WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from March 20
A week after Johnny Gargano threw Tommaso Ciampa into the entrance screen and severed any semblance of partnership between them, NXT hit the WWE Network airwaves with a major announcement from Triple H regarding the NXT Championship...but not the one fans hoped for.
The revelation would shake the foundation of the brand and alter the upcoming TakeOver: New York live-event special on April 5.
What did the WWE chief operating officer have to say regarding the top prize in NXT in the wake of a neck injury suffered by Ciampa that will sideline him for months?
More importantly, what would it mean for the top Superstars.
Find out with this recap of the March 20 broadcast.
Triple H Addresses the NXT Championship Situation
Triple H kicked off Wednesday's show, with the NXT Championship in his possession.
He said he originally planned to announce Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship at TakeOver, but the champion needed neck surgery, so that match will no longer be taking place.
Instead, The Velveteen Dream, Adam Cole, Matt Riddle, Aleister Black and Ricochet will meet in the main event of this week's show to determine which Superstar will battle Gargano in Brooklyn for the vacated title.
The announcement drew an ovation from the fans.
It is difficult to grade a segment like this, especially when it involves a Superstar injured in the prime of his career and in the midst of his hottest streak.
Ciampa was, arguably, the best heel in the industry and a wrestler consistently responsible for the best of NXT over the last two or so years.
To see his championship reign come to such an unceremonious end is disappointing from a creative standpoint and heartbreaking from a fan's.
The show must go on, though, and Triple H announced a pretty fantastic main event for this week's show that will give one of NXT's elite an opportunity to headline TakeOver against Gargano.
Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match to Determine Johnny Gargano's TakeOver Opponent
The Undisputed Era's Adam Cole, Matt Riddle, Aleister Black, Ricochet and North American champion Velveteen Dream squared off in the main event of Wednesday's show, a spot in the main event of TakeOver: New York and a chance to hoist the top prize on the brand at stake in a Fatal 5-Way match.
The One and Only struggled early, enduring punishment at the hands of Cole and Riddle.
Black paired off with Dream and was schooling the eccentric star when Cole pulled him from the ring and sent him into the steel stairs. Back in the squared circle, Riddle trapped Cole in a submission, but Dream broke the hold and saved the match for himself.
At one point, the rapid-fire action gave way to Riddle trapping Dream in the Bromission. He appeared on his way to a win when the disruptive Cole pulled official Drake Wuertz to the floor.
Late in the bout, Dream scaled the ropes but was met by Ricochet, who delivered a headscissors off the top and onto Black and Cole on the floor.
Back inside the ring, Ricochet delivered a picture-perfect shooting star press to Riddle, but an alert Cole re-entered the squared circle and blasted the high-flying babyface with a knee to the back of the head and scored the win.
He celebrated atop the stage as the show went off the air.
Cole defeated Dream, Black, Ricochet and Riddle to advance to TakeOver: New York
And with that, all of the creative frustration surrounding Cole over the last year or so feels like a distant memory.
The former Ring of Honor heavyweight champion scored a win here that sets him up for the highest-profile match of his NXT career, against the hottest babyface the brand has ever had. Best yet? It comes on the biggest stage the brand has to offer in Brooklyn, during WrestleMania weekend.
From the very outset of this match, Cole was all over the place, consistently staying busy and breaking up near-falls to ensure his chance of winning remained intact. He was resourceful, tricky and, in great heel fashion, seized an opportunity to pick up the win despite a very real argument against him being the best wrestler in the match.
It was great storytelling and should serve as a fantastic springboard for bigger things going forward.
The interaction between Dream and Riddle was also solid in that it created greater buzz for their upcoming match in Brooklyn for the former's championship.