NXT HITS & MISSES 6/3: Maverick vs. Fantasma in Cruiserweight Title Tournament finals, LeRae vs. Mia Yim, Dexter Lumis, Takeover hype including video features on two key title matches, Breezango’s return, Dexter art

By Nate Lindberg, PWTorch contributor


Drake Maverick (photo @WWEmaverick)

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

•Candace LaRae vs. Mia Yim – HIT: Advertised last week, the match I was most looking forward to kicked off the show! The past few weeks we’ve watched the feud between Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling and Team Yimitless continue to build. This is the first official physicality between two members of these opposing couples.

There was a spot where Yim picked LaRae up in a reverse wheelbarrow and threw her head first into the ringside barricade. After the Kairi Saine / Nia Jax spot was botched in a similar fashion, I wish they went to another spot instead. Regardless, the match went to a no-contest shortly thereafter with a double count out. Both women were fighting each other without a care for the match, they let the ref count to ten.

As LaRae got the upper hand, Tegan Nox came out of nowhere and pulled her off of Yim, which was really strange to me. Rather than attacking LaRae, she just nonchalantly pulled her off and begged her to stop. This allowed for Raquel Gonzales and Dakota Kai to swoop in and attack both Yim and Nox. Shotzi came out to help Nox and Yim, and were eventually pulled apart by the refs. Lee and Gargano came out to back up their respective counterparts, resulting in Regal (through the Announcer) turning this into a mixed tag match.

•Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling vs. Team Yimitless – HIT: Last week on PWT Talks NXT, we wondered when we would get the mixed tag match between these two teams. We speculated that it may happen at In Your House or potentially after. We didn’t think of the possibility that this Women’s Singles match would turn into a Mixed Tag. Neither Gargano nor Lee were in wrestling attire, though Lee had the upper hand in a t-shirt and sweats, compared to Gargano’s skinny jeans and sports coat.

The match started with Lee assisting Yim dominate LaRae, with Gargano cowardly watching from outside the ring – not even standing in his teams corner. Yim and LaRae went back and forth before Yim was able to tag Lee in. Mixed tag rules means that the other male competitor needs to tag in as well. Gargano attacked Lee’s eyes (what is it with WWE and poking out eyes in story lines lately?!) with his car keys. Yim rushed to Lee’s aid, as Gargano tagged LaRae in who quickly rolled Yim up for the pin.

Beautifully done, in my opinion. It wasn’t the greatest wrestling match in the world, of course. But the women did the majority of the work, keeping the men separate for their, presumable, clash at In Your House.•

Dexter Lumis Speaks… or Does He? – MISS: With each passing week, a new layer to this Dexter Lumis character comes to light. Lumis was being interviewed backstage. Instead of responding to the question, the first time we would have heard him speak, he just walked off camera and grabbed an easel, canvas and markers. He dragged them into frame and began his artwork(???) instead of answering the question.

No. Just no. Please no. He was this psycho killer looking badass. The trope of the badass who is sensitive and artsy has been done before and it’s never done well (cough, Heidenrich, cough).

•Drake Maverick Has The Best Day Ever – HIT: After being blown off by Lumis, the unnamed backstage interviewer made her way outside and found Drake Maverick as we came back from commercial. Drake cut an amazingly emotional promo about how for the first time in recent memory he is feeling no pressure at all. A la Tom Cruise and his crazy couch jumping, Maverick jumped on a nearby park bench and shouted that he could be the next NXT Cruiserweight Champion! I loved this promo. It’s a wonderful culmination of this story line, leading into the finals to the tournament. Will Maverick keep his job? I can’t believe they’re going to make me wait until the end of this episode to find out!

