Welcome one and all to a huge installment of the NXT Spotlight here at TJRWrestling. We’ve got one of the biggest main events in NXT TV history tonight as Johnny Gargano puts his NXT career on the line for one more shot at the NXT Championship and Andrade Almas. No further introduction is needed, so let’s get to the show!
We start with a great video package hyping up the match, showing Almas’ ascent to the title and Gargano’s quest to try and get the title. Will tonight compare to their masterpiece at Takeover: Philadelphia? Let’s find out.
The Velveteen Dream vs. No Way Jose
Nigel called TVD “The enigmatic superstar”, which is straight from Jeff Hardy’s catalog. He’s going to need to come up with something else. I feel like TVD is what Jose should’ve been, had they not cut the legs out from under Jose last year at WrestleMania. TVD mocks Jose while laying in some hard European uppercuts. The crowd is fully behind TVD. TVD tries to springboard off the top rope but Jose catches him with a double chop. TVD charges him but gets back body dropped over the top rope. Jose then follows up with a catapult dive over the top rope. The crowd reacts…mildly to say the least, as we go to commercial.
We come back with TVD recovering and lands a stun gun over the top rope, followed by a swinging neckbreaker. TVD goes for his elbow drop but Jose gets the feet up. Jose throws TVD across the ring and then attacks him in the corner. Jose tosses him twice more, the third time being sent into the turnbuckles. Jose goes for his pop up punch, but TVD hits a dropkick in mid-air to reverse it. TVD hits his cartwheel DVD and then goes to the top rope for the Purple Rainmaker and that’ll do it.
Winner: The Velveteen Dream
Post match, TVD grabs a mic as the crowd chants his name. He names himself the male competitor of the year, along with overall competitor of the year. Asuka, Aleister Black, Tyler Bate, no one cares about them. TVD’s name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. If you can’t see that, then he doesn’t have time for you.
K-Tank’s Take: Not much to say on Jose that I haven’t already said. I wish they’d give him more, but the crowd has definitely milded on him, which is a shame. TVD has become such a star for the brand. He caused a stir on Thursday morning with a tweet that got people buzzing. Perhaps a set up for Richochet’s debut match at Takeover: New Orleans??
We go to William Regal backstage with a big announcement. He says 2018 is shaping up to be huge for the tag team division. With that, he’s honored to announce that in two weeks, the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic will return. Not only will the winners get the Dusty Rhodes Cup, but the winners of the Classic will get a title shot at Takeover: New Orleans.
K-Tank’s Take: Seems rushed to me. Why not have the finals at Takeover? I know spots are limited but it doesn’t lend much time for winning the Classic to have much of an impact. Just based on what I’ve been saying for a few weeks, TM61 would be my early pick to win it all.
Vanessa Bourne vs. Nikki Cross
Big ovation for Nikki. Nikki comes right out with forearms and then stomps Bourne down in the corner. Nikki ends up mounting Bourne and attempting, well I really don’t know actually, but Bourne manages to throw her off and then hit a version of the Black Hole Slam. Bourne stomps away on Nikki in the ropes and uses her 5 count to full advantage. Bourne hits a snap suplex with a pin but Nikki kicks out. Bourne starts to pie face Nikki, which excites Nikki, who comes flying at Bourne with a cross body. Series of forearms by Nikki and then a splash in the corner. Nikki goes to the top rope and lands another cross body. She then hooks on her Fisherman’s neckbreaker, which Mauro is now calling The Purge, and that gets the win.
Winner: Nikki Cross
K-Tank’s Take: Nikki just feels like the odd woman out in the division. She’s clearly not in the title picture for the foreseeable future, but to me it seems obvious she’s the most popular member of the division.
We go back to last week for a recap on the face to face encounter between Killian Dain and Aleister Black.
We then stick to last week with a recap of Kairi Sane making the save for Ember Moon by taking out Shayna Baszler. Those two, Baszler and Sane, will face off next week.
NXT Title Match – Career vs. Title
Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Zelina Vega) (c) vs. Johnny Gargano (w/Candice LaRae)
Great to see LaRae come out and even the sides right from the start. She’s sporting a “Mrs. Johnny Wrestling” shirt, which I thought was funny. 23 minutes left in the show as we start the big match introductions. So it clearly won’t go the 30+ minutes they did last time, but at least for a TV match, this is getting a ton of time. The bell rings and Almas does everything he can to get a quick pin. He then goes for the Hammerlock DDT, but Gargano escapes to the floor as we go to commercial.
