Welcome one and all to the final installment of the NXT Spotlight before Takeover: Philadelphia. This Saturday is the first big event of 2018 for NXT and we’ve got 4 matches announced so far and would expect to see a 5th one announced tonight on the show. We’ve got a huge #1 Contenders match tonight to see who will officially challenge Andrade Almas this weekend. Let’s get to it!
We start with The Velveteen Dream who asks for ambiance and atmosphere. The screen goes black, purple haze comes up around him. He says we all dream of being NXT champion one day. Johnny Gargano has this dream. TVD doesn’t doubt that Gargano is that type of star. Just not yet. Not when the choices are Gargano and The Velveteen Dream. No matter how the pieces fall, a dream will be over.
No Way Jose vs. Cezar Bononi
Bononi with a shoulder tackle after a side headlock. Jose comes back with one of his own. Jose catches a leapfrog and turns it into a reverse atomic drop. A “CM Punk” tries to start randomly and those fans get booed out of the building. Some really sloppy action by Bononi and he eventually just slams Jose to the mat by his hair. Serious miscommunication there. Bononi lands a pumphandle slam that took too long to develop and Jose kicks out. Jose comes back with a swinging neckbreaker. Jose with strikes and then a powerslam. He goes for his wind-up, pop-up punch and it lands for the win.
Winner: No Way Jose
K-Tank’s Take: That was not pretty at all. Crowd was behind Jose at least, but that was not easy to watch. As I’ve said before, I hope Jose gets a renewed push.
We get the video package from last week that hypes up the Extreme Rules Match between Aleister Black and Adam Cole.
Bianca Belair vs. Latoya Alsop
Belair starts with a go behind takedown. Latoya tries a rollup but Belair grabs the ropes and takes down Latoya with a shoulder tackle. She stomps a mudhold in the corner and then repeated shoulder thrusts into the midsection. Latoya slides out of a slam and tries a headscissor takedown but Belair stops her in midair and turns it into a backbreaker. Latoya tries kicking Belair down but Belair just comes back with a massive forearm shot to the face. Belair then hooks an upside down double chicken wing. She lifts Latoya up and drops her face first. Latoya manages to get out of the way of a charging Belair in the corner and tries to come off the second rope with a move but Belair slaps her in the midsection with her ponytail. Belair then gets Latoya up in her alleyoop powerbomb and that’s the match.
Winner: Bianca Belair
K-Tank’s Take: That ponytail is so simple, yet so effective. I’ve been high on Belair in recent weeks if you’ve been reading my reports and it’s good to see her on TV again.
We now to go an interview that Percy Watson conducted “earlier today” with Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon. The first question is why did Ember call out Shayna? Ember says that Shayna is a bully. She tries to come in and injure people. Is she trying to over compensate for something? Percy follows up on that and asks Shayna about why she’s trying to hurt her competitors. She says it was simple, Ember was the big fish and she wanted her. Ember says she knows what Shayna was doing. Shayna isn’t coming into the women’s division and take the shortcut way to the top. She broke the code of sportsmanship they’ve established. There’s a ton of responsibilities that comes with being NXT Women’s Champion and maybe one day Shayna will come to understand that, but it won’t happen at Takeover. Shayna says that Ember achieved her dreams and that’s a good job. The difference between them is that she doesn’t care if people know her journey to get to the top. She assures Ember that she’s worked just as hard as her. At Takeover and when Ember wakes up to see Shayna walking away with the title, she’s also walking away with Ember’s dreams. Percy asks one last question, what would she want the NXT Universe to know about her? She says she doesn’t care what they know or what they think about her, they’ll just have to get used to it.
K-Tank’s Take: I have to admit, tremendous promo from Shayna. She stole that segment. Ember was the fiery babyface but that promo was designed to make Shayna look credible and it did a good job of it.
We now go to Part Two of the video packages for TM61. We find out that Shane Thorne actually hurt his knee weeks before their Takeover: Toronto match against The Authors of Pain, which was the finale to the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Tournament. It was a double foot stomp in where one foot went straight to the mat instead of landing on his opponent. They say that they would hate for anyone in NXT to think that all they are is what they’ve done so far. They’re much more than that. There’s even a cameo from Harley Race who says to look out for them as they’re looking to be the best. They will return to the ring next week!
