Last night, WWE’s NXT again set the tone of the big weekend with a solid show consisting of strong matches that both kept fans entertained and intrigued.
Here are 5 big Takeaways from last night’s event:
Ember Moon Is Not Good In NXT Women’s Champion Role
Last night we saw NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon take on newcomer Shayna Baszler and the match was supposed to be a message-sending event for the ex-UFC star Baszler.
Instead, while Baszler seemed to be confident, comfortable and oozing with charisma inside the ring, she was knocked back a few notches by the average Ember Moon.
Baszler losing the match, even by pinfall, isn’t the issue here. The message was supposed to be sent that Baszler was a badass, capable of inflicting severe damage and the match was supposed to set the tone for Baszler who is being molded in the same light as a Brock Lesnar.
However, Moon’s comical over-selling of an arm injury and her ridiculous attempts to make the arm look injured took away from Baszler and the match’s intentions.
Forget her botched moves, forget the fact Moon doesn’t seem to resonate with the fans and forget the fact that her constant vampire-esque poses and expressions during a match look both out of place and hollow, Moon’s job was to help establish Baszler as a top heel.
Moon, didn’t do much in that department, but fortunately Baszler’s natural heel persona was enough to weather the storm of ridiculousness.
Moon winning the title was fine. But, unlike prior NXT title holders, she fails to make anyone look good, or better for being in the ring with her such as Asuka did and Charlotte Flair did so well.
Hopefully Moon drops the strap sooner rather than later, and to someone who can help keep title matches memorable because Moon’s matches aren’t and that’s not a good thing for the NXT women’s championship.
Velveteen Dream Is A Star
WWE has a star in the making with Velveteen Dream but he may be best staying in NXT for 2018.
Because he is so good that it’s took risky to send him to either RAW or Smackdown and risk having him fall into a comedy act such as Breezango.
Velveteen Dream has Intercontinental Champion written all over him and he would be perfect in a long, Mr.Perfect-type run with the strap.
But his character needs to remain the way it has been in NXT; uninterrupted by silly booking and storylines.
Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black Setting The Bar High In 2018
Not many can challenge Aleister Black’s standing as the MVP of NXT over the past year as he has had match-of-the-year quality matches over and over again.
Last night was no difference.
Adam Cole looks like a performer capable of reaching Chris Jericho heights and his instant chemistry with Black was evident within seconds of the bell ringing.
This match may win NXT Match of the Year but WWE has struck gold with the Undisputed Era and Black, who may be due a Smackdown call-up soon.
Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa Is Going To Be The Best Rivalry of 2018
Despite the show-stealing match that Gargano and Andrade “Cien” Almas put on in the main event (and would have been match of the night if not for Black/Cole), the attack from Ciampa on Gargano as the show closed will be what is remembered most and that speaks volumes to the potential this rivalry has.
The storyline is perfect, has plenty of buildup and makes everyone feel like they need to get ready as a clash between these two, presumably at WrestleMania weekend, will be something special.
NXT Showing TNA How To Properly Use Their Talent
EC3 made his expected appearance on WWE television at NXT: TakeOver and you can already get a sense that he is going to win breakout star of the year in 2018.
It also proves that TNA is the perfect development ground for NXT (think about that). TNA can take underutilized WWE talent, help develop their names/brand and re-establish their standing.
Unfortunately, TNA (or Impact Wrestling) superstars hit a wall after the initial boost and eventually depart for a new opportunity in NXT where WWE takes them to the next level and that level is often times huge.
EC3 will be the latest example.
Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery
Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.
Ricochet to be Featured on RAW and SmackDown for Time Being
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.”
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 18, 2019
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.
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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