Velveteen Dream won the NXT North American championship by defeating Johnny Gargano in the main event on episode #493 of NXT. Even though the match was taped several weeks ago, the exact outcome was unclear until the show debuted Wednesday night on WWE Network.
Two finishes being filmed during the last set of television tapings let to speculation about which person would leave as champion. The version of the finish with a title change is what ultimately aired on the episode. Therefore, Dream became the fourth person to win the title.
This show aired days after several NXT wrestlers were called up to the main roster. All four of those that debuted a few days ago on Raw were also featured on this previously recorded episode. Those four also appeared on Smackdown a day before this installment of NXT would premiere.
A voiceover by Nigel McGuinness on this show laid overtop of b-roll footage recapped the debuts on the main roster. The only aspect still unexplained was Johnny Gargano teaming with Tommaso Ciampa despite them being rivals on NXT. Granted, they were teasing a reunion for weeks on NXT before teaming up on Raw and SmackDown. Likewise, they were on the same team for Halftime Heat.
There nonetheless was very little explanation for them suddenly teaming together after Gargano had steadfastly remained hesitant on NXT television. Storyline motives and other reasoning may become clearer after the new set of tapings. The episode that aired tonight was the last from the prior tapings.
The show was loaded in many ways -- and much like other stellar NXT episodes -- had a lot of wrestling. Three matches all got plenty of time to play out. The show also featured an announcement about the return of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The tournament begins on TV in two weeks.
The show opened with a match set up by an attack that closed the previous episode.
Aleister Black defeated Roderick Strong
Black pinned Strong after delivering Black Mass out of nowhere. The match began with grappling until Black fired up with flurry of kicks. A German suplex netted Black an early near fall. Strong shifted the momentum with a wrecking ball dropkick to the floor.
A release backbreaker led to Black crashing on the steps. From there, Strong began working the back. Strong threw a chop that could have made Johnny Valentine blush. He kept working over Black.
Black blocked a superplex and teased doing a powerbomb -- but his back gave out. Strong capitalized with a backbreaker to further exploit the injury. Black began a comeback as Gargano missed a charge into a corner.
Black peppered Strong with kicks before they both exchanged strikes. Strong was spiked on a brainbuster for a near fall. Strong fought back to execute a pop-up gutbuster. They fought on apron before Black took a crazy bump into the turnbuckles.
Strong continued the onslaught -- but Black kept kicking out. For the finish, Strong momentarily let his guard down when he walked into Black Mass. Black then covered Strong for the pinfall.
Undisputed Era ran down to attack Black after the match. Ricochet ran in to make the save. He and Black cleaned house and cleared the ring. This appears to build towards a tag team match.
A skit showed the Horsewomen arguing with others on the women’s roster. There was a lot of shouting along with some pushing and shoving.
Bianca Belair in a vignette said she still considered herself “un-de-feat-ed” despite losing to Shayna Baszler at TakeOver. Belair blamed the referee in the match. Belair also cut a promo on Io Shirai -- so that is apparently a future direction.
Mia Yim defeated Xia Li
Yim pinned Li after executing her finisher. They started the match with chain wrestling. Li eventually had Yim reeling and backpedaling. Li also twice countered a knuckle lock. When Li leapt off the middle rope for a leap frog, Yim met her with a kick. She followed with cannonball on Li. Nevertheless, Li hit a kick for a near fall.
Li climbed the turnbuckles only to miss a splash off the top. Yim dropped her with a kick -- and then Protect Your Neck led to Yim scoring a pinfall.
The Horsewomen attacked Yim much like they did to Aliyah & Vanessa Borne on the previous episode. Yim faired better than them but not for long. Others identified only as “NXT trainees” tried to make a save -- to no avail. They were all beaten down.
Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir held Yim while Shayna Baszler punted her with a kick. A defiant Baszler held up her NXT Women’s Championship as she stood over Yim. This set up a match between Baszler and Yim that airs next week.
Candice LeRae was talking to her husband -- Gargano -- ahead of his title match. NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa interrupted to tell Gargano, “If you need me, I’m here.” Gargano dismissed Ciampa as he wanted no help from Ciampa. They apparently are only chummy on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Jeremy Borash conducted a sit-down interview with Matt Riddle. When asked about toning down his persona, Riddle said he would rather be told to tone it down and ramp it up. Riddle added he was glad he got rid of Kassius Ohno once and for all.
Riddle mentioned tapping out Drew Gulak on a previous episode. “That’s just the beginning,” Riddle said.
Riddle mentioned wanting a title shot at the NXT North American Championship and said, “Nothing is going to stop me...bro.”
Velveteen Dream defeated Johnny Gargano to win the NXT North American Championship
Dream pinned Gargano after delivering the Purple Rainmaker. The closing moments of the match were great. They started slow and built to a fever pitch. Ciampa was watching the match from a crow’s nest much like he was Sting on Monday Nitro -- except Ciampa looked far more sinister.
They were having a technical match until Dream open hand slapped Gargano -- who powdered outside to sell the slap. A second slap by Dream led to double ax handle off the top rope. When he went upstairs a second time, Gargano tripped him up and pulled him off the ropes.
Gargano circled his prey as he began working over Dream. Gargano got heat as Dream kept kicking out. Gargano tortured Dream with more punishment. Dream briefly fired up before he took a Harley Race bump over the ropes to the floor.
Gargano cupped his hand to his ear as the crowd jeered. That led to dueling chants.
Dream fought from underneath as he delivered a spinebuster. A comeback by Dream led to him clotheslining Gargano to the outside. Dream followed with a Randy Savage flying double ax handle to the floor.
They traded near falls. Dream used a famouser -- and Gargano delivered a draping flatliner. Dream moments later blocked a slingshot DDT. Gargano also countered a DVD -- and then he followed with a tope suicida.
Back in the ring, Dream cradled Gargano with an Oklahoma roll for a two count. A DDT from Dream got another two count. Dream then proceeded to miss the Purple Rainmaker for a close near fall.
Dream executed a super DVD off the top. Gargano not only somehow survived, he also miraculously got his shoulder up. Dream went back to the top -- but Gargano rolled out of the ring. Dream jumped off to attempt another flying ax handle. Gargano cut him down with a superkick.
Gargano suplexed Dream on the metal ramp. Gargano dropped Dream with a slingshot DDT for the closest near fall of the match. Gargano tried to finish Dream with series of clotheslines. They each countered the other’s finisher.
Dream twice delivered a DVD. He then climbed the turnbuckles to deliver a Purple Rainmaker for the pinfall.
As Dream celebrated with the championship belt, Ciampa smirked as he left his perch high above the ring.