NXT – April 22, 2020

NXT
Date: April 22, 2020
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton

We’re at an interesting point here as they are having to come up with some more stories without a full crew. It certainly seems that Adam Cole is gone for the time being, meaning we need to find a way to fill time until Velveteen Dream can challenge him. Dream has something to do tonight though, as he faces Finn Balor. Let’s get to it.

Opening recap.

Something has happened to Finn Balor in the locker room and he’s out of the match against Dream.

Here’s Dream to say new levels and new devils while doing Balor’s finger guns. In his experience, sometimes you are just dealing with the same new demons. Now he has been stood up by a demon….and here Adam Cole to interrupt. A lot of people have been assuming that the winner of Dream and Balor would be the new #1 contender and now Balor is nowhere to be found.

Cole knows what Dream is trying to do but he’ll never be the NXT Champion because Cole is his reality. Cue Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong to jump Dream from behind and the beatdown is on. Cole joins in but Keith Lee comes in for the save. Tag match abounds more than likely.

Shotzi Blackheart/Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai/Raquel Gonzalez

Blackheart is in her tank so Phillips gets in the line of “Well isn’t that a pretty picture: Shotzi rolling down the block in a Panzer.” That’s a line from the Santa Clause and I would not have bet on hearing that on this show so well done on the awesome reference. Shotzi armdrags Kai down to start and the reverse Sling Blade puts her in the corner. Nox comes in for her reverse Cannonball and the villains are sent outside, allowing Shotzi to hit a big dive to drop them both.

Back from a break with Gonzalez holding Shotzi in a cross between a Gory Stretch and a torture rack. Shotzi is sent into the corner and Kai comes back in for two. A kick to the face allows Shotzi to make a tag and it’s back to Nox to strike away at Gonzalez. Nox’s headbutt just hurts herself but she avoids a charge in the corner. There’s a high kick to rock Gonzalez again and everything breaks down. Kai kicks Nox to the floor and Gonzalez powerbombs Shotzi for the pin at 7:44.

Rating: C. Shotzi is one of those people who has so much energy that you can’t help but watch her (the green hair helps too). The charisma and action make her that much better and she could be something with more polish. Gonzalez getting a win makes sense as she’s one of those monsters who can hurt a lot of people in a good way.

We look at Drake Maverick’s tear jerking video where he announces he has been released while still being in the tournament. In another video, Maverick talks about how he’s done but wants to go out as champion. If that original video was a work, I will buy a hat so I can tip it to WWE.

Video on Jake Atlas.

Interim Cruiserweight Title Tournament Group A: Drake Maverick (0-0) vs. Jake Atlas (0-0)

Feeling out process to start with Maverick being sent to the apron. A dropkick sends Atlas into the ropes and a hurricanrana takes him to the floor. Back in and Atlas whips him hard into the corner but Maverick avoids a charge. A knee to the head sets up a Tequila Sunrise before Atlas gets sent outside. Drake hits a suicide dive and a top rope elbow for two back inside. Sliced Bread is broken up though and Atlas hits a superkick. A super cartwheel DDT finishes Maverick at 6:22.

Rating: C. Maverick is as good of an underdog as you can get and seeing him give everything he has to stay around is going to be a heart wrenching few weeks. Odds are he doesn’t win anything in the tournament, but they could have an amazing story if he gets to the finals somehow. I don’t think it happens, but dang it could be fun if he does.

Group A Standings

Jake Atlas – 1 – 0

Kushida – 0 – 0

Tony Nese – 0 – 0

Drake Maverick – 0 – 1

Post match, Atlas says one down and two to go as a disappointed Maverick leaves.

Video on Damian Priest, who still wants the North American Title.

Kushida wants the title.

Nese wants the title back.

Interim Cruiserweight Title Tournament Group A: Kushida (0-0) vs. Tony Nese (0-0)

Nese goes with a waistlock to start and muscles him down, only to have Kushida reverse into a front facelock. That’s reversed into a leglock but Kushida switches into a crossface chickenwing. Nese breaks that up as well and hammers away until Kushida knocks him out of the air. Kushida’s handspring is cut off though and Nese sends him into the barricade. Back from a break with a chop off on the mat and Nese being sent to the apron.

