Despite all the hardships WWE talent has gone through recently, NXT has been a beacon of hope. There have been some exciting matches and storylines transpire over the last month, but in the latest episode, something happened that didn’t sit well with me at all. In time, we shall get to that, but for now, let’s get onto the opening of the review.
After a recap of last week, the cameras were backstage, where WWE officials were trying to work out where Finn Balor was. It looked as though he had either left the arena, or something more sinister had happened. It would be cool if it has something to do with Karrion “Killer” Kross and Scarlett Bordeaux. Maybe they’re taking out the entire locker room, much like his debut in IMPACT. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, as the likely outcome is that it has something to do with Imperium. Either way, it remained unsolved for the rest of the episode.
Back in the ring, Velveteen Dream was cutting a promo when Adam Cole came out, distracting The Experience so that his UE cohorts could attack from behind. Luckily, Keith Lee came from the back and helped even the odds. For the second week in a row, a tag team match would be main eventing NXT, as Cole and Strong would be teaming up against Lee and Dream.
Shotzi Blackheart & Tegan Nox vs Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai
This match could have been great, but it didn’t really amount to anything. Dakota Kai barely featured, and it acted as another chance for Gonzalez to show her strength, particularly when Nox failed to knock her off her feet, despite landing some chops and a clothesline.
It all ended when Gonzalez picked up Shotzi and dropped her with an impressive one-armed powerbomb. All in all, this was a poor match. For what could have been, both teams didn’t really pull anything special out of the bag, apart from Gonzalez who looks set to grow more dominant over the coming weeks.
Winners: Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai Rating: 3.5/10
All In Poor Taste
When it was announced many WWE Superstars and talent had been let go due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was heartbreaking to see some of their responses, particularly Drake Maverick. In a video he posted on Twitter, he poured out his soul, shedding tears as he struggled to come to terms where his career would go next.
— Drake Maverick (@WWEMaverick) April 15, 2020
Before his match against Jake Atlas, NXT showed the video, then proceeded to make it into a big thing, saying it was make or break for Maverick. A week ago, WWE had released him – or would be doing so after the tournament – but here they are using his pain for entertainment purposes. It raises questions like have they actually fired him, and is it all a work? I sincerely hope not. Being hoodwinked by WWE has happened many times, but not when it involves the audience’s empathy being turned into a storyline. Is it real? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t put anything past WWE at this point.
Drake Maverick vs Jake Atlas
The match itself wasn’t particularly exciting, but I think it was tainted by the video that had just been shown. Maverick tried to fight back against Atlas, but he never really got the upper hand. After a sublime cartwheel avalanche DDT, Atlas put Maverick away for the three-count.
Winner: Jake Atlas Rating: 5/10
Kushida vs Tony Nese
What a great match! Both Superstars gave it everything to put on a physical masterclass, with Nese taking it to Kushida early on. Tony Nese reminds me a lot of NJPW’s Jay White, and he shares similarities with Switchblade’s ego, too. Nese is a complete athlete, and pushed Kushida throughout, using his aggressive side to inflict some pain on Kushida courtesy of the ringside barriers. In the spot of the night, Kushida locked in the Sakuraba Lock after jumping off the turnbuckle with Nese, making him submit.
Winner: Kushida Rating: 7/10
Doomsday Is Upon You
For the first time since Kross’ vignettes started airing, we finally heard from his real-life girlfriend, Scarlett Bordeaux. After seeing PVC boots stood next to Ciampa’s beaten body in last week’s finale, we saw a vignette that featured Bordeaux speaking over it. “You had fair warning,” stated Bordeaux, as a clip from Ciampa’s beat down was shown. “You can’t stop it. Doomsday is upon you.” It was chilling and thrilling to finally get some confirmation the two are working together, with Byron Saxton confirming that the voice was “Scarlett” after it aired.
The Power Couple Speaks
In a fantastic promo, Johnny Gargano and his wife Candice LeRae went full heel as they talked about always being the good guys. No longer will the two say yes or put themselves second. From here on out, Mr and Mrs NXT are taking what is rightfully theirs, and it begins with being the first married couple in NXT history to be joint champions. I love where this is going. They were never supposed to be heels, but it just works so well. Their chemistry is excellent, and LeRae has needed something extra to get her the push she deserves.
