May 19, 2021

NXT Review – 18/05/2021

Johnny Gargano and Bronson Reed meet in a Steel Cage for Gargano’s NXT North American Championship in tonight’s main event. Zoey Stark and Toni Storm have their rematch. Arash Markazi will interview Pete Dunne. And Ted Dibiase will be visiting the Capitol Wrestling Center to further annoy Cameron Grimes. It’s possibly the least inspiring preview of an NXT episode in quite some time, but there’s a lot of space within it for a good show.



Toni Storm def. Zoey Stark

Jake Atlas def. Cameron Grimes

Killian Dain def. Alexander Wolfe

Legado del Fantasma def. Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher

Sarray def. Aliyah

Hit Row def. Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari

Bronson Reed def. Johnny Gargano




Toni Storm vs Zoey Stark

Toni Storm started the match with a slap to rile Stark up. It worked, but possibly a little better than she intended it to because it was all Stark for the first minute. Storm dragged her off the apron, so she hit her tailbone on the edge of the ring, threw her into the steps then hip attacked her against them and waited for a count-out victory. Stark was in at eight, but it was ‘Toni Time’ for a long and punishing while.

A backslide gave Stark an unexpected chance and she was suddenly back into it. She delivered an enziguri going into the break that put Storm flat on her back. By the time we came back, they were trading blows and it was Zoey Stark with the momentum. A counter to Storm Zero almost got Stark the win but Storm kicked out of that and the kick in the face which followed.

Zoey Stark kicks Toni Storm in the head

Stark is a lot more resourceful than her experience level would suggest, but she’s also got resilience by the bucketload. She kicked out of Storm Zero, which not many have done. Sadly for her, Toni Storm spiked her head into the canvas and pinned her. Commentary weren’t sure what to call the move, so I don’t feel too bad for not knowing either. Edit: The internet told me it was a version of Dean Allmark’s Ruby Cutter. Dean Allmark, via Twitter, said he trained Storm, she asked permission to use it, and he suggested the DDT version. Mystery solved. I hope she keeps using it, it looked great.

Franky Monet made a big entrance, as far as the stage, while Toni Storm was celebrating and Zoey Stark was sitting by the ring holding her head. Monet debuts next week.

Franky Monet


Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde want to know where their title shot is. Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher told them not to get ahead of themselves because they haven’t beaten them and neither have MSK. It will be Legado del Fantasma versus Ciampa and Thatcher later.


Jake Atlas made a joke about Ted Dibiase having the parking space Cameron Grimes wanted, so they have a match later too.

Cameron Grimes and Jake Atlas


Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell had a spa day. With cucumbers on her eyes, Hartwell didn’t know it was Lumis doing her head massage. She said some really mean things about him and he walked off looking sad and dejected.


Finn Balor and Karrion Kross talked through their last match to build to their next one, the same way Balor and O’Reilly did, but with Jimmy Smith offering some analysis as well. I love this as a hype package method. Wrestlers talking about their matches never gets old for me. More of this. Pat McAfee predicted a win for Balor, but a tough one. Paul Heyman said everyone was interested in it, even Roman Reigns, but it was too close to call. I’m not sure the extras were needed, but it gave a Tuesday night episode match a proper big fight feel, so maybe it worked. The match is next week and almost guaranteed to be exceptional.


Cameron Grimes vs Jake Atlas

Cameron Grimes whinged about Ted Dibiase in his way to the ring and played a compilation of clips of him losing and/or being humiliated. He laughed and the crowd chanted ‘Dibiase’. Grimes was furious and tried to take it out on Atlas, but Jake Atlas was ready for him and Grimes was laying on his back at ringside going into the ads.

Jake Atlas high above Cameron Grimes' head

Commentary talked up Atlas during the match, which pleases me because he came in strong then got lost in the mix and I think he’s better than that. He got a much-needed win here, but sadly not on merit. Ted Dibiase came to the stage and distracted Grimes. Atlas took advantage and pinned him.

Grimes went after him and found him in his car. Ted Dibiase rolled down the window and said, ‘Not bad kid, but you’re still no Million Dollar Man’, then told his driver to go and left Grimes to his tantrum.

