There are three matches advertised for tonight’s NXT. Keith Lee takes on Damian Priest and Dominik Dijakovic in defence of the North American Championship. Velveteen Dream faces Bobby Fish in the next stage of his quest to get to Adam Cole. And all the women who lost their ladder match qualifiers get a second chance in a gauntlet match for the final place.
Velveteen Dream def. Bobby Fish
Dexter Lumis def. Jake Atlas
Shotzi Blackheart def. Deonna Purrazzo > Shotzi Blackheart def. Xia Li > Shotzi Blackheart def. Aliyah > Shotzi Blackheart def. Kayden Carter > Dakota Kai def. Shotzi Blackheart
Kushida def. Joaquin Wilde
Keith Lee def. Dominik Dijakovic and Damian Priest
Tom Phillips and Sam Roberts were the commentary team for the evening.
Velveteen Dream vs Bobby Fish
A fairly even match, but Velveteen Dream picked up some damage to his left leg, which hampered him at various points in the match and gave Fish something to focus on when he was in control. Fish had Velveteen in trouble towards the end of the match but got caught with a Dream Valley Driver, against the run of play, and pinned.
After the match, Velveteen Dream addressed Adam Cole and invited him to put his video games down because the time for play is over. Cole’s experience is coming. He can play hard but he’s about to get worked harder than he ever has before. Malcolm Bivens was interviewed with his two ‘associates after a recap of them attacking Matt Riddle last week. He said he’s searched the world for the biggest baddest tag team and he found them. Rinku is 6’4”, 275lbs, and Saurav is 6’8”, 300lbs. Together they’re (I didn’t catch the team name) but all three of them are Bivens Enterprises.
Dexter Lumis vs Jake Atlas
This was Atlas’s debut match and the first time we’ve seen Lumis for months. It wasn’t the best, or longest, debut for Atlas. He mostly got his ass handed to him, very methodically if slightly oddly. He did get the briefest of comebacks but was submitted then choked out.
We got another Killer Kross vignette, but there is no date for his arrival.
After an extended recap of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano’s brawl around the Performance Center, it was revealed the match is being called Black Heart vs Rebel Heart – One Final Beat. That’s incredibly cheesy, but whatever. The match will happen next week.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Deonna Purrazzo – Gauntlet Match 1
I would have liked one of these two to win it, which seemed unlikely from one and two. They wore each other out, especially considering it was potentially the first of five matches for one of them, but it was good. Shotzi Blackheart got the win with a senton off the top.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Xia Li – Gauntlet Match 2
Xia Li didn’t lose her qualifier, she was replaced in it by Io Shirai after being mysteriously attacked backstage. She lost this one in under two minutes though, via submission.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Aliyah – Gauntlet Match 3
Aliyah lost the match against Shirai when she was expecting to face Xia Li. I’m sure Aliyah is using the opponent change as the excuse for her loss. When Blackheart kicked out of a pin attempt, Aliyah told the ref it should have been three because she was more deserving. She’ll need a new excuse for why she tapped out to Blackheart.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Kayden Carter – Gauntlet Match 4
Kayden Carter has been raising her profile recently. All she needs is a little mic time and some insight into why we should invest in her character and she’ll be on her way. There was no time for any of that in this one. Most of it took place in an ad break but we got back in time to see Carter pinned off a senton from the top.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Dakota Kai – Gauntlet Match 5
When you’ve gone through four women already, Dakota Kai is not the final hurdle you want. The addition of Raquel Gonzalez at ringside spelt trouble for the already battered Blackheart.
Inevitably Gonzalez got involved, dragging Blackheart’s throat onto the ropes while Kai distracted the ref. It didn’t get Kai the pin though and she got increasingly frustrated at Blackheart repeatedly kicking out.
Kai took a break on the outside and Blackheart took down her and Gonzalez with a suicide dive. Again, Gonzalez got involved, grabbing Blackheart off the apron and throwing her over her shoulder. Blackheart got free and sent her into the steps, but got kicked in the head by Dakota Kai as she got back into the ring. Kai followed it up with a Go To Kick (ridiculous name) and got the win.
Dakota Kai joins Mia Yim, Chelsea Green, Tegan Nox, Candice LeRae, and Io Shirai in the ladder match next week. Shotzi Blackheart lost the match but claimed her place as a contender.
WrestleMania is this weekend, so we got a hype package for Rhea Ripley versus Charlotte Flair for the NXT Women’s Championship. I still think it’s going to be a great match, and I know there are bigger things going on, but I’m still sad for Ripley that she isn’t getting her WrestleMania moment in front of eighty thousand people.
Kushida vs Joaquin Wilde
I had such high hopes when Wilde arrived, but it seems he’s settled into the ranks alongside Raul Mendoza and Kona Reeves. They’re the ‘we know they’re good but we know they’re probably not winning’ guys. The guys NXT put in when they want to show off a bigger guy against a decent opponent. His time may come, but it’s not now. Kushida got the win with an armbar.
After the match, Joaquin Wilde was being interviewed outside about his pattern of losses since his NXT arrival, when he was kidnapped by the same masked guys who took Raul Mendoza a couple of weeks ago.
Keith Lee (C) vs Damian Priest vs Dominik Dijakovic – NXT North American Championship Triple-threat match
The main event of the evening, and a very worthy main event at that. It was everything you’d expect of three agile large dudes in a triple-threat. There were flips and dives and slams, and Keith Lee using Damian Priest as a weapon to batter Dominik Dijakovic with.
Priest brought the nightstick into the ring and managed to hit Dijakovic on the knee with it as he delivered Feast Your Eyes. Lee then threw Priest out of the ring and gave Dijakovic a Big Bang Catastrophe to retain his title.
A clean win for Keith Lee, but still one that Dijakovic will have room to bitch about.
WrestleMania is this weekend and it hardly seems possible. The whole wrestling year builds to this week, a week which makes history and careers, but we live in a different world to the one we had a few weeks ago and everything is different. NXT have done a good job at spacing out the storyline which would have filled the NXT TakeOver Tampa card and are still producing solid shows despite the restrictions. With lockdowns tightening, it remains to be seen how long WWE can continue to produce content. WrestleMania is taped, and some stuff after, but I have no idea how much.