Another week, another two title matches on NXT. This week we have Damian Priest defending the NXT North American Championship against Timothy Thatcher, and Breezango facing Imperium with the tag titles at stake. NXT Women’s Champion, Io Shirai is also on the show, but her match against Shotzi Blackheart is non-title. And Drake Maverick teams with Killian Dain to take on Undisputed ERA’s Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish.
Io Shirai def. Shotzi Blackheart
Tommaso Ciampa def. Desmond Troy
Kushida def. Austin Theory
Breezango def. Imperium
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter def. Xia Li & Jessi Kamea
Drake Maverick & Killian Dain def. Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish (DQ)
Damian Priest def. Timothy Thatcher
Io Shirai vs Shotzi Blackheart
An interesting opener and a great match. There’s no enmity between them, just Blackheart’s ambition and Shirai trying to put her in her place. For someone looking to climb the women’s division, a non-title match against the champion is a great showcase, especially when the match is this good.
Blackheart spent a long time in a cross face before she managed to hook a foot over the ropes, but then had a resurgence which led to a near fall and a credible submission attempt. That wasn’t her last chance either. A super-hurricanrana came very close. She took a German suplex on the apron and still managed to kick out when she was dragged back into the ring. She had nothing left though and succumbed to a moonsault soon after.
They helped each other up after the match and it was all smiles and handshakes. Shotzi Blackheart earned that show of respect. That was a shortcut into the top tier of the division.
Shotzi Blackheart will be among the participants in next week’s Battle Royal to determine Io Shirai’s number one contender. The full line up, according to the graphic, is Kacy Catanzaro, Indi Hartwell, Aliyah, Dakota Kai, Tegan Nox, Candice LeRae, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi Blackheart, Raquel Gonzalez, Kayden Carter, and Xia Li – The fact Mia Yim isn’t included on that list strongly suggests she’s in RETRIBUTION as is widely rumoured.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Desmond Troy
Commentary tried to big Desmond Troy up during the match, but he was there to be destroyed and destroyed he was. Ciampa catapulted him into the underside of the bottom turnbuckle then finished him with Willow’s Bell.
Jake Atlas came to the stage while Ciampa was collecting a chair for a post-match beatdown, so he sat on it to listen. Atlas demanded a match next week. Ciampa smiled, so I guess he’s getting it.
Drake Maverick tried very hard to sound confident about the idea of teaming with Killian Dain, even though Dain has punched him in the face a few times and he hasn’t heard from him all week, but he didn’t quite manage it.
Set out his theory on his role as champion. His history with the brand makes it interesting
Austin Theory vs Kushida
Austin Theory thinks he’s first ballot hall of famer. He said Bronson Reed beating him was a fluke and threw out an open challenge. Kushida arrived and kicked him out of the ring before the bell rang.
When he got back in and things got underway Kushida was on him immediately and found himself scrabbling for the ropes. He got his bearing eventually but Kushida has an attitude now. Theory’s arm was destroyed against the post and brutally worked over. As soon as Kushida applied the Hoverboard Lock, Austin Theory tapped. Kushida had to be persuaded by the ref to release the hold.
Candice LeRae is still upset with Tegan Nox but is planning to win the battle royal. Johnny Gargano is very upset about the broken tv and is planning to bill Nox for the most expensive one he can find.
Breezango (C) vs Imperium – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Imperium rushed the ring on their entrance and there was a quick brawl before the action proper. When the bell went Marcel Barthel ran across the ring to knock Tyler Breeze off the apron while Aichner kept Fandango busy.
That kept Breeze down long enough for Imperium to get Fandango isolated and it was all Aichner and Barthel for the first part of the match. When Breeze finally got in, he was on fire, but he couldn’t quite make it stick and the match just got bigger and more intense with every broken pin.
After a great match, the end came when Fandango dropkicked Aichner off balance when he was lining Breeze up for the European Bomb. Tyler Breeze knocked Barthel off the turnbuckle and took Aichner down with a hurricanrana, hooking the legs for the pin.
Jessi Kamea & Xia Li vs Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
From the way Beth Phoenix was talking on commentary, Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro are moving forward as a team. They have coordinated gear and commentary spent most of the match talking about their teamwork, so I guess they’ll be NXT’s next tag title challengers.
It was Li and Kamea’s first match as a team and they clearly didn’t have the flourish, but they did ok. It was Carter and Catanzaro’s match though, they even had a fancy new double team finisher to end the match. Kamea exchanged fistbumps with Carter and Catanzaro after the match, but Xia Li refused and rolled out of the ring.
Tegan Nox said Candice LeRae has changed but she can say it’s her if it makes her feel better. All she wanted was her friend back, but that didn’t happen. Just like Candice LeRae winning the battle royal isn’t going to happen. She’s going to do that.
Drake Maverick found Killian Dain, but Dain told him he wasn’t his friend or his tag partner and if Maverick went out he’d be going out alone. Maverick said ok and told Dain he’d see him out there then wandered off.
Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish vs Drake Maverick
Killian Dain didn’t come to the ring to start the match and Maverick looked resigned to doing it on his own. He also looked resigned to the likelihood he was about to take a kick in.
That’s exactly what happened to start with, with Wade Barrett (who has now been confirmed as a permanent fixture on the NXT commentary team) berating Maverick’s choices from commentary. Thing is, it’s really hard to keep Drake Maverick down. He’s used to fighting against the odds, it’s what he does, so he kept getting back up.
Killian Dain was shown sat watching on a tv backstage and laughing while Maverick got beaten up. William Regal sent Dain out to the ring after Maverick had taken several minutes of being bounced around the ring. Initially, all he did was put Maverick back in the ring and tell him to take the loss like a man. He walked away but Strong yelled an insult at him and he turned back.
Strong and Fish tired to throw Drake Maverick at Dain, but he sidestepped and made them wish they’d let him leave. The match ended on a disqualification when Bobby Fish hit Dain with a chair. Dain and Maverick cleaned house. Drake Maverick got overexcited about them being a team and Dain punched him in the face.
Tommaso Ciampa attacked Jake Atlas while Atlas was being interviewed on his walk out of the parking lot. Kyle O’Reilly and officials had to intervene to stop him.
Finn Balor’s number one contender will be one of five superstars, decided in a brand-new match devised by William Regal, called the Gauntlet Eliminator. Two men will start then another is added every four minutes. Elimination is by pinfall or submission and the last man standing faces Balor at TakeOver. No names were mentioned but Bronson Reed, Ridge Holland, Velveteen Dream, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Kushida, and Santos Escobar’s pictures were shown. Obviously, that’s eight, so who knows. William Regal tweeted on Thursday that the names will be announced via the @WWENXT twitter account.
Damian Priest (C) vs Timothy Thatcher – NXT North American Championship match
The main event of the evening, but it only got a little over ten minutes. Not my favourite match of the night, but another good match on a good episode.
Thatcher worked Damian Priest’s arm over hard and had him rocked and shielding the limb. He had control of long portions of the match but he couldn’t keep the champion down. It was a painful-looking match, and it finished with Priest delivering The Reckoning.
That was a really busy episode with some very high highs. I would happily have accepted Io Shirai versus Shotzi Blackheart and Breezango versus Imperium as TakeOver worthy matches. Everything else added up to a decent episode of NXT, but seven matches in a two-hour show is a lot.