Ted Dibiase


May 18th 2007 was Bronson Reed’s first match. May 18th 2021 will be the biggest match of his career. He’s not going to let Johnny Gargano deny him his destiny. He wants to get the victory in the steel cage and go over to his wife and tell her that after fourteen years, they did it.


Arash Markazi asked Pete Dunne about calling out everyone instead of just one champion and asked if there was anyone in particular he wanted to face. Dunne said there’s a different reason for each one. He’s already proven he can beat Kushida, so that’s done with but the title is there is he wants it. He and WALTER have unfinished business because that’s his title and his brand. He beat Johnny Gargano the only time they fought and he wants to do that again. And then there’s Karrion Kross because of course he wants to go for the main title, especially as it’s eluded him so far. So there’s a reason for all of them.

Markazi mentioned there was an air of ‘Put some respect on my name’ when Dunne spoke and asked if Dunne feels he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Dunne said he doesn’t care. He lets his work speak for itself and he’s never had a bad match. He might have lost some, but people leave different when they’ve shared a ring with him. When Markazi asked him to describe his style, Dunne said traditional British wrestling, people like Fit Finlay, mixed with everything he’s picked up all over the world made more aggressive. On the subject of the fans, Dunne kind of avoided the question of his relationship with them and focused on the reaction he wanted from them… which makes sense for him. He doesn’t set goals at this point in his career, he takes opportunities as they come. But at this point in his career, it’s time to go for the NXT title. He’s conquered the UK and now it’s time to take over the US.

Really good interview.


Alexander Wolfe, with Imperium, vs Killian Dain, with Drake Maverick

This was supposed to happen last week, but Wolfe was sick… or avoiding facing his old SAnitY teammate. Drake Maverick is still extremely paranoid that Dain will switch sides and turn on him, so he was hanging back during their entrance.

Fabian Aichner got up on the apron when Dain was in control and Maverick got up to challenge him. That didn’t go well. Aichner pushed Maverick to the floor, so Dain kicked Aichner in the head. Barthel tried to give Wolfe a chair, which he clearly didn’t want. The ref saw it and told Barthel to back off. Wolfe took the chair and raised it in time for Dain to hit him with a crossbody and pin him.

Drake Maverick jumped on Dain’s back to celebrate and stayed there until they got to the stage. They’re still an unlikely looking team, to say the least, but there’s something very sweet about their dynamic. Give them a couple of months with the titles.

Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner beat down Alexander Wolfe

Barthel and Aichner beat Wolfe up and gave him an Imperium Bomb once Dain and Maverick had left.


McKenzie Mitchell asked about Dakota Kai’s reaction to Raquel Gonzalez giving respect to Mercedes Martinez in the locker room after Gonzalez’ win last week (as per this tweet). They disagreed about proper post-match conduct apparently. Dakota Kai declared their intention to go after the tag titles again then Ever-Rise turned up for some self-promotion. Martel was offended Gonzalez had never seen their show. He asked if she wanted to take a swing at him, so she slapped him to the floor and he spilt his coffee.


Legado del Fantasma vs Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher

This one was just fun from beginning to end. Mendoza and Wilde like to fly around all over the place. Ciampa and Thatcher like to hit people hard. Neither team care overly much about little things like how many people should be in the ring at one time. It was just a non-stop good match.

Tommaso Ciampa double clotheslines Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde

Sadly, Grizzled Young Veterans attacked Ciampa at ringside without the ref seeing and rolled him back into the ring. He was helpless for Legado’s finisher and Timothy Thatcher was too far away to prevent the pin. Annoying finish to a great match.


McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Bobby Fish about returning from injury and coming to help Kyle O’Reilly last week. Fish said it was very little to do with O’Reilly and everything to do with Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan. They were responsible for the triceps surgery that put him on the shelf and made him a spectator to his own faction’s implosion. But he’s back now and there’s a debt to be paid. Dunne says he’s the match no one wants, which is funny because he’s the only match Fish wants. Dunne started their unfinished business at WarGames and next week Fish wants to finish it.


Back with Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae at the spa, LeRae’s credit card declined due to an unpaid expense. They blamed Austin Theory but the woman said the credit card company said it was a florist and Hartwell realised it was LeRae who sent Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon the flowers. Hartwell ran off shouting, ‘He still loves me’ but she doesn’t know he heard the mean things she said.


Johnny Gargano doesn’t think Bronson Reed is on his level. Theory, as his personal hype man, doesn’t either.


Sarray vs Aliyah, with Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea

Poor Aliyah. She appears to be destined to maintain her spot propping up the bottom of the mid-card of NXT’s women’s division. Still, at least NXT’s women’s division is big enough for a mid-card.

Sarray kicks Aliyah

Jessi Kamea played her part, distracting Sarray to give Aliyah a chance. Her look of shock as Sarray kicked Aliyah’s face off right in front of her before the pin added some drama as well.

That was short and kind of pointless, but Sarray is always fun to watch.


Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon are coming to take their titles back.


Diamond Mine are coming. No idea who they are or what’s going on, but they’re coming. There’s an MMA styling to the vignette, but that’s all I know.


Hit Row (Top Dolla/Ashante ‘Thee Adonis) vs Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari

Swerve and B-FAB accompanied their stablemates to the ring. It was a nice little getting to know you match for the team dynamic. Adonis is the hothead and Top Dolla the fixer and finisher. He had to tell Adonis he’d got it to get him out of the ring before he pinned Daivari.

Top Dolla holding TOny Nese and Ariya Daivari

After the match, Hit Row put everyone on notice. They’re hot and heat rises. Swerve made it clear he’s coming for whoever wins the Steel Cage match.


William Regal said he’s not happy with how they got there, but Legado del Fantasma are now the number one contenders and will face MSK in two weeks. He’s waiting to see who steps up in the women’s division, and he’s bringing in more cruiserweights to find Kushida’s next challenger. Next week, Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon get their rematch against Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell.


Cameron Grimes will have a face to face with Ted Dibiase next week.


Johnny Gargano (C) vs Bronson Reed – NXT North American Championship Steel Cage Match

Johnny Gargano got in Bronson Reed’s face during the announcements and Reed gave him a shove that knocked him on his ass. When the bell rang, Gargano dived for the door and he almost made it as well. He tried a quick climbing escape a couple of times, but they didn’t work either. That began the Johnny Gargano being thrown around a cage portion of the match.

Bronson Reed squishes Johnny Gargano against the cell

Gargano made a mistake by trying to go for his spear because he got caught up in the ropes and took a DDT. Austin Theory made a nuisance of himself, climbing the cage at the same time as Reed and distracting him enough for Gargano to kick his legs and leave him straddling the top rope.

Gargano was in control after the final break and Theory was trash-talking Reed from the outside. Theory managed to get involved as well, throwing himself at the cage at the same time Gargano launched himself at Reed against the side of the cage. Bronson Reed just got back up and kept battering him.

A Samoan drop from the second rope hurt Reed so much he couldn’t make a cover. By the time he did, it was too late and Gargano kicked out. After smashing Reed’s head into the cage a few times, Gargano powerbombed Reed from the top rope, but Bronson Reed kicked out. Gargano went for the exit and ended up the rope in a tug of war between Reed and Theory. Reed won that and dragged him back into the ring, but Theory held the door shut when Reed tried to exit. That got him squished between the door and cage, but Reed took a superkick from Gargano.

Gargano delivered a poisonrana but couldn’t cover. His first attempt at One Final Beat saw him thrown into the cage. The second attempt, after Theory had slammed the cage door on Reed’s head, landed but Reed kicked out. Bronson Reed’s powerbomb from the second rope left them both down but Reed was up first and climbed the cage. Austin Their climbed on the outside and Gargano climbed next to him. Reed knocked them both down, delivered a splash to Gargano, then slammed the cage door and finished it with a Tsunami Splash.

Bronson Reed is the new NXT North American Champion, fourteen years to the day since his first match. He cried and there were big spark fountains around the ring for his celebration.

Bronson Reed celebrates his win



Final word

NXT used the overrun again this week, something they’ve done a lot recently. I’m not surprised considering how much they pack in. I review RAW for another site and the two reviews are more often than not, around the same length.

Was having two SmackDown associated people (Pat McAfee and Paul Heyman) commenting on Balor versus Kross a possible hint as to Karrion Kross’ future? Probably not, but I suspect Kross won’t linger long in NXT. He’s got main roster written all over him.

Next week we’ve got two title matches again, and both of them should be awesome. Pete Dunne versus Bobby Fish was also confirmed.


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