By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired April 1, 2020 on USA Network
Taped last week in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] The opening teaser had a narrator hype up Keith Lee vs. Damien Priest vs. Dominik Dijakovic for the NXT North American Championship…
Tom Phillips and Sam Roberts were the commentary team for the latest zero-fan NXT show. Velveteen Dream made his entrance for the opening match…
1. Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish. In a timely move, Velveteen Dream wrestled in latex (or maybe silken) gloves. He did touch his face before the match though. Dream took down Fish with chain wrestling and boxing combinations. Dream got a two count after an arm wrench takedown. Fish took down Dream by targeting Dream’s leg. Fish then gave Dream a Yakuza kick to the chest. Dream retreated at ringside while selling an injured leg. Dream avoided Fish by doing his slither pose. Dream ran through Fish several times.
Dream gave Fish slugging punches followed by a superkick. Dream posed and teased a Purple Rainmaker, but the posing allowed Fish to roll to ringside. Dream ended up hitting Fish with a double axe handle strike. Fish slammed Dream into the barricade heading into regular commercial.[c]
Dream gave Fish an eye rake. Fish tripped Dream off the apron with a roundhouse to Dream’s shin. Fish then gave Dream’s injured leg a Dragon Screw. Fish worked on Dream with calculated and methodical offense. Fish worked in some Muay Thai clinch work. [c]
Fish had Dream in an ankle lock. Dream got to the rope for a break. Dream put Fish in a Fireman Carry but Fish used the ropes to pull himself down into a sleeper on Dream. Dream surprised a running Fish with a Dream Valley Driver for the pinall win.
Velveteen Dream defeated Bobby Fish via pinfall in 8:16 of on-air TV time.
Philips noted that Dream got through one member of UE and has the rest to go. Highlights from the match aired. Dream took a mic. He said if Cole puts his video games down, he’ll open his third eye to what’s about to happen. Dream said Adam Cole is about to get worked harder than Dream has been worked before…
John’s Thoughts: A good match, but it was a bit jarring given the two commercial breaks. What I did like was Dream’s offense at the beginning because it’s the best in ring character stuff we’ve seen from him in a while.
A replay aired of Matt Riddle being beatdown by the unnamed Indian Tag Team led by Malcolm Bivens…
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Malcolm Bivens and his associates. Bivens said he’s traveled the world to find the biggest badest tag team. He introduced one guy as Rinku and the other named Sauraf…
John’s Thoughts: Bivens showed here quickly that he’s a more serious talker than someone like Robbie E in the same role. Rinku Singh is a former pitcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates and featured in the series Million Dollar Arm. Looking forward to see what this big man tag team can bring and I wonder if they’ll see similar success as Authors of Pain. They sorta look like a carbon copy of AOP, for better or worse.
Creepy ass Sam Shaw made his entrance, he’s now named Dexter Lumis. Philips and Roberts went into their errie voices to sell the creepyness of Dexter Lumis. His opponent is San Francisco local indie wrestler (now signed to NXT) Jake Atlas…
2. Dexter Lumis vs. Jake Atlas. Atlas struck a fighter pose while Lumis gave Atlas a death glare. Lumis then pummeled Atlas with powerful strikes and chokes. Atlas managed to land a springboard armdrag and enzuigiri. The commentators noted that he didn’t take Lumis off his feet. Lumis came back and slammed Atlas to the mat. Lumis gave Atlas clubbing blows. Atlas gave Lumis a boot and huracanrana. Lumis came back with a drop toehold. Lumis did a weird baseball slide into a right hand on a draped Atlas.
Atlas did a nice matrix dodged to Lumis and gave Lumis a neckbreaker. Atlas hit a flurry of offense. Lumis ended the flurry with a side chokeslam. Lumis then choked Atlas with a Kesa Gatame for the submission win.
Dexter Lumis defeated Jake Atlas via submission in 3:34.
