This week’s NXT featured a surprise implosion from within one of the black and gold brand’s brightest tag teams, more Cruiserweight tournament action, and the set up for some potential feuds, as well as an epic announcement straight from the mouths of D-Generation X. As always, the show was packed, and kicking things off was a title match that descended into chaos.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher (C) vs Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)
When the match was made last week, I had high hopes for their encounter. Riddle and Thatcher have made an unlikely partnership work, but it would all unravel after one honest mistake. Imperium did a fantastic job of wearing down Riddle, working together well to keep The Original Bro from tagging in Thatcher. Riddle tried multiple times to get to his partner, but Imperium were too dominate to allow it to happen.
However, things were about to change as Riddle monkey-flipped Barthel into Thatcher who was standing in his corner. Clearly frustrated with what had transpired, Thatcher walked away, leaving Riddle on his own. Although he valiantly fought back, the experience and power of Imperium were too much, allowing them to level Riddle with the European Bomb, getting the victory and becoming the new NXT Tag Team Champions.
After the match, Riddle approached Thatcher backstage and the two came to blows. It wouldn’t be the last we saw of them, not by a long shot. Later on, Regal made a match between the two official for later in the show. Once Riddle heard the news, Thatcher attacked him, hurling a TV into his right arm. As much as I enjoyed watching them as a tag team, this could be one hell of a rivalry. When Dunne returns, Riddle could be back in the tag team picture, but he’s always shined in one-on-one matches, so this is perfect.
Winners: Imperium (And New NXT Tag Team Champions) Rating: 7/10
Tegan Nox vs Indi Hartwell
It looks as though the current chapter in Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai’s rivalry is closed. As good as their matches were, it started to become stale, so it’s great NXT has decided to move on with both Nox and Kai’s career paths. Indi Hartwell is a relative newcomer to professional wrestling. At 21-years old, she chose to abandon a career as a paramedic in favour of professional wrestling, and although this match didn’t do a lot to showcase her talents, there were shades of something impressive. It didn’t last long between Nox and Hartwell, and although Hartwell tried to put up a fight, Nox managed to put her away with the Shiniest Wizard.
Winner: Tegan Nox Rating: 4.5/10
Tony Nese vs Jake Atlas
As the weeks have rolled on, I’ve started to enjoy Jake Atlas a lot more. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, but in the ring, he’s a skilled cruiserweight with one hell of a finisher. Although Nese brought a very physical approach to their match, it wasn’t enough to beat Atlas. After a succession of brutal chops and kicks to Altas in the corner, Atlas knocked Nese off his feet and delivered a top rope Rainbow DDT for the win. I find it ridiculous Tony Nese has lost all three of his matches in the Interim Cruiserweight tournament because he’s such a good performer, but NXT seem adamant in pushing Drake Maverick.
Winner: Jake Atlas Rating: 6/10
Breaking It Down: The Big Announcement
Earlier in the day, William Regal announced on The Bump that there would be a huge announcement on NXT, and who better to deliver it that D-Generation X? They started off by saying it was soon the 25th anniversary of the very first In Your House, and with the world very much confined to their own homes, a special NXT TakeOver would be occurring as a result. It’s always good to see the old band get back together. Road Dogg reminded us how HHH took part in the first In Your House, getting face-planted into a pile of “pig crap,” something The Game wasn’t too keen on remembering.
On June 7, NXT TakeOver: In Your House would be streaming on WWE Network! This is amazing news, given how much fun the In Your House shows were. With a fancy logo to celebrate the event, it looks like WWE and NXT are going to take advantage of how significant In Your House was to WWE in the mid-90s. I for one am extremely excited by the news, and if you’re not familiar with them, there’s a whole load of them on WWE Network.
Finn Balor vs Cameron Grimes
These two went at it, hard. It resembled a bar fight more than a wrestling match, with both guys landing a barrage of powerful moves and punches. The tide turned when a surprising appearance from Damian Priest cost Balor the match. The Archer of Infamy used his nightstick on Balor’s left knee, which allowed Grimes to hit the Cave In and steal the win via pinfall. After the match, Priest revealed it was him who attacked Balor in the back three weeks ago. He dropped Balor onto a steel chair with The Reckoning, then headed to the back looking rather pleased with himself. This could be a pretty good rivalry. Damian Priest proved himself in his recent match with Keith Lee, and with how aggressive Balor has been as of late, this could turn into something special.
Winner: Cameron Grimes Rating: 6.5/10
Jack Gallagher vs Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
In the second and final cruiserweight match of the evening, Jack Gallagher managed to gain the upper hand after Nese attacked Swerve before the bell. In a pre-match interview, Swerve said if you lose all three matches in the tournament, you might as well quit. Nese clearly took offence to his comments and decided to come out and make his feelings known.
Despite being attacked, Swerve put on a decent performance, landing a House Call and almost getting the win. However, it was Gallagher who would be victorious. He delivered a Roaring Elbow for the win after taking advantage of Swerve’s abdominal injury for most of their match.
Winner: Jack Gallagher Rating: 5/10
Kayden Carter vs Aliyah
Aliyah has been receiving a bit of a push recently, and she certainly wasted no time in unleashing a much more brutal side of her arsenal early on against Carter. Robert Stone came down to see if Aliyah was worth his time, which seemed to distract Aliyah. She was too interested in showing off in front of Stone, which allowed Carter to lock in the deathlock submission, forcing Aliyah to tap out. I’ve made my feelings known on Robert Stone and his dull brand, but it was nice to finally see Aliyah do something different.
Winner: Kayden Carter Rating: 4/10
Dinner With The Garganos
When both Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae decided to go full-on heel, I was kind of excited where it might lead. Their last ‘dinner’ segment set the tone for their new paths within NXT, but this one fell a bit flat. Gargano and LeRae can perform well on cam, but these moments where everything went distorted seemed forced. Yes, we know you’re now the bad guys, but at least make it feel natural and not over the top. At least we know who their focus is going forward. Gargano made it clear he wants Keith Lee next, and LeRae has her sights set on a woman who “gets too many opportunities,” Mia Yim. We’ll see how things go in the next few weeks, but let’s stop these dinner promos and say your piece in the wrestling ring.
Timothy Thatcher vs Matt Riddle
What a fantastic match this was. Both Thatcher and Riddle spent time on the mat in charge, using armbars, ankle locks, and other submission moves to wear down each other. At one point, Riddle lifted Thatcher with one arm and landed an impressive powerbomb. These two unleashed all of their frustrations out on one another, and it looked as though nobody was going to win.
Riddle continued to stick it to Thatcher, landing a Bro To Sleep, but after a Floating Bro, Thatcher reversed it into a Fujiwara Armbar and almost made him tap. The pacing was so good, and neither man wanted to lose. Out of nowhere – when it seemed like no-one was capable of stealing the win – Matt Riddle did just that and turned a submission attempt into a three-count Thatcher was not happy at all, and after the match, he locked in his Fujiwara Armbar as the show went off-air.
Winner: Matt Riddle Rating: 8/10
What Else Went Down?
– Rhea Ripley had a few choice words for Io Shirai, but she also made it clear her goal was to recapture the NXT Women’s Title, saying to Charlotte Flair, “that title around your waist, it belongs to me.”
– All four members of Undisputed Era took part in a webcam chat. It was good to see Kyle O’Reilly after all this time, sporting a bigger beard than the last time we saw him. Adam Cole said he “embarrassed the crap” out of Velveteen Dream last week, and also somebody needed to teach Dexter Lumis a lesson. After a quick vote, UE decided on Roderick Strong.
– A vignette aired featuring Karrion Kross and Scarlett. They referenced a lot of other NXT Superstars in their speech, saying “they are not here to shock the system,” and “it’s time to wake up from the dream.” As it came to a close, Kross said that “Ciampa was the first,” and that time is up. Who the hell are they gunning for next?
– A video package featuring Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez aired, with both of them talking about their dominance over recent months. It finished with Gonzalez saying, “consider this a fair warning. This is a hurt business, and we are going to hurt a lot of people.”
– Rhea Ripley vs Io Shirai was made official for next week.
After The Bell
This week was all about Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher. Nobody could have predicted what would go down, but it was a great start to a fierce rivalry. Riddle is one of the best performers on NXT, and it’s about time he gets an opponent he can really get his teeth into. Thatcher is no pushover, so seeing how this evolves in the run-up to NXT TakeOver: In Your House is going to be very exciting.
Speaking of TakeOver: In Your House, it looks as though we’re going to get some decent matches on the card. Although they may well take place before, I’m sure Finn Balor vs Damian Priest, Johnny Gargano vs Keith Lee for the NXT North American Championship, and Candice LeRae vs Mia Yim might very well feature.
With Undisputed Era finally acknowledging their issues with Dexter Lumis, could we see him going toe-to-toe with Adam Cole for the NXT Championship, or are we destined for something else? Karrion Kross didn’t mince his words during his vignette, so maybe he has his sights set on Adam Cole. All I do know is that the next few weeks are going to be very interesting indeed.
Star of the Show: Matt Riddle Overall Rating: 7.5/10
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