By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Taped today in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Aired April 29, 2020 on USA Network
[Hour One] The show started up with a hype video for the WWE Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. The package included comments from each of the competitors in the tournament on what the championship means to them…
Tom Philips introduced the show but he quickly sent things to Mauro Ranallo and Beth Phoenix to call NXT. Beth talked about being excited to be back to calling NXT. Mauro sent things to Tom to give an update on the WWE Cruiserweight Tournament…
John’s Thoughts: It looks like they’re going with a three-person announce booth, but I like them going with the play-by-play and color setup with Phillips as the “correspondent” to chime in (though, they are keeping Phillips active as a 3rd member). This sounds like it can be a good setup, but the best part is Mauro being the voice of NXT again with his detailed style. Not to be discounted is Beth Phoenix who has developed into a very good color commentator, being able to interject her athletic/wrestling experience into the call more than a lot of color commentators.
1. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott (Record 0-1) vs. El Hijo del Fantasma (Record 1-0) in a Group B match of the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Mauro recapped that Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde were kidnapped by masked ninjas while Fantasma was the first NXT wrestler to avoid kidnapping. Fantasma went for an early Magistral rollup for a two count. Scott hit Fantasma with a dropkick to send Fantasma into retreat. Fantasma eluded Scott’s kicks and gave Scott an enzuigiri. Scott ended up crotching Fantasma on the top rope. Scott hit Fantasma with a nice and innovative springboard Frankensteiner for a two count. Scott ended up kicking Fantasma to the ringside with a boot from the apron. [c]
Fantasma reversed Scott’s Sunset Flip into a shotgun dropkick. Fantasma caught Scott in the corner with a running meteora. Fantasma then put Scott on the top rope for a Frankensteiner. Fantasma hit Scott with a splash for a two count. Scott hit Fantasma with a Deadlift German after a right hand. Fantasma hit Scott with the Arrow From the Depths of Hell (which Mauro called by name, . Scott escaped Fantasma’s Thrill of the Hunt driver into a crucifix rollup for the win.
Isaiah Scott defeated El Hijo Del Fantasma via pinfall in 8:02 of on-air TV Time to earn a win in Group B.
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Scott after the match. Scott said he respects Fantasma due to knowing him before NXT. Scott said he needs this win more than anyone. Scott said he’s going to be the man to take the game winning shot. Scott ended his promo by saying that it’s Swerve’s house. Tom Phillips hyped up Adam Cole appearing later in the show as well as Candice LeRae “in-action” after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A nice treat between two Lucha Underground alumni. I was never a huge fan of the Scott vs. Fantasma matches in LU because Fantasma dominated those matches one-sided, but both men are technical and high flying wizards which is why I was sure they can deliver when given time. This was fun and people should know that Fantasma is not your usual Luchador given that he focuses on methodical offense. Surprising win though, because I thought Fantasma was the favorite to come out of Group B, but they did protect him via rollup. Fantasma playing white meat babyface to me, right now, comes off as a smoke screen though as he might end up getting revealed as the leader of the Luchador Ninja Dark Order. I wonder if they end up going with him unmasked too given that he lost his mask to LA Park back in 2018 and via Lucha Libre tradition he’s supposed to stay unmasked (but WWE did retcon, rightfully so, Rey Mysterio’s history so all is possible).
Dominik Dijakovic was shown walking around in a park area. Dijakovic addressed Johnny Gargano whining about being disrespected. Dijakovic said he’s learned from his family to respect those who came before him, yet Gargano and LeRae show no respect. Dijakovic said he’s going to wonder if Gargano is going to back up his words when he fights a man twice his size next week.
Tom Phillips sent things to footage of Fantasma after the break. Fantasma was muttering to himself in Spanish in Full Sail. Suddenly he was attacked, in the arena, by the Luchador Kidnapper Ninjas. They tried to kidnap him but he fought them off. Mauro said everyone is wondering who are these masked men…
John’s Thoughts: Hide yo kids, hide yo wives, and hide yo husbands because they kidnapping everybody out here. I mean, but seriously, Fantasma is the Lucha Ninja Order right?
Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano made their entrance to Candice LeRae’s new heel theme. Gargano gave LeRae a colorful introduction which may have included a line that said that LeRae’s foot is a successful form of birth control…
2. Candice LeRae vs. Kacy Catanzaro. Mauro said that LeRae is tired of being called the “mother hen” of NXT (so she’s the Natalya of NXT?). Catanzaro ended up dominating LeRae with a moonsault and strikes. Catanzara went for a nice looking 180 rotation splash, but she went right into LeRae’s knees. LeRae slowed things down after a back suplex. LeRae hit Catanzaro with an ugly wheelbarrow slam. Catanzaro reversed the GargaNo escape into a rollup for a two count. LeRae regained control and hit Catanzaro with her signature chop punch combo.
