Are They Real? (WWE NXT Review) 

NXT had quite the card for this week’s episode. A Falls Count Anywhere match between Leon Ruff and Swerve was set and so was a street fight for the Women’s Tag Titles. This week also featured the return of Finn Balor and we shall see what he had to say. Plenty to look forward to so let us see what the black and gold brand had for us this week. 

 

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Leon Ruff (Falls Count Anywhere) 

This feud has been building quite nicely to get to this point and I was certain this match would deliver and boy did it ever. Swerve had some matches with stipulations like this in Lucha Underground where he was Killshot so I knew he could bring it. Ruff bumped his butt off for Swerve in this one and they really made good use of the CWC. They started in the ring and would fight around it and in the backstage area. One of the moments of the match was seeing Ruff hit Swerve with a Poisonrana off the apron to the floor. This match had what you wanted and both men were kicking out of varous finishers and moves. The back and forth was fun and it looked like Ruff was heading to victory when he climbed a structure to put the final nail in Swerve. That was until one of Swerve’s entourage showed up and caught Ruff and hit him with a Death Valley Driver of sorts on the railing. Swerve would hit Ruff with his finisher and seemingly wins the feud. Swerve would leave with his crew and we may have gotten a sly debut of a new group in NXT. 

 

Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory Backstage 

This was so much fun and Theory really stole the segment here. Gargano and Theory would come into Regal’s office because Johnny wanted to talk to him. Regal would tell Gargano and Theory that he was busy with a meeting with Scarlett and the Way members clearly rubbed her the wrong way. It looked like Theory was about to step in it even more when he commented on Scarlett having something big but he was talking about her nails and that had me dying. Gargano would grab Theory and Theory really stole the segment with that line.  

 

Asher Hale vs Cameron Grimes  

I thought that Hale was Shane Thorne for a second but I quickly realized it wasn’t. I believe Hale was part of one of the recent PC classes so it is nice to see him on TV. There was no doubt who would win here so I was really more interested in seeing how Hale did in the ring with Grimes. Hale looked good in there with Grimes and I think he could have a future in the company. All that being said, Grimes would end up winning here in relative short fashion and we shall see what he is up to throughout the night. 

 

Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter Backstage 

Short segment here as Kacy and Kayden spoke a bit about their feud with Tian Sha and who will come out on top in the main event. They are ready to have their shot at the titles and they would be interrupted by Franky Monet. Franky told them that they may have to wait longer than they think to capture gold and would leave. Kayden wanted to go after her but Kacy held her back. I think a match between Kayden and Franky would actually be a lot of fun and we shall see who Franky will face in her first match.  

 

Cameron Grimes Backstage 

Grimes was backstage celebrating his win when he would bump into Ever-Rise. They were hyped and seemed to want to party with Grimes but Grimes is someone that rides solo. Grimes would tell them he is off to party on his own and they were left behind. I actually think a trio of Ever-Rise and Grimes would be a lot of fun but I doubt they go that direction. 

 

Grizzled Young Veterans vs Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa 

This match was a ton of fun and I like that Thatcher and Ciampa are looking more like a team now with their gear and jackets. I also love that they interrupted GYV right as Gibson was going into his trademark sign-off for their promo. This match was fun as I said and they have some great chemistry. The team of Thatcher and Ciampa is quite interesting too because Thatcher breaks down the opponents with his grappling heavy style and Ciampa comes in like a ball of fire with his offense. Solid back and forth action and I had no idea who would win. Ciampa would end up using his smarts to get the win as he threw Wade Barrett’s show into the ring and Thatcher would use it while the referee was distracted. He slapped his armbar on and they would win. I wonder if we will head to another match between these two or if this is the end of things because I would be all for another one. 

 

Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory Backstage Part 2 

This was great again as Johnny wanted to talk to Regal. I love how he pumped up Theory to really bang on Regal’s door but Theory did a simple knock. I think even Theory knows not to tick off the master of the power of the punch. Johnny would make his case as to why he shouldn’t face Bronson Reed again and that is due to Dexter Lumis getting involved. Regal was hearing none of it and would inform Gargano that the match was still on. Regal would inform Theory that he struck a deal with Scarlett and he will have a match with Karrion Kross next week. This was great and we shall see how Gargano and Theory deal with this latest news from Regal. 

 

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott & Crew Backstage 

Swerve was backstage with is crew and they seemed to be leaving the CWC. He took joy in the fact that he beat Leon Ruff and he seems ready to move on from him. It also seems like Swerve’s crew might be here to stay with him so I am interested to see what they do with him and his crew next. 

 

Scarlett & Karrion Kross In-Ring 

Kross and Scarlett would come to the ring and had some things to say. Kross spoke about how nobody has stepped up to him like he thought they would and that time is up for Theory next week. Kross also took offense that nobody fears him because he feels like he is to be feared. Kyle O’Rielly would then come out and I love how he tipped his hat to Scarlett. Kyle would say a lot but he made it clear that he wants the next shot at Kross. This would bring out Pete Dunne and he does not think Kyle deserves the next crack at Kross and it should be him. He also does not fear Kross and we would get another interruption and it would be the returning, Finn Balor. Balor would say that he has beaten both Dunne and O’Reilly. He wants the next crack at Kross and would attack him. A brawl would ensue and Kross really looked like a monster here because was able to fight off all three men. Austin Theory and Johnny Gargano would then attack Kross from behind and it looked like Kross would fight them off but that ended up not happening. Theory and Gargano would hit Kross with multiple superkicks and would leave before he could recover. This does make me wonder if maybe Gargano could be one of the next in line after he drops the North American Championship. Either way, this really made Kross look like a monster.  

 

Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory Outside 

Theory and Gargano were quick to make their escape because they know if they stayed at the CWC that Kross would come after them. They were asked about staying for Indi and Candice’s match and Johnny was quick to say that it was their night tonight and they could handle things. He will go get their victory party set up and that was that. Nice arc for the men of the Way for this week’s episode. 

 

Zayda Ramier vs Sarray 

This match was not as competitive of a match for Sarray as her match with Zoey Stark. That being said, Zayda did look good in there and I mentioned in the DD that she reminds me a bit of Bianca Belair when she was in the early days of her NXT run. She clearly has the athleticism but the rest needs to come. I will say I have seen some complaints about Sarray in that she feels a bit too basic and I can see where they are coming from. She doesn’t have that boisterous packaging like Io, Asuka and Kairi had and it much simpler outside of her awesome entrance. The action was solid but there didn’t feel like there was as much back and forth compared to Sarray’s previous match. Again, the work was solid and Sarray would end up picking up the win here. It is interesting to see Zayda work again and I wonder if they see something in her because I can definitely see the raw potential.  

 

Imperium Backstage 

It would seem like my calling for WALTER to come in to set Imperium straight was somewhat answered here. Imperium was in their locker room and they spoke to WALTER via tablet. He pretty much gave the speech that they need to get their stuff together and unite like they have been since coming together. The message seemed to sit well with Aichner and Barthel but Wolfe seemed like he didn’t care for it. Wolfe would walk off and it would be revealed that he has a match with Killian Dain next week and that should be interesting to say the least. 

 

Diamond Mine Vigentte 

This was pretty much the same vignette for Diamond Mine that we saw last week with the caveat that we know it is for NXT and not a commercial for some MMA thing. There really is no word yet as to who will be involved with this and I think that is kind of cool because it can lead to a nice surprise when more is revealed.  

 

Sarray & Zayda Ramier Backstage 

Sarray was checking on Zayda backstage and Toni Storm would come stomping towards them. It looked like she had bad intentions but she was stopped by Zoey Stark. They would get into each other’s face but a referee would come in to stop things from escalating further. Seems like the story between Stark and Storm is not done yet and I am all for that because this could be what Stark needs to show some personality. 

 

Jake Atlas vs LA Knight 

I wish I could be more of a fan of Atlas but they have given him next to nothing as far as a character goes in NXT. Meanwhile, Knight is the exact opposite of that because he is oozing with character. He cut a promo as he walked to the ring and it was more of what he has been saying in his promos prior to matches. I think it would have been a nice surprise to see Atlas pull off an out of nowhere win here but that wouldn’t be the case as Knight would win in the end. The back and forth was solid enough but the outcome was never in doubt. The only thing is that I wonder what is next for Knight because he could pick up his feud with Bronson again atfer his match with Johnny or maybe someone else comes in the picture. 

 

Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell Backstage 

This was really great as Candice and Indi were having one final talk before their title match. Candice wants Indi to focus on the match and Indi seemed to be focus. Candice then noticed something that could distract Indi in the form of a drawing that was left by Dexter Lumis. I love how she took advantage of the fact that Indi had her back turned to hide the drawing. She would continue to talk to Indi and then would spot Dexter in the door. She would close the blinds so Indi didn’t spot him and they would continue their talk and get ready for their match. This will totally blow up in the face of Candice at some point but until then, I am loving seeing how she finds ways to keep Indi away from Lumis. This really has been great stuff and I do not think we would have seen something like this in NXT if they were still a Network exclusive and not on the USA Network. 

 

Toni Storm Backstage 

Solid promo by Storm here as she spoke about Zoey Stark. She is still claiming credit for Stark’s success and that she plans on ending her run as the “flavor of the month” in NXT. I am liking Storm’s heel run in NXT so far and I do hope this brings more out of Stark because so far, she has been a little vanilla on the mic for my liking. Good promo and seems like we are heading towards another match between Storm and Stark. 

 

Legado del Fantasma In-Ring 

Legado really know how to rock some nice-looking suits and really makes them stand out a bit in NXT. Santos would get on the mic and talk about how they picked up the win last week against MSK and KUSHIDA. Santos still has eyes on getting the Cruiserweight Championship back and I liked that he gave the floor to Wilde and Mendoza to speak as well. They would talk about beating MSK and that they deserve to be the next ones in line for a shot at the tag champions. KUSHIDA would end up appearing on the screen and would issue a challenge to Santos for a title match for next week. Santos would not hesitate in accepting and we would find out it will be a 2-out-of-3 falls match. That should be a banger of a match given what we have seen these two do in the past. 

 

Raquel Gonzalez & Mercedes Martinez Interview 

No offense to Mercedes here but Raquel really stood out in this interview segment. That is not saying Mercedes didn’t look good because she did but Raquel is really showing how much of a star she can be. She was not frazzled at all and really has that composure that a champion needs to show. They spoke about their title match for next week and I loved how Raquel would make snide comments after everything Mercedes said. Mercedes would point out that Raquel is just following the blueprint she set and I loved Raquel’s response to it. She gave her props for doing that but that she has taken it to another level Mercedes couldn’t have gone to. This was great and I am sure their match next week will deliver. 

 

Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon Backstage 

Ember and Shotzi were walking backstage to get ready to head out for their title match when they saw Franky Monet’s doggy on Shotzi’s tank. They took a moment to acknowledge the cute dog but would remove it so they could get in the tank. That was until Ember noticed that the dog pooped in the tank and that they were not going to be able to ride in it. They left it behind because the poop was too much and this was just fun. Like I have said before, Shotzi has really brought out the personality in Ember and it showed again here. 

 

Cameron Grimes Celebrating 

This was just awesome and I did not know how they would top last week but they found a way to. Grimes tried to get into a club to celebrate in the VIP section but the bouncer was not letting him in. Grimes spoke up how he is rich but the bouncer said there was someone else that was coming that was more of a VIP than him. A limo would come and out came Ted Dibiase to ruin Grimes’ plans once again. He talked about how you can buy the whole thing instead of just a booth and did his trademark laugh as he entered. This has been great and I loved how Grimes was left seething. I have no idea what the endgame here is but I am all for this. 

 

The Way vs Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart (NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles) 

You are darn right that I am giving this all the crowns because these ladies deserve it. They pulled out one heck of a match that somehow topped their previous encounters. I love that they couldn’t even wait until the introductions were done before getting at it. The action was great and there was plenty of back and forth. I will say that Shotzi is probably the MVP with the bumps she took in the match. I had flashbacks to Shotzi’s dive at the EVOLVE anniversary show when they set up some chairs but she did not dive into them as Candice would stop her with a fire extinguisher. Speaking of Shotzi and Candice, Shot would hit Candice with a senton while Candice was on a ladder on the outside and that bump look nasty. I thought it would be the nastiest bump but I was proven wrong when Ember hit Indi with an Alabama Slam on a table propped up in the corner that did not give at all. Indi made quite the thud on the table to boot and the hits kept coming. Shotzi would hit a crossbody dive on the announce table from the scaffolding to break it. It seemed like Ember and Shotzi would win but Candice and Indi would find a way to gain the advantage late in the match. Indi would take out Ember by hitting her with a smooth springboard elbow on the outside through a table that Ember was laying on. Candice would then hit Shotzi with her finisher onto some chairs and we have new champions. It was so nice to see Candice finally win gold in NXT and I am pretty sure she is equally, if not more, happy for Indi because that is the kind of person she is. This was an awesome main event and one I think will be in consideration for women’s match of the year for NXT when all things are said and done. It definitely is up there on the women’s side of things with the Rhea/Raquel Last Woman Standing match from New Year’s Evil.  

 

KISS MY GRITS! 

Overall, this was a great episode of NXT this week. Things got started with a great match between Swerve and Ruff and it would continue throughout the show. Johnny and Austin had some great misadventures throughout NXT and seems like the challengers are lining up for both MSK and Karrion Kross. Raquel and Mercedes had a great interview segment and I continue to love the feud between Cameron Grimes and Ted Dibiase. The main event was killer on every level and the women really showed why NXT has the best women’s division around. All in all, great showing by NXT this week and I cannot wait for NXT because it is primed to be another great one.