NXT this week is coming off a recap episode so it will be interesting to see how this episode shapes up. Some solid matches were announced so it looked like they were going wrestling heavy tonight. Triple H was also going to address everything that has been going on with Ciampa and Gargano so that will be an interesting segment. We are certainly in a weird state right now because NXT, along with Raw and SD, is prerecorded but no spoilers have come out so far. I think that is a great thing because spoilers right now would be so horrible to endure. Let us see what the black and gold brand had for us this week.
Austin Theory vs Tyler Breeze
This was a match I was really looking forward to and it did not disappoint. Theory is young but he truly gets what his character is. Theory came out with a cellphone and I love how he was doing it to troll Breeze. Long before Sammy Guevara started using his cellphone in AEW, Tyler Breeze was doing that in NXT. I do wonder how this crowd would have looked with a live crowd because you have to think they would have been hot for it. Really fun action from the start and Theory looked great here. Breeze also looked good and you can forget at times how good Breeze is in the ring. Theory did plenty of trash talking as well and even took it to Breeze on the outside. Theory looked to be on the verge of victory when he grabbed his cellphone so he could record himself hitting his finisher on Breeze but that was too much as Breeze was able to reverse it and hit Theory with the Beauty Shot for the win. Feels like some time since Breeze won with that move and nice to see him pick up the victory here. Theory looked great in defeat and I would not be against this turning into a proper feud because it could do wonders for Theory.
Killian Dain vs Tehuti Miles
It was pretty obvious who would win this match given the participants, but it was still a bit of fun. Dain has had an interesting second run and he is someone that could definitely be used a bit more. I liked what I saw from Miles here, but it was academic that Dain would win. Miles did get some offense in but it wasn’t enough as Dain won with the Vader Bomb.
Cameron Grimes vs Tony Nese
This was a fun match for as long as it went on. Grimes is someone that you can tell they are high on by the way he is booked. He only loses to the top guys and will pick up wins over the lower level competitors. I know that may be a shot at Nese but he is lower level in the realm of NXT. Fast-paced action throughout this match and I wondered if they would give Nese an upset victory and give Grimes a little feud here. That wouldn’t be the case as Grimes would end up picking up the win. It was fun and they really packed in plenty in what was a short match. Actually, that was pretty much the theme of the night as it felt like they were making up for no matches last week with a bunch of them here this week.
Aliyah vs Io Shirai
This was originally supposed to be Aliyah versus Xia Li, but someone took out Li in the back and she sold that like Nancy Kerrigan. I was impressed by how well Xia sold that beating in the back. Anyways, Aliyah thought she would get a bye but that would not be the case as a returning Io Shirai would be her new opponent. Not much to say about the match because Io came in looking as good as ever and made quick work of Aliyah. You have to think that if this was done with a live crowd that the pop Io’s music would have gotten would have been pretty good. Io would win the match and earn a spot in the ladder match to determine who will face the winner of Rhea Ripley versus Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania. I have to feel like the favorites as of this moment are Chelsea Green and Io.
Dexter Loomis Vignette
This was interesting to say the least as a short vignette was played for Dexter Loomis. We haven’t seen him in months it would seem, and this feels like the start of them building towards something for him. I wonder what they can do with him because NXT has become crowded with big men of late.
Keith Lee In-Ring
Keith Lee came out to the ring for an interview to speak about what happened the last time he was in a ring for NXT. He addressed how he mistakenly powerbombed Dominik Dijakovic and that he owes him an apology. That would bring out Dijakovic and he would talk about how he wants the NXT North American Championship because he knows he can beat Lee in a match. That would bring out Damian Priest and I love the arrogance he has. He spoke about they aren’t like him and that he wants the title as well. He spoke about how it will bring him more of everything that he wants and that made Lee fire some comments back at him. This would lead to a brawl between all three men and Dijakovic would be the one to stand tall in the end after hitting a dive onto Lee and Priest. It would be revealed later in the night that there will be a triple threat match for the North American Championship featuring these three men and that will surely be a darn good match.
Adam Cole Promo
This was a bit underwhelming and I understand why given the climate we live in. Instead of a huge celebration over Cole becoming the longest reigning NXT Champion, Cole was in his backyard talking about how he is on vacation. He spoke about how Velveteen Dream has done nothing to earn a shot at him and continued talking about that. He then spoke about how the rest of the Undisputed Era want a piece of Dream and that he nominates Bobby Fish to be the first one to take him on. That match would be made official later in the night and I am looking forward to it.
Lorcan & Burch vs Shane Thorne & Brendan Vink
I did not expect to see Thorne and Vink again this week but here they are. Lorcan and Burch might be the busiest pair in WWE right no considering how many shows they tend to appear on. I wondered how this match would go and it went just about the way I thought it would. Lorcan and Burch looked strong and Thorne and Vink had moments as well. Vink did hit a beautiful ura nage that reminded me of Samoa Joe and Big E, and it was mentioned on commentary as well. Lorcan and Burch would end up picking up the win when they placed Vink and Thorne in submissions and got the double tap out.
Candice LeRae vs Kayden Carter
This was a fun little match here between these two and Kayden showed a bit more once again. It feels like every time Kayden is in the ring that she shows a little bit more. Candice is a perfect person for her to share the ring with too because she is very talented in the ring and a consummate professional. They had some nice sequences in the match and there was one where they traded pinning attempts and that looked good. Solid back and forth in this match and Candice would end up picking up the win with the Gargano Escape. I don’t know if much will be made of it, but Candice was not her usual bubbly self when making her entrance. She was a bit more reserved and I wondered if they would mention Gargano’s issues with Ciampa as something on her mind, but nothing was made of it. I thought they would go there but alas they didn’t. It was also announced later that Carter would take place in a last chance gauntlet match and the winner will get the final slot in the ladder match. I want Shotzi to be the one to win it so badly because she is made for this type of match, but I feel like it will be Dakota Kai that wins it. That way we get a moment where Tegan, Mia and Candice are in the ring and take it to her.
Matt Riddle vs Roderick Strong
Crowd or no crowd, Matt Riddle knows how to have a good time. I love that he was fist bumping air on his way to the ring because of course he would. I also love how when Strong went for his “Boom!” that Riddle was in the background doing a pose as well. Riddle may not seem like he is for everyone but if you give him a chance, he will grow on you because the man simply gets it. These two met at a TakeOver last year so it was no surprise at how good this match was. Solid ring work by both men and great back and forth action as well. These two have great chemistry and it showed once again here. It looked like Strong was in control and getting ready to finish off Riddle when Riddle would hit a reverse and hit his finisher on Strong for the win. His celebration was short lived though when a new tag team would come into the ring and beat him down. I had no idea who these two were and it would all be made clear shortly. Malcolm Bivens made his long-awaited managerial debut and announced that this would be the team that he is managing and that they are going to change the tag division in NXT. He taunted Riddle over the fact that Pete Dunne isn’t there because he cannot travel to the USA. I liked what I saw from Bivens and his team here and I wonder what will happen next with them.
Triple H, Ciampa & Gargano In-Ring
This ending segment was a ton of fun and I love how Triple H got his dad voice ready to keep Ciampa and Gargano in line for this segment. He spoke about how Regal would fire them given the brawling they have done but he doesn’t want them to leave. Ciampa would end up coming out first and gave his thoughts on the situation. Gargano would then come out and take no responsibility whatsoever and I loved it. He even invoked a bit of Bobby Heenan when he said that Ciampa tried to escape through the window in the door. Great heel tactics by Gargano here and that is something I thought I would never say. The two traded a back and forth and both made it known that they are ready for it to end and they do not need a big stage at all. They only need a ring and a referee, and they will be able to settle things. Triple H looked like he agreed and said he would set up a location for them to have their match in two weeks and that this will be the last time they fight. He told them that if they continue after their match that they are both out of NXT. Really great stuff and I thought that was the end of it until we got one more tidbit.
Another mysterious vignette was played, and this time is was clear as day that these vignettes were for Killer freakin Kross. The same type of images of recent weeks were played and images of Kross were played as well. A woman was speaking over the vignette as well and many fans have speculated that the voice was that of Kross’ girlfriend Scarlett Bordeaux and that they will be a pair. I have no idea what Kross is trying to say here but I am all in. He is either taking a shot at Gargano, Ciampa, the winner of their match or simply firing a shot at the whole NXT roster. Either way, it looks like Kross will have the rocket pack and he will be getting that huge push right out of the gate.
Sadly, there was no Mauro, Beth or Nigel for this week as Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton were doing commentary for NXT. Overall, this was a nice bounce back episode of NXT and laid some good groundwork for future stories. The closing segment, the opening match and the Riddle/Strong match were the definite highlights of the night. Plenty of wrestling to see this week and not many talking segments at all. You could definitely tell that NXT was trying to make up for the lack of matches last week with how many they had this week. I think the other benefit NXT had this week was that since they have so many workers that came from the indies now under the NXT umbrella, they know how to work in an empty arena type of setting. Good work from NXT this week and I am looking forward to next week and beyond. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all around the WRC. Stay safe out there and wash your hands.