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    Friday, February 22, 2019

    Smark Hen-XT (2/21/19): What's NXT For Johnny?

    Before anything else, I'd like to put this thought out there. By now, you've probably watched both RAW and SmackDown Live and have been wondering why our favorite NXT main eventers appeared on both shows without prior explanation. To add more confusion, they also brought their respective titles with them. Even more confusing is the fact that Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, two people with a complicated NXT rivalry, seem to have debuted on both shows as #DIY without even addressing their rivalry.

    This week's episode of NXT might not have all the answers we seek right now, but rest assured that this show feels like the beginning of another important era unfolding. I've got a feeling the next few weeks will be interesting as NXT starts to be recognized as an official third brand that is on par with both RAW and SmackDown. This episode feels like it's the catalyst that will set all the wheels in motion and give meaning to what just happened on both main brands.

    The show started off strong with an Aleister Black versus Roderick Strong opener. It's great seeing Strong in these one-on-one matches as he has mostly appeared in the tag scene since joining the Undisputed ERA. Both men looked comfortable with each other and their styles meshed quite well that it was a pity the match wasn't in the actual main event spot. Still, it was a highly entertaining match that deserved praise. The Roddy loss was a good way to insert an Undisputed ERA appearance as they swarmed the ring to try and ambush Black post-match.

    This led to Ricochet making the save in what looks like a set-up for an eventual tag team match down the line. I'm not sure where the narrative for Black and Ricochet is headed—since I haven't seen the NXT taping spoilers—but with both having made appearances on the main shows, I truly hope they build on the ERA's members to be the new pillars of NXT instead.

    We also had the highlight of the night which was the much-anticipated showdown between Johnny Wrestling and the Velveteen Dream for the NXT North American Championship—a title match earned by Dream after winning the Worlds Collide tournament. It's a bout that could main event a future TakeOver PPV but they did it here because that's what this brand is about anyway: giving us consistent high-star quality match-ups on a regular basis.

    It's no doubt that Johnny is the MVP (not the former SmackDown Superstar) of NXT and that the Dream is truly a prodigy in terms of skill and entertainment value so this was a match made in heaven. Do watch the match as it is worth your time, even if it's just to see Dream defeat Gargano in a thrilling and suspenseful one-on-one fight.

    So, do you remember that point I raised at the start of the article on how Johnny brought the NXT North American Championship to the main shows this week? Well, now you don't have to worry about that little bit because *SPOILER ALERT* Velveteen Dream won this match to become the new North American champion.

    For all we know, now, Johnny can go straight to the main roster if he needs to because the title is still safe within the NXT brand. However, this does pose another question. What's next for Johnny Wrestling? Is he done with NXT? Is his beef with Ciampa squashed? In the same sense, is Tommaso losing the title any time soon so he can continue his run on the main roster?

    One thing's for sure, Velveteen Dream is your new NXT North American Champion and he's keeping this gold on NXT for the time being. The question is who would NXT keep once the Dream call-up happens. Gargano (and Ciampa by extension) on the other hand, is still a mystery, so the next few weeks better tell a good story. We aren't too sure what's going on between all three brands. Whether the #DIY appearance was a one-and-done or if they're back together moving forward, the only way to find out is to stay tuned next week.

    All in all, tonight was an enjoyable episode—this was a show that made little sense due to the events that unfolded recently on the main shows but it was entertaining because of the matches and stories they presented in their own little bubble. Grade: B+

    Not-So-Full Sails

    • The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is back! Who's your pick to win this year? Do remember that the winners get a title shot for the NXT Tag Team Championships.
    • Xia Li had an impressive showing against Mia Yim. Her Kung Fu-inspired moves and kicks reminded me so much of RVD. I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.
    • Another week, another appearance by Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. If there's one good thing about the angle that they're running, it's that the influx of new talent gets to share the spotlight with them as the whole locker room showed up in Yim's defense.
    • This is not completely related to this specific episode, but I worry about the state of NXT once Black, Ricochet and #DIY make more appearances on the main shows. Rumors also have it that Dream and Cole are headed to SmackDown Live. If so, who will be stepping up to the plate?
    What did you think of Dream winning the NXT North American Championship? Who will step up to be the part of next generation of NXT? What do you think will happen to the #DIY storyline? Hit us up in the comments section below.

    Photos and videos from WWE


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your supposed style icon and NXT reviewer at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of everything music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) as he sets on his journey to completely do things spontaneously. You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE2K19 (or any PS4) skills. When not being a smark, he lives his life being (and trying to be) an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (2/21/19): What's NXT For Johnny? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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