It was a homecoming for two NXT originals this week on NXT while another talismanic NXT tag-team of the past reunited to a mixed reception.
Johnny Gargano kicked things off on NXT this past week, coming out to give what was surprisingly a babyface promo. A week after losing his NXT North American title, Gargano talked about how he was on top of the world and how it all came crumbling down in his first title defense. Johnny Wrestling even went as far as saying he let all of the fans down and that “we” climbed the mountain together.
As the crowd chanted ‘Johnny Failure’ at the ‘tweening’ Gargano, Gargano started saying that he has come to realize that the only reason he has had success around here – but wait. Johnny ‘Former Champion’ is interrupted by the current NXT Champion, Tommaso Ciampa.
Nigel McGuinness very quickly asked the question “is he the reason?” as Ciampa made his way out. The Sicilian Psychopath would waste no time in addressing the elephant in the room, claiming that Johnny Gargano is at his best when alongside Tommaso Ciampa. They beat the Revival on RAW and they beat The Bar on Smackdown – together.
As the crowd chanted DIY, Ciampa claimed that every time they both enter the ring, they win. He went on to say that they both need each other.
Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic
Ciampa would mention General Manager William Regal announcing the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic and how that was where the magic started for him and Johnny. The infuriatingly calm heel champion would then proclaim that it was where it all began for DIY and it would be where it all ended – side-by-side, as champions.
Ciampa would extend his hand for a handshake – and Gargano would reciprocate. The return of one of the greatest tag-teams in NXT history, this time as heels, is now set. DIY is going to be a part of the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic.
An incredibly significant segment between two of NXT’s top stars. The landscape of NXT is shifting.
The final eight teams are now set for the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic and so are the brackets. Some incredibly mouth-watering clashes await the NXT Universe in the first round alone including the reuniting DIY taking on the Undisputed Era and Aleister Black and Ricochet facing the European Union, Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner.
Speaking of tag-teams, Cathy Kelley was shown backstage, interviewing Ricochet. Kelley commented that it had been an incredible week for both Ricochet and Aleister Black, who he teamed up with on the main roster. But there was still unfinished business for both men down in NXT.
Ricochet would respond by saying that if the Undisputed Era were taking part in the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic, then he would be paying Mr. Regal a visit and telling him that him and Aleister want to be one of the last remaining teams to participate in the tournament.
Later on in the show, both Ciampa and Gargano were seen in the backstage area, walking side by side and making their way out of the arena where they were intercepted by Gargano’s wife, Candice LeRae. Ciampa would leave to give the couple some alone time.
Candice would put her hand up to stop Johnny before he could try to explain. Gargano would try to say “just trust me” but Candice didn’t want to hear any of it. Candice would respond with “I hope you know what you’re doing” before walking off and leaving Johnny standing alone.
Women’s Tag-Team Division
With the newly-formed Women’s Tag-Team titles on the main roster, it is imperative to now include the Women’s in the ‘tag division’ conversations as well.
Vanessa Borne and Aliyah made their way out to the ring as a tag-team, two weeks after Borne’s interference helped Aliyah take out Taynara Conti on NXT TV. The heel duo’s opponents would be Conti and Xia Li. Both teams should a lot of impressive athletic maneuvers with Xia Li getting the hot tag from Conti before cleaning house.
However, the heels would get the upper hand after Borne managed a sneaky blind tag on Aliyah unbeknownst to Xia Li who tried to pin the latter before Borne smashed her with a clothesline. A clumsy-looking double-team team move from Borne and Aliyah was all she wrote for Xia Li as the heels picked up the victory.
Lee vs Dijakovic
Keith Lee received a very warm reception from the NXT faithful for this match. A very interesting clash of styles.
Lee tried to initiate a handshake with Dijakovic after an early exchange but Dijakovic was having none of it as he shoved the Limitless One. There was an incredible spot in the match where the Croat tried to monkey-flip Lee from the corner towards the center of the ring but Lee landed on his feet, awing the crowd.
The crowd was very into this match, cheering for every chop and forearm by Keith Lee. The Croatian Colossus, as Nigel McGuinness described him on commentary, would show his immense muscular prowess, lifting Lee up for a chokeslam turned into a sit-down power slam.
The two exchanged a flurry of power moves culminating with Dijakovic pulling out an incredible springboard moonsault to the outside from his arsenal. The commentators, the crowd and even the competitors were so caught up in the action that they were unable to make it back to the ring before the referee’s 10-count. One of the better NXT TV matches that came out of the blue.
Apart from the women’s tag-team match, Shayna Baszler was scheduled to take on the Blasian Baddie, Mia Yim, in a singles match.
Earlier in the show, Io Shirai and Bianca BelAir were seen having a heated verbal altercation in the backstage area, needing to be separated by officials. Later on, GM William Regal announced that Shirai and BelAir would fight it out to determine who faces Shayna Baszler at NXT TakeOver: New York.
Boss N’ Hug Connection
The NEW WWE Women’s Tag-Team champions and two former NXT Women’s Champions, Sasha Banks and Bayley made a surprise appearance on NXT TV this past week to a huge reception! The crowd was shocked and ecstatic to see the two former NXT darlings back under the black and gold umbrella and the smiles on the faces of the two women told the entire story about how happy they were to be back as well.
The tag champs announced that their championships were open to being defended on all brands and that they were here to accept all incoming challenges.
The Women’s division took center stage in the main event as well as the NXT Women’s Champion, Shayna Baszler, took on a vengeful Mia Yim in a non-title match.
Yim took it to the champ early on, getting the better in the early exchanges before laughing herself out of the ring with a suicide dive onto Baszler. Baszler had peculiarly come out to the ring without her fellow Four Horsewomen comrades, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir.
Yim aimed to return the brutality that Baszler had dished out to her in recent weeks in kind as she stomped on Shayna’s hand as it lay on top of the steel steps. The following kick would not find its mark, however, as Shayna moved out of the way and Mia hit the steel steps hard. Baszler would then continue to focus on her opponent’s ankle, punishing Mia with a number of crushing maneuvers.
Mia Yim would eventually regain momentum with a flying DDT as she jumped onto Baszler from the ropes. She would then connect with a thunderous powerbomb but the tenacious Women’s champion would kick out at two. Yim would then look for her finish but Baszler would counter into the kirifuda clutch and, with agony etched on her face, Yim had no choice but to tap out.
The Blasian Baddie looked strong in defeat and her impeccable selling made Baszler look like the merciless, tyrannical autocrat that she is.