5/20 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Ripley vs. Shirai, Strong vs. Lumis, deciding matches in Cruiserweight tournament

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor


MAY 20, 2020

Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix, Tom Phillips


Tonight after NXT, join me live with cohosts Nate Lindberg and Tom Stoup to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.

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•EMAIL COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: pwtorchnxt@gmail.com


-Recaps of last week.

(1) LIAM vs. KARRION KROSS (w/Scarlett)

Full entrance for Kross like last week, though no opponent was named. Side suplex. German, bridge through, Doomsday Saito suplex. Kross Jacket gets the tap. The enhancement talent had “Liam” on his trunks but the announcers didn’t name him, so you’re getting as much as I got from context.

WINNER: Karrion Kross at 0:48.

-Tommaso Ciampa was introduced to the ramp. He said he gets it – they attacked he main attraction to make a point. He said just standing out there, he knows their aura is special, their entrance is special. Scarlett held open the ropes for Ciampa, who hesitated, but went through. “You know who else is special? Me.” He said he had to come out here and look him in the eyes and say on June 7th at TakeOver, he was going to face him. “Welcome to the main event.”

(Wells’s Analysis: When two top guys in a two-year program split apart, it’s usually a tough time for one of them, but both Ciampa and Gargano have found themselves in great spots and some big storylines. I think they could get away with either guy winning at TakeOver, so it’ll be a fun one to watch)

-Hype for the Cruiserweight Championship tournament ran down each guy and their record leading into tonight’s deciding matches before the final, which could be held at TakeOver but is as likely or more to be a TV match.

(2) AKIRA TOZAWA vs. EL HIJO DEL FANTASMA – Group B Cruiserweight Championship tournament match

Winner takes the group in this one, as either Tozawa goes undefeated or Fantasma wins via head-to-head in a tiebreaker by winning tonight.

Rollup by Fantasma for one. Headscissors, escape, reset. They circled around and Fantasma tripped Tozawa and covered, but Tozawa bridged. Tozawa fought up from another and reversed, then covered for two. Suplex and float over for Fantasma, but a quick kickout. Reset again.

Leg sweeps by each. Arm drag exchange. Tozawa wanted a dropkick but Fantasma put on the brakes. Another reset. Waistlock takedown by Fantasma. Chop exchange once Tozawa got up, including the “psych” punch spot by Tozawa. Fantasma bailed, Tozawa hit the apron and took Fantasma down with a headscissors on the floor. Fantasma backed up into the barricade and Tozawa ran off the apron and hit a senton leading into commercial.

Tozawa had Fantasma on his knees, but ran the ropes and got caught. Fantasma slipped out and hit a big boot to Tozawa’s face, then hit a frog splash from the steps to the apron. Senton atomico by Fantasma for two. Quick reversals in the middle of the ring led to a German with a release by Tozawa. Tozawa went up for the senton, but Fantasma crotched Tozawa and followed him up and threw rights. The two traded shots on the turnbuckle. Fantasma put Tozawa in a gorilla press and did a fallaway slam with Tozawa landing on the buckle. Cover for two.

Fantasma went at a grounded Tozawa, but Tozawa ran the ropes and hit a bulldog. Tozawa went up again and this time hit a senton, and Fantasma bailed immediately. Tozawa rolled him in the ring and got a long two. Fantasma dropkicked Tozawa to the outside, then hit a long tope on Tozawa, who was pretty far away. Back in, running elbow in the corner. Tozawa fought off the Phantom Driver and looked to reverse, but Fantasma hit it after all to finish. Mauro and Byron weirdly sputtered about Tozawa and Fantasma both being 2-1, and Fantasma “now leading.” Mauro even said he moved on to the “Group B final,” which isn’t a thing they said exists, so I’m pretty sure Fantasma just won the group but there’s a disconnect with the announcers.

WINNER: El Hijo del Fantasma at 11:27.

(Wells’s Analysis: Very good action, all leading to the announcers being weirdly vague (perhaps by design?) about the tournament. They didn’t promote it as a winner-take-all match, though according to their own initial rules, that’s what it was.)

-Timothy Thatcher said last week, he left the Matt Riddle show and now Riddle just needed to name the time and place. “Badass face” to “badass heel” doesn’t have to be a big step for most, but all the same, Thatcher sounds to be so much more at home now.

-Shotzi Blackheart vignette. She excitedly talked about the parallels between punk rock and wrestling. She said if you want to see what she’s going to do to the women of NXT, watch this. She crushed some vehicles at a junkyard with a tank while wildly overacting her lines (which is a much better problem than underacting – she can likely be pulled into a more realistic place eventually).


Santana was out of her usual fine but bland gear, and into a…referee-inspired pinup look? New EDM music, as well, as it seems everyone’s getting these days.

To the corner, a couple of armdrags. Both missed dropkicks. Mia wanted a handshake but Santana used the opening for a kick, backed her into a corner and hit a snap suplex for two. Yim with the standing switch and a dragon suplex. Yim with a Kawada kick, Protect Ya Neck, that’s it.

WINNER: Mia Yim at 1:13.

Heard before he was seen, Johnny Gargano was loudly singing along with Mia’s music. Candice LeRae was there as well, obviously, and mocked Mia for losing because she was pandering to the fans. Johnny interjected words to fire up Candice. He said Mia blew her opportunity and Candice wouldn’t do that. Johnny said in their NXT, this is what happens to people who get things they don’t deserve. Mia got cornered and Gargano pulled open the ropes and Yim fell through. Keith Lee angrily stormed to ringside and ran them off. The heels continued to posture, even after running off scared.

(Wells’s Analysis: All that effort on Santana’s presentation for a 73-second loss? Okay. I’m still betting on a mixed tag here, before eventual singles matches, but they could do the opposite. Either way I think we’ll see all three matches possible)

-Cameron Grimes, in a woodsy area, said last week, the greatest moment in NXT history happened. He said the first-ever Universal Champion, Finn Balor, was beaten…by him! He said after getting Caved In, it was 1-2-3. He pumped himself up as he bragged about his win.

-Backstage, Drake Maverick said tonight, to keep going in the tournament, he had to go in there and beat one of the best cruiserweights in the world. Tonight he had to shut it out and simply win.


All three active members of UE walked to the ring. Cole jawed and said as of this coming week, he was champion for one year. The riffraff left and Strong stayed in the ring alone awaiting Lumis. Mauro invoked the term “dark passenger” just in case you weren’t being hit over the head hard enough about Dexter’s ring name.


Strong danced around and Lumis stood still. Armbar by Strong, reversal, to the ropes for a break. Lumis pretended to turn around and Roddy started to pounce, but when Lumis quick turned back, Roddy dropped and bailed immediately, entering the ring again at the three count. Stron went for a leg and the two jockeyed for position. Side headlock takeover by Lumis, and Strong bailed again. Strong charged in and got taken down by a scoop slam. Legdrop by Lumis. Elbow in the corner by Lumis, but Roddy started teeing off with knees and chops. To another corner, strong caught Lumis with a kick. Another corner and Lumis hit a running bulldog. Roddy bailed yet again and Lumis gave chase. Lumis charged but Roddy used the steps against him, then suplexed Lumis on the apron leading to commercial.

Strong had control upon return, and he picked up Lumis for some shots. Strong hit an Olympic Slam for two. Strong threw forearms and elbows on a kneeling Lumis, then grounded him and moved in for the Stronghold. Lumis kicked Roddy away temporarily, but Strong kept control until a Lou Thesz press by Lumis. Rope run, huge back bodydrop by Lumis. Slingshot suplex by Lumis for two.

Roddy hit a big back elbow and grounded Lumis. Chop to the chest, and Lumis rubbed it around like he enjoyed it. Repeat x2. Strong got frustrated and threw rights but Lumis hit a spinebuster out of nowhere. Roddy worked himself into a trap pin equally out of nowhere.

WINNER: Roderick Strong at 11:28.

Lumis put on the Kata Gatame after the match. Adam Cole got involved, but Velveteen Dream paid back the favor to Dexter Lumis and made the save, laying out Cole. Lumis held and stroked Roddy’s head as Dream posed in the background and Mauro sold them as the oddest of couples.

(Wells’s Analysis: I suppose that’s a surprise result given Lumis’s rising stock, but at the same time I think he can take a fall here early in the feud and it’s good that Strong still isn’t just a weak fall guy for a strong faction. Good action and it’s not yet clear how it’ll settle up as we head to TakeOver in a couple of weeks.)

-During the break, Fantasma drove past Tozawa (walking) in the parking lot and thanked him for the match. Tozawa thanked him. The masked luchadors pulled up and beat up Tozawa for a moment, but didn’t abduct him. Fantasma ran out the other side of his car and gave chase, but the luchadors drove off. At this point, Fantasma being the leader of the evil luchadors is so obvious that I’d almost advocate for a double swerve.

(5) ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH vs. EVER-RISE (Matt Martel & Chase Parker)

Burch hit a headlock on Parker. To the corner, enzuigiri, dropkick. Martel tagged in and did no better. Babyface tag, arm wrench, and Lorcan hit some uppercuts. Blind heel tag but Oney hit Parker with a dragon screw. Lorcan took down Parker and growled. Single-leg crab, Burch fought off Martel, and there’s the tap.

WINNERS: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch at 1:33.

(Wells’s Analysis: Time to dust off Lorcan and Burch so they can casually have another four-star match by being the first fall guys for a pair of new heel champions)

-Earlier today, Gargano and Candice did bad things. Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai had a testy exchange about it on Twitter. Keith Lee said he had a problem with what Gargano was doing, and he had a feeling it would settle up at TakeOver.

-Backstage, Io Shirai was intense. Beth called her an “evil genius.”

-Elsewhere, Matt Riddle said to “Trashy Tim” that he felt like a big man for what he did, but he beat him. He said he wasn’t a stallion – he was a putz. For a fight? He’s down, bro. Where does he want to fight? Let’s go somewhere we’re both familiar…the cage.

(6) KUSHIDA vs. DRAKE MAVERICK – Group A Cruiserweight Championship tournament match

Kushida is undefeated. Beth says that even if he loses tonight, he’ll be tied. So apparently there’s a Group final after all. They have not been very clear about this, and the head-to-head tiebreakers they once brought up seem to have no bearing on anything.

Kushida backed Drake to the ropes for a break. Jockeying for position in the middle of the ring and Drake backed Kushida to the ropes for another break, and flipped his hair at an amused Kushida. Kushida took down Drake with a headlock as the announcers said everything Drake has worked for is over if he loses this match. Kushida worked Drake into an omoplata. Shoulder tackle by Kushida, basement dropkick. Drake threw some fists and the two traded strikes. Handspring back elbow by Kushida. Drop toe hold by Kushida into a…Hoverboard lock? Instead Kushida wrenched back both arms. Jake Atlas was at ringside, doing some scouting. Takedown by Kushida, cartwheel dropkick, cover for just one. The show went to commercial without warning (which is kind of a refreshing change from “Can (x) get back in this one?”).

Maverick was trying to fight back as the show returned. He baited Kushida to a corner and hit a drop toe hold as Jake Atlas continued to pump up Maverick. Rollup by Maverick for two. He said “Come on…please!” to the ref. Big right by Kushida, who took Drake to the corner and pulled him out of it with an arm wringer. Knee drop on the grounded left arm of Drake. Kushida dumped Drake and the ref (Wuertz) counted to six before Drake got back in, just to be scoop slammed.

Kushida stopped down on the bent arm of Maverick, then went for a double wristlock but Drake reached a rope. Wuertz asked if Maverick wanted to stop it, and he said of course not as he wailed in pain. Kushida kept working the arm as Maverick screamed “No” and Mauro wondered how much the ref would let him absorb. I see a towel-throw in this match’s future. Maverick said over and over not to stop it and Wuertz said “That’s on you.”

To the corner, both guys went up. Kushida caught Maverick with the double wristlock on the top rope but Maverick kept trying to fight back into it. Maverick wanted a bulldog from the top but Kushida hit the cross-armbreaker. Maverick rolled up Kushida for the shock pin.

