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    Friday, February 2, 2018

    The NXT Grapevine: February 2018

    Welcome to the first NXT Grapevine of 2018! We're fresh off an amazing Takeover: Philadelphia, where Andrade Cien Almas and Johnny Gargano put on the best match of the year so far in their bout for the NXT Championship. Now, we're a couple of months away from WrestleMania weekend, which means it's time for another round of setting up feuds and title matches.

    As is the norm, we'll put our usual SPOILER WARNING here. The matches you'll see below have yet to be aired, so don't scroll down if you don't want to be spoiled. Also, these tapings sometimes go through heavy changes before the on-air product is released, so there may be matches and segments that won't be seen.


    Airing February 7:
    • SAnitY vs. The Undisputed Era for the NXT Tag Team Championship never happened as the both teams brawled before the bell even rang.
    • Heavy Machinery (Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic) def. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss. After the match, Moss refused to shake Sabatelli's hand and help him up.
    • Johnny Gargano came out to challenge Tommaso Ciampa but was interrupted by NXT Champion Andrade Cien Almas. Almas vs. Gargano in a Title vs. Career match is then announced for a later episode.
    • Bianca Belair def. a local enhancement talent.
    • SAnitY (Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe) def. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole and NXT Tag Team Champions Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish) in a tornado tag match. Dain hit Fish with the Ulster Plantation to secure the win for SAnitY.
    Thoughts: The tornado tag main event was a non-title match, so Fish and O'Reilly get to keep their belts. This was a good way to bring SAnitY back into the fray and close the books on their feud with the Undisputed Era, especially since it seems like they've taken a backseat to all the new arrivals lately. In other news, Riddick Moss seems to have finally realized that his tag team with Tino isn't working, because they're still stuck in the doldrums of NXT. Maybe things will start looking up for him soon.

    The big news here, though, is Johnny Wrestling fighting for his career in a rematch with Almas. Gargano continues to be built up as the ultimate underdog, and it's easy to see him being the next Daniel Bryan just by how the crowd reacts to him. That match is going to be intense.

    Airing February 14:
    • TM-61 (Shane Thorne and Nick Miller) def. two local enhancement talents.
    • WWE UK Championship Match: Pete Dunne (c) def. Roderick Strong to successfully retain his title.
    • Aleister Black came out and announced his intentions to take the NXT Championship, but was interrupted by Killian Dain. Dain then said he would also be pursuing the NXT Championship, leading to Black declaring that he needs to take out Dain first.
    • NXT Women's Championship Match: Shayna Baszler def. Ember Moon (c) via DQ due to Kairi Sane coming out and attacking Baszler. Baszler looked to break Moon's arm, leading to Sane running in and attacking her.
    Thoughts: Ember Moon's suffering at the hands of Shayna Baszler continues, and now she's also got to deal with Kairi Sane inserting herself into the title picture as well. I wouldn't be surprised if we get a triple threat match between these three at the Takeover before WrestleMania

    Black-Dain is a clash of former European wrestling scene standouts, and it should be another good match. Speaking of European standouts, Pete Dunne continues his reign with another successful defense, even if the UK guys still don't have a proper home yet.

    Airing February 21:
    • The Velveteen Dream def. No Way Jose.
    • Nikki Cross def. Vanessa Borne. Borne looked to have a new dominatrix-esque gimmick, carrying a whip to the ring.
    • The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake) def. two local enhancement talent. After the match, Cutler and Blake declare their entry into the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic!
    • Title vs. Career Match: Andrade Cien Almas (c) (w/ Zelina Vega) def. Johnny Gargano (w/ Candice LeRae) to retain his championship and end Gargano's career in NXT. Vega and LeRae brawl to the back midway through the match. Gargano looked to have won the match when he locked Almas in the Gargano Escape, but the referee was knocked out. Tommaso Ciampa then ran down and hit Gargano with a crutch, allowing Almas to pick up the pin once the referee woke up.
    Thoughts: FUCK YOU CIAMPA!

    Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, what a twist to Johnny Gargano's quest to the top! I don't think this will spell the end of him on NXT, because William Regal seems to have a soft spot for him and it's easy to set Gargano-Ciampa up in some sort of "unsanctioned" match to get around this latest predicament. This should all be made clearer in the build-up to Takeover: New Orleans.

    Also, your eyes aren't deceiving you—the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is back! The recent influx of talent will likely make this a stacked tournament, even if our first entrants are a little underwhelming. Right now, you've got SAnitY, Undisputed Era, Street Profits, Heavy Machinery, Authors of Pain and TM-61 as very likely entrants. War Machine was recently signed, and this seems like the perfect route for a debut. I could also see the UK and/or the 205 Live guys having a team or two here, so this should be a fun tournament.


    Are you excited for NXT's next batch of episodes? Let us know!
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    Item Reviewed: The NXT Grapevine: February 2018 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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