Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. This show is the follow up from NXT Takeover XXX on Saturday. Read my review of that show here if you haven’t done so already. As usual for my NXT reviews, I will be doing a summary of matches and segments along with the analysis/star ratings for every match. I’ll go with a play by play format for the Tag Team Title match rather than the main event this week.
The show began with highlights from NXT Takeover XXX including Karrion Kross beating Keith Lee to become the new champion. I thought the North American Title Ladder Match was the best as Damian Priest won his first NXT Title.
Let’s Hear from Karrion Kross and Scarlett
They were at Full Sail University as usual with the wrestlers in the crowd behind the plexiglass. The new NXT Champion Karrion Kross entered with lovely girlfriend Scarlett. Kross had a sling on his right shoulder due to the shoulder injury he sustained at Takeover on Sunday.
Kross said he told us that he would become the NXT Champion and on the way there, everyone would suffer. Kross said that he kept good on his word when he ripped the NXT Title off of Keith Lee’s carcass.
Kross said that his right shoulder is separated, he’s in searing pain and he loves it. Kross said they won’t let him defend the NXT Championship in this condition. Kross noted that on the path, there are obstacles, but for him, the obstacles are the path. Kross left the NXT Title in the ring. Kross said that doomsday is still coming and everybody pays a toll. Kross said God help the obstacles in his path: “Tick Tock.” They left.
Analysis: It’s unfortunate that Kross is hurt and he’ll probably miss about six months after surgery on his shoulder. I know his match with Keith Lee wasn’t great, but I wanted to see how he would do as the champion. I wonder if Scarlett will be off television while Kross is or maybe they start utilizing her as a wrestler because she is an experienced wrestler.
The announce table was shown with Vic Joseph welcomed in this week’s guest commentator Wade “Bad News” Barrett, who left WWE as a wrestler in 2016 when his contract expired. He stopped wrestling after that, has done commentary work elsewhere and now he’s back. Wade said it was an honor to be back here in NXT. Beth Phoenix is also doing commentary from her home in North America as well.
Analysis: I’m glad Wade is there at least this week and next week. Mauro Ranallo is off due to a family matter. Those two guys might be the tallest announce team since they are both over 6’5” although I guess it doesn’t matter when they’re sitting down.
NXT Tag Team Championships: Imperium (Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango)
Barrett called Fandango one of his oldest friends in this industry. They both started with WWE about a decade ago or even a bit before that. I’m going with the full play by play for this match.
Breeze and Fandango were aggressive as the match was about to begin and then the bell rang to start the match. Barrett said it was astounding that Fandango has yet to hold a title in WWE. Barthel with an armbar to ground Fandango. Nice dropkick by Fandango on Barthel led to a break.
The heel champions were in control with Barthel with a chop to the throat. Barthel hit a forearm to the back of Fandango leading to Aichner hitting a clothesline for a two count. Fandango with a boot, then he dumped Aichner out of the ring and Breeze got the tag with a superkick on Aichner on the apron. Breeze with two forearms on Barthel, then a jumping knee to the face and Barthel wit ha forearm. Barthel with a suplex across the ring and then Breeze came back with a spinning heel kick for a two count. Barthel with a jumping kick to the head, Barthel kicked Breeze away and when Aichner tagged in, Breeze hit a dropkick. Fandango with a forearm to the face, then up top and a leg drop by Fandango connected, but Barthel pulled his partner out of the ring. Fandango with a somersault dive on Aichner on the floor, then Barthel with a forearm and Aichner with a German Suplex on the floor. Another commercial.
Aichner worked over Fandango with a rolling senton and a moonsault off the ropes as Breeze broke up the pin. Barthel beat up Breeze on the floor. Imperium with a spinebuster combination and then Barthel with a side slam for a two count. Imperium did a spot where they messed up and Barthel hit Aichner. Breeze tagged in, clothesline by Aichner, Breeze hit superkicks on both guys and Fandango got the tag. Fandango up top with a leg drop on both opponents. That was really cool! Fandango pinned Aichner for the pinfall win to become the new Tag Team Champions. It went about 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW NXT Tag Team Champions: Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango)
Analysis: ***1/4 This was good with Breezango getting that big moment by becoming Tag Team Champions for the first time. Fandango was the face in peril for most of it, but then when Breezango made the comeback they looked great. I’m genuinely happy for Breeze and Fandango (former Johnny Curtis) considering they’ve been teaming for about five years. Imperium had a decent run as champions, but the tag team division isn’t that strong in NXT right now.
