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NXT Earns First Five-Star Match

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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.

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.

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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.

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Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery

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NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa has undergone successful neck surgery this past Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, according to WWE.

Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.

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Ricochet to be Featured on RAW and SmackDown for Time Being

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NXT superstar Ricochet made his surprising main roster debut last week during RAW and his debut on SmackDown the following night, and at least until after WrestleMania 35, he will be featured on both shows.

“I will be on RAW and SmackDown going forward,” Ricochet said, according to WPSD Local 6. “At least until after ‘Mania. After ‘Mania it’s gonna be one or the other, I’m assuming, I don’t know. But, that’s what I’m assuming. But yes, going forward, I am now an official member of RAW and/or SmackDown.”

In celebration of his ascension to the main roster, over 60 of his friends and family held a surprise party to commemorate the milestone.

“This [surprise party] was beyond amazing, It was awesome, Ricochet recalled.

“I got to see family, friends, people I haven’t seen in a long time. I was honestly surprised when I walked in, this was great. It just makes you happy to see that many people care. Whether it is close friends you have known since you were three years old, or people maybe you have never met, it is just cool that you can inspire so many people. Doesn’t matter where you are from, you can live your dream.”

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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 18, 2019

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The Good

For Raw, they opened the show by saying that a bunch of NXT superstars will make their debuts on the show. This list included Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, Tomasso Ciampa, and Ricochet. While Gargano, Ciampa, and Ricochet all made their debuts through tag matches, Aleister Black got his singles debut against Elias. It was a solid match which Black won, and helped establish him as a threat for the future.

For Smackdown, we got to see Ricochet’s singles debut and it was great. He defeated Eric Young in a few minutes. His athleticism and high flying ability is entertaining to watch from start to beginning. Hopefully, he makes his way up to the top quickly because he is one the best things going forward for WWE.

The Bad

For Raw, the segment between Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery felt like a waste of time. During an interview with Heavy Machinery, Evans came out, walked up and down the entrance aisle, then made Heavy Machinery do it. They did so and then the segment ended. This literally felt like WWE just threw that in there to kill time for their show.

For Smackdown, while we finally got to see Asuka on Smackdown since the Royal Rumble, we still have yet to see R-Truth for the past few weeks. It really feels like WWE just flat out doesn’t care about the United States Championship at all.

The Final Verdict

With Elimination Chamber done and Fastlane the next PPV up, WWE needed to ramp the focus to that. With the sudden announcement of NXT superstars making their debuts this week, there was some confusion within WWE’s storytelling. For example, Bobby Lashley for some reason helped out Baron Corbin in his match against Braun Strowman at Elimination Chamber. But, when it came to Corbin’s tables match against Strowman to start Raw, he was nowhere to be found. With that said, I will have to say that Smackdown had the better show this week too. We got build up for Fastlane main event as well as other matches on that PPV. While Raw, still is trying to figure out what to do for that show.

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