Greg DeMarco has the exclusive details on exactly what happened with the North American Championship at the NXT taping!
Online wrestling fans have been put through the ringer this week, complete with an emotional Royal Rumble win for Becky Lynch, to the announcement of Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania, followed almost immediately by news that Charlotte Flair is expected to be added to the match, to the hard to believe revelation that Dean Ambrose is leaving WWE after in April, and the news that AJ Styles has signed a new WWE deal (or has he?).
Lost in the shuffle is the fact that Velveteen Dream won the NXT North American Championship from Johnny Gargano at Wednesday’s NXT taping at Full Sail in Orlando. Shortly after the initial news broke, more details surfaced about a re-tape that happened in the aftermath, which ended with Gargano holding the championship and celebrating once again with NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa.
As always, news should be taken with a grain of salt. However, the word I received from within NXT gave me enough to go on.
Got some details coming on exactly what happened at the #NXT tapings with the North American Championship. It makes perfect sense, and has a lot to do with Halftime Heat and Worlds Collide.
— Greg DeMarco (@ChairshotGreg) February 3, 2019
Here is what happened:
- As was reported, Velveteen Dream used his Worlds Collide title shot to challenge Johnny Gargano for the North American Championship, and won–that win is expected to stand
- The aftermath saw Gargano finish the segment with the championship, revisiting the familiar pose with Tommaso Ciampa that ended the Takeover: Phoenix broadcast–this is done to cause some confusion due to the prevalence of spoilers
- One interesting note to make is that WWE.com didn’t spoil the results, something the company almost always does with pretaped title changes–the reason for this simple: Halftime Heat
- This all revolves around Halftime Heat, which runs against the Maroon 5 halftime show today during the Super Bowl
- It’s expected that Gargano will be the North American Champion at Halftime Heat, since the title change hasn’t aired yet, but the title will move in the coming weeks on NXT
As is often the case, the most logical scenario is what happened. The company didn’t spoil the results because if Halftime Heat draws new fans to the next two NXT broadcasts, it would be confusing to the new fan if Dream was the North American Champion during Halftime Heat, but Gargano held the championship during what could be potentially be the first NXT broadcast they watch. Gargano is also holding the championship in all of the promo materials WWE has used for Halftime Heat.
Halftime Heat is a HUGE deal for NXT, as WWE is trusting a coveted timeframe (Super Bowl Sunday) with the brand that is dedicated to the future. Many in NXT (including Triple H) don’t see it as developmental, but as a viable brand for the company (touring results have been good, so it makes sense). Despite the minimal risk (the match is expected to take place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando and the broadcast is on the WWE Network and their social media platform partners), this is a major opportunity for all six men involved.
A key to this storyline is Johnny Gargano still being focused on the NXT Championship. If you remember, this all started when Tommaso Ciampa placed the bug into Gargano’s ear about going after the North American Championship, averting his focus away from “Goldie,” Ciampa’s NXT Championship. We could see a 4-way for Ciampa’s championship at Takeover during WrestleMania weekend, with Ciampa defending against Gargano, Aleister Black and either Ricochet or Adam Cole (with the other challenging Velveteen Dream for the North American Championship). The long-term story is still Gargano-Ciampa, and Gargano winning the NXT Championship without pinning Ciampa would do a ton to advance that story–one of the longest running storylines in the entire WWE today.
Think about it–Tommaso Ciampa turned on Johnny Gargano the same night that Pete Dunne won the WWE UK Championship from Tyler Bate, and that title reign is constantly touted for it’s length.