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NXT Live Coverage (3-18-2020)

First show since everything has happened with coronavirus. We are live once again at the Performance Center but just like Raw and Smackdown without a crowd. No matches have been announced prior to the show but we do know Tom Phillips and Triple H will be in charge of commentary.

To start the show we see Tom Phillips and Triple H live from WWE Headquarters in Connecticut. They announce they will sit down with Rhea Ripley and Finn Balor. We get to see a recap of the rivalry between Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa. That journey started off at the Performance Center. At their first tryout, they were both told no. Their first encounter was at the Cruiserweight Classic. While they did lose the tag team classic losing made them be closer. Ciampa does wonder if they would have won if he was the one in at the end and not Gargano. They mention how DIY connected so well with the WWE Family around the world. They were growing together as a team but Ciampa was starting to not feel well. Gargano says Toronto was a dream come true but San Antonio was a nightmare when AOP took the titles off them on the first try. Gargano mentions how by the time Takeover Orlando happened both of their hearts weren't in it anymore. Ciampa says that he noticed in Toronto he was outshined by Gargano after he heard more chants for him. But they both needed each other if they were to go for the tag titles again.  

Gargano says everything changed in Chicago. After a ladder match against AOP, Ciampa turned on Gargano. Ciampa left out injured and Gargano hit a slump but started battling back. The first time he faced Andrade lost and Ciampa waited until he was at the top of the stage to return and attack. During his second match up with Andrade for the NXT title, Ciampa did cost him the match and his career. Ciampa mentions how it haunted him that Gargano was still the one cheered. They faced off in a nonsanctioned match at Takeover New Orleans. Ciampa came out to you su** chants and Gargano to a huge pop. Gargano was able to overcome Ciampa and defeated him after using the knee brace to pin him. Ciampa says that he ultimately won because he was the star of the night. In the street fight, Ciampa won and Ciampa wins the NXT title from Aleister Black. In Brooklyn Ciampa wins and Johnny goes on to win the North American Title. Right before they were able to reform DIY is when Ciampa had to relinquish the championship because he needed neck surgery. Ciampa's reign was that of 238 days and Gargano faces off against Adam Cole for the vacant championship at Takeover New York.  Adam Cole won the first fall, Gargano the second, and ultimately Gargano won the title even with interference from Undisputed Era. While Ciampa did come out to celebrate with him, he says that it's funny that Gargano always loses on the first defense. Gargano says that once Ciampa returns the resentment started. It was Gargano's idea to reunite and they did win. After that Ciampa would fully focus on Adam Cole and the NXT Championship that is better known as Goldie. 

Ciampa says that it was heartbreaking to lose against Cole. He had survived the Undisputed Era's interference. He would have won if it wasn't due to the referee being hurt and out of the ring. We then see Gargano and while we think he is helping Ciampa he goes to attack Ciampa with Goldie. Cole covers and regains his NXT Championship. Gargano says that it's fitting that they tore the Performance Center apart since this is where their journey started. Ciampa says that it might be true that they will fight forever. 

Next up is the sitdown with Finn Balor. Triple H says he was pleasantly surprised by his action and he is happy that Balor has a spark on him now. In the package, Balor says that he will prove he is the best in the world. We are then thrown back to how Finn Balor was a first-round pick in the WWE Draft. On his first night in RAW he wins and goes on to Summerslam and he becomes the first-ever Universal Champion. But Balor gets hurt in that match and has to relinquish the title. He hated that people said poor Finn, he proved that he was the best in the world but he was out for 9 months. He mentions that once he came back it was a different feeling. He gave Jinder Mahal, Baron Corbin, and  Bobby Lashley the best matches of their career. When he faced Brock Lesnar at the 2019 Royal Rumble he got the fight feeling back after not feeling it since NXT. He credits Lesnar for bringing the passion back to Finn Balor. He is addicted to the feeling of NXT while being a superstar on Raw and Smackdown was fun he says that nothing compares to NXT. At NXT he only has to worry about pleasing himself and he will not waste whatever time he has left. He has come back to being the best wrestler in the world and this is all about the Prince. His match against Gargano at Takeover Portland proved to him that 2018 Balor is dead and He is the Prince and is the best wrestler in the world. Balor says he will get what he wants from Walter and afterward he has plenty of competition to keep him busy in NXT.  When we return we will see the rise of Rhea Ripley. 

Triple H says that it means a lot from starting with the Four Horsewomen and now to have the Rumble winner pick the NXT Championship as the one she wants. 23-year-old Ripley will face tent time champion, Charlotte Flair. She started in WWE two weeks before the first Mae Young Classic. She says that she lost herself in the first Mae Young because she wasn't herself. She hated the comparisons to Charlotte, Lana and Toni Storm. Her second Mae Young felt better because she did it on her terms. Being the first NXT UK Champion felt fitting and she evolved even while having limited challengers in NXT UK. She mentions how both she and Shayna had gone through all competitors. She knew she had one chance to go up against Shayna and she was not about to throw that away. She values the momentum she received after Survivor Series. Once she beat Shayna she felt every moment of the victory and her celebration with all the fans in the ring. She says that she was Charlotte's only choice because they had already seen her against Becky Lynch and Bayley. She is more than ready to beat the best. She says that Wrestlemania is still on and now she has the advantage because it is her world, the WWE Performance Center. Charlotte needs the crowd but Ripley mentions that she will be the only one there for Charlotte. Ripley says the result will be the same, she will pin and retain against Charlotte at Wrestlemania. 

In my opinion, they did a fantastic job, building up interest and showcasing that NXT has long term storylines. Stay tuned for more breaking news about Wrestlemania and for live coverage of Smackdown on Friday. 

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