Kushida kicks him in the arm a few times but it’s good enough to get Kushida up in a pumphandle. It’s not good enough for the slam though as Kushida grabs the Sakuraba Lock. That’s reversed into a northern lights suplex to give Nese two so he goes up, only to get kicked in the face. Nese knocks him down and hits the 450 for two more, meaning frustration is setting in. Another trip to the top doesn’t go well for Nese, as Kushida catches him and pulls him down into the Sakuraba Lock for the tap at 11:09.

Rating: B-. Nese was bringing it here and it was a good thing to have him in there against someone as talented as Kushida. I know Kushida hasn’t exactly lit NXT on fire but he’s still talented enough to bring out the best in someone like Nese. This was a nice surprise and I’m starting to get some nice hopes for the tournament.

Group A Standings

Jake Atlas – 1 – 0

Kushida – 1 – 0

Tony Nese – 0 – 1

Drake Maverick – 0 – 1

Matt Riddle says he misses Pete Dunne but he’s glad to be teaming with Timothy Thatcher again. Thatcher likes the idea of making someone tap. Riddle says every time he looks in Thatcher’s blue eyes, he reminds him of Stallion Pete. Thatcher: “My eyes are brown.” Riddle: “I know bro.” Riddle has something planned for next week.

We get a Killer Kross video, as narrated by Scarlett Bordeaux.

Commentary officially acknowledges Karion Kross and Scarlett for the first time.

Johnny Gargano, sitting at a dinner table, talks about his fairy tale coming true when he married Candice LeRae. Then he got another fairy tale by becoming the first Triple Crown Champion and the heart of NXT. No one believed he would be the better man by beating Tommaso Ciampa. Candice, now with silver hair and black lipstick, brings him dinner as Johnny rants about how NXT has become a toxic wasteland.

The fairy tale was believing that if you do the right thing, you will be awarded. Sure he signed everything and did everything the company asked but Ciampa got everything handed to him. Johnny is tired of waving the NXT flag on top of a mountain of unappreciation. Candice sits down and talks about going through the same thing. She was everyone’s big sister and did the right thing, but where was anyone when she needed them?

It’s insane to do the same thing over and over and expect different results, so Candice is changing things. Now she is going to be out for herself first, just like Johnny. They have been stabbed in the back again and again by people they thought they could trust. From now on, they can trust each other and it’s time to rebuild NXT in their image. It’s their way so they need to win the titles. I was digging this as the two of them both sound a lot more natural this way.

Io Shirai wants to show Charlotte how great she is and win the title. She bows to no one.

Drake Maverick says he’s fighting his opponent and himself. Maybe everyone was right about him.

Mia Yim vs. Jessi Kamea

I believe this is Kamea’s debut. Mia drives her into the corner to start and grabs a headlock, which doesn’t last all that long. A shoulder drops Jessi but she nips right back up for a shoulder of her own. Mia nips…well most of the way up and then shoulders Jessi back down. A running basement spinwheel kick gives Kamea two and she pounds away with rights and lefts. Kamea gets two off a springboard spinning elbow but misses a running knee in the corner. A missile dropkick misses as well and it’s a neckbreaker into Protect Yo Neck to finish Kamea at 3:12.

Rating: D+. This was little more than background noise as the announcers talked about Mia vs. Charlotte. Mia was her usual adequate self here but she is still someone who has yet to click with me. Her work is fine but there is nothing about her that really makes me care. That being said, she isn’t the top challenger or anything like that so it’s not some big tragedy.

Post match here’s Charlotte to says he hopes Mia wants the match too. Mia says she would be honored to be in the ring with Charlotte, who says she never had her chance to thank Mia for her first match in NXT. Mia has always been a good hand and next week, Charlotte can help make her a star.

Jack Gallagher talks about how he’s here to be a champion and not a joke anymore. He’s a gentleman outside the ring but when you see those tattoos, you know it’s war paint.

Robert Stone lounges in the pool while Chelsea Green is in a swimsuit photo shoot. He talks about how close she was to being the new #1 contender but stops to direct her. Chelsea dives into the water and swims over to him. As Chelsea has a seat, he says no one has her combination of all the skills, including Rhea Ripley. Chelsea says she put everyone on notice and is the next Women’s Champion. Stone: “Yes you are.”

Interim Cruiserweight Title Tournament Group B: Jack Gallagher (0-0) vs. El Hijo de Fantasma (0-0)

This is Fantasma’s debut. They lock up to start and Gallagher gives us a clean break out of the corner. A hammerlock takes Fantasma down but he powers out of a chinlock without much trouble. Now it’s Fantasma grabbing his own chinlock until Gallagher powers up for a Wasteland. They head outside with Gallagher sending him into the barricade but Fantasma catches him with a kick to the head. A fake out into a slingshot dive drops Gallagher again and we take a break.

Back with Gallagher scoring with some kicks to the spine, followed by the armbar. Fantasma breaks that up and hits some clotheslines, plus a jumping superkick to send Gallagher outside. The big suicide dive nails Gallagher again so he goes for the mask to provide a distraction. Gallagher’s big headbutt gets two so he goes after the mask again, earning himself some knees to the face. A Samoan driver finishes Gallagher at 11:40.

Rating: B-. Another good one here as Fantasma gets to win after a test in his debut. That’s a smart way to start as a simple squash isn’t all that interesting and of course you don’t want him losing. Gallagher is someone who can work well with anyone and that is what he did here. Nice work.

Group B Standings

Akira Tozawa – 1 – 0

El Hijo de Fantasma – 1 – 0

Jack Gallagher – 0 – 1

Isaiah Scott – 0 – 1

Post match Fantasma thanks the fans at home and he’s ready to become Cruiserweight Champion.

Fantasma is at his car when the van from the previous few weeks shows up. The masked men jump him but he fights them off and they drive away. Fantasma doesn’t know who they were.

Keith Lee/Velveteen Dream vs. Undisputed Era

Cole/Strong for the team here with Fish in the corner. The Era’s cheap shots at the bell don’t work and Fish is ejected before he can interfere. The distraction works well though as it’s Damian Priest sneaking in to hit Lee in the throat with his baton. Dream waves down medics (but gets referees) as Cole is all smiles to take us to a break.

Back with Dream on his own and Strong grabbing a front facelock. Cole pump kicks him into an Angle Slam for two and it’s time for the backbreakers. The seated abdominal stretch stays on the ribs….and suddenly Dexter Lumis is on the apron. Dream escapes a suplex and hits the Dream Valley Driver, allowing the hot tag to Lumis. House is cleaned in a hurry as Fish comes back out. Dream tags himself back in as Lumis dives onto Fish and Strong. The Purple Rainmaker finishes Cole at 9:43.

Rating: C+. Well that was a surprise and that’s the kind of thing they have to do at the moment. NXT needs to switch things up a little bit and use the talent they have available. Lumis is different enough to make a quick impact and that’s what they did here. The ending and the surprise made this a good enough main event, while also helping to set up Priest vs. Lee next week. Nice, efficient match, as NXT knows how to do.

Overall Rating: B-. This was an entertaining show with a bunch of stuff going on at once, all of which feels like it’s going somewhere. They set up some stuff for next week and the future, which is something that NXT does as well as anyone else. Solid effort here with some good enough wrestling and a more streamlined format than we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Results

Shotzi Blackheart/Tegan Nox b. Dakota Kai/Raquel Gonzalez – Powerbomb to Blackheart

Jake Atlas b. Drake Maverick – Super Cartwheel DDT

Kushida b. Tony Nese – Sakuraba Lock

Mia Yim b. Jessi Kamea – Protect Yo Neck

Velveteen Dream/Dexter Lumis b. Undisputed Era – Purple Rainmaker to Cole

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