WWE NXT 01/23/19 is the “go home” episode of NXT ahead of this coming weekend’s NXT TakeOver Phoenix special on the WWE Network. So far, Aleister Black has threatened to “start the fight early” with Ciampa this week, but Ciampa says he won’t engage Black. Also, Gargano is set to confront Ricochet ahead of their North American Championship match. Lastly, Velveteen Dream will be “in action” though he’s apparently losing his mind (kayfabe?) over not getting booked for TakeOver and is threatening not to work for NXT any longer. We shall see, huh? Let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT 01/23/19 Recap
Then. Now. WWE Forever. Updated NXT opening credits (bye Nikki Cross, hello Matt Riddle) and we’re taped (originally taped 01/03/19) from Full Sail. Mauro welcomes us to the show.
Moments ago? Ricochet showed up to work.
Meanwhile, Velveteen Dream’s music hits and he’s out in street clothes. Dream cuts a promo saying he has something special in his sights – that something special is the NXT North American Championship. “Theme from Undisputed Era” hits and Adam Cole and Bobby Fish are out. Cole cuts a promo reminding us that in 2019 they plan to all hold NXT gold. Since O’Reilly and Strong are off prepping to defend their titles on Saturday, he and Fish are out here to say “Shame On You” to Dream for getting people’s hopes up. Fish adds that 2019 will continue to be UE’s era and that is undisputed. Dream is ready to dispute Fish’s claim, but only if it’s “okay with Adam”. This infuriates Fish and he rushes the ring. Dream easily dumps both Fish and Cole to the outside and slides out of the ring backwards.
Next, Mauro runs down the card for TakeOver and we see a hype video for Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair.
Later tonight? Io Shirai and Kairi Sane will be in action.
Up next? Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel.
Back from break, last week? We see the controversial finish of Keith Lee vs. Kassius Ohno. We learn that Regal has made Riddle vs. Ohno official for TakeOver.
Next, Lorcan & Burch’s music hits and they’re out. Aichner & Barthel are out next. During the entrances Mauro informs us that Regal has made Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish for later tonight.
Match #1: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel
Okay, it took seeing Aichner and Barthel face someone the caliber of Lorcan and Burch for me to appreciate them. They look great in this match and are starting to gel a bit as a team. I’m into it. The sequence leading up to the finish is about as fever pitched of a sequence as you’ll see in WWE. Great stuff with guys getting taken out and bodies lying everywhere. I’m not even mad at Lorcan getting a quick roll up after all of that chaos to take home the victory. It only means we’ll likely see more from these two teams down the road.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Good stuff. Lorcan & Burch finally made me appreciate the Aichner & Barthel pairing. I hope we see more of these four together.
Later tonight? Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish.
Up next? Shirai & Sane in action.
But before that, here’s a hype video for Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black on Saturday.
Later tonight? Both Ricochet & Johnny Gargano will be on hand to address Full Sail.
Meanwhile, already in the ring? No idea. Io Shirai’s music hits and she’s out. Sane is out next.
Match #2: Io Shirai & Kairi Sane vs. Amber Nova & Tanea Brooks
Something just felt off here. I’m not sure what it was. I did enjoy the finish of Shirai and Sane doing assisted standing versions of their finishers to pick up the win. That was something unique, but the rest of the match just felt sloppy to me… especially for a squash match.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I’m not going to go too hard on this one because I have the feeling Shirai and Sane will look better down the road if they’re kept together as a team.
Up next? Dream vs. Fish.
Back from break, moments ago? Io and Kairi are outside doing an interview when Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir roll up. They cut a promo on Io and Kairi and say they’ll be sending them “out to sea”.
Meanwhile, Velveteen Dream’s music hits and he’s out wearing a cowboy hat. Undisputed Era’s music hits and Fish and Cole head to the ring. No Kyle, so no one plays a belt like a guitar during the entrance. It feels weird hearing that music without seeing that.
Match #3: Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish (w/ Adam Cole)
Dream does an amazing job in this match. He sells being distracted by Cole well throughout the match. He also brilliantly sells a targeted knee attack from Fish. The selling builds to Dream finally rallying and going for the Purple Rainmaker, but doing a weak version of it due to the knee injury. Fish rolls through the cover into a knee bar and Dream makes for the ropes. Cole pulls the ropes back so Dream can’t reach them and the ref eventually notices to set up a distraction for Fish. Dream tries again to go for the rolling DVD, but can’t pull it off – but he gets one more shot at the DVD, nails it, and goes up for another Purple Rainmaker. He again makes the elbow look weak as he’s only really launching with one leg, but manages to pick up the three count.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Velveteen Dream is just so damn good it’s scary.
Meanwhile, Johnny Gargano shows up to work. He’s up next.
After no break, last week? The Forgotten Sons attacked Street Profits.
Next week? Street Profits vs. Forgotten Sons.
Also, next week? Io Shirai & Kairi Sane vs. Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir. Wow, both TakeOver dark matches are tag matches. Huh.
Meanwhile, Ricochet’s music hits and he’s out. Ricochet cuts a promo calling Gargano a coward for superkicking him and adds that 2019 Gargano is the same as 2018 Gargano. Last year, Gargano proved himself to be a liar and selfish. Meanwhile, in 2018, Ricochet proved himself to be a champion. Gargano’s music hits.
Johnny is out and cuts a promo saying that 2018 Gargano would have just rushed the ring and attacked Ricochet, but 2019 Gargano has a plan. That plan? To rush Ricohchet in the ring. Ha! The expected brawl breaks out until Ricochet knocks Gargano out of the ring with a kick. Ciampa appears out of nowhere to attack Ricochet from behind. While the crowd chants “DIY”, Gargano and Ciampa share a glance before Gargano continues his assault on Ricochet on the floor. Meanwhile, Aleister Black hits the ring and attacks Ciampa. With Ricochet handled, Gargano hits the ring and attacks Black – saving Ciampa when he takes out Black with a superkick. Ricochet is back in and Gargano and Ciampa hit their finishers to their opponents on Saturday, but stop short of doing the DIY finisher to either of them.
Ciampa leaves from one side of the ring while Gargano leaves from the other. They share another glance in front of the ramp. Ciampa backs up the ramp while Gargano follows. Another glance now on the stage and Ciampa extends his hand. Gargano considers it, but Candice is out to push Johnny away and convince him he doesn’t want to do that again. They leave and Ciampa is left looking angry on the stage.
I’m definitely curious to see the next twist in this Gargano / Ciampa tale on Saturday. I’ll be back soon with a Drinking Game / Predictions post and I’ll have a recap of TakeOver late Saturday night. Until then…