WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from January 23
The January 23 episode of NXT set the stage for Saturday's TakeOver: Phoenix live spectacular, thanks in large part to an explosive conclusion, the latest tease of a DIY reunion between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa.
Also featuring tag team competition from both men's and women's divisions, as well as the return to television of Velveteen Dream, the show did a fine job of creating excitement and energy for the upcoming extravaganza.
Relive Wednesday's broadcast and find out who emerged victoriously with this recap of the WWE Network presentation.
Velveteen Dream Reveals His 2019 Plans
Conspicuous by his absence since the last TakeOver event, Velveteen Dream returned to television Wednesday and was welcomed by an enthusiastic fanbase.
Dream announced his desire to capture the North American Championship in 2019, something that drew the ire of the title's inaugural holder, Adam Cole.
Cole said this is the year every member of Undisputed Era has gold around his waist. Bobby Fish said much the same thing.
Dream, questioning the hierarchy of the group, asked Cole's permission to face Fish next week. This angered them, leading to Fish and Cole rushing the ring and getting tossed to the floor.
The enigmatic Dream left the ring and headed up the ramp, taunting the heels to close out the segment.
This was a simple yet effective feud starter.
Cole and Dream both want the same thing, and now they have a reason to fight.
What this segment did really well, though, was tease potential dissension within Undisputed Era and whether everyone really answers to Cole.
Is that the first hint of cracks within the foundation of the group, leading to a massive breakup and singles runs for some of its stars? Perhaps, but only time will tell. Maybe it was but an insult hurled by a master of mind games.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner
Two teams jockeying for position in the tag team division squared off in Wednesday's first match, as Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan battled Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner.
The latter team isolated Lorcan early, beating him down. The elusive Bostonian escaped their grasps and made the tag to Burch, who unloaded with his British strong-style offense.
Lorcan and Aichner re-entered the ring, and the babyface almost immediately ate a lariat clothesline that turned him inside out and returned momentary control to the heels.
The match continued, a back-and-forth affair that ultimately culminated with Lorcan avoiding a springboard from Aichner and rolling him up for the win.
Lorcan and Burch defeated Aichner and Barthel
Can this just be a series of matches every week from now until WrestleMania weekend?
This was a fine match between two teams comprised of hard-hitting, high-impact wrestlers. The technique, the timing and the action helped elevate both the match and the teams involved.
At a time when War Raiders and The Undisputed Era are preparing for an NXT Tag Team Championship match at TakeOver, it would behoove management to take a good, hard look at Burch and Lorcan and Barthel and Aichner, because those two teams are the future of the division.
More of this, please.
Io Shirai and Kairi Sane vs. Amber Nova and Tanea Brooks
The team of Io Shirai and Kairi Sane returned to television Wednesday, squaring off with the team of Tanea Brooks and Amber Nova, both of whom have fought in Impact Wrestling.
Sane and Shirai dominated early, seemingly toying with Nova before Brooks made a well-timed distraction and tagged into the match. Her attempt at a suplex moments after taunting the crowd was met with a spear by Sane, who made the hot tag to Shirai.
Shirai delivered the 619 to Brooks and wiped out both heels with a springboard dropkick.
Sane delivered her trademark elbow drop, and Shirai finished Brooks with the moonsault as The Pirate Princess made the pin for the win.
Shirai and Sane defeated Nova and Brooks
This was a fun sprint of a match designed to put over the team of Sane and Shirai. With the announcement of women's tag team champions, one has to wonder if the invite will be extended to NXT and, if so, just how strong a chance the Japanese natives have.
If not, the possibility of a rivalry with Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke is strong given their interactions with Shayna Baszler's besties in the past.
Hopefully, the plans for the duo become clear sooner rather than later because they are far too talented to wander aimlessly in mediocrity.
Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish
After the events of the night's opening segment, Velveteen Dream and Bobby Fish squared off in a singles match that certainly added fuel to the proverbial fire.
The always-opportunistic Adam Cole provided an early distraction, allowing Fish to seize control of the match. Dream, though, fought back and rattled Fish with a big springboard dropkick off the apron and to the floor, followed by a double ax handle.
A dragon screw leg whip from Fish, though, allowed the veteran technician to create separation. He proceeded to work the knee. Dream eventually fought back into the match but again found his knee under attack.
Cole attempted to interfere once more, but this time it backfired, as Dream sent Fish into him on the floor.
Back inside, Dream delivered the Dream Valley Driver for the win.
Dream defeated Fish
This was but the first chapter in a rivalry between Dream and Cole that will likely culminate at TakeOver on WrestleMania weekend.
Dream won here, withstanding the attempted interference from Cole, but one would figure there is a beatdown coming his way courtesy of Undisputed Era. When that time comes, look for a meaner, nastier and more aggressive Dream to emerge and the overall quality of the character to improve.
Fish is so technically sound that it is often easy to forget about him when running down the list of the Undisputed Era's stars, but he again showed why he has had the longevity in the industry that he has.
North American champion Ricochet hit the ring, three days before a showdown with Johnny Gargano at TakeOver: Phoenix, and addressed his top contender.
He criticized Gargano for a cheap superkick two weeks ago and said this year's Johnny is a lot like last year's.
Gargano interrupted and claimed he knew Ricochet was just trying to get him all beside himself. This year, though, he is more focused and calculated. He tried for a cheap shot, but Ricochet fought him off.
That is, until NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa hit the ring and attacked the high-flying babyface. Gargano briefly halted his attack of Ricochet to look up at his former tag team partner.
Aleister Black hit the ring and took the fight to Ciampa until Gargano repaid the favor and blasted Black with a superkick.
Ultimately, the former partners left the babyfaces lying and headed up the ramp, where they briefly teased a sign of respect. Candice LeRae interrupted, though, warning Gargano, "We are not doing this again!"
The promo did its job in that it hyped the two main events of TakeOver, but it also propelled the storyline forward, hinting that Ciampa and Gargano are going to continue teasing a reunion to the dismay of LeRae, the latter's wife.
It is a compelling storyline that would bring the entire year full circle.
The only complaint? Not much happened between Ciampa and Black to really push their championship clash to the forefront. Still, it should be one of the best matches on the card and an early Match of the Year candidate if it lives up to its potential.