5/27 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Riddle vs. Thatcher cage match, Ripley & Shirai vs. Charlotte & mystery partner, Kushida vs. Atlas vs. Maverick

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor



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

WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
MAY 27, 2020
LIVE(?) IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

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.

STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 30 MINUTES AFTER NXT
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-No recaps at the beginning, which is rare. We got shots of upcoming talent acting as a crowd.

(1) KUSHIDA vs. JAKE ATLAS vs. DRAKE MAVERICK – Group A final in the Cruiserweight Championship tournament

This is a result of all three going 2-1 and being deadlocked, leading to this tiebreaker. Drake was introduced first and got some boos from the fake crowd, which kind of flies in the face with what they’re doing with him. Kushida was next and the same guy with the low voice booed before a small “Kushida” chant got going with some of the small crowd. Atlas primarily got boos when he asked for a reaction. This crowd thing is already working against NXT and these reactions make no sense.

Drake threw a chop on Atlas, which Drake sold as painful to him. Atlas got dumped after a couple of quick moves but he returned the favor on Kushida and hit an Uehara moonsault. Springboard blockbuster by Atlas on Drake for a long two. There was a brief “NXT” chant and it was really nice to hear, even in this controlled environment. Arm drag/dropkick combo by Kushida on Atlas. Kushida went up with Drake but Atlas put Kushida in the electric chair. Kushida hit an Okana roll on Atlas and then also hit a German with a bridge on Drake to get a two-count on both guys in a cool spot just before commercial.

The three were trading shots in the ring upon return. Drak threw several forearms to Atlas, then tripped him into the corner. Atlas got dumped after some action in the corner, and Kushida hit a top-rope senton on him. Kushida with a tornado DDT on Drake and then a Hoverboard Lock. Drake rolled up Kushida for a near-fall in the same way he beat Kushida to force this match. A couple more near-falls happened. There was a “Drake” chant by some of the ringside “fans.” Sliced Bread by Drake on Atlas for two, broken by Kushida. Kawada kicks by Kushida and a big forearm took out Drake. He ran the ropes and Atlas hit him with a German suplex with a release. Kushida rolled out of the ring. Atlas hit a full body slam on Drake and went up. Rainbow DDT, but Kushida, from outside, dragged Atlas out to break. Atlas hit a superkick on Kushida outside.

Atlas went up with Kushida still outside. Kushida hit the apron and held Atlas in place, then joined him at the top. Drake got involved and knocked Atlas from the ring. Drake joined Kushida at the top and Kushida put on a Sakuraba lock. Atlas hit a superkick on Drake, who fell from the top, and then Atlas joined Kushida up top. Kushida hit his rolling armbreaker on Atlas, but before Atlas could tap, Drake covered Atlas for three.

WINNER: Drake Maverick at 11:09.

After the match, El Hijo del Fantasma hit ringside and shook Drake’s hand in front of the Cruiserweight Championship belt.

(Wells’s Analysis: That finish is too cute by half. I guess everyone’s protected, but it was pretty contrived. The action leading to this was strong, though I have to wonder if Drake had any chance in this tournament before he was released and this storyline started happening, or if he’s going to get to the finals and then lose to Fantasma as I believe Kushida was slated to do originally. Drake’s journey has been gripping much of the way, but Kushida not coming out of the block is yet another setback as he flirts with the uppercard but yet again falls short)

-Backstage, Kurt Angle, in a referee’s shirt, ran down the rules of tonight’s Cage Fight with Timothy Thatcher (so we were told; it was silent underneath commentary).

-Next week, Drake Maverick faces El Hijo del Fantasma in the finals of the Cruiserweight tournament.

-Johnny Gargano was introduced to boos that would have been much more meaningful if the ringside guys hadn’t booed all the babyfaces in the first match. Gargano said they had jobs because of him. He said there were a lot of good hands. He said he was proud to announce that tonight was the first ever “Johnny Wrestling Invitational.” He pointed at guys at ringside and said “It could be you! Keep working hard” but said that tonight’s lucky winner was Adrian Alanis.

(2) ADRIAN ALANIS vs. JOHNNY GARGANO

Alanis works in EVOLVE. Gargano extended a hand, and Alanis took it. Gargano threw fists upon handshake and danced around after he took down Alanis. Big forearm by Alanis and a superkick by Gargano. Gargano Escape finished.

WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 0:44.

