There are two steel cage matches on tonight’s episode, Dakota Kai versus Tegan Nox and Roderick Strong versus Velveteen Dream. Undisputed ERA face Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan. We’ll have an update on Finn Balor’s emerging storyline with Imperium and find out where Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano go from here.
Dakota Kai def. Tegan Nox
Chelsea Green def. Shotzi Blackheart
Undisputed ERA def. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Austin Theory def. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Roderick Strong def. Velveteen Dream
Beth Phoenix had the night off to recover after taking an RKO from Randy Orton on Monday.
Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai – Steel Cage Match
Raquel Gonzalez accompanied Dakota Kai to the door and, while Tegan Nox looked ready for this when she made her entrance, Kai seemed reluctant to get in the cage. Another good match for both women, but they’ve already had one extremely violent match and it took them a while to really use the cage to its full potential.
Tegan Nox was the first to try to escape the cage. Kai followed her to the top and Nox grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the mat. It seemed to shock Nox to see what she’d done and Kai was straight back into it, so Nox didn’t gain any advantage.
Raquel Gonzalez intimidated Nox when she went to the top again, but Nox didn’t try to climb down, she launched herself onto Kai from the top of the cage. Gonzalez interfered again, stopping Nox opening the cage door. That resulted in Nox moving out of the way as Kai tried to kick her from behind so Kai kicked the door into Gonzalez’ face instead. Nox tried to finish it then, with the Shiniest Wizard, but Kai kicked out and Gonzalez was up in time to stop Nox leaving the cage. Nox kicked her in the head and climbed the cage instead, but got stopped by Kai.
Once she’d kicked her back down, Nox got halfway down the cage but Gonzalez trapped her against it with the door and Kai escaped to the floor for the win.
» Finn Balor addressed Walter in a video package. He said chess is a game of actions and reactions and he’s always made the first move. But WALTER has forced his hand. He’s not going to like Balor’s reaction and he’ll see him sooner than he thinks.
» We got a video of Rhea Ripley visiting the WrestleMania venue. She talked about her early career and her dreams and what the match means to her. Hers is the first NXT title to be defended at Mania. She also talked about people comparing her to Flair during her early WWE appearances, before her image change. She finished by saying to be the best you have to beat the best and she’s going to beat the best to be the best.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Chelsea Green
Robert Stone came out to announce Chelsea Green personally. He’s still calling her the face of the women’s division. This was the first of the qualifying matches for the ladder match at TakeOver and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t a long match, but it was good. Chelsea Green won it with an I’m Prettier.
» Dominik Dijakovic has a hamstring haematoma as a result of Damian Priest’s attack last week, and is on the injured list on a week to week basis.
Keith Lee said that ever since he’s become North American Champion many men have invoked his name, like Dominik Dijakovic and Damian Priest. That was as far as he got before Cameron Grimes strolled to the ring.
Grimes said Lee doesn’t need to be talking about Dijakovic or Priest, he needs to talk about him. He beat Dijakovic last week. It was hard to hear him over the boos. Lee told him he’d made the gravest mistake of his career, but Grimes carried on with the deafening boos almost drowning him out. Eventually, he got out that William Regal had granted him a title shot for next week, then Keith Lee shoved him out of the ring and told him he’d earned himself an equal opportunities ass-whooping.
The match happens next week when NXT will be live from the Performance Center.
» Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott interrupted Austin Theory boasting his way through an interview and told him he liked his confidence, so they should have a match.
Undisputed ERA vs Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan
This was just really good no-frills tag team wrestling. Both teams are looking for a tag team title opportunity, but it was Undisputed ERA who got the win with a high low on Oney Lorcan.
After the match Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish had a rant about the BROserweights taking their titles and about Undisputed ERA’s plans, but Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne came to the stage before they finished. Riddle was in the process of granting them a title rematch, in his own unique way, when Grizzled Young Veterans attacked them from behind. Zack Gibson declared them as the next tag champs, ‘soon to be recognised’ etc.
William Regal disagreed, apparently, because BROserweights vs Undisputed ERA is next week.
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs Austin Theory
Matches like these serve to remind how much talent NXT has just waiting in the wings. Both of them need a really intense and meaningful feud to elevate them, but so do a couple of dozen other lads and ladies. This match would have helped both make a case to be given more, because it was great. Scott snapped Theory’s arm with a stamp, but took too long to follow up, got his eyes raked, and was pinned off an ATL.
Mauro Ranallo interviewed Johnny Gargano at the performance centre, and we got to see the recording. The subject was Tommaso Ciampa. Gargano was angry and not hugely coherent, He said Ranallo had no idea what he’s seen or felt. When Ranallo asked why, Gargano got in his face and yelled at him, saying he knows why and criticising the way Ranallo has talked about him since Portland. Eventually, Mauro Ranallo got sick of being abused and left. Gargano grabbed the camera and spoke directly to Ciampa. He said that next week, at the Performance Center, they are going to do things his way, the Johnny Gargano way.
Velveteen Dream vs Roderick Strong – Steel Cage Match
This one was violent from the outset ad the cage came into play quickly. Marina Shafir came down to ringside just before the ad break and slipped a kendo stick though the mesh to her husband. He’d just been flung into the cage and was laying holding his head, so he didn’t immediately snatch it up and use it.
In fact, by the time we got back he was climbing the cage and Velveteen Dream was dragging him down with the help of a low blow. The cane did come into play. Strong used it to assist with a backbreaker after they’d kicked it out of each other’s hands.
Velveteen Dream pulled Strong’s trousers down at the back while he was climbing the cage, exposing his ass to the crowd but not the camera. They both had slightly comical looking attempts to get out of the door. Velveteen Dream gave Strong two Dream Valley Drivers and climbed to the top. Once he was up there the rest of Undisputed ERA arrived at ringside. He opted to climb back inside and grab the kendo stick. That got rid of Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly was kicked off the side of the cage. Adam Cole got in the cage and got thrown off the top turnbuckle.
Roderick Strong was almost out of the door by then. Velveteen Dream grabbed him, looked back at Cole, then pushed him to the floor and locked the door with handcuffs, sealing himself inside with Adam Cole a couple of kendo sticks and a chair.
Strong climbed back in and took a lot of kendo stick shots before being hung in the tree of woe. Adam Cole took a Dream Valley Driver on the chair. In a final act, Velveteen Dream hit Cole in the face with the NXT Championship then posed with the title.
Velveteen Dream lost the match, but he made a statement.
The apocalyptic vignettes were back this week, but still no further information. There were rumours of main roster stars backstage, which obviously came to nothing, but the episode didn’t need them. I’m a little disappointed there wasn’t a decisive ending to the Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai feud, but I’m still invested enough to see where it goes next.
Next week’s episode from the Performance Center is looking interesting already.