April 22nd, 2020
Apparently something happened and Finn Balor can't compete tonight. This leaves Velveteen Dream without an opponent tonight. Velveteen is on the turnbuckle doing his best Finn impression mocking the demon for standing him up. This brings out NXT Champion Adam Cole whom Velveteen has been wanting face to face for weeks. Cole has no clue what happened to Balor, but knows exactly what is gonna happen to Velveteen. Cue Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish on the attack. 3 on 1 assault is broken up by Keith Lee who cleans the whole damn house.
TONIGHT: 3 CRUSERWEIGHT TOURNEY MATCHES plus Johnny Gargano (mehhh) and CANDICE LERAE LIVE YESS
1) Shotzi Blackheart & Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
God this ruled. I wish it would've went longer and wasn't just a glorified squash bc the urgency and fire in this stemming from last week was real and these ladies knocked it out of the park. Such a fun, crisp and perfect few minutes. Gonzalez pins Shotzi with a crazy chokeslam.
Match rating - ***
Later tonight: Adam Cole & Roderick Strong vs. Velveteen Dream & Keith Lee
2) Drake Maverick vs. Jake Atlas - Cruserweight Title Tournament
Great video package to hype up and introduce Jake Atlas. They also show a clip of Maverick's emotional video on Twitter that he posted soon after he found out he would be unemployed after this tournament. It makes the stakes for this seem super high, but that drama doesn't transcend to the match. It's a solid debut for Atlas though and they showed some good struggle to build off the Drake stuff which was accuenated by some verbal exchanges. Atlas busted out a few crazy things including the finish as he nailed a flawless cartwheel ddt off the top rope for the victory. I hoped for a lot more from this, but you can't really expect an epic this early in a WWE booked tournament.
Match rating - **3/4
Damian Priest/Keith Lee video package. Priest brings it back to when he defeated Keith Lee in his debut main event match on NXT and says he will do it again and become North American Champion.
3) KUSHIDA vs. Tony Nese - Cruserweight Title Tournament
Nese is determined to show KUSHIDA how it feels to compete in a "real cruserweight tournament" and starts out real aggressive but KUSHIDA fires back in kind. Nese hits a 630 for a two count. KUSHIDA threw shots at the left arm throughout the match which helped him in the finish as he did the flying/flipping cross arm breaker on Nese for the win. That finish was sick.
Match rating - ***
Backstage, it's Matt Riddle and BIG TIM THATCHER. Riddle says he misses Pete and gets weird and calls Tim beautiful. Next week he will show the world how beautiful Tim really is.
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae are sharing a candlelit dinner at home. Amid refusing to watch the recent Gargano/Ciampa stuff out of exhaustion, I forgot Gargano was a heel now. They propose the idea of taking over NXT as a couple, destroying it and rebuilding it the way it should be because the 'good guys' always win. Candice has fully committed to this heel role and she really shined here. I love it. Candice forever.
Drake Maverick is on the steps backstage crying and says everyone in this tournament is facing their opponent but he is facing his opponents and himself. "Maybe everyone was right about me.." :-/
4) Mia Yim vs. Jessi Kamea
I love Mia and I've never seen Jesse but her theme music and entrance is cool. This is a squash for Mia. Post match, NXT Women's Champion Charlotte comes out to ask Mia about the opportunity she laid out for her. Mia says it would be an honor to face her. Charlotte says she's gonna make Mia a star next week.
5) Jack Gallagher vs. El Hijo Del Fantasmo - Cruserweight Title Tournament Match
Maybe I'm being short sighted but this was my least favorite of the tourney matches tonight. And that sucks bc I was stoked on Fantasmo's debut. But to me, it didn't give him the display he deserves. A cool move here or there but ultimately it was super routine. Gallagher is a newly focused man and wants to shut down Fantasmo in his debut. Tasmo fights from under and wins with a driver variation.
Match rating - **1/2
NEXT WEEK: Charlotte vs. Mia Yim + Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest - both are title matches
6) Velveteen Dream & Dexter Lumis vs. Adam Cole & Roderick Strong
Okay so what the fuck? First off, Finn got mysteriously taken off the show because "something happened" to him in the locker room. So we get this tag, and Keith Lee gets attacked by Damian Priest before the bell and can't compete. So Velveteen goes it alone and randomly Dexter . .. Lumis... Shows up on the apron. "this night just keeps getting weirder and weirder" says Byron Saxton and he is correct. BUT Dexter looks AWESOME here. Giving it to Cole & Strong then diving onto Fish on the floor allowing Velveteen to scoop the pin on Cole for the win.
Match rating - **1/2
Final thoughts: No standout matches or must see stuff this week, but it still passed very quickly and kept my attention pretty much the whole time and has me locked in to tune in next week because of so many unanswered questions and well built matches already announced. NXT has been producing simple, good week to week TV lately and the roster seems to have so much depth right now. I'm into it.