LeRae hit Catanzaro with the Wicked Stepsister (Old school curb stomp) for the victory.
Candice LeRae defeated Kacy Catanzaro via pinfall in 4:02.
Highlights from the match aired. Gargano and LeRae were leaving, but LeRae ran back to the ring to lock Catanzaro in the GargaNo Escape. Gargano was leaning on his fists like a schoolgirl.
John’s Thoughts: Decent introduction to the new Heel LeRae and Gargano. The highlight was Johnny Gargano’s goofy, but fun ring introduction for LeRae. I wonder if LeRae will give Gargano a just as funny, if any, ring introduction when Gargano has his match against Dijak next week.
Damien Priest cut a promo backstage. He said he knows that Lee is struggling to take a breath after last week. Priest said he can finally finish what he started months ago. Priest said Lee is going to be the one basking in the glory of Damien Priest. Mauro sent things to comercial while Priest was giving an evil laugh…
John’s Thoughts: Props to Priest. Who knew that under the emo guy that sounded like Low Ki, there was a really solid promo. Over the past few weeks, Priest has come off very realistic and very solid promo-wise. He wasn’t really like this in his ROH days because there he was trying to be a cartoony vampire. I’m liking his growth on the mic and intrigued to see how far he develops.
Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher were at the top of the Full Sail ramp. Riddle joked about WWE putting random people together as tag teams, unlike Riddle and Dunne, a real team (lol). Riddle said Thatcher is a real tag partner too. Riddle said he’s going to prove he’s a real partner with the Newly Bros show.
NXT brought up a Family Feud/Newlywed Show video wall with Byron Saxton going into Carlton Banks-mode as the game show host. Saxton had a podium. Saxton asked Riddle to write what he ate for breakfast this morning and for Thatcher to guess. Thatcher tried to brush it off and said he doesn’t know what Riddle ate. Riddle’s board revealed that he didn’t remember what he ate, because stoner. Riddle and Saxton tricked Thatcher into answering the next one right, which was The Price is Right being a show that Riddle watches. There was this Matt Riddle “Bro” air horn noise and canned laughs.
Saxton asked Thatcher where’s the weirdest place he “did it” Thatcher said he did it in the ring and in a laundry mat. Riddle was writing the answer during the segment and he wrote “3 some in a washer”. Saxton sent things to the “Speed Round”. Suddenly we were saved from this segment by Fabien Aichner and Marcel Barthel attacking Riddle and Thatcher. They disposed of Riddle by beating him down and tossing him over the barricade. Barthel and Aichner hit Thatcher with a jump kick power bomb combo. Aichner and Barthel stood tall over Thatcher with the Tag Title Belts…
Mia Yim was shown walking in the hallway before her match with Charlotte…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Ugh, not the best of segments. The jokes in the segment were actually funny, but the cheesy setup and Carlton-Saxton felt very WWE Bad-Sports-Entertainment cookie cutter. WWE just can’t resist the urge to roll out Carlton Saxton. This is also a problem NXT sometimes has with Riddle. His stoner jokes are really funny, but sometimes the stoner kicks in and he goes too far with a joke to the point where it’s funny has worn off. Barthel and Aichner were the de facto saviors of the segment for ending it before it got worse. And please, now that DJ Zema Ion may be kayfabe dead/missing, please don’t have Riddle keep Bro Mans alive with his new “Bro” ba ba ba baugh airhorn chant.
Tom Phillips noted that it’s National Wish Day and he sent things to a Make a Wish commercial…
Adam Cole was backstage cutting a promo saying that Velveteen Dream doesn’t deserve a title shot. Cole said he’s showing up to NXT as Champion and will prove he’s the best. Cole said the Dream will be over and that is Undisputed. Mauro Ranallo announced that Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT Championship is happening next week…
3. NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Mia Yim in a non-title match. Flair overpowered Yim early on during the collar and elbow. Flair hit Yim with knees and chops from a headlock position. Yim hit Flair with a Tae Kwon Do Kick Punch combo (finally someone does these right). Yim hit Flair with a Tornado DDT for a two count. Flair landed clubbing blows on Yim and slowed things down. Yim blocked a whip by doing a spiderman grab on the ropes. Flair blocked Yim’s suicide dive with a forearm heading into commercial. [c]
[Hour Two] Flair dominated for a sequence, but Yim used a boot to turn the tables. Yim locked Flair for a bit with a Tarantula. Flair regained control by pulling Yim’s hair. Flair yelled at Yim and belittled her. This fired up Yim. Yim hit Flair with Eat Defeat, but Flair stayed on her feet. Flair came back with a backbreaker and snap flatliner into the buckle. Yim yanked Flair off the top rope and (barely) hit flair with the Code Red for a two count. Flair Reversed a Protect Yo Neck into a Walls of Jericho. Yim rolled up Flair for a two count.
