Welcome one and all to the official first edition of the NXT Spotlight in 2019. Last week there was a year end episode with a match between Matt Riddle & Kassius Ohno sprinkled in. Riddle won, but the feud will apparently continue. Tonight starts the home stretch for Takeover: Phoenix though and it looks like we’re in line for another loaded show to kick off the year. Tonight might be the swan song for Nikki Cross and EC3, so let’s get to the action.

Johnny Takeover Doing It Again

Johnny Gargano comes out to start us off with a promo. He says 2018 was a bit of a roller coaster for him. He had plenty of time to reflect during the holidays and realized that success around here is measured by two things… wins and championships. It doesn’t matter how hard you try or how good of a person you are, it matters if you’re carrying a championship around your waist. So in 2019, Johnny Gargano will be a winner and he will be a champion.

As for Tommaso Ciampa… a DIY chant breaks out… Gargano says he’s heard what Ciampa has said, but what happened in the cage meant NOTHING and it will never happen again. Ciampa is still a piece of trash that has the title he wants. There is another championship out there though, and once Ciampa put it out there for Gargano to take on Ricochet, Ricochet fired back at Gargano instead of Ciampa. Gargano says if he wants the North American Title, he will take it. Ricochet may fly around like a superhero but… And with that, Ricochet’s music cuts him off and here comes the champ.

Ricochet thanks the crowd for their support and then tells Gargano all he had to do was ask for an opportunity. Gargano thinks he’s just gonna take it though? Is he gonna take it face to face or is he gonna take it by attacking him from behind in a parking lot? Johnny Wrestling has now become Johnny Takeover apparently, but as it pertains to Takeover: Phoenix specifically, there’s only one man that will walk out North American Champion, and Gargano is looking at him. That cues up our champion’s music and here comes Tommaso Ciampa.

Ciampa starts to talk but Gargano tells him to shut up as it’s only about him and Ricochet, not Ciampa. Ciampa seems surprised by Gargano’s words and then Aleister Black’s music hits. Black shows up on the TitonTron. Black says that he hopes Ciampa is more concerned with him than with his dog of war Gargano. Because unlike Gargano, he poses a real threat to Ciampa. In Phoenix, he will make Ciampa Fade to Black. The lights go out andwhen they come back on, Black is standing behind Ciampa. Black attacks Ciampa and tries to do a move on the announce table, but Ciampa is able to run away before any damage is done. The camera pans back to the ring as Ricochet and Gargano are watching everything, and Gargano uses the opportunity to superkick Ricochet when he’s not paying attention and knocks him out. Gargano kneels over Ricochet with a smirk on his face before walking away.

K-Tank’s Take: Great use of Black here. One of the cooler features they’ve done with him being on the screen one second and behind Ciampa the next. I think I speak for everyone when I say, OH HELL YEAH! As it pertains to Gargano vs. Ricochet. That is going to be off the charts incredible.

After a commercial break, we find out that William Regal has made it official for Takeover: Phoenix, it will be Undisputed Era defending their NXT Tag Titles against War Raiders.

Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair

Bianca pie faces Nikki to start and Nikki just laughs at her. Nikki shoves Bianca and then hits her with a cross body. Both women trade blows and then Nikkie tries a roll up, but Bianca does  a back handstand to get out of it. Both women continue going back and forth until Nikki ends up on the apron and Bianca sends her to the floor. Nikki trips Bianca on the apron though and then traps her in the ring skirt and pounds away. Bianca is thrown back in and Nikki goes to the top rope but Bianca cuts her off. Bianca shows off her strength by getting Nikki off the top rope with a Gorilla press slam. Then after she drops her, Bianca with a standing moonsault for a two count. Bianca eventually hooks on an abdominal stretch, which she then turns into a backbreaker for a two count.

Bianca dares Nikki to get up and fight her. She goes for a vertical suplex, but Nikki counters it into a DDT for a two count. Nikki with forearm smashes and then another cross body. She splashes Bianca in the corner and then lands a running bulldog. Nikki hits a fallaway reverse DDT for a two count. Both women counter each other’s attacks until Bianca is able to land a spear for a two count. Bianca goes for a big splash off the ropes but Nikki gets her knees up. Nikki then lands her swinging Fisherman’s neckbreaker, but Bianca is smart enough to roll out of the ring before Nikki can pin her.

They both end up on the ramp and Nikki mounts Bianca with a sleeper hold, but Bianca just falls back and lands hard on Nikki, who lands harder on the ramp. Both women are just able to get in the ring at the count of 9. Now they start throwing wild punches at each other. Bianca charges Nikki in the corner but Nikki moves and Bianca hits the ring post shoulder first. Nikki with a roll up but Bianca kicks out. Both women getting a well deserved “this is awesome” chant. Bianca with a big forearm to get some separation.

Bianca works Nikki over in the corner and then puts her on the top rope. Nikki trying hard to fight her off, which she does, and then goes for a cross body off the top, but Bianca moves and Nikki crashes hard. Bianca immediately gets Nikki up for the KOD and lands it to stay UN-DE-FEA-TED.

Winner: Bianca Belair

K-Tank’s Take: That would be Nikki’s swan song for NXT, and it was a good one. These two have great chemistry while being so different from one another. This gives Bianca a strong win heading into her title match at Takeover. I’m not sure if I’ll predict a title change there, but I think I’m leaning that way.

We go to The Street Profits in a previously recorded video. Angelo is beatboxing while Montez talks about taking over in 2019. They’re walking down a sidewalk talking about locked doors they’re walking past and how they’re tired of locked doors. They’re gonna open doors in 2019. They never lost to teams like War Raiders, Humberto & Raul, or Undisputed Era. Street Profits are coming for that gold because they’re all about that gold. So it’s time for season three of Street Talk. We find out they’ll be in action next week.

Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel vs. Kunsman and Watts

The opponents’ names are what Mauro said, so that’s what we’re going with. Kunsman and Barthel start things out and Barthel immediately with the advantage. Barthel with technical wrestling on the mat, but Kunsman reverses it with a wrist lock and is able to tag in Watts. Watts is super tiny and Barthel is able to overpower him. Barthel with a palm strike to the throat and then tags in Aichner. Watts with some chops but Aichner with a massive pop up powerbomb. Watts is able to try and turn it into a hurricanrana, but Aicher stops him in mid rotation.

Watts scrambles to make a tag to Kunsman. Barthel makes a blind tag and Kunsman tries to fight both off, but can’t. Aichner lands a spinebuster and Barthel follows with a penalty kick for a two count. Barthel and Aichner beat up Kunsman in their corner. Aichner sets up Kunsman on the apron for Barthel to lands a baseball slide dropkick. Kunsman fights off Barthel with an enziguri and tags in Watts. Watts is able to land an enziguri on Aichner and is fighting his way out of the opponent’s corner. He goes to the top rope but Barthel cuts him off and then rocket launches Watts into Aichner, who catches him with a brainbuster. Kunsman knocked off the apron. Aichner gets Watts up in a powerbomb and tosses him to Barthel who catches him and lands with a bridging German suplex for the win.

Winners: Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel

K-Tank’s Take: So this was a showcase for them to move on to NXT UK as a tag team apparently. It’s good to draw eyes to NXT UK, especially with their first Takeover event being this weekend. I thought the enhancement guys got too much offense in and didn’t showcase Aichner & Barthel enough, but that finishing sequence for them was very impressive.

We go outside to Cathy Kelley, who says that Aleister Black and Tommaso Ciampa have been removed from Full Sail. Ricochet walks by and she asks him about what Gargano did. Ricochet says it doesn’t matter if the match was official yet or not, he’s going to Regal to make sure the match for Takeover happens. Any respect that he had for Gargano, Gargano just superkicked it away. He’s taking Gargano out.

We get a recap of last week when Matt Riddle made Kassius Ohno tap out to the Bromission. But afterwards as Ohno faked a fist bump for respect, he attacked Riddle and took him out with his rolling elbow on the outside. We go to Keith Lee backstage, who is asked about the attack on Riddle by Ohno. Keith says Riddle is someone he’s travelled the world with. Ohno’s attack was unsettling. His idea is for Ohno to show up next week and let Keith teach him a lesson in respect. Ohno will have no choice but to Bask in His Glory.

Adam Cole (w/Undisputed Era) vs. EC3

About 11 minutes left in the show as the bell rings. Cole showing off early, and EC3 is sure to match him. EC3 avoids a leap frog and then knocks Cole down with a chop. He goes for the Say My Name elbow drop but Cole rolls to the floor. Cole tries to come back in but EC3 knocks him right back to the floor. EC3 goes to pull Cole back in the ring but Cole leaps up with an enziguri that knocks EC3 to the floor. Cole then throws EC3 into the steel steps. Both get back in the ring and Cole starts the attack on the left shoulder that went into the steps. Cole tries to suplex EC3 from inside the ring to the floor, but EC3 gets up on the bottom rope and is able to counter it and propel Cole back into the ring with a huge suplex of his own.

EC3 firing up with elbows and a body slam. This time he’s able to land his elbow drop and now wants the one percenter. Cole gets out, but EC3 hooks on the Name Drop and hits Cole with it for a two count. Cole back to the shoulder and then drops EC3 with a pump kick for a two count. Cole catches EC3 with a Backstabber but again a two count. Cole pulls down the knee pad and wants the Last Shot but EC3 ducks and hits a release German suplex followed by a lariat that turns Cole inside out, but can’t finish Cole off. Cole blocks a suplex attempt and then turns it into one of his own, dropping EC3’s neck over his knee. Now, Cole wants an armbreaker but EC3 powers up an turns it into a one armed powerbomb. The other Era members finally get involved and EC3 is able to fight them off, but that of course leads to EC3 walking into a Cole superkick, which is followed by the Last Shot for the win.

Winner: Adam Cole

After the match, the 4 on 1 attack starts on EC3 until War Raiders music hits and here they come. It’s 4 on 2 as Rowe is thrown to the floor. Hanson does a cartwheel that avoids him getting hit with Total Elimination and then takes out the champs. Rowe comes back in and gets Roddy up in a slam as Hanson gets Fish up and puts Fish on top of Roddy in a powerbomb position with Rowe holding them both. That’s impressive. Rowe sends them both down hard and then grabs O’Reilly and he gets the Fall of Man from the War Raiders as they’re able to clear the ring of Undisputed Era.

K-Tank’s Take: That was EC3’s swan song as well in NXT. I’m glad his stay wasn’t that long because I don’t know that he belonged there to begin with. He didn’t exactly have anything memorable besides a couple cool vignettes with Velveteen Dream during their build for the last Takeover. This was a good spotlight for War Raiders at the end, as they’ve been off TV since the last Takeover due to injuries. They’re getting the title shot, so they needed to be reestablished.

That’s it for this week. Until next time, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… but if you do, name it after me!