#AndNEW: Velveteen Dream Becomes NXT North American Champion

On Wednesday, February 20th, Velveteen Dream used his newly won championship opportunity after winning the World’s Collide tournament to face Johnny Gargano, who only recently defeated Ricochet at NXT Takeover: Phoenix for the NXT North American championship. Before discussing the match, it is important to put into context that Johnny Wrestling was approached by his frienemy NXT champion Tomasso Ciampa while he was preparing for his match. With an annoyed Candice LaRae with him, Gargano stated he didn’t need any help. It was a decision that appears to have cost him as Ciampa took no part in the match.

Before the match-up, commentary crew discussed some intangibles that many may have forgotten about the two competitors. Mauro Ranallo mentioned that it was Velveteen Dream that Gargano defeated to earn a chance to challenge then NXT champion Andrade for the championship. He played upon the potential animosity that could have remained on the part of the Dream after Gargano took his then championship match away from him. While it may have been over a year ago, that doesn’t mean time healed that wound but rather only furthered the fuel behind it.

From the opening bell, there was something immediately different about this match-up. The Dream seemed to counter everything that Gargano had to offer. Whether it was blatant slaps to put the champion in line or counters for his submission maneuvers, the master of the Purple Rainmaker seemed to have an answer. As to be expected, these two were able to come at each other with everything and the kitchen sink in doing so. With the match reaching its climax, Dream hit consecutive Dreammakers on Johnny Gargano leaving the champion prone in the center of the ring. With Gargano left laying in the ring, the Dream climbed to the top rope and hit his Purple Rainmaker covering Gargano for the 1..2…3.

The Full Sail crowd was elated with the win as it wasn’t just because of who it was that won it. It was because they have been there to see the journey The Velveteen Dream has taken and embraced with his character, work rate and charisma since joining the brand. Dream’s win immediately appeared reminiscent of Shawn Michaels first WWF World Championship as he collapsed in the center of the ring overjoyed with his achievement.

This championship is a long time coming for the young star and someone that has received a vote of confidence from the likes of John Cena sharing their admiration for his work. Dream’s future is bright as he may, in fact, look to make the NXT North American championship what the likes of The Miz did for the Intercontinental championship.