NXT HITS & MISSES 5/20: Karrion Kross and Scarlett, Drake Maverick vs. Kushida, Fantasma vs. Tozawa, Shotzi Blackhart, Thatcher and Riddle, Strong vs. Dexter Lumis, Ripley vs. Shirai, more

By Nate Lindberg, PWTorch contributor


Dexter Lumis (photo credit Wade Keller © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

•Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett vs. Liam McJobberPants – HIT : Glad to see that Scarlett did not sing the lyrics to the entire song this week and only the “Fall and Pray” part of the entrance. I stand firm that Kross’s entrance is hands down one of the most badass we’ve seen in NXT. Very quick and explosive squash match to kick off the show against this unnamed jobber with the name “Liam” on his tights. Within four minutes we got an awesome entrance and some great action. Ciampa entered walked on stage after the match and welcomed Kross and Scarlett to NXT officially. He said that Kross attacked him, the main attraction, to make a point that he is here to be a main guy. Scarlett held the ropes open for Ciampa, which I thought was such a great touch. An invitation to get his ass kicked. The energy between these two was electric, even without a crowd in attendance. When the two locked eyes in the ring, seriously, goosebumps. I cannot wait for their upcoming match at Takeover In Your House.

•NXT Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament – El Hijo del Fantasma vs. Akira Tozawa – HIT: Going into this match, I had already predicted a Fantasma win. Tozawa, while a fantastic performer, has been defined down on the main roster and I think that is still too fresh in the minds of the fans to take him as a credible threat. Very impressed with Fantasma, as I was with his work as King Cuerno in Lucha Undergound and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this luchador. Tozawa took a beating throughout this match, but held on every step of the way. I feel like this match was booked in less of a heel vs. face dynamic and more of a “lets let two amazing talents go out there and have a great match.”

•Thatcher Speaks, Challenges Riddle – HIT: Thatcher, very nonsensically, said that he wants Riddle in a no frills match. Knockout or Tapout. That’s it, no pinfalls or DQs. He said that Riddle can name the place. I’m assuming Takeover: IYH. I really like this promo. Thatcher is just so old school and no nonsense. A brutal fighter who, if I saw walking towards me on the road, may make me consider crossing the street.

•Shotzi Blackheart Takes Care Of Business – HIT: Sitting on what seemed to be her own personal military tank, they aired a brilliant video package of Shotzi explaining who she is, how she mixes punk rock and wrestling, and how to run sh*t over with a freaking tank. We haven’t learned much about Shotzi up to this point, but we now know that she’s a daddy’s girl, who’s dad was a hardcore biker and that his love of music and that alternative lifestyle lead her down the path she is now. Very well done.

•Mia Yim vs. Santana Garrett – HIT: Garrett had a great showing against Yim here tonight. This was clearly Yim’s match to win, as she is still riding high after her match against Charlotte. Even though she lost, her stock was raised up quite a bit after hanging with the Queen a few weeks ago. After Yim squashed Garrett, Gargano and LaRae interrupted her victory celebration and mocked her for losing to Charlotte. Usually, we’ll see the woman play mouthpiece or arm-candy to the male act. It was really refreshing to see Gargano, a main event male wrestler, play the mouthpiece for his wife. After LaRae attacked Yim, Yim’s real life squeeze, the limitless one Keith Lee interjected himself and ran Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling off. Thankfully, they didn’t acknowledge the relationship between Yim and Lee in real life. It was insinuated, but not directly mentioned. Once you tie a couple together on air, you can’t undo it. It usually defines both wrestlers down over time. Both Becky and Seth’s acts cooled off after their relationship was turned into a storyline and I don’t feel like they every fully recovered.

•Roderick Strong vs. Dexter Lumis – HIT: Accompanied to the ring by Bobby Fish and NXT Champion Adam Cole, Roddy made his way to the ring to face the creepy Dexter Lumis. On commentary, we were reminded by Mauro that Lumis had recently helped Dream out in recent weeks against the Undisputed Era. I love this Lumis character. It reminds me of early Kane in a way. This brooding monster, albeit smaller than Kane, who stares a hole through his challenger. Roddy is arguably a main eventer in NXT, and Lumis proved that he could hang with the main eventers tonight in this match. I’m still not sure what they do with Lumis long term, but until they lose creative direction for him – I’m loving this character. Roddy barely squeaked out a win here, but took quite the beating after from Lumis. As he had a submission locked in, Dream came out and attacked the rest of UE, allowing Lumis to keep his death hold on Roddy. We may not have found out why this unusual alliance has formed between Dream and Lumis, but I love it.

•Brit-Am Brawlers (Oney Lorcan & Danny Burke) vs. Ever Rise – HIT: I won’t lie, I was marking out quite a bit for this match. Lorcan and Birch have been one of my favorite lower card teams for years, and Ever Rise was one of my favorite indie teams. In the WWE bubble, they’ve both only been jobber teams for the most part but they have the talent to be so much more. A very quick but explosive win for Birch and Lorcan, I’m hoping that this means some sort of a push for them as challengers for the new NXT Tag Champs, Imperium.

•Matt Riddle Responds to Thatcher – HIT: Riddle said that he beat Thatcher last week fair and Thatcher attacked unfairly. Riddle accepted the fight, inside of a cage. This is essentially looking to be an MMA bout inside of the squared circle, and I’m certainly intrigued.

•NXT Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament – Drake Maverick vs. Kushida – HIT: Before the match, Drake cut an impassioned promo on how he needed to win tonight to keep hope alive. Maverick has made a lifelong fan out of me with his work over the last few weeks. I got sucked right into this story, and even though this must be a work at this point and Maverick must have kept his job, I still can’t help but get wrapped up in the whole “fighting for my job” story. Maverick made his way to the ring with the most determined look on his face that I’ve seen in a long time. Jake Atlas showed up in the “crowd” to watch Maverick, which I thought was a great touch after Atlas’s pep talk to Maverick a handful of weeks ago. I won’t lie, I might have jumped up a little bit when Maverick won. I did not expect to see Maverick win this, but I was so glad to see this upset victory. Byron Saxon grabbed a mic and said that since Atlas, Kushida and Maverick have the same win/loss record, the three of them will face off next week in a triple threat for the rights to face Fantasma in the finals.

•Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai – HIT: For the first time since her loss to Charlotte at WrestleMania, Rhea was in action tonight against her rival, Shirai. As you would expect out of these two women, they had a fantastic match to end the show. Ripley may have been off TV for months, but she didn’t miss a step in the ring and looked like such a monster against Shirai. That’s not to say Shirai didn’t get her fair share of offense in either. Both women looked like the stars that they truly are here. Ripley fought like she had something to prove after her loss. Charlotte made her way ringside as the two competitors battled it out. That seemingly took the wind out of the sails of Rhea at first, with Shirai getting a huge edge over her. All of a sudden, Charlotte delivered a big boot to Shirai and a spear to Ripley, ending the match in a DQ, Shirai technically victorious. I really liked this match as well as the non-finish that will help to further along the story for the NXT Women’s Championship. Charlotte has won me over in NXT, as I was not high on the idea of her coming back. I think she can really elevate this division to the next level


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

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