NXT this week was packed with promos, matches, and a few huge surprises. We saw the in-ring debut of one of the finest grapplers in professional wrestling, a brutal assault on a former NXT Champion, and the first match of the Cruiserweight tournament, but up first was an opportunity for some payback for The Prince. After a brief video package recapping the women’s ladder match and Ciampa and Gargano’s war from last week, we’re given our first match of the night.

Finn Balor vs Fabian Aichner w/ Marcel Barthel

This was an opportunity for Finn Balor to take out another member of Imperium. He’d already had a match with Alexander Wolfe on NXT UK, and the next roadblock in his way to a match with WALTER was Fabian Aichner. Accompanied to the ring by Marcel Barthel, Aichner meant business, and he had some decent opportunities. Since Balor returned to NXT, we’ve seen a much different side to him. He’s much more aggressive and calculated, and from the start, he showed his new approach against Aichner.

Aichner hit a backbreaker that looked painful, then delivered a few Irish whips to Balor, clearly trying to work his lower back. The beginning of the match saw a back and forth between the two, but Balor spent the second half trying to avoid interference from Barthel. Outside the ring, after Aichner missed a running knee on Balor as he leaned on the steel steps, Barthel tried to get involved, however, Balor hit him with a sling blade. Barthel got up, but he was dropkicked through the ringside barriers in devastating fashion.

Without the interference, Balor landed the Coup de Grace after Aichner missed a moonsault. Balor then delivered 1916 for the three-count. It was a solid match, but it wouldn’t be the last we saw of The Prince.

Winner: Finn Balor Rating: 6.5/10

Charlotte’s Message To The Locker Room

Having Charlotte Flair in NXT is a great move by creative. She’s done all she can on the main roster (as she outlined in her promo), and now there’s a wealth of talent for her to prove herself that she is the best woman in the entirety of WWE. She spent much of her promo saying how she’s defeated the best in the business – past, present, and future. She made every member of the Four Horsewomen tap out, she defeated former Women’s Champion Trish Stratus, and retired the DIva’s Championship after defeated Paige – the best in the business at that time.

Flair then went on to say she has her eyes on Mia Yim, and she will be the first Superstar The Queen defends her NXT Women’s Championship against. After that, William Regal can put anyone in front of her. Ripley, Io Shirai, Candice LeRae – it doesn’t matter. She’ll knock them all down and cement her legacy.

Aliyah vs Xia Li

Xia Li recently had a chance to enter last week’s ladder match, but Aliyah was the one that robbed her of that. This was all about revenge for Li, and she didn’t disappoint. It was over pretty quickly, thanks to Xia Li’s quick feet and toughness as she delivered a spinning knee kick to the downed Aliyah, followed by a three count. It wrapped up the mini-feud the two Superstars had, and with Charlotte Flair looking for competitors to take her on, could Xia Li be on her radar?

Winner: Xia Li Rating: 4/10

Even The Bro Doesn’t Know

The main event saw Matt Riddle team up with a mystery opponent, and even Riddle didn’t know who it was until the match actually happened. On Wednesday on The Bump, NXT General Manager William Regal decided not to strip Riddle and Dunne of the NXT Tag Team titles, as Dunne is locked down in the UK, but Riddle was allowed to choose a partner for the night. Matt was questioning someone on the other line of the phone call – probably Pete Dunne – asking who his partner was, but nothing was given away. The surprise was definitely worth the wait, as we saw the debut of someone both Riddle and Dunne knew very well before joining NXT.

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Akira Tozawa

Due to Jordan Devlin being stuck in Ireland due to the current circumstances of the pandemic, William Regal announced on The Bump that there would be a tournament to decide who the interim Cruiserweight Champion would be. In a similar fashion to the NJPW’s G1 Tournament, two groups consisting of four Superstars who would face everyone in their group, then the winners with the most victories would face each other to decide the champion. In Group A, we have Kushida, Drake Maverick, Tony Nese, and Jake Atlas, and in Group B we have Akira Tozawa, Isaiah “Swerve Scott, Jack Gallacher, and NXT’s newest signing, El Hijo del Fantasma.

