SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
•Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett vs. Danny Birch – MISS
A rare “miss” graces the column tonight. Best friend to my man, Oney Lorcan, Danny Birch was the latest to fall victim to the brutal Karrion Kross. Though, I was actually surprised at how much offense Birch actually got in on Kross. Part of it was that Kross was playing with Birch after each time he was beat down. He made poor decisions to toy with his opponent which kept blowing up in his face.
I give this a miss with a heavy heart, because frankly I thought the match itself was solid if you look at it by itself with no preexisting story. I’ll always be in Birch’s corner, so I’m glad to see him looking like he could possibly have gone toe to toe with Kross.
Somebody like Swerve, Shane Thorne, Pete Dunne or Kushida would have been credible to get as much offense in on Kross as Danny Birch did. But, Birch and Lorcan have been undercard jobbers for far too long. Kross is supposed to be the “Killer,” right? Well, how can we take him seriously if his match was about 60/40 offense with a guy like Birch who hasn’t won a singles match in recent memory. If ever? It made Kross feel weak to me, even though he ultimately got the victory.
Great match, good story and well executed. But it was the wrong opponent for Kross, and that killed it for me.
After the match, Keith Lee stormed the ring with a contract in hand. He cut an earnest promo, utilizing the “B” word, so we know he’s extremely serious. The contract was signed by him and Regal already, granting Kross a title match at Takeover 30.
Kross signed, and then Scarlett handed it back to Lee. Lee went to look at the contract and it…
It exploded. No. I’m not kidding.
This might be the first time I have audibly let out a “WTF?!” while watching NXT since I have been writing this column and co-hosting “PWT Talks NXT.”
•Drake Maverick vs. Killian Dain – MISS
On paper, this match was not a sufficient way to make up for the opening 15 minutes. Drake Maverick is the smallest of the cruiserweights, meaning he is the smallest of the male competitors in all of NXT. Why was he booked against the near 300 lb. Killian Dain?
As soon as the match started, they went to commercial keeping the split screen. They would cut away from the match and show Lee and his real-life significant other get into an ambulance with his eyes covered in bandages. When they came back from commercial, they still didn’t return to this match. Instead, they showed the ambulance leaving and the Undisputed Era show up to the arena.
When we get back to the match, somehow Maverick had the upper hand over this 300lb monster. Just as we think Maverick might win this, the newly “Babyface” faction, Undisputed Era charged the ring and attacked both competitors.
•Undisputed Era Calls Out McAfee – HIT
How they got to this promo, I was not fond of. But Adam Cole’s fire as he was challenging Pat McAfee yet again, outraged at getting attacked himself last week, was incredible. Truly showed off the star qualities of Adam Cole.
•Tyler Breeze vs. Santos Escobar – 50/50
Last week, Escobar and his goons kidnapped Fandango after Dango and Breezy disrespected the name of Lucha Libre. They returned Dango before the night was over, but Breeze needed to get revenge for his fallen tag partner.
Escobar has become my favorite part of NXT each week, and considering he is holding a title that I’ve been lukewarm on since the last time we had a Cruiserweight title, that says something. He has seriously elevated the division to be an attraction and not just part of the show.
Oh, I have to take a second here and ask: “What the heck was going on with Tyler Breeze’s back?!” It looked like he received an allergy test earlier in the day, or has someone shoot him with large paintballs or something. Cupping, maybe? If you have an idea, or may know – let me know in the comments.
Breeze put up a fight, but ultimately he fell to Escobar after the predictable distraction from Legado del Fantasma. Dango, in an arm sling, came to the ring with a broom handle to fight off Fantasma, but that weapon was quickly turned against him. Swerve then emerged from the back to save the day and run Fantasma off for the rest of the night.
•Dakota Kai Hype Video – HIT
I can always count on these NXT video packages to be a high point of the night, and this was no exception. Nothing revolutionary here, but Kai delivered her lines with a passion and cadence that screamed “realism” to me. This was to hype her upcoming match with Shirai at Takeover, reminding all of us just what a treat we are in store for when that bout comes to fruition.
•Indi Hartwell vs. Mia Yim – HIT
Mia Yim made it back from the hospital in record time and managed to put on her gear for this match to get underway. Indi was already in the ring, not receiving an entrance of her own after receiving one the last few times she’s been out there.
Speaking of those last few times, I was not super impressed with what I saw out of Indi in the ring. Sloppy spots that looked like they were mistimed, things like that. She shows a lot of promise and potential, and 23 years old she has plenty of time to refine her craft. She did seem to be a lot crisper in the ring tonight too.
•Damian Priest vs. Bronson Reed – HIT
After Priest’s win last week, Reed congratulated him back stage which turned sour fast, culminating in this match tonight. Talk about momentum here! Bronson Reed not only kept up with Priest throughout the contest, he came out victorious! Reed is clearly being built up for something big, presumably the next North American Champion.
•Io Shirai Hype Video – HIT
Shirai’s response to Kai’s video package earlier in the night. Another very well produced segment that has me so unbelievably ready for this title match in a few weeks. I’m trying not to be bitter about the fact that I won’t get to see it live like I should have. Takeover Boston would have been incredible, Boston is such a great wrestling crowd.
•Mercedes Martinez & Aliyah vs. Kacy Catenzaro & Kayden Karter – HIT
Entering together, Kayden and Kacy walked to the ring in matching gear! They’re taking this BFF tag team thing seriously, which is fantastic. Though Kacy and Kayden are still on the greener side, they won’t get better without TV time. They have all the makings to be larger stars!
Robert Stone inserted himself early into the match, allowing for Karter to quickly take down Aliyah and get the match underway. When Aliyah was the legal competitor, Kacy and Kayden worked like such a well-oiled machine. When Mercedes was tagged in, that’s when the team’s engine broke down.
Aliyah and Martinez seem like such an odd pairing on paper. But in practice, with Stone in the mix, this works so well. Stone and Aliyah, mooching off of Martinez’s successes, I love it.
Rhea Ripley made her way to the ring after the match to confront Martinez, taking her out quickly before Aliyah made the save. Shotzi, in her street clothes, made the save for Ripley, leaving the two standing tall after the fight. I make mention of Shotzi’s attire, as in real life her car was stolen this week. Inside, her ring attire including her signature helmet.
•After Dinner with the Garganos – HIT:
This vignette was a little nonsensical, but really helped to drive how how delusional the Garganos have become over recent months.
•Kushida vs. Cameron Grimes vs. ???? – HIT
The final competitor to this match was revealed to be Velveteen Dream after both Grimes and Kushida made their ways to the ring. The thought crossed my mind that it could be Dream, but after all of the alleged sexual abuse allegations and screenshots, I thought they may either cut ties with Dream or keep him off TV a bit longer. Nope, here he is!
I’m torn on his return. One on hand, he’s a fantastic performer. On the other, his legacy in my eyes is already tainted after allegedly abusing his power. Maybe there was enough evidence to clear his name internally within the company? I don’t know. I do know that it feels icky. Icky is the best adjective to describe it.
When you put these three names down on paper, you’d expect an absolutely crazy match out of them. They didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure. It was full of action and wonderful storytelling. What really didn’t disappoint was the winner here. Grimes absolutely deserves this spot.
After the match, when Dream lost it after realizing he lost. He snapped, slapping and punching the crap out of Kushida, and destroying part of the ring barrier. Then, he regained all of his composure as Balor joined him in the ring, teasing the ladder match for Takeover.