We have a couple of matches tonight featuring departing superstars. EC3 takes on Adam Cole, and Nikki Cross faces Bianca Belair. In an NXT UK Crossover, the European Union – otherwise know as Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel – have a match against undisclosed opponents. And we’re expecting to hear from Johnny Gargano.
Bianca Belair def. Nikki Cross
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel def. Stanley Watts & Hector Kunsman
Adam Cole def. EC3
Interestingly, Nikki Cross versus Bianca Belair and EC3 vs Adam Cole are being advertised as a double main event.
Johnny Gargano opened the show. He was all smiles as he wished everyone a happy new year and said 2018 was a bit of a rollercoaster for him but he had time to sit and reflect over the holidays and he realised something. Success is measured by wins and championships. It doesn’t matter how hard you try it doesn’t how good of a person you are. It matters if you win or have a championship. So, in 2019, he’s going to be better, he’s going to win, and he’s going to become a champion.
Turning to the subject of Tommaso Ciampa, which raised ‘DIY’ chants, Gargano said he heard what Ciampa said but it was just a moment in the cage which meant nothing. It was a one-time thing which will never happen again. Ciampa is still a piece of trash with a title he wants.
But there is another championship and as soon as Ciampa put the idea out there, Ricochet fired back at Gargano and said if he wants the smoke it’s right there. He doesn’t want the smoke but if he wants the North American Championship, he’s going to take it. Ricochet may fly around like a superhero but…
That was all he got before Ricochet came out and said if he wanted an opportunity at the North American Championship, all he had to do was ask. But he’s going to take it? Is he going to take it face to face, or after jumping him from behind in the parking lot? When it comes to TakeOver only one man will walk out and remain North American champion.
Tommaso Ciampa came to the stage and said wins and championships are what this is all about.
Gargano told him to shut up and told him to go away because it’s about him and Ricochet.
Aleister Black’s music played, and Black appeared on the big screen. He said he sincerely hope Ciampa is more concerned with him than Gargano, because unlike Gargano he poses a real threat to him. At NXT TakeOver Phoenix, he will make him fade to black. The lights went out and when they came back on Black was on the ramp behind Ciampa. They started fighting and disappeared backstage via the announce desk. Ricochet was still looking at where they’d gone when he took the superkick from Johnny Gargano.
Gargano left the ring and left Ricochet staggering to his feet in the ring.
William Regal confirmed, via tweet, the Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong will defend the NXT Tag Team Championships against War Raiders at NXT TakeOver Phoenix.
Bianca Belair vs Nikki Cross
It might be the dual main event, but it didn’t get top billing.
Belair shoved Cross to start the match. Cross just laughed and said let’s play. She was less amused by the second shove. Nikki Cross shoved her back, hit her with a crossbody and narrowly avoided the hair whip.
Cross wound up I the outside and caught Belair in the ring apron and beat on her. When Cross climbed the turnbuckle, Bianca Belair caught up with her and lifted her off over her head. She followed the gorilla press slam with a moonsault but only got two.
Belair tried to break Cross down but what breaks down most people just wakes Cross up. She countered Belair’s vertical suplex into a DDT, but couldn’t capitalise. She was fired up now and got in a run of offence including the running bulldog and culminating in a two count.
Bianca Belair hit Cross with a spear and got herself a two count. Nikki Cross got her knees up for Belair’s splash and delivered her fisherman neckbreaker, but Bianca Belair rolled out of the ring. Cross followed her and jumped on her back. Belair dropped back onto the ramp in an echo of their first match.
It looked for a moment like it would end on a double count out just like that first match, but both made it back in on nine.
It turned into a frantic brawl from then, like they’d used up all their other ideas already. Cross sent Belair into the post the got a two count from a roll up.
The ref nearly counted them both down for ten, but they struggled to their feet and went back to it. They battled in the corner for a while until Cross pushed Belair off and dived after her. Bianca Belair avoided the flying Cross, picked her up, and delivered the KOD to stay un-de-feat-ed.
Street Profits had a promo segment where they managed to be wildly entertaining without saying much. They’re planning to take over the tag division this year. They’ll have their first chance of the year next week.
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel vs Stanley Watts & Hector Kunsman
I am unsurprised but very disappointed that they couldn’t give Aichner and Barthel a regular roster tag team, but this turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected.
Watts and Kunsman put up a fight, and Stanley Watts is ridiculously fast. They were still there to lose though, and after being made into human origami by Barthel and generally thrown around that’s exactly what they did.
The powerbomb into German suplex finisher, as commentary called it, was more, Aichner threw Watts to Barthel to be suplexed, but it did the job.
Cathy Kelley confirmed that Ciampa and Black were removed from the premises after their fight. She spotted Ricochet leaving the building and asked him what happened. Ricochet said he went out there and told Johnny Gargano all he had to do was ask. But now it doesn’t matter if William Regal makes the match, he wants Gargano and he won’t stop until he gets him. All the respect he had for Gargano, he superkicked away. Gargano wants his title. Ricochet’s going to take him out.
After a recap of Kassius Ohno destroying Matt Riddle after their match last week, we were told that Matt Riddle is not cleared for action. Keith Lee was asked for comment as one of Riddle’s closest friends. Lee said the attack was unsettling. He invited Kassius Ohno to turn up next week so he can teach him a lesson in respect. He’ll make sure Ohno has no choice but to bask in his glory.
EC3 vs Adam Cole
The whole of Undisputed ERA came out to support Cole but EC3 didn’t look remotely intimidated.
Cole tried to escape the ring but when EC3 leaned over the ropes to drag him back in, Cole caught him with an enziguri. EC3 fell out of the ring and Cole threw him into the steps.
Back in the ring, Cole stayed on EC3 and worked over the shoulder which hit the steps. Cole failed to suplex EC3 out of the ring and got suplexed back into it instead.
Ec3 had got his second wind. He landed an elbow drop and got himself a two count, but Cole took back control by dragging EC3’s shoulder down over the ropes. A backstabber put EC3 down, but couldn’t keep him down. Adam Cole missed with the Last Shot and took a suplex and a clothesline. He kicked out at two.
Nothing Cole threw at EC3 was enough so, while Booby Fish distracted the ref, Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly got into the ring and attacked EC3. He fought them off and punched Fish for good measure, but he caught a superkick from Cole and a Last Shot kept him down for the three count.
After the match was done, the Undisputed ERA beatdown began. War Raiders ran down to make the save and took out all of them. Rowe slammed Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish at the same time and Kyle O’Reilly took a double team from the. Finally, Undisputed ERA scooped Kyle O’Reilly from the floor and retreated backwards up the ramp.
While Nikki Cross versus Bianca Belair had an air of inevitability about the result – Cross is leaving the brand and Belair has a title match in two and a half weeks – it still felt like the right match for them to do. I’m desperately hoping Cross goes to SmackDown with the rest of SAnitY. I think she’d be a better fit there. I still have concerns about Lacey Evans’ gimmick on the main roster, but I’d probably send her to RAW. I’d also send Lars Sullivan and Heavy Machinery to RAW, and EC3 to SmackDown (EC3 versus The Miz has to be a thing, right?).
Everything is building to TakeOver very nicely. It’s looking like another strong card but, honestly, with the roster NXT currently have, they’d have to try pretty hard to produce anything but a top class card.