After the match, Keith Lee and Mia Yim were on the tron in a living room. Lee placed a centerpiece of roses on the table, and Mia said “It’s trashy and phony and cheap. I get it – it’s the Garganos!” Then she spoke to the screen and in went black and white and she mocked the videos the Garganos have been doing. Lee followed suit, and he suggested Gargano and his action figures are the same size. Lee asked what Mia cooked, and Mia said the same as Candice: cookout. Tegan Nox showed up with a mostly-eaten pizza. She was wearing a Latino Heat shirt. Love that. She left, and Lee got serious about Gargano attempting to lay hands on Yim. They said the Garganos would pay, and they clinked glasses to end the segment.

-Drake Maverick, backstage, said that if he had to have another match to clear this up, he would. Kushida came into frame and endorsed Drake, and said he won the match, and now he needs to fight for the title. He slapped Drake on the chest in congratulations. Drake asked Kushida back into the frame and said when he wins the title, Kushida will be first in line. Kushida left again, and Drake finally celebrated getting to the finals.

-Imperium vignette. Marcel Barthel introduced the team, and Fabian Aichner said that Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan were a disgrace to their country, and to the NXT Tag Team titles. They said the match was sacred. Beth said the only reason Imperium were champions was the implosion of Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher, who implode in tonight’s main event.

(3) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. RAQUEL GONZALEZ (w/Dakota Kai)

This was framed as a revenge match for Shotzi after the tag match she and Nox worked against Kai and Gonzalez.

Raquel backed Shotzi to the ropes and Shotzi threw a slap. Raquel took Shotzi down, dragged her up by an arm and blocked her down again. Blackheart held an arm and threw kicks. Blackheart wanted a huracanrana, blocked, tried a rollup, tossed away. Crucifix attempt, blocked. Shotzi hit a rising knee, discus forearm and a question mark kick. Step-up enzuigiri and Shotzi tried a stunner, but Raquel slammed her down for two. Kai tried to distract Shotzi by getting into her entrance tank, but Shotzi was able to roll up Raquel for a surprise near-fall as Tegan Nox hit ringside and went at Kai heading to commercial.

Raquel had Shotzi in the corner and threw elbows, then stomped a mudhole, as the show returned from commercial. Powerslam by Raquel got two. Bearhug by Raquel. Shotzi shrieked as Raquel tossed her about. Shotzi briefly broke away but got hit with a quick pendulum backbreaker for another two. Another “Shotzi” chant, like at the beginning of the match, from the wrestlers working as the crowd (I’ve recognized Eric Bugenhagen out there but otherwise haven’t paid a lot of attention). Running senton by Shotzi in the corner. Gonzalez bailed. and Shotzi hit (kind of) a senton on Kai and Gonzalez, who helpfully fell although Shotzi may have overshot and she hit her back hard on the outside. Candice LeRae showed up at ringside to jaw with Tegan Nox, leading to Kai causing a distraction that allowed Raquel to hit her finisher in this somewhat bloated segment. Beth sort of undercut the heat by saying “What a competition between these women.”

WINNER: Raquel Gonzalez at 9:12.

(Wells’s Analysis: I’m a fan of the Kai/Gonzalez pairing continuing to win their matches nefariously. Gonzalez should dominate lower card women, but Shotzi is in a pretty good spot right now. Raquel continues to look more and more comfortable in these spots as she hangs with the defining women in the division. This was her best and smoothest televised match to date)

-Brief hype for the TakeOver match between Finn Balor and Damian Priest.

-Up next: Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai face Charlotte Flair and a mystery partner.

-TakeOver: In Your House spot. There were a lot of Standard Definition (VHS-level quality) shots to go with the In Your House theme.

-We got a rundown of the ongoing Charlotte-Rhea storyline that fed into the night’s tag team match.

(4) RHEA RIPLEY & IO SHIRAI vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR & A MYSTERY PARTNER

Rhea was introduced first to some cheers as she hit her poses, followed by her partner Io, who mostly got cheers herself though she’s a tweener. Mauro took a moment to go at cyberbullying, and said “Rest in power Joshi wrestler Hana Kimura.” I hoped and expected him to make reference to that this week. If you have no frame of reference for Kimura…oy. She was 22 and had a great career ahead of her, and likely would have been the center of Stardom soon.

Charlotte was introduced and her mystery partner was…Chelsea Green? Well, that’s a disappointment. The commentators sold it as a huge opportunity for her. Beth said they’d have to see if the two egos could coexist. Phillips framed Robert Stone as putting Green in incredible spots and giving her great opportunities.

Rhea and Green to start. Rhea told Green to make a tag. Green rolled away and Rhea stared down Charlotte. Green ticked off Rhea with a back rake, and Rhea slammed Green and then went after Flair in the cornr, allowing a hair pull for Green. Rhea fell back into a tag to Io Shirai.

