WWE NXT Review: Episode 493 (Johnny Gargano, Velveteen Dream)

February 20, 2019 – Winter Park, Florida

Amsterdam Black def. Roderick Strong
Black won in 8:26 with the Black Mass out of nowhere. This felt like the first eight minutes of a potential classic, but it got cut off before it could kick into high gear. The Undisputed Era attacks after the match but Ricochet runs out to make the save. This week our heroes get the better of the exchange. ***

They play a video that had been put on all of NXT’s social channels last week, in which Shayna Baszler and her cronies antagonized the rest of the women’s division in the locker room. Nothing much happened and I’m not sure what the point was. Speaking of this division, Bianca Belair isn’t stepping aside to let Io Shira get a shot at the title, as she still thinks she’s the number one contender and that she’s undefeated. Oy.

Nigel McGuinness narrates a video package of Black, Ricochet, Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano’s appearances on Raw and Smackdown Live this week. Click here for a closer look at what happened there. As expected, McGuinness doesn’t say what their status with NXT is.

They announce that the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic will return with eight teams competing. The first four are announced here: Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish, the Forgotten Sons, the European Union, and the Street Profits.

Mia Yim def. Xia Li
Yim won in 3:45 with the Protect Ya Neck. I was starting to appreciate that this was structured differently than most women’s matches in NXT, but then we got another finish coming out of nowhere. After the match, Baszler and her buds come out to attack, but the rest of the locker room comes out to make the save. Well, that certainly paid off that backstage segment. The MMA gals are too tough and Yim ends up getting knocked out. She’ll face Baszler next week. **

Candice Michelle and Tommaso Ciampa both try to offer support to Johnny Gargano before his title defense. Gargano doesn’t want Ciampa’s support, but he doesn’t lash out either. I’m clearly totally suckered in by this storyline, but I’m finding myself able to reconcile their tag team matches on Raw and Smackdown with this segment.

Matt Riddle gets interviewed about his first few months in NXT. They go through his unorthodox appearance, and the fact that Riddle got Kassius Ohno to stop harshing his buzz. The full interview is on YouTube, but scripted Matt Riddle is kind of annoying so I’ll probably pass.

Velveteen Dream def. Johnny Gargano {NXT North American Championship Match}
Dream won the title with the Purple Rainmaker after 20:41 of just terrific action. These two are incapable of doing anything but putting on a stellar show. This is the third match they’ve had on NXT TV, and each has been better than the last. This one would have fit just perfectly on a Takeover special, and was completely worthy of its place as the main event of this episode and of the TV taping it closed out. It featured balls-to-the-wall action, with Gargano dominating because more than in their previous two encounters he was fully tapped into his jackass side, while Dream played to the crowd with all the babyface momentum coming off of his Worlds Collide tournament win. I just loved this, and I think it’s a wonderful culmination for Dream’s ascension storyline. ****½

That was a HELL of an episode. Given Raw, Smackdown Live, and this episode, I have no idea where anything goes from here but I’m super stoked to find out.

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