NXT lost Keith Lee to Monday Night RAW this week. The man who took his title at NXT TakeOver XXX, Karrion Kross, kicks off tonight’s show with Scarlett by his side, presumably with an update about his shoulder. Tommaso Ciampa returns tonight. Also on tonight’s card, Santos Escobar puts the cruiserweight title on the line against Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott. Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai team up to face Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. New North American Champion Damian Priest sets out the next step in his bid to live forever in infamy. And Imperium defend the NXT Tag Team Championships against Breezango.
Breezango def. Imperium
Tommaso Ciampa def. Jake Atlas
Shotzi Blackheart def. Mia Yim
Santos Escobar def. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Kyle O’Reilly def. Drake Maverick
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez def. Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai
Karrion Kross had his arm in a sling when he arrived to the ring with Scarlett. He had an MRI after TakeOver to see if he’d separated his shoulders. His opening speech was a huge I told you so, he became champion and made everyone suffer in the process. He confirmed the shoulder is separated and said he liked it because the pain makes him feel alive. But he’s a realist and knows NXT won’t allow him to defend the title with that kind of injury, so he’s He said that on the path there are obstacles but for him, the obstacles are the path, then laid the title on the mat. He’ll be back and god help the obstacles in his path on his return. Scarlett set the hourglass before they left. Very dramatic and a little sad.
Wade Barrett joined Vic Joseph on commentary as a special guest for the week. Beth Phoenix was commentating remotely.
Imperium (C) vs Breezango – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Breezango won this opportunity on the TakeOver Preshow. They took it straight to the champions before the bell, but it was quite well-behaved once the match got underway. I like Imperium, but their title reign has been nondescript. I acknowledge there have been exceptional circumstances this year, but still. Time for a change and way past time for Breezango to hold titles.
It honestly didn’t look likely for significant portions of the match. Imperium are efficient and ruthless. Fandango got taken out on the outside going into the second ad break, after taking out Fabian Aichner with a dive over the top. Breeze had been about to pin Aichner when Marcel Barthel pulled him from the ring, but Imperium were back in control after the break.
It got a respectable amount of time for a title match. The end came after superkicks all round from Tyler Breeze and a double leg drop from Fandango which allowed him to pin Aichner.
Breezango celebrated by posing on the raised announce desk.
Timothy Thatcher interrupted Damian Priest avoiding an interview and requested the opportunity to be his first challenger. Priest laughed and walked away, but I suspect Thatcher will get the match.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Jake Atlas
I was a bit surprised to see Ciampa come back with a match instead of a monologue, although there’s time. Jake Atlas obviously didn’t stand a chance, not on Ciampa’s return, but it’s good to see him being used. It would have been nice to see him used for a bit longer. The match was less than a minute and finished with a Willow’s Bell.
Ciampa hadn’t had enough after his victory, so he beat Atlas up and threw him around at ringside until enough official arrived to back him off. Then he came back, kicked Atlas in the head and catapulted him into the underside of the ring. With no real expression on his face, Ciampa sat on the apron and watched medics load Jake Atlas onto a stretcher., then he delivered a draping DDT off the stretcher while Atlas had a neck brace on. Finally, he left.
Candice LeRae talked about her friendship with Tegan Nox. She now feels like Nox doesn’t get her anymore. They could still be friends if Nox was on the same path as her, but only if she’s on the same path. If she doesn’t agree she needs to stay out of her way.
Bronson Reed believes he’s the first in line at Damian Priest because he’s actually beaten him. He was interrupted by Austin Theory being condescending. Reed, quite rightly, slapped him for it.
Mia Yim vs Shotzi Blackheart.
This was apparently supposed to be Yim versus Mercedes Martinez. Robert Stone came out and told Yim she couldn’t face Martinez after what Rhea Ripley did to her. Shotzi Blackheart ran him over with her tank again and left it parked on him. The match had started by the time he was rescued.
Whatever the match was supposed to be, it was a civilised and fun contest between friends. The result was a little unexpected. Shotzi Blackheart got the win with her senton from the top after commentary had spent the whole match talking about how much Mia Yim needed a victory.
