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Tonight is going to be a strange episode of NXT. For the second week in a row, NXT will emanate from the performance center, but as opposed to last week, this week’s episode will be in front of an open arena, like all other WWE shows since last Friday’s episode of Smackdown.

WWE has announced that there will be no new wrestling on tonight’s episode, so expect a match recap or two, an interview segment, and promos. The only thing that WWE has announced on their website is that Triple H and Tom Phillips will host NXT this week.

Rumors have spun today that the Undisputed Era will hold a “Champion Appreciation” celebration this week, which would make sense as Adam Cole is only 2 days away from breaking Finn Balor’s record as the longest-reigning NXT Champion in history. If that happens, expect to hear from Velveteen Dream as well.

One might also expect to hear from other great promos tonight, like Finn Balor in his continuing feud with Imperium, and Tommaso Ciampa or Johnny Gargano after their explosive ending to NXT last week.

All in all, it is sure to be an interesting episode of NXT tonight, and we will begin coverage when it all kicks off at 8:00 PM EST!

Opening Segment

We see a recap of the last two weeks, with Rhea Ripley, Charlotte Flair, Kushida, Tomasso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Keith Lee, Damian Priest, Dominik Dijakovic, and many others.

Tom Phillips and Triple H are in the WWE Headquarters, the same place where the NXT Year-End Awards were hosted. Phillips tells us that later tonight we have an interview with Rhea Ripley ahead of her WrestleMania match with Charlotte Flair. Also, we will hear from Finn Balor tonight on his next move.

First, we are going to get a retrospective on Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. We see Johnny and Tommaso’s tryout from the WWE Performance Center. They both talk about how they became friends via happenstance and they always had instant chemistry.

Ciampa and Gargano say that they both felt like they were going to get their contracts in their initial tryout, but they were both ultimately told no at first. They leaned on each other to make it through this rejection and became friends that way.

The Cruiserweight Classic is the next chapter of this story. Ciampa says that Johnny Gargano was in the Cruiserweight Classic but Ciampa wasn’t originally scheduled for it. Ciampa said that he asked Triple H to have that match with Gargano and it was granted. That match birthed the rivalry between the two.

Both men talk about how Ciampa hesitated during their match because they were friends, but Gargano took advantage of that distraction. Gargano also says that he feels like he is the better wrestler between himself and Ciampa.

Gargano talks about the #DIY match against The Revival at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Gargano and Ciampa realized that they could win the tag titles if they stuck together.

Gargano and Candice got married, and Tommaso lived with them. All three of them lived in Orlando together, but Ciampa said that it was weighing on him that Gargano tapped out in their match with The Revival. Gargano says that he obviously regrets taping out, but he was ready to redeem them in Toronto. #DIY did indeed win the tag team championships in at NXT TakeOver: Toronto. Then, we go to commercial.

Back from commercial, Gargano says that he believes that people are loyal to you until their needs change. Gargano and Ciampa talk about their run as tag team champions all over the world. They became even closer friends.

It all came to an end when Ciampa was too banged up to compete. In addition to that, AOP came into the picture. Gargano felt like Ciampa’s heart wasn’t in #DIY anymore, saying that they had a “championship hangover,” after losing their titles and they weren’t able to recapture them.

Gargano and Ciampa talk about how difficult it was to get over losing the tag titles. Ciampa says that the night in Toronto, Johnny was the star, and he is clearly struggling to admit that. Gargano agrees, and says that the Ciampa started to resent him that night in Toronto, and that you can’t have two competitive “alphas” in a team, as eventually one is going to outshine the other. We go to another commercial.

Back from commercial, Johnny and Tommaso talk about Chicago and their ladder match against AOP, and we see some of the highlights from that match, including when Gargano saved Ciampa from getting hit by the ladder from AOP and the moment when Tommaso turned on Johnny.

Ciampa says that he did what he had to do, and it wasn’t personal. Gargano says that Ciampa knew he was going out, so he wanted to put Johnny on the shelf for as long as Ciampa was going to be on the shelf. Ciampa talks about how Gargano was in a slump, but rediscovered Johnny Wrestling.

