There are two title matches on the card for tonight’s NXT, which comes from the Performance Center. Keith Lee defends the North America Championship against Cameron Grimes, and Undisputed ERA try to win the tag titles back from the BROserweights. Also on tonight’s show, Mia Yim and Dakota Kai go one on one(ish) for a place in the ladder match at NXT TakeOver Tampa. With the history between the two, and Raquel Gonzalez likely to be at ringside, that one could get nasty. Another thing almost guaranteed to get nasty is whatever Johnny Gargano has planned for Tommaso Ciampa. And Adam Cole will be reacting to Velveteen Dream’s actions at the end of last week’s show.
Keith Lee def. Cameron Grimes
Mia Yim def. Dakota Kai
Kushida def. Raul Mendoza
Tegan Nox def. Deonna Purrazzo
BROserweights def. Undisputed ERA
Keith Lee (C) vs Cameron Grimes – North American Championship match
Cameron Grimes never really looked like beating Keith Lee, even during the brief portions of the match where he wasn’t being tossed around like a football. It was fun to watch and Grimes did get Lee off his feet, most notably with a German suplex, but in the end, a pounce and a Big Bang Catastrophe were too much for him to handle.
Damian Priest attacked Lee from behind with a nightstick after the match. Dominik Dijakovic ran down to stop him doing any more damage. Once Priest had gone, Dijakovic picked the belt up and went to see if Lee was ok. Keith Lee Spirit Bombed him. Possibly thinking it was Dijakovic who attacked him, or maybe not.
Mia Yim vs Dakota Kai
Mia Yim still has a score to settle with Dakota Kai, but the presence of Raquel Gonzalez made it significantly less likely she was going to be able to do that. Sure enough, Gonzalez did get involved, dropping Yim on her face on the apron going into a break.
Kai was incensed when Yim kicked out of the Kairopractor and there was a desperation in her offence from there. Yim would have pined her if Gonzalez hadn’t grabbed her leg, but it all worked out because Kai had Yim down for way more than three while the ref was throwing Gonzalez out.
She didn’t go far though. She was back to attack Mia Yim immediately after Yim pinned Dakota Kai. Kai watched as Gonzalez took Yim apart and slammed her into the mat so hard it looked like it should have left a dent.
Mia Yim joins Chelsea Green in the ladder match.
» There was an attempt to ask Tommaso Ciampa what he thought Johnny Gargano meant by his way. Ciampa just said ‘his way’ and kept walking.
Kushida vs Raul Mendoza
I often wonder what Raul Mendoza thinks of his position of ‘dude who never wins’ on NXT. He’s the opponent they give when they want someone against an athletic and interesting opponent who will let them show off all their impressive stuff. So, yeah, Mendoza reminded people he’s there and he’s actually pretty good, Kushida got all his good stuff in then won with a cross arm-breaker after bringing Mendoza down off the top turnbuckle.
» Tyler Breeze was interviewed about what the Performance Center means to him. He said we hear all the time about the first-class who built the Performance Center, but in reality, the Performance Center built them. There would be no Tyler Breeze without it.
The interview was interrupted by Austin Theory and he and Breeze swapped insults. Theory called Breeze old and limited, Breeze took a picture of Theory and told him he looks great for a flash in the pan.
Rhea Ripley is a busy woman at the moment. She was on RAW on Monday, knocking Charlotte Flair on her ass, and she was on NXT to talk about Flair. She said if Flair thinks she can psyche her out before WrestleMania then she needs to come up with a better game plan. She admits that it’s the biggest match of her career and she feels the pressure but knocking The Queen on her royal ass helps her through it.
Charlotte Flair came out then, also having a busy week. The crowd chanted ‘You don’t go here’, Flair said ‘I made here’ and shushed them. She commended Ripley on her guts, but this is WrestleMania. It’s too much too fast, too soon. She’s not talking about the stadium or the eighty-thousand people who will be chanting her name. She’s talking about herself. She’s going to be too much for Ripley to handle. Flair is going to take her to deep waters and drown the fastest rising star in WWE, and Ripley’s not going to do a damned thing about it.
At that point the brawl broke out and they rolled around until Flair dropped Ripley with a big (high-heeled) boot. She tried to follow up with a Figure Eight but Ripley sent her flying into the corner and Flair rolled out of the ring. When Ripley tried to catch her, Flair bashed her leg against the ringpost a few times then locked on a figure four around it and hung off her. Rhea Ripley was left writhing on the floor as Flair dropped the title on her and left.
