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WWE NXT #431 (1.24.18) Play-by-Play and Review



You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. Tonight, the #1 contender spot for the NXT Championship is on the line when Johnny Gargano defends his opportunity against Velveteen Dream. Pre-intro, the Dream commands some ambiance for a promo where he implies that Gargano’s dream will end.

Match #1: No Way Jose v. Cezar Bononi

The pair trades shoulder tackles, but then Bononi jumps right into a reverse atomic drop. Someone tries to start a CM Punk chant, but gets booed to death, literally – they could be dead. Bononi makes a comeback with a handful of hair and a drop kick. Bononi works hard for a pump handle powerslam for a near fall. Jose catches Bononi with a swinging neckbreaker, and then fires up with strikes and a powerslam. Jose hits the pop-up knockout punch and Bononi is done.

Winner: No Way Jose via pinfall

Thoughts: This was a normal TV match to put Jose back on TV and get him a quick win. There wasn’t anything new from Jose to note or any indication of future plans for either guy.

Match #2: Bianca Belair v. Latoya Allsopp

Latoya has actually been in wrestling for a while as Luscious Latasha, so this isn’t someone who is totally green here. Belair is approximately 71 times stronger and it shows early on. Latoya went for a head scissors, but Belair caught her and spun her into a back breaker. Latoya tries some kicks, but Belair takes her head off with a forearm. Belair misses a corner charge, but then Latoya jumps off the ropes and gets the braid whipped across her stomach. Belair hits the reverse powerbomb and Latoya isn’t getting up.

Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Thoughts: Belair is a crazy athlete with a totally annoying heel gimmick with the braid and it gets a big crowd reaction. She could be a big star if/when she comes out of her shell a little more.

Backstage Face Off: Ember Moon & Shayna Baszler

Ember Moon is staring a hole through Baszler while some intense music plays. Meanwhile, Baszler smirks and brushes her off. Moon calls her out for taking cheap shots and trying to hurt people. Baszler says she just did it to stir up the waters to get what she wanted from Moon. Moon says she knew that was her goal, but it’s not happening at TakeOver. Baszler says Moon achieved her dreams and sarcastically claps. Baszler says she has worked as hard as Moon and she’s going to walk away with her dreams. Baszler says she doesn’t care what the NXT Universe thinks about her and walks out. Percy Watson is terrified, so luckily he didn’t have to break up a fight and get choked out.

Promo: ‘Who is TM61?’, Part 2 aired. This one focused on the knee injury that sidelined them. Next week, they return to in-ring action.

Match #3: Authors of Pain v. Damien Smith & Chase Brown

We don’t even get a bell before the Authors attack. They hit duel Death Valley Drivers into the corners. Both Authors scream on the microphone that Undisputed Era is going down at TakeOver. Ellering calls for the Super Collider and the Authors oblige.

Winners: No Contest

Thoughts: This was just a stage for the Authors to make a statement and they get to do it without having an actual match. They also got a little microphone work in themselves rather than Ellering doing the talking.

Match #4/Main Event: #1 Contender Match: Johnny Gargano v. Velveteen Dream

The Dream is wearing a cut up Johnny Gargano t-shirt as he makes his way to the ring. They start out with a great sequence of reversals and counters as the crowd has dueling chants that seemed to last forever. Surprisingly, the Dream gets the upper hand, but gets locked in the Gargano Escape after he tried to rub it in Gargano’s face. Dream is too fresh and quickly gets to the ropes and outside the ring for a breather as the show cuts away.

Gargano eats a nasty back elbow, but the Dream gets too careless again and gets drop kicked off the ring apron and into the announcer’s table. Gargano delivers a cannonball senton off the apron onto Dream. Gargano goes for the slingshot spear, but the Dream catches him and hits a swinging neckbreaker. As the Dream beats Gargano down, he talks some trash. The Dream dumps Gargano to ringside and goes to the top rope, but then changes his mind and gets some heat. The Dream drops Gargano across the railing instead.

Gargano tries to fire up, but gets dropped back-first on the edge of the ring. Back from commercial, Gargano is firing up again and hits a step-up enzuigiri and the rolling head kick. Gargano hits a corkscrew Flatliner from the second rope for a near fall. The Dream hits a super kick, but Gargano rebounds with a lariat and everyone is down. Gargano can only get a 2-count. Gargano counters out of the rolling Death Valley Driver and tries for the tilt-a-whirl into the Gargano Escape, but the Dream counters with a sick DDT. Gargano kicks out at 2, though. Awesome spot.

The Dream gets hung up on the top rope and then smashed against the railing by a Gargano dive to ringside. Now it’s Gargano getting hung up on the top rope, though. The Dream hits the Death Valley Driver off the second rope, but Gargano once again gets the shoulder up. The Dream goes for the Purple Rainmaker, but his good arm is hurt. He hesitates and lands on Gargano’s knees. Gargano hits a super kick and locks in the Gargano Escape. The Dream taps!

Post-match, NXT Champion Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega come to the ring. Almas holds the belt up in Gargano’s face and then tries to punch him. Gargano blocks, but Almas hits several elbows to the jaw and a brutal chop. Almas dumps Gargano to the floor and gloats. Gargano won’t quit and crawls back to the apron. He kicks Almas in the head and spikes Almas with a slingshot DDT. Gargano picks up the belt and raises it above the fallen Almas.

Winner: Johnny Gargano via submission and still #1 Contender

Thoughts: This was a really good match. I don’t like seeing the Dream take another loss, but I’m hoping he makes up for it at TakeOver. Gargano is the best pure babyface on the entire WWE roster. He’s also in the Top 5 workers in WWE. Speaking of Top 5 workers, he’s facing another one at TakeOver.


  • No Way Jose beat Cezar Bononi
  • Bianca Belair beat Latoya Allsopp
  • Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler had a face-to-face interview
  • Who is TM61, Part 2 aired
  • Authors of Pain beat down enhancement guys and had a no contest
  • Johnny Gargano beat Velveteen Dream to remain #1 Contender

Advertised for Next Week

  • TM61 returns to in-ring action
  • Nikki Cross v. Lacey Evans
  • TakeOver Fallout

NXT TakeOver Philadelphia Card (as of 24 January)

  • NXT Championship: Andrade Almas © v. Johnny Gargano
  • NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon © v. Shayna Baszler
  • NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era (Fish & O’Reilly) v. Authors of Pain
  • Extreme Rules: Aleister Black v. Adam Cole
  • Kassius OIhno v. Velveteen Dream