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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 20, 2019): Dream On

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NXT came waltzing back into our lives last night (Feb. 20) with a big North American championship match. You can find all the results at the live blog here.

Aleister Black def. Roderick Strong with the Black Mass

The rest of the Undisputed ERA attack Black post match. Ricochet runs down to lend a hand. Black and Ric hold the ring.

This was quite the opening match. It was a real blast to kick off the show.

While watching it, I thought about how impressed I was that Roddy Strong found such a great niche in the brand. He was one of the most “meh” debuts for me and even with the video packages trying to get fans to connect with him, he was still rather bland.

But then he joined the Undisputed ERA and really found his groove as the preppy douche in the douche group.

One thing that did hinder how much I was able to get into this match was Aleister’s spot. It really feels like he’s in his twilight stage of NXT. And this was a feeling I had prior to him showing up on Raw and SmackDown. It’s a tough position for any promotion to figure out the spot for a man or woman leaving the title scene.

The fact that Black picked up the win makes me think he’s still got a bit of time in NXT (or at least that was the plan when this taped). Both Ricochet and Black feuding with the lads of the ERA feel like a bit of a re-run, but we’ll give them time to make it feel special.

The Dusty Rhodes classic returns in two weeks. Four of the eight teams in the opening round are the Undisputed ERA, Forgotten Sons, Street Profits, and Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel.

There’s not much to get into here. But the Classic is fun.

Personally I hope they shake things up with the last four teams. A surprise or two would really spice things up. Like how they used it to introduce a team like Ciampa and Gargano in the first year. Or maybe bring a main roster team down to help give it the rub.

The first four teams make sense, but they’re not the most exciting. I love the ERA and the European Union are a fun team, but the Profits and Sons are in a spot where they’re not exciting me right now. Then again, what better way to light a team up than giving them a good run in the Dusty?

Mia Yim def. Xia Li

Mia is attacked by Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir after the match. She is saved by MJ Jenkins, Lacey Lane, and Jessie Elaban. However, the Horsewomen neutralize the backup. Then Duke and Shafir Hold Yim as Baszler knees her in the face.

Shayna Baszler really is a force to be reckoned with now that she has her Horsewomen in her corner. They made some quick work of the gals making the save for Yim and then the champ delivered a stiff knee to the face.

Yim having a match with Baszler on television, which is scheduled for next week, will be good for her. She’s been directionless since coming onto NXT TV. (Also, her matches haven’t blown the roof off the place, not that that’s a requirement for success.)

But now she has a big match with the top of the division. What better way to show it’s time to be more featured on TV than with a good match against the champ?

Her match with Xia is a bit of an afterthought here since the post match angle is the real takeaway. But I really liked what Xia showed in the ring. I look forward to seeing more of what she can do in time.

The final point I will make here is NXT should try to avoid multiple segments ending with factions attacking people. They opened with it when Undisputed attacked Black. And then they went to the well again here. They did the same weeks ago. It feels less special when both teams do it on the same show.

Jeremy Borash (!!) interviews Matt Riddle. The Bro talks about being himself, recalling advice that it’s better to be told “Tone it down” than “Tone it up.” He talks vanquishing Kassius Ohno. His eyes are on any gold he can get.

How crazy is it to see Jeremy Borash on NXT TV? Being an Impact lifer not long ago, it’s still weird to see him on the black and gold. This is the man who had his head shaved by EC3. He teamed with Abyss against Scott Steiner and Josh Mathews. (I guess he can still have his head shaved by EC3 or team with Abyss if he wanted.)

I guess we should talk about the Bro. This was fine. Honestly, I don’t think sit down interviews are the best way to showcase Riddle. He’s very charismatic, but talking into a camera isn’t the way to showcase that. Face to face with an opponent and his work in the ring captures his charisma more than a situation like this.

If you want to see more Riddle, or more importantly, more Jeremy Borash, you can watch more of this in the video above.

Velveteen Dream def. Johnny Gargano to win the North American championship

This was a banger of a main event.

It started off taking its time, which a 20 minute television match needs to. The narrative behind the match looked to be that Dream couldn’t keep up with Gargano. He seemed out of his element against a veteran like Johnny.

Even as the match hit the fever pitch, Johnny was the one capitalizing on the mistakes and risks that the challenger would make and take. However in the end, Dream was able to just outlast Gargano and pick up the win when the moment was finally there.

After the match ended, they showed Tommaso Ciampa backstage with a somewhat emotionless but curious look on his face.

Now Dream is a champ, but what does that leave Johnny and his weird relationship with Tommaso. (This is not including the fact they tag together on Raw and SmackDown. Let’s forget all of that.) This isn’t just a title loss for Johnny Wrestling. It has more implications.

Earlier in the night, Johnny turned down the champ’s offer to be in his corner. Then he lost. Will this convince him that he needs more Ciampa in his life, despite what Candice LeRae would say about all of that?

It’s always great when a very good title match already has a story ready for the loser and not just the winner.

A very good match to open the show and even better one to close the show. The middle of the show wasn’t too much of note, but the main event propped this show up.

Grade: B

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