With NXT TakeOver: In Your House now a memory, this week’s show featured the fallout from the PPV, along with some new storylines being set up. Indus Sher were back in competition to assert their dominance, Dakota Kai and Finn Balor have their sights on NXT gold, and Adam Cole has a new target on his back. As for the fallout from last Sunday, the Garganos still have unfinished business with Keith Lee and Mia Yim, and the Undisputed Era were on constant alert from an attack by Dexter Lumis. There was also a huge shock involving El Hijo del Fantasma, but we’ll leave that for later.

Keith Lee & Mia Yim vs Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae

After a slightly disappointing match at NXT TakeOver: In Your House, this mixed tag match was really enjoyable. LeRae and Gargano went for a double hurricanrana early, but Lee and Yim caught them both and threw the married couple into each other. Yim hit LeRae with Soul Food early, and Lee manhandled Gargano, launching him across the ring.

At one point, Lee ended up with both LeRae and Gargano on his shoulders, but LeRae clawed at his injured eye, which allowed Gargano to land a step-up enzuigiri. Mia Yim decided to stop playing by the rules and superkicked Gargano right in the side of the head, then did the same to LeRae. However, LeRae ended up getting some great offence in as she hit Yim with a Soul Food of her own and a lionsault, but only managed a two count.

Things got messy when Lee charged into Gargano but inadvertently knocked him into LeRae and Yim who were fighting on the apron. Gargano then hit One Final Beat on Lee, but in doing so he fell on top of LeRae. Concerned with whether The Poison Pixie was OK or not, Lee picked her up. Gargano capitalised on Lee’s good nature and rolled him up and got the victory, which launched LeRae outside the ring.

Winners: Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae Rating: 7/10

Indus Sher W/ Malcolm Bivens vs Mikey Delbrey & Mike Reed

Last week, Indus Sher got in Imperium and Breezango’s business. Their match tonight was about asserting their dominance in NXT, and they got the job done in no more than a minute. Saurav hit a huge boot to Delbrey’s face, then did the same to Reed who was waiting on the apron. Rinku charged at Delbrey in the corner, following it up with another. To hammer the nail in the coffin, Indus Sher combined for a sidewalk slam and leg drop double team to pick up a resounding victory.

Winners: Indus Sher Rating: 5/10

Cameron Grimes vs Finn Balor

Earlier in the night, Grimes was complaining about Damian Priest “breaking his jaw.” This prompted William Regal to speak to referee Drake Wuertz and find out what was going on. They hunted Grimes down and found him chatting to a couple of Performance Center recruits. He appeared absolutely fine, so Regal told him to go and get ready for his match.

Although Grimes wasn’t happy about it, he ended up putting on a pretty decent performance. Balor himself wasn’t match-fit after his battle with Damian Priest on Sunday, but he still showed why he’s such a good athlete. This match was a brawl, with Balor throwing Grimes into the barricades. Despite eating a clothesline from Grimes, Balor was able to get back into it by hitting a sling blade and a shotgun dropkick but missed the Coup de Grace.

Grimes attempted an Oklahoma roll up and a small package, but he couldn’t get the win. Balor dropped Grimes with a reverse 1916, but he couldn’t get the pin. Finally, Balor successfully landed a Coup de Grace, followed by a 1916. This allowed him to cover Grimes for the win. After the match, Balor looked in the camera and said he was going for the Championship he was yet to hold in NXT, the North American Championship.

Winner: Finn Balor Rating: 6.5/10

Kacy Catanzaro vs Dakota Kai W/ Raquel Gonzalez

Although Catanzaro showed some promise, it was Kai who got the win. After connecting with a scorpion kick, Kai picked Catanzaro up on her shoulders and finished her off with the GTK. After the match, Kai and Gonzalez continued to beat down Catanzaro until Kayden Carter ran out to help her. Things ended badly when Gonzalez dropped her with her signature one-armed powerbomb.

Dakota Kai also said at the end of the match she was gunning for the NXT Women’s Championship. I really like the idea of Dakota Kai vs Io Shirai, especially with the involvement of Raquel Gonzalez. I doubt if the match does happen that Shirai is going to lose, but it should still be an exciting match.

Winner: Dakota Kai Rating: 4.5/10

Fantasma’s Transformation

El Hijo del Fantasma has been outstanding since his debut, but outside the ring, he’s had some issues involving two masked men. Although Fantasma’s been the only one to elude them so far, it hasn’t stopped them from trying. He came to the ring and started to speak, only for Drake Maverick to interrupt him. Maverick was sincere, congratulating Fantasma on his victory in becoming the Cruiserweight Champion, and also thanked him for giving him one hell of a match. Maverick then said he’d love a chance at the title now he has a clear head. Just as Fantasma accepted, the two masked men approached the ring.

As they stood on the apron, Fantasma and Maverick got ready to fight, but Fantasma turned on Maverick. Fantasma and the two masked men started attacking Maverick. The masked men pulled off their masks to reveal Joaquin Wilde and Raul Medoza! Fantasma then pulled off his mask and started speaking in English. He said he was Santos Escobar, he was the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, and nobody can touch him.

What a superb heel turn this was. I’m excited to see Escobar become a leading man in NXT, and with the addition of Wilde and Mendoza at his side, NXT has another promising stable on their hands. This is also a good opportunity for Drake Maverick to have a successful follow-up story. I’d also love to see guys like Jake Altas and Kushida come to his aid for what could be an incredible six-man tag match later down the line.