» There was a package for WALTER vs Finn Balor. They will need a lot more hype to draw my interest. Balor will be on NXT UK this week. Maybe that will do it.
» Mia Yim was talking about the ladder being her redemption when she/we witnessed Raul Mendoza apparently being kidnapped by two men in Lucha masks.
Tegan Nox vs Deonna Purrazzo
This was the next of the qualifying matches and it was good. Nox’ shoulder was heavily taped and Purrazzo took full advantage of that. I wish they’d use Purrazzo more often, she’s a great fit for the division. This wasn’t her night though. She got close with an armbar but succumbed to the Shiniest Wizard after a really short match.
Tegan Nox takes her place alongside Mia Yim and Chelsea Green in the ladder match. Three more competitors will join them.
Velveteen Dream appeared on the balcony when Undisputed ERA came out for the tag title match. He told Adam Cole it was always about him and the NXT Championship, because if you think for one second The Dream cares about Roderick Strong and his family, you’ve got another thing coming. The tights are just tights, The Dream is not a vile individual, and Roderick Strong is dumber than he looks. He also claimed he and Cole were going to be the Championship main event at TakeOver.
Cole got cross and said Velveteen has earned nothing. So he found a way to lock him in a cage last week, but he lost the match (by shoving Strong out of the cage to get at Cole) and he certainly hasn’t earned a title opportunity. Next week he becomes the longest reigning champion of all time. Cole asked Strong if he wanted to end this charade here and now and they started to get out of the ring. Velveteen Dream clicked his fingers and left as Matt Riddle’s music started.
BROserweights vs Undisputed ERA – NXT Tag Team Championship match
There’s no way for this to be anything other than entertaining and brilliant. Undisputed ERA are annoying as all hell, but their tag work is invariably beautiful. Riddle and Dunne work like they’ve been working together for much longer than they have, but Fish and O’Reilly have worked together for years and it shows.
Cole and Strong were very obvious threats at ringside, but Riddle and Dunne dealt with them cleverly. Riddle took the whole of Undisputed ERA down with a dive over the top rope then rolled Strong and Cole into the ring. While the ref had his back turned, telling off Roderick Strong, Pete Dunne clapped then collapsed to the floor. The ref saw Dunne down and Adam Cole stood there and, after Dunne and Riddle convinced him Cole had superkicked him, ejected him and Strong.
Their removal didn’t have an immediate impact on the match, and they had to weather an interruption by Grizzled Young Veterans as well, but it meant they weren’t there to stop it when Kyle O’Reilly took the BROserweights double team and got pinned.
» Next week Candice LeRae faces Mercedes Martinez for one of the three remaining ladder match spots, and Adam Cole is having a championship celebration.
The final segment of the night went to Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Ciampa came to the ring first and called Gargano out. Gargano appeared by video from what looked like a conference room instead. He said it was time for everyone to admit they were wrong about Tommaso Ciampa and called him the worst person in NXT history. He hasn’t forgotten what Ciampa did to him. While Gargano kept talking, Ciampa went looking for him.
He found him, there was a fight, they destroyed a lot of stuff as they went on a tour of the Performance Center. They even managed to find a crutch to play with. Gargano got the upper hand by spraying Ciampa in the eyes with something and putting him through the glass in a door, then proceeded to beat him up around the gym while officials asked him not to. Ciampa got back up and hit Gargano in the stomach with a weight, but when Ciampa broke a mirror by throwing one at him, Gargano decided to retreat.
They made their way into the arena where Ciampa near-on decapitated Gargano with a chair. From the ‘Daddy’s Home’ and ‘Ciampa’ chants, there’s no questioning who the crowd like. They fought on the balcony, which is apparently called the perch, and tried to throw each other off. They removed the guardrails, but Gargano just put Ciampa in the Gargano Escape and punched out the ref who tried to break it up. Ciampa got Gargano on his shoulders and jumped, sending them both crashing through the announce desk.
There were more of the cryptic hype packages tonight. I still don’t know who they’re for.
Let’s be honest, WrestleMania week is looking increasingly unlikely to happen as planned. WWE are moving this week’s SmackDown to the Performance Center. It’s a very odd situation, and covering WWE might get weird for a while until they figure out new plans, but public health has got to come first in the middle of a pandemic.