It was a proud week for Triple H and NXT as four top NXT stars – Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black and Ricochet – made their main roster debuts this past week on Raw and SmackDown.
Black vs Strong
Fresh off his ‘live’ wins over Elias and Andrade on Raw and SmackDown this past week, Aleister Black looked to put Roderick Strong in his place to kick things off on NXT.
Strong, surprisingly, came to the match without any backup from his fellow Undisputed Era members. After an even exchange early on, Strong took control after back body-dropping Aleister over the top rope. The ‘messiah of the backbreaker’ would follow that up by dropping Black with a back slam on top of the steel steps.
Strong would deliver a multiple of back-cracking moves on the former NXT champion to take full control. Black would make a comeback thanks to a moonsault and a few stiff kicks and suplexes and a brain buster. Aleister would then counter another backbreaker attempt for Strong into the black mass for the 1-2-3.
The action wasn’t over here though as Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Adam Cole came rushing out to the ring post-match. Black was prepared, however, and laid O’Reilly out with a black mass just as he entered the ring. The numbers would catch up with Black though as Fish and Cole took control.
Ricochet would come to the aid of Aleister Black, levelling both Cole and Fish with a spring board crossbody before the duo cleaned house.
The Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic was announced this past week on NXT, scheduled to take place two months from now. Four initial teams were also announced which would be O’Reilly and Fish, European Union (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner), Forgotten Sons‘ Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler and Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins, the Street Profits. Four more teams will have to qualify for the tournament.
Mia Yim would take on Xia Li this week on NXT. Fresh off her appearance in the Women’s Royal Rumble, this would be Xia Li’s first major test on NXT TV after the Mae Young Classic.
Li’s fast kicks caused some early problems for Yim but the veteran soon took control after a rolling senton into the corner. Xia would use her feet to mount another comeback but Mia would eventually come out on top, hitting her ‘protect yo-neck’ finish which is what it is called now and picked up the W.
After a heated verbal exchange backstage last week, Shayna Baszler would come out post-match with Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke and assault Mia Yim. However, this time the Women’s Division would not back down as several members of the roster made their way out to try to make the save. But the dictatorial women’s champion and her cronies would be too much for the young upstarts as they cleared the ring before Baszler would hit a running knee to the face of Mia Yim for the exclamation mark.
Former backbone of TNA/Impact Wrestling Jeremy Borash made a rare on-camera appearance as he interviewed Matt Riddle. Riddle claimed that he would do things his way in WWE and his eventual goal was to become NXT Champion before retiring Brock Lesnar.
Riddle shared with Borash that an important advice given to him at the start of his career (by the Blue Meanie) was that you’d rather want someone to tell you to tone it down rather than to tell you to tone it up.
It was also interesting to note that Borash called him ‘the King of Bros’ while WWE have been adamant in insisting that he be now called ‘the Original bro’ instead.
Mia Yim vs Shayna Baszler was made official for next week as the Blasian Baddie looks to exact some sort of revenge on the tyrannical NXT Women’s champion.
Before the main event, Johnny Gargano was seen backstage getting ready for his match with wife, Candice LeRae. LeRae spotted Tommaso Ciampa lurking nearby and asked the ‘puppet master’ what he was doing. Ciampa replied, aimed at Gargano, saying that if he needed him, he would be there. Gargano would respond by saying that he won the NXT North American title by himself and tonight he would do things his way.
The eccentric one, the Velveteen Dream, earned this opportunity by winning the World’s Collide Tournament, beating Tyler Bate in the final before challenging Johnny Gargano last week on NXT.
The Dream took both the in-ring and psychological control early on after a thunderous slap to the face sent Johnny Champion regrouping to the outside. The NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa could be seen in the rafters, watching the match from the shadows.
Gargano would show his new, more aggressive side after gaining control of the match with a number of brutal, heelish offensive manoeuvres.
After an excellent back-and-forth encounter, Dream would hit his twisting DDT for the very near fall. With Mauro Ranallo shouting “dream on” on commentary, the challenger would then hit a death-valley driver from the top rope for another, excruciating near fall.
Gargano would slip out of the ring and away from a purple rainmaker attempt and catch the Dream as he attempted to fly to the outside. Gargano would deliver a suplex on the entrance ramp before rolling Dream inside and hitting his slingshot DDT but, with Mauro Ranallo fast losing his voice on commentary, Gargano would only get a near fall!
With both superstars spent, the challenger managed to hit another death-valley driver before proceeding to the top rope. This time the purple rainmaker would connect for the Velveteen Dream and we would crown a NEW NXT North American champion, the Velveteen Dream!
Also this week on NXT, Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano became the fifth and sixth superstars in history to compete on both Raw and Smackdown and then on NXT as well in the very same week. The first four were Tyson Kidd in November 2014, Charlotte Flair in August 2015 and the Ascension in November 2015.