Kicking off Group B’s set of matches was Isaiah “Swerve” Scott against Akira Tozawa, and they had a great match, despite an awful looking hurricanrana halfway. As you can imagine, there was a lot of quickness, both countering each other with great technicality. Akira put his body on the line as he hit a senton on Swerve against the barricades outside the ring. There was a great segment where Akira caught Swerve in an octopus, a modified dragon sleeper, followed by a guillotine, but Swerve managed to break out and hit Tozawa with a brainbuster.

Swerve nearly got the victory after hitting a German suplex followed by a House Call, but Tozawa kicked out at two. After suplexing Swerve into the turnbuckle, Tozawa hit an almighty senton off the top rope and grabbed the first victory in the Cruiserweight tournament.

Winner: Akira Tozawa Rating: 6/10

The Son Of The Phantom

Following on from the match, we saw a video package featuring El Hijo del Fantasma. He won multiple championships in AAA and CMLL, and now the son of Lucha legend El Fantasma, The Son of the Phantom couldn’t think of a better way to make his debut: in the Cruiserweight tournament. This is such a smart acquisition by NXT, as Fantasma is a great in-ring competitor, and his future matches have the potential to be something special.

Tegan Nox vs Raquel Gonzalez w/ Dakota Kai

We saw a short video highlighting the events leading up to this match. Gonzalez controlled the match early, dropping Nox with a backbreaker, a faceplant into the canvas, and an Irish whip into the turnbuckle to name a few. Nox tried to fight back, but Gonzalez dominated her. Whilst Nox was lying on the turnbuckle, Kai landed a kick as the referee was distracted.

Shotzi Blackheart emerged from the back to help her friend, attacking Kai outside the ring. When Gonzalez grabbed Shotzi and pulled her up to the apron, Nox rolled her up from behind to get the win. It was a dull match, but Shotzi Blackheart coming to the ring set up a tag match for next week, so hopefully, it’s much better than this was.

Winner: Tegan Nox Rating: 4/10

Bask In The Journey

Keith Lee had a rough ride to the NXT North American Championship. At aged 20, he was kicked out of his house after travelling to perform in a wrestling show with Mick Foley, but after thirteen years of hard work, he arrived in NXT. This was a great video package highlighting all the work Lee has put into becoming a champion within NXT, but also 2019’s Rising Star. Big things are coming for Keith Lee, and as he said himself, this is only the beginning.

Dexter Lumis vs Tehuti Miles

I’m a huge fan of Dexter Lumis. There’s something so sinister about him, and it works. No promos, no words, just him. His mere presence in the ring is unnerving and eerie, and once again he asserted his dominance within NXT after picking up a relatively quick win against Tehuti Miles. Miles managed to get some offence in against Lumis, but after a spinebuster, modified uranage, and the anaconda vice, Lumis made him tap out. The match itself wasn’t anything special, but with yet another victory for Lumis, he’s certainly rising to the top of the pile.

Winner: Dexter Lumis Rating: 5/10

Velveteen Dream And Adam Cole’s Missed Encounter

It had been teased up until this point that Cole and Dream would be meeting face to face, but of course, Cole wasn’t going to waste his energy on The Experience. From home, Cole cut a promo saying he didn’t know how many more times he had to tell Dream he didn’t deserve a title shot. He said that tonight was about Undisputed Era reclaiming gold and after Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish took back the NXT Tag Team Titles, they’d be one step closer to becoming whole again.

Dream wasn’t best pleased about this, so he headed to ringside to deliver a promo of his own. He believed Cole thinks of himself as a mastermind, but he sees him as the last remaining champion of UE. As he continued to speak, Finn Balor appeared and had clearly taken offence to Dream thinking Adam Cole could well be the best NXT Champion. This led to a possible match between the two next week on NXT after Dream laid down the challenge. Please, Regal. Make it happen!

