clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NXT recap & reactions (Jan. 9, 2019): Remember who we are


NXT returned last night (Jan 9) with their first episode from their most recent taping. Check out all the results at the live blog here.

Johnny Gargano opens the show talking about how success in NXT is defined with wins and champions, not trying. So he will win more in 2019 and he will become a champion. When he focuses on Tommaso Ciampa next, the crowd chants DIY, which he shuts down. Johnny insists that their working together was a one time thing that will never happen again. As he’s concerned, Ciampa is still a piece of trash who has what he wants.

However, Gargano says that since Ricochet talked some trash about the North American championship, he will take that from him.

He’s interrupted by Ricochet, who says if Johnny wanted the title, all he had to do is ask. Ric wants to know if Gargano is going to take that title face to face or after taking him out from behind in the parking lot.

Next to interrupt is Ciampa. Before much could be said, Aleister Black’s music plays, though he only pops up on the big screen. He tells Ciampa to make sure that his focus is on him and not Johnny. The lights go out... and he’s behind Ciampa! Black attacks! Ciampa is able to hightail it.

Meanwhile, in the ring, Gargano delivers a superkick to Ricochet, who was paying attention to the other two!

Hot damn, what an opening. It served as a perfect reminder to where we were with the hot angles on the top of the card. It’s been a couple weeks of NXT filler. This was necessary to recap and remind the fans how good these angles are

I’ve always been a fan of stories that bleed into each other, which these certainly do. It’s not just Johnny feuding with Ricochet and Tommaso feuding with Aleister. All these men’s journeys weave with the others. There’s one big angle at the top of NXT and these men are all living in it. And they all look great.

Ricochet has a swagger about him that can’t be taught. He’s not necessarily a fire promo. But man, when he walked out dressed to the nine’s telling Johnny that if he wants the title, just ask, he just oozed coolness. His promo later where he’s angry about what happened was also strong.

Ciampa continues to be just a manipulative, insufferable ass. Which made Aleister’s attack so satisfying. As for Black, this is the best he’s ever looked in NXT. His NXT title run was lackluster (much because of Ciampa and Gargano on top), but now he feels like the star that should hold the title.

Johnny’s the oddest of them all. He’s a heel who thinks he’s a face, who the fans will cheer some of the time and boo others. It’s a tough position to be in, but he’s playing delusional very well.

This was a great way to get hyped up for Phoenix in a few weeks.

Bianca Belair def. Nikki Cross

What a great swan song for Nikki Cross in NXT. And a great showing for the #1 contender as she makes her way still un-de-fea-ted to face Shayna Baszler.

Of their three matches, this was their best, and that’s no just because it’s the one with the finish. It was a crisp bout matching up raw talent against the crazy, wiley veteran. Their characters shined through the entire time, not just before and after the bell.

They also included moments in the match you can point to growth in Belair, mainly when she took Nikki’s finish and immediately rolled all the way across the ring to the apron. And her victory was taking advantage of a mistake (missed splash from the top), These were small moments but add to the believability that she’s grown to the point that she can defeat the champ in Arizona.

The Street Profits cut one of their video promos about how 2019 is their year.

Honestly, I need to see more from the Profits than these videos of them outdoor somewhere. They’re entertaining in the ring, which is something we haven’t seen in awhile. Perhaps with Heavy Machinery headed to the main roster, they can slip into that void and face some of the teams they rattled off in this promo.

They’ll be in action next week. We’ll see if that is against an enhancement team that doesn’t lead to much or if 2019 really is their year.

The European Union def. Hector Kunsman & Stanley Watts

This match had no business being this good.

It was quite entertaining though, mainly because they let the losing team show some offense and because those two sold their asses off for Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel.

Stanley Watts almost stole the show, but the UK duo kept up and looked better putting down the impressive Watts than they would have just kicking the crap out of these two unknowns.

This did an admirable job taking me from, “Meh, don’t care” to “I’d gladly see these guys again.”

A fallout video hinted at a feud with Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Sign me right up.

Adam Cole def. EC3 with the Last Shot. At the very end, all of the members of Undisputed ERA tried to get involved, distracting EC3 allowing Cole to win.

EC3 endures a beatdown post match until War Raiders make the save. The Raiders destroy ERA four on two.

I’ve always been a huge fan of EC3 the character but never much of EC3 the in-ring worker. His time in NXT didn’t turn him into a 5 star classic but there was improvement. This match may be one of my favorites of his in his NXT run.

It wasn’t anything fancy. EC3 sold a shoulder injury that Cole targeted. But it was never slow and plodding. There were no long rest holds. EC3 showed off his power while Cole showed off his cunning. It was an entertaining bout from start to finish. Of course it helps that the Panama City Playboy is so damn good.

EC3 picked up the loss, which makes sense since he’ll be showing up Monday or Tuesday soon. But this didn’t feel like a swan song like Nikki Cross’ did. (Granted, Nikki was much more a staple of NXT than the Top One Percent.) I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him show up one more time in a non-wrestling role, to get a little revenge on the ERA before moving on up. However, his fallout interview really makes it seem like that was it.

The War Raiders post match beatdown was a blast. Those are two big, athletic guys. We’ve seen them face ERA in NXT once prior (and probably a ton of times in Ring of Honor), but I have a feeling their match at TakeOver: Phoenix is going to be special.

A strong episode of NXT to ring in the New Year and get us hyped for Pheonix.

Grade: A

Sound off below.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats