The preview for this week’s NXT is monstrous. The tournament for entry into the NXT North American Championship Ladder match at TakeOver continues with Finn Balor, Dexter Lumis, and Timothy Thatcher battling for their opportunity. As a result of last week’s triple-threat, Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong have a match. Robert Stone’s newest client, Mercedes Martinez, faces Shotzi Blackheart. Keith Lee addresses Karrion Kross’ after the way Kross treated Dominik Dijakovic last week. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott takes on Jake Atlas, which should be great. Imperium will be in action, which sounds like a squash. And William Regal announced on Twitter that the show will open with NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai teaming with Tegan Nox to face Dakota Kai and Candice LeRae. That one’s a bit weird because last week it looked like Nox would get a one on one with Shirai.
That’s one hell of a packed show.
Io Shirai & Tegan Nox def. Dakota Kai & Candice LeRae
Johnny Gargano def. Roderick Strong
Mercedes Martinez def. Shotzi Blackheart
Imperium def. Ever-Rise
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott def. Jake Atlas
Dexter Lumis def. Timothy Thatcher and Finn Balor
Io Shirai & Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai & Candice LeRae
Dakota Kai attacked Io Shirai during Shirai’s entrance, which was the first of the night. Their tag partners ran down to help out and the match quickly got underway. It was an absolute pleasure of a match to watch. The four of them have shared a ring, in various combinations, more times than I care to count. And it shows.
It raises questions about Shirai’s positioning within the division. Is she nice again now? She got the win anyway, with a moonsault on Candice LeRae after LeRae had met Tegan Nox’ Shiniest Wizard. Dakota Kai walked out and left LeRae to take the pin. There were smiles and hugs for Shirai and Nox after the match, which does not help clear things up.
There was an altercation between Pat McAfee and Adam Cole on the Pat McAfee Show. McAfee insulted Cole and Cole kicked off and walked out. Triple H has got involved to say it was a miscommunication. Adam Cole tweeted an apology. And McAfee wants to meet with Cole to sort things out.
Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong
This one came about because they bitched at each other so much on social media after last week’s triple-threat that William Regal put them in a match to shut them up. I guarantee it won’t work. Decent match, but I struggled to invest. Johnny Gargano got the win with One Final Beat after knocking Strong senseless with the ringpost and barricades.
Dakota Kai said she doesn’t care about Candice LeRae and she’s not a team player anymore. She’s done jumping through hoops to become the number one contender. She wants Io Shirai and she wants the title.
Rhea Ripley, with a brand-new dye job, stopped her walking away. She takes exception to Kai declaring herself number one contender and thinks she’s next in line for Shirai. Looks like a number one contender’s match in the offing.
Timothy Thatcher spoke of how he was going to dismantle his opponents. He didn’t notice Dexter Lumis eavesdropping from the shadows.
Kyle O’Reilly gave The Undisputed ERA a pep-talk. He wants them back on track.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Mercedes Martinez
Aliyah and Robert Stone accompanied Mercedes Martinez to the ring. They heckled Blackheart on the outside, early in the match, which enabled Martinez to attack her from behind. I’m not sure Martinez needs their help, to be honest, she’s very intimidating. Shotzi Blackheart didn’t let her have things all her own way though. She pretty much threw everything she had at Martinez, but couldn’t keep her down. Mercedes Martinez had no such trouble. After suplexing her off the turnbuckle, where Blackheart landed like a sack of potatoes, Martinez scooped her onto her shoulders and slammed her into the canvas for the win.
Ridge Holland (Luke Menzies) is coming to NXT. He debuts next week.
Keith Lee called Dominik Dijakovic ‘Djiak’ twice in his promo. The message was for Karrion Kross though. He obviously wants Lee’s attention, and it sounds like he’s got it. He called Kross out for not meeting him face to face and man to man.
Instead, he got Cameron Grimes, which is a much smaller and whinier alternative. Grimes needs to learn to read the room. Lee was clearly angry and upset, but Grimes kept on at him, so Lee destroyed him. The lights went out while he was beating Grimes up, and a spotlight revealed Scarlett on the ramp. Grimes tried to attack again but got Spirit Bombed.
Karrion Kross appeared on the big screen. He said, ‘What kind of man makes the choice to stand by and do absolutely nothing while his friend suffers?’ Lee did that and he has to live with it. Now he has two choices. The easy way, in which Keith Lee gives him his shot. Or the hard way, which apparently involves everyone suffering and we don’t want to know.
Keith Lee said, ‘Pick the time and place and I will whoop that ass.’
William Regal issued a statement a little later saying he will not be bullied into making championship matches. Those opportunities must be earned.
Imperium vs Ever-Rise
I predicted this would be a squash and I wasn’t quite right. I wasn’t far off though. Ever-Rise are good and all that, but they didn’t have a chance in hell. Imperium finished it with the European Uppercut Bomb in a couple of minutes.
They started to make a post-match speech, but they got interrupted and jumped by Undisputed ERA. Guess O’Reilly’s pep-talk worked.
Bronson Reed got a ‘getting to know you’ package thanks to his qualification for the North American Championship Ladder Match in three weeks at TakeOver.
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs Jake Atlas
I assumed this one would be great, and I was right. Swerve has been a favourite of mine for a long time, but I’m enjoying Atlas’ work in NXT very much. This one went to Swerve, courtesy of a JML Driver. Looking forward to seeing their next match.
Damian Priest has his triple-threat match next week, against Ridge Holland and Oney Lorcan. Priest said the opportunity was created for him and he doesn’t see any scenario where he doesn’t walk out of TakeOver 30 the NXT North American Champion. He’s not looking past the triple-threat, but there will be no upset victory. He’s going to win then go on to TakeOver and win the title.
Imperium defend the tag titles next week against Undisputed ERA (Fish/O’Reilly). Rhea Ripley and Dakota Kai’s Number One Contender’s match has also been set for next week.
Dexter Lumis vs Timothy Thatcher vs Finn Balor – Ladder Match Qualifier
This was a mishmash of styles, but it made for a very interesting main event. Lumis surprised everyone early on, when he somersaulted over the top rope and landed on his feet. It’s always hard to develop any kind of dominance in a triple-threat, and that was the case here. Thatcher targeted Balor’s left leg and did significant damage. Balor stopped Thatcher being put to sleep in The Silence, but almost got tapped out by Thatcher immediately after. Cleverly, Lumis slid up behind Thatcher while he was trying to submit Balor, wrapped The Silence back on, and won when Timothy Thatched out.
Dexter Lumis joins Bronson Reed in the ladder match.
There is such a thing as too much content in a two-hour show, and this week’s NXT got pretty close to it. That said, it was a decent episode. Not spectacular, but it’s three weeks out from a TakeOver that sounds like it’s going to be a pretty big deal, so an episode or two of laying the foundations is perfectly reasonable.