NXT 2018 Mid-Year Analysis - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

NXT 2018 Mid-Year Analysis - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Robert DeFelice Thursday, July 5, 2018
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Robert DeFelice, Jordan Chaffiotte, and Jonathan Maldonado will be giving their thoughts on the state of NXT now that we are halfway through 2018!

So what's in store for WWE NXT for the latter half of 2018? Where do Gargano and Ciampa go from here? What's next for Undisputed ERA? How about NXT UK? Let's discuss…

Question 1: We just had the second United Kingdom Championship Tournament. Who are some stand out to you and what do you think about the announcement of NXT UK?

MALDONADO:Sign me up right away, please! An expansion of NXT is exactly what I want to see coming out of WWE. We spend a lot of time ragging and bemoaning the main roster, but NXT, the improved 205 Live and now the UK scene also fly the WWE flag and I’m loving it. The UK has a storied wrestling history that finally gets to break into the mainstream and seeing these guys cross the pond for TakeOvers, and the TakeOvers that will happen out in the UK will be incredible. WWE has done a wonderful job developing and expanding its farm system.

As for the tournament, Zack Gibson was the man all through the tournament. He really nailed his performance against Pete Dunne, who just can’t be beaten right now. Following a tournament win like that with such an incredible performance in a championship match is huge, and a big win for the UK scene. NXT UK will benefit from Gibson and a future feud with Dunne and future champions.

CHAFFIOTTE: I’m ashamed to say I am so behind on WWE I haven’t even gotten to the UK tournament yet. But, I do think that a territory approach to NXT is a positive move for the brand. With the trend of WWE to pull from the indie circuits, this would give those competitors the chance to get involved with NXT, get a WWE paycheck, without having to give up all their other commitments and be local to Orlando. Especially when it comes to the international wrestling scene, WWE doesn't want to be burning bridges with popular indie promotions like Progress. The UK NXT could be an opportunity to find a middle ground where WWE can start working with talent on a non-exclusive basis before both sides are ready for a full contract. I’m hopeful that this is their approach to the UK NXT brand and am looking forward to seeing NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm sometime soon.

DEFELICE: For me, nobody made a bigger impact in this tournament than Flash Morgan Webster. I feel as though I'm partial to him because of his luck and his actual attempt at portraying some kind of a character which I really felt was missing this year. Zack Gibson really won me over in his United Kingdom Championship bout with Pete Dunne. I would like to see him get more microphone time and possibly develop even more of a character but I really enjoyed the intensity of his in-ring style.

In regards to the brand announcement, I like it overall as I feel like it's a greater step into Triple H turning the WWE into a truly global hub for pro wrestling. Admittedly, when we reviewed it on the podcast I was very dry about the whole Affair but that's because I had covered the events that were airing on the shows a week in advance and I just didn't think that it was all that exciting after having talked about it for a straight week. Truly, I'm glad that UK wrestlers are getting this opportunity and I'm glad I get more eyes on talent from across the globe. As far as the addition of Johnny Saint, I'm really happy that Triple H is honoring the tradition of UK wrestling and even though he's a little rough around the edges on the microphone, I'm glad that he's getting this opportunity to be a part of UK wrestling's future.

Question 2: It seems as though Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa are moving on from each other for now, Ciampa wants to be the NXT champion but what do you think is the best move for Johnny in the interim?

DeFELICE: I actually don't think it's wise to move away from this feud while it's at a fever pitch. Gargano was robbed in Chicago, and I think with Brooklyn being the Wrestlemania of the NXT brand that they should have their blow off final match in either an I Quit Match or a Steel Cage Match. , Now, baron mind that Tommaso is getting his one on one shot with Aleister Black on TV in three weeks so we could easily see a three-way dance or another one-on-one encounter between the two in Brooklyn. However, as of now, it looks like they're moving on to Gargano doing something else for the next month and I would suggest feuding with Adam Cole if he's not already booked for Brooklyn but more on that below.

MALDONADO: Totally agree with Rob, this has to go on. Why stop the hottest feud in wrestling at its height when the ultimate blow off is around the corner and the series is tied at 1. If for no other reason than wanting to give their big spot to another high profile feud at TakeOver: Brooklyn, then I’m OK with this. But then again start time just got moved up an hour to 7 p.m. for NXT as well so, we’ve got time to fill! Who knows what the deal is with moving on, maybe Triple H sees a better opportunity with Ciampa going for the belt. Hell, maybe we’re seeing a brief break so that Gargano can take out a champion Ciampa in the future.

