With NXT Takeover: In Your House just two weeks away, he have a small card building, but still a lot to go! Tonight we have the deciding match for Group A of the Interim Cruiserweight Tournament, as well as a Cage Match between Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher! Let’s see how this week wen’t down.
Drake Maverick vs. Jake Atlas vs. KUSHIDA
Drake came into this match as the super-underdog, not only because technically he has been released, but he also had a very damaged arm after his match with KUSHIDA last week. While he was the underdog, he was truly the story of this tournament. His epic promo after being released was one thing, but what really stood out for me was his in-ring action! We haven’t seen a lot from in under the WWE blanket, but he showed the fans, WWE, and potential employers that he still is a standout between the ropes.
The ending of this match was extremely unique. KUSHIDA, who I thought would have this group in the bag before it started, had Jake Atlas in the Armbar. While in the Armbar, Drake Maverick threw his arm over Atlas, who had his shoulder’s down while in those hold. Maverick got the 3-count for the victory, and a date with El Hijo Del Fantasma. It was a cool ending, certainly unique, but I question why the referee didn’t say KUSHIDA also had him pinned, since he had his legs draped over Atlas too. Oh well, the Drake Maverick story continues!
The Gargano’s made their way down to the ring to a chorus of boos from the NXT crew. Johnny said that the “Johnny Gargano Way” isn’t about getting rid of people, and he was going to show it. Tonight, he is giving the opportunity to share the ring with him. He let us know that he will be giving the opportunity to elevate their name by wrestling the Face of NXT!
Johnny Gargano vs. Adrian Alanis
Gargano made VERY quick work of Alanis with the Gargano Escape. We at least got the run-down of Alanis’ career by Beth Phoenix, so Johnny didn’t lie about elevating his career!
Keith Lee and Mia Yim are shown o the big screen, enjoying dinner while making fun of the Gargano’s. The Mia Yim portion felt uncomfortable, but the Keith Lee part was funny! They even got delivery pizza from Gargano’s Pizza, delivered by Tegan Nox herself! This one is an interesting feud for sure, I just want Gargano and Lee to happen real soon, and not a gimmicky Mixed Tag.
Drake Maverick is backstage being asked about the questionable finish. He said that he will make it right if he needs to, it’s the fair thing to do. KUSHIDA makes his way to the back and let’s Maverick know that the title shot is his, but that Maverick better win. Drake promised KUSHIDA the first shot at the title after he wins.
Imperium was backstage, letting us know that nobody can take the NXT Tag Team championships off of them. They said that Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch disgraced them, and their countries last week, and they will pay for it.
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Raquel Gonzalez
I’m not going to lie, but this was the best that Shotzi Blackheart has looked since joining the NXT roster. This is the Shotzi that was promised by friends. I dare say that this was also the best Gonzalez has looked. She actually looked like a giant, and truly reminded me of Kevin Nash (with Dakota being Shawn Michaels, of course.).
In the middle of the match, Dakota Kai stole Blackheart’s tank. This sparked Tegan Nox to get herself involved and neutralize Kai. Blackheart kept momentum, and it looked like she was going to get the win. Blackheart launched herself out of the ring and took out Kai and Gonzalez. Tegan tried to help Blackheart out, but Candice LeRae made her way to take out Nox after seeing her pizza delivery earlier. This allowed Dakota Kai to help Gonzalez get the victory. Overall a fun match, despite the super schmoz at the end of the match.
Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai vs. Charlotte Flair & Chelsea Green
Chelsea Green getting the big rub being involved in this match as Charlotte’s mystery partner! Unfortunately for Chelsea, Charlotte let her take quite the beating from both of her opponents at the start of the match. Charlotte was playing the role of general, telling Green what to do throughout the opening portion of the match.
After the first commercial, this match turned from what was initially a handicap match to a pretty great tag-team match. Shirai and Ripley worked well together to take out Chelsea Green, and and eventually get their hands on Charlotte.
All of the teamwork took a hit in the last act of the match. Io hit the 619, and went to take out Charlotte, but Chelsea Green pushed Flair out of the way and into Ripley’s corner for the save. Io took out Green, and went to hit flair, but instead took out Ripley. Charlotte rolled her up (with the aid of her feet on the second rope) to get the victory for her team.
Candice and Johnny were backstage and very upset for the mockery that Keith Lee and Mia Yim put on! Johnny said he will put an end to it by taking the North American Championship off of Lee at Takeover. Candice said she will take on Mia Yim next week, and also let Tegan Nox she should be “…Ashamed of herself.”
Adam Cole is upset with the issues with the Velveteen Dream, and has asked to talk to William Regal to negotiate opportunities. Cole demands that the Undisputed Era deserve a fair opportunity at the NXT Tag Team Championship. Regal fires back and lets Cole know that the Velveteen Dream will be getting another shot at Adam Cole’s NXT Championship at Takeover: In Your House. Cole lets us know that the stipulation of the match is that if Velveteen Dream does not win, he will not get another NXT Championship match while he is the Champion. Regal agrees, and says he will find a place that both stars can have the spotlight.
Leon Ruff vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Leon Ruff is making his first appearance since getting trucked by Karrion Kross. It was Ciampa’s turn in this night. Scarlett made her way to the ramp to watch, and potentially distract Ciampa. While Ruff did a few fun flips and dives, this one was all Ciampa. Ciampa hit the Fairytale Ending on Ruff, while not taking his eyes off of Scarlett.
After the match, Karrion Kross appeared on the screen. Kross lets Ciampa know that what Ciampa said about Takeover was right, he is special. He also said that on June 7th, he will make Ciampa feel something that he has never felt before.
Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher
This special cage for this match was pretty cool, although i think it would have been better if the NXT “fans” were on the scaffolding cheering down on them, almost like a club-style street fight.
Just as you would imagine with these two, it felt more like an MMA fight than a WWE match. Matt Riddle even bounced off the cage and kicked Thatcher in the face, knocking out two of his teeth in the process! The two of these fighters brawled it out, locking each other in hold after hold, but eventually climbed up to the scaffolding above the ring.
Matt Riddle hit a ripcord knee on Thatcher, knocking him off the scaffolding and into the ring. Riddle, channeling referee Kurt Angle, hit a Floating Bro from the top of of the cage, and looked like he might have the advantage. Thatcher, however, recovered quickly and threw Riddle into the cage multiple times. Thatcher then locked in a sleeper, and put Matt Riddle to sleep.
I have got to say, we always ask for new and unique stuff, this match certainly gave it. It had that old-school UFC or Lion’s Den feel to it. In addition to that, the NXT crew pulled an audible greatly, and it worked! I think we all know that Riddle and Thatcher weren’t their original plan, and i don’t think that this match was set for Dunne and Riddle. They took the story and combatants given to them and rolled with it, and got an A+, in my eyes at least! However, that’s all for this week, next week is the go home show before Takeover: In Your House. Make sure you follow me on Twitter @TJoftheJK, and we’ll see you next week!