Two interesting looking matches on the preview for tonight’s NXT. Velveteen Dream versus Ricochet, which could be sensational. And Pete Dunne teams up with Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan, on the understanding Lorcan and Burch still don’t like him, to face Undisputed ERA. We should also be seeing Kona Reeves, and hearing from Tommaso Ciampa.
Lacey Evans def Brandi Lauren
Velveteen Dream vs Ricochet – No contest due to interference
Kona Reeves def Raul Mendoza
Danny Burch, Oney Lorcan, and Pete Dunne def Undisputed ERA
Johnny Gargano’s music opened the show. Unfortunately, it was Tommaso Ciampa who appeared. He said people keep telling him Johnny Gargano beat him, and Gargano may have won the battle, but he will always win the war. That’s why Johnny Gargano is sitting at home in a neck brace that he put him in. He’s broken Gargano’s heart, mind, and spirit, and now his body. Johnny Wrestling is gone, Ciampa wins.
Candice LeRae came out, to ‘Candice Wrestling’ chants and asked Ciampa, ‘who are you?’ She used to think she knew him, but she doesn’t recognise what he’s become, he’s obsessed with ruining their lives and she doesn’t understand why. The only thing truly broken is him. She’s done shedding tears for his cruelly and trying to figure out what happened to the man she and her husband had stand next to then on their wedding day. He is a monster she’ll never forgive. And, while her husband’s future is uncertain, Ciampa will always know that Johnny Gargano was better than him.
The crowd picked up the ‘Johnny’s better’ chant. Ciampa said maybe he was better, but they both know he’s not half the man Ciampa is. That’s why he sent his wife instead of coming to confront him himself. He did live with them for two years, and she’s always been more of a man than him. The crowd chanted ‘mess him up Candice’, and he sarcastically agreed with them (let’s briefly gloss over the fact that match would rock). At their wedding, he was wondering how this woman could possibly be marrying such a… at which point Candice LeRae smacked him in the face.
He rolled out of the ring, she left, and the crowd chanted ‘you suck’ at Ciampa.
Brandi Lauren vs Lacey Evans
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, squash matches are only useful in assisting the establishment of unbeatable monsters. In a women’s division which is still rebuilding itself, they serve no purpose.
I’m sure Brandi Lauren is probably decent, but there is absolutely no way of telling in a sub-two-minute match, where she didn’t get a single offensive move in.
The match could have been shorter if Evans hadn’t pulled Lauren up by the hair after landing a moonsault to deliver, The Woman’s Right, finishing punch.
Kairi Sane attacked Evans after the match while Evans was posing on the ramp. She beat her back to the ring and ascended the top turnbuckle for the InSane elbow, but Evans rolled out of the ring and escaped.
A recap of the confrontation between Ricochet and Velveteen Dream last week led into an interview with Aleister Black, asking him what he thought about both of them claiming number one contender status. He’s learned a few things since becoming NXT Champion, one of which is that you have a bigger target on your back, so people want to have opportunities and title shots. Everyone has seen the history between him and Velveteen Dream. If Ricochet wants to call himself the one and only, let’s find out. He just hopes that both gentlemen realise that once they step in the ring with him, they become the target.
Dakota Kai was asked what’s going on with Nikki Cross. She said she has no idea because Nikki is crazy. They moved on to talking about what Kai was working on at the performance centre when Nikki Cross came up, put a phone camera in Kai’s face, and said she had a question, when is she going to fight Shayna Baszler for the gold. That sounds quite reasonable, but she was right up in Kai’s face, repeating words and laughing maniacally throughout. She’s brilliant. She put her arm around Kai and said, ‘With fear comes opportunity. Face your fear and fight’.
Velveteen Dream vs Ricochet
What a fun match this was. I say match, it was a pure exercise in one-upmanship with them mirroring each other’s moves and trying to go one better. That is by no means a criticism, it was hugely entertaining to watch.