•Cole and UE Celebrate, Dream Rollerblades – HIT: To hype their upcoming Parking Lot Brawl this Sunday at Takeover: In Your House, we were shown what we’ve come to call a “Borash Special” on PWT Talks NXT. A Jeremy Borash produced, cinematic-like segment. Cole was celebrating 365 days as NXT Champion with Bobby Fish, Roderick Strong, and a red-headed amish man. Oh, wait. Nope, I had to look again. Kyle O’Reilly! The hat, sunglasses and “quarantine beard” had me wondering who he was for a few seconds. All the while, the Undisputed Era trash talked Dream and his quest for the gold.

Dream was shown rollerblading around the area at Full Sail and pointed out spots where Cole attacked him around the campus, claiming that he will capture the NXT Championship.

We cut back to the Limo pulling into a parking lot. The Undisputed Era seemingly went inside of a place called a “restaurant”, something that used to be common place in the world. Without social distancing, or wearing masks in this public establishment, they toasted to the Undisputed Era and their careers.

Cut back to Dream, making sexual innuendos and spitting his typical cocky rhetoric. He looked into the mirror, because who doesn’t keep a mirror next to their couch so they can look at themselves after shooing away beautiful women, and asked “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who will be the greatest NXT Champion of all?” His reflection changed to a very good impersonation of the late musician “Prince”, who said “Velveteen Dream”

Then they had Sam Roberts, Drew McIntyre, Pat McAfee, and other main roster or main stream podcasters hyping the match. This entire segment was very well done and certainly has me excited for this match.

•Lumis Reveals His Artwork – HIT: Okay. I didn’t like the first part to this interview earlier in the night. But, when he revealed a caricature of himself driving the Undisputed Era in a van, I lost it. It was just so absurd, it won me over. I’m glad I was wrong about the artsy artist trope, or seemingly so anyway. We’ll see if this artist thing continues.

•NXT Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament – Tony Nese vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott – HIT: Last week, Nese put down anyone with a terrible record in the tournament. He meant it at a dig at his opponent, but it applied to Swerve. He followed it up by costing him his match later that night. Swerve got his revenge here. He started the match out strong, taking Nese out early. Nese fought back and kept most of the offense throughout, including almost getting his finisher off on Swerve. But Swerve countered and rolled up for the win. This match was fine, it wasn’t as good as I thought it may be, but I feel like that happens more often than not when Nese is in the match. He puts on a fine performance, but it’s just that – fine.

•#1 Contender For The NXT Tag Championships – Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong vs. Brit-Am Brawlers (Danny Birch and Oney Lorcan) vs. Breezango – HIT: It’s been months since we’ve seen the team of Breezango, and they were a last minute mystery addition to this match. Coming out as astronauts to celebrate the recent space launch, The Undisputed Era and the Brit-Am Brawlers didn’t seem to pleased to see the dancing detectives.

As much as I love both the Brit-Am Brawlers and Breezango, neither team really feels like a credible threat to Imperium’s NXT Tag Championships. Breezango has been off TV for a long time and Birch and Lorcan have been an enhancement team for so long it’s hard to take them seriously, as much as I would love to see them with gold. Admittedly, that feeling faded as the match progressed. Birch and Lorcan and their intensity meshed so well with the intensity of Breezango, a former main roster act, and the former 3x tag champions that I really started to believe that they may just pull off an upset win.

Shortly after that, my dreams of a Birch and Lorcan title reign were squashed when Breeze quickly got the win. As Breezango was celebrating, Imperium came down the ramp to intimidate them. However, they weren’t expecting Malcolm Bivens and Indus Sher to appear on stage behind them. We cut to commercial as all teams were staring each other down.

This was an awesome triple tag team match, a lot of intensity and charisma from everybody involved. And I really cant complain too much about Brit-Am Brawlers losing. Breeze and Fandango, even though they haven’t done anything to warrant a shot at the titles other than win this match, have always kept me entertained and I look forward to them taking on Imperium.

•Robert Stone. You’re FIIIIRED! – HIT: I give this a hit only because it intrigues me. The Robert Stone Brand barely got off the ground and, in this interview shown from last week, Chelsea Green fires Stone because she’s hotter than ever? What? How delusional is this woman?

•Aliyah vs. Santana Garrett – HIT: The battle of the Jobbers, who comes out on top? Shortly after the match started, Robert Stone came out and stood in Aliyah’s corner, hoping to keep his brand alive. We saw him show interest in her a few weeks ago, seemingly planting the seeds for tonight. When Aliyah lost, you would have thought someone just told Stone that his mother died. I’m somewhat indifferent on this segment, but I’ll give it a hit simply because the match itself was better than I expected from these two, even if it wasn’t a technical masterpiece. Not that I would expect that to begin with.

•A Look at Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai, and Charlotte – HIT: A Candid and behind the scenes look at all these of these women entering the triple threat for the NXT Women’s Championship, especially the build to Rhea and Charlotte’s build to and subsequent WrestleMania Match. Then a look at Io Shirai’s background and history leading up to today. These are the video packages I want to see more of on the main roster. Tell us who these people are! Get us invested in their lives, in their stories. Stars will build themselves if they are given the time to shine and the proper investment by both the company and the fans.

•Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed – HIT: I would be lying if I said I didn’t forget about Bronson Reed. I couldn’t remember the last time we saw him on TV. Admittedly, when he entered the ring, I thought that he looked like he might be someone who could actually hang with the up and coming Grimes. I think that was the point of putting Reed opposite Grimes here. Especially with the intensity of the offense we saw out of Reed. He seemed like just the obstacle that Grimes needed to overcome. After the match, Karrion Kross entered the ring and laid waste to Reed after Grimes cowardly ran. Kross used this as an opportunity to look into the camera and tell Ciampa “This Sunday, Special. Tick Tock.”

•NXT Cruiserweight Interim Championship Tournament Finals – El Hijo del Fantasma vs. Drake Maverick – HIT: Weeks of wondering where Maverick’s career, both in real life and kayfabe, finally culminates tonight. Fantasma started off the match with a little heel tactic, attempting a rollup pin during the ‘sportsmanship handshake’ to start the match. Fantasma, just under 200lbs himself, looked massive compared to the 150lb Maverick. As expected, Fantasma carried most of the offense, however Maverick would counter or land a random offensive move here and there to keep himself in the match.

At one point, Fantasma delivered a sit-out powerbomb to Maverick outside the ring and the screams that came from Maverick afterwards would make any rational human run to his side to help. Top notch selling, if not a little over the top. Even so, it worked so well in the context of this match. Maverick fighting for his dream and career to stay alive, he’s fighting through excruciating pain to do so. Fantasma delivered devastating move after devastating move to Maverick, but each time he kicked out at two.

As we have been expecting for seemingly months now, Fantasma and the mysterious masked luchadores are linked. They showed up here and almost attacked Fantasma. Maverick, wanting to win the match fairly, came to his opponents aid and fought the two masked attackers off. Maverick joined Fantasma in the ring and was met with a superkick and a Phantom Driver for the win, crushing Maverick’s dreams. Maverick, wanting to do the right thing, cost him the title.

I must admit, I’m extremely disappointed in Maverick’s loss. But I can’t wait to see where this story with Fantasma leads. Who are these masked luchadores? Are they with Fantasma or are they against him?

Maverick, in tears, looked into the camera and said “Thank you for all your support.”, and exited the ring in tears while the “NXT Universe” of rookies cheered him on and banged on the protective glass between them and the ringside area. Maverick walked up the ramp, bowed to his peers, as Triple H appeared alongside him on stage holding a brand new NXT Contract. Maverick, with the biggest look of relief on his face, signed the contract and held it high overhead as the episode went off air.

What a feel good ending to the show this week, especially with the turmoil going on throughout the world. Drake Maverick may not have won the title, but he saved his career after all.


RECOMMENDED: 6/3 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Fantasma vs. Maverick for Cruiserweight Championship, Mia Yim vs. Candice LeRae, final In Your House hype

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