Starting on the road to the biggest shows of the year, I’m Scott Hammond and I’ll be covering this episode of NXT from Full Sail University in Florida.

It was a hot start to NXT this week, with new North American Champion Johnny Gargano making his way out to celebrate his victory over Ricochet at TakeOver Phoenix. A ‘Johnny Champion’ chant started up, (he’s got more surnames that John Morrison now). Gargano said that Johnny Wrestling is back. He was immediately cut off by Tommaso Ciampa who said he is here to celebrate the moment with Gargano. Their chemistry was easily the most interesting thing about their relationship. He said that they both now own the world.

Gargano said he will never need Ciampa, and before anything else, the Velveteen Dream interrupted. He said tonight is not about Gollum and his precious Goldie (I popped), it’s about the man who stole NXT TakeOver by simply showing up. He said that due to winning the Worlds Collide tournament, he chose Gargano as the man he wants to face for the North American title. He finished with a Johnny Jackass line, adding to his long list of names. A good opening segment that set up a great match in a couple of weeks and kept Ciampa interwoven in Gargano’s story. 

Jaxson Ryker vs Mansoor

Lord the Forgotten Son’s theme music sucks. It’s far too generic. Mansoor is another PC recruit. looks like a decent prospect. Although this match was over quicker than I expected. Ryker clubbed Mansoor in a Tree of Woe in the corner before Mansoor springboarded from the second rope into a spear from Ryker. Ryker hit a sit down chokeslam for the finish.

Winner: Jaxson Ryker

A nice promo aired with Ricochet and Adam Cole going back and forth and agreeing to a match for next week.

Drew Gulak vs Eric Bugenhagen

Seriously, when coming up with ring names, does someone have a random generator on surnames? Because Bugenhagen is a bit of a mouthful. Gulak’s Rocky robe was over with me. Bugenhagen looks like Dude Love on a lot of Monster energy drinks. Gulak started early with a missile dropkick into the corner, before a float over suplex into a rest hold. Bugenhagen fought his way into putting Gulak into an abdominal stretch while playing air guitar on his ribs. Gulak then reversed into a T-Bone suplex, followed by the Gu-Lock for the win.

Winner: Drew Gulak

Gulak got on the mic and said that he came to NXT and got fed of Ben Stiller from Dodgeball. Great short promo. Matt Riddle cut him off and says he’ll come to the ring and make Gulak tap out of NXT.

Matt Riddle vs Drew Gulak

I don’t think I’m convinced by Riddle’s gimmick just yet, although the crowd loves it. The match started very MMA-esque with takedowns and half mounts. Riddle popped out, hit a kick on Gulak and a jumping senton. Gulak then took control and hit a corner dropkick on Riddle. He slowed the pace down and put Riddle into a sick looking surfboard stretch. Good visuals here. Riddle fought back and hit a deadlift German suplex, and rolled into an armbar. Riddle then hit a deadlift powerbomb into a knee strike before finishing the match with the Bro-Mission.

Io Sharai, Kairi Sane & Bianca Belair vs Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke

Baszler and Duke already looked like stars, Shafir seemed to be lagging behind in-ring work and character development. I’m becoming more of a fan of Belair too. Baszler and Belair started slowly with the feel-out process. Belair tagged in Sane, and Belair press slammed Sane into an elbow drop on Baszler. Shafir was in next, she sold well but was lacking in other areas. The pace now got slowed by Baszler and cut Sane off from her partners. Duke looked huge compared to Sane, she’ll be a big deal. She his a roundhouse kick on Sane before Sane got the hot tag to Shirai. Shirai hit a double knee strike in the corner to Baszler and worked that into a 619. Sane then hit the Insane elbow, followed by Belair hitting the KOD. Sane took out Shafir and Duke, which allowed Sharai to get the tag and hit the springboard moonsault for the pinfall victory on the NXT Women’s champion.

Winners: Io Sharai, Kairi Sane and Bianca Belair

Overall, a really good show. Lots of storylines progression, and a really strong double showing from Drew Gulak.

All photos courtesy of

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