Lumis continued to give Atlas a blank stare after the match. They cut to Keith Lee jamming out on his headphones in preparation for his title defense later in the show…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Creepy ass Sam Shaw showing back up on TV was more of a TNA throwback than most of last night’s three hours of Impact. Ok, I’m kidding. Anyway, it is good to see Shaw back on TV and I feel like he’s much better in the ring than he was in his Impact run, especially in implementing some of his serial killer gimmick into his moveset. I’m just curious how he’ll fare in NXT when there’s a less cartoony version of a serial killer in Killer Kross coming up soon. It was also good to see current APW Champion Jake Atlas make his NXT debut. He was featured on the TV show Undercover Boss with Stephanie McMahon where he came out as gay for the big moment of that show. I believe Stephanie McMahon promised to help him get a WWE contract after that moment and we’re seeing the fruit of that segment now, maybe.
Another doomsday Killer Kross vignette aired. This one had the same clock and doomsday imagery in it as usual, but there was also a female voice saying that the man in the video is some sort of prophet (for the end of the world?)…
Replays aired from the Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano Performance Center brawl from a few weeks ago…
A graphic showed that Triple H has announced the Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa empty building match next week…
3a. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Deonna Purrazzo in a gauntlet match to earn the final spot in the women’s number one contender ladder match. Deonna overpowered Shotzi early on. Shotzi used her agility to avoid a lariat and she nailed Deonna with a enzuigiri. Shotzi hit Deonna with a imploding cannonball and got a two count. Purrazzo came right back with a pump kick. Purrazzo gave Blackheart a lariat and got a two count. Purrazzo worked on Blackheart with some methodical offense. Purrazzo and Blackheart brawled to the top rope. Blackheart punched Purrazzo off the top rope and gave Purrazzo a diving senton for the pinfall.
Shotzi Blackheart eliminated Deonna Purrazzo via pinfall in 3:42.
3b. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Xia Li in the continuation of the gauntlet. Xia Li used her quickness and freshness to get a few strikes on Shotzi before the commercial break.[c]
Li gave Blackheart a lariat and kick back from the break. Li gave Blackheart a running dropkick. Blackheart avoided Li’s waterfall kick. Blackheard got a double underhook into a jackknife butterfly submission for the submission elimination.
Shotzi Blackheart eliminated Xia Li via submission in 9:30.
3c. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Aliyah in the continuation of the gauntlet. Blackheart went for an early jackknife pin. Aliyah and Blackheart then traded pin attempts. Blackheart had Aliyah in a submission. Aliyah escaped and slammed Blackheart’s hair to the mat by pulling her hair. Aliyah gave Blackheart a face wash and got a two count. Blackheart gave Aliyah clubbing blows to Aliyah’s chest and then a delayed roundhouse kick. Blackheart gave Aliyah a German suplex. Blackheart eliminated Aliyah with the same submission that eliminated Li.
Shotzi Blackheart eliminated Aliyah via submission in 12:14.
3d. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Kayden Carter in a continuation of the gauntlet. Carter ended up tripping Blackheart off the top rope and then catching Blackheart with a running dropkick heading into commercial. [c]
Blackheart gave Carter a rising knee in the corner. Blackheart hit Carter with the diving senton for the pinfall.
Shotzi Blackheart eliminated Kayden Carter via pinfall in 17:18.
[Hour Two] 3e. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Dakota Kai (w/Raquel Gonzalez) in the continuation of the gauntlet. Kai dominated Blackheart due to her freshness and quick strikes. Blackheart was draped on the apron and Kai hit her with a pump kick. Kai squashed Blackheart’s face on the second rope. Gonzalez got a cheap shot on Blackheart while Kai distracted the referee. Kai locked Blackheart in an abdominal stretch. Kai hit Blackheart with a high pump kick for a two count. Kai caught Blackheart with a Helluva Kick for a two count. Kai eluded Blackheart’s leg submission.
