It’s getting harder to be a WWE fan this week. In addition to putting talent and staff at risk by running live unnecessarily, WWE announced a lot of talent releases today. Among the NXT or NXT adjacent names who have been ‘let go’ are Drake Maverick, Lio Rush, Deonna Purrazzo and MJ Jenkins. More are expected to be released in the next few hours. WWE have done a lot of shady and shitty stuff in their time, but getting their business declared essential in a pandemic then turning around and firing a ton of their staff, some of whom flew in to take part in the unnecessarily risky and ill-considered live shows, is right up there among the worst.
As for tonight, it’s a pretty packed card. Finn Balor faces Fabian Aichner on his way to WALTER. The tournament to find an interim NXT Cruiserweight Champion begins, and apparently Drake Maverick will still take part. Adam Cole has invited Velveteen Dream for a ‘chat’. Charlotte Flair will be appearing. And Matt Riddle will find a temporary partner to help him defend the NXT Tag Team Championships against Undisputed ERA.
I’m keeping things brief tonight.
Finn Balor def. Fabian Aichner
Xia Li def. Aliyah
Akira Tozawa def. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Tegan Nox def. Raquel Gonzalez
Dexter Lumis def. Tehuti Miles
Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher def. Undisputed ERA
Finn Balor vs Fabian Aichner
A decent match to open the show. Marcel Barthel accompanied Aichner to the ring and tried to insert himself into the match a few times, nearly got Balor pinned, attacked him on the outside, then took a slingblade and a dropkick from Balor. That nearly allowed Aichner to take advantage, but Balor evaded the moonsault and finished Aichner with a Coup de Grace followed with 1916.
Charlotte Flair’s appearance was in the form of a pre-recorded interview. She said winning the NXT Women’s Championship will solidify her legacy and make sure she does what no one has done before, dominate three separate eras – the past, present, and future. She ran through the impressive list of people she’s beaten, and it really is impressive. Then talked about hearing that NXT women’s division is the best, so she’s there to dominate them too. Rhea Ripley is going to want a rematch, Io Shirai is number one contender, but it’s Mia Yim Flair has her eye on. Yim was her first opponent on NXT, so Flair is giving her a shot. After that, William Regal can line them all up. When she’s beaten them all there can be no doubt or debate that she’s the greatest of all time.
Aliyah vs Xia Li
Aliyah confessed by tweet to being the one who attacked Xia Li before their last match. She’s trying to get revenge for Li breaking her nose. That quite neatly turned it into a proper grudge match because Li clearly wanted some revenge of her own. Aliyah’s tactics are cowardly and underhand, but they worked for her for a while. Xia Li still kicked her in the back and pinned her though.
Footage of Matt Riddle on the phone to Pete Dunne revealed Dunne organised Matt Riddle’s mystery tag team partner, and kept it a mystery from Riddle as well.
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs Akira Tozawa – NXT Cruiserweight Tournament match
This was the opening Group B match in the round-robin part of the tournament. It was really very good and I’m glad it got some time to play out. Scott got out of Tozawa’s submission. Tozawa kicked out of a House Call. It finished with a Tozawa senton from the top after he put Swerve down with a kick in the head.
El Hijo del Fantasma is coming to NXT, starting by participating in the cruiserweight tournament.
Tegan Nox vs Raquel Gonzalez
Gonzalez was accompanied to the ring by Dakota Kai. Tegan Nox got thrown around and beaten down from the outset, with Kai adding insult to injury by kicking her in the head when the ref wasn’t looking. Shotzi Blackheart ran down and took out Kai with her helmet. Gonzalez grabbed her by the throat and yelled that it was none of her business as she prepared to chokeslam her on the apron. She didn’t get the chance because Nox rolled her up and pinned her. Kai and Gonzalez were furious, but it looks like Tegan Nox has found a friend.
One of the best things of the night was a video of Keith Lee telling his story. WWE have done a few of them now and they’re always good.
Dexter Lumis vs Tehuti Miles
Tehuti Miles got beaten up on RAW this week. He got beaten up on NXT as well. He tapped out to the anaconda vice after a short match.
Adam Cole did not come to NXT. He still doesn’t think Velveteen Dream deserves a title shot. He doesn’t think anyone deserves a shot. All he’s interested in is Undisputed ERA taking back what’s theirs, starting with Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish taking back the tag titles.
Velveteen Dream came to chat anyway. He said it was typical for Adam Cole to no show then talked about what he really thinks of him. He recognised that Cole is the longest-reigning NXT Champion, and said he’s arguably the best NXT Champion of all time.
Finn Balor came out to take exception to that and told Velveteen Dream that he’s the greatest NXT Champion of all time and ignorant comments will get him a date with the prince.
Velveteen Dream accepted the date and told Balor to be a gentleman and pick him up next Wednesday night.
Malcolm Bivens said that the tag title match was very interesting to him and his new team, Indus Sher. It sounds like they will be challenging the winners.
Next week there will be three cruiserweight tournament matches, and Tegan Nox teaming with Shotzi Blackheart to face Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez.
Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher vs Undisputed ERA (Strong/Fish)
Pete Dunne appeared by video link to introduce Timothy Thatcher as Matt Riddle’s temporary partner. That pretty much sealed Undisputed ERA’s fate. There was no way Timothy Thatcher was going to lose his debut. Can we just take a moment to appreciate the utter grossness of having a debut on a night where so many people lost their jobs?
It was a good match. Timothy Thatcher tapped out Roderick Strong for the win.
Tommaso Ciampa got to finish the show from backstage. Well, kind of anyway. He said he’s done with Johnny Gargano, with Candice LeRae, and with all of it. They said that when it was done it was done and Gargano and LeRae showed the world. He congratulated Gargano and said he was the better man, then got attacked from behind by Killer Kross who got to say the final words, ‘Tick Tock’, to an unconscious Ciampa. By the look of the boot which appeared next to their heads, he has Scarlett Bordeaux with him as well.
Kross is apparently going to be called Karrion Kross.
Tonight was probably a much better episode than I gave it credit for. Watching a show which shouldn’t be happening and wondering how many of the people on it will still be employed tomorrow, really takes any enthusiasm away. Social media is full of shocked and sad superstars tweeting their sorrow at friends and colleagues being callously discarded. If any company is capable of paying their talent through the most terrifying and uncertain time in recent history, it is WWE. They chose not to. We should never forget.