All Hail Bivens Enterprises

Malcolm Bivens and Indus Sher deliver a promo next. It was short, but it got the message across. Bivens said congratulations to whoever wins between UE and Riddle and his mystery partner, but the belts will go “from your shoulders to our waists.” There’re 1.3 billion people in India supporting Rinku and Saurav – the two most dangerous men in their country.

Match Announcements For Next Week

It looks like next week will be a big one, with four match announcements made. Three of those matches in the Cruiserweight tournament are happening. Jack Gallacher will be taking on El Hijo del Fantasma, Tony Nese goes one-on-one with Kushida, and Drake Maverick goes up against Jake Atlus. It was also announced that Tegan Nox will be teaming up with Shotzi Blackheart against Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Wow!

Tag Team Championship Match: Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher vs Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish)

Before the match, Pete Dunne appeared on the video screen and said he’d picked someone to replace him. He was gutted he couldn’t be there to defend the titles, but he’d found a “true stallion” to replace him, and that man was Timothy Thatcher! Goosebumps!!!

It was so good to finally see him debut. The man is a machine in the ring, and one of the toughest in the sport today. He was the perfect replacement for Pete Dunne, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Undisputed Era tried to exact the pack mentality they are familiar with, but Riddle and Thatcher proved too strong to be kept down. Riddle and Thatcher performed some duelling Gutwrench suplexes on UE followed by a Floating Bro, in one of the more entertaining moments of the match.

It wasn’t the best performance from either UE or Matt Riddle, but Timothy Thatcher showed just why he’s so highly regarded. Thatcher isn’t a high flyer – he’s not bombastic or flashy – however, he gets the job done and he does it with superb technicality and power. During the match, Dexter Lumis appeared in the seating area, with a light shone over him. That guy is creepy! After a while he disappeared, but what does it mean? Who is he gunning for next?

Thatcher delivered an Olympic slam on Strong, but he managed to kick out. It never looked like Strong would recover, and after trading strikes, Thatched locked in the Fujiwara armbar for the win. Although they’ve not fought together on NXT before, Riddle and Thatcher showed some great chemistry, but could it lead to an eventual feud with Dunne? Probably not, but I’d love to see that match somewhere down the line.

Winners: Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher Rating: 7/10

Ciampa Runs Out Of Time

It had been teased throughout the show that Tommaso Ciampa would have his say on his longstanding feud with Johnny Gargano, and before the show ended, he was sat backstage ready to give his statement. He said he was done with Johnny, with Candice LeRae, with everything. Before he could say too much more, he was attacked from behind. The camera dropped to the ground and the sound of Ciampa being decimated was all that was heard. In the closing moments, Ciampa fell to the floor, and all that was seen were two leather boots, and Killer Kross knelt beside Blackheart, whispering in his ear, “tick, tock.” It has finally happened, people! Killer Kross has made his presence felt on NXT TV, and what a way to do it. What’s more appealing about the whole thing is that it looks as though Scarlett Bordeaux is with him. Someone get me a drink of water, I need to lie down!

After The Bell

NXT was filled to the brim with great promos and video packages. Not all the matches were great, but the ones that stood out were entertaining, and Timothy Thatcher’s in-ring debut was perfect. Dexter Lumis continues to impress, and Balor interrupting Velveteen Dream could be the catalyst for a unique feud between the two.

What made tonight extra special was the appearance of Karrion “Killer” Kross. He was phenomenal on IMPACT, and it looks as though the momentum is going to carry on in NXT. Along with Scarlett Bordeaux, these two are going to blaze a trail through the entire NXT locker room, and what better way to start than with Tommaso Ciampa?

Star of the Show: Timothy Thatcher Rating: 7.5/10

All images and video courtesy of WWE

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