Blackheart hit Kai with a series of kicks. Blackheart then hit Kai with a Saito Suplex. Kai rolled to ringside to recover with Gonzalez. Blackheart gave Kai and Gonzalez a suicide dive. Blackheart did her signature wolf howl. Kai distracted the referee again. Blackheart ended up escaping Gonzalez and slamming her into the steps. Dakota Kai ended up hitting Blackheart with the Go To Kick (Front Kick GTS) for the victory.
Dakota Kai ran the end of the gauntlet in 22:51 to earn the final spot in the NXT Women’s Championship number one contender’s ladder match.
Tom Phillips sent things over to commercial…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A really strong run by Blackheart that was hurt a bit by the lack of a crowd. It’s plucky moments like this (See: Rich Swann’s gauntlet run from a few months ago on Impact) that really benefit from an invested and compelled crowd. That said, it continues to be obvious that NXT’s creative team is really high on Shotzi and I’m not going to blame them because I’ve been singing her praises since her Tough Enough and California indie days. Kai winning in the end made the most sense given how the story of the gauntlet played out. It also allows Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox to continue their story in the ladder encounter.
Tom Philips sent things over to a Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair hype video package. This included the promoRhea Ripley shot in the Tampa Bay football stadium…
Kushida made his entrance to the empty arena Full Sail in his usual Marty McFly gear. And dammit! His opponent is my pro wrestling gimmick enemy, the world’s last Bro Man, DJ Zema F’n Ion, Joaquin Wilde, made his entrance. He still ba ba ba baughs like a doofus. He also now has a bug mask as opposed to the spaceman thing he tried before. ..
4. Kushida vs. Joaquin Wilde. Sam Roberts crapped on Wilde’s bad DJ gimmick and bad air horn effect. God bless this man. Kushida locked in a few early submissions on Wilde. Wilde escaped a submission and hit Kushida with a huracanrana and an armdrag. Sam Roberts then crapped on Wilde’s haircut. God double bless this man. Kushida used a hip toss to hit Wilde with a basement dropkick, heading into commercial. [c]
Wilde dominated Kushida coming out of the break with methodical offense. Kushida hit Wilde with a long Pele kick to Wilde’s arm. Wilde came at Kushida a bit. Kushida hit Wilde with a roundhouse combination. Kushida hit Wilde with a handspring elbow followed by a leaping Juji Gatame lock. Wilde tapped out.
Kushida defeated Joaquin Wilde via submission in 5:18 of on-air TV Time.
Wilde and Kushida shared a respectful handshake after the match…
Dominik Dijakovic was shown getting ready for his title match later in the show…[c]
John’s Thoughts: I know Sam Roberts is doing his forced heel thing, but God bless this man for crapping all over Wilde’s Bro Mans gimmick. Kushida’s a babyface, so I’ll see it as more of honesty than Roberts trying to play his gimmick. Hey and more TNA throwback. All we need is Robbie E and Jeremy Borash showing up and this would be the true Impact throwback show that Scott D’Amore wanted last night when he accidentally booked an ECW throwback show.
A Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa hype package aired, which had sound bites from Triple H, Gargano, and Ciampa. The graphic hyped up Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano in the empty building match for next week. Sam Roberts then hyped up the women’s number one contender ladder match for next week…
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Joaquin Wilde outside of Full Sail about his latest loss. Wilde talked about losing all the time ever sense showing up on NXT. Suddenly, he was almost run over by the Ninja SUV. Out of the SUV, the presumed Samoa Joe luchador ninjas showed up (this time dressed up in what looked like actual lucha libre legend masks), spoke in English for Wilde to get in the car, then they went on to kidnap Joaquin Wilde! Yes!
John’s Thoughts: God bless the Samoa Joe Luchador Ninjas! Hopefully we don’t see DJ Zema Ion back on TV ever again. I’m not hoping that they toss him in a lake or anythng like that. Maybe they can brainwash him or something? Bring him back with his old afro and hair spray can? Is Jeremy Borash the Exalted One in NXT’s dark order? He’s was in the parking lot when Joe was kidnapped and now the ninjas show up on NXT. Maybe former Impact interviewer McKenzie Mitchell is Borash’s accomplice. Wait? This is more of a TNA Throwback show than last night’s accidental ECW throwback! Wow.
