NXT In 60 Seconds for September 11, 2019

Photo Credit: WWE.com
A Car: pulls up to Full Sail
Rhea Ripley: gets out, sneers, smirks and heads inside

Damian Priest: powers BOA around the ring a few times Step up Owenzuigiri! Release Falcon Arrow!
BOA: lands a few kicks
DP: MURDERDEATHKILL lariat! Cyclone kick! Reckoning of the Dice!
Referee: Winner!

Velveteen Dream: If you think for a second that the Dream’s title reign is going up in flames, you’re lying to yourself. If the Dream burns, you’ll burn too.

Johnathan Grapples: comes out to a rapturous response and high fives some front row fans before getting inside the ring
Full Sailors: chant his name for a solid two minutes
Johnny: I’ve heard the rumors, read the reports, and my mom and everybody else are asking what my future holds…
Full Sailors: Please don’t go! Please don’t go! Please don’t go!
Johnny: Last time I was in this ring, I fell off a steel cage and woke up to a standing O chanting “Thank you, Johnny!” I appreciated it a lot, since without you there’d be no Johnny Wrestling. We built this place together and I say this with every bit of my heart – I love every thing about NXT, everything about this place!
Full Sailors: NXT! NXT! NXT!
Johnny: NXT is me and that locker room coming out and putting out the best professional wrestling this world has to offer! We have a choice and a say in their futures and I’ve made mine. You guys have had my back since day one so I wanted to say that
Shane Thorne: to the surprise of…well, somebody…comes outFull Sailors: BOOOOOOOOOOO!
Thorne: Is this really necessary? All this Johnny time?
Full Sailors: BOOOOOO! Johnny Wrestling! clap clap clapclapclap Johnny Wrestling! clap clap clapclapclap
Thorne: You could’ve taken a selfie, Tweeted maybe, but nooooo! Johnny has to be here
Thorne: You’re an NXT pillar. You’re fine. And this place is going to be just fine without you.
Thorne: With the right person finally in the spotlight, this place will be better, so you can take a walk.
Johnny: walks towards the ropes
Johnny: seemingly remembers something
Johnny: I mean, we are NXT. I am NXT. And I’m not going anywhere SUPERKICK!
Thorne: felled
Johnny: signs NXT with his fingers a la Bret then does the 4 Life hand sign a la Oz

Pete Dunne: comes out to a massive response
Angel Garza: gets a solid heel pop, kisses Anita and refuses to touch any of the male fans, which…you know, understandable
Pete: shoots in on the leg to set up joint manipulation PK!
Angel: dodges him to the floor, giving him time to remove his pants (very important and very necessary) Superkick! Count him out!
Full Sailors: Bruiserweight! Bruiserweight! Bruiserweight!
Angel: Rope hung kneelift!
Pete: Step up Owenzuigiri! Release German! Buzzsaw kick! Sitout bomb!
Angel: Kickout! Basement superkick!
Pete: Kickout! Arm trapped stomps! Another buzzsaw kick! Triangle! You don’t need all these fingers!
Angel: taps out
Referee: Winner!
Pete: gives his signature shrug
Angel: nods in almost acceptance

Street Profits from Monday in Central Park: note their success has gotten them to MSG and Monday Night Raw
Angelo Dawkins: notes the moment would’ve been better if they’d still been NXT World Tag Team champions
Montez Ford: notes that they can get them back next Wednesday when something important or other is happening

Raul Mendoza: comes out to a decent reaction
Cameron Grimes: ehhh
Raul: Rolling Magistral cradle! Huracanrana! Springboard
Grimes: Interception dropkick!
Raul: Step up Owenzuigiri! Corner leg lariat! Ropewalk missile dropkick to the running Shooting Star!
Grimes: Kickout! pulls the middle rope into his neck 1-Up Stomp!
Referee: Winner!

