5/20 NXT ON USA PRIMER: Perspective and ramifications of Shirai vs. Ripley, Strong vs. Lumis, Drake Maverick vs. Kushida, Fantasma vs. Tozawa

By Amin Ajani, PWTorch contributor

Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai


It’s a huge night on NXT as my favorite Io Shirai will take on Rhea Ripley with huge title implications at stake. Plus, the finals of the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament could be decided tonight as Drake Maverick will face Kushida in Group A. On the other side, Akira Tozawa will look to remain undefeated as he takes on El Hijo del Fantasma in Group B. You don’t want to miss tonight’s episode of NXT which takes place from Full Sail University on the USA Network. Let’s take a look at what’s currently advertised for tonight’s show.

  • Rhea Ripley takes on Io Shirai
  • Roderick Strong challenges Dexter Lumis
  • Kushida faces Drake Maverick to close out Group A in the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title Tournament
  • El Hijo del Fantasma collides with Akira Tozawa to determine Group B winner


Rhea Ripley takes on Io Shirai

Huge title implications looks to be at stake tonight as my favourite Io Shirai will face Rhea Ripley. Ripley who lost the NXT Women’s Title at WrestleMania, made her presence felt a couple week’s ago attacking Charlotte Flair who get herself disqualified to retain the title against Io Shirai. The question is can Shirai get past Ripley and earn herself another shot at the NXT Women’s Title?


(Amin’s Analysis: I have so many mixed emotions about this match. Let me first say, this should be a great match as Ripley is talented and Shirai is the best female wrestler in WWE. My guess is this match isn’t going to have a clean finish as I would suspect Charlotte will get involved and this leads to a Triple Threat Match at Takeover: In Your House. At some point soon we are either going to get a double turn between Ripley and Shirai. Or, we will just see Shirai turn babyface but still keep her same aggressive edge. Question HHH? How long are you going to make us wait? I want to see my favourite Io Shirai finally get her moment and win the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: In Your House.)

Roderick Strong challenges Dexter Lumis

You would think Adam Cole would be in a celebratory mood after successfully defending his NXT Championship against Velveteen Dream. However, that’s not the case as the Undisputed Era attention has turned to Dexter Lumis who made his presence felt in the NXT Championship match. During last week’s Zoom interview Undisputed Era voted that Roderick Strong would be the one to face Lumis. The question is can Lumis stop Strong again and come one step closer to possibly challenging Cole for the NXT Title?


(Amin’s Analysis: This has been really interesting to watch as we don’t know much about Lumis character and seems rather quick to be placed in a main event program. I do see Lumis winning and having a good match with Strong who’s one of the most talented wrestlers in NXT.)

Kushida faces Drake Maverick to close out Group A in the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title Tournament

Drake Maverick looks to keep his dreams alive of becoming Interim NXT Cruiserweight Champion but standing in his way is Kushida who hasn’t lost a match in the tournament. With a win, Maverick can place himself in a three-way-tie with Kushida and Jake Atlas. Will Maverick pull of the upset? Or will Kushida continue his winning way?

(Amin’s Analysis: This should be a fun match as both Kushida and Maverick are talented wrestlers. Kushida has always been my pick to win the tournament and I would expect him to pick up the win. I would like see this match get some time and for Maverick to showcase his skills if this is his last match in WWE.)

El Hijo del Fantasma collides with Akira Tozawa to determine Group B winner

The winner of Group B will be determined tonight as El Hijo del Fantamsa will face Akira Tozawa. Fantasma defeated Jack Gallagher in his debut match but fell to Isiah “Swerve” Scott. That’s not all as Fantasma had to also held his ground against an unidentified group of mask assailants. Meanwhile, Tozawa has been rolling as he’s currently undefeated in Group B action as he looks to become Cruiserweight Champion again. The question is can Tozawa continue his wining ways or will Fantasma stop him in his tracks.

(Amin’s Analysis: This should be another good match as both Fantasma and Tozawa are talented wrestlers. Tozawa has been the surprise of the tournament as he’s had a great run and got the chance to showcase his wrestling ability. However, I think Fantasma will come out the winner of Group B and make his way to the finals. I also wouldn’t be surprised of Fantasma was the leader of the group of mysterious mask wrestlers and they reveal themselves tonight or in the finals.)

Karrion Kross kicks off the show

They’ve also announced Karrion Kross will be in action tonight at the start of the shock. Check out their ring entrance, if nothing else.

The Big Takeaway From Last Week’s Show

Triple H announced NXT Takeover: In Your House will take place on Sunday June 7 on the WWE Network. Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel won the NXT Tag Team Titles after Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher had a miss-communication. This lead to match where Riddle got the win but Thatcher was the one standing tall in the end. Damian Priest revealed he was Finn Balor’s mysterious attacker.

Overall Thoughts

The wrestling on the show should be solid. With the announcement of Takeover: In Your House it will be interesting to see what angles takes place and if they announce any matches for the show.

RECOMMENDED: 5/13 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Balor vs. Grimes, Riddle & Thatcher vs. Imperium, “Major Announcement”

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