs him, he’s there. Gargano said he won the title on his own and he doesn’t need Ciampa, he has everything he needs in LeRae. He’s going to go out and do what he does best, be Johnny Freaking Wrestling.
We got a snippet from a Matt Riddle interview. He was asked if he thought about being more formal when he showed up at TakeOver wearing flipflops and a hat. He said no. Someone told him when he started wrestling that it’s better to be told to tone it down then tone it up, so he’d rather just be himself and if it’s too much sometimes someone will tell him to stop. He’s glad he got rind of Kassius Ohno, now he can focus on what’s important. His goal is gold and nothing is going to stop him. The full interview is available on YouTube
Johnny Gargano (C) vs Velveteen Dream – NXT North American Championship match
It started fast and messy, rolling around on the mat until Gargano grabbed the ropes. Gargano wanted to keep it technical, where he has a clear experience advantage, but a huge slap from Velveteen Dream sent him rolling out of the ring checking his teeth.
Back in the ring, Velveteen Dream took control, keeping it slow and doing just enough to stop Gargano getting back into it.
Gargano knocked Velveteen off the top turnbuckle to turn things back in his favour and got a couple of near falls.
The pace took a while to build. Gargano meted out deliberate and thought out punishment. He got Velveteen in a submission and even used it for a pin attempt, but it wasn’t enough to keep him down.
A throw into the corner sent Velveteen Dream flying to the outside and, after taking some time to pose, Gargano followed. He dragged Velveteen Dream around the ring, chopped him against the barricade, and threw him back into the ring.
A spinebuster gave Velveteen Dream some breathing space, but Gargano was still back to his feet first and they went back to exchanging strikes until a clothesline took Gargano out of the ring. Velveteen dived off the top turnbuckle onto him then rolled him back into the ring but couldn’t capitalise immediately. It took a famouser to keep Gargano down for two.
Velveteen went for an avalanche Dream Valley Driver, but Gargano slipped out of his grasp and unsuccessfully tried for a sunset flip powerbomb, but kicked Velveteen’s leg out from underneath him and delivered a flatliner instead.
A collision put them both on the mat for a few moments. Gargano was punched out of the air, but an attempted Dream Valley driver on the apron only led to Velveteen Dream getting kicked in the head and taking a suicide dive.
It was cover after cover from then. Gargano rolled out of the way of the Purple Rainmaker and landed a superkick. Velveteen Dream had a chance of a roll up. Gargano went to the top turnbuckle, they exchanged headbutts, and another attempt at the avalanche Dream Valley Driver was successful, but Gargano kicked out.
Gargano rolled out of the ring when Velveteen Dream went up for the Purple Rainmaker, so Velveteen altered course and jumped to the outside, only to be met with a superkick, a trip into the step and a suplex on the ramp. And even then, Velveteen Dream kicked out of a DDT.
The finish had to come at some point. Gargano’s superkick was right on target, but Velveteen Dream scooped him up, delivered two Dream Valley Drivers and a Purple Rainmaker, and got the pin. Velveteen Dream is the new NXT North American Champion.
Tommaso Ciampa was shown watching from backstage and shaking his head.
So, the BIG announcement was the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. That’s cool and everything, but it’s not exactly big news. Right up to the end of the show I was half expecting something else to happen.
Other than that, it was a decent episode. Velveteen Dream deserves to be holding a title at this point, although, if we were going to be really picky, it could be argued it should have happened on a TakeOver. I guess we’re back to breaking down Gargano. That was his first title defence. I’m guessing the answer to, where does he go from here, is the main roster, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out from next week.