WWE NXT Review for 2/28/18 by Marc Madison

It’s not a role that I have usually been in, but it is my pleasure to be reviewing this week’s NXT television. Our normal NXT reviewer Kurt is off this week, so I’m filling in.

There are a series of matches that may very well be on the horizon, in the wake of the defeat of Johnny Gargano and his apparent removal from the NXT roster. That appears to be a storyline where there is a lot of unfinished business, and it’s hard to imagine it will simply end like this. What does this week’s edition of NXT TV contain? Check out the review to get an idea of what happened.

The Velveteen Dream vs. Tyler Bate

The Velveteen Dream starts off the show coming down to the ring, bringing with him all the pomp and circumstance that is tied to his entrance. His entrance is about as flamboyant and memorable as anyone in NXT. Fans began chanting his name just before Tyler Bate was announced. Percy Watson, Nigel McGuiness, and Mauro Ranallo all discussed how there appeared to be a lack of respect for Bate on the part of Dream. It’s really interesting how Bate has appeared to fall out of favor, after his initial big push as part of the United Kingdom roster; right now he is simply being used to help elevate other talent.

Initially, a frustrated Dream couldn’t get a handle on Bate and his scientific stylings, and the program cut to a break while Dream was spending his time recovering outside the ring. After the break, the match returns to in-ring action, and Dream gets the advantage over Bate. There are dual chants from the fans, some for Bate, some for Dream. Dream eventually wears down Bate, using different methods to beat down the former UK champion. The rest holds used by Dream were fairly sound, including a camel clutch-type move that worked on Bate’s back. Dream’s size advantage really looks to be a major reason for his being able to wear down Bate and work on the smaller man’s core. Each time Bate appeared to get the advantage of Dream, he came back. Dream hit an incredible spine buster, leading to him getting the advantage. The men hit heads, knocking both down. It then appeared as though Bate was going to hit a super-plex, only to have it countered by Dream, who followed with him hitting the Purple Rainmaker and a three-count win.

Winner: The Velveteen Dream

This Marc’s view: Ranallo points out Bate’s recent series of loses. At the same time, Dream’s push continues as he rises up the NXT roster. Is an NXT championship push where he is headed for before the end of 2018? It may very well be so.

Kairi Sane and Shayna Basler are announced for later tonight.

Paul Ellering discussed how AOP gained notoriety with their win of the Dusty Rhodes Classic in 2016. Akam and Rezar appear and breath fire during their promo, declaring how others should fear them once again.

They show a video of William Regal and Johnny Gargano recorded earlier in the week, which had already been made available online, with Gargano signing off on the termination of his contract with NXT. Referee Drake Wuertz apologized for making the wrong decision and the final count. This was then followed by the announcement that Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega are to appear later on in the show.

Adam Cole vs. Cezar Bononi

Bononi is slated to face-off against one of my favorites in Adam Cole. It’s hard to watch a Cole match and not be biased; win, lose or draw he comes out and delivers a shock the system.

Cole comes to the ring accompanied by Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly. With all three men in the ring, Cole once again did his notable ‘Adam Cole Bay Bay’ proclamation. Cole then picked up a microphone and pointed out how they should celebrate Cezar being named the ‘2017 NXT Future Star of the Year,’ and that his place should as part of the Undisputed Era, apparently offering him a place in the faction.

While Bononi was thinking about it, Cole attacked from behind, only to be taken out himself after posing for the crowd and giving his opponent a chance to recover. Cole then hit a superkick on an unsuspecting Bononi, knocking him down, and followed up with a variation of a shining wizard, only to the back of the head of Bononi. Cole covers for the three count and the win. All members of the Undisputed era then proceeded to beat down Bononi.

Winner: Adam Cole

This Marc’s View: Putting aside the win over Bononi, what feuds would be the ones that would best fit Adam Cole at this point? A number of the notable names on the roster are already involved in storylines or appear to be heels. Eric Young versus Adam Cole would be a nice feud to help elevate Cole, but that would put Sanity on the backburner, and working in a tag team feud seems the best fit for them.