With all the posing and posturing, this could have gone on for a long time before anything split them. It was just getting interesting when Lars Sullivan appeared from nowhere and flattened both of them.
After hitting the both with the Freak Accident, Sullivan screamed that the next NXT Champion is right there (that’s what he meant anyway).
Kona Reeves vs Raul Mendoza
Another short but decent match. Kona Reeves is doing a good job of getting the crowd to hate him, the arrogance is almost off the scale in a cheesy kind of way. It wasn’t that long ago he was in the same position as Mendoza is now, there to make everyone else look good by being decent but losing.
I’m not convinced by ‘The Finest’ tagline yet. He’s good, he plays the arrogance well, and he made good use of his power advantage over the much quicker Mendoza, but I struggle to see him the level of some of the top talent NXT have right now. Maybe that will come in time.
Kona Reeves finished the match with the Hawaiian Drop.
Cathy Kelley caught up with Ricochet while he was knocking on William Regal’s door. He didn’t get to share his thoughts before Velveteen Dream appeared. Velveteen Dream asked what he was doing there, Ricochet said he wants Lars Sullivan. They agreed that was something they had in common and went into Regal’s office.
Heavy Machinery were talking about Mother’s Day and steak when they met TM61 in the corridor, who suggested they went for a drink. Dozovic and Knight said they don’t drink with cheaters. TM61 said all that matters is the sweet taste of victory, which looks like it’s the only thing Heavy Machinery haven’t tasted in a while. Dozovic challenged them to a match next week. Miller and Thorne accepted.
Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, and Danny Burch vs Undisputed ERA
Fantastic main event. Roderick Strong wanted no part of Pete Dunne at the start of the match, he tagged in Kyle O’Reilly immediately, so Dunne tagged in Danny Burch.
Undisputed ERA’s teamwork was a big focal point of the match, lots of quick tags and keeping their opponent in their corner. Danny Burch took a lot of punishment before Roderick Strong distracted himself by taunting Pete Dunne and gave Burch enough time to recover and tag him in.
Finally, Pete Dunne got his hands on Roderick Strong and set to paying him back for turning on him at TakeOver. The rest of Undisputed ERA came in to make the save when Dunne was readying Strong’s fingers for snapping, but they got caught by Lorcan and Burch and a triple finger snapping took place.
Strong, Cole and O’Reilly took a moment’s break outside, then Strong got the better of Dunne when he tried to grab O’Reilly.
Pete Dunne ended up trapped in Undisputed ERA’s corner being stomped on by all of them, and there he stayed until he escaped Roderick Strong and got to Oney Lorcan.
Beautiful chaos reigned for a while, during which Pete Dunne punched Adam Cole half way across the ring (other stuff happened too, but that was fun). A triple submission attempt by Burch Lorcan and Dunne on O’Reilly, Strong, and Cole respectively, ended in human dominoes when strong got free and pushed Lorcan into Dunne, who then landed on Burch.
Cole and Dunne took each other out and the two tag teams in the match brawled for a bit. Danny Burch got the pin on Kyle O’Reilly following a wheelbarrow DDT double team.
As the show closed out, a handicap match – Lars Sullivan versus Ricochet and Velveteen Dream – was announced for next week.
I had wondered why NXT were doing Ricochet versus Velveteen Dream so quickly when it’s a match with so much promise, and the interference from Lars Sullivan makes everything clear. It’s clearly a feud that can go on for a while and making them tag is always a fun device. I’m invested in seeing where it goes.
The women’s division still worries me a bit. I should probably be more patient, but it strikes me that they could be growing a few more feuds instead of giving people squashes to look strong. I have faith that they’ll sort it out, I just wish they’d hurry up. Lacey Evans and Kairi Sane could be an interesting non-title feud though.
There is still a while to go to the next TakeOver, which is good because there is a lot of setting up to do. The next few weeks should be very interesting indeed.