WINNER: Drake Maverick at 12:02.

Byron got up and said he had some news that they’d want to hear. Since the three of them were tied, there would be one more match in Group A. Next week, it’s a triple threat match, and the winner will advance to the finals.

(Wells’s Analysis: This creates a genuine three-way tie. The announcers acknowledge now that Fantasma is in the final match already. Jake Atlas seemed like he was at ringside solely for a storyline, but in the end he was just there so he could conveniently be present for Byron’s announcement. There are a lot of moving parts in this triple threat, and this extra match will make Drake’s eventual loss all the more crushing, and the story that much stronger. Tonight’s match was the tried-and-true formula of total technical domination by one wrestler, but refusal to give up on the part of the other leading to a surprise victory)

-Damian Priest said he clearly desired to be a champion, and that time would come, but Finn Balor returned and he’s a great target. He said he was coming for him, and not just on any old stage – at the place Finn made a name for himself – TakeOver. The camera panned out and he was standing in front of the tron, where his blazing name appeared.

-A graphic promoted Ciampa-Kross at TakeOver: In Your House.


The two went at one another quickly. Quick reversals led to a back scratch by Shirai. Rhea grabbed an arm and hit a few lariats, then a dropkick that sent Io to the apron. Ripley spiked Shirai and then went for another, which Io escaped. Double stomp by Io got two heading to an early commercial.

The two were jockeying upon return. Rhea caught Io for a powerslam, but Shirai rolled forward into a sunset flip for two. Io put on a submission, but Rhea hit her feet and smashed Shirai into a turnbuckle to break. Shirai hit a boot to the face and went up. Ripley chased Shirai up the turnbuckle and wanted a superplex, but Shirai fought it off. Headbutt exchange; Rhea got the better of it and finally did hit the superplex. Ripley floated over for two. Both women sold the effects of the match.

Ripley tested the referee (Brewer) by holding on to Shirai’s hair until she was forced to break. Shirai flipped out of a suplex attempt and into a submission, and Rhea fought to the ropes to break. 619 by Shirai, to the outside, tope by Shirai. Charlotte’s music played (WHY?!) to bring her to the ramp. Shirai and Ripley kept battling, and Shirai hit a huracanrana that sent Ripley into Charlotte.

Back into the ring, Shirai hit double knees in the corner for a long two. Shirai sold frustration and then hit a big DDT for another long two. Charlotte hit the ring and attacked Ripley and Brewer called for the bell.

WINNER: No contest at 11:01.

(Wells’s Analysis: “No contest” wasn’t necessarily specified, but it’s the most likely call since Charlotte did eventually go after Shirai as well. The action was okay, though I can’t say I was surprised to learn this was a match with no finish given that it seems these two could do more and will now get a chance, likely in a triple threat scenario.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: It would seem we’ve still got a lot to figure out between now and In Your House in a couple of weeks, though we took some steps. Interestingly, the least clarity is in the championship picture, where I expect Velveteen Dream may get the win we all thought he might get on TV a few weeks ago, now that his real-life stuff is sort of disappearing from public consciousness, particularly after a week of a lot of hard wrestling news.

The lack of clarity from the announcers after the Tozawa-Fantasma match was tiring, and it’s clear that at least someone knew the deal, as all three non-Fantasma guys in Group B were grayed out on the graphic after the match. I thought Kushida would win the group outright tonight, but he’ll have one more obstacle as he heads to a triple-threat next week where I think he’ll go over, and Drake Maverick and Jake Atlas will enter a storyline of their own.

Enhancement matches are very welcome for my money, but hey, do us (and the worker) a solid and give the name of the guy who’s wrestling!

This was a pretty decent show, though nothing on the level of the recent highs. Next week should be full of decisions on which matches make the cut for TakeOver and which don’t, so I’ll see you then. Follow me all over social media @spookymilk.

1 Comment on 5/20 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Ripley vs. Shirai, Strong vs. Lumis, deciding matches in Cruiserweight tournament

  1. I may not have been paying the closest attention to NXT the last few weeks but this Cruiserweight tournament is the most confusing tournament in professional wrestling history.

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