By Bob Kapur – SLAM Wrestling
Unfortunately, as this reviewer was typing up the recap of Wednesday night’s NXT episode, his laptop killed the document, forcing a re-watching of the episode. Which was both bad and good. Bad because it wasn’t a great show, with both title matches falling short of expectations. But good because it allowed a second look at one of the best debuts in the show’s history.
Match 1: Johnny Gargano vs. Dominik Dijakovic
This one was the classic battle between the big, strong guy versus the smaller, craftier guy. Dominik dominated much of this match with huge power moves, so Johnny had to resort to desperate tactics, like faking a knee injury to slow down Dominik, only to chop-block the big man when he backed off. Gargano’s wife Candice LeRae came to the ring to distract DD and the referee, and this allowed Johnny to start removing the turnbuckle. He finally tore it off when DD got him up for a powerbomb attempt. Gargano reversed the move into a hurancarana which sent DD face-first into the exposed steel, and after One Final Beat, Gargano got the pin.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Backstage, Imperium challenged NXT Tag Team Champions Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher to a title match.
Match 2: Akira Tozawa vs. “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher – Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match
Gallagher’s tattoos look terrible. The commentators said they were symbols for bad luck. I say they are symbols for bad ink. Gallagher used his ground and pound style to keep Tozawa down. The fight spilled to the apron where they exchanged blows, with Tozawa winning that battle when he spiked Gallagher on the apron with a DDT. He then rolled Gallagher back in the ring, hit a senton splash, and got the win.
After the match, Tozawa said he would beat El Hijo de Fantasma, his next opponent in the tournament.
Backstage, WWE NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair paced around her dressing room.
Match 3: Chelsea Green (w/ Robert Stone) vs. Xia Li
Li beat down Green with strikes and kicks. After a minute or so, Aliyah ran to the ring, distracting Li. Li kicked her away, but with her back turned dealing with that, Green came up from behind, hit an I’m Prettier, and got the win. After the match, Robert Stone helped Aliyah up, and the commentators speculated he may be looking to bring her into his stable.
Winner: Chelsea Green
Backstage in his lounge, Velveteen Dream said he would beat Adam Cole for the NXT Championship tonight.
Match 4: Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett) vs. Leon Ruff
Kross’ entrance is absolutely tremendous. Words can’t do it full justice, so go out of your way to watch it for yourself. Really, it’s epic, and I already want to buy myself a “Fall and Pray” shirt. Kross just murdered Ruff with a couple of brutal suplexes and a Kross Jacket submission, winning the match in less time than the entrance took. An absolutely perfect debut for Kross and Scarlett.
Winner: Karrion Kross
Backstage, Thatchers and Riddle accepted Imperium’s challenge for a tag team title match.
Match 5: Io Shirai vs. Charlotte Flair (c) – NXT Women’s Championship
Flair used her power to keep Shirai down early on, but Shirai was able to evade a moonsault, sending Flair crashing hard to the mat. Shirai started to mount a comeback, and nearly got the pin after a 619 and a double knee strike, but then ate Charlotte’s knees when she went for a moonsault of her own. Charlotte went for a powerbomb, but Shirai reversed it, and drove Charlotte’s head into the turnbuckles, sending her to the floor. Shirai went for a moonsault from the top to the floor, but Charlotte resorted to cheating, and when Shirai landed, Charlotte blasted her with a Singapore cane and got disqualified. What a disappointing finish to the match. Charlotte continued to assault Shirai until Rhea Ripley ran to the ring to make the save. Charlotte ran off, but instead of being grateful to Ripley, Shirai angrily hollered at her, and they argued as they made up the ramp.
Winner, by disqualification: Io Shirai (though Charlotte keeps the championship)
Backstage, Shirai interrupted Rhea’s backstage interview, and the two started brawling, until they were separated by backstage officials.
Elsewhere, NXT Champion Adam Cole paced around his locker room.
Match 6: Kushida vs. Jake Atlas – Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match
This one started off pretty quickly, with both men displaying their athleticism, including a nice flying senton by Kushida from the top to the floor. Atlas gave almost as good as he got, hitting a nifty flippy neckbreaker and a flying dive to the floor. But when he went for a flying lariat off the top, Kushida caught him by the arm, and locked on an armbar for the submission victory.
After the match, Kushida said he would go on to win the tournament and be the next Cruiserweight champion.
Finn Balor came out and cut a promo at a podium. He said that whoever attacked him wouldn’t get pushed by the company. But rather squashed, by him.
They announced that Imperium would get their title opportunity against Riddle and Thatcher next week.
Match 7: Cameron Grimes vs. Denzel Dejournette
Grimes missed his Cave In jumping stomp attack right after the bell rang. But then hit it, and got the speedy pin.
Winner: Cameron Grimes
After the match, Grimes drawled out a promo in the ring and bad-mouthed Balor. Balor came to the ring and jaw-jacked him. Grimes tried to take a shot, but Falor whalloped him. Then Falor threatened whoever it was that attacked him the other week.
They announced that Grimes would face Balor next week.
Match 8: Velveteen Dream vs. Adam Cole (c) – for the NXT Championship
Dream was on fire early on, battering Cole around both in the ring and on the floor, including hitting a beautiful spinebuster that nearly got him the win. After a mess of an exchange on the top rope, Dream nearly got another pin after Dream-D-T, but Cole kicked out at the last second. Cole would have momentary flashes of offense, but Dream was on fire, and had the champ in jeopardy a lot, including after a sweet-looking superkick. But after one top rope move attempt too many, Dream got caught with a huge pump kick followed by a Backstabber. Cole then turned up the fire, hitting a big head kick and a shoulder-breaker suplex. Fatigue started coming into play, and after Cole hit a superkick, he fell over in exhaustion, and was nearly inadvertently pinned when Dream rebounded off the ropes, staggered, and fell on top of the champ. Seeing their buddy’s title reign in jeopardy, Cole’s Undisputed Era partners Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong ran to the ring, but they were stopped by Dexter Lumis, who had been hiding underneath the ring (what the…???) and he popped out as soon as they got there. He took them out, and in doing so, took out the referee as well. So the ref wasn’t able to see Dream cover Cole for far more than a three-count after hitting the Purple Rainmaker. Dream woke up the ref, but, like an idiot, turned his attention away from Cole to hit a flying dive onto Fish, Strong, and Lumis. He got back in the ring and ate a superkick and the Last Shot and got pinned.
Winner, and still NXT Champion: Adam Cole