Whenever NXT pulls out out the old “double main event,” no matter how silly it sounds, you know you’re in for something great. This week, the double main event is the end of an era in some ways. Both EC3 and Nikki Cross are headed to the main roster soon, and this week they close out their respective chapters in NXT by shutting the door on two very heated feuds. For EC3, who hasn’t been in NXT all that long, that means going toe-to-toe with Adam Cole in the hopes of finally putting The Undisputed Era behind him. For Cross, it’s another battle with NXT’s #1 contender for the Women’s Championship, Bianca Belair. Would they leave NXT in a blaze of glory, or close out this portion of their career with disappointing losses? Let’s find out.
First things first though: Johnny Wrestling is here in Full Sail for the first time in 2019, after he closed out last year by accepting help from Tommaso Ciampa to beat Aleister Black in a steel cage match. “DIY” chants ring out as Gargano enters the ring, but he shuts it down quick. He says that his reunion with Ciampa was a one-time thing and that he still believes his former tag team partner is a “piece of trash with a championship I still want.”
With that taken care of, he turns his attention to Ricochet and the North American Championship. Ciampa said that Gargano would be perfect for the title, which seems like yet another diversionary tactic, a way of making sure he doesn’t have to step into the ring with Gargano for the NXT Championship anytime soon. Gargano gets cocky quickly, saying he’s ready to take the championship from Ricochet, which brings out “The One and Only.” “Are you going to take it from me face-to-face, or after attacking me behind my back in a parking lot,” asks the champion. Nobody in the locker room is about to forget that Gargano, all of a sudden, is willing to do anything to get what he wants.
Ciampa comes out to join the party, but he’s not wanted. Gargano tries to send him to the back, but nobody’s going anywhere when Aleister Black’s music hits. Black shows up on the big screen, telling the NXT Champion he should be worried about Black more than “training your little war dog.” Then, as the arena lights cut to black and flash back on, Black attacks Ciampa, sending the champ scurrying to the back. In the ring, Gargano takes advantage of all the commotion and hits Ricochet with a superkick. There’s so much bad blood brewing here that it’s difficult to keep track of! Everyone hates each other for various reasons, and there are two championships in the mix. Can we just get to NXT TakeOver: Phoenix already?
Next up, it’s the first part of our double main event, as Nikki Cross and Bianca Belair square off again. Their first two matches ended with no conclusive winner, so it’s time for a rubber match before Cross heads to either RAW or Smackdown. Cross has been incredible during her time in NXT, but a win over the #1 contender would certainly be a glorious way to go out.
The two are evenly matched early on. Cross gets in some quick offense, but Belair hits back with clubbing forearms and a picture-perfect dropkick. Then, when Cross heads to the top rope to hit something high flying, Belair simply picks her up off the top and delivers a massive Gorilla Press Slam followed by a standing moonsault. It’s power and athleticism all in one, which certainly defines Belair.
Belair takes control after that, hitting Cross with strike after strike, and a particularly nasty backbreaker. But Belair lets her ego get the best of her, taunting Cross and then working the crowd, trying to hold her opponent up for a stalled suplex, a move that gives Cross enough time to reverse it into a DDT. It’s not enough for a win though, a win that would certainly be devastating for Belair heading into her championship match at TakeOver: Phoenix. Right now, she’s riding high on that undefeated streak, and she could use that momentum when going up against someone as deadly as Shayna Baszler.
The match eventually moves to the outside, with Belair slamming Cross onto the ramp, followed by both competitors getting back in the ring just in time to avoid another double countout. With all decorum thrown out the window, Belair and Cross just throw fists in the middle of the ring until Cross gets a near fall after Belair slams into the ringpost on a missed spear. That turns out to be Cross’ last opportunity. When she once again heads to the top rope for a flying crossbody, Belair moves out of the way and throws Cross onto her shoulders to deliver her finisher. That means her undefeated streak is still intact. Next up: Shayna Baszler and the NXT Women’s Championship, which will be no easy task.
After checking in with the Street Profits, who promise to make 2019 their year while chasing Undisputed Era’s NXT Tag Team Championships, it’s back to Full Sail for tag team action. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel—who are usually singles competitors—team up to take on two men, Watts and Hunstman, who are much, much smaller than them.
Barthel’s impressive at the beginning of the match, showing off a fair amount of technical ability. He also has a lot of power, especially against the smaller opponents. He lays out Watts with a massive double chop, but the little guy recovers to tag in Hunstman. He doesn’t fare much better, as Aichner and Barthel keep him cornered, working him over with stomps and a well-coordinated attack that involves a lot of teamwork. They have a ton of chemistry for two guys who only recently joined up, winning the match with a destructive powerbomb into a German suplex. It’s an impressive first win for the team, a statement made at the start of the year.
Out in the parking lot Ricochet lets it be known that he’s going to “take out Johnny Gargano,” which is an appropriate way to transition to the second half of our main event, which is a match that’s all about revenge. Ever since Undisputed Era attacked EC3 and put him on the shelf for weeks, he’s come back with a purpose, looking to get revenge on any member of Undisputed Era he can get his hands on. He defeated Bobby Fish a few weeks ago, and now he’s on to Adam Cole.
EC3 beat Cole back in 2018, which is what led to the post-match attack. Now, they renew their feud before EC3 heads up to the main roster. It’s the power of the “Top 1 Percent” versus the quickness of Adam Cole, and it’s the power that makes the difference early. EC3 lays out Cole with a shoulder block, but that’s nothing compared to the knife-edge chop that reverberates through the halls of Full Sail, sending Cole to the mat.
It’s a heated match from the get-go, from the sheer aggressiveness of the chop to Cole throwing EC3 into the stairs in order to gain control of the match. The two don’t slow down at any point. When Cole tries to get EC3 to the outside, the “Top 1 Percent” delivers a massive suplex over the ropes, bringing Cole back into the ring. Cole recovers though, hitting a superkick and getting the match’s first near fall.
In the closing stretch, the two furiously trade blows. Cole hits a backbreaker, but EC3 fires back with a German suplex and a huge clothesline. The back-and-forth is thwarted by the numbers game though. Strong, Fish, and O’Reilly try to make their way into the ring, and that distracts EC3 enough to allow Cole to hit another superkick and then a running knee. That gives him the win, but that’s not it for Undisputed. They lay a post-match beating on EC3, but they run out of luck real quick. War Raiders, who will take on Undisputed for the Tag Team Championships at TakeOver: Phoenix, come to the ring and lay waste to every single member of Undisputed Era. EC3’s off to SmackDown or RAW, and War Raiders are off to their first opportunity at gold in NXT. In other words, NXT is off to a great start in 2019.
You can watch this week’s NXT on the WWE Network.