The NXT Cruiserweight Championship will be on the line in this week’s NXT when Jordan Devlin defends for the first time against former champion Lio Rush. Velveteen Dream has his first match since his return, against Roderick Strong, and it’s going to get personal. Speaking of personal, Tommaso Ciampa is probably going to have a word or two to say to Johnny Gargano, or at the very least require an explanation for his actions at NXT TakeOver Portland. And Chelsea Green will have another go at defeating Kayden Carter, after handing Carter her first win a couple of weeks ago.
Jordan Devlin def. Lio Rush
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde
BROserweights def. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Keith Lee def. Kona Reeves
Chelsea Green def. Kayden Carter
Velveteen Dream def. Roderick Strong
Undisputed ERA opened the show, after the TakeOver Portland recap, so Adam Cole could say I told you so. He talked about winning his TakeOver match and said Roderick Strong is going to beat Velveteen Dream, then the lights went purple and Velveteen Dream’s disembodied voice challenged Strong to leave the rest of Undisputed ERA behind for their match. Strong said he was going to make Velveteen wish he’d never come back.
Jordan Devlin (C) vs Lio Rush – NXT Cruiserweight Championship match
I like NXT’s new habit of putting a title match early in the show. This was a very good match, long enough to be interrupted by two ad breaks. They played anything you can do I can do better, for portions of the match. But Devlin has a much more brutal style than Rush and he can’t quite match Rush’s speed.
As with most of Lio Rush’s opponents, Devlin worked on keeping him grounded. Any time Rush gets free, he’s ridiculously fast and bouncy. He had a few good chances against the champion, including a credible submission attempt, but it wasn’t to be his night. He missed a Final Hour and took a headbutt before Devlin delivered his side suplex finisher.
Lio Rush picked up suspected orbital and nasal fractures in the match.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez were interviewed backstage. Gonzales was asked to explain why she interfered to cost Tegan Nox the match. She said Tegan Nox has gotten every opportunity and pushed Dakota aside. Gonzalez knows how that feels. She’s sat at the PC and watched other competitors get opportunities before her. At WarGames Dakota was overlooked by her so-called friends and because she stood up for herself she’s the outcast. Not anymore.
Kai said Gonzales proved she has her back more than anyone else, so she has hers too. And together they’re untouchable.
William Regal came over, all smiles, and informed Kai that she’ll be facing Tegan Nox again in two weeks. And to ensure there is no outside interference, the match will be in a steel cage.
» Rhea Ripley was in no mood to be interviewed after being attacked by Charlotte Flair at TakeOver. She said she’d just got done with media and, yes, Flair attacked her. But the joke is on her because she just gave Ripley what she wanted. ‘So, at WrestleMania, even queens get nightmares.’
Tommaso Ciampa crashed Austin Theory’s entrance and told Theory ‘Not tonight’ when he started to get in his face. When Theory backed off, Ciampa started talking. He said maybe he should have seen it coming. He was so focused on Goldie and getting his life back that he stopped paying attention to his surroundings. There were subtle signs, like the odd timing of the tag team reunion, but he stopped listening to that instinctive voice inside. But if one thing goes hand in hand with Tommaso Ciampa and the NXT Championship, it is and always has been Johnny Gargano. He’s not asking why. He knows why. Johnny knows why.
Austin Theory grabbed him at that point. Ciampa knocked him on his ass.
Ciampa picked the mic back up and said one thing is very clear. In order to get his life back, there can be no Johnny Gargano in NXT.
For some reason, Theory followed Ciampa out of the ring, so Ciampa kicked him in the face then beat the hell out of him with the help of the barricades. He can’t say he wasn’t warned.
» Finn Balor had a self-congratulatory promo video. He said he’s making his next move next week.
Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde vs Grizzled Young Veterans
I was excited to see Mendoza and Wilde teaming. They’ve both struggled to find any kind of position in the roster, and the tag division in NXT could do with some boosting. Then I saw who they were facing and realised they were there to lose again. They did, via a Ticket to Mayhem on Mendoza, but it was fun while it lasted.
After the match, Zack Gibson had a few mean things to say about Americans and said they were there to take over NXT. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if Grizzled Young Veterans are moving across to NXT full-time.
