By Nolan Howell – SLAM Wrestling
This week on NXT, Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai take to the main event after their brawl over who is next in line for NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair! Plus, the NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament continues and Karrion Kross debuts. All that and more on this week’s edition of NXT!
We are LIVE from Full Sail University in Orlando, Fla. Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix, and Byron Saxton have the call for this week.
Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Liam ???
Liam charges Kross and gets hit with suplexes and throws. Kross Jacket locked in.
Winner by submission: Karrion Kross
Kross’ entrance and performance looked really big time, more than anything he did in Lucha Underground and Impact. It seems like they have something big in the works here.
Tommaso Ciampa makes his way out post-match. Ciampa says he wants to officially introduce himself and says all of this is his home. Kross already knew that and that’s why he attacked Ciampa. Ciampa respects it and says Kross’ aura is special. Ciampa gets in the ring and Scarlett holds the rope down for him. Ciampa says he is special too and he had to come out to let Kross know that he will face him at TakeOver: In Your House.
Video recaps the NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament: El Hijo del Fantasma (1-1) vs. Akira Tozawa (2-0)
Tozawa and Fantasma exchange pin attempts for nearfalls early to a stalemate. Chops exchanged and Tozawa with a jab and hurricanrana to send Fantasma outside. Hurricanrana lands from the apron by Tozawa and a cannonball against the barricade lands for Tozawa as we break.
Tozawa works Fantasma down as we return. Fantasma lands a guillotine frog splash from the steps onto the apron as Tozawa is draped over it. Fantasma with a senton nearfall and he works Tozawa down inside. Tozawa comes back with a German suplex. They fight up top until Fantasma military press drops Tozawa onto the top turnbuckle for a nearfall. Tozawa starts his comeback with a wheelbarrow bulldog. Senton lands, but Fantasma rolls outside. Fantasma comes back with a suicide dive. Fantasma hits a Michinoku Driver.
Winner by pinfall: El Hijo del Fantasma
Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars
This was a little rocky to start, with Fantasma taking a while to set up for some of Tozawa’s spots early in the match. They got it right in the end, but it was a little disappointing for a match with two of the workhorses of the tournament.
Video recaps Timothy Thatcher turning on Matt Riddle and costing them the NXT Tag Team Championships against Imperium last week, Riddle defeating Thatcher in the main event, and Thatcher attacking Riddle after the match. Thatcher with a video promo challenging Riddle to a match with only knockouts or tapouts.
Video package for Shotzi Blackheart and her tank.
Mia Yim vs. Santana Garrett
Arm drags exchanged to start and both lands suplexes. Yim with Kawada kicks and Protect Ya Neck.
Winner by pinfall: Mia Yim
Impressive squash for Yim and it made her finisher look like something she can snap out of nowhere.
Post-match, Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae interrupt. Gargano raps to her theme and LeRae says she is glad Yim won, since that was what she was supposed to do against NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. LeRae would have loved to have the opportunities Yim has had. Gargano says it is a tragedy and says they are going to show her what happens in their NXT when someone gets an opportunity they don’t deserve. Gargano gets to the apron and Yim kicks him down. LeRae attacks from behind and Gargano pulls the rope down on Yim. NXT North American Champion Keith Lee makes the save and they chase the Garganos out of the ring. Good setup for a tag match between the couples with a little teaser of acknowledging Yim and Lee as an item onscreen.
Video recaps Damian Priest costing Finn Balor against Cameron Grimes last week. Video promo from Cameron Grimes sees him gloat about beating Finn Balor.
Drake Maverick interviewed before his must-win NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match against Kushida tonight and he says he is facing the best cruiserweight in the world. Maverick is no Bret Hart, but he is tired of pep talks because he needs to go out and win tonight. Maverick’s promos have been nothing but inspired his entire time in WWE and he is putting in the audition of his life here for either WWE keeping him or another company that can properly utilize his skills.
Roderick Strong (w/Undisputed Era) vs. Dexter Lumis
Undisputed Era walk Strong to the ring before the match.
Lumis controls with armlocks to start and Strong rolls out. Strong with a gutwrench and Lumis escapes, sending Strong outside again. Lumis with punches back inside and he slams Strong. Strong sends Lumis into the steps outside and a backbreaker lands on the apron as we break.
Strong works Lumis down as we return. Olympic Slam stops a rally from Lumis for a Strong nearfall. Lumis counters a Strong Hold and another Olympic Slam with a Thesz Press to start his comeback. Lums rallies and hits a spinebuster. Strong fakes a Strong Hold and stacks Lumis instead.
Winner by pinfall: Roderick Strong
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Good match and Strong worked well with Lumis, who is working to character. Strong can carry a match with anyone and it is refreshing to see someone working to style like Lumis.
Post-match, Strong celebrates near the apron and Lumis crawls up to lock in the arm triangle. Undisputed Era run out and kick Lumis, but he doesn’t break the hold. The Velveteen Dream runs out and takes out NXT Champion Adam Cole and Bobby Fish. Dream with an elbow drop from the top rope to Cole on the floor over the barricade.
Video from during the break shows El Hijo del Fantasma and Akira Tozawa showing each other respect as they left Full Sail. The lucha kidnappers attacked Tozawa, but Fantasma makes the save.
Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan vs. Ever Rise (Matt Martel & Chase Parker)
Lorcan works Parker and Martel tags in to eat a Burch headbutt. Lorcan with uppercuts on Martel and he takes Parker down for a running European uppercut. Blockbuster from Lorcan lands and a single-leg crab in on Martel as Lorcan locks Parker in a crossface.
Winners by submission: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Few can cram more into a squash match than Lorcan and Burch in a sprint.
Post-match, Lorcan and Burch hit the Imperium pose.
NXT North American Champion Keith Lee interviewed and he says he has a problem with the new Gargano way and he says it will reach its limit at TakeOver.
“The Original Bro” Matt Riddle accepts Thatcher’s challenge to a fight in a cage.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament: Kushida (2-0) vs. Drake Maverick (1-1)
Kushida with a headlock and he controls Maverick all around the ring. Maverick rolls Kushida up for a nearfall. Submission attempts and a basement dropkick to the arm of Maverick from Kushida. Handspring back elbow from Kushida and he snaps the arm of Maverick.
Jake Atlas comes to ringside. Kushida attacks Maverick in the corner. Kushida works Maverick down as we break.
Maverick fights back and dropkicks Kushida into the second turnbuckle to start a comeback. Destroyer gets Maverick a nearfall, but Kushida works him down and throws him outside. Maverick fights back inside, but Kushida with a scoop slam and he stomps the arm. Hoverboard Lock stopped by a rope break and Maverick refuses to stop the match. Maverick yells at the referee not to stop the match as he gets another rope break. Maverick punches Kushida up top and meets him. Hoverboard Lock applied again, but Maverick punches out. Bulldog off the top sees Kushida turn it into an armbar, but Maverick stacks.
Winner by pinfall: Drake Maverick
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
It’s amazing how good a match is in WWE when there are actual stakes and a compelling story involved. Maverick just surviving and finding a spot to strike in a must-win match is probably one of the better storytelling matches NXT has ever done.
Post-match, Byron Saxton announces that with Jake Atlas, Kushida, and Drake Maverick tied, a triple-threat match next week will determine who goes to the finals of the NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.
Video package previews Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai in the main event.
Damian Priest video promo says Finn Balor was a target who turned into an opportunity. Balor put NXT on the map and that’s why Priest is coming for him. Priest is going to do it at TakeOver.
Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley
Ripley powers Shirai down to start. Victory roll into a double stomp lands for Shirai and puts Ripley down as we break.
Shirai with a sunset flip nearfall after a series of counters after the commercials. Crossface in for Shirai. Ripley stands and runs Shirai into the corner. Ripley sits Shirai up top and they fight. Ripley with headbutts to land a superplex for a nearfall. Shirai counters Ripley and gets back to a crossface. Ripley with a rope break. Shirai with a springboard missile dropkick that sends Ripley out for a suicide dive crossbody.
NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair makes her way out and Shirai hits a headscissors that sends Ripley into Flair. Shirai with double knees in the corner for a nearfall. A spike DDT gets another, but Flair runs in and hits Shirai with a big boot. Spear on Ripley.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
A good main event with a gimmicky, expected finish that makes sense regardless to keep the title picture open with limited options.
Nolan Howell has been at SLAM! Wrestling for nearly a decade and is your weekly Impact Wrestling and NXT reviewer.