The NXT Championship match between Johnny Gargano and Andrade “Cien” Almas at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia received praise from fans, wrestlers and critics alike, including the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer.
The third match in the Gargano-Almas trilogy received a five-star rating from Meltzer. According to the Pro Fight Database, the four matches on the card received no less than two-and-a half stars.
Gargano acknowledged the news on his Twitter page.
5 Star-Lord? 😏 pic.twitter.com/k6OXmaGRMN
— Johnny Gargano (@JohnnyGargano) February 1, 2018
This match was the second wrestling bout in 2018 to receive a five-star rating. The first match of the year to earn this honor was the IWGP United States title bout between Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12.
This is the sixth five-star match under the WWE banner. The last time Meltzer awarded the honor to a WWE match was C.M. Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. More importantly, this marked the first time either Gargano and Almas received five stars in their illustrious careers.
While the star rating was invited by Jim Cornette and his childhood friend Norm Dooley in 1979, it has since been utilized by Meltzer. There isn’t a set criteria for what makes a five-star match, other than Meltzer’s opinion. Many see factors such as workrate, difficulty and variety of moves, build-up, conclusion and/or the reaction of the crowd as what contributes to a five-star quality wrestling match.
Most of the rating can be attributed to Gargano and Almas and the incredible story they told in the ring with their sequences and drama. The booking of the match should earn a slice of the five-star rating as well.
Professional wrestling is subjective and all fans see a match differently. There may be a person who has a list of matches – like myself – where people look at some of the names and say “you’re out of your mind, you liked that match?” There are people who look at Meltzer’s ratings and brush them off because they are subjective and in their eyes they show a particular bias toward a certain promotion or performer. Others also toss Meltzer’s views out the window because he has never been involved in the wrestling business other than writing about it.
However, there many fans who respect Meltzer’s take on the wrestling industry and see him as the ultimate resource when it comes to the sport. Likewise there are many wrestlers who seek his validation and opinions, and are honored just to receive praise from him in the Observer.
Whether a fan believes in Meltzer’s star rating system or they don’t, this accolades shows that one of the industry’s most respected figures outside of the ring has recognized the good work coming out of NXT. For those who are loyal fans of the NXT brand, it is nice to have the brand seen on the same level as New Japan Pro Wrestling in terms of match quality – even if it is considered by many as just a developmental territory.
The Gargano-Almas five-star rating isn’t the first honor awarded to NXT by the Observer Newsletter. NXT was voted the best weekly television show from 2013-2015 in the WON awards. In 2015, Triple H and Ryan Ward received the “Best Booker” award for their work with NXT.
NXT UK Premiers on WWE Network October 17
WWE has officially announced the premier of NXT UK on the WWE Network, in a Twitter post that appeared on Wednesday morning.
Per the announcement, the UK division of the NXT brand will debut on October 17th at 8pm BST and will air weekly, featuring male and female wrestlers in the UK.
BREAKING: #NXTUK, a new weekly episodic series featuring the greatest male and female competitors from the UK, will stream on @WWENetwork on Wednesdays beginning 17th October at 8pm BST. pic.twitter.com/L8wVJquMdF
— WWE UK (@WWEUK) October 11, 2018
Lita Praises Bianca Belair
WWE Hall of Famer Lita had some high praise for NXT superstar Bianca Belair, noting her “great attitude” and how “physically gifted” she is, adding that “when I very first saw her she had that intangible star quality that I just want to see more”, during an interview with The Sun.
“Down at the performance center, all the guys at NXT are in the ring every day and in class,” Lita said. “They have everything they need to learn and there is so much talent in regards to physical ability and thinking about their character. But for someone to have that intangible star factor… Bianca Belair, along with some other the others there, is very talented.”
Lita is also impressed with how Blair uses her hair as a weapon.
“It’s crazy, no-one has ever used their hair as a weapon. It’s so cool how she thought of that and how it works. She sure has that star quality and uniqueness.”
Johnny Gargano Talks NXT, Dream Matches
NXT superstar Johnny Gargano remains one of the most popular superstars on the brand and while his callup to the main roster seems imminent, he prefers to stay on the NXT brand, a brand he takes a lot of pride in.
“I do not see why not, everyone’s dream – and mine too – is to wrestle at WrestleMania, but right now NXT is such a special place” Gargano said of a potential call up, during an interview with the Daily Star.
“We are focused on building something wrestling fans can be proud of, and we are building it together.”
But Gargano, during a recent media session, discussed some dream matches he would want to make a reality when he does make it to the main roster.
“[…] so I’m going up to the main roster…after I win the NXT title and everything’s done. After that, man, I’m gonna say, obviously Daniel Bryan” Gargano said. “That’s a dream match that a lot of people would love to see now.”
“I think I just posted a Tweet recently that the internet went nuts for, and that’s me and Seth Rollins,” Gargano said. “Because, of course, I wore my Captain America Infinity War gear and he just wore the Thanos gear, so you never know what can happen there.”
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