NXT Recap: The Last Stand of Johnny Wrestling

Drew Buxton 

Last night Johnny Gargano put his career on the line against Andrade “Cien” Almas in exchange for one last shot at the NXT belt. In 2016 we saw a similar program on the main roster between The Miz and a babyface Dolph Ziggler that ended up being my favorite storyline of the year. It was some of the best work of Dolph’s career, and of course he won the belt and got to keep his job. The only issue with career vs. title matches is that the outcome is usually obvious. The person with their career on the line always wins unless we already know they are leaving the WWE.

The gimmick has an added element of intrigue in NXT though due to the possibility of a main roster call-up. Last night’s match was an excellent follow up to the instant classic they put on last month at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. It featured Candice LeRae taking out Zelina Vega, a tremendous tornado DDT, the ref getting taken out, and in a twist, Almas pinning Gargano for the win. Gargano was foiled by his evil ex-partner Tommaso Champa who came out and hit him with a crutch while the ref was unconscious (so much wrestling in one sentence!). A somber Gargano limped off into the abyss with his wife while the crowd chanted, “Thank-You, John-ny!”

Johnny Wrestling’s run in NXT is over, maybe. I like this booking. It leaves us having to ponder two possibilities. Either we’ll see Gargano on RAW or Smackdown soon or William Regal will come out next week and say the result is invalid because of Champa’s interference and that Gargano will get another chance, only this time with Champa captive above the ring in a shark cage or something. I lean toward the latter, but a call-up wouldn’t surprise me either.

Other things that happened:

-The Velveteen Dream went over against No Way Jose. The Dream is very over and has clearly leapfrogged Jose in the pecking order. Jose’s gimmick has hit its low ceiling, and it’s uncertain where he goes from here.

-Nikki “I Swear to God I’m Nuts” Cross of Sanity beat someone named Vanessa Borne.


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