Dexter Lumis vs Adam Cole W/ Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish

At the beginning of the show, Undisputed Era came to the ring and acknowledged their displeasure at Lumis’ recent actions, and that tonight Cole would be sending him back to the drawing board. Throughout the evening, Lumis had been stalking them, but only Strong kept seeing him. Roddy was a mess, and it was funny seeing him look so dishevelled. This match was great to watch. Lumis did a fantastic job of pushing Cole to his limits, but whenever UE are at ringside, there’s always a disadvantage.

Lumis landed multiple blows to Cole’s body early on and launched him across the ring from above his head. He then slid out the ring and struck Cole in the mouth, who was lying on the ropes. Cole hit a backstabber, and said, “you’re nothing more than a freak,” but Lumis just smiled. This annoyed Cole a lot, who hit a swinging neckbreaker followed by a standard neckbreaker.

With Lumis on his knees, Cole continued to hit him, and Lumis kept encouraging it. Dexter Lumis went nuts and started to punch Cole. He hit a huge corner clothesline followed by a bulldog, then delivered a German suplex for good measure.  Cole managed to hit a superkick out of nowhere, but could only cover Lumis for a two count. He missed the Last Shot, which gave Lumis an opportunity to hit his signature spinebuster. After beating on Cole for a while, Cole threw him outside the ring for a bit of respite. He ordered Strong and Fish to go after Lumis, but he was nowhere to be found. Lumis had slid under the ring and appeared behind Cole, where he hit another spinebuster.

Lumis went airborne in an attempt to land a senton bomb, but Cole got his knees up. Cole then jumped off the turnbuckle, but Lumis locked in the Anaconda Vice. Cole tried to get out of it but struggled to do so. Strong seized an opportunity to kick Lumis in the head and took it. With Lumis on his knees, Cole hit the Last Shot and got the pin.

As Undisputed Era left the ring, Cole rolled back in to stand over Lumis who was lying on his back. He then shot up and trapped Cole with the Anaconda Vice again. Strong and Fish attacked him, but Velveteen Dream ran down to offer some help. As everyone left the ring, Cole stood there with a smirk on his face. The lights then went down, leaving Cole looking confused and a little nervous.

A spotlight appeared at the top of the ramp to reveal Scarlett standing there. She walked to the apron and left an egg timer there, indicating that Cole might very well be next for Karrion Kross. I called this after the PPV, and I’m glad Kross is focusing on the most successful Superstar in NXT. Could this be the end of Adam Cole’s reign as NXT Champion?

Winner: Adam Cole Rating: 7.5/10

What Else Went Down?

– Damian Priest was interviewed backstage about his loss to Finn Balor at NXT TakeOver: In Your House. Even though he lost, he believed that it’s only improved his standing in NXT. He also punched Cameron Grimes in the face after he made some inappropriate comments about The Archer of Infamy.

– We got a video package featuring highlights of Io Shirai winning the NXT Women’s Championship at TakeOver, with various quotes from media outlets and reactions from NXT Superstars and fans.

– Breezango featured in a video package about how they like to entertain with different outfits before they step in the ring, but once the bell rings they mean business. After talking about how Fandango debuted and won at WrestleMania and how Tyler Breeze was pivotal in NXT’s rise, we got the announcement that the pair would face Imperium next week for the NXT Tag Team titles.

– Tommaso Ciampa was approached backstage after NXT TakeOver: In Your House. He was asked about how he felt, and whether he had underestimated Karrion Kross. Ciampa said nothing, got in his car and rode off.

– Robert Stone decided to interrupt Rhea Ripley as she was being interviewed about her loss to Charlotte Flair and Io Shirai. He said they should work together. Ripley said the chances were one in a million, and Stone was happy with that, saying there was a chance. Not impressed with Stone, Ripley led him off and slammed him through a laundry basket.

– A promo featuring Timothy Thatcher aired where he talked about delivering his own brand of training, and it would be happening next week.

– It was announced that Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox would be facing the winners of the Women’s Tag Team Championship match at Backlash next week on NXT.

After The Bell

This week’s NXT was filled with video packages and promos that set up the immediate future of NXT. I’m glad Lumis got a main-event, but he was never going to get the win with Undisputed Era at ringside. I’m not sure how much life the Gargano/LeRae and Lee/Yim feud has left, but with Finn Balor setting his sights on Keith Lee, it could already be over. I certainly wouldn’t be against seeing a triple threat match that included Johnny Gargano, though.

The newly named Santos Escobar was a really good choice, as Fantasma’s clean-cut image wasn’t washing with me. It also gives Drake Maverick a new set up following his whole underdog story. There’re a few Superstars who seem in limbo at the moment. What will Ciampa do next? Does Rhea Ripley deserve another title shot so soon? Where does Velveteen Dream fit in NXT now he can’t challenge Adam Cole again? Time will tell, but there’s definitely a transitional period ahead.

The main storyline coming from tonight’s show is Karrion Kross and Adam Cole. In an eerie ending, Scarlett leaving a symbol at ringside means Adam Cole’s time as NXT Champion could soon be up. This could be really special considering the dynamic that UE and Kross could have, and I’m all for it.

Star of the Show: Santos Escobar Overall Rating: 7.5/10

All images and videos courtesy of WWE

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