A very entertaining episode of NXT as a number of fresh-faces emerged as a new crop of talent in the new year looked to make their mark.
NXT this week started with the NEW NXT North American Champion, Johnny Gargano, making his way to the ring with a big smile plastered across his face. Gargano addressed the crowd’s ‘Johnny Champion’ chants, saying it had a really nice ring to it. The crowd would go on to shout ‘you deserve it’ at Gargano as well in what was a very warm reception for heel Johnny.
Gargano would announce to the world that Johnny Wrestling was back and that ‘we’ were validated when he won the NXT North American championship.
Soon though, Gargano would be interrupted by the still NXT Champion and his old running buddy, Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa would congratulate Johnny for ‘following his lead’ as they both now ran NXT and the world. As the crowd chanted ‘DIY’, the Sicilian Psychopath declared that this was their moment.
Gargano would have none of it, however, and responded by telling the NXT Champion that there is no ‘our’ moment. He explained that the only reason he appeared at the end of TakeOver and stood next to him was to show Ciampa, face-to-face, that Johnny Gargano would never need Tommaso Ciampa.
Gargano and Ciampa’s argument would soon be interrupted though by none other than the mercurial Velveteen Dream. Dressed in a very eccentric, almost middle-eastern attire, the Dream would remind everyone that he won the WWE Worlds Collide tournament. This meant that he had earned himself a championship opportunity at the title of his choosing.
Addressing the NXT Champion, Velveteen Dream would tell Ciampa that he was not after his NXT championship. Instead, he would enter the ring and tell Johnny Gargano that the Dream wanted him.
Gargano would warn the Velveteen Dream over choosing him, reminding everyone in attendance that he stole the show at TakeOver – again – before going on to represent NXT in the Men’s Royal Rumble match just a day later. The Dream would retort by saying that all of that depended on the simple question of which Johnny would show up: Johnny Champion or Johnny Jackass.
Velveteen Dream was the star of this segment. From his promo attire and calling Ciampa and his precious title ‘Gollum and goldie’ to his back-and-forth with Gargano, he oozed confidence and charisma as soon as he showed up. 2019 is surely his year to rule in NXT.
Forgotten Sons and Forgotten Nations
The trio’s muscle, Jaxson Ryker, took on new NXT talent Mansoor from Saudi Arabia, formerly known as Mansoor Al-Shehail. Guess his country of origin caused WWE to drop his last name and not announce his hometown in his ring entrance. The young man appeared in WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble match in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last year.
Mansoor didn’t get much offense in as Ryker finished it off in a few moments, initially intercepting a crossbody from the corner into a spear before delivering a jumping spine buster for the 1-2-3. Post-match, Cutler, and Blake would continue the assault and Ryker would give another spine buster to the upstart, Mansoor, as Forgotten Sons momentum continued.
Drew Gulak NXT
Drew Gulak was shown in a backstage segment early in the show arriving at Full Sail. Gulak is the newest member as he made the jump from 205 Live.
Gulak was booked to have his debut match against an eccentric-looking man called Eric Bugenhagen. The best way to describe this person and their gimmick would be if Freddie Mercury, indie star Joey Ryan and No Way Jose had a love child.
Bugenhagen would start the match playing an air guitar but the veteran Gulak soon took control with a drop kick. Gulak would lock in the Gulock very soon and make the newcomer tap.
After the match, Drew would get on the mic and talk about how he had wrestled all across the world and to be given an opponent like this for a match on NXT was disgraceful. Gulak would deliver the line of the night as he called his opponent “Ben Stiller from Dodgeball”. That got a huge pop from the crowd.
Be careful what you wish for Mr.Gulak, because out came Matt Riddle. The “Original Bro”, as WWE are calling him, came out to challenge Gulak. Gulak responded by telling Riddle to take his flip-flops off and make his day. Gulak was fantastic in this verbal exchange.
Drew Gulak vs Matt Riddle
In an impromptu match, Drew Gulak and Matt Riddle locked horns in what was the former’s second match in less than 15 minutes.
Gulak would try to match Riddle with his own submissions but the powerful former UFC fighter took control late on, delivering a barrage of kicks and suplexes. Riddle eventually managed to put Gulak away after a powerbomb, kick to the face and then Bro-mission combination, making him tap out. After the match, Drew Gulak would show good sportsmanship, unlike Riddle’s last opponent, shaking hands with his opponent.
A quite interesting segment and match. No one could have predicted that Matt Riddle’s next feud would be against Drew Gulak but the two had good chemistry and Gulak can hold his own on the mic.
Adam Cole and Ricochet had a backstage confrontation this week on NXT. Cole called the One and Only a one-trick pony. Ricochet would respond by challenging the leader of the Undisputed Era to a match next week on NXT.
Johnny Gargano has been pencilled in to defend his new NXT North American championship against the Velveteen Dream two weeks from now on NXT TV.
A six-women tag-team match was the main event this week as Io Shirai, Kairi Sane and Bianca BelAir teamed up to take on Shayna Baszler and her cronies, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. With Black History Month, Bianca paid homage with an elegant ring attire.
Shayna tried to school BelAir early on, easily getting out of a few offensive manoeuvres. Duke and Shafir sold impressively for the high-flying baby faces while Baszler was at her heelish best.
Eventually, the experience and chemistry of the two Japanese ladies in the face team took over and a new contender to Shayna Baszler’s NXT Women’s championship emerged as Io Shirai pinned the champ after a picture-perfect moonsault from the top rope for the pin. Kairi Sane took home the award for the cutest moment on the show as she tried to play with Bianca BelAir’s long locks after the match.
A fantastic back-and-forth match, the inexperienced Duke and Shafir still need some in-ring improvements but it was slightly better than their match last week.