[HOUR TWO]

Shirai hit a running elbow in the corner and stomped a mudhole on Green. Shirai wanted 619 but Green sloppily tossed her from the ring. Tope by Green. Charlotte made a tag and the announcers noted that Flair only wanted the tag when things were well in hand. CHarlotte stomped on Io in the heel corner and tagged fairly quickly. Io dumped Green and hit a diving plancha for an “NXT” chant. All four women got into it on the floor for a moment. Green reversed Shirai into the barricade as the match went to commercial.

Charlotte had control of Io upon return, but in the corner, Io ducked a chop and Green ate it. Still, Rhea’s temper took the ref’s interest and the heels dominated for a moment. Io was crumpled in the face corner and Rhea tagged in to dominate Green. Electric chair facebuster got two, broken up by Charlotte. Okana roll by Rhea but there was a blind tag and Flair hit a superkick. Figure four by Flair by Io broke up the move, then tagged in. Io hit double knees on Charlotte in the corner. Double stomp in the middle of the ring. Io hit the 619 and Green took a bullet for Flair. Flair kicked Rhea from the corner and then rolled up Io and used the ropes for “leverage” to pin Io.

WINNERS: Charlotte Flair and Chelsea Green at 11:52.

(Wells’s Analysis: Io is kind of an afterthought here, though I would prefer Rhea get out of the way for Io to be the next champion. It seems we’ll have to finish the Rhea-Charlotte story first, though Io could still come out of a triple-threat situation on top. Good action when Green wasn’t involved)

-The Garganos had a brief interview backstage. They weren’t thrilled with how things went down earlier, and Candice LeRae said Tegan Nox should be ashamed.

-Tom Phillips addressed the camera and said Adam Cole, due to his ongoing issues with Velveteen Dream, requested an audience with William Regal. The two were shown in a Zoom call. Cole said his celebration had to be put on ice, along with a lot of champagne. Regal said he had no time for whining, so he wanted Cole to get to the point. Cole said he knew he had to keep it simple because he didn’t want it to go over Regal’s head. He said the Undisputed Era should have a tag team championship match. Regal said what about what HE wants? He says Dream is likely to get another shot at the tag team championships at In Your House. Cole called Dream “narcissistic” and Regal said they were similar in that way. Cole said it was insulting because he was the cornerstone of the company. Regal asked if Cole understood the art of negotiations. He said he might not want to keep acting like a bay-bay. Cole said that was his best line since he was a real man’s man. Cole said he’d take the match but only if Dream didn’t get another match afterward. Regal agreed but said he’d find a location that was fitting of the competitors involved that would be fitting of the NXT Championship. The two said “Deal” and that was it.

(Wells’s Analysis: Good interplay between these two. I love a scene of two guys jockeying for power. There were some options for Cole, Dream, Lumis and Fish for TakeOver, but the straightforward championship match got the nod.)

-Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan vignette. Lorcan said he’d been in NXT for five years, which is…shocking. They talked about respect and knowing how to fight. They showed the two meeting in a pub. Burch said they connected even more than ever before, and proposed a toast to the team taking the tag team titles off of Imperium. Oney clinked glasses with Danny. Not sure if this is a TakeOver match yet, but with time to fill, I’d say probably.

-A graphic hyped the now-official TakeOver match of Velveteen Dream challenging for Adam Cole’s championship.

(5) TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. LEON RUFF

Ruff is one of the best bumpers anywhere right now. I like to see him, but I’d really like to see him gone for a while and back in a decent position. Scarlett was at ringside to coldly scout Ciampa as he was introduced.

Ruff rolled up a distracted Ciampa for two. Ruff rolled away from some Ciampa offense until Ciampa hit a knee to shut down the flurry. To the corner, Ciampa threw chops and knees to a downed Ruff while glaring out at Scarlett between shots. Middle of the ring. Ciampa blew a kiss to Scarlett. Fairytale Ending.

WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 1:17.

Scarlett left ringside, but Karrion Kross showed up on the tron. He addressed Ciampa’s comments last week. He confirmed that Ciampa and TakeOver were special. But he said at TakeOver, he’d make Ciampa feel something he’s never felt in his life. Tick. Tock.

(Wells’s Analysis: Thankfully, Ciampa and Karrion Kross have never come to blows leading up to their TakeOver match. This feud is doing so well by keeping it simple)

-Next week, Drake Maverick faces El Hijo del Fantasma and Candice LeRae faces Mia Yim. In addition, we get “Prime Target” featuring the men’s championship and women’s triple threat match for TakeOver.