Flair hit Yim with a Yakuza Kick and got a two count. Yim reversed a Figure Four into a rollup for a two count. Flair reversed a Protect Yo Nexk into the Figure Eight for the victory.
Charlotte Flair defeated Mia Yim via submission in 7:30 of on-air TV Time.
Mauro said that Flair got a taste of what the new crop of women talent has to offer. Phillips said that Flair proved that Yim was not at Flair’s level. Io Shirai made her entrance. Shirai walked up to Flair and yelled in Japanese. What was in english, was Io saying that “you are mine” next week. Mauro said this means that next week is Charlotte Flair vs. Mia Yim for the NXT Championship…
A Karrion Kross and Scarlett Bordeaux vignette aired with Scarlett hyping up that Kross and herself were appearing next week…[c]
John’s Thoughts: While the outcome was not in question in the match, the Flair vs. Yim was really good, especially the parts after the break with all the reversals and pin attempts. Flair has grown a ton since 5 or so years ago, but Yim has also developed a long way positively from when she was a bit rough as Jade back in the day. A bit random, with two NXT Championship matches announced for next week. I hope we’re getting Takeover level psychology and not some fluky matches next week.
McKenzie Mitchell asked Kacy Catanzaro for a medical update backstage. A trainer and Kayden Carter were checking up on Catanzaro. The trainer couldn’t provide an update. Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae walked past everyone and told Catanzaro that this is a New NXT with Gargano and LeRae around…
Tom Phillips announced that Finn Balor is returning next week to NXT to call out his attacker from last week…
Creepy ass Sam Shaw made his entrance, he’s Dexter Lumis now…
4. Dexter Lumis vs. Shane Thorne. Lumis continued to give his usual death stare during the match. Lumis no sold Thorne’s punches and came back with a Thesz Press. Lumis hit Thorne with his usual precision punches. Thorne managed to get behind Lumis and Stagger Lumis with punches. Lumis reversed a DDT into a front suplex. Thorne made a comeback with a rake to the eyes. Thorne hit Lumis with a series of strikes, but couldn’t get Lumis off his feet.
Thorne got Lumis in the corner with a dropkick and a senton in the corner, getting Lumis to the mat. Lumis got to his knees and gave Thorne the death stare again. Lumis gave Thorne a spinebuster to regain control. Lumis hit Thorne with the Uranage into the Kata Gatame. Thorne passed out.
Dexter Lumis defeated Shane Thorne via ref stoppage in 3:39.
Mauro noted that it was creepy how Lumis is cradling Thorne after the match…
Tom Phillip showed a tweet from Jordan Devlin who continues to critize the Interim Cruisereweight Championship Tournament. They then showed a clip of Jake Atlas encouraging Drake Maverick after last week, which you can find on YouTube. Drake Maverick was shown hyping himself up backstage in preparation for his next match.
John’s Thoughts: I continue to like Sam Shaw’s improvement since the Gut Check days, integrating the body language into his moveset. The guy moves at a snail’s pace, but that works with his creepy persona. Nice touch to cradle and savor choking out Thorne. I’m guessing he gets involved in next week’s Dream vs. Cole match somehow given that he was around with Dream last week and they’re keeping him on TV this week. What was odd was Thorne. Yes, I totally expected the guy to be Lumis’s enhancement fodder. What’s odd is they just recently re-introduced enhancement wrestlers Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink as MVP’s new tag clients. I want to see more from Thorne, but they clearly see him as enhancement. This also has me thinking that the MVP thing might be a one-off and MVP will move on to a more credible tag team after Thorne and Vink lose.
Keith Lee was backstage selling the throat injury with a cracked voice. Lee said that Priest mentions living in infamy and forever. Lee said what will last forever and in infamy is the beating Priest will receive from Lee…
5. Drake Maverick (Record 0-1) vs. Tony Nese (Record 0-1) in a Group a match of the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Nese was treating Drake Maverick’s firing like a sob story and saying he doesn’t care. Nese then overpowered Drake with rapid fire punches and kicks. Phillips noted that Tony Nese was given the opportunity to win the cruiserweight championship and Nese won after Drake Maverick put Nese in a tournament last year when Drake Maverick was 205 Live General Manager. Maverick tried to come back with gut punches, but Nese came back with a throat punch and bulldog on the top rope. [c]
Nese continued to manhandle and toy with Maverick. Maverick lost it and hit Nese with fired up punches and kicks. Maverick caught Nese with a missile dropkick. Mauro noted that Maverick was fighting for is career. Nese blocked Maverick’s Under-Dog (Dudley Dog) attempt. Nese slammed Maverick into the corner. Maverick dodged the Running Nese and hit Nese with a corner cutter for a two count. Nese avoided a Maverick elbow. Maverick sold the elbow pain after the move. Maverick recovered and crotched Nese on the top rope. Maverick hit Nese with a Super Under Dog (top rope bull dog) for the win.
