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Stick To The Gimmick: The Text Edition (Ep. 55B)

What’s up, it’s your boy Martin David Harp and welcome to a very special edition of Stick To The Gimmick. Coming straight out of your AOL web browsers, boys and girls, it’s the long-form text version of STTG.

Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts and, because Spencer sucks, we won’t be able to record and bring you the traditional episode you all know and hate. However, thanks to a very stupid idea from yours truly and our recent pairing with Between The Ropes, we’ve got a website to throw our drivel onto now so you’re all in luck. Thank me later.

Marty doesn’t know I, Spencer Davies, am adding to this because I can do whatever the hell I want as a host, so I’m gonna laugh at his reaction. My thoughts will be in italics.

So let’s get started, shall we?

The most recent episode of NXT started with good ‘ol Triple H announcing that Tommaso Ciampa was forced to relinquish his NXT Championship after neck surgery. It’s an outcome we all saw a million miles away after the announcement of the surgery but it doesn’t make it suck any less.

Ciampa, I’d argue, was the best NXT Champion we’ve ever seen with Finn Balor coming in at a close second. Ciampa’s matches might not have been instant classics, but he elevated that belt more than any champion has in recent memory. Not only did he elevate that title, but he did it himself by having the best year of his career. It sucks to see him go again, but we know that when he comes back he’s going to make us all hate him again and here’s to looking forward to that.

Yes, it’s going to be great having Blackheart back down the road. Goldie will miss you, as will we champ! Get well soon.

After the crushing blow and learning of a now-vacant NXT Title, Trips gave us the news that Johnny Gargano was going to be in the main event of NXT Takeover: New York competing for the belt. The question was just who would he be facing. Papa H, doing what he does best, threw us a Fatal 5-Way with the best NXT wrestlers there are. It would be Ricochet vs. Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Matt Riddle with the winner going on to take on Johnny at Takeover in a 2-out-of-3 falls match because why not?

As soon as I saw Paul come out with the title, I knew something cool was going down. I avoided spoilers and everything, and thank goodness I did! Side note: Johnny Freakin’ Wrestling you’ve earned this spot. Main event spotlight goes to Cleveland’s own because we’re a different breed.

The match itself was absolutely phenomenal. Riddle was the MVP without question, and it was his best showing since that fantastic match against Drew Gulak however long ago. The match did an amazing job of making Riddle almost look unstoppable, only being taken out because he was essentially distracted. His counters were flawless and innovative. He didn’t win, but goddammit he looked strong.

A couple of those catch Bro-missions caught me way off guard. The execution of those counters were crazy flawless. I don’t particularly like Riddle’s promos because he’s so laid back and airheady, but he is himself so that’s what it’s gonna be. If he puts performances on like that, then I’ll ignore it and learn to love his amazing abilities.

Adam Cole ended up winning the match after a disgusting knee (a.k.a. last shot) to the back of Ricochet’s head after the “One and Only” hit a far shooting star press on Riddle. This bodes well to Cole’s character as he and the Undisputed Era seem to always slime their way into the winner’s circle. Now we’ve got Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano in a 2-out-of-3 falls match for the NXT Championship in the main event of Takeover. Holy. Crap. I’ve been fantasy booking this and it finally happened and I can die happy.

That finish was perfection, Bay Bay! (Marty would slap me for that corny drop in)…But seriously, Cole vs. Gargano in a 2-out-of-3 falls match, phew. We saw this in the main event of NXT Live in Cleveland a month ago and it did NOT disappoint. Buckle up, folks.

Since we’re talking about Takeover…

It was announced on this week’s NXT UK episode that Pete Dunne would take on WALTER for the UK Championship at Takeover. RIP in peace Pete Dunne’s historic reign. If there was ever someone that was going to beat Dunne and end this reign of nearly two years, it’s WALTER. Dunne’s chest is going to look like ground meat at the end of the night and big boy WALTER will be standing tall as the new UK Champion. Book it.