-Kurt Angle was introduced as special referee for the main event and he got the proper “You suck” chant from the fans. The show threw to a recap of the tag team champions losing to Imperium and imploding, leading to this insta-feud. Kurt Angle reiterated that it’s knockout or tapout in this one.

(6) MATT RIDDLE vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER – Cage Fight

Thatcher was introduced first to boos. We got a tale of the tape. The “fight pit” was interesting; a cage surrounded the ring but there was a somewhat wide platform at the top all around, where Thatcher stood lurking as Riddle was introduced. Riddle went to the top as well, opposite Thatcher.

As the bell rang, both guys dropped to the mat. Riddle rolled forward with a big knee but they settled quickly into mat reversals. Riddle broke from a hold with a little Sliced Bread using the cage. German suplex with a release. Tom Phillips said there was a 10-count knockout rule in addition to the tapout rule. Riddle put knees to Thatcher, who was counted down for eight and sold huge – oh my. Thatcher sold a bloody mouth and handed a couple of teeth to Thatcher (looks a little too red) and Thatcher consulted a ringside “doctor” who said he could still fight. Mauro wondered aloud if the match could continue heading to final commercial.

Things were on the mat, naturally, upon return. Riddle had Thatcher down at the edge of the cage (there were no ropes within the structure) and threw rights as Thatcher covered. Thatcher hit his feet and the two exchanged blows. Riddle used the cage to try to jump into a Fujiwara armbar, but Thatcher caught him. Thatcher wrenched Riddle with a single-leg crab and Riddle grabbed at the cage, but there’s no break in this match. Thatcher threw knees to Riddle’s midsection before stomping a mudhole. Angle broke the hold. Angle had his gloves on, so the blood earlier may have been hardway, though literally none is present right now.

More mat reversals, too quick to comment on. Thatcher dragged Riddle around by his right leg and worked the leg and knee. Riddle tried to break with a forearm but Thatcher mounted and threw a few. Riddle reversed but Thatcher hit a triangle. Riddle deadlifted Thatcher and tried to slam him against the chain-link fence, but Thatcher climbed up on the platform, which had barricades on it at the edges. Riddle joined him at the top and the two threw punches and kicks as they walked around the top. This structure really works, particularly for these two guys.

The two went back to their mat business up on top. Riddle missed a Bro-ton as Thatcher rolled inward. Thatcher hit a suplex,  still on top. Thatcher surveyed the ring and hit a double-underhook. He wanted a butterfly suplex, but Riddle broke it up and hit a ripcord knee that sent Thatcher falling inside. Riddle hit a Floating Bro that landed absolutely perfectly from the top. The wrestlers at ringside went with a “This is awesome” chant. Riddle threw punches at the cage, but Thatcher moved and drove Riddle into the bar twice. Riddle tried to break a sleeper against the walls of the cage but couldn’t. Angle determined that Riddle was out and he called the match.

WINNER: Timothy Thatcher at 14:36.

(Wells’s Analysis: If it wasn’t already obvious enough that Thatcher would get a win back in this environment, the news that Riddle is likely heading to Raw soon should have made it clear that Thatcher was destined to win this. The match, like their straightforward one previously, was very strong. Phillips reiterated that Thatcher lost two teeth in this match, which, upon his look into the camera at the end of the match, appears to be true. Thatcher celebrated at the top of the cage as Mauro sold the brutality to finish)


FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m still torn on using wrestlers as a crowd. I think it comes off as hokey and stupid, but given the fact that I keep seeing people that claim to love it on twitter, I guess they may as well attempt to bring a small crowd into this as question marks continue to surround the return to normalcy.

With TakeOver: In Your House looming, we got closer to knowing our full card. Next week will feature “Prime Target,” a special usually reserved for the Network that hypes TakeOver shows, in addition to the final for the Cruiserweights and a singles match between Candice LeRae and Mia Yim that’ll either set up a mixed tag or a singles match between Keith Lee and Johnny Gargano for TakeOver (I’d prefer the former but now expect the latter).

Drake Maverick’s Cinderella run continues. I would have loved to see his win in a main event spot, though I understand the Cruiserweight championship just doesn’t get that slot. Next week I assume it all ends, but it sure seemed like this was destined to end with Fantasma-Kushida after Fantasma is likely outed as the head evil luchador, but we’ll see what we’ve got in store now.

This was a straightforward show, mostly, but a strong one nonetheless. Follow me on social media @spookymilk and take a listen to PWT Talks NXT late tonight or tomorrow, or call in using the link at the top of this page. Cheers.

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