We move to Johnny vs. Andrade. Ciampa says that he didn’t interfere in Gargano’s match. He let Gargano have his match, then he struck. Gargano talks about how he put his career on the line for one more shot at Andrade, and that time, Ciampa admits that he cost Gargano the match. Then we go to commercial again.

Back from commercial, they talk about how Ciampa was getting booed everywhere and Johnny forced Ciampa into a match, the unsanctioned match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. The arena was full of Gargano signs and people chanting “You suck,” at Ciampa. When Gargano emerges, the crowd erupts.

We see clips from this match as well, including the moment when Johnny Gargano hesitated instead of attacking Ciampa with the crutch and using Ciampa’s knee brace to make Ciampa submit.

Ciampa and Gargano talk about how their match in New Orleans wasn’t over, and they had a Chicago Street Fight and they compete over the NXT Championship. They go over Gargano’s brief heel turn when Johnny was NXT North American Champion and Ciampa was NXT Champion. Then, Tomasso had to relinquish the NXT Championship to have neck surgery, and we go to commercial.

Ciampa and Gargano talk about how Ciampa’s neck surgery and NXT Championship relinquishment was a surprise to everyone, but fate was on Gargano’s side and he found himself against Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver, a match that was supposed to be against Tommaso Ciampa.

We see clips from that match, including Gargano making Cole tap out, Cole hitting Gargano with the Fairytale Ending, Gargano fighting off the Undisputed Era, and making Cole tap out in the final fall and Ciampa coming out and celebrating with Gargano and Candice.

Gargano said that he saw his best friend there, and he wasn’t scared of Ciampa. Ciampa said that it felt right to put everything behind them after seeing Gargano win his championship and Ciampa talks about how Gargano lost his first defense.

Gargano talks about how upset he was that the fans gave him a hero’s welcome and he didn’t understand why. He says that he did what the fans wanted and reformed #DIY; it was his idea. Ciampa talks about how, all of a sudden, he was the face of the brand and he wanted his championship back. Then, commercial.

Back from commercial, Tom Phillips and Triple H talk about the story that we have seen throughout the night. Triple H speaks on Ciampa and how he learned more about Ciampa during his injury rehab, and he meant it when he said that he was going back to Portland to get his life back.

Ciampa and Gargano talk about Ciampa’s return. Gargano said that he wanted to believe that his best friend was back, and Ciampa said that Cole was going to have to kill Ciampa to stop him. We see the final moments of that match when Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, and Johnny Gargano all interfered in the championship match between Ciampa and Cole.

Ciampa talks about how his stomach dropped when he saw Johnny Gargano. Gargano says that his intention was to support Ciampa when he came out. He said that when he looked in Ciampa’s eyes and saw a look in his eyes. He saw the look that was in Ciampa’s eyes from Chicago, when he turned on him and spat on Gargano’s wedding ring. He said that Ciampa is a snake and can’t be trusted, and Ciampa says that the difference between himself and Gargano is that he let Gargano have his opportunity to win, but Gargano didn’t allow Ciampa that same opportunity.

Gargano says that he fixed the problem, he righted the wrong from the fans by correcting the path and making Ciampa lose. Gargano talks about how fitting it was that their feud has moved back to the performance center where it all began. Ciampa says that they might actually fight forever. Then, the video package finally ends. Triple H says that the feud between the two is far from over. Phillips says that when we come back from commercial, we will hear from Finn Balor about “how his past has become his future.” Triple H says, “What a past it is,” and we go to commercial.

Back from commercial, Triple H and Tom Phillips talk about how Finn Balor came back and turned heel. Triple H says that this version of Finn Balor is the version that he always wanted to have in NXT. We get a video package of Finn Balor’s first run in NXT.

Balor talks about how he was the best wrestler in the world in 2015 as Prince Devitt. Balor says that he continued to prove that he was the best wrestler in the world by beating everyone that he came across in his first NXT run. Then, we go to commercial.