Formidable competition for the Bruiserweight in the states on the big stage. Still think Mr. British Strong Style retains!

Looking forward to next week’s episode, we’ve got the end of the Dusty Rhodes Classic, with the Forgotten Sons going against Ricochet and Black – who don’t have a proper tag team name. Please god just don’t let Forgotten Sons win, that’s all I have to say about that. Side note: Was this the first time we’ve heard Jaxson Ryker talk on NXT TV? Because it sure as hell seemed like it and they probably shouldn’t do it again.

DO. UNTO. OTHERS. *Guitar riff hits* I personally though it was a decent promo, though it didn’t have a big fight feel to it, especially with it being the FINALS of the Dusty Classic for goodness sake. Ryker is Gunner by the way for you old TNA aficionados. Also, Mauro Ranallo called Aleister “Sir Kicks-A-Lot” during that match. I died.

Really, the episode this week was half promos for the match happening and half the match. From what it seemed, they had to throw away an episode or segments they had previously had because of Ciampa’s surgery. I looked at past tapings and from what it seemed it looked like Cole was going to feud with Dream over the North American Championship, or at least it seemed that way. We now know that’s definitely not happening. Moreso, Riddle was announced as Dream’s opponent at Takeover.

While the storylines may not be there heading into Takeover like they usually are, the matches are there and they’re damn good matches. So far here’s the card:

– Velveteen Dream vs. Matt Riddle for the NXT North American Championship
– War Raiders vs. Forgotten Sons/Ricochet & Black for the NXT Tag Team Championship
– Pete Dunne vs. WALTER for the WWE UK Championship
– Shayna Baszler vs. Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair vs. Kairi Sane for the NXT Women’s Championship
– Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole for the Vacant NXT Championship

Not a single non-title match on the card, which means at least one of them will be changing hands that night. It’s shaping up to be one of the better cards from a pure wrestling standpoint, storyline wise though – eh.

Agreed here. I texted Marty that same type of thing. It’s a really solid card, but the build is as dull as I can remember for a WrestleMania weekend Takeover. Hell, any Takeover. Injuries suck. But hey, from a straight-up in-ring product perspective, it could certainly blow us away. I’m really looking forward to the first and fifth matches mentioned above.

Moving on to the main roster, RAW was a bore. Admittedly I didn’t watch it, but then again thankfully I didn’t watch it. RAW’s build to Mania has been such a drag. They’ve killed the build to the women’s match. It was the hottest thing they had going and that position now belongs to Kofi Kingston’s struggles. If Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey didn’t have a Twitter, this feud would be dead in the water.

That’s why it’s WWE! Money in the palm of their hand and they’ve got to add their own twist to it. Very annoying and unnecessary. I’m counting on it to deliver, but it’s no longer the alpha storyline…

Then Kurt Angle’s final opponent at WrestleMania turns out to be…..Baron Corbin. Are you kidding? If they don’t swerve this (which Mr. Insider Meltzer reported that this was the plan, it wasn’t planned to be a swerve), it could be a bathroom break match. For Christ’s sake…this match happened on Raw like two weeks ago and Corbin won CLEAN. Now it’s Kurt’s retirement match at Mania? Give me a break. Don’t get me wrong, I like Corbin, I always have. But my god, the storyline for him to face John Cena wrote itself! Yet here we are, with a Mania match no one wants to see. Cool.

Pissed. But you’re completely right. I still think it’s a misdirection. They’re talking on commentary about how much the fans hate the decision. Smells funky to me. Also, thank goodness Angle’s hanging them up. It’s been rough watching him move around the ring these last couple of months. I do believe he’s gonna step it up one last time though to finish an amazing career.

I don’t even remember what else happened on RAW because it was so boring. Drew McIntyre challenged Roman Reigns at Mania, which that could potentially be a good match. Won’t hate on that. I think Beth Phoenix was back and did something? Finn might have had a match, who knows. Seth Rollins probably did something at some point. There you have it, there’s RAW. People maybe do things or they don’t for reasons for three hours, because wrestling.