We now go back to ringside where the Authors of Pain are scheduled for a match. However, they attack their opponents before the bell and we get double Death Valley Drivers into the turnbuckles. Akam grabs a mic and tells The Undisputed Era that this is them. Rezar says this Saturday, it’s the Undisputed Era’s turn. It’s now time for a Super Collider and that’s it.
Next week will be Nikki Cross vs. Lacey Evans
#1 Contender’s Match
Johnny Gargano vs. The Velveteen Dream
Great to see Velveteen Dream back. He was apparently injured after War Games, but no one ever heard what the injury was. He gets a huge reaction and dueling chants start immediately. TVD comes out out in Johnny Wrestling’s t-shirt for some mind games. 20 minutes left in the show so this could be really good. This is the loudest the crowd has been in the time they’ve been in Atlanta. The chants won’t stop. Really good chain wrestling to start and TVD snapmares Gargano to finally get the advantage. He showboats and it allows Gargano to lock on the Gargano Escape but TVD gets the ropes. The chants finally die down and we go to commercial.
We come back with Gargano having a hammerlock on TVD but TVD hits a back elbow to escape. TVD goes to the apron to showboat again and Gargano dropkicks him off the apron and he hits the announce table. Gargano now comes off the apron with a cannonball dive. Gargano gets TVD back in the ring and then tries his spear through the ropes but TVD catches him and turns it into a swinging neckbreaker. Great counter. Gargano comes back with a backslide but TVD kicks out and ends up throwing Gargano to the floor. TVD now goes to the top rope but then jumps back to the mat and was just kidding. That was funny. He ends up just jumping off the apron with a double ax handle and then he stun guns Gargano over the barricade. Both men start to trade blows on the outside after TVD breaks the count, but then TVD back suplexes Gargano onto the apron as we go to commercial again.
We return to both men trading blows in the ring and Gargano gets the advantage as he starts to fire up. He lands a step up enziguri and then lands his rolling kick out of the corner. Gargano goes to the second rope and drives TVD down with a 360 Flatliner. TVD manages to kick out of a pin. Gargano with a sunset flip but TVD counters it into a pin of his own. Both men get up, TVD with a superkick that sends Gargano into the ropes and Gargano bounces back with a lariat. Gargano barely able to get his arm over TVD and TVD kicks out. Both men trading blows once again and TVD goes for his cartwheel DVD but Gargano escapes. Gargano goes for the Gargano Escape but TVD avoids it and then lands a DDT out of nowhere that looked similar to Sister Abigail, except it ended in a DDT instead of a flatliner. It looked cool. Gargano kicks out and then manages to knock TVD off the top rope. TVD goes to the floor and Gargano comes flying through the ropes with a suicide dive. TVD back in the ring and Gargano goes to the top rope but this time it’s TVD who knocks him off. TVD climbs up himself and gets Gargano up in a fireman’s carry on the second rope and lands his cartwheel DVD! Wow! TVD with an arm over Gargano but Gargano kicks out at the very last second! Tremendous near fall. TVD goes to the top rope and goes for his elbow drop, but his arm had been injured by Gargano and he can’t land it the way he wants. He jumps off anyways and Gargano gets the knees up. TVD is on his knees and Gargano with a superkick. Gargano can now lock on the Gargano Escape and TVD has to tap out. It went 14 minutes.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
After the match, Gargano is celebrating, but it’s cut short by Andrade Almas’ music. He comes out with Zelina Vega and both are all smiles. They get in the ring and Almas raises his title high in the air. He gives the belt to Vega and then tries to sucker punch Gargano but Gargano is ready. Both men trade shots but Almas ends up gettin the upper hand. He throws Gargano to the floor and then goes back to showboating with his title. Gargano is climbing back in the ring and lands an enziguri, followed by a slingshot DDT. Now it’s Gargano’s turn to raise the title as he stands over Almas. That ends our show.
K-Tank’s Take: That was a fun match, especially after the second commercial. It definitely didn’t look or sound like TVD has lost any momentum after his show stealing performance at War Games. I hope big things are in store for him. As for the title picture, I’ll cover that in my prediction piece this week.
That’s it for this week. We will have coverage of Takeover on Saturday night, so be sure and join us for that. Until next time, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… but if you do, name it after me.