Breeze and Fandango celebrated with the titles. The announcers were happy for them. Breezango did some dancing by the announce table.
Damian Priest is the new NXT North American Champion that was walking backstage. Priest said that the afterparty is still going. Timothy Thatcher said it was embarrassing how Priest was as a champion and said he should get the first shot at the title. Priest just laughed at him.
The NXT management team of GM William Regal, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Albert (aka Matt Bloom the WWE PC head coach) were shown talking in an office about what to do with the NXT Title situation.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jake Atlas
This is Ciampa’s return after about two months off. Ciampa wore an evil looking mask on his way to the ring. Ciampa took control with a headbutt along with repeated stomps to the head. Ciampa with a draping Willow’s Bell DDT for the pinfall win after around one minute. Willow is his daughter’s name.
Winner by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa
Analysis: 1/2* A dominant showing for Ciampa to show that he’s back on track. I like Atlas’ potential a lot, but this kind of booking isn’t going to help him.
After the match, Ciampa continued the attack by whipping Atlas into the barricade and steel steps. Referees showed up to break it up, but Ciampa followed up with a running boot to the face. Ciampa with a catapult that sent Atlas into the bottom of the ring apron. Referee Drake Wuertz was asking what he was thinking and said Atlas had nothing to do with him. A stretcher was brought out for Atlas. When Atlas was on the stretcher, Ciampa gave him a DDT onto the bottom of the ramp and that was followed by a sadistic smile from Ciampa, who finally left.
Analysis: It looks like Ciampa is back to his heel ways. I’m not sure if it will lead to Atlas coming back to go after Ciampa or if it’s just a case of using Atlas to take a beating. Normally in NXT it means a guy coming back for revenge, so hopefully that’s the case for Atlas.
Candice LeRae talked about how she was friends with Tegan Nox while adding that they were close friends, but Tegan doesn’t get her anymore. Candice said she’s on the “right path” now and if she doesn’t want to do it then stay out of Candice’s way.
Analysis: It’s setting up a feud between two former friends. Candice’s “right path” is being a heel while Nox is a traditional face.
Bronson Reed did an interview saying he thinks he should get a shot at the NXT North American Title. Austin Theory went up to Reed saying that he got to be at WrestleMania this year at 22 years of age, he said if Reed keeps chasing the stars then maybe at 55 he’ll be a champion. Reed hit him in the face and left.
Analysis: Theory was moved from Raw back to NXT. There were apparently allegations about him, but I guess WWE felt like they could keep using him. Theory’s got a bright future as long as he can focus on his career.
Mia Yim entered for a match. Robert Stone showed up for a promo and Shotzi Blackheart appeared in her tank as she ran over Stone for the third time. That makes me laugh every time.
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Mia Yim
They were both babyface wrestlers. Blackheart got some offense early on including a double leg drop and a headscissors. Yim managed to get a nearfall using her legs for a pin attempt. They touched knuckles to show they were friends as Yim got in a punch to the jaw. Yim tied up Blackheart in a surfboard submission with Barrett saying Shotzi was a weirdo and he didn’t like facing the weirdos. Blackheart made a comeback with a bulldog, knee strike, a couple of kicks and a belly to back suplex got two. Yim with a German Suplex, but then she missed an attack off the ropes. Blackheart went up with the senton splash for the pinfall win after about five minutes. The announcers put it over as a big win.
Winner by pinfall: Shotzi Blackheart
Analysis: ** This was an entertaining match with each woman getting plenty of offense. There’s really not a storyline for either woman right now as babyfaces, but I think Shotzi is a face that they can push in the near future. Shotzi is likable, she’s got a unique look and is easy to root for.
William Regal exited his office and he said he’s going to announce the decision about the NXT Title.
The team of Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez were interviewed with Kai saying that they will win their tag team match tonight. Gonzalez said that Rhea Ripley messed up getting in her face.
William Regal NXT Championship Announcement
The NXT General Manager William Regal was in the ring with the NXT Title. Regal said that after Karrion Kross suffered a shoulder injury during the match, he became NXT Champion, but the injury was too severe and he had to relinquish the title. Regal wished Kross best wishes on his long recovery.
Regal said that after conferring with the NXT Advisory Board, they have come up with a conclusion on what to do next. Next week on Tuesday NXT, four of the greatest NXT superstars that are former NXT Champions can claim they are the greatest in NXT will compete in 4-way match to determine the next champion. Regal said that any of them can be the face of NXT whether champion or not.