You’re spot on aside from Balor having a match…I think. Yeah, Drew and Roman oughta be a real good upper mid-card match. I was excited to learn about that one. Rollins took on Shelton Benjamin I believe, or maybe that was last week? Beth and Natalya challenged Sasha Banks and Bayley for the Women’s Tag Team Championships before being ambushed by Nia Jax and Tamina, who then said “See you at WrestleMania!” I hope Marty reads this because I’ll already know his reaction…

Moving to SmackDown is like night and day. SmackDown’s build has been on fire. This Kofi storyline is what is hot and it’s been done perfectly. Not only does Kofi succeed in the gauntlet match to a huge ovation, he gets screwed over by Vince McMahon, again, thanks to Daniel Bryan. Cue heartbreak. Then there’s the IIconics pinning Sasha and Bayley. Hell yes. The Miz is killing it. SmackDown is killing it. Goddamnit, can RAW just not be considered the A-show anymore?

It’s not the A-show. That’s NXT. SmackDown LIVE is the A- show, while RAW is a letter grade outside of the alphabet. The Kingston stuff is brilliant. My biggest thing here is the blurring of the lines between reality and kayfabe. If you saw Big E’s Twitter video, it was very personal and had some undertones of Vinny Mac holding back “people like us” in his words. Social media is eating it up and hook, line and sinker. If (and when) Kofi wins the WWE Championship, that’s going to be damn special. It’s even better because, as I mentioned in last week’s show, D-Bry is calling him a “B+ player” which is EXCELLENT writing to bring it full circle.

The Miz’s promo was freaking outstanding. It’s not as if he’s a happy-go-lucky face. He’s talking about respect and feels he’s earned it finally. It was an impassioned rant, and the opening bout against Shane McMahon will be one to remember, I have a feeling. Miz is just so great and those emotions he was showing were absolutely real.

As for the rest, don’t forget about Randall Keith Orton and A.J. Styles. Oh! And you didn’t mention how they’re giving us Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio for the United States Championship instead of, you know, the EASIEST MATCH BOOKING IN THE WORLD against Andrade. I was disappointed as hell with that. Though admittedly, seeing Dominic twice the size of Rey Rey made me feel old as shit.

It’s hard to believe Wrestlemania is in two weeks. Not even NXT feels like it’s building up to a Mania weekend. The closest thing is the Kofi arc, and maybe Batista/HHH just because you know it could only be a Mania kind of thing. When Mania is actually here, I know I’ll change my tune, but right now it’s got me feeling like “Are we there yet?”

Very much so. It’s odd now, but as soon as the go-home episode of RAW hits – I’ll be so ready.

That about does it for this special edition of Stick to the Gimmick. I’m sorry I couldn’t write you an hour’s worth of reading, but that would involve me fantasy booking the entire card for Mania, and no one has the patience for that. Not even me.

I’d like to thank everyone who made this very special edition possible, because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to craft nearly 1,500 words of pure genius. So for that I’d like to say thank you. And to myself I’d like to say “you’re welcome” because it was me Austin, it was me all along!

How corny is this dude. Anyways, DAH HE’S GOT A BICYCLE! Make sure to subscribe to Stick to the Gimmick on Spreaker, iTunes, Google Play, etc. Leave us a rating, comment, what have you. We’re trying to grow this thing! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, too! Catch ya next week.

Now Marty can deliver some very exciting news. 

At this point traditionally I would hype up next week’s guest host. The best in the land. I feel guilty, however, because last week I hyped him up only for the podcast not to happen. I had to frantically write up a nonsense post to satisfy our corporate sponsorships so we wouldn’t get fined. Usually when I hype up a guest host, I like to take pride in the fact that I always deliver. He’s always there. So that’s why I need to be transparent and let you know how truly happy I am to let you know that next week Jonah Hill will be here yet again to talk about all the wrestling things with us again. See you then. Goodbye.

Listen to “Stick To The Gimmick” on Spreaker.

About Martin Harp

Martin Harp

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