Back from commercial, and we see Mick Foley picking Finn Balor in the top 5 for Monday Night Raw during the brand split draft. Finn talks about how he was picked because he was the best wrestler in the world and talks about everyone that he beat, including Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins and became the first-ever Universal Champion.

Finn talks about how everyone was sad and heartbroken about him, but he said that he proved it to everyone that he was the best in the world, but he was out for 9 months, and the atmosphere has changed. Balor says the carried Jinder Mahal, Baron Corbin, and Bobby Lashley to the best matches of their careers.

He goes over his Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar and he had that “fight” feeling and while Brock beat him, he realized what he was missing: The feeling that he had in NXT. He says that Brock brought the passion back to Finn Balor and he didn’t care about the t-shirts, the action figures, the autograph signings, but he just wanted to wrestle, so he came back to NXT. Then we go to commercial.

Balor says that he knew what he needed to do. He need to stop trying to please everyone and just needed to please himself. He says the he is 38 and won’t be doing this much longer, so he doesn’t want to waste time. He says that it wasn’t just about going back to NXT, it was about going back to the Prince, going back to pleasing himself, going back to being the best wrestler.

Finn says that it was never personal with Johnny Gargano, it was about the Prince. We see clips from the match between Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano in TakeOver: Portland where Balor defeated Gargano.

Finn talks about how 2018 Finn Balor is dead, and he died long ago. He talks about how these are uncertain time and we do not know what is going to happen, but one thing is for sure: He will stand in the ring with WALTER and get what he wants, but he says that there are lots of other NXT Superstars that have the same feeling as him, and he will dance with anyone. Triple H says that, “If you come at the Prince, you better not miss.” When we come back from commercial, an in-depth focus on NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley.

Back from commercial, and Triple H talks about how big of a deal it is that an NXT Championship will be defended at WrestleMania. Ripley says that when she started before the Mae Yong Classic, she was brand new to everything, but she knew it was what she wanted. She says that it was such an incredible thing to be able to put Australia on the map, but she kept getting compared to people like Charlotte and Lana because of the long blonde hair so she changed her look.

She says that she loves to prove people wrong, so she wanted to do that by winning the NXT UK Women’s Championship tournament. She says that her match against Toni Storm was insane because everyone wanted and expected Toni Storm to win.

Ripley talks about her dominance in the NXT UK Women’s division because there aren’t many competitors and at the same time, Shayna Baszler had went through everyone as well. We see Rhea Ripley confronting Shayna Baszler on NXT television. Then, we go to commercial.

Back from commercial, and we see the tear that Ripley went on as a part of NXT in the US and Survivor Series weekend. Ripley says that something was still missing: Rhea Ripley as NXT Women’s Champion. She says that she was stressed about her match with Shayna Baszler, but she was going to win. We see the final moments of the match when Rhea Ripley won.

Ripley talks about how cool it was to win and share the ring with the WWE Universe and it is a moment that she will never forget and how becoming NXT Women’s Champion was the perfect way to end 2019. We see Charlotte win the Royal Rumble, and Ripley says that right then and there she wanted to challenge Charlotte and knew that Charlotte would accept.

She says that people have seen Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley, but they haven’t seen Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley. She saw Charlotte as her WrestleMania golden ticket, but “to be the best, you have to beat the best,” so she challenged one of the best.

We see highlights from Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair at NXT TakeOver: Portland and when Charlotte surprise attacked Rhea Ripley and accepted her challenge.

Ripley says that WrestleMania is still on and it isn’t in Charlotte’s world. Charlotte is used to the stadiums, but this is in Rhea Ripley’s world: the WWE Performance Center. Ripley says that Charlotte thrives off of the crowd, because when Charlotte woos, the crowd follows, but no one will woo at WrestleMania. Ripley says that the venue changed for WrestleMania, but the result won’t change.

After the video, Triple H says that this year’s WrestleMania will be unique and unlike anything ever seen before. He says, “Trust me, I know what’s coming your way. WrestleMania will be one to remember.”

Tom Phillips signs off and NXT goes off the air.

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