5/18 NXT TV results: Moore’s review of Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed in a steel cage match for the NXT North American Championship, Ted DiBiase’s appearance, Zoey Stark vs. Toni Storm, Pete Dunne interview, Prime Target on Karrion Kross vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Championship

By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired May 18, 2021 on USA Network

[Hour One]A teaser aired to hype up the advertised matches for this week’s NXT…

Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, and Wade Barrett were the commentary team…

1. Toni Storm vs. Zoey Stark. Storm tried to taunt Stark early on which fired up Stark. Stark pummeled Storm early on. Storm tried to retreat to ringside, but Stark landed a plancha on Storm. Stark hit a beautiful Missile Dropkick on Storm. Storm turned the tide by tripping Stark off the apron. Storm put Stark next to the steel steps and smashed her head into it with a hip attack. Storm worked methodical heel offense on Stark for a stretch.

Stark turned the tide with a backslide for a two count. Stark then hit Toni with a dropkick heading into the picture in picture commercial.[c]

Stark had the advantage back from the break with a superkick, basement lariat, and basement dropkick. Stark got a two count on Storm. Wade Barrett praised Stark for being plucky. Stark reversed a Storm Zero into a Victory Roll for a two count. Stark hit Storm with a Half and Half Suplex for a two count. Storm had a beautiful reversal of a suplex into a German Suplex. Storm hit her finisher, the Storm Zero.

Stark kicked out of Storm’s finisher at two. Storm hit a very ugly, but effective, and almost ugly in a good way, modified Angle Slam for the victory.

Toni Storm defeated Zoey Stark via pinfall in 11:22. 

The lights went out after Storm’s win. Franky Monet made her entrance with her Pomeranian. Monet is the artist formerly known as Taya Valkyrie.

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza and asked them where Santos Escobar was. Wilde dodged the subject and wondered why he and Mendoza aren’t getting a title shot against MSK. Tommasso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher showed up to challenge Legado Del Fantasma. Thatcher even tried to speak spanish, and said “Your cat has no shoes” for comic relief. This would lead to a match later in the show…

Cameron Grimes was shown in the WWE Performance Center parking lot. He had a confrontation with Jake Atlas which will presumably lead to a match between them…

The commentary team hyped up Kross vs. Balor II Prime Target for after the break…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A really good and hard worked women’s match. Zoey Stark continues to shine and and get better every week they put her on TV. She was particularly really crisp in this match and handled both her offense and selling really well. She’s definitely living up to WWE’s confidence in her. I wonder if they have another Rhea Ripley on their hands if they happen to graft a gimmick onto her? Good win for Storm who really needed the win. I wonder why they had Franky Monet show up after Storm’s win? Are they setting up the former Taya as a babyface? I don’t think so? But maybe they’re considering it?

The show cut to a cinematic, where the women’s tag team champions Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell were getting temple massages and having a spa day at the spa. Hartwell talked about how LeRae was always right and how that led to their success. She also said LeRae was right about Dexter Lumis being a loser. The camera panned up to show that Dexter Lumis was the masseur. The segment ended with Lumis being forced to hear LeRae and Hartwell call him a loser…

The Kross vs. Balor Prime Target aired. Pretty straightforward, but well produced with both men talking about the big turning points of their last match. Smackdown color commentator, Pat McAfee, did a PPV-like sell of the match. Paul Heyman noted that Roman Reigns will be paying attention to this match. Heyman joked about giving a “spoiler” but then said that the match was too close to call…

The show cut back to Jake Atlas already in the ring. Cameron Grimes cut a promo on his way to the ring, continuing to gripe about Ted DiBiase. He told the production truck to show a video of the “real” Ted DiBiase. A Million Dollar Man highlight video aired. It was actually a lowlight video of all the times that DiBiase was beaten throughout his career. This led to a “Di-Bi-as-e” chant from the crowd. Grimes tried to wave off the crowd, but he was hit by a dropkick from Jake Atlas before the bell…[c]

2. Cameron Grimes vs. Jake Atlas. Atlas was dominating Grimes a bit. Atlas hit Grimes with a beautiful tightrope armdrag. Atlas hit Grimes with a huracanrana for a two count. Grimes made a comeback with a running knee and lariat for a two count. After Grimes gloated a bit, Atlas ended up hitting Grimes with a few right hands. Atlas caught Cameron’s roundhouse and whipped him into the corner, giving Grimes Whiplash. The picture in picture showed a stretch limo approaching the Performance Center with the announce team assuming that it was Ted DiBiase showing up.

Atlas went for a crossbody, but Grimes hit Atlas with his signature Spanish Fly Power slam. Grimes yelled “To the Moon” to signify the Cave In was coming. The Million Dollar Man theme played as Ted DiBiase made his entrance to the stage. This distracted Grimes enough to allow Atlas to roll up Grimes with a Sunset Flip for the win.

Jake Atlas defeated Cameron Grimes via pinfall in 4:49. 

DiBiase did his signature Million Dollar Man laugh before leaving to the back…

The camera cut to Cameron Grimes running to the parking lot. Grimes tried to open Ted’s car door. Ted rolled down the window and said “you’re good kid, but you’re no Million Dollar Man. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha!”. Grimes was left again throwing a fit as Ted DiBiase drove off…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A continual highlight of the show these days with Ted DiBiase being utilized very effectively in a storyline against a modern wrestler. As much as I want to see Grimes finally become a serious wrestler, he’s been entertaining in every comedy spot they put him in and now he gets to work a program against a WWE legend. Not the worst place to be in and it sure beats being a jobber cult leader in Impact. This also allowed Jake Atlas to eek out a win. I hope they take Atlas off 205 Live, because he’s definitely being wasted there and should be presented on a bigger show.

A Bronson Reed promo vignette aired. Reed talked about his long road to his match against Johnny Gargano. He said that Gargano wasn’t going to deny him of his destiny. Reed said after he wins tonight he’s going to see his wife and tell her that after 14 years “we finally did it”…

The commentary team sent the show to Aresh Markezi who was interviewing Pete Dunne. Aresh asked Dunne who he wants to face in NXT next. Dunne said he already beat Kushida, he can beat WALTER whenever he goes back there, and he can take on Kross if he wants. Dunne talked about how he never has a bad match. He said even when he loses, his opponents leave not feeling great and different from when they went in. Aresh said Dunne reminds him of UFC fighters. Dunne talked about how he blended the UK style with many styles worldwide. He talked about how everyone relate to his finger and joint manipulation due to everyone knowing that feeling. Dunne said he conquered the UK and now it’s time to go after the NXT title…

John’s Thoughts: They’re building up Pete Dunne for something big. I just can’t put my finger on it. This kinda reminds me of the Bobby Lashley push, which is totally not a bad thing. Are they setting him up to wrestle someone outside of NXT? I don’t think they’re setting him up for a NXT Title Run?

Entrances for the next match took place…

3. Killian Dain (w/Drake Maverick) vs. Alexander Wolfe (w/Marcel Barthel, Fabien Aichner). Dain dominated the early part of the match. Wolfe got a bit of an advantage when Aichner got on the apron. Dain regained control and Marcel Barthel tried to hand Wolfe a steel chair. Wolfe hesitated and the referee even tried to stop Wolfe. Just as Wolfe was about to go for the chair shot, Dain hit Wolfe with a running crossbody for the win.

Killian Dain Defeated Alexander Wolfe via pinfall in 1:49. 

Maverick and Dain left to their whistle theme. Wolfe, Barthel, and Aichner did the Imperium Pose in the ring. Then out of nowhere, Aichner and Barthel blindsided Wolfe and put the boