After Tommaso Ciampa’s unfortunate real-life injury, the NXT Champion was forced to vacate his title as the NXT Championship took centre-stage in this week’s episode of NXT.
Vacant NXT Championship
NXT this week started with the father of the black and gold brand, Triple H himself, coming out to the ring with the NXT title belt in his clutches.
The Game was given a warm reception as he began to address the situation surrounding NXT’s top singles championship. Triple H informed the Full Sail crowd that Ciampa currently sits in a hospital with a neck brace on, unable to defend his NXT title against Johnny Gargano.
But where one door closes, another opens. “When one dream ends, another dream begins”.
Triple H announced a fatal-five-way for later in the night involving Adam Cole, Aleister Black, Ricochet, Matt Riddle and the NXT North American champion, the Velveteen Dream. The winner would go on to face Johnny Gargano at TakeOver: New York for the vacant NXT Championship.
On his way out of the arena, Triple H would place the NXT Championship on top of the announcers’ table in front of Percy Watson, Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness in a fantastic visual.
NXT Championship contenders
Throughout the episode, all the men involved in the fatal-five-way match were shown in vignettes as they made their case.
The Velveteen Dream claimed that under the spotlight was where he shone the brightest and he was all set to become the first “dual-champ”.
Ricochet and Aleister Black declared that tonight was about the most important title in NXT and both of them were willing to put in double-duty at NXT TakeOver: New York for that opportunity.
Matt Riddle stated that his time had finally come and he was setting his sights on becoming the next NXT Champion.
Adam Cole, flanked by the rest of the Undisputed Era, claimed that this was his objective ever since he beat down former NXT Champion Drew McIntyre and held up the NXT title. His time had finally come.
NXT’s own Cathy Kelley interviewed various superstars backstage to get their thoughts on the monumental main event clash. Kona Reeves made a rare appearance while the Forgotten Sons claimed that all this talk others reminded them why they formed this group in the first place. The trio claimed that after next week’s main event, the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic, they would be forgotten no more. And make no mistake, they would be rooting for either Ricochet or Aleister Black in the night’s main event, for them to be softened up for next week.
Cathy also interviewed Kairi Sane and Io Shirai backstage, asking them about their TakeOver match for the NXT Women’s Championship. They were soon interrupted by the other contender for the title, Bianca BelAir. Bianca talked down to the former Women’s champ, Kairi Sane, before informing both of them that she was ready to run through both of them to become the champion at TakeOver.
Kairi Sane, Io Shirai and Bianca BelAir challenge Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s championship at NXT TakeOver: New York.
Aleister Black vs Adam Cole vs Ricochet vs the Velveteen Dream vs Matt Riddle
All five superstars were given warm receptions as Full Sail got ready for a star-studded bout.
Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream’s early interaction was well referenced by the commentary team, calling back to their feud in 2017 which was voted ‘feud of the year’.
Adam Cole and Matt Riddle have had their own rivalry building the last couple of weeks and the two collided with the sneaky heel Cole getting the upper hand early on before the tag-team pairing of Black and Ricochet took him out of the equation.
Former NXT champion Black and former NXT North American champion Ricochet would then shake hands and look set to square off in the middle of the ring before being interrupted by Adam Cole.
Velveteen Dream then had his moment as he took out Ricochet, Adam Cole and Aleister Black before coming unstuck against the Original Bro, Riddle.
Riddle would then have a face-off with Aleister Black as the two masters of kicks exchanged strikes before the former UFC star gained control with a submission hold. With Black writhing in pain, the Velveteen Dream would be the one to break up the hold.
Riddle and Adam Cole would then face off in the centre of the ring with Riddle, again, gaining the upper hand with a submission hold which would, again, be broken up by the Dream.
The match would reach its culmination when Adam Cole pulled the referee out of the ring to stop him from seeing the Velveteen Dream submitting to Riddle. Aleister Black from behind would deliver the black mass to Riddle before becoming a victim to the death valley driver from the Velveteen Dream. As the Dream looked to hit the purple rainmaker on Riddle from the top, Ricochet would come out of nowhere and hurricanrana the Dream on top of Aleister Black and Adam Cole on the outside – an impact that, crucially, the leader of the Undisputed Era would avoid.
Ricochet would then deliver a stunning shooting-star-press on Riddle and go for the cover but Adam Cole would intervene, hit the shining wizard on the back of Ricochet’s head and cover him for the 1-2-3.
Adam Cole survived and the leader of the Undisputed Era will now face Johnny Gargano for the vacant NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: New York. Mauro Ranallo commented on how Adam Cole would finally get his one-on-one opportunity for the NXT Championship in the same building where he made his NXT debut, laying out then-NXT Champion Drew McIntyre.
After the match, the Forgotten Sons would make an appearance and layout Ricochet and Aleister Black in preparation of their tournament final clash next week on NXT.