SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
DAKOTA KAI (w/Raquel Gonzalez) vs. MERCEDES MARTINEZ
Martinez is focused on Gonzalez and her NXT gold, but first she had to go through Dakota Kai tonight. To some, this might be considered a dream match, two of the best female talent in the world in a TV opener for NXT.
And what a match it was. Including the introduction of “The Cliffhanger” from Mercedes, a powerbomb into a burning hammer. Such an incredible move, too bad it was kicked out of handily. This match went at least 10 minutes, and I could have watched another 10 more of these two. Kai & Martinez have amazing chemistry and it showed during the match.
Gonzalez attacking Martinez for the DQ was somewhat predictable, but easily the last finish I would have wanted to see. I would have rather seen a distracted Kai win over a blatant attack from Gonzalez. Regardless, it was a ruthless attack and did make Gonzalez look like a force to be reckoned with. Kai on the other hand looked like a dweeb letting her friend fight her battles.
TONI STORM vs. ZAYDA RAMIER
Toni Storm looked like she was going to make quick work of Ramier, even toying with her battered opponent at the end of the match rather than going for the cover. Storm saw Ramier as Zoey Stark and took out her frustrations on Ramier until Stark interfered. Ramier got the upperhand from the distraction and landed a Shooting Star Press for an upset win.
I was actually super into this finish. Ramier was a bump machine for Storm and showed that she has some real talent between the ropes. Seeing her get this upset victory, while it may not lead to anything for her long term, felt refreshing short term.
NORTH AMERICAN TITLE NUMBER ONE CONTENDERSHIP – BRONSON REED vs. AUSTIN THEORY
All members of The Way accompanied Theory to the ring, with Indi Hartwell looking as forlorn as she could be without her flame, Lumis. Theory was looking to pick up a victory here so he could face his mentor, Gargano and lie down to allow Gargano to retain his title. Bronson Reed was not about to let Theory execute this plan so easily, acting as a massive hurdle for the heel Theory to climb. Yay backwards booking!
Lumis appeared mid match, and slowly walked up to Indi, who wanted nothing to do with him after the flowers were delivered to Ember and Shotzi earlier. This played into the finish, causing a bit of a distraction and allowing Bronson to regain the upper hand for the win.
Backwards booking aside, this was a very entertaining matchup overall. Reed will now face Gargano for the NA Title once again.
IMPERIUM (Martel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) vs. DRAKE MAVERICK & KILLIAN DAIN
Drake Maverick began doubting Dain’s loyalty, adding a layer to this match of whether or not Drake and Dain would co-exist. It was almost a role reversal, with Dain trying to convince Drake everything is okay, and Drake not really caring about the team.
At the end of the match, Dain was taken out without Drake seeing it making it look like he abandoned Drake once again. However, Dain did enter the ring shortly after and clean house as the non-legal man.
At one point Alexander Wolfe, ringside for his Imperium brethren, went to hit Dain with a steel chair and hesitated unable to hit his former Sanity buddy. Though he did help Barthel take Dain out moments later, allowing for Imperium to squeak the win out over Dain.
While this segment may have been a bit too long for my liking, this was effective story telling with all of the nuances of
SHOTZI BLACKHEART & EMBER MOON vs. ROBERT STONE BRAND (Jessi Kamea & Aliyah)
Before the match, flowers and chocolates were delivered Moon and Shotzi on behalf of Lumis again. Indi and Candace attacked the champions from behind before they could enter the ring, so the match couldn’t happen.
Robert Stone, Kamea & Aliyah are now claiming to be the NXT Womens Tag Champions on a DQ win for a match where the bell never rang.
I love it. Amazing heel work.
LEGADO DEL FANTASMA vs. MSK & KUSHIDA
Always a fan of taking multiple feuds and mashing them into one match when it’s done effectively. Kushida & Escobar have been feuding after Kushida defeated him for his Cruiserweight title. MSK, Wilde & Mendoza are feuding over the tag titles. This is one of the few times where a six man tag match makes sense, and even I, a self proclaimed hater of multi-person matches, can get behind.
Legado del Fantasma looked like a monster threat against the three champions. Extremely dominant, splitting the ring down the middle and keeping the legal man for the other team away from their partners. They even effectively made it a handicapped match after Escobar put Kushida through the announce table, and then taking out Nash Carter leaving Wes Lee to fend for himself against all three members of Legado.
Wes Lee fought from underneath, and eventually took all three men out which allowed enough time for Carter to recover for the hot tag. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and Legado picked up a dominant win against three of NXT’s champions.