Candice: is piqued Io is getting rewarded for her evilness with a spot in the triple threat contendership match next week
Master Regal: puts her in it with Bianca and Mia, notes if Rhea wins in the main event it might become a five-way
Candice: is only focused on Io

Shayna Baszler: comes out to a strongly negative reaction, as opposed to her opponent
Full Sailors: Rhea Ripley! clap clap clapclapclap Rhea Ripley! clap clap clapclapclap
Shayna: does her usual back somebody up and bully-ass legsweep after faking a clean break
Rhea Thiccley: no-sells it and does it to her, then almost stomps her out
Shayna: looks a bit perturbed
Both: grapple a bit rudely on the mat
Shayna: goes for the Clutch
Rhea: gets free and slams her
Shayna: Leg in the ropes! PK to the back! Cravate! Now the Kirifuda Clutch!
Rhea: backs into the corner a few times
Shayna: goes up to the middle rope and does a hanging variant
Rhea: Uppercut! Dropkick!
Shayna: bounces off the apron and hits the floor
Rhea: Electric Chair Face Eraser into the steps!
Marina Shafir: tries to interfere and gets dropped
Jessamyn Duke: will not interfere against a swinging Ripley
Shayna: Step up knee!
Jessamyn: slides Shayna a chair
Shayna: swings
Rhea: blocks and swings successfully
Referee: Yup, that’s a DQ.
Full Sailors: Rhea! Rhea! Rhea!
Rhea: sits in the chair and waves them all on
Shayna: held up by the Underlings, holds up Mrs or Miss Goldie
Full Sailors: BOOOOOOO!
Rhea: poses mid-ring



Some Guy, BAY BAY: The prophecy will finally be fulfilled – plug for the switch to USA and us because we’re awesome – next week when Roddy gets the North American championship.
Roderick Strong: I got his attention, which is awesome since I always hated that couch, Dream, and I hate you. Come next week I get what’s mine, see what the first guy said.
Adam Cole: NXT’s been getting bigger and better thanks to us, and once we have all the gold no one on the planet will be able to stop them. That’s not a threat – nor a promise – merely…Undisputed.
the Era: throw up their gang gang sign

WATCH: Johnny Gargano Makes His Future In WWE NXT Known

Former WWE NXT Champion, Johnny Gargano returned to WWE NXT this week where he made his future clear about where he will be going.

Despite rumors claiming that Gargano was going to be main roster-bound, he quickly made it clear that he doesn’t plan on leaving the black and yellow brand anytime soon.

The post WATCH: Johnny Gargano Makes His Future In WWE NXT Known appeared first on ProWrestling.com.

The John Report: WWE NXT 09/11/19 Review

Welcome to the TJRWrestling review of NXT. This is the last NXT that’s WWE Network only. Next Wednesday, NXT becomes a live show. The first hour on September 18 and September 25 will be on USA Network (for those of you in the US) while the second hour will be on WWE Network. That’s because USA Network is showing the final two episodes of their long running TV show Suits at 9pmET those weeks. On October 2, NXT will be live on USA Network for two hours from 8-10pmET. Anyway, this is the last taped NXT episode, so let’s get to it.

Taped from Full Sail University in Orlando, FL, this is WWE NXT episode #369. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

There was a shot of Chevy truck pulling up to the arena and the driver opened the door to reveal Rhea Ripley, who is in action on this show against Shayna Baszler. Ripley walked into Full Sail University.

The NXT intro video aired. They might have a new intro video next week on USA Network. They showed the crowd chanting “NXT” as the show came on the air and noted that Johnny Gargano will be there later.

Damian Priest vs. Boa

Priest has a big size advantage here. I don’t know much about Boa other than he was in the Breakout Tournament and he is from China. Priest with a shoulder tackle. Boa wanted him to run the ropes to do it again, so Priest just punched him in the face instead. Priest with a jumping kick to the head, a corner splash and a Falcon Arrow slam. Boa avoided strikes, two kicks to the chest and he hit a running kick to the head. Boa ran the ropes and Priest came back with a spinning lariat. Priest with a jumping kick to the head followed by The Reckoning neckbreaker for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Damian Priest

Analysis: * Easy win for Priest, who continues to get a pretty good push in NXT as one of the taller guys on the roster. I can see Priest having a bigger role in NXT in the future. Boa is an athletic guy that may get a push down the road, but not any time soon.

