On this episode of NXT we will see Kushida take on SmackDown Live’s Apollo Crews who is returning home to Full Sail for this special one-off match. Also this week NXT Champion Adam Cole will defend his title against a yet to be named challenger.
We kick this week’s show off though with Matt Riddle. The Original Bro is fresh off a win over Drew Gulak at the Evolve 10th anniversary show this past weekend. I implore you to go out of your way to watch that match as soon as you can, I’d go as high as ****3/4 and I think the best compliment I can give it is that it would not look at all out of place had it happened at an NXT TakeOver!
Matt Riddle defeated Arturo Ruas
Riddle is really popular isn’t he? You may not know the name of his opponent but he was formerly known as Adrian Jaoude until he became one of many NXT non-TV regulars to undergo a name change. These two both have backgrounds in MMA so this from a technical standpoint was really fun to watch. They traded submissions, aggressive strikes and counter moves in what was as close to a worked version of an MMA fight that you’re going to see. Riddle got the better of it for the most part but Ruas got his stuff in also, and it seemed to be a fair fight until Riddle hit a huge knee to Ruas’ face and then rained down with the ground and pound strikes as Ruas lay helpless as the referee stopped the match and gave Riddle the win. I said this looked like a ‘worked’ MMA fight and it ended with a finish very similar to those you see in the UFC or Bellator most weekends.
As Riddle celebrated his win he was jumped from behind by a large man in a hoodie. He was stomped on before the man revealed himself as KILLIAN DAIN! The returning Beast of Belfast his a couple of standing senton’s before throwing Riddle into the corner ringpost. Dain knocked Riddle down again with a running clothesline on the outside before he continued his assault. Commentary questioned why Dain was targeting Riddle.
(away from NXT for a moment: I’ve just noticed the man who some of you may have seen was sat front row at the AEW show this past weekend, and was giving Kip Sabian so much stick that Kip actually kissed the guy to shut him up, is sat front row here at this part of the NXT Tapings. Fingers crossed Izzy (her off of being Bayley’s biggest fan) who is sat near him can shut him up if he misbehaves here. The funny thing is he’s ferociously booing Killian Dain at the moment and there isn’t enough money in the world that I’d pay to have Dain teach him a lesson. I was at a show once when a guy was getting a bit too aggressive towards, of all people, BULLY (BUBBA) RAY (DUDLEY) and if he’d have got knocked out for his troubles it would have been fully deserved, so if you go to a show anytime soon please be nice to the wrestlers and if you’re gonna boo do it within reason for god sake. ANYWAY back to NXT!)
Dain’s attack on Riddle led them to the top of the entrance ramp, where the former Sanity member pretty much did a running Senton that sent them both through the stage floor! Dain then crawled out from the heap like a monster rising from a grave and looked down on the chaos he had created. This is the first time since he came to NXT we’ve seen Riddle be properly pulverized by one guy like this (yes I know Roderick Strong and the Undisputed Era did a few months back, but that all happened off camera). I don’t think they could have picked a better way for Dain to make an impact upon his return, destroy a top star who is beloved by the fans. Job done. This was tremendous and I already cannot wait to see this match! I had Riddle penciled in to be the next NXT Championship challenger, but then Dain has just returned so I don’t know who you’d have go over. As always in Triple H and NXT I trust so lets see and just enjoy it when it happens.
We had Monday Night Raw’s Street Profits appear backstage sat on a sofa whilst wearing their NXT Tag titles. The introduced a very special edition of ‘Street Talk’. They addressed how Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish keep disrespecting them and they said they are the ‘dudes’ around here, and they asked if they weren’t serious then why couldn’t Fish and O’Reilly beat them in the ladder match at TakeOver or even beat them at all? Dawkins and Ford were both more subdued and indeed serious than usual. Dawkins finished by saying they are the NXT Tag Team Champions and THAT… is Undisputed. Ford looked on with a superb ‘oh no he didn’t’ face as Dawkins turned to him. These two are absolute megastars.
Nigel McGuinness introduced footage that was shot this past weekend on a ‘fan’s cellphone’ apparently… ok then… of Mia Yim attacking Marina Shafir in the parking lot at an NXT Live event. Nigel said Yim knows it will take more than just fighting Shayna Baszler if she wants her shot at the NXT Women’s Championship. The funny thing is that irl Yim and Baszler as well as Jessamyn Duke all live together and regularly appear on one another’s social media. So you’d assume their chemistry will work really well and lead to plenty of good stuff going forward. Fingers crossed.
