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22.2.19 2330
The W - Pro Wrestling - NXT #431 1/24/18
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Since: 27.2.03
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Takeover Go Home Show! And this one promises to deliver, as Johnny Wrestling puts his #1 contendership on the line against Velveteen Dream. In pact, Dream's got a little pre-tape segment for us just to set the tone. It's a fun little bit where he commands the production elements for ambiance and atmosphere, but the upshot is pretty straightforward - Gargano's Dream of being champion is over tonight.

NWJ's back tonight, but he's fighting Cezar Bononi, so you can kind of forget about getting play-by-play here. Jose obviously goes over here with the pop-up punch.
Match Rating: Actually, I Will Admit That NWJ Has Beautiful Punches.

Later, we get a face-to-face sitdown interview with Ember Moon and her challenger, Shayna Baszler. That should go well, I think.

We get a hype package for Black/Cole at Takeover. It's as good as these always are, but the real surprise is that it's the only one we get tonight. You'd think the other matches would warrant them, but here we are.

Hey, it's Bianca Belair! I was just thinking it's been a while since we've seen her. She's stepped up her game so much from her earliest appearances, and I really looking forward to seeing more of what she can do. She's fighting Some Jobber, so, uh, yeah. No special highlights in this match, but it's a good showcase for Belair's power and strength. Percy calls her the strongest woman in NXT, and I'm not positive about that, but she's definitely up there. Big finish is a reverse powerbomb from Belair.
Match Rating: I Kind Of Want Her To Stick With The 450 Splash.

Sit down interview time! Ember Moon's gotten pretty serviceable in her promos, which I honestly thought she was never going to be able to accomplish. Baszler's a little green still - she's a bit too aware that she's doing a scene, which takes her out of the moment - but she's not far off of where she needs to be, and I genuinely feel like she's going to be a monster promo eventually. Anyhoo, the upshot is that Moon calls Baszler out for taking a shortcut to the title shot (despite the fact that it absolutely worked and that it's Moon's own fault for giving her the shot), while Baszler says that she doesn't care, and that all the people she's hurt have just been to get Moon's attention. Moon says she's the big fish in NXT for a reason. Baszler says she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her, but at Takeover she's walking away with all of Moon's hopes and dreams.

Effective segment, especially given that they rushed the build on this a little. Now there's some gravitas behind the match this Saturday.

TM61 Part 2. It's kind of more of the same, covering their time in NXT, up to and then through Thorn's injury. The big highlight for me this time is that they actually say, "I would hate to think that the memory people have of us is what they've seen up until now." Spotlighting that they haven't shown much and that they're more than what we've seen is the right move, in my opinion. And thanks to these segments, I care so much more about these guys. If the personality they've shown here can transfer to the ring, they're going to have a big supporter in me.

I guess we'll find out when they return next week. In the meantime, the Authors of Pain are out to mash Some Jobbers. Wait, no match, the Jobbers get mashed before the bell even rings. Akem gets on the mic and yells at us in Albanian. I'm no expert, but I think I can translate: "We'll fucking kill you, Undisputed Era! You pieces of shit are going in the fucking ground!" Well, that's what I got anyways. I'll double check on Saturday.

Nikki Cross will be taking on Lacey Evans next week. Cross is going to kill her.

Main event! Dream and Gargano are getting the bulk of the second half of this show, so that's promising. Dream made me a believer just like everybody else, but let's be honest here - he's not winning. That doesn't mean we won't get a good match, though. The match starts with amateur mat wrestling. Like, for real. And the crowd is hot for it! Dream gets the upper hand on this exchange, and then gets up in Gargano's face about it, so Johnny locks in the Gargano Escape! Dream easily makes it to the ropes this early in the match, and heads outside. When we come back from break, Gargano's been working the arm to try and get the Escape again, but Dream fights loose. Gargano shoots him into the ropes, but Dream flips over and lands on the apron. He takes a moment to preen, so Gargano makes him pay with a dropkick that sends Dream to the floor. Gargano follows that with a rolling senton off the apron, and Dream's in trouble. They head back inside, but Dream catches Gargano going for the battering ram, and counters with a hanging neckbreaker off the middle rope! Dream smells blood in the water and starts working the neck, but Gargano counters another neckbreaker into a backslide for two, so Dream sends him hard to the outside. Dream threatens a big dive, but backs off and instead just drops an axehandle off the apron. He gives Gargano another, but Gargano fires back with some big chops, so Dream cuts him off with a slam across the ring apron to take us to break. When we come back, though, Gargano is rallying with some very nice punches, followed by an enzuigiri. He sets up and hits the roll-through kick, and then a tornado flatliner for two. They trade shots - Dream targeting the neck, Gargano the arm. Dream gets the best of it and looks for his rolling DVD, but Gargano escapes into a sunset flip - but Dream's too tall, and he can't trap Dream's arms with his feet! Dream counters into a victory roll for two (victory roll!), but from this position Gargano can trap the arms and gets the sunset for two of his own! Dream comes back with a superkick, but Gargano rebounds with a big clothesline. Gargano crawls into a draping cover, but there's no way that's going to end the match. Crowd is monster for this match, and have been the whole time. Dream goes for the DVD again, and again Gargano gets loose, this time hitting a kick and coming off the ropes, but Dream catches him with a tilt-a-whirl, into what I can only describe as a modified rolling DDT. The setup is super unusual, but it's fluid and graceful and awesome. You kind of have to see it. Dream's arm is killing him now, and he's slow to make the cover, allowing Gargano to kick out at two. Dream wants to go upstairs for the Purple Rainmaker elbow, but Gargano knocks him off before it's too late. Dream rolls out, so Gargano follows him with a gigantic tope suicida! He hits hard. Back in, and now Gargano goes up, but Dream crotches him, then sets up an atomic rolling Death Valley Driver! Holy Shit! Slow cover, kick out at two! Holy Shit! Dream's not giving up, though. Dream goes up for the elbow, but his arm's no good for it. He pauses for just a moment and switches arms, but that's just enough time for Gargano to get his knees up! He hits the injured arm! A quick superkick sets him up, and now Gargano has locked in the Gargano Escape! A quick tapout, and Johnny Wrestling is going to Takeover!
Match Rating: What We Got Was An Outstanding Match.

After the bell, here come Zelina Vega and El Idolo. They're playing it coy, but we all know why they're out here - and so does Gargano! When Almas tries to sucker punch him, Gargano catches it and fires back. However, he did just fight for twenty-some minutes, so it's not long before Almas gets the advantage. He turns Gargano and turns to the camera to mug a bit, but it turns out that nobody can keep Johnny Wrestling down! He crawls his way back up onto the ropes, and when Almas turns around, absolutely nails the springboard DDT! With Almas down, Gargano hoists up the title. Will this be the outcome Saturday?

Well, I'm certainly pretty excited to find out. Takeover is absolutely stacked - the worst match on the card is likely to be Era vs. AoP - so it should be another great night for NXT. See you there.
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Pfft. Please. There was so much going on in WCW at the time you can't single out Hogan as the only top guy and you can't blame him for people turning WCW off "in droves", especially since they didn't.
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