There are three matches advertised ahead of tonight’s show. Keith Lee defends his North American Championship against Damian Priest. Charlotte Flair makes Mia Yim her first opponent as NXT Women’s Champion. And Drake Maverick has his second Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament match, against Tony Nese.
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott def. El Hijo del Fantasma
Candice LeRae def. Kacy Catanzaro
Charlotte Flair def. Mia Yim
Dexter Lumis def. Shane Thorne
Drake Maverick def. Tony Nese
Keith Lee def. Damian Priest
The intro focused on the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament. Tom Phillips was solo introducing the show, but Beth Phoenix and Mauro Ranallo were doing commentary from somewhere else… remotely, I think.
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs El Hijo del Fantasma
The first of the cruiserweight tournament matches of the night and my kind of opening match. Swerve went into it having lost his first match, meaning another loss would essentially end his tournament. Fantasma won his. The difference in pressure was apparent with Scott getting easily frustrated when things weren’t going his way. He overcame it though and caught ElHijo del Fantasma in a crucifix pin.
Post-match Isaiah Scott said he has a lot of respect for Fantasma, but he needed it more than him. He needs it more than anyone and he will not be denied.
During the break there was another attempted kidnapping of Fantasma, this time from ringside.
Dominik Dijakovic has, apparently, taken issue with Johnny Gargano’s new attitude. He challenged Gargano to a match next week.
Candice LeRae vs Kacy Catanzaro
Candice LeRae has a new image, new hair colour, new gear, new music, and she’s now The Poison Pixie. She was given a very schmaltzy intro from Johnny Gargano. It was cute. He stayed at ringside to support her as well. It’s always good to see Kacy Catanzaro and this was honestly a much longer match than I expected. We got to see the new ruthless and less concerned with the rules Candice LeRae. We got to see her new finisher as well, The Wicked Stepsister.
After she’d left the ring, LeRae turned back and put Catanzaro in the Gargano Escape while Gargano looked on proudly.
Matt Riddle put Timothy Thatcher through a completely cringeworthy mock game show segment, hosted by Byron Saxton, called Newly-Bros Show. Riddle was performatively baked. I can’t explain it, I’m going to be trying to forget it for the next few days.
The end came via an attack by Imperium’s Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner. Riddle was beaten up and thrown over the barricade. Thatcher tried to take both Barthel and Aichner on by himself but was overwhelmed and left laid out in the ring.
William Regal has given Velveteen Dream a title shot against Adam Cole next week and Cole is not happy. He had a promo segment to make it very clear exactly how unhappy he was. He still believes he’ll leave as champion though.
Charlotte Flair vs Mia Yim
This was a non-title match, but a win here would give Mia Yim a good shout for a title opportunity after Io Shirai gets her turn. It seemed like a long shot in Flair’s first match in NXT as the NXT Women’s Champion. Flair was all arrogance, but she backed it up. She barely flinched after taking Seoul Food and kicked out of a code blue. Mia Yim kicked out of a lot too, but eventually succumbed to the Figure Eight.
After the match, Io Shirai came out and told Flair, ‘Next week you’re mine’.
Karrion Kross and Scarlet Bordeaux also arrive next week. It’s going to be a busy week.
Kacy Catanzaro was approached for an interview backstage while a medic was checking her out. Kayden Carter was with her. Catanzaro said LeRae hurt her neck. Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano walked past and LeRae said, ‘From now on, this is the new NXT. Get used to it’.
There is no news as to who attacked Finn Balor, but Balor is appearing next week to talk about it.
Dexter Lumis vs Shane Thorne
This was fine. I’m not sure what they’re trying to do with Lumis, the creepy serial killer vibe is different, I guess. He won the match by making Thorne pass out, then sat there stoking his head.
Ahead of Drake Maverick’s second tournament match, we got a reminder of the uncomfortable ‘released superstar still competing’ thing they’re doing with him. It was Jake Atlas, after their match last week, telling Maverick he believes in him and thinks he’s great. And he knows Maverick knows it too.
Keith Lee was very hoarse-voiced for his pre-match promo Priest had one earlier but didn’t say anything interesting). Lee confessed to not being one hundred percent and said Priest wants to live forever in infamy. So too will the beating he gives him.
Tony Nese vs Drake Maverick
I can’t work out what the reality is behind Drake Maverick’s situation. Whatever happens in the tournament, if he doesn’t have a job at the end of this then WWE have made a very big mistake. This was uncomfortable to watch at the start. Maverick appeared mentally defeated on his way to the ring and Tony Nese showed no mercy or sympathy, so the early part of the match was Drake Maverick wailing as he got beaten up and Nese trash-talking.
Eventually the trash-talking wound Maverick up in the right way and he lost it. There were a few worrying moments after that, especially when Nese moved out of the way of the diving elbow, but Drake Maverick kept his tournament alive with a bulldog from the top turnbuckle. He has Kushida next.
He was triumphant in his post-match interview. He’s got his self-belief back.
Keith Lee (C) vs Damian Priest – NXT North American Championship match
This one didn’t take long to move outside the ring. Priest ended up on the wrong side of the barricade and Lee helped him back by throwing him over and onto the ring apron. Moments later, Priest flung Lee headfirst and sent the barricades flying.
It settled down a bit once they got back in the ring, but it was a brutal match. Priest delivered the Broken Arrow, but Lee rolled out of the ring. Damian Priest followed him by diving over the corner onto him, taking out more barricades. They wore each other to the point of exhaustion, kicking out of everything. When playing fair didn’t work, Priest tried to use the nightstick. Keith Lee took it off him and handed it to the ref then finished Priest off with two Spirit Bombs.
Next week is looking really busy. So far the NXT Championship and NXT Women’s Championship are being defended, Johnny Gargano is facing Dominik Dijakovic, Karrion Kross is arriving, and Balor is coming in for a chat.
I still hate the Drake Maverick storyline, it’s unnecessarily cruel on a number of levels, depending what’s actually going on. I can’t deny it’s working though, I really want him to win.