It was an emotional week on NXT as baby face favorite Johnny Gargano put his NXT career on the line against dastardly Zelina Vega’s NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas, and we all get the official word of the now staple NXT event – The Dusty Rhodes Classic.

What Happens to Johnny Wrestling Now?

Johnny Gargano’s NXT career is over.  *record screech*  WHAT?  That’s right: On an episode a month and a half away from Takeover: New Orleans, after a grueling matchup, after his brilliant wife Candice LaRae chased away the conniving Zelina Vega, after finally locking in the devastating GargaNO Escape – Johnny Wrestling was foiled by his former tag team partner and all around evil Son of a Bitch Tomasso Ciampa and his NXT career has come to an end.  See ya back on the Indies!

Of course we all know that isn’t how this story will end – but what shenanigans should expect to come from this?  I have a hard time believing this is a way for Johnny to move up to either main roster, not without finishing his business with Ciampa.  That would be a bold move though.  If Johnny and Candice are off TV until after Mania and suddenly showed up on one of the big shows only to be followed by monster jerk Ciampa it would bring a fresh feud to a new audience, but I think it’s a risk they would not be willing to make.  I also think it may seem like a cop out to the NXT faithful not to see Ciampa get what he deserves before either move on.

So if not a promotion, how will Johnny fight his way back in?  Will we see a masked man show up, wrestling a similar style to Mr. Wrestling while avoiding the prying eyes of NXT brass who may suspect he’s snuck his way back in?  Will we see Ciampa back as an active member of the roster only to be continually attacked as retribution from his former partner until Ciampa demands he’s reinstated for a fight?  Will Candice LaRae fight his way back in for him?  It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

 Who Will Win the Dusty Rhodes Classic?  

Because I’m late on this the bracket for the Dusty Rhodes Classic has been released, and for me it’s a pretty interesting field.  The winner will get a shot at the NXT Tag Team Champions Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish at Takeover: New Orleans and starts on March 7th.  This does not give them a lot of time, so the field is cut from 16 to 8.  Since it’s been officially released by WWE I don’t think it’d be a spoiler to say the first round matches are (*Spoiler for Upcoming Matches ahead I Guess*):

Street Profits vs Heavy Machinery, Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss vs SAnitY, TM61 vs Authors of Pain, and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs Mustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven).

Some of these matches have been taped already, but without reading or going into spoilers I’d have to guess TM61 would be favorites with their recent showcasing on TV, but it’d be an upset to see Authors of Pain go so early.  I’d probably guess Heavy Machinery over Street Profits, and while Mustache Mountain would be a popular choice to move on – I can’t help but wonder if Velveteen Dream will have something to say about that and cause trouble for Tyler Bate since he keeps name dropping him.  The obvious choice to move on from this round and head to New Orleans is SAnitY as they have problems with Fish & O’Reilly, but it’d be nice to get some fresh faces in the title hunt.  Maybe it’ll be Oney and Lorcan!  NXT does tend to surprise me.

Quick Thoughts:

Nikki Cross is still floundering as the apparent female wrestler sitting outside the title hunt just wrestling randoms to remind you she’s here.  She is so much better than this!  There can be ladies feuds outside title hunts too, so I’d love to see someone put into that role.  How powerful would they look standing up to crazy Nikki Cross?  With an apparent new stable being put together on the NXT Tour circuit that includes Lacey Evans, maybe we’ll see her correct her strategy after their match a few weeks ago and step into an aggressive role.   Or she just moves up and this is a way to keep her on our minds until that happens.

No Way Jose has gone the route of Adam Rose and I could not be less surprised.  I am surprised it happened in NXT so easily instead of him getting sent to the main roster to die, but there’s still time for them to not realize they’ve waited too long.

Next week Kairi Sane And Shayna Baszler are having a match and unless this ends in shenanigans I just don’t understand what’s going on.  Last week I was genuinely sure they were making Kairi and Shayna the center point of the women’s division with Ember on the back burner, and now we’re getting this match on a random NXT.  I like that they do these big matches, but this one is a head scratcher for me.  It has to be a screwy finish.


Velveteen Dream defeated No Way Jose

Nikki Cross defeated Vanessa Borne

NXT Championship Match: Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) defeated Johnny Gargano (Gargano must leave NXT)

I am HM_Pufnstuf on Twitter!  Happy Wrestling watching!