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NXT Review: May 27th: NXT TakeOver Challenge

This week on NXT, after what feels like a lifetime, we had a (limited) audience, as some of the developmental performers of NXT were present. Their presence made a huge, positive difference during the show. The voice of NXT, Mauro Ranallo, kicked off this week’s show by welcoming back the NXT Universe. The action kicked off straight away with a triple-threat qualifying match to determine the finalists in the NXT Interim Crusierweight Championship Tournament. Lets get on with my NXT Review: May 27th.

Kushida vs Jake Atlas vs Drake Maverick

Maverick was the man of the match from the opening bell, with his passion and desperation to win the tournament shining through in his performance. Atlas attempted a few quick pin falls but was met with inevitable kick outs. Kushida’s agile wrestling style was presented to us very quickly with a highly impressive sequence of aerial attacks to his opponents.This was a very good opening match, with a fast pace that kept me excited and intrigued as a viewer. I have to say, I was all Maverick in this match. The back story to Maverick’s placing in this match is extremely emotional, being that these may be the last Drake Maverick matches that we see in NXT. This, of course, is due to the fact that Maverick was one of the many performers who were let go from the company under the recent review of WWE staff. Maverick had a number of quick pin fall attempts that had me counting along from home as passionately as if I were the referee in this match.

Kushida vs Maverick vs Jake Atlas

Can Maverick go on to win the NXT Interim Crusierweight Championship and keep his job in the process? During this match, Atlas delivered an incredible Rainbow DDT to Maverick and it did look like things were coming to an end until Kushida interfered just in the nick of time. This match could have honestly been the Main Event match rather than the opener, it was that good. Atlas continued to show off his passion in this match up until the point that Maverick delivered his corner bull-dog attack in the hopes of holding on to his dreams. Kushida and Atlas began to fight on top of the corner turnbuckle, Kushida delivered his rolling arm bar signature move and locked Atlas into a submission.At the same time, whilst Atlas’ shoulders were on the mat, Maverick slid across the ring to put his arm across the chest of Atlas. The referee counted One-Two-Three! at the exact same time that Atlas tapped out to Kushida! Drake Maverick was declared the winner of this match. Maverick has earned the right to fight another day and to fight in the finals of the NXT Interim Crusierweight Championship Tournament.

Winner: Drake Maverick

The Johnny Gargano Invitational

Johnny Gargano and Candice LaRae came out to the ring this week to the actual sound of boos from the audience! Once again, I loved having the audience. As the old saying goes, ‘you never know what you’ve got until its gone’. Gargano began to tell us that some people have misunderstood what he had meant in previous weeks when he has spoke about ‘The Gargano Way’. Gargano said the he and LaRae want to give people opportunities, but only if they deserve them. Gargano then proudly announced that on this weeks edition of NXT, the first ever, ‘Johnny Gargano Invitational’ was to be held.

Gargano vs Alanis

He followed up that one lucky up and comer would have the opportunity to face off against him. Very reminiscent of Kurt Angle’s challenge on SmackDown back in 2002, in which we saw the WWE debut of man you might know by the name of John Cena. It was funny to me that this coincidence occurred on an edition of NXT in which Kurt Angle would appear later on in the night. Gargano then turned to LaRae and pulled out an envelope with the name of the lucky up and comer who would be facing Gargano. A talented young man named Adrian Alanis made his way to ring. Gargano started the match off by offering a handshake, luring Alanis in, then completly clobbered him. Gargano followed up with a super-kick to the face of his opponent then tapped out Alanis in a mater of seconds.

Winner: Johnny Gargano

Dinner with Mia Yim and Keith Lee

Just as the Gargano vs Alanis match ended, Mia Yim and Keith Lee appeared on the Titan-Tron. Yim and Lee were shooting a parody of the ‘Dinner with The Gargano’s promo from two weeks ago on NXT. If you missed that, you can catch up here. Yim and Lee’s approach to this was hilarious. While mocking LaRae, Yim dropped the fact that LaRae has been in NXT for years and does not have any Championship history to show for it and that she hides behind the shadow of her ‘sad excuse for a husband’. Keith Lee then had his poke at the Gargano’s. This was so funny, Lee comes across as a comedy genius in my opinion. Lee mocked Gargano by saying that Gargano spends more time when he wakes up in the mornings looking at himself in the mirror than he does his own wife.

Since this segment was essentially ‘Dinner with Yim and Lee’, Lee jokingly asked Yim what she had cooked. Yim responded by saying the same thing that LaRae likes to cook, take-out. NXT’s own ‘Lady-Kane’, Tegan Nox, let herself into Yim and Lee’s home, delivering a pizza. Nox said that she got hungry so they could have whatever was left, two slices of pizza. Nox changed her mind straight away and took one for the road and off she went! The tone of this segment then became very serious, as Mia Yim and Keith Lee both said that Johnny Gargano and Candice LaRae should have kept their names out of their mouths. Lee had a message for Gargano, that being that Gargano’s attempts to put his hands on Yim last week on NXT has consequences. The segment then ended quite abruptly. One can only assume that this will lead to a mixed tag-team match at NXT TakeOver: In Your House on June 7th. I’m looking forward to seeing this one play out.