Drake Maverick defeated Tony Nese via pinfall in 6:40 of on-air TV Time to win a match in Group A.
Tom Phillips recapped the updated standings in the Tournament. McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Maverick. Maverick noted he proved it. He said that Kushida is next. Maverick said he lives for this and he’s not leaving WWE until he’s the NXT Cruiserweight Champion…
A video package aired to hype Keith Lee vs. Damien Priest…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A good and textbook underdog style match with Maverick picking up the win to logically sent up a compelling end to the likely end of his WWE run. This is a compelling story with real-life allusions, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t compelled, and I’m sure this is compelling a lot of other people as well. It helps that Maverick is such an expert promo and can sell any story you tell the guy to sell. Maverick is excelling as the sentimental favorite and is carrying a storyline that hits a lot of people close to home given the mass layoffs and furloughs across a majority of businesses across the world.
Tom Phillips announced Charlotte Flair vs. Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship for next week. Beth announced Johnny Gargano vs. Dominik Dijakovic for next week. Phillips also announced Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT Championship next week…
John’s Thoughts: A hot lineup, but WWE isn’t exactly the best at hyping up NXT across their shared social media platforms.
Damien Priest and Keith Lee made their entrances with 15 minutes left at the top of the hour. Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the Championship match…
6. Keith Lee vs. Damien Priest for the NXT North American Championship. Tom Phillips reminded viewers that Priest is blaming Lee for hand picking easy to beat opponents and ducking away from Priest. Lee clocked an incoming Priest with a right hand. Lee sent Priest outside with a lariat. Priest tried to hide behind the lariat, but Lee caught up to him and punched him into the fan-less fan area. Lee ripped apart the barricade and tossed Priest from behind the barricade and tossed him 8 feet across the barricade with a Military Press.
Lee continued to work on Priest. Priest sidestepped a running Lee to cause Lee to crash into the barricade. [c]
Lee and Priest countered each other’s suplexes. Priest hit Lee with a neckbreaker. Lee avoided a running Priest and hit him with The Pounce into the turnbuckle. Lee slammed Priest wtih a high angle Uranage. Lee caught Priest outside with a corkscrew Plancha (but it looked like he might have landed awkwardly). Lee caught Priest with a follow-through lariat. Priest escaped a Spirit Bomb attempt. Lee no-sold Priest’s choke to the injured throat. Priest escaped a chokeslam attempt. Priest hit Lee with a strike combination. Priest hit Lee with an impressive Falcon Arrow, impressive because Lee is a big ol’ dude. Priest cleared the top rope and hit Lee with a dive to the outside.
Priest hit Lee with a Super Cyclone Kick for a two count. Lee hit Priest with a headbutt. Lee knocked Priest off the top rope. Lee hit Priest with a Deadlift Superplex for a two count. Priest hit Lee in the throat with a kicks and punches. Priest hit Lee with a sitout chokeslam for a two count. This caused Priest to drag the title to the ring to distract the referee. Priest tried to hit Lee with the retractable baton, but Lee blocked it. Lee pulled away the baton and gave it to the referee. Lee hit Priest with two consecutive Spirit Bombs for the pinfall.
Keith Lee defeated Damien Priest via pinfall in 10:29 of on-air TV Time to retain the NXT North Americna Championship.
Keith Lee posed with the title belt to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: First of all before talking about the match, the commentary was noticeably way out of sync during this match. I’m assuming it’s because Mauro and Beth are at separate locations recording commentary. What’s a bit odd is this is a taped show, right? Or are we watching the second part of a taping? Anyway, what made it obvious was all three commentators talking over each other during almost every call during that match and it wasn’t a problem earlier in the show. Moving along from that, it was a good title match and one of my favorite Damien Priest matches in NXT since he showed up on this show. There was a part of me hoping that Priest escapes with a DQ loss or something to carry this feud on given Priest’s good promos over the last few weeks, but it looks like Keith Lee is being kept strong for now. Maybe they heat up Priest again as soon as next week. Maybe they have someone else in mind?
A solid show of NXT as usual. What was unusual was one crappy segment, and that was the weird Matt Riddle game show bit that was too long and too over-thought to be really funny. You can skip that. Everything else was your usual efficient NXT with good matches and storylines being pushed forward.