There was a video package showing what we saw last week when Roderick Strong burned Velveteen Dream’s couch. Dream had a message for Strong that he was ready for their match.

Next week on NXT on USA Network: Velveteen Dream defends the North American Title against Roderick Strong. McGuinness said it will be in the first hour of NXT next week, so that part is on USA Network.

Let’s Hear from Johnny Gargano

Johnny Gargano made his entrance in his street clothes including a jacket, shirt and jeans. The fans gave him a nice ovation as he greeted some fans at ringside. There were “Johnny Wrestling” chants (plus “clap clap clap”) for him that lasted about two minutes. It might have been more. I didn’t time it, but it was long.

Gargano joked that he told them in the back that he wouldn’t be there for long, but now they chanted. Gargano said that everybody has asked him, including his mom, what the future holds for him. The fans chanted “please don’t go” at him. Gargano said the last time he was in this ring, he fell 20 feet from a steel cage and he woke up with 20,000 people chanting “Thank You Johnny” at him. These fans chanted that as well. Johnny said he appreciated that and he thanked the fans as well. Gargano said that we built this place together and he says this with every bit of his heart, he absolutely loves everything about NXT…everything about this place. There were “NXT” chants.

Gargano said that this place is about people like him, like that locker room and pouring their hearts out to put on the best professional wrestling show that this world has to offer. Professional wrestling and not sports entertainment? That’s nice to hear. Gargano said he’s seen a lot of people come and go while noting that they have a say in their choice. Gargano said he made his choice…the fans have had his back since day one so he wanted to tell them that he is officially…and here comes Shane Thorne for the interruption.

Thorne did a promo on his way to the ring as the fans booed him for complaining about Gargano getting promo time. Thorne said that Gargano could have taken a selfie or put a tweet out, but oh no…he has to be there. Thorne got into the ring. Thorne said that Gargano is a pillar of NXT because he’s Johnny Takeover. Thorne said that this place is going to be just fine without Johnny and he added that with the right person in the spotlight, it’s going to be even better. Thorne told Gargano to take a bow and take a walk.

Gargano said that Shane is right that he is NXT and he is not going anywhere. Gargano hit a superkick on Thorne and stood over him. Gargano did hand gestures to the camera saying, “NXT 4 Life.” The fans cheered loudly for all of this. They loved it.

Analysis: There were rumors that Gargano would be moved to Raw or Smackdown after the last Takeover because of how it ended, but when they taped this last month and he announced he was staying in NXT I think that made a lot of people happy. I feel like NXT is the perfect place for him because he is established as one of the greatest NXT stars ever thanks to so many main events and classic matches. Thorne hasn’t done much as a singles wrestler after being in a tag team for many years, so this is a nice opportunity for him to show what he can do against a top NXT guy like Gargano. I assume we’ll get Gargano vs. Thorne either next week or the week after.

There was a commercial for WWE Clash of Champions this Sunday on WWE Network.

A video package aired about the Forgotten Sons trio that showed highlights of some of the destruction they have caused in NXT. They said they will not be forgotten anymore.

Pete Dunne entered for a match. He is expected to be a regular in NXT moving forward. Angel Garza entered as the opponent and he let an old lady kiss him on the cheek.

