After a week of recap and tag-team action, we are back at Full Sail for some solid NXT action, as we begin the long road to NXT Takeover: New York (which technically is NXT: Takeover Brooklyn 5, but we aren’t talking about that right now.)
We start off with Johnny Gargano coming out to a mixed reaction, as he displayed his brand new North American Championship. I enjoyed the dueling “Johnny Champion vs. Johnny Sucks” chants, solidifying the confusion of where Johnny stands with the fans. He declared that Johnny Wrestling was back, no sooner did Tomasso Ciampa’s music hit, as he’s here to celebrate Johnny’s win. Ciampa teases more DIY reunion as he says that it is ‘our’ moment, but Johnny disagrees, and says he came out to show him he didn’t need Ciampa.
Enter Velveteen Dream.
Dream came out and said that he stole Takeover just by showing up, and bragging that he won the Worlds Collide Tournament (which if you didn’t take the time to watch, you should make it. Definitely a great show) and that he has an NXT Championship match of his choosing. Dream passes on giving Ciampa another shot of the Dream, and heads straight to the ring to face-to-face with Johnny Wrestling. Johnny throws out all of his accolades from Royal Rumble weekend, and accepts. I look forward to these two, there was a lot of chemistry Sunday at Halftime Heat. They don’t say when the match will be, but whatever show it is on, it’ll steal it for sure!
Drew Gulak sighting! Sounds like he’s got a match tonight on NXT. What a treat!
Jaxson Ryker vs. Monsoor
Time for the Forgotten Sons. Jaxson Ryker is in singles action against Monsoor. Poor guy, but it’s nice to see the jobbers getting entrances at least! Pretty one-sided affair with a lot of trash talk by the Forgotten Sons, as Ryker finished off Monsoor pretty quickly with a spear and a sit-out chokeslam, along with a second one after the celebration for good measure.
We see Ricochet getting pictures taken of himself as Kathy is waiting for an interview. Adam Cole (Bay Bay) and the Undisputed Era came and interrupted to say that Ricochet goes to the back of the line, as Adam Cole will be the next North American Champion. Ricochet challenges Cole to a match next week to see who is will be the next champ. I like the idea of that, these two are great together so will give us a great match for sure.
Looks like we have to wait TWO weeks for Gargano vs Dream.
Drew Gulak vs. Eric Bugenhagen
Drew Gulak comes out for his match against Eric Bugenhagen. Bugenhagen looks like a cross between Freddy Mercury and Rick Rude, and he is definitely wearing Macho Man pants. While he’s rocking out, Gulak does not look impressed. The crowd is certainly loving this guy though. Gulak started with some quick offense that turned to back and forth. Bugenhagen got the crowd back into it putting Gulak in an abdominal stretch and playing him like a guitar. It was short-lived, as Gulak got him to tap out. It’s been nice to see some of the 205 Live guys stepping down to work NXT. From what I have heard from my source that was at Full Sail that night, Bugenhagen was a huge hit with the crowd. I expect to see more of him in the coming weeks, especially if he continues to get a good reaction.
Gulak got on the mic and talked some trash, saying he came down to NXT for a challenge, and they sent him “Ben Stiller from Dodgeball.” Gulak demanded a challenge, and out comes Matt Riddle! After a little back and forth, it looks like we’re about to get Gulak vs Matt Riddle after the break.
Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle
Much more technical battle than Gulak’s first match of the night. A lot of mat wrestling by the two, as they both look comfortable in. Pretty solid matchup, and like the previous matchup a great display of one of the stars of 205 Live that might not get a spotlight like this very often. A lot of great back-and-forth, I was a huge fan of Gulak countering a German Suplex pin into an armbar. While I knew that Gulak wasn’t going to win, there were a few minutes that I had some doubt for sure. After a moment of frustration and a few brutal elbows to the head, the Original Bro tapped out Gulak to the Bromission. Gulak extended the handshake to Riddle, which he obliged.
I haven’t seen a great technical match like that in a while. 205 Live gives us some great technical action, and this was a great commercial for 205 Live. Everyone should go check it out if they don’t watch it (and if you want to write the reviews, articles, and insight let
us Nestlemania know! #cheappop)
Io Shirai, Kairi Sane and Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir
Everybody’s favorite, as we get 6-woman tag team action as the main event. I love Baszler’s cocky attitude as she literally just walked to go tag Shafir after Belair did her handspring into the corner. Got a few fun spots, including Belair showing off her strength and Military Pressing Kairi and throwing her into an elbow drop on Duke.
The crowd was chanting “please tag Shayna” while Shafir and Kairi were going at it in the corner. I partially feel bad for Shafir and Duke, they’re trying at least, and are taking it seriously. They just aren’t ready for the spotlight that they are getting. I kind of felt bad that at one point the crowd chanted “you can’t wrestle” to Shafir. I mean, that’s why she’s on NXT, right? That being said, I think Duke read my recap last week, as her kicks and strikes were much harder and believable than they were last week.
Baszler is such a great cocky heel. She is exactly what Brock Lesnar could be if he was around more. She physically dominates everyone and her mic work is really strong for her character. I really want her to stay down in NXT for a while, keep that title, and continue to build up her friends as I really like their role as bodyguard, they just aren’t there yet.
As I guessed when I saw this match on paper, it was set for someone to pin Baszler and eventually become the No. 1 Contender. It looks like it is Io’s turn, as she pinned Baszler with the moonsault (after she botched jumping over the ropes, but we will ignore that for now.)
Overall this match was what it was messy work by the Horsewomen, Baszler carrying to load against the faces, and Belair’s facial expressions teasing a heel turn is coming. We’ll see in the coming weeks. I expect to see more Sky Pirates vs Shafir/Duke over the next few weeks, especially if Io is indeed considered the #1 Contender. They are really the only women tag teams (and really the only women) on NXT TV these days, so it is good to get them that experience on the TV, as they have good chemistry together, even if it is messy at times.
TJ’s NeXT Level Performer
I really want it to be Eric Bugenhagen, because he was super fun, but it has got to be Drew Gulak. He made Bugenhagen look good in their matchup, and then had the match of the night against Matt Riddle. I’m hoping this gives him some momentum into 205 Live!