Backstage segment #1

McKenzie Mitchell caught up with an emotional Drake Maverick backstage. Mitchell asked Maverick on his opinions as to how his match earlier in the evening came to an end, with Kushida getting involved. As Maverick explained that he wants to win fairly, Kushida walked into the frame and said ‘you fight for a title, you fight for your job, just go win’.

Kushida encourages Maverick

Now, to take a word out of Mauro Ranallo phrase-book, my goose-bumps had goose-bumps! Maverick called Kushida back just as he was walking away and said:

Kushida, I have all the respect in the world for you and I just want you to know that when I win the Cruiserweight Championship, I want you to have the first shot.

Drake Maverick was welling up and radiating emotion during the segment. As for me, I just had something in my eye.

This is what Professional Wrestling is all about.

Shotzi Blackheart vs Raquel Gonzalez

Blackheart took on Gonzalez in a singles match this week on NXT. Blackheart’s quick movement, followed by rolling forearms to the face of Gonzalez, really gave her an advantage in this match. That was up until the point that Dakota Kai, who was outside of the ring, jumped into Blackheart’s mini army tank that she makes her way to the ring on. Kai began to ruin the tank, literally ripping pieces off of it, whist Blackheart was forced to watch. Kai’s nemesis and former best friend, Tegan Nox, made a bee-line for Kai and hit her with a running drop-kick and sent Kai flying out of Blackheart’s tank.

Shotzi Blackheart vs Gonzalez

When NXT returned from commercial, Gonzalez was using her size advantage to trap down Blackheart and attempted to stop her opponent from gaining any upper hand whatsoever. Gonzalez delivered a strong power-slam followed by a devastating bear hug to the torso of Shotzi Blackheart. Gonzalez was looking to make a statement against Blackheart but Blackheart continued to kick out out of pin attempts and always got back to her feet. Blackheart momentum was going strong at this point of the match and as Gonzalez rolled to the outside, Blackheart jumped to the top rope and performed a coffin-drop reverse senton diving move to Gonzalez and Kai on the outside. This move looked nasty. It appeared that nobody caught Blackheart’s fall and it looked as if she landed directly on her neck. I hope that is not the case, but nonetheless, Blackheart was back to her feet in seconds. Blackheart and Gonzalez made their way back inside of the ring. Meanwhile, on the outside, Candice LaRae had appeared to confront Tegan Nox, who had appeared on ‘Dinner with Yim and Lee’ earlier on the show. Gonzalez ended the match with a huge slam to the back of Shotzi Blackheart, picking up the One-Two-Three!

Winner: Raquel Gonzalez

Charlotte and Chelsea Green vs Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley

Despite rubbing almost every female in WWE and NXT the wrong way, there was still one woman who willingly chose to team up with Charlotte Flair in tag-team action on this weeks NXT. That woman was Chelsea Green.This seemed like a good match as Charlotte and Chelsea are similar in the sense that they both are obsessed with besting their opponents. The question is, can they co-exist? The match started off with Green locking up with Ripley. This match was full of intensity throughout. Io tagged herself into the match very quickly, showing possible cracks in the team of Shirai and Ripley. Io slipped out of the ring after a failed 619. Green threw caution to the wind as she immediately performed a suicide dive to the outside landing on Shirai, taking out her opponent. When NXT returned from commercial, Charlotte was in the ring, picking the bones of Io Shirai. Somehow Shirai made the tag to Ripley and the former NXT Womens Champion cleaned house.

Io Shirai delivering the Tiger Feint Kick.

Ripley took all of her frustration out on Chelsea Green. Charlotte quickly tagged her way into the match and the fight was on between Ripley and Charlotte. Charlotte attempted a figure-4 leg lock submission move, Rhea slipped away quickly and tagged Io Shirai back in. Shirai brought the fight to Charlotte, delivering a double footed stomp to the chest of Charlotte in a matter of moments. Shirai wasted no time in following up with her iteration of the 619, her tribute to Rey Mysterio that she calls the Tiger Feint Kick. Shirai kept the momentum going with an aerial springboard attack aimed at Charlotte. However, Green pushed Charlotte out of the way and took the bullet for her team, being knocked out of the ring by Shirai in the process. Charlotte quickly knocked Ripley off the apron so that Shirai could not tag out of the match, and Charlotte rolled up Shirai for a quick pin-fall, using the ropes as leverage to cheat and pick up the One-Two-Three!

Winners: Charlotte and Chelsea Green

Backstage segment #2

McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Johnny Gargano and Candice LaRae to ask what they thought about Mia Yim and Keith Lee’s ‘entertaining’ response to The Gargano Way earlier in the night. Gargano and LaRae lost their minds straight away, accusing McKenzie Mitchell of being unprofessional in a very aggressive manner. Gargano chimed in, saying that he and LaRae are the only power-couple of NXT and that Yim and Lee are nothing. Gargano then said ‘Keith can be as funny as he wants. Let’s see how funny he is at TakeOver, when I take away that North American Title’. LaRae stated that she cannot wait as long as TakeOver and challenged Mia Yim to a match next week on NXT.  LaRae then addressed Tegan Nox, with whom LaRae was previously good friends with. LaRae looked straight at the camera and simply said ‘Tegan, you should be ashamed of yourself’. How will things unfold next week on NXT when Candice LaRae takes on Mia Yim?

McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Gargano and LaRae backstage.

Tomasso Ciampa vs Leon Ruff

Before Ciampa even got in the ring, Scarlett appeared on the ring ramp as if from out of nowhere, clearly to play mind games with Ciampa ahead of his match with Karrion Kross at NXT TakeOver: In Your House. Ciampa destroyed Leon Ruff in record time, and delivered his signature move, the fairy-tale ending, to pick up the victory, while bravely blowing a kiss to Scarlett.

It was nice knowing you, Ciampa. Doomsday is upon thee.

Scarlett slowly turned her back on Ciampa, frequently looking over her shoulder, maintaining Ciampa’s attention. Scarlett then stared at the Titan Tron as Karrion Kross displayed a message for his victim at NXT TakeOver: In Your House on June 7th.

Karrion Kross had a message for Ciampa

Ciampa, Bravo. I would like to take a moment to validate a series of statements you made last week. I have to agree with you, you are special and NXT TakeOver, now that’s special. Now, I promise you that on June 7th, I am going to make you feel something that you have never felt in your life. Tick. Tock.

Scarlett turned to face Ciampa at the exact moment that Kross said the words ‘Tick. Tock’. Scarlett creepily smiled for a moment before departing the stage.

Will Ciampa Fall and Pray at TakeOver?

Matt Riddle vs Timothy Thatcher

This match was more than just a steel cage match. This was a match within the confines of the brand new NXT ‘Fight Pit’ with Special Guest Referee, Kurt Angle. This match came about after the fallout of Riddle and Thatcher that went down last week on NXT. Thatcher was hand picked by Pete Dunne, Riddle’s tag-team partner, to assist Riddle in defending the NXT Tag Team Championships while Dunne is stranded in Britain. Thatcher walked out on Riddle in the middle of the Tag Team Championship match last week on NXT, causing Riddle and Dunne to lose the Championships. Thatcher made his way to the Fight Pit first. Thatcher was waiting atop the structure for his opponent. As soon as Riddle was in position, he dove from the platform area above the ring, where there was a walkway for both competitors. Riddle was very comfortable in this environment given his experience as an MMA Fighter. The fight got very brutal, very quickly. Riddle pounced onto Thatcher, looking to lock a submission onto his opponent straight away. Riddle quickly followed up with kicks to the chest of Thatcher and forearms to the face. Very quickly, Thatcher was busted open, bleeding from the mouth and, by the looks of it, Thatcher lost some teeth.Thatcher was medically cleared to continue this fight. When NXT returned from commercial, Thatcher was still bleeding but throwing Riddle around the cage.

Thatcher vs Riddle in a NXT Fight Pit.

Thatcher locked in multiple submission moves, targeting the knees of Matt Riddle. The only way to win this match was by knock out or tap out. Riddle attempted to gain control of the match but was shut down by the ever aggressive Timothy Thatcher. Thatcher locked in a triangle arm bar submission on Riddle, but Riddle somehow mustered the strength to dead-lift Thatchers body from the mat. Both performers then made their way atop the platform area of the Fight Pit. Riddle made it to his feet while atop the platform, whilst Thatcher crashed down to the mat. Riddle put everything on the line by performing his floating-bro signature diving move, which was a seven foot drop from the platform to the mat. Riddle used his momentum to deliver a flurry of kicks to the chest of Thatcher. Somehow, Thatcher managed to lock a choke-hold onto Matt Riddle, relentlessly holding on. Riddle tried desperately to escape but Thatchers pressure was too much, and Thatcher submitted Riddle via technical submission.

Winner: Timothy Thatcher

Final Thoughts

Overall, I felt that this week’s NXT gave us a lot of great stuff. Firstly, an audience. That was brilliant. Drake Maverick has made his way to the finals of the NXT Interim Crusierweight Championship Tournament. Things are really heating up between Gargano/LaRae and Yim/Lee. We now know that Gargano will face Lee at TakeOver and LaRae will face Yim next week on NXT. We have also seen, once again, that Charlotte will do anything to pick up a victory. How will The Queen fare in a triple threat match at TakeOver? Finally, Riddle and Thatcher, oh my, what a fight. It seems that this may be the end for Riddle in NXT. When and where will we see the King of Bro’s next?

As always, I’d love to hear your take on everything NXT at the moment, so feel free to reach out, and we’ll have a discussion!

Thank you for joining us here at Sports Obsessive. Stay safe and we will see you next week.

Written by James Corcoran

James writes about Professional Wrestling. Be it a show from the mid to late 80s, current-day or anything in between. He is intrigued with all aspects of sports-entertainment.

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