NXT Breakout Tournament: Round 1 – Bronson Reed defeated Dexter Lumis
Dexter Lumis was billed as ‘from an undisclosed location’, had white jeans on with black fighting gloves, sleeve tattoos on both arms, a dark mustache and blonde hair. He was focused and almost emotionless in his expression. Commentary didn’t say a word during his entire entrance until Mauro said ‘can I just say this guy gives me the creeps’ before Nigel added ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’. This certainly was different but came across as a character you could do a lot with and as a gimmick people could get really in to, which I don’t know if a lot of the other superstars in this tournament have had, that unforgettable nature to them. He had no inset video promo too which kept kayfabe really well and only added to the mystery of the character. I’m not sure Full Sail knew what to make of Lumis either. His opponent is Bronson Reed (fka Jonah Rock) who was one of the most sough after Indie stars before signing with WWE. He’s from Australia and complained that nobody talks about ‘Australian strong style’ and that he’d but everyone in NXT on notice. This is going to be something. Lumis was indeed very different in the match as he seemingly wouldn’t be hurt for too long by any of Reed’s powerful offence. Lumis had amazing agility too as at one point when Reed was on the outside it was Lumis who came flying over the ropes with a somersault and although Reed moved out the way Lumis still was able to land on his feet. Lumis took a large portion of the match which if you’ve watched these tournament matches so far kind of gives the result away… Lumis was cranking away at Reed’s neck and face until he powered out and began his fightback. Reed got as nearfall from a running splash and a standing senton, and Lumis got a pin attempt of his own after a belly to back suplex (which he then did a kick up after to get back to his feet) and a leg drop for a 2 count. Lumis went to the top rope but Reed moved out the way when Lumis came flying back down missing the senton off the top. Reed dropped his opponent to the mat again before pulling the straps down from his vest ala Kurt Angle which got the crowd really excited. I understood why after what Reed did next as he went to the top rope and hit Lumis with a big splash off the top rope (which for a guy with his size was pretty incredible to witness) and this got him the win. This was very different to previous tournament matches style wise from both guys, but fun nonetheless. Reed advances to the semi finals.
Tyler Breeze was shown earlier today having his photo took. Cathy Kelly asked him about how he was after his loss to Roderick Strong two weeks ago. Breeze said he’s learning now everyone in NXT has their friends and someone to watch their back, he says he needs to adapt before The Forgotten Sons entered the picture. They said this was the new NXT and said this is where men are. Breeze asked one of them if they were once Buddy Murphy which given Wesley Black was Murphy’s former tag team partner was really funny. Jaxson Ryker took exception to this, and Blake put over Ryker as something Breeze hasn’t seen before. Breeze said he’s seen everything. I’ll let you figure where this one is heading… feel free to send me your suggestions (unless like me you’ve read the spoilers).
They recapped Io Shirai’s heel promo from last week. I heard from someone that when this was filmed they actually booed Io for EIGHT MINUTES STRAIGHT before she could speak. What’s great about the NXT crowd is naturally they love everyone because everyone is really good (well… with a couple of exceptions) but when they’re meant to boo as with Ciampa in the past my oh MY do they let the bad guy know they don’t like them. Next week Shirai will face Kacy Cantanzaro and I can’t explain how warm that makes my heart.