We return with Gargano eating a NASTY back elbow. Gargano is able to recover and hits a step up enziguri and then a dropkick, before clotheslining Almas to the floor. Gargano wants to go for a suicide dive but Vega gets in the way. LaRae gets in the ring and it’s her that lands a beautiful suicide dive on Vega, absolutely pancaking her. Gargano on the opposite side hits a cannonball splash on Almas. LaRae and Vega brawl up the stairs, onto the stage and all the way backstage. Gargano throws Almas in the ring and tries for his slingshot DDT but Almas cuts him off and then hits his version of the Reality Check on the apron. He gets Gargano in the ring and goes for a pin but Gargano kicks out. Almas ends up tying Gargano up in the ropes with an armbar and uses the five count to his advantage. Almas now starts to work over that left arm. Once more in the corner, Almas hits his version of the Reality Check, with Gargano positioned in the ropes. He goes for a pin but Gargano kicks out as we go to another commercial.
We return with Almas hooking an armbar but Gargano starting to fight out. Almas goes for a suplex but Gargano reverses it and lands his rolling kick. Gargano comes off the second rope with a hurricanrana that sends Almas to the floor. Almas comes back in before Gargano can dive onto him, but Gargano stops on the apron and comes back into the ring with his spear through the ropes. Almas manages to kick out of a pin attempt. Both men trading blows now. Gargano with a superkick to the knee and then tries another, but Almas ducks and then ends up picking up Gargano and hitting a Buckle Bomb. Almas immediately goes for his running double knees and lands it, but Gargano kicks out of a pin. Almas wants the Hammerlock DDT but Gargano fights out. Almas still manages to throw Gargano into the ringpost shoulder first though. Both men are on the apron and Gargano lands a superkick. Both men trade shots again. Gargano picks up Almas and he ends up getting dumped back in the ring, so Gargano goes for the spear through the ropes again but Almas turns it into an armbar this time. Almas then turns it into a Gargano Escape but Gargano gets out. Gargano goes for the Hammerlock DDT but Almas excapes and then they trade quick pin attempts. Gargano charges Almas in the corner but Almas powerslams him into the turnbuckles. Gargano is face first into the turnbuckles, so Almas lands a reverse double knees, but Gargano still kicks out. Almas gets Gargano up on the top turnbuckle and wants to hit his Hammerlock DDT from there but Gargano fights out. Almas manages to crotch Gargano on the second rope though. He then goes to the top turnbuckle to hit a double foot stomp, but Gargano throws him to the floor in a huge bump by Almas. Gargano dives through the ropes and lands a tornado DDT on the floor. He gets Almas back in the ring, lands his slingshot DDT, goes for the pin but Almas kicks out! Tremendous near fall.
Both men on their knees, trading shots again. They get to their feet, still going blow for blow. Gargano lands a superkick and then goes for a victory roll, but Gargano gets thrown off. Almas charges Gargano, who moves, and Almas takes out the ref. Almas turns around and walks right into the Gargano Escape! The ref is down and through the crowd has come Tommaso Ciampa! Ciampa with the crutch and he drills Gargano across the back with it. Ciampa makes his way back into the crowd and Almas drills his Hammerlock DDT finally, 1-2-3. Johnny Gargano has to leave NXT. The match went about 18 minutes with those two commercial breaks included.
Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas retains
Post match, Vega returns to celebrate with her man as we get replays of the finish. Gargano is left by himself in the ring and the crowd gives him a standing ovation with a “Thank you Johnny” chant. LaRae returns and sits by her man to console him. The announcement is made that Gargano now has to leave NXT. Gargano tells LaRae that he’s sorry and she hugs him as the “Thank you Johnny” chants start again. Husband and wife leave together and then Ciampa appears in the crowd again after they’ve departed, and creepily waves goodbye to his former partner. That ends our show.
K-Tank’s Take: Well it wasn’t the classic like the last one, but I don’t think that was a realistic expectation. It was fantastic for what it was, and a bittersweet conclusion. Mauro’s call of the finish was phenomenal and really made you feel the emotion of the final pinfall. It’s very rare when you have an anything vs. career match, and the person that puts their career on their line, loses. So that gave this more emphasis. I don’t see any way that Gargano doesn’t get one more match against Ciampa at Takeover, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this really is the end for him and he’s moved up to 205 Live after WrestleMania. A month or so ago, that would be a death sentence, but HHH is trying really hard to make 205 Live viable now, and I could absolutely see him building the division around Gargano, the best pure babyface maybe in pro wrestling period, to give it some true star power. I did like the follow up that NXT had on social media with Gargano having to sign his termination papers. You can see that below.
That’ll do it for this week. Next week I’ll be on vacation, so it’s possible your fearless leader John Canton will fill in for me. Whatever the case is, until next time, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… but if you do, name it after me!