William Regal wished Karrion Kross all the best on his long recovery. Next week on a special Super-Tuesday night episode, four men will compete in a four-way match to crown a new champion. The competitors will be Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Finn Balor, and Adam Cole. But it’s not just any match. It will be a Sixty-minute Ironman match.
Santos Escobar (C) vs Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott – NXT Cruiserweight Championship match
Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza left Escobar on the ramp and returned to the back. That doesn’t mean they can’t be there at a moment’s notice if they’re needed of course. Everyone has their wrestlers who they just find endlessly entertaining, and Swerve is one of mine so it’s no surprise I thoroughly enjoyed this match.
He took a bit of a beating on the outside, including a trip into the plexiglass and the steps, which left him in trouble back in the ring. It was a long road from there to the finish and Swerve was in trouble for a lot of it. He got his comeback, including a backflip over the top rope from which he landed on his feet, but Wilde and Mendoza came back and killed his momentum.
Breezango arrived and ran them off. Swerve had a couple of credible near falls that just weren’t enough. Then Escobar put on a Luchadore mask with something hard in the forehead of it, headbutted Swerve with it, and knocked him out cold. Easy pin, champion retains.
Johnny Gargano said that last week he was inches from breaking his neck and it made him speculate on the legacy he’d be leaving. He said he’d fix and rule NXT and it’s an unfulfilled promise. Now he has the opportunity in the Ironman match. He’s been the ironman of NXT for years, and next Tuesday he’ll have the title to prove it.
Finn Balor said life comes full circle in this business. He’s going to enjoy every second of the match proving he’s not just one of the cornerstones of the company, he’s the centrepiece.
Adam Cole called it the Mount Rushmore of NXT. Now he is done with Pat McAfee he can focus on getting his title back and this is right up his alley.
Kyle O’Reilly vs Drake Maverick
Maverick instigated this match by challenging any member of Undisputed ERA on social media after they interrupted his match and beat him and Killian Dain up. It looked very much like he was going to get most of Undisputed ERA as O’Reilly brought Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong to ringside with him.
In fairness to them, they didn’t get involved until the post-match beatdown. O’Reilly didn’t need them to submit Maverick after a short match. Killian Dain came to Maverick’s rescue when Bobby Fish brought a chair into the ring. Maverick thanked Dain for his help and Dain responded by clotheslining him to the mat and walking out.
Io Shirai & Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
Dakota Kai said in the runup to the match that Rhea Ripley should have minded her own business. She also said they were confident they would win because they’re actually a team, and that she still thinks she deserves another title shot. Rhea Ripley was asked for her comments. She said she still wants what Shirai has, but she won’t let it get in the way. She didn’t save Shirai during TakeOver, she was letting Kai know Shirai was hers now.
Ripley and Shirai and definitely a team founded on the principle, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but they’re also two of the best on the roster. Friction was evident early, when Shirai tagged herself in, but Ripley just didn’t want out of the ring. When she got back in it was immediately apparent, she just wanted to fight. She fell victim to a double team though and took some significant punishment from Gonzalez.
Gonzalez nearly got the victory after some lovely organisation, breaking up a pin, taking out Ripley, then dragging Kai over to their corner to tag herself in. The double team finisher was on point, but Shirai kicked out.
Io Shirai desperately needed a tag and she got it, but the ref didn’t see it because he was dealing with Kai. While Shirai was trapped in the opposition corner Mercedes Martinez appeared and dragged Ripley off the apron into the steps. Ripley was back up in time to save her partner, but she wasn’t with it and almost immediately got slammed into the mat by Gonzalez and pinned.
That was a lot of NXT for two hours. One title changed hands, one was retained, and one has been relinquished and will be contested in an hour-long ironman match. I’m beyond happy for Breezango, titles have been a long time coming and they’re well deserved. I’ve never understood people putting them down for being entertaining. Wrestling is supposed to be fun.
I was a bit disappointed by the names in the ironman match. They were too predictable and I’m not overly excited by the idea of any of them as champion. I do like an ironman match though.