Johnny Gargano's NXT career might be over, but Gargano is far from finished with Tommaso Ciampa.
This much was made clear as Ciampa tried, for a third consecutive week, to address the NXT Universe. Unlike his two previous attempts, which were interrupted by NXT fans’ outpouring of support for Gargano, Ciampa finally spoke this time around, barking that Gargano is “gone!” while fans, Gargano emoji signs in hand, chanted “We want Johnny.”
Ciampa then roamed around the ringside area, tearing up one Gargano poster after another, until he reached a fan wearing a lucha libre mask. To Ciampa's shock and terror, the fan ripped off his mask to reveal himself as Gargano in disguise. Johnny Incognito fired off a series of punches on The Sicilian Psychopath, leaving Ciampa scrambling for cover until NXT security pried Gargano off and escorted him out of the building.
With or without an NXT contract, Gargano appears hell-bent on scoring retribution.
After days of speculation over whom Roderick Strong would choose to be his tag team partner in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, The Messiah of the Backbreaker came through with a bold choice that no one could have predicted: WWE U.K. Champion Pete Dunne.
That Strong hand-selected the notoriously solitary BruiserWeight might come as a surprise, but it proved to be a winning strategy, as the pair upended Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch in the final First-Round Match of the Dusty Classic.
Strong & Dunne endured Lorcan & Burch's incredibly hard-hitting attack and fired back in kind. The makeshift duo even demonstrated sharp double-team maneuvers, such as when Dunne launched Burch into a pendulum backbreaker by Strong. The Messiah of the Backbreaker immediately followed up with End of Heartache for the win, eliminating Lorcan & Burch from tournament competition.
If Strong & Dunne's first match as a unit is any indication of what's to come, their opponents in the Semifinals, SAnitY, have their work cut out for them.
Two-and-a-half weeks before she locks up with Shayna Baszler at TakeOver: New Orleans, NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon showed her dominance in an outing against young NXT veteran Aliyah.
Never missing a chance to get inside Moon's head, Baszler joined Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness on commentary just as the match got underway. Kicking up her feet on the announce desk, The Queen of Spades spewed venom toward NXT's War Goddess, promising a one-sided beating at TakeOver. Moon dished out big hits against Aliyah but kept a close eye on Baszler all the while, even dedicating a Samoan drop to the mean-spirited Submission Magician.
After downing Aliyah with the devastating Eclipse to claim the victory, Moon stared down Baszler from the ring while Baszler returned a glare from atop the announce desk. A fight is brewing for New Orleans.
Following last week's out-of-control NXT Title Match contract signing, in which Aleister Black and Candice LeRae got one over on Zelina Vega and the absent NXT Champion, Andrade “Cien” Almas was in no mood for levity this week, and he let the world know it.
Raul Mendoza, unfortunately, just happened to be a casualty of circumstance.
As Mendoza made his way to the ring for a scheduled bout, El Idolo emerged from the locker room and jumped him from behind. There would be no match — just an airing of grievances, some obscenity-laced, by the NXT Champion, who had Vega in tow.
Far from tranquilo, the outraged Almas demanded that Black show up next week on NXT so El Idolo can make him pay The Dutch Destroyer pay for his “disrespect.”
NXT General Manager William Regal has a major surprise in store for the NXT Universe.
Regal revealed that he will make an announcement next week that will forever change the landscape of the black-and-yellow brand. What should NXT fans expect to hear from the brand's top authority figure, just weeks before TakeOver: New Orleans? Find out next Wednesday when NXT streams exclusively on the award-winning WWE Network.
Standing across the ring from a Superstar as decorated and world-traveled as Kassius Ohno is enough to make most men shake in their boots. As he'd be quick to remind you, however, Undisputed ERA's Adam Cole is not like most men.
The Panama City Playboy was so confident heading into his main-event showdown with The Knockout Artist (a match that Ohno had requested) that he even instructed Undisputed ERA teammates Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly to remain in the locker room for the bout. As it turns out, Fish & O’Reilly's assistance would not be necessary.
Though Ohno gave Cole cause for concern throughout the match, booting him into next week and hauling off with one brutal strike after another, Cole persevered. He used a few dirty tricks along the way, too, such as feigning a leg injury only to catch Ohno off-guard with a perfectly timed enzuigiri.
The exciting back-and-forth bout reached a turning point after Cole avoided being pinned following a High-Tension Elbow by Ohno, one of The Knockout Artist's signature strikes. Cole proceeded to take the advantage, drilling Ohno with three superkicks, none of which floored The Knockout Artist completely. The Panama City Playboy finally dropped Ohno with a suplex onto his knee and the Last Shot to pick up the major win.
Whereas Cole's hubris has cost him dearly in the past, tonight was a different story. Cole stood tall, while Ohno, dogged by inconsistent performances in recent months, was left to figure out how to rebound from his latest tough loss.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong defeated Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan in a First Round Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Match (7:14)
- Ember Moon defeated Aliyah (2:56)
- Adam Cole defeated Kassius Ohno (9:31)
Other on-screen talent