WKPWP - Mailbag w/Keller & Powell talking Goldberg win, Velveteen Dream's character, NWA Squared, AEW on WrestleMania weekend, more
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Bask in his #1 Contender Glory – HIT: There is no denying that Keith Lee is worthy of all this glory basking. The show kicked off with Lee entering the ring, cutting a great promo regarding his #1 contender win for the North American Championship. The crowd was on fire for Lee, chanting loud and long for the Limitless one. He just has this presence about him, commanding the arena as he stood mid-ring. Undisputed Era attacked Lee in a 4 on 1 beatdown, including a chair-stomp from the top rope to Lee’s ankle. Ciampa came out to make the save, sending U.E. fleeing. An excellent way to start the show, acknowledging the ever-popular Keith Lee’s win last week and getting more heat on U.E. Unfortunately, it seemed to put next week’s North American title match in jeopardy when Cathy Kelly reported from backstage saying as much.
First Round Dusty Classic – The Bro-serweights (Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle) vs. Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster- HIT : I had no idea who to cheer for here. Dunne and Riddle are two of my more favorites on the NXT roster and I love this oddly wonderful pairing. Andrews and Webster, while I haven’t seen a large body of work, have always impressed me whenever I see them in action. So, I just chose to cheer for everybody! Riddle and Dunne really seemed to work well together throughout the match. Much more so than you could expect from a first outing for this pair as far as I’m concerned. This match went roughly 20 or so minutes and it absolutely flew by. Explosive action and great story telling. Going into the match, I assumed it was a foregone conclusion that the Bro-serweights would be the victors, but Webster and Andrews put up such a fight, I genuinely wondered if they may get the upset win.
Daddy’s Home. Undisputed Era, you’re grounded! – HIT: Tommaso Ciampa entered the arena and began to cut a promo on U.E. He listed off a handful of names of wrestlers who they have injured just to hold on to their gold, ending that list with Keith Lee. Of course, the four members of Undisputed Era quickly emerged from backstage and attacked Ciampa, who fended off all four men for about a minute or so until they overpowered him and took him down to the mat. Just then, a DIY reunion! Johnny Gargano made the save and my favorite NXT duo cleaned house, sending U.E. running with their tails between their legs. An emotional and high energy promo from Ciampa, advancement in both Ciampa and Gargano’s rivalries with U.E., and more burning heat for the most dominant stable in NXT history, Undisputed Era. It looks like DIY are on the same page once again after their epic rivalry a little over a year ago as Gargano could be seen telling Ciampa “I got your back” while the crowd cheered, and “Rebel Heart” echoed through Full Sail.
Trent Tweets resulting in a Possible Dream Match – HIT: After a commercial break, a tweet from Trent Seven was shown. “See @JohnnyGargano and @NXTCiampa are mates again @TylerBate… Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could stay mates long enough to face us? Moustache Mountain vs. #DIY? What do you say @RealKingRegal? Possibly #WorldsCollide?” All I can say to that is: Yes. Very yes. Make this happen, Regal.
First Round Dusty Classic – The Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & Kushida) vs. The Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zach Gibson) – HIT: I don’t believe they were referred to as The Time Splitters on TV, but I have been looking forward to seeing this duo compete since the announcement that Shelley would be joining Kushida in the Classic. I have heard nothing but great things about Alex Shelley and he and Kushida’s time together as the Time Splitters. There’s a reason that the entire Full Sail Arena was chanting Shelley’s name, somebody not even signed to NXT to my knowledge. What a performer! Kushida and Shelley didn’t seem to miss a step, all their tag offense looked crisp, clean and unique. As always the Grizzled Young Vets, Drake and Gibson, also put forth a stellar performance. I was trying to figure out who the winner would be throughout the course of this week, and I did wind up putting my money on the Vets for two reasons. First, Alex Shelley isn’t signed, and it would make sense to put WWE/NXT talent over. Second, I was about 90% sure the Bro-serweights would go over Webster & Andrews. I didn’t think that NXT UK would eat two losses in one night. I hope this isn’t the last of Shelley in NXT, he was a joy to watch and I would love to see him on the Black and Gold brand.
Lio Rush vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott – HIT: The winner to this match would be awarded a spot in the Fatal Four Way at Worlds Collide for the NXT Cruiserweight Title. For the second time tonight, I really didn’t know who to cheer for. I’ve been a pretty big mark for Tyler Breeze since his incredible match with Jushin Liger a few years back. Rush won me over in his feud with Angel Garza, and I think Swerve has all the potential to be a major star in the WWE. Personal love for him aside, Breeze seemed out of place in this match, telegraphing the fact that he was probably here to eat the pin. Since Fandango has returned from injury, I can’t recall Breeze in singles action. Not to mention the stark contrast between his wrestling style and the high-flying, Cornette hated, flippy stuff. If you haven’t watched this match yet, make sure not to blink. Saying that this match was fast paced is an understatement, and I mean that as a compliment. The athleticism and cardio ability of all three men and their performance in this match was nothing short of impressive. Glad to see Swerve get the win here, entering his first match for gold in NXT.
Gargano and Ciampa make it official, Lee sends man to orbit – HIT: Outside the arena, Cathy Kelly was interviewing Gargano, mentioning that it was the first time that he and Gargano had been in the ring together since October. Before Gargano could speak, Ciampa emerged to thank him. Gargano asked him if he saw Trent Seven’s tweet and asked if they wanted to “do it” one more time for old time’s sake. Ciampa agreed when U.E., being held back by security guards, rushed to attack DIY. Out of nowhere, Keith Lee comes charging, seemingly for his rival Roderick Strong, but instead hit one of the security guards sending him flying into a nearby shrubbery (I did not expect to type the word shrubbery in this report). NXT has a great way of weaving story lines together, and this segment is an excellent example of that. It rekindled the relationship between Ciampa and Gargano, set up their match against Moustache Mountain, advanced their rivalry with Undisputed Era, as well as advanced Keith Lee’s rivalry with them. All that in the span of roughly 60-80 seconds. Well-freaking-done. This also served as confirmation that the North American Title Match next week is no longer in jeopardy, and Lee’s ankle is good a gold.
Women’s Battle Royal, Winner gets shot at NXT Women’s Championship at Takeover Portland- HIT: Two big surprise entries in this battle royal, the return of former American Ninja Warrior, Kacy Catanzaro and former 2x NXT Women’s Champ, Shayna Bazsler. All signs pointed to a retirement from the ring for Kacy and we all assumed Shayna was “main roster” bound after her loss to Ripley on the last live episode of NXT in 2019. This was also the first NXT match for Mercedes Martinez, who recently signed with NXT. Like most battle royals (battles royal? Hm. I hadn’t ever thought about that until just this moment…) the action was difficult to keep up with at first and quite chaotic. When this is done well, as this match was, a chaotic fray to kick off one of these matches can be electric and entertaining. When done poorly, it can put the crowd to sleep and take the wind out of the sails of the rest of the match.
One of my favorite things about a Battle Royal is trying to predict the final four competitors in the ring. The final four, to a seasoned fan, tells you quite a bit. Historically, these spots are reserved for four competitors that will play an integral role in the division. With the talent and star power in this match, I had trouble narrowing it down to the final eight, let alone final four. The stare down between Martinez and Baszler quite literally gave me goosebumps and I was very pleased that Mauro acknowledged that she has more in-ring experience than Shayna Baszler. The final four pitted Teagan Nox against three heels in Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and Shayna Baszler. Unfortunately, Dakota Kai stuck again and eliminated Nox before she had a chance to eliminate one of the heels. After Nox was eliminated, it was revealed that Shotzi Blackheart was never eliminated. She rushed the ring and swiftly eliminated Shayna Baszler, leaving Shirai and Belair as the last two in the match. The two put on a great final few minutes and we saw Belair get the win. I think Belair is a great first rivalry for the newly crowned NXT Women’s champ, Rhea Ripley. I don’t think she’ll dethrone Ripley, but the two will certainly make for entertaining TV.