They then show the history between Baszler and Sane, beginning with Sane defeating Baszler in the finals of the Mae Young Classic. We then see when Sane came out to challenge Ember Moon only to be attacked by Baszler. We see videos of just how ruthless Baszler has been arriving in NXT. She then shares what options are out there for her opposition, and what lies ahead.

Next, we see the Street Profits in a pre-taped segment, saying they are going to interview people on the street and ask them for their pick of whom will win the Dusty Rhodes Classic. Funny enough, they interviewed each other, and they believe they will be the winners. It is announced that the first matchup of the Dusty Rhodes Classic will be TM-61 and the Authors of Pain, in a rematch of the 2016 final, and also show the brackets. My prediction would have been for TM-61 to win the tournament after they have been out of action for over a year. This is a tough first-round match, though, and seems silly to have right off the bat.

Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler

Sane makes her way to the ring to face-off against the submission magician. Her entrance is followed by Baszler’s. The early moments of the match were meant to showcase the difference in styles. Sane used her speed to get the advantage, only to be stopped by the stiff kicks and knees of the Queen of Spades. With a beaten Sane on the mat, they cut to a break. Despite Sane’s initial attack on Baszler, this was a very different opponent this time around.

We returned to action with Baszler working on Sane’s left arm to wear her down. She threw her around the ring like a rag doll at times. The manner in which she manipulated the Pirate Princess’ arm, wrist and elbow showed how focused her attack can be. Sane hit a spear and then got her opportunity to beat down the top contender for the NXT women’s champion. She hit the sliding elbow followed by a flying kabuki elbow for a count of two. Baszler countered Sane’s attack and eventually got her to submit after transitioning from a kirifuda driver to a kirifuda clutch. After the match, Baszler talked trash to the beaten Sane in the center in the ring. Baszler then approached the commentary desk and asserted that she is either leaving with Ember Moon’s title or her limb. That is fierce.

Winner: Shayna Baszler

This Marc’s view: After seeing that match, it should have gone longer. It was surprising to see it be as quick as it was, considering the history and animosity these two would have against each other, dating back to Sane winning the Mae Young Classic.

The NXT champion was up next, right after the obligatory ad for Wrestlemania, which is only 39 Days away, don’t you know! Almas came out with Zelina Vega to address a couple of things, one of them likely being the Johnny Gargano dismissal from NXT. Will the blackheartTomasso Ciampa make an appearance? Let’s see.

Vega introduced Almas, much to the dismay of the NXT universe. She called him Mr. 4-0, a pretty neat nickname, and got some fans chanting ‘clean sweep.’ She said Gargano only cared about earning respect, whereas Almas cares about money, success, and power. Almas then tried to address the audience, though his Spanish accent is so thick it was challenging to make out what he is saying. He did rename Johnny Wrestling ‘Johnny Jobless,’ and that the only nickname for himself is ‘NXT champion.’ His music then hit as he stood in the middle of the ring.

We were then shown the graphic for next week’s first matchup of TM-61 and the Authors of Pain, but suddenly Aleister Black came out and entered the ring. He was about to make a statement to Almas, who was standing on the entrance ramp until Killian Dain’s music hit and he came out as well. Dain looked at both Black and Almas, and then the two men in the ring started beating on each other. Dain eventually got the upper hand and stood over Black while looking at Almas who quickly left the area. Ranallo took the words out of my mouth when he said will Dain be the roadblock that stands between Black and the NXT championship.

This Marc’s View: It is a great transitional feud to have Black and Dain face each other, or even for both to be in a feud for the NXT championship. It would make sense for this to be the beginning of a build-up culminating in a championship match at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. Something that should be pointed out is that Vega is very effective in bridging the gap between Almas and the audience, as his in-ring charisma is very well complimented by having a mouthpiece.

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Feel Free to check out my blogThe Wrestling News Hub Magazine include interviews with ROH top prospect tournament entrant, Curt Stallion, Sebastian Suave, Ring of Honor’s Frankie Kazarian, “All Good” Anthony Greene, ‘The Green Machine’ Mike Orlando, Josh Briggs, ROH top prospect finalist John Skyler and current rising Ring of Honor star Flip Gordon with interviews with Tyson Dux, Ivelisse and Madman Fulton (former WWE NXT superstar Sawyer Fulton) and former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas still to come.