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NXT recap & reactions (Mar. 20, 2019): Slump buster


NXT returned to us last night (Mar. 20) with their first episode of the most recent set of tapings. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Triple H opens the show with the NXT championship. He said he was planning to let us know that the main event of TakeOver: New York was going to be Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. But because of Tommaso’s surgery, the champ had to relinquish the NXT championship.

Johnny Gargano will still get to compete for the NXT championship in New York. But against whom? Tonight, we learn the answer when Ricochet, Adam Cole, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, and Matt Riddle will compete in a fatal 5-way. The TakeOver match will be 2 out of 3 falls.

This is as good of way to decide a new champion as any.

I appreciate that Johnny Gargano gets a free pass to TakeOver given he was going to be in the title match anyway. The other five men make complete sense. Former champs, current champ, and the undefeated.

Given the magnitude of the match, and the fact it was the only thing on this show outside a bunch of filler, it may have been better suited as an elimination match. They’re more fun and more decisive. But on the other hand, it’s easier to protect talent as you get to the finish. That’s important.

Triple H started this with his standard spiel about NXT to get the fans pumped, but don’t forget what Dave Batista said on Monday. Triple H is full of shit always. Never forget it.

We see a video about Tommaso’s surgery

Normally, we’d skip this, but I’m always a big fan of these videos. WWE/NXT is very good at them. Explaining the surgery and some of what’s involved is some extra info for the fans who are interested in such thing and demonstrates the severity of the injury for those less interested.

They did slip in an expected recovery time of a year. Hopefully he heals up quickly, but if its gotta be a year, its gotta be a year.

Io Shirai & Kairi Sane are being interviewed backstage about TakeOver. They say this won’t come between their friendship, but they’ll fight each other if they have to. An irritated Bianca Belair interrupts, claiming that this shouldn’t be a fatal 4-way because Shayna Baszler interfered in the contenders match. On her way out, she bumps Sane with her shoulder.

This was some great attitude from Bianca. She had the righteous indignation with a splah of heelish since Io could have the same gripe. Plus, she talked down to fan favorite Kairi Sane and then delivered the obnoxious shoulder bump as leaving. It was all right in her wheelhouse.

She should stop saying she’s “Un-de-fea-ted” though. At least this time she made sure to note that it was her mindset, but it sounds a bit dumb given she’s not actually undefeated.

Adam Cole wins the Fatal 5-way to become the #1 contender to the NXT championship

This was non-stop. It was akin to drinking a very sugary drink. It kept the heart pumping but lacked the substance of slower matches with less participants. Given the fact it was booked quickly due to the injury, this was probably the best they were going to do. And again, it was really fun. The feel of the match was “Holy crap, that spot was crazy. No, holy crap, THAT spot was crazy.” These type of matches are very enjoyable, though more easily forgotten than those that have the benefit of build.

Everyone in this match was a stud, but it was Matt Riddle who stuck out for me. His style is just unique. I really don’t watch much outside the WWE system, meaning NXT is my first real exposure to the Bro. And even in his short time in the black and yellow, he feels special.

Adam Cole was the right choice to win here. He and Riddle were the only two in this match that haven’t faced Gargano at TakeOver. And it’s too soon for Riddle to get the nod. Cole’s win likely speeds up the “Slumping Undisputed ERA” story they were telling, which could be part of the story they tell in the weeks before New York.

Cole vs. Gargano wasn’t the plan, and it’ll always be a shame we won’t get the planned end of Ciampa/Gargano, but this should still be quite the match in New York.

The entire show was about this fatal 5-way. It was the announcement, a bunch of filler, and then the match.

Grade: B

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