Hi, and welcome to NXT and what is both a beginning and an ending. This week sees the start of April’s NXT, a month where every week we will be seeing some of the matches you would have seen at NXT TakeOver: Tampa but at the same time, this is, at least for the foreseeable, my last NXT review. My beloved colleague, Chris White will be taking over from next week so don’t worry, you’ll still be getting the same high-quality review product every week. I’d say it’s been a pleasure, but we all know I’ve had to sit through far too many Austin Theory matches for that to be true. Anyway, on with the show…

The Undercard

Velveteen Dream def. Bobby Fish // Pinfall (Dream Valley Driver) This was just weirdly flabby. Since returning, Dream seems to be completely off his game and Fish seems a bit rusty at singles competition. Dream’s post-match promo on Adam Cole was OK but was your standard ‘calling out the champ’ stuff.

Dexter Lumis def. Jake Atlas // Submission (Anaconda Vice) SQUASH! Thanks for coming, Jake.

KUSHIDA def. Joaquin Wilde // Submission (Hoverboard Lock float-over armbar) This was merely OK. I never thought a DJZ-KUSHIDA match would be only OK. What happened, KUSH?

Promos & Packages

Malcolm Bivens introduced his two associates, known as Rinku and Saurav. He spoke with passion as he talked about what they’ve got and calls out the Broserweights. I’m still not certain how I‘m going to feel about these two lads that n terms of their presentation seem to be very much Authors of Pain 2.0 (Beloved manager taking on two single-named PC big lads who mostly talk not in English) but am prepared to be proven wrong by Big Bivens.

Killer Kross spooky video time

We got a repeat of that Johnny Gargano – Tommaso Ciampa brawl because life is short and why not waste it? They would also later show a video package for this same match because why not waste it twice?

We got a video package for Ripley-Charlotte at WrestleMania. It was probably good.

The same masked men that kidnapped Raul MEENDDOOOZZAA after his match with KUSHIDA kidnapped Joaquin Wilde. Hmm…

NXT Women’s Championship Number One Contender’s Last Chance Loser’s Qualifier Gauntlet: Shotzi Blackheart vs Deonna Purrazzo vs Xia Li vs Aliyah vs Kayden Carter vs Dakota Kai

This was pretty standard in its booking. It really was only going to be Kai winning as the only legitimate heel contender in the match but using it to highlight Blackheart was a very good plan as it not only raises her company stock but also introduces an alternate finisher as she put Purrazzo and Carter away with a top rope senton. Li and Aliyah away with a seated Cattle Mutilation that looked really pretty. Individually, none of the matches was that special with all of them feeling a little truncated, even the final match had hints of being very good but for the most part, felt too much of a done deal to be too exciting. But you’ve got to give Blackheart credit, she made this work. Kai eventually got the conclusive pinfall off a GTS variation hitting a single Kawada kick.

Winner: Dakota Kai

NXT North American Championship: Damian Priest vs Dominik Dijakovic vs Keith Lee (c)

This match really needed a crowd behind it. What these three beefy lads were doing was good stuff, some of it very good but with only Tom Phillips, Sam Roberts (a man who really makes you realise how good Michael Cole was at playing heel commentator) and some grunting to propel us through, it felt a very empty room indeed. As much as I criticise Austin Theory’s incessant blandness, you have to give him credit for keeping the trash talk going through these sorts of matches, he gives you something to listen to other than the terrifying silence. That said, this did follow a strong formula of keeping all three men near constantly in play, not really diverging into the rote ‘two-in-one-out’ cliché of three-way dances. Also, let’s not forget, it’s three beefy boys slapping meat. That’s never going to have redemptive qualities. I thought the finish as Priest grabbed his truncheon ready to go to town on some ankles got caught in a feast your Eyes, he escaped by using said truncheon only to be pounced out of the ring by Lee, setting up Dijakovic for a Big Bang Catastrophe leaping powerslam. A minor encounter in the never-ending history of Keith and Dom, but fun nonetheless.

Winner: Keith Lee

I was looking forward to this week’s main event and it just about delivered. It didn’t feel like it quite hit TakeOver mid-card quality heights but it was still a fun time. Shotzi Blackheart showcased why there is a future to the NXT women’s division and Malcolm Bivens reminded us why he’s possibly the best promo in the US not named Jake Roberts or Eddie Kingston (I’m not counting David Starr here. He’s basically Irish now). But overall, this was just another passable week. I wanted to go out on a high but going out on a ‘yeah, sure’ seems far more apt. Ta ta for now everyone, keep safe, stay home if you can, I see you when I see you.

Next Week:

NXT Women’s Championship Number One Contender’s Ladder Match: Chelsea Green vs Mia Yim vs Tegan Nox vs Candice LeRae vs Io Shirai vs Dakota Kai

Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa

All images courtesy of WWE.com

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