This week’s NXT was packed with a lot of matches, mind-blowing debuts, and surprise returns. There were two title matches as both Adam Cole and Charlotte Flair defended their gold, and the Interim Cruiserweight tournament was in full swing as four more Superstars vied for dominance. First off, after a video aired hyping the show, Johnny Gargano answered Dominik Dijakovic’s challenge from last week.

Johnny Gargano vs Dominik Dijakovic

Gargano’s new attitude continued to have repercussions for the NXT locker room as Dijakovic suffered as a result. I must say, Johnny’s new music is pretty ace, and his new “All heart no soul” moniker certainly lived up to its name. Despite some brutal strikes, superkicks, and big boots by Dijakovic, Gargano proved why he’s one of the smartest in a wrestling ring. He may have eaten a vicious cyclone kick at one point, but his quick feet helped him to wear down Dijakovic. Of course, the Poison Pixie walked out from the back to aid her husband, and it worked. Gargano used the ring to his advantage, eventually removing the turnbuckle cover and driving Dijakovic into it after a failed powerbomb attempt, allowing him to hit One Final Beat for the victory.

Winner: Johnny Gargano Rating: 7.5/10

Akira Tozawa vs Jack Gallagher

I enjoyed this match a lot. Akira Tozawa is a joy to watch and despite some aggression from Gallagher, it was all about Tozawa. An early Octopus from out of nowhere wore down Gallagher, but he managed to hit a quick Samoan Drop. It wouldn’t affect Tozawa’s momentum, as he continued to attack Gallagher with some quick thinking, hitting a superb DDT on the apron, followed by a super senton off the top turnbuckle and getting the three count.

Winner: Akira Tozawa Rating: 7/10

Xia Li vs Chelsea Green W/ Robert Stone

Xia Li is one of the best women on the NXT roster, so why the hell have her last two matches been so short, and why the hell is she continuing to feud with Aliyah? There’s zero chemistry between the two Superstars, and Aliyah doesn’t have anything the audience can connect with. This match felt like it lasted less time than it took Robert Stone to introduce Chelsea Green to the ring, and was clearly just filler. Green hit I’m Prettier on Li after Aliyah distracted her and got the win, but it felt arbitrary.

Winner: Chelsea Green Rating: 1.5/10

Karrion Kross w/Scarlett vs Leon Ruff

It may have been a squash match and a vehicle for Kross to assert his dominance, but it is so good to finally see him in an NXT ring. The intro was incredible, with orange lighting, smoke, and Scarlett going full-on psychopath as she sang along to Kross’ imposing theme song (watch at the end of the piece.) It was over-the-top in all the right ways, and I can’t wait until he goes up against some real competition. After a couple of Saito suplexes on the rookie Leon Ruff, he locked in the Kross Jacket submission for an easy win.

I was expecting to see Kross and Scarlett come out to be the ones responsible for Finn Balor’s attack a few weeks ago, but instead, it was a throwaway match. Still, there’s plenty of time for everyone to “fall and pray” to the “damn devil.”

Winner: Karrion Kross Rating: 4/10

NXT Women’s Championship Match: Io Shirai vs Charlotte Flair (C)

Io Shirai spent no time resting on her laurels, as she went in hard and fast on The Queen. Although Flair tried to control Shirai early on with a series of head scissors, the Genius of the Sky landed a Frankensteiner off the top turnbuckle that shook Flair up. Both Superstars attempted to hit their own moonsaults but neither succeeded and, after Flair continued to get more annoyed, she headed outside the ring and grabbed a kendo stick from under the apron.

It was disappointing to see Shirai get the victory via DQ, as this could’ve gone the distance. Shirai was in fine form, but it wasn’t to be as Flair struck her with the kendo stick, then attacked her injured leg, whipping it repeatedly into the turnbuckle.

In a huge surprise to proceedings, Rhea Ripley returned and attacked Flair, causing her to flee from the ring. Ripley is back, and she’s focused on getting her gold. However, it seemed that Shirai might have something to say about that. Once Flair had disappeared, Io Shirai wouldn’t stop shouting at Ripley, and outside the arena, the two almost came to blows. Although not confirmed, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing Rhea Ripley’s first match back taking place against Shirai, and I for one am all in.

Winner: Charlotte Flair Rating: 6/10

Kushida vs Jake Atlas

This match didn’t go on for as long as I’d have liked, given how good both Superstars are, but we still got to see how quickly Kushida can turn the tables on his opponent. Atlas got in some decent attacks, but Kushida didn’t let him build any kind of momentum, stunning Atlas with an impressive somersault senton off the top turnbuckle to the outside. It looked as though Atlas was going to land a high-risk move, but Kushida countered and locked in an armbar, forcing Atlas into submission.

Winner: Kushida Rating: 6/10

Cameron Grimes vs Denzel Dejournette

This was another squash match that acted as a set up for another match announced by William Regal for next week. After Grimes finished Dejournette with a leaping double foot stomp, he decided it would be a good idea to annoy Finn Balor. Of course, The Prince came to the ring and told Grimes to put his money where his mouth is before double stomping him and landing a sling-blade.

Winner: Cameron Grimes Rating: 2/10

NXT World Championship Match: Velveteen Dream vs Adam Cole (C)

Although Velveteen Dream put on a decent performance, it wasn’t meant to be. Cole taunted Dream throughout, hitting some solid attacks, such as a piercing superkick followed by a backstabber. There was a great pace to the match, with both men pushing the other to the limit. It might not have rivalled some of their epic TakeOver matches, but for an episode of NXT, it was still an enjoyable contest.

A match involving members of Undisputed Era wouldn’t be complete without some interference, and like clockwork Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong made their way to the ring. In a shocking turn of events, Dexter Lumis appeared from underneath the ring, doing his signature knee slide, clearly unsettling Fish and Strong. All three men went at it outside the ring, until Lumis inadvertently threw Strong into the referee, knocking him out cold.

Inside the ring, The Experience hit the Purple Rainmaker, counting the three himself, but with no referee it meant nothing. When the referee did finally recover, it was Cole who took advantage, delivering a running knee and Last Shot to Dream to retain his title.

Winner: Adam Cole (Still NXT World Champion) Rating: 7.5/10

What Else Went Down?

– Imperium’s Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel cut a promo demanding an NXT Tag Team Title opportunity.

– A video package aired for an initiative called The Real Heroes Project, which helps support the frontline healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

– Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher were interviewed backstage, where they gladly accepted Imperium’s earlier challenge. Riddle accepted, and Thatcher said to him, “you knock them out, I’ll tap them out.” The match was made official by William Regal, later on, set to take place next week.

– Last week’s Make-A-Wish video aired again, stating WWE had made over 6,000 wished come true since they teamed up with the charity.

– Finn Balor stepped up to the podium and was looking mightily annoyed after getting attacked recently. He said some guys in the back do things like this for a push, but the only thing they’d be getting was squashed. He vowed to make the person responsible pay, which could lead to an interesting feud for Balor as we wait for business to resume with NXT UK Champion WALTER.

After The Bell

There were plenty of matches this week, and although some were far too short, and others relatively pointless, it was still a lot of fun. The Interim Cruiserweight tournament has been a blast so far, and I really hope it’s Kushida who ends up with the title.

Karrion Kross and Scarlett finally made their debut, and after Kross destroyed his opponent, I’m still hopeful that his first major feud is with Finn Balor. Those two could have some great matches, as they’re both capable of dishing out punishment.

Rhea Ripley returning was one of the highlights, and I hope that when she finally does face Charlotte Flair again for the NXT Women’s Championship, she will defeat her this time. Finally, the Adam Cole and Velveteen Dream feud may not be over, but I hope we can see the Dexter Lumis vs Undisputed Era business unfold a bit more, potentially involving Adam Cole into the fray.

Star of the Show: Rhea Ripley Overall Rating: 6.5/10

All images and videos courtesy of WWE