The four men in the NXT Championship Fatal 4-Way match are Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Finn Balor and Adam Cole. Regal went over their history during his promo.
Next week on NXT Super Tuesday, one of these men will walk out as NXT Champion. It will be a 4-Way 60-Minute Ironman Match, so it’s the first 4-Way 60-Minute Ironman Match. That was the end.
Analysis: That’s pretty awesome. I’m excited about it and I wish I got NXT live in Canada so I could watch it live when it airs. Anyway, my prediction is for Finn Balor to win because I think when they moved him to NXT, it felt like a way to restart his career a bit and I think having him win the NXT Title again would be pretty cool. With that said, you can make a case for any of the other three guys. Ciampa never lost the NXT Title when he had it, so now that he’s healthy, it would make sense for him to win. It should be an incredible match for 60 minutes with four of the best wrestlers in NXT history. I love the idea.
The announcers talked about it with Barrett saying he was coming back next week, which was expected because they usually tape two episodes back to back.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
Escobar told his buddies Wilde and Mendoza to go to the back before the match began. Scott with an arm drag that sent Escobar out of the ring, so they went to break there.
Scott did a nice job of doing some unique moves including a spinning suplex and then a backslide pin for a two count. Scott did an arm takedown into an armbar, then Escobar to the apron and he tossed Scott into the barricade. Escobar was in control for the next few minutes and whenever Scott tried to get going, Escobar stopped him including a Powerbomb off the ropes when Scott was trying for a hurricanrana. That was a bit risky, but they made it work.
Escobar remained in control with a running knee to the face along with a spit to the face. Scott made the big comeback with a lot of punches followed by an elbow to the back and a boot to the face. Scott hit an impressive twisting attack onto a standing Escobar on the floor. There was an awesome nearfall as Scott hit a jumping flatliner for a two count. That led to Juaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza showing up for the distraction that led to Escobar hitting a kick to the head. Breezango showed up to take out Wilde and Mendoza. Scott got more nearfalls following a rising knee to the head along with a bridging German Suplex. Scott with a running kick to the head that got another nearfall. Scott with another nearfall after a sitout slam off the shoulders. Escobar went to the floor, he put one of his old masks, then he did a headbutt and Scott was knocked out by it, so the idea as that Escobar had some weapon in the mask. The match went 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar
Analysis: ***1/2 This was awesome. A great match by Escobar as usual. I’m also glad that Scott was featured in a longer match like this and I hope one day he gets the title, but I’m glad that Escobar retained. It was a cheap win for Escobar, which makes us feel sympathetic towards Scott, who can hopefully get the Cruiserweight Title soon. I loved the spot with Wilde/Mendoza trying to cheat, but Breezango was there to make the save. Scott nearly won several times in the match and the crowd was really getting into this. Escobar remains one of my favorites in all of WWE due to his consistency in every match and the way he carries himself as a performer.
Johnny Gargano did a promo about his NXT Title match opportunity next week. Gargano said he was going to fix NXT, rule NXT and build his kingdom. Gargano said he’ll remind everyone just who the hell he is.
Analysis: It’s certainly possible that Johnny wins the NXT Title again. I think it would be a cool story if he and wife Candice LeRae were champions at the same time. I’m still going to pick Finn Balor, but it’s wide open.
After a break, Finn Balor was shown backstage doing a promo. Balor said that “The Prince rises to the occasion.” Balor said that the yare the four cornerstones of NXT and he’ll enjoy every second of that one hour – he’s not the cornerstone, he’s the centerpiece. Balor said that everybody will get what they want: Finn Balor NXT Champion.
Kyle O’Reilly (w/Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish) vs. Drake Maverick
This was set up when Undisputed Era attacked Maverick during a match two weeks ago. Drake knocked Kyle out of the ring, then Drake went up top with a somersault dive onto Strong and Fish on the floor. Kyle took over with forearm strikes in the ring along with a hard kick to the back of the head. After a hard kick by Kyle, Drake came back with a kick of his own. Drake hit a senton splash onto the back, but then Kyle came back with a knee to the ribs. Kyle with a series of strikes to the head along with a kick to the left knee. Drake with an enziguri kick, but then Kyle countered a move and turned it into a heel hook on the mat as he pulled on the leg. Maverick tapped to give O’Reilly the submission win after about four minutes.
