NXT has this week and next to build to NXT TakeOver: In Your House. To that end, Charlotte Flair will team with a mystery partner to take on her TakeOver opponents Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai. Also on tonight’s show, Adam Cole will negotiate live with William Regal about Velveteen Dream. Kurt Angle will referee Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher’s cage fight. And Drake Maverick, Jake Atlas, and Kushida fight to face El Hijo del Fantasma for the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Drake Maverick def. Jake Atlas and Kushida
Johnny Gargano def. Adrian Alanis
Raquel Gonzalez def. Shotzi Blackheart
Charlotte Flair & Chelsea Green def. Io Shirai & Rhea Ripley
Tommaso Ciampa def. Leon Ruff
Timothy Thatcher def. Matt Riddle
Drake Maverick vs Jake Atlas vs Kushida – Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match
Just like RAW on Monday, NXT had an audience of Performance Center athletes this week. The match had all the makings of a classic, but I have hated what they’ve been doing with Drake Maverick so much it took the shine off a bit. Still a very good match though.
Atlas would have won with his Rainbow DDT if Kushida hadn’t pulled him out of the ring. Kushida thought he’d won with the cross arm-breaker on Jake Atlas, but Drake Maverick crawled over and laid an arm over Atlas’ chest and got the pin. Kushida was unsurprisingly furious and it was unsatisfyingly messy.
El Hijo del Fantasma came to ringside and shook Drake Maverick’s hand after the match.
After the break, it was highlighted that Atlas was tapping from underneath Maverick while the pin was being counted. But the referee’s decision is final.
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae got booed when they came out and patronised everyone. They were there to announce the first Johnny Gargano Invitational, where he will give one young superstar a chance to get in the ring with him. The first was Adrian Alanis.
Johnny Gargano vs Adrian Alanis
Beth Phoenix told us Adonis debuted in 2017 and has wrestled for Evolve. Gargano sucker-punched him during the handshake and tapped him out in the Gargano Escape in under a minute.
Keith Lee and Mia Yim appeared on the big screen and did a parody of Dinner with the Garganos, with a cameo from Tegan Nox.
In Drake Maverick’s backstage interview it was pointed out to him that Jake Atlas had tapped a fraction of a second before the three count. Maverick said he wanted to do everything fairly and he didn’t know how they should sort it out, suggesting the possibility of another match. Kushida appeared and told Maverick to go and fight for the title and fight for his job, and win. Maverick told him that when he wins the Cruiserweight Championship he wants Kushida to have the first shot at it. They shook hands and Kushida left.
Imperium have officially taken over the NXT tag team division. The titles are not coming off their shoulders regardless of who steps in their path. They picked out Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch specifically for disrespecting them
Shotzi Blackheart vs Raquel Gonzalez
Dakota Kai got involved in this one in the run-up to an ad break. She got into Blackheart’s tiny tank and started ripping bits off it to distract her. Tegan Nox ran down and shoved Kai over, which distracted Gonzalez instead, but Blackheart only got a two count off the chaos.
It got messier after the break. Nox stayed in Blackheart’s corner. Blackheart took Kai and Gonzalez down with a backdrop off the ropes to the outside. She landed really badly and Tegan Nox looked unsure as to whether she should be helping her back into the ring at all. Candice LeRae appeared and argued with Nox at ringside which somehow distracted the ref so Dakota Kai could cause Blackheart to crash down on the corner. Predictably he was back in time to see Raquel Gonzalez slam her into the canvas and pin her.
Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai vs Charlotte Flair & Chelsea Green
Chelsea Green was a surprise but made perfect sense as Flair’s partner. She’s trying to climb the division and she already thinks she’s better than everyone else, plus she has Robert Stone negotiating for her.
It was Green who started the match for her team, and she took a lot from both Ripley and Shirai. Flair pulled her weight and took the glory, but she let Green take most of the punishment. Io Shirai broke up Flair’s figure four on Rhea Ripley after Ripley got caught out by an unseen tag. Chelsea Green took a missile dropkick from Shirai on behalf of her partner by shoving Flair out of the way. At the finish, Io Shirai accidentally sent Ripley crashing to the floor from the apron and left herself without a tag partner to save her from Charlotte Flair rolling her up and pinning her with the aid of her feet on the ropes.
The Garganos claim they are the one true power couple of NXT. Candice LeRae wants to fight Mia Yim next week and thinks Tegan Nox should be ashamed of herself.
Adam Cole and William Regal’s ‘negotiation’ was by video conference. Cole was rude and patronising as is his way. He whinged a lot, about missing his celebration, about Velveteen Dream, and about Undisputed ERA not getting a fair shot at the titles. William Regal called him on it, reminded him he makes the decisions, and said he was acting like a BayBay. The negotiation boiled down to Cole demanding that In Your House was Velveteen Dream’s last shot at the title. Regal agreed with the caveat that he would choose a location that will shine a spotlight on their incredible talents in a setting worthy of the NXT Championship.
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch had a video segment about how they got their opportunities as individuals and how they developed as a team. It culminated in them meeting and toasting to taking the titles off Imperium.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Leon Ruff
Poor Liam Ruff. He looked so happy to be there, but he was destroyed by Karrion Kross in Kross’ debut and he was unlikely to fare better this week. Scarlett stood at the bottom of the ramp to watch the match, which had Ciampa distracted when the bell rang. Ruff tried to take advantage with a rollup, but couldn’t make it stick and he took a Fairytale Ending a minute or so later.
Kross’ eyes and nose appeared on the big screen as Scarlett was walking away. He said NXT TakeOver is special but on June 7th he’s going to make Ciampa feel something he’s never felt in his life.
The Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament final will take place next week, as will Candice LeRae vs Mia Yim.
Matt Riddle vs Timothy Thatcher – with Special Guest Referee Kurt Angle – Cage Fight
The ring ropes and corner pads were removed for this match. The rules were, tap out or knockout and Kurt Angle was there to enforce them. The cage had a platform all around the top and both fighters started up there, with Riddle going on the offensive on his jump down. Thatcher lost some teeth and had to be seen by a doctor going into the break. He cleared him and the bleeding miraculously stopped during the ads.
They fought up on the platform for a while and Thatcher tried to submit Riddle with him dangling over the edge. He tried to suplex Riddle off it as well, but Riddle knocked him off with a knee and delivered a Floating Bro from the platform. It didn’t get him the win though.
Thatcher got the win with a technical submission, choking Matt Riddle out so he could not respond when Angle dropped his arm three times.
Having even a small crowd makes a huge difference during matches, although I’ve got quite used to not having crowd noise. During promos, I found the noise distracting and a bit annoying so maybe I’m a little too used the empty arenas. NXT TakeOver: In Your House is looking like another excellent card. I’m intrigued to see what they come up with for Adam Cole versus Velveteen Dream.