There was plenty to look forward to with this week’s episode of NXT. There was some fallout from TakeOver and the main fallout was the status of Karrion Kross. Kross separated his shoulder over the weekend and he was set to start NXT this week. The Tag and Cruiserweight titles were also on the line this week and there was the return of Tommaso Ciampa to look forward to as well. Rhea Ripley was set to team with Io Shirai to take on Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez this week too. Much to look forward to so let us see what the black and gold brand had for us this week.
Scarlett & Karrion Kross In-Ring
I am honestly not giving this opening segment a grade because of what happened during it. Scarlett and Kross made their amazing entrance and it was clear we were about to receive some bad news since you could see how Kross’ right arm was in a sling. I will say that Kross wearing that title looked so good and now it will be a shame that we will not see that image for some time. Kross gave a promo about what he did at TakeOver in beating Keith Lee for the NXT Championship and accomplishing what he said he would. He would then speak about how he injured his shoulder and how he would not be able to defend the title in his condition. He sounded optimistic that this will not be too big of a setback and that he will come back to reclaim that title when healthy. Scarlett would hand him the title and he would place it in the ring. Scarlett would put an hourglass behind it and flip it over before they left the ring. You have to feel bad for Kross because he was pushed to the moon and, like Finn Balor when he won the Universal Title, he had to relinquish it right after. You could see his and Scarlett’s body language was that of disappointment that they had to do this, but I am sure he will be able to come back better than ever.
Breezango vs Imperium
I wrote an article about how I felt like Tyler Breeze is the most underutilized talent in WWE and this match just showed why I have felt that. Breeze and Fandango took on Aichner and Barthel of Imperium and this was a darn good match. This is one of those matches that got better over time as the story developed in the ring. All four men came to play here, and this was quite the fun match. Aichner and Barthel used their ring generalship to control the match when they could and Breezango would fight back when they were given a chance to. There was really great back and forth action in this match and this reminded me why I love tag team wrestling in NXT. Yes, despite what AEW tries to tell you, WWE does do tag team wrestling well and it just so happens that it is on their third brand that they chose to go head to head with. I had wondered if Imperium would be dropping the titles here since NXT UK is starting back up next month. I certainly did hope that would be the case because Breeze and Fandango have worked their butts off for so long without having held a single title. Again, really fun match and Breezango defeated Imperium to win the tag titles. To be perfectly transparent, I totally cheered my butt off when they won the match and was so happy to see the man that I said was underutilized finally get gold in WWE. I do expect Breezango to continue their feud with Legado del Fantasma and now the tag titles will be added to the fold.
Damian Priest Backstage
Priest was interviewed backstage and I like that he has that swagger that comes from being a champion. He spoke a bit about being the new NXT North American Champion when Timothy Thatcher would walk up to him. Thatcher basically told him that he wanted next and I loved Priest just laughed at him before he left. Thatcher looked a bit puzzled by it and I loved it. I have become a fan of Priest the more I have seen him, and I think he will do a good job as North American Champion.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Jake Atlas
There is not much to say about this match because Atlas was being fed to the returning Ciampa. Ciampa certainly did not come out like he would prior to his match with Kross and he even wore his trunks again. This was basically a squash match and Atlas did do a good job in selling everything that Ciampa threw at him. Ciampa won the match with ease but he was not done yet. Ciampa would beat down Atlas after the match and even hit his draping DDT off the stretcher that Atlas was put on. I remember saying that Ciampa would come back as his “Psycho Ciampa” self and it seems like we are getting that. This version of Ciampa is when he is at his absolute best and I cannot wait to see how this develops. NXT just lost a monster heel due to injury and Ciampa is more than capable of filling that role.
Candice LeRae Promo
Solid enough promo here by Candice as she spoke a bit about her history with Tegan Nox. She spoke about how they became friends and what they did as friends. She then shifted focus and spoke about how she has changed so she can advance herself in NXT and that Tegan does not look like she wants to follow her. She pretty much said that Tegan should follow her or else she will end up like her and watch people pass her by. I like that they are holding off on the confrontation between Tegan and Candice and are letting it stew a little bit before then.
Bronson Reed Backstage
Bronson has really come alive over the last month or so and I love it. I have said that the man has a ton of potential and he has really been able to display it. He was interviewed backstage and spoke about how he should be the next challenger for Damian Priest because he already beat him in a match prior to TakeOver. Austin Theory would then make his return to tv and offered up some advice to Bronson since he was able to have a short run on the main roster. Bronson didn’t care for the advice and would end up slapping Theory. I know there were allegations made about Theory and clearly WWE didn’t find anything so that is why he is back on tv. A match between Bronson and Theory could be really good if I may say.
Mia Yim vs Shotzi Blackheart
This match was originally supposed to be, or at least they said it was, Mia versus Mercedes Martinez but plans changed as a certain Wrestling Observer would say. Robert Stone would come out with Aliyah to cut a promo on Mia, but that promo would be cut short as he would be run over for the third time by Shotzi’s tank. I loved how Stone sold it and I love how Shotzi takes pleasure every time she runs him over. Shotzi would take the place of Mercedes and she would have the match against Mia. I loved how the referees carried off Stone in the background and his feud with Shotzi’s tank is honestly one of my favorite things to happen in the mess of the year 2020 is. This match did struggle to find its footing a bit but the two seemed to find their groove toward the later part of the match. There was some fun back and forth and I wondered who would win this match. Mia looked to have the momentum, but it would be snatched by Shotzi and she would pick up a huge win over the former title challenger. I have said multiple times that Shotzi could be a future champion if they build her right and I feel like they are on the right path with her so far.
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez Backstage
Dakota and Raquel were interviewed backstage and Dakota still believes she can beat Io. I love the confidence from Dakota and how she feels like she is destined to become NXT Women’s Champion. Raquel also sounded good on the mic here as well as they kept what she had to say short and to the point. Neither woman liked that Rhea Ripley got involved in their business and they want to make her pay for it. Raquel especially said that Rhea made a mistake by getting into her face on Saturday. Solid work from both women and I love that they are still a pair.
William Regal’s Announcement
Earlier they showed the powers that be in NXT discussing in a room as to what will happen with the NXT Championship. It was nice to see Regal, Triple H, HBK and Bloom discussing, and that Regal was at the head of the table to show how he is the one that runs things in NXT in kayfabe. Regal came out to say what will happen and he said there would be a match next Tuesday for a special edition of NXT that will determine the new NXT Champion. He said that the participants in the match would be Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Finn Balor and Adam Cole. That in of itself is enough to be a money match but he added one more thing to spice it up even further. Regal would announce that the match would be a 60 minute 4-way Iron Man Match and my mouth watered at the announcement. I have been wanting a 60-minute iron man match for a while now and we are getting it in a way we did not think it would come. That match seriously has the potential to be a classic and I am personally leaning towards Ciampa or Balor to win the title. I am giddy over this match and I cannot wait to see it next week.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Santos Escobar
These two have great chemistry that dates back to when they competed in the defunct Lucha Underground as Killshot and King Cuerno respectively. This was another great chapter in their series of matches, and I love the vibe you get from both men. Swerve exudes that swagger and Santos has that aura of someone you just know knows how good he is. Santos did send Wilde and Mendoza to the back because he felt like he could handle this. I keep drawing parallels to cartel bosses in pop culture and Santos sending his men back because he will take care of business is a trademark of a cartel boss. Again, this was such a fun match and there was great back and forth in the match. Swerve showed he may indeed have Escobar’s number because he seemed to have a counter for everything he threw at him. Mendoza and Wilde would come out to try and help Santos, but they would be stopped by Breezango. That certainly seems to be a tease as to who Breezango will face first after becoming champions. Santos would end up putting on a mask and headbutting Swerve. That headbutt would knock Swerve out and allowed Santos to retain his title. That mask was clearly loaded and I loved the line from Wade Barrett, who has joined the NXT announce table, to say it was the power of the headbutt and that was a clear homage to William Regal’s power of the punch from Barrett there.
Johnny Gargano Promo
This was the first of a few promos by the participants, sans Ciampa, about the match next week. Johnny was quick and to the point here and spoke about how he will be the one to win next week. I did like the reference to being dropped on his head because he used that as a point to say he was close to losing everything and now he will gain everything when he becomes champion again.
Finn Balor Promo
Finn was the next one up and he spoke about how all the participants in the match next week are the cornerstones of NXT. He did take a moment to acknowledge he is the centerpiece though and I liked that. Finn is confident that he will emerge as champion next week, and it is easy to think that. He certainly could use the title to give him something to do but he could also emerge with a new feud coming out of the match too so we will see what happens.
Kyle O’Reilly vs Drake Maverick
Pretty short match here as Drake was looking for some semblance of retribution on Kyle for the attack he and the rest of the UE did on him during his match against Killian Dain. Drake is solid in the ring, but this was all Kyle for the most part. Drake did have some moments, but it wasn’t enough as Kyle would end up picking up the win. The Undisputed Era would beat down Drake after the match and Killian Dain would come out to save him. At least that is what it looked like when he cleared the ring of the UE but after Drake thanked him, Dain would give him a clothesline and leave. I still say I would love to see them as a team because I think they could work well together.
Rhea Ripley Backstage
Like many of the backstage segments and promos on NXT, this was short and to the point. Rhea spoke about how she didn’t want to save Io and that she isn’t friends with her after what happened at TakeOver. She simply wants to be the one to defeat her and will take out anybody that stands in her way. I did love how she called out Raquel for what she said earlier and that if she doesn’t want her in her face, she needs to do something about it.
Adam Cole Promo
Adam Cole was the last one to deliver his promo on this night and he had similar words that Finn and Gargano said earlier. He mentioned how the four men involved in the match make up the Mount Rushmore of NXT and that is a good point. You can make the case these four men do make up the Rushmore of NXT for the men but there are cases to be made for others. Cole has all the confidence in the world that he can regain the NXT Title next week and we shall see if he can though I would say he is the least likely to since he just had it.
Ripley & Shirai vs Dakota & Raquel
I will say that one thing I enjoyed about NXT this week is that they kept the X’s from TakeOver in the arena at Full Sail. I especially loved seeing the laughing image of Io in one of them because it fit so perfectly. This match did come about because of the events at TakeOver XXX and it was a fun one to close out NXT this week. You know what you will get from three out of the four women involved so I was interested to see how Raquel looked. I will say she does seem to be improving with each week and they are taking their time with her. They do not ask her to do too much and keep her in her lane for what she can handle at this point. Fun back and forth in this match but I will say I was expecting a bit more of a lack of teamwork from Io and Ripley here. That being said, this was still a fun match and I had no idea who would win. It would become clear who would win though as Mercedes Martinez would knock Rhea from the apron and into the steps that would lead to their team’s downfall. Rhea would tag in to save a weakened Io, but she was also weak, and it allowed Raquel to hit her with her finisher to pick up the win for her team. This was a big spot for Raquel this week to get the pin over a former champion and Mercedes is clearly not done with Rhea.
I had to keep the title for the end of this because Mauro was not there, and I do love him. No disrespect to Vic Joseph who does his job well, but I just love having Mauro as the voice of NXT. Wade Barrett also did a good job as well, but I will admit that I still miss Nigel. Overall, this week’s episode was a ton of fun with only one real low point to speak of and that was seeing Kross relinquish the title. Outside of that, this was a pretty fun episode. Both title matches were a ton of fun and I was so happy to see Breeze and Dango finally win some gold. The main event was good as well and I am loving that Mercedes is not done with Rhea at all. The NXT North American Title scene is starting to take its shape and I like that it is featuring the up and coming talent of NXT right now. That title should be used to elevate those type of roster members and I am glad it seems to be going in that direction. Robert Stone’s pain of getting run over by Shotzi’s tank again is my pleasure as that was hilarious. I cannot forget Regal’s announcement for the 4-way Iron Man Match as well because I cannot wait to see that match on Tuesday. All in all, really good episode of NXT this week. Make sure you join us on Sunday for Payback as we will be having the traditional Dignified Discussion and also another Zoom one as well for you all to join in. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all around the WRC.