Pete Dunne vs. Angel Garza

Dunne tripped up Garza and twisted the foot. Dunne wrenched back on the left arm of Garza and did the dreaded finger snap move that always gets a good reaction because it looks brutal. Garza came back with an armbar, Dunne countered with a headscissors and they had a staredown. They did a sequence where they ran the ropes, did some leap frogs and Dunne hit a clothesline. Dunne kicked the arm of Garza. Garza grabbed the arm of Dunne, then he pulled off his tights to reveal trunks underneath. Dunne went for a diving attempt, Garza avoided it and hit a superkick while Dunne was upside down on the apron. Dunne got back in the ring, he set up Dunne on the turnbuckle and hit a running knee to the ribs. Dunne sent Garza to the turnbuckle, Dunne with chops to the chest and a step up enziguri kick to the head. Dunne with a release German Suplex that sent Garza across the ring. Dunne stomped on the hands and followed with a kick to the head for a two count. Garza with a dropkick to the face. Dunne came back with a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Garza with a rollup for two. Dunne to the turnbuckle, Garza tripped him up and Garza hit a dropkick to the side of the knee for a two count. Garza worked over Dunne with punches. Dunne came back with a takedown, then a roll through, stomps to the chest and Dunne hit a kick to the head. Dunne with a kick to the ribs, then he sent Garza to the other turnbuckle and Garza hit a kick to ribs. Garza went for a moonsault off the ropes, Dunne moved and Dunne slapped on a triangle choke plus a finger snap for the submission win after about eight minutes.

Winner: Pete Dunne

Analysis: **3/4 It was a competitive match with the crowd cheering for both guys. You could tell they liked the charisma that Garza showed, but it was no surprise that Dunne got the win since he’s the more established name in NXT. The more wins for Dunne the better because he is one of my favorite wrestlers in NXT, so I’m in favor of a push for him.

There was a shot of Rhea Ripley getting ready backstage. Shayna Baszler was also shown warming up for her match.

A video package aired about WWE’s work in raising money for Pediatric Cancer awareness.

There was a video featuring The Street Profits from Monday when they were on Raw in Madison Square Garden. Montez Ford said it was amazing and Angelo Dawkins said it’s not the same without the NXT Tag Team Titles. Dawkins said that if they had the titles it would have been special. Ford said what better way to make a statement on September 18 NXT than showing up and taking back the NXT Tag Team Champions. Dawkins said they need to go handle their business at MSG. Ford and Dawkins were standing on a rock, they asked a fan where MSG was and he said it was about two blocks away, so they left.

Cameron Grimes vs. Raul Mendoza

Mendoza got a cradle pin attempt to start the match. Mendoza with a headscissors takeover. Mendoza with chops to the chest, Mendoza to the apron and Grime got some momentum with a dropkick that sent Mendoza to the floor. Grimes with a running clothesline for a two count. Grimes grounded Mendoza with an armbar on the left arm. Mendoza with a punch to the face, then a kick and a dropkick. Mendoza with a running kick, then went up top, walked the ropes and hit a dropkick. Mendoza hit a running Shooting Star Press for a two count. Grimes drove Mendoza’s face into the ropes. Mendoza with a kick to the ribs and an enziguri kick to the head. Mendoza up top, he went for a Phoenix Splash, Grimes avoided it and hit a jumping double stomp to the shoulders for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cameron Grimes

Analysis: ** It was a decent match with Mendoza getting a lot of offense, but Grimes made the comeback by avoiding a big move and hitting his finisher to win. I remember when Kofi Kingston added that jumping double stomp to the shoulders when Trevor Lee was doing it in Impact and now they are in the same company. Anyway, I like Grimes’ heel attitude and it’s not a surprise that they want to give him a push.

There was a shot of GM William Regal in his office where Candice LeRae complained about Io Shirai in an upcoming triple threat. Regal said that instead of a triple threat match next week, it will be a Fatal 4-Way and the winner of that will face Shayna Baszler for the NXT Title. Regal said if Ripley wins tonight then it would be a 5-Way match. LeRae said as long as she can get her hands on Shirai next week then she doesn’t care who else is in the match.

The commercial aired for NXT on USA Network next week on September 18.

A video aired about Dakota Kai, who told us she is the captain of Team Kick. It said “Dakota Kai” returns soon.

