Based on last week’s episode and advertising, WWE NXT 02/21/18 features Velveteen Dream vs. No Way Jose and Johnny Gargano puts his NXT career on the line versus Andrade Cien Almas and his NXT Championship. Something tells me that the Gargano vs. Almas match doesn’t really happen and that Ciampa is the reason – but let’s find out!
WWE NXT 02/21/18 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open with a PPV-worthy video package on Andrade Almas’ ascension to NXT Champion and his feud with Gargano. Standard NXT opening credits and we’re taped (originally taped early February 2018) from Center Stage. Mauro welcomes us to the show and tells us that later tonight we’ll have a special announcement from William Regal.
But first? Velveteen Dream. He’s incredibly over and gets a great reaction from the crowd. No Way Jose’s music hits and he’s out next.
Match #1: Velveteen Dream vs. No Way Jose
This match begins with a mild “dance off” with Jose doing his standard dance and Dream mocking it. I’d love to see a house show match between these two as I’d imagine it’d be tons of fun. This, however, is TV – so… it’s okay. Jose goes on a run tossing Dream into the various corners, but Dream is able to counter the “pop-up punch” with a dropkick. From there it’s academic. Rolling DVD into the Purple Rainmaker. 3 count.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Not one of Dream’s better matches, but good for what was needed. Velveteen’s currently one of the most over guys on the yellow brand so I’m happy to see they’re keeping him hot.
Post-match, Dream gets a mic and cuts a promo saying how he should have won more of the NXT Awards. He specifically calls out Aleister Black, Asuka, and Tyler Bate by name. Well, we already got #BlackDream and as much as I’d love to see Velveteen Dream vs. Asuka – it’s not happening. So I imagine we’re getting Dream vs. Tyler Bate somewhere not too far down the road. Dream milks the crowd for a bit getting “Velveteen” and “Dream” chants going. He’s getting better on the mic and considering his age – if he stays healthy he could be a big deal for the WWE.
Meanwhile, Almas and Vega are backstage getting hyped up for the title match.
Later tonight? Almas’ NXT Championship vs. Gargano’s NXT career.
Next, we’re sent to Regal’s office. Regal announces that the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is returning this year and the matches will begin in two weeks. The winners of the tournament not only win the cup but get a title shot at TakeOver New Orleans.
In two weeks? The Dusty Classic begins!
Up next? Nikki Cross vs. Vanessa Borne.
Back from break, Borne is out first. Nikki’s music hits next to a pop. She’s pretty over with the Center Stage crowd too. No members of SAnitY with her, but she’s announced as “representing SAnitY” – so… despite her literally never being seen with them anymore she’s still part of the faction in canon.
Match #2: Nikki Cross vs. Vanessa Borne
Not a terribly memorable match but I’ll always mark out when Nikki Cross is on TV. Cross works as the de facto babyface so she absorbs a lot of offense from Borne (and smiles while doing so). Eventually Nikki charges up and hits Borne with a diving cross body. Also of note, Nikki’s fisherman’s neckbreaker is now called “The Purge”. She hits “The Purge” and gets an easy 3 count.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Essentially a squash match, but Nikki is one of my faves so I was just happy to see her on this week’s show.
Meanwhile, the announcers discuss last week’s confrontation between Killian Dain and Aleister Black. Next, we see clips from said confrontation.
After that, we see Johnny Gargano nervously pacing backstage with Candice LaRae.
Later tonight? NXT Championship match!
Back from break, TM61 have already tweeted about the Dusty Classic.
Last week? We see footage of Shayna Baszler’s match with Ember Moon and Kairi Sane getting involved.
Next week? Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler.
Meanwhile, Almas’ music hits and he’s out with Zelina Vega. It’s main event time and the champ enters first. Screw tradition! Gargano’s music hits and he’s out next with Candice.
Match #3: Andrade Cien Almas (c) (w/ Zelina Vega) vs. Johnny Gargano (w/ Candice LaRae) (NXT Championship Match)
Wow. Almost as good as their TakeOver match, but not quite. Gargano and Almas continue their great chemistry. This time upping the ante with Candice taking out Zelina with a suicide dive and brawling to the back, Almas and Gargano attempting each other’s signature moves, and enough near falls to make your heart race. We fall back into the standard “ref bump” trope in order to get to Gargano slapping on the Gargano Escape but no ref to be there to see if Almas taps. Of course, Ciampa appears through the crowd and nails Johnny with the crutch. Almas recovers to hit the Hammerlock DDT and the ref comes to just in time to count three. Almas retains and Johnny is out of NXT!
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Like I said, not quite as compelling as their TakeOver match – but this was a huge main event for the weekly show. I haven’t read the spoilers so I’m legitimately interested in seeing where all of this goes.
Post-match, Vega returns to the ring to celebrate with Almas. They eventually leave to the stage and Candice is out to console Johnny in the ring. Mike Rome announces that per the match stipulation – Johnny must now leave NXT. The crowd chants “Thank you, Johnny” and he and Candice slowly head to the back.
We go off the air on Ciampa staring at Johnny and waving goodbye to him. The perfect ending to an entertaining episode.