NXT returned to us last night (Feb. 27) as they continue to build to to TakeOver: New York which is five weeks away. You can find the results from tonight’s episode at the live blog here.
Johnny Gargano opens up the show. He mentions showing the world what NXT is all about on Raw and SmackDown Live before discussing his match with Velveteen Dream. He failed as Johnny Champion, failing himself and the fans. He’s about to talk about a revelation he’s had when NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa interrupts.
The champ tells Johnny that he’s better with Tommaso in his life. They proved it on Raw. He makes the case that they both need each other. He then proposes they enter the Dusty Classic and become champions together.
They shake hands.
Later on, Tommaso and Johnny walk out of the building to find Candice LeRae waiting very angry. Ciampa leaves them and Johnny tells her to trust him, but she’s not hearing it.
This story has been going on for awhile, but I’m still digging what they’re doing. They keep changing it up enough that it’s not tiring me out.
Tommaso continues to be brilliant. He clearly fears Johnny Gargano coming for his title, so he keeps manipulating his former partner to avoid that fate. First he pointed him in the direction of Ricochet and the North American title. When Gargano got the job done using tactics out of the Blackheart’s playbook, he was more comfortable getting close to him.
Now Johnny lost that title but his eyes are set on gold. So Ciampa quickly came out to convince they tag together.
Going back in the Dusty Classic is a great move for a later chapter of this story. They were introduced to us in the Dusty Classic years ago, which started their epic journey. This would be a good call back as they head towards the end of this. Which I bet is Johnny turning on Ciampa because he’s figured out Tommaso doesn’t want to be friends but keep his title. Then they have their final match in New York. Perhaps that’s already Gargano’s plan and that’s the “Trust me” that Gargano pleaded to Candice LeRae.
This would have been an episode better suited before they went on Raw and SmackDown and maybe it is why they opted to keep them off main roster TV this week. Now we have a reason for them to team on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Vanessa Borne & Aliyah def. Taynara Conti & Xia Li
And for your truly developmental segment of the week...
It’s no surprise that the heel duo they introduced last time took the win. Aliyah may be best suited in the role where she’s part of a team. It’s asking her to carry less of the weight and getting Borne some time on TV. (Borne is green still, sure, but likely has the higher upside.)
Xia Li continues to impress me. She was set up as the hot tag so she could get all her kicks in and didn’t have to do much. But she’s got that something that makes her feel special.
And Conti still needs her reps, but she looks a bit more confident each time she’s in there.
Dominik Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee ends in a double count out
After the match, both men want to continue fighting the referees make sure they don’t.
This was a straight hoss fight!
These men gave each other their best shots and couldn’t get a win. A Dijakovic moonsault to the outside put both men down long enough to miss the count.
While the action was really fun, I may have enjoyed Dominik’s frustrated facial expressions even more. That was a man who couldn’t believe he hadn’t won the match yet.
This will clearly get a rematch. I appreciated them wanting to fight after the match afterwards, even though they clearly didn’t have the energy for it. These two men are competitors. They expect a fight to end with a winner and a loser. To end with neither just isn’t right.
That rematch should be a great time.
The last four teams of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic are revealed as #DIY, Ricochet & Aleister Black, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, and Mustache Mountain.
The final four teams are much more exciting than the standard ones they introduced last week. They’ve got the big story represented in #DIY. They’ve got the super exciting Mustache Mountain and also very exciting Lorcan & Burch.
Ric and Black are an interesting team and I wonder if they were a last minute addition. Since they’re teaming on the main roster, were they put in here to add legitimacy to a team that was pretty thrown together? Or was this always the plan? And do they go further than planned (if it was a plan) since they do have to shine them up for the main roster?
Also, two of these teams have wins over the Raw tag team champions.
These reveals have me pretty damn excited for the Dusty. Starts next week!
WWE Women’s tag champs Bayley and Sasha Banks make a surprise appearance. They make it known that the tag titles will be defended everywhere, including NXT. Bayley tells the women in the back to step it up and maybe next time, they’ll be defending those belts.
This was a nice little surprise.
OK, it probably wasn’t a surprise. If you didn’t read about it online prior, the thumbnail that WWE network used for this episode (at least on my XBox) was a picture of them with the titles.
Seeing these two come back to Full Sail packed a minor emotional punch. (Let’s call it an emotional jab.) These two helped build the promotion in Full Sail to help make NXT was what it is today. And you could tell it felt like home to them. There was a level of comfort that you could notice.
I also appreciated the Boss mocking Izzy for crying during the Iron Woman match. Never change, Sasha.
Curious to see when that first title defense is. Better be against the Sky Pirates!
Shayna Baszler def. Mia Yim via submission
This was Mia Yim’s breakout match in NXT.
I’ve been a fan of hers, but never felt she showed her potential. Tonight she did.
She started with a believable aggression, the appropriate response after Shayna’s attack last week. The punches she delivered when she was on top of the champ looked legit. Unfortunately, her fire cost her when she kicked the ring steps instead of her opponent.
This led into some consistent selling of a bum leg. Yim never stopped selling, which is so important. It was the story of the match, and you could feel her pain alongside her.
She also maintained her passion throughout. When she shouted at Shayna to knee her, baiting her into a pinfall, it displayed her emotion like we haven’t gotten to see. The fans were buying into it too. When Mia escaped the first Kirifuda Clutch by going after Baszler’s hand, the crowd popped.
This was a good match for both women, but Mia was the one who needed it more.
I also appreciated that they didn’t go with the Horsewomen numbers game and just kept it a strong one on one match.
Next up for the champ is the winner of Io Shirai against Bianca Belair in two weeks. She’ll face the winner in Brooklyn.
This was a fun episode this week.
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