Next week: Velveteen Dream defends the North American Title against Roderick Strong in the first hour and Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain in a Street Fight in the second hour.

Rhea Ripley, who is from Australia, made her entrance for the main event match. Shayna Baszler entered with the NXT Women’s Title. This is not a title match.

Rhea Ripley vs. Shayna Baszler

Baszler went for an armbar, Ripley got to the ropes and tripped her up. Ripley with a body slam. Ripley with repeated shoulder tackles to the ribs against the turnbuckle. Baszler got a rollup and Ripley came back with a dropkick. Ripley was tied up in the ropes after missing a kick, so Baszler kicked her in the back. Ripley tried to come back with a dropkick, but Baszler moved and slapped on a hanging sleeper on the turnbuckle. With Baszler seated on the top, Ripley hit a dropkick to send Baszler to the floor. Ripley followed to the floor and picked up Baszler on her shoulders followed by Ripley sending Baszler into the steel steps. That led to Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke to go to ringside to help Baszler, so Ripley kicked Shafir down. Baszler capitalized with a jumping knee to the face. Duke handed Baszler a steel chair, Ripley blocked the chair shot and Ripley hit Baszler in the back for the DQ finish after about six minutes of action.

Winner by disqualification: Shayna Baszler

Analysis: **1/4 A short match to tease something down the road between them. The chair finish was a way to say Ripley lost the match without pinning her. I think their styles mesh well together with Baszler as a submission specialist and Ripley is more of a well rounded wrestler with some power.

Post match, Ripley had the steel chair in her hand while Baszler and friends left up the ramp. Ripley had a staredown with Baszler with Ranallo saying that this issue between the two women is just beginning. In other words, it’s a new feud that is just getting started.

There was a pre-taped promo featuring The Undisputed Era where they said NXT is on USA Network because of them. Adam Cole said that Roderick Strong is gong to beat Velveteen to win the North American Championship next week. Strong said he’s going to get what is finally his and that’s the North American Championship, so then they will have every title in the group. Cole said that NXT is getting bigger and badder thanks to them. They posed to end it.

Analysis: Good promo. I’m a big fan of all four guys and the Undisputed Era as a group is a polished group. They are definitely the centerpiece of NXT these days.

This show had a run time of 57:00 on WWE Network.


Final Thoughts

This episode was mostly about building stuff for next week when NXT is live for two hours. There wasn’t a standout match and everything was kept under ten minutes. I would have liked to see more from Baszler/Ripley in the main event, but obviously WWE is building up to more from them down the road. That’s a future feud for sure.

I’m really looking forward to Dream vs. Strong next week and the women’s 4-way match.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook



The post The John Report: WWE NXT 09/11/19 Review appeared first on TJR Wrestling.

Best Coast Bias: Johnny B. Gone

You knew it was going the distance
Photo Credit: WWE.com
For a show that delivered throughout its three-hour run time and brought a sold-out audience to its feet on multiple occasions, it could be argued that the program itself was the noise and everything around it was the signal. It’s entirely possible people may not remember certain spots or matches from the second T-Dot Takeover, but rather the fact that one could argue that both the most important things to stem from it were the post-show possible departure of Johnny Gargano and the fact that the rumor mill is churning wildly about NXT not only being extended to two hours, but put on FS1 and fall further under the influences of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

So while it’s highly doubtful that will be the final Takeover to come from the Great White North, it has the eclipsian shadow of probably the best babyface in brand history leaving it for more profitable pastures.  It’s entirely possible a year from now, people will be calling it the last real Takeover, or the last one before the new class seized the reigns, or a multitude of other possibilities.

One thing is for sure this summer in NXT: the black hats have the advantage, and the champions therein are loving life.