If we’re indeed taking a prolonged break or just moving on entirely, I’d like to see Gargano mix it up with Velveteen Dream. I can see Dream latching onto the whole Johnny Wrestling gimmick, mocking it while being subtly jealous that that kind of praise isn’t showered on him. It’s a great follow-up and could potentially be a number #1 contender feud while Ciampa takes the belt from Aleister Black

CHAFFIOTTE: If we must cool this off for the time being, which, for the record, wouldn’t be my choice, I think it’s time Gargano returned the favor to Mrs. Wrestling. Candice has taken a backseat to her husband and while I’m here for her incredible performance, it’s her turn to shine. Candice has a bone to pick with Shayna Baszler, let’s not forget how she was eliminated from last year’s Mae Young Classic. Johnny was also involved in that story and came very close to throwing some hands with the new women’s champion. I’d like to see him struggle with wanting to protect his wife but also trying to respect her desire to do things on her own. One of the best parts of Ciampa/Gargano was Candice acting as a mouthpiece, driving the story forward by expressing her point of view. I’d be really interested in seeing those tables turn and Johnny have to be the one who can’t take care of business this time. It would also fuel his own feud as Ciampa has mocked him for hiding behind his wife’s skirt. It writes itself, “are you Johnny Wrestling or are you Johnny Cheerleading?”

Question 3: The Undisputed ERA is arguably the cornerstone of the NXT brand right now. What do you foresee for their immediate future on the yellow-roped brand? Fantasy book their involvement in NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.

MALDONADO: Arguably, yes, because I disagree with them being the cornerstone. That would be Velveteen Dream, but I get why someone would say that. They own the North American and until very recently the tag titles, they added Roderick Strong to their ranks this year and generally cause havoc across the promotion. They’re the hottest stable and fun as all heck. So sure, they’re the most visible group of stars at the moment, but cornerstone is a bit much for me.

As for their immediate future, I see them finishing their feud with Mustache Mountain at Brooklyn. They’ve invoked their rematch clause for next week, but I’m sure MM retains through some sort of odd finish so we can get a legit blow off at Brooklyn. As for Adam Cole, he should have a match with EC3. I like the size vs. speed dynamic here more than I like a high flying show vs. Richochet. We’ve seen this style a lot recently and this would be a great way to give EC3 some high profile time.

CHAFFIOTTE: It strikes me that when Bobby Fish is healed up, the obvious booking is for Adam Cole to jump up to the NXT Championship and Roderick Strong to take over the North American Championship. Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly would hold the NXT Tag Team Championships together again. To get there, though, I think Adam Cole ought to drop the North American Championship. It will be more powerful if they are not running roughshod right before they make this sweep. That actually works out, because it seems that Richochet is about to challenge Cole for that belt. I will shill out all of the money for that match. Ricochet needs a big win and the two of them will put on one hell of a match. After losing the belt, Cole should be distraught. The Undisputed Era does great comedic work, I’d love to see Cole playing to role of the mad king and watch O'Reilly and Strong get increasingly concerned about their dear leader. They are so extra, a little drama would be good for them. Then, to really make them struggle, they could lose the tag belts (again?) to one of the upcoming teams like War Raiders, Mustache Mountain, or The Mighty (who do not kneel). How does this team behave when they’re not dominating, that’s what I want to know. How do they get their groove back? And isn’t it time Pete Dunne gets his revenge? There’s a lot to be done with them without belts and then we can have a huge moment where at the next TakeOver, likely before the Royal Rumble or maybe even WrestleMania, they win every single title. It would be huge.

DeFELICE: I love these guys so much. I want them to eventually as a unit go up to the main roster and wreak havoc all over there but first, we have to get them through NXT and their next stop is Brooklyn. I see Kyle and Roddy in a 2 Out Of 3 Falls Tag Match with Mustache Mountain to break the tie in their (spoiler) one-and-one rivalry. For Adam Cole, I kind of see him booked with Ricochet but perhaps they want to do what I mentioned above and put him against fan favorite Johnny Gargano in what may be Gargano’s crowning moment, or at least the first of many. However, I would much rather see Gargano finish his rivalry with Ciampa and have Adam Cole fight Ricochet as they could have that one-on-one show-stealing classic that could make the NXT North American Championship a hot commodity and a sought-after prize.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Robert DeFelice is a journalist and marketing student. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram as well as his apparel website Time Killer Apparel and his pro wrestling blog PandemoniuMania.


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