Winner by submission: Kyle O’Reilly
Analysis: **1/4 It was good for the time given with Kyle getting the singles win. I wonder if NXT is going to push Kyle as more of a singles wrestler in the future because he’s certainly got the tools to succeed as a cruiserweight in NXT. Maverick is such an exciting underdog babyface that’s easy to root for. This was a fun match.
After the match, Strong and Fish attacked and O’Reilly wasn’t sure about it. Killian Dain ran out for the save as he beat up Undisputed Era including a chair to the back of Strong to knock him out of the ring. Dain looked at Maverick, who said thank you and Dain decked him with a clothesline.
Analysis: I thought that maybe Undisputed Era was going to be a babyface group, but that’s not happening yet. Dain embracing Maverick could lead to them being a unique team although that attack by Dain suggests it’s not happening yet.
Rhea Ripley was interviewed before the main event tag team match. Ripley talked trash to Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez while daring Raquel to make her get out of her face.
Adam Cole did a promo saying the Mount Rushmore of NXT has a 4-Way 60-Minute Ironman Match next week with him, Gargano, Ciampa and Balor. Cole said that this match is right up his alley and he’s going to win that NXT Title and that’s undisputed.
Next week on NXT: Fatal 4-Way 60-Minute Ironman Match for the Vacant NXT Title: Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Adam Cole.
They didn’t advertise anything else, which is fine because that match is going to take up half the show. Later in the show they announced a Street Fight tag team match with Escobar, Wilde and Mendoza facing Breeze, Fandango and Scott.
Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley vs. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez
Shirai was the NXT Women’s Champion and Ripley whipped Kai into the corner because she wanted Gonzalez. Ripley with a headbutt, Gonzalez shoved her and Shirai hit a headscissors to knock Gonzalez out of the ring. They went to a break.
Shirai hit a double stomp on Kai, Ripley got the tag and was on fire with rising knees, kicks and the tall woman Gonzalez managed to send Ripley out of the ring. The heels worked over Ripley a bit with Kai getting a couple of nearfalls. Ripley managed to stun Gonzalez with a kick to the head. Shirai tagged in with shoulder tackles along with a lifting slam. Shirai whipped Kai’s foot into Gonzalez. Shirai with the 619 kick on Kai and a missile dropkick got two. Kai continued with a knee and a German Suplex for two with Gonzalez breaking up the pin. Gonzalez tagged in with a powerslam on Shirai. There was a referee distraction that had him not see Ripley make the tag and then Mercedes Martinez tripped up Ripley to send her into the steel steps. Gonzalez hit a spinning slam for a two count on Shirai. Ripley saved Shirai by pushing her out of the way, then Ripley tagged in and she was dazed after the stairs bump. Gonzalez with a boot to the face and a Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez
Analysis: **3/4 It was good with the heels getting a big win, but nothing that special about it. Kai and Gonzalez worked well together. Ripley is feuding with Gonzalez now and I think when watching Gonzalez you can tell she’s pretty green in some ways in terms of the way she moves. They obviously like Gonzalez due to her height. Shirai being on the losing end didn’t hurt her because it was only a loss because Ripley was attacked by Martinez before Ripley got the tag.
The announcers put over Gonzalez beating Ripley with power moves. That’s what you would expect them to do. After some replays, the camera focused on Gonzalez and Kai as the winners.
Analysis: It seems like they are building to a Gonzalez vs. Ripley match, but I assume that will be after Ripley beats Martinez. I’m not sure who Shirai’s next title challenger will be. Maybe Candice LeRae or Dakota Kai again.
Three Stars of the Show
- Santos Escobar
- Isaiah Scott/Imperium
I give this show a 7.25 out of 10.
It was a pretty good edition of NXT. The injury to Kross as NXT Champion set up a huge match next week and I’m really looking forward to that. The Breezango title win was a feel good moment that would have been better if it was the main event, but I guess they didn’t do that because they were used in the Escobar/Scott match too. I liked the Escobar/Scott match the most. The women’s main event tag was just average stuff to put over Gonzalez/Kai as a duo.
I enjoyed Wade Barrett on commentary. He did a great job and I’m glad he’ll be back for at least next week (already taped) as well.
Reminder: Next week’s NXT broadcast will be on Tuesday night due to USA Network showing the NHL Playoffs on Wednesday. The big main event is a 4-Way 60-Minute Ironman Match with Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor. That’s going to be awesome.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.