Greg Hamilton handled the formal ring introductions for the NXT North American Championship triple threat match. Tell of the tape style graphics accompanied Hamilton’s name announcements. For some reason, a NXT Takeover Tampa graphic was on the big screen…
5. Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Damien Priest for the NXT North American Championship. All three men ended up hitting each other with stereo roundhouse kicks heading into the commercial. [c]
Priest pummeled Dijakovic with a strike combination in the corner. Priest caught Dijakovic with a delayed DDT. Lee broke up the pin attempt. Lee and Priest brawled in the corner. Priest held on the rope to prevent Lee from hitting him with a Superplex. Dijakovic snuck in and put Lee into an Electric Chair. Priest hit Lee with a spin kick Doomsday Device to leave all three men lying.
All three men got up and hit each other with fatigued strikes. Priest and Dijak teamed up to give Lee a double choke slam. Priest escaped a Feast Your Eyes attempt by Dijak. Priest tossed Dijak on Lee at ringside with a Razor’s Edge. Priest hit Lee and Dijak with a Step Up Tope Con Hilo heading into commercial. [c]
Dijakovic crashed and burned on a moonsault attempt. Priest hit Dijakovic with a chokeslam for a two count. Dijak countered Priest’s cyclone kick into a choke. Both men traded reversals. Dijak hit Priest into Lee with the Time to Fly but Lee caught Preist and used him like a battering ram into Dijak. Lee then rammed Priest four times with a power bomb into Dijakovic. Lee hit Priest with the DBZ Spirit Bomb. Priest broke up the subsequent pin. Lee caught Dijakovic with a Uranage. He then ran at Priest in the corner.
Priest gave Lee a gamengiri and cyclone kick in the corner while Lee was sitting on the top rope. Priest used a Frankensteiner to block a Super Spirit Bomb from Lee. Priest and Dijakovic hit each other with cyclone kicks and fell on Lee for the two count on Lee. Lee hit both Dijak and Priest with Grizzly Magnums. Lee dragged both his opponents to the top rope. Dijak and Priest recovered and hit Lee with a super chokeslam.
Dijakovic hit Lee with a lucha libre corkscrew Moonsault for the two count on Lee. Priest was conceiling his nightstick at ringside. Phillips noted that this was No DQ. Priest missed a cane shot. Dijakovic went for the Feast Your Eyes, but Priest’s baton hit Dijak’s knee on the way down. Lee pounced Priest to the outside of the ring. Lee hit Dijakovic with the Big Bang Catastrophe for the victory.
Keith Lee defeated Dominik Dijakovic and Damien Priest via pinfall in 11:56 of on-air TV time to retain the NXT North American Championship.
Keith Lee posed with the title belt to close NXT at the top of the hour…
John’s Thoughts: Lee and Dijakovic continue to know how to come up with fresh new stories in their many matches together. I wouldn’t mind a few more (but don’t do a best-of-five to burn them out). Without the crowd, I thought these big man athletes did a good job making the match more hard hitting and less spot heavy. I like Priest having a signature weapon in his retractable baton. The finish was clever in a good way with Dijak being on a roll only to take a baton to the knee to cost him the match (which protect him for another match against Lee).
Another solid empty-arena NXT. Empty arena shows are the norm now for wrestling viewers and NXT has done a solid two week of this forced format. This week had less promo than last week, but they had a championship match and gauntlet match take up most of the show. Next week’s lineup looks really Takeover worthy though so they might not need promos. A ladder match and the Gargano and Ciampa match. They also teased Kevin Kross showing up during Gargano-Ciampa based off last week’s show. Next week’s show should be fire too. I’ll be by tomorrow with my Member’s Exclusive NXT Audio Review. Jason Powell should be by too with his NXT Hit List.