BROserweights vs Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Brand new NXT Tag Team Champions, the BROserweights, had to say a few words before their opponents arrived. Matt Riddle managed to get the golf cart impounded, which is why they had to walk to the ring. Dunne said all that matters is that they’re the tag team champions, which got them a ‘You Deserve It’. Matt Riddle was more concerned about the celebrating. He said the trophy failed the Wellness Policy and has been suspended for 30 days, which is the most creative way of saying they’re sick of lugging it around.
Things got less whimsical when Lorcan and Burch arrived, and a lot more competitive. Burch and Dunne had a nice technical exchange to start the non-title match, then it settled into an interesting and exceedingly watchable contest. The BROserweights got the win with a double team finisher then went off into the crowd to celebrate.
» Undisputed ERA were shown backstage where Roderick Strong was telling them he was accepting Velveteen Dream’s challenge to go it alone tonight.
» Forgotten Sons have taken offence to Grizzled Young Veterans. Match incoming.
Kona Reeves decided to interrupt Keith Lee before Lee had a chance to make his speech, although we did get to see some of his appearance on WWE Backstage. Lee pounced him into the corner when Reeves went to get a mic then told the ref to ring the bell.
Keith Lee vs Kona Reeves
I feel wrong adding this as a match. It was two bells separated by a Big Bang Catastrophe.
Dominik Dijakovic came out and said he’s sorry, but he’s not ready to move on yet. They both know he had Lee beat at TakeOver. The Spanish Fly that was meant to finish him finished Dijakovic’s lower back and that’s why he couldn’t deliver Feast Your Eyes.
Keith Lee said, excuses. Dijakovic can say that ‘if’ something happened he would have won, but he didn’t. Every match they’ve had Lee’s heard the same thing – the crowd helpfully chanted ‘Fight Forever’. Based on that, if Dijakovic can talk William Regal into it, they can fight forever.
Kayden Carter vs Chelsea Green
This match marked the relaunch of the Robert Stone Brand, and Chelsea Green was looking to right some wrongs. Stone introduced her as ‘The Face of the Women’s Division’, but I think there might be a line of superstars waiting to disagree.
Of course, Kayden Carter had other ideas and she had the best of things in the early parts of the match, once the ref persuaded Green to let go of her hair. Chelsea Green got it back when Carter slipped on the ropes.
Bianca Belair arrived in the middle of the match and promised to let them finish, but she had something to say. She was there to call out Charlotte Flair. Whether it’s at Full Sail or on RAW, she’s going to whoop Flair’s ass.
Even off that level of distraction, Chelsea Green couldn’t beat Carter on her own. She tried, but it took Robert Stone grabbing Carter’s leg and tripping her for her to finally get the pin.
» Next week Tommaso Ciampa takes on Austin Theory and Finn Balor will be on the show. Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox’s cage match will be the following week.
Velveteen Dream vs Roderick Strong
Commentary said it was Velveteen Dream’s first match for five months. I assume they’re correct, but it feels like longer. It’s not the NXT he left when he got injured. Still, making his return feud this personal and vicious is a strong comeback strategy. Velveteen Dream’s ring gear was odd. It was covered in the three circles he’d used in the date and his three lensed sunglasses, but they were white on baby blue so looked like a Babygro with clouds on. Not one of his best. He was wearing a belt as well, but that was taken off him after he removed it and tried to hit Strong with it.
Great main event. Velveteen Dream has lost nothing in his time off and the mind games got Strong exactly where he wanted him. He wanted to make Strong pay for putting him on the sidelines. The mind games were a little too effective, Strong just wanted to hurt him and worked hard on Velveteen’s newly healed back.
Before the end of the match, Velveteen Dream stripped off the Babygro to reveal tights with Strong’s wife’s (Marina Shafir) face on the crotch and ass. Undisputed ERA appeared and Velveteen took a moment to level them by diving off the top turnbuckle. When he got back in the ring Roderick Strong caught him with a jumping knee. But Velveteen Dream kicked out and delivered a Dream Valley Driver for the win. He was attacked by Undisputed ERA approximately two seconds later.
Keith Lee versus Dominik Dijakovic is one of the few feuds I really would be happy to see go on forever. But I do wish they’d leave it a while and then come back to it. Make Dijakovic work his way back or something. These things are always better with a bit of a gap between matches.
It looks like the tag division is coming back into focus, which is good to see because it’s been languishing a bit compared to everything else. The next few weeks look very interesting indeed.