It Gets Worse…
In a backstage interview, Drake Maverick was sitting on some steps, distraught by the loss to Jake Atlas. Looking teary-eyed, he said he wasn’t just fighting his opponents, he was fighting himself as well. He ended the interview by saying in a solemn tone, “maybe everyone was right about me.” At this point, I’m hugely disappointed in WWE for this. Maybe he was rehired, or maybe he’s still leaving after his next two matches in the Interim Cruiserweight tournament. Either way, the whole situation is wrong.
Mia Yim vs Jessi Kamea
Wow, this was dull. The match acted more of a segue for Charlotte Flair to come to the ring, but we should at least have had a bit more excitement from it. Speaking of the Queen, Flair stood with Yim at ringside after the match and asked her if she accepted her challenge, to which Yim said yes. Flair followed it up with a backhanded compliment, then walked away to leave Yim looking rather annoyed.
Winner: Mia Yim Rating: 2/10
Jack Gallagher vs El Hijo Del Fantasma
It took a while for Fantasma to get going in his debut, but after a while, he started to light up the match. He hit a suicide dive to Gallagher that seemed to last forever, and it showed the kind of athleticism he’s is capable of. Gallagher tried to implement the tougher side to his new persona, but it wasn’t enough to defeat his opponent. Fantasma dropped Gallagher with a Samoan Driver, then covered him for the win.
Following on from the match, Fantasma was in the parking lot, where the mysterious kidnappers tried to add him to their growing list of luchadors, but he fought them off.
Winner: El Hijo Del Fantasma Rating: 6/10
Main Event: Velveteen Dream & Keith Lee vs Adam Cole & Roderick Strong
This didn’t last for very long, but enough happened to build various storylines for all the Superstars involved. Keith Lee was taken out early in the match by Damian Priest, however, Dream wanted to continue on his own. From out of nowhere, Dexter Lumis appeared in Dream’s corner. I’m unclear what his angle is at this point, but it’s very interesting. Is he playing the anti-hero by wanting to take out UE, is he ‘obsessed’ with them, or is it something else?
When Lumis got involved, he took it to Adam Cole, then went after Strong and Bobby Fish who were at ringside. This allowed Velveteen Dream to hit the Purple Rainmaker on Adam Cole and pick up the win via pinfall. Things are starting to pick up with Dream and Adam Cole, and now Cole has shown his face for the first time in a while, it looks set to heat up even more as the weeks progress.
What Else Went Down?
– A distorted version of Keith Lee’s promo aired, and Damian Priest started talking about how he wants a shot for the NXT North American Championship.
– In a brief and funny backstage interview, Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher talked about their recent win, with Riddle saying how he missed Pete Dunne, but when he looked in Thatcher’s eyes, he sees a lot of “Stallion Pete” in him.
– A video featuring Io Shirai aired, claiming she will “bow down to no-one,” and that she’s ready for The Queen.
– Robert Stone was speaking about Chelsea Green by his pool. As Chelsea Green was being photographed, Stone spouted about how wonderful Green was. She joined him poolside to say how she would be a future NXT Champion.
After The Bell
Apart from the gimmick with Drake Maverick, it was a solid show made up mostly of great promos and vignettes. I have no idea what is going on with the current relationship between Maverick and WWE, but I get the feeling it could be damaging to the company if it’s revealed to be some sort of hoax from the moment it was announced he was released.
Tony Nese and Kushida had a great match, and I’d be happy if either man won the tournament, but I have a feeling it’s going to act as more of an underdog story for Maverick. Elsewhere, Gargano and LeRae’s promo was electrifying, and I’m all in on finding out who’s going to be next on their list. Lumis is really picking up steam, and I really hope he wants to stop UE from their wicked ways.
Finally, the Karrion Kross vignettes get better and better. I honestly can’t wait to see where they go with it, and who their first matches will be with. Bordeaux is excellent in-ring, as is Kross, so we’re all in for a real treat when they finally debut.
Star of the Show: Kushida Overall Rating: 6.5/10
All images and videos courtesy of WWE