NXT JANUARY 24TH 2018
The show opened with Velveteen Dream cutting a promo from the Performance Center, complete with Velveteen Dream ambience. He said everyone dreamed of being NXT Champion and told Gargano that he didn’t doubt he was the superstar to become champion, but not yet, when the choices were Gargano and him, ending by saying Gargano’s dream would be over.
No Way Jose vs. Cezar Bononi
This was Jose’s first appearance since Lars Sullivan beat him in September. This was distinctly average, at best. Bononi has the look and the athletic background, but he seemingly hasn’t progressed too much yet since his first TV match in May. He looks a little awkward, purely on the basis of how tall he is. Maybe he’d be better off squashing people and finding his feet than going the old NXT route of waiting your turn in an enhancement role. Jose, who seems to have hit his own ceiling for the time being, won with a pop-up punch. Seems like the crowd wanted to like Jose, even though there wasn’t much to be enthused by here.
Hype video for Cole versus Black at Takeover.
Bianca Belair vs. Latoya Allsopp
Squash for Bianca. Bianca has obvious potential. She also has the hair whip, which always gets a reaction. She won with an Alleyoop, after hair whipping Latoya out of mid-air.
Percy hosted a sitdown interview with Ember and Shayna. The fact that this had ominous music playing over the top of it from the very first second seemingly tipped off that there was going to be violence here. To the point that I wrote ‘this music really tips off what’s going to happen here’. And then, there was no violence, which ultimately made the music a bit distracting, because my first thought at the end of this was ‘wait, why did they play the music over this?’. I’m not sure what the deal is with all the mood music they’ve been playing lately, between this, Undisputed Era’s promos and Velveteen Dream’s promo on this show. Luckily, the actual promos here were good enough to ensure the music thing didn’t overshadow the actual segment and was just mildly amusing. Ember called Shayna a bully and asked if she was overcompensating. Shayna said you had to stir up waters to catch fish and Ember was the big fish in NXT. Ember talked up the code of sportsmanship they had and said if Shayna ever became champion, she might get a small glimpse of what that meant, but it wouldn’t happen at Takeover. Shayna faux-complimented Ember on rising from the bottom to get where she was, but claimed she’d worked just as hard to get where she was. She told Ember that when she woke up at Takeover and saw her walking away with the title, it’d be her walking away with her dreams. The two got face to face, as Percy asked what one thing Shayna would want the NXT Universe to know about her. Shayna said she didn’t care what they thought about her or how she got there, they were just going to have to get used to it. Shayna was good here and I can see Ember getting plenty of promo time when she hits the main roster, because her delivery is very theatrical. Whether that’ll be a good thing, who knows. Good segment, but can we cool it with the BGM, NXT?
Part 2 of the TM61 profile video. This one covered Thorne’s injury. He actually got hurt during a singles match with Strong before the Takeover match against The Authors Of Pain, during which he did a somersault off of the rig holding the shark cage. As you do. They showed the injury angle with The Revival and Thorne getting out of the hospital. They also showed some outtakes of them trying to cut a promo, as they talked about how they’d been trying to be something they weren’t since coming to NXT and how people hadn’t seen what they were capable of doing yet, which is not the tact you expect WWE to take with something until very, very far after the fact. This was again really, really good stuff and hopefully, anyone who watched this can’t help but root for them going forward.
The Authors Of Pain were supposed to have a squash match, but they attacked the two jobbers before the bell even rang and hit double DVDs into the corner. Akam got the mic and told Undisputed Era that this would be them, with Rezar adding that it would be their turn at Takeover. They then hit the Super Collider for good measure.
#1 Contenders Match
Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream
Winner of this would face Almas at Takeover. Dream came out wearing Gargano’s t-shirt, albeit a customised one to fit the Dream look. Crowd were split between the two, with big dueling chants that just kept going and going during the opening exchanges. Gargano got the Gargano Escape early when Dream started taunting him, with Dream having to make the ropes and regroup. Dream would take control briefly, during which he teased coming off the top to the floor, but decided against it and hit an axe handle off the apron instead. The last half or so of this was back and forth though and it made for a strong main event. Dream got a couple of big nearfalls, with his Shell Shock style DDT and a DVD off the second rope, with the commentators selling that they didn’t want Gargano to lose his opportunity. Gargano would block the elbow off the top though, hitting a kneeling superkick and locking in the Gargano Escape, which Dream tapped out to immediately, giving Gargano a decisive win heading into Takeover. The result was never really in doubt, but this was still a fun match.
Andrade and Zelina would come out during Gargano’s celebration, seeming amused that Gargano won. Almas held the belt up in front of Gargano before attempting a cheapshot, which Gargano was ready for. Almas got the better of Gargano regardless, throwing Gargano out of the ring dismissively and posing with the belt. Gargano got back up though and hit a slingshot DDT, before picking up the NXT Title belt and standing over Almas with it to close the show.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Gargano versus Dream, the Ember/Shayna sitdown interview and the TM61 profile video are the takeaways from this show. All well worth checking out.
NXT WEEK: The post Takeover show with pre-Takeover matches, with TM61’s in ring return and Nikki Cross against Lacey Evans.