Since WWE got ‘essential business’ status they seem to have been cramming their shows even more than usual. Tonight’s NXT is no exception. We’ve got Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez teaming against Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart. Velveteen Dream versus Finn Balor. El Hijo del Fantasma debuting against Jack Gallagher in one of three cruiserweight tournament matches. And Tony Nese versus Kushida and Drake Maverick versus Jake Atlas in the other two. It will be bittersweet watching Drake Maverick in the tournament. He was released by WWE last week but allowed to remain part of the tournament. I, along with many fans, am hoping that WWE have a rethink and bring him back (actually, I’m still hoping Maverick’s release was a work and he’ll win the whole thing).
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez def. Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart
Jake Atlas def. Drake Maverick
Kushida def. Tony Nese
Mia Yim def. Jessi Kamea
El Hijo del Fantasma def. Jack Gallagher
Velveteen Dream & Dexter Lumis def. Undisputed ERA
The show opened with an announcement that, due to an incident at the Performance Center, Finn Balor’s status is unknown and he has been removed from the match. Basically, the locker room was trashed and Balor is missing.
Velveteen Dream opened the show and said, ‘New levels new devils, but sometimes you’re dealing with the same old demons’. He’s been stood up for the night by Balor. And that was as far as he got before Adam Cole arrived
Cole said people assumed the winner of tonight’s match would have become the number one contender, and accused Velveteen Dream of being behind it. He has no idea what happened to Balor, but he knows what’s going to happen to Velveteen Dream. At that point, Velveteen was attacked by Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish. The three of them beat on him for a bit then Strong and Fish held him still. We didn’t get to see what Adam Cole was going to do, other than yell at him, because Keith Lee came to his assistance and cleared the ring.
Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart vs Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
Considering they’re not an established team, Nox and Blackheart worked really well together. Sadly, it did them no good. After a good match, Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai took each other out of the occasion and Raquel Gonzalez finished Shotzi Blackheart with a one-armed powerbomb.
NXT showed clips from Drake Maverick’s tearful reaction video upon learning of his release from his WWE contract, leading into a video segment with him where he talked about not wanting sympathy, and giving it everything he’s got in his last three matches. He wants to go out as the NXT Cruiserweight Champion.
Drake Maverick vs Jake Atlas
It’s only Jake Atlas’ second match in NXT and I really want him to do well… just not in this match. I’m leaning towards Maverick’s release being a storyline, which might just be wishful thinking. It would be a bit of an evil thing to do considering the numbers who were released on that day, but who would honestly put it past them? Anyway, it worked to get me and most of my twitter timeline firmly behind him.
It wasn’t Maverick’s night. Jake Atlas won the match with a cartwheel DDT off the top rope, which might be my new favourite finisher.
Drake Maverick being helped to the back by the ref was even featured in Atlas’ post-match interview. Atlas tried to talk to him on the way past but just got a defeated look in return and remarked how bad he feels and that he was rooting for him.
Damian Priest had a video package where he talked about Keith Lee’s North American Championship. He accused Lee of hand-picking the challengers he knows he can beat and of avoiding him.
Kushida vs Tony Nese
Tony Nese said he feels like he’s still cruiserweight champion because he was never pinned to lose it. That seems to be a common issue, but it still doesn’t hold any weight. This was his first step towards regaining it and it was a very good match. It did not, however, improve Nese’s chances of regaining the title. He tapped out.
Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher had a backstage interview. In it we learned they are very different people. Thatcher said it’s because Riddle likes to knock people out and he prefers to submit his opponent, but I think they’re just operating from different planets. Either way, they have a match next week but Riddle wouldn’t give up the details on their opponents.
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae had a video segment from home. Gargano talked about his fairytale life and career while LeRae served dinner, then he moved onto NXT. That’s when it got dark. He sick of being unappreciated and so is Candice LeRae. It was long, they made some good points, but the take-home is that they’re going to break NXT down and remake it in their image. They’re going to take over and rule NXT together.
Io Shirai has been waiting a long time to face Charlotte Flair so she can show her how great she is. All Flair will need to do is look in her eyes. Io Shirai bows down to no one.
Drake Maverick had a backstage interview. He said Jake Atlas is great. Every other athlete in the tournament Is fighting their opponent. He’s fighting his opponent and himself. Maybe everyone was right about him.
Mia Yim vs Jessi Kamea
Commentary talked about Charlotte Flair singling Mia Yim out as the one she’s planning to face first. Bit of a foregone conclusion match, but fun while it lasted. Charlotte Flair came out to ask Yim if she accepted her challenge. Mia Yim said it would be an honour to be in the ring with her. Flair said that’s good because Yim has always been a ‘good hand’. Five years ago Yim helped make her a star, now she can help make Yim one. Honestly, Flair is lucky Mia Yim didn’t punch her there and then.
Robert Stone has a video segment with Chelsea Green. It was just about how much better Green is than the rest of the division and that she’s the future women’s champion.
Jack Gallagher vs El Hijo del Fantasma
Jack Gallagher is a gentleman no longer, judging by the cape he’s now a period drama supervillain. It might have been Gallagher’s reintroduction, but was El Hijo del Fantasma’s debut though and there was absolutely no way he was going to lose. Excellent match though, and one which felt like it had time to develop. Fantasma finished it with a Samoan driver.
Fantasma made a speech after the match. Other than thank you, I have no idea what he said.
There was an attempt to kidnap Fantasma from the parking lot after a break, but he got away and they drove off.
Velveteen Dream & Keith Lee vs Undisputed ERA
It was Roderick Strong and Adam Cole representing Undisputed ERA in this match. It got out of hand immediately and while the ref was busy sending Fish to the back, Damian Priest appeared from nowhere and hit Keith Lee in the throat with a nightstick, twice. Velveteen Dream found Lee gasping for breath on the floor and officials were called to tend to him.
The match got underway properly after a break, but without Keith Lee. He was helped to the back during commercials, and Velveteen Dream insisted on carrying on alone. Dexter Lumis turned up when Velveteen Dream was in a lot of trouble and stood in his corner. He reached out for a tag and got it. Lumis took on both Strong and Cole, and when Bobby Fish ran back to ringside, Lumis took him and Strong down with a dive over the top rope. Velveteen Dream had tagged himself in as Lumis rebounded off the ropes and delivered a Purple Rainmaker to Adam Cole for the win.
When the match was over, Lumis left the ring and peered over the edge of the apron as Velveteen Dream posed.
If Drake Maverick isn’t an active member of the WWE roster by the time all this is over, then this has been the cruellest storyline in a long time.