Kushida defeated Apollo Crews
As always when someone returns to NXT, no matter how much they’re treated as a mid to lower part of the card guy on main roster, Apollo got a superstar reaction when he came out, which really made me smile. As you can imagine a match between the technically able Kushida and the freakishly athletic powerhouse Crews was a great mix of styles. They shook hands just after the bell before the exchange of grappling began. This was one of those matches that you’d show a non-wrestling fan to try and get them into it. Both guys looked great utilizing their unique athletic move-sets. After Kushida tried to use his more technical moves but was stopped in his tracks by a kick up gutbuster by Crews which looked great, Crews showed his strength with a delayed vertical suplex ala Bobby Lashley 2018 for a 2 count. A corner splash and an overhead belly to belly got another nearfall for Crews, Kushida got back into it with a kick as Crews tried to springboard off the top rope. Kushida did the handspring back elbow before a hip toss – cartwheel – baseball dropkick combo before a huge ddt got Kushida a nearfall of his own. Crews later hit a big boot for a nearfall before a series of suplexes and a standing shooting star press which from a guy as chiseled as Crews is incredible.The “both these guys” chant that came from the NXT crowd has never felt more appropriate. Crews went for a Military Press slam but his left arm (which Kushida had kicked away at during the match to set up for his own submission) gave way, this paved an opening for Kushida to hit a reverse sto to Crews into the turnbuckle, he followed this up with a springboard reverse hurricinrana but Crews rolled through and got a close nearfall. Kushida hit an overhead kick, Crews got a leaping Enziguri and both guys fell down. Crews went to the top rope but Kushida met him there and striked away, both men fought until Kushida fell down only to fly back up and kick Crews with his heels before both men came crashing off the top rope, but did so in a way that ended with Kushida having the armbar locked in on Crews as they hit the ring mat (it was some effort to hit that spot and although they visibly took their time to make sure they got it right they just about managed it). Crews powered out until Kushida rolled him over and got the Sakuraba Lock in for the win. THIS WAS AWESOME! One of the better NXT TV singles matches I’ve seen for some time, certainly the best one that wasn’t in the main event spot. Both men and the crowd showed respect to one another after.
Keith Lee was interviewed and essentially said what he’s been saying for a little while now, that he’s not happy with his first year in NXT and wants to have even more. He said he’s not been given opportunities he was promised and has been overlooked. He called out Damian Priest by name too. He said he should be the one to change the narrative around here. The match was shown by a graphic after as happening next week.
Adam Cole defends the NXT Championship?…
The NXT Champion came out for what was supposed to be his first official title defense. Cole had the mic and explained about how he’d been across the globe on the Bay Bay championship tour, and he’d shown all the morons in the NXT universe what a true champion is. And that while he’d been gone his boys had been taking care of business. He said he was ready to take on all comers and was ready to put his NXT championship on the line tonight, and he was going to do it against this man. Cole pointed to the titantron before a video played showing Johnny Gargano addressing trainees in his wrestling school he went back to when he was NXT Champion. The video showed Gargano letting Twon (yes the SAME GUY who told Cole when he went to the school that he believed he could be NXT Champion and Cole said he had no chance) hold the title belt. Twon spoke about how magical it was Gargano, from Cleveland, bought the title back to them. Cole was in the ring back in the arena smiling and clapping, he then excitedly said ‘TWON TUCKER, COME ON DOWN’! And then indeed the man that is TWON came out! THE CROWD EVEN CHANTED FOR HIM!!! Twon came out looking less than impressed, as Cole said it was good to see him again and that he hoped he realized he was giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. He said there was no Undisputed Era out here and that it was just you and me. Twon (who in the politest way possible does not look like the next NXT Champion) said back ‘so it’s just you and me? just you and me?that’s too bad, because I din’t come alone’. The crowd gasped before Johnny Gargano’s music hit and the former champion came out. He ran to the ring and brawled with Cole in his first appearance at Full Sail since he lost his title to Cole. Gargano superkicked Cole twice and ran him into the crowd. The brawl took them well into the seating area as Gargano got in strike after strike to pump up the crowd. Mauro said Johnny Wrestling was Johnny PISSED OFF which was really funny. Gargano sent Cole crashing through a barricade as he was well in charge of the brawl as the refs all came out to pull him away. Cole raised his title so Gargano flew off the ramp to take Cole down again, and despite the best attempts of the officials to break it all up the two made it back in to the ring. Cole went for his Last Shot knee strike but Gargano superkicked him twice and then locked Cole in the Gargano Escape. Cole tapped frantically as the 4 officials tried to pull Gargano off. The show closed with Gargano eventually walking away and holding up three fingers and saying one more time, indicating a trilogy match between the two was around the corner. This whole closing segment of the show was tremendous and the role played by Twon was superb. A GREAT way to end a fun show.
It had since been announced via a WWE.com interview with NXT General Manager William Regal that the match is indeed ON for NXT TakeOver: Toronto. It will once again be a 2 out of 2 falls match as it was in their first match. BUT this time Gargano will pick the stipulation for one fall, Cole for the other and Regal himself for the final fall should it be needed.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT! NOW I’M EXCITED!