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    Friday, March 9, 2018

    The NXT Grapevine: March-April, 2018

    Welcome back to another edition of the NXT Grapevine!

    We're currently in the thick of the Road to WrestleMania, which means that the WWE is in overdrive as they start to set up everything that'll go down at the biggest stage of them all. NXT is no exception to this—NXT TakeOver: New Orleans is set to happen the night before WrestleMania, so they're on the same path of setting up matches and building up feuds. Yesterday, the last set of episodes were taped at Full Sail, and we've got a quick rundown of what'll happen.

    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 March 21:
    • Tommaso Ciampa came out and cut a promo on how Johnny Gargano was gone from NXT and that he wouldn't be back. Gargano was eventually revealed as hiding in the crowd under a lucha libre mask, and attacked Ciampa. Security rushed out and escorted Gargano out of the arena.
    • Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, First Round Match: Roderick Strong and WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne def. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan to advance to the next round. 
    • NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon def. Aliyah in a non-title match. Shayna Baszler was on commentary and stared Ember down after the match.
    • Raul Mendoza came out for a match, but was immediately attacked by NXT Champion Andrade 'Cien' Almas. Almas then cut a promo in English and Spanish on his challenger, Aleister Black.
    • Adam Cole def. Kassius Ohno.
    Thoughts: If you've been keeping up with the spoilers, that tag team match might surprise you—it was originally supposed to be Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) competing in the tournament. Apparently, Bate picked up an injury recently, warranting the replacement. Instead, we get the rather odd pair of babyface Strong and heel Dunne, which should be an interesting dynamic to see play out.

    The rest of the show continues to build towards what we already know about the upcoming Takeover—Ciampa and Gargano continue their longstanding rivalry, Baszler continues to gun for the NXT Women's Championship, and Almas looks to get one over Aleister Black as he's set to defend the NXT Championship against him.

    Airing March 28:
    • NXT GM William Regal came out and announced a new championship for NXT - the NXT North American Championship. Regal mentioned that the inaugural champion will be crowned at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. This prompted EC3 to come out and make his debut, thanking Regal for creating a championship for him. Regal then announced that EC3 would be competing for the belt at TakeOver, against five other men in a ladder match.
    • Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, Semifinal Match: Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) def. Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) to advance to the finals.
    • Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, Semifinal Match: Roderick Strong and WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne def. SAnitY to advance to the final.
    • Lars Sullivan def. John Silver.
    • Dakota Kai came out for a match, but the cameras cut to NXT Champion Andrade 'Cien' Almas and Aleister Black fighting outside. Both men make their way to the ring, where Almas beat Black down with a steel chair.
    • It was announced that the following wrestlers are set to compete in the Ladder Match to determine the inaugural NXT North American Champion at NXT TakeOver New Orleans: EC3, The Velveteen Dream, Adam Cole, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain and Ricochet.
    • The Velveteen Dream def. Trent Seven.
    Thoughts: Holy championship, Batman! The dirtsheets have different reports on what the new title will be called—some say it's the NXT North American Championship, while others call it the NXT All-American Championship. The latter definitely sounds much more appealing, even if it technically excludes Canada.

    We also got the much-anticipated debut of EC3, and they're wasting no time propelling him into a title scene here. Keep an eye out for that ladder match, as they might very well steal the show at Takeover. You've got resident monsters Dain and Sullivan, the rising Velveteen Dream, Adam Cole and recent signings EC3 and Ricochet, which is simply a recipe for success.

    Elsewhere, we also get the finals of the Dusty Classic set—last year's champions up against this year's last-minute replacement team. The dynamic between Dunne and Strong is something I'm looking forward to seeing play out, so this should make for some fun television in the next couple of weeks.

    Airing April 4:
    • Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan ended in a no contest as the four other competitors in the upcoming Ladder Match came out and brawled with both men.
    • Kairi Sane def. Vanessa Borne.
    • Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, Finals: Authors of Pain vs. Roderick Strong and WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne ended in another no contest as NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly and Adam Cole, but no Bobby Fish) ran out and attacked both teams. NXT GM William Regal then announced that all three teams will take part in a three-way tag match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, with the winners becoming the NXT Tag Team Champions as well as the winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
    • Ricochet def. Chris Dijak.
    Thoughts: Dijak has actually been with the WWE for a while now, so it's nice to see him finally show up. The revision to the tag team match and the Dusty Classic finals seems to be due to the fact that Bobby Fish is out due to having had surgery, which means that Adam Cole (BAYBAY!) is set to pull double duty at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. Also, I suppose it confirms that the Undisputed Era are freebirding the titles, which is always worth pointing out.

    Also, here's a possibility to consider: If Roderick Strong beats Cedric Alexander in the ongoing Cruiserweight Championship tournament, we may very well see him compete for two different championships on two consecutive nights at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and WrestleMania. That's insane.


    Are you looking forward to the next couple episodes of NXT, and to NXT TakeOver: New Orleans? Let us know!
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    Item Reviewed: The NXT Grapevine: March-April, 2018 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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