In fact, the only division in NXT that noticeably has a babyface backed up with championship gold has two in the Street Profits, who retained their belts in the show opener and borderline match of the night.  Maybe showing up in Raptor purple with red accents helped Montez and Angelo hold on against the former multiple time champs Not ReDragon. Takeover XXV may have been the SP breakout party; here was where they solidified their bona fides against another elite tag team by beating them cleanly in a well-worked, crisp and hard-hitting affair. No longer the Montez Ford Show with Special Guest Star, the Profits have more seasoning as a unit and it showed here in probably their best match to date. They picked the exact right time to have it, as well. The “this is awesome” chant may have been a little generous, but the Era were at their smarmy best without actually cheating in their efforts and the Profits rose to meet them. Given events on the Leftovers program and the possibility the illegal man was pinned, it opens the door for a rematch every NXT fan should want to see at this point without feeling convoluted. Another one of these will do more than all right by the average viewer.

1) the Street Profits d. Undisputed Era to retain the NXT World Tag Team championships (Ford pinfall Auto Parts)

It’s ironic (and 4000% on brand) that my notes would start off with the phrase “choke me the fuck out Io” and then the match would deliver on that promise; poor Candice ended up playing the role of your intrepid reporter. This was the best of both worlds for these women as Candice Wrestling, plucky underdog got the biggest showcase of her NXTenure to date, and Io got to revel in her new found evilness and flesh out more of the moveset she’ll ostensibly use going forward. In retrospect, the match was essentially over when Shirai managed a kickout after a Wild Ride and came back with an avalanche Japanese Fly and what certain 6ers would call the God’s Plan Moonsault; LeRae’s kickout of nice Io’s finisher meant she whaled on Candice until she couldn’t fight off a mid-ring submission hold and went limp. Despite that, the offered I alluded to at the outset still applies.

2) Io Shirai d. Candice LeRae (modified Koji clutch)

The show was “interrupted” by Matt Riddle, who wanted Killian Dain to fight him face to face and got his wish. Unlike previous confrontations, Riddle got a couple of advantages on the Irish land monster even though the confrontation and subsequent fighting ended with both of them and a random black shirt going off the stage through tables. Perhaps that’s why the subsequent appearance of Austin Theory was met with such a tepid reaction; either way, it’ll be great once he works that into his promos once he’s officially a member of the show.

This was followed up by another episode of The Dream Has No Memory of the Word Extra – he was led to the ring by the Raptors cheering squad after they were dressed as sexy Mounties while the Mountie’s theme played. Dream, we were told on the broadcast wanted to represent Canada in the triple threat with America’s Strong and Britain’s Dunne as the other partcipants, hence the red and white of it all down to his gear. The North American champion is a particularly luminous curio, as that previous sentence would make it sound like he was the most purple white hat to ever step between the ropes, yet nearly a year after his ostensible turn he continues to flash aggressively heelish traits and still come out with a high approval rating afterwards. Here, for instance, after Dunne laid out Strong with the Bitter End Dream first distracted the ref by faking an injury then stopped the count outright before it could be completed. The match ended when Strong tossed Dream and laid out Dunne with the End of Heartache, only for Dream to fly in on the pinfall attempt with a Purple Rainmaker to break it up before tossing Strong and pinning the laid out Dunne to win the match. This was followed up by post-match smacktalk on both his vanquished victims, and an online video of Dunne being completely understanding in a “I’m still going to snap his fingers and win the championship” sort of manner. To be fair, Dream did look momentarily sheepish early in the match when confronted by Dunne and also tried to work his way through the Five Moves of Doom; maybe he’s just the first successful instance of a long-term tweener and given WWE’s abhorrence of booking same, no wonder it wouldn’t look familiar to any long-term viewer. While they seem to be building towards Dunne getting a one on one match for the belt in the future, Strong also has claim to a one-on-one shot since he didn’t get pinned, and the Breakout tournament winner can take his shot at NXT’s newest title and turn it into a shot the same way the Dream did in winning Worlds Collide and then besting Johnathan Grapples to get it. Either way, looked through that prism the overarcing story of the Dream from young boy to frequently overmatched yet narrowly surviving champion has so many different ways to let in light and so many different opponents he could face that it all makes sense. Hell, there’s a possibility that he may take another shot at the Big X just to add to his trophy case. Either way, as with the winners of the previous matches, the future is looking Timbuk3 bright for the DCian. (DCite? DCagan?)

3) Velveteen Dream d. Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong to retain the North American championship in the Match of the Night
About the only black mark on the card strangely enough came in the semi-main, where despite having a rich personal backstory and familiarity with each other, Mia Yim & Shayna Baszler bizarrely looked at times like 45s being played at 33. The story of the match was good – Mia’s willingness to first get dirty and then outright cheat was a feature, not a bug that screwed with Shayna’s game plan since she’s been eating nothing but white meat since she arrived – but even down the stretch it felt like they were first clearing their throats or taking an extra step and then landing a strike or putting on a hold. Again, another of Baszler’s opponents focused on destroying a limb to make putting the Clutch on more difficult for her and easier to get loose from for them, but Shayna pulled out another submission (bridging on the arm that hadn’t been worked over to boot) and earned a clean victory in the middle of the ring. She’s not Asuka, but she’s the closest thing we’ve ever seen, and unless they plan on fully Becky Lynchifying Io, Dakota Kai cannot come back soon enough for the credibility of the division to spawn challengers that will appear as actually having the potential to hoist Goldie As Well.

4) Shayna Baszler d. Mia Yim to retain the NXT Women’s World championship (semi bridging figure four headlock)

The widest complaint seen about the main is that it was overly long, and too many death moves were kicked out of in the third and final fall. (Again, as great and unexpected as a 2-0 skunking would’ve been, you either would’ve had to have lengthened the falls that would’ve been contained therein or just had a one fall match.) It feels weird that Best Coast Biases seem to have these apologia about Johnny’s main events; something is always in the works that keeps things very good and never quite pans out to greatness. It’s much easier to assume a more forgiving position with the assumption it’ll be the last time something is a worry. It was very intriguing to see an inversion of trope with Johnny getting intentionally DQed to end the first fall in order to put him in better standing for a second fall he would eventually go on to win; it was a mirror image of Cole feinting the call for Era interference at TOXXV to give him an opening that he would exploit to eventually win that match. The second fall went shorter than the first, and Johnny was almost in control the entirety of the way, so we went to the decider in a weapons enhanced steel cage with barbed wire crowned around it to stop climbs out (or in, for that matter). While it probably ran overlong, both men whaling on each other with kendo sticks before they repeated the superkicks at the same time spot from XXV may have been my favorite moment on the show that didn’t involve Ford or Dream mugging away during their title defenses or Io’s leather pants. A close runner up was Cole throwing a ladder at Gargano to get him to duck to set up a Panama Sunrise that couldn’t be countered and/or superkicked away. The match ended with them falling to their mutually assured destruction off the cage through some tables (props to the announce table as well as the audience for what I can only call Loud Concerned Murmuring as they were both up there, culminating in “Please don’t die!” chants) with Cole barely able to sluice an arm over Gargano to win the match and retain the title. As he did against Ciampa, Gargano lost the series 2-1 and arguably did it the worst of it to himself in order to try to win the match.  But at least he got to walk away to this:

5) Adam Cole d. Johnny Gargano 2 falls to 1 to retain the NXT World Heavyweight championship

NXT keeps changing, evolving, working with Evolve, transmogrifying in a multitude of ways large and small. Yet the biggest shifts could be about to go down between now and turkey time from Chicago when WarGames comes down the pike again. Between that and the fact that there are no obvious challengers in the World or World Tag title divisions, three months could serve as almost a full-on reset button for the black and yellow. The destination isn’t in the hands of us.

Whether we were right in our apprehension or proved Doubting Thomases, let’s all hope that Takeovers remain as dependable as death and taxes. If a wrestling show fails to make you see the face of God but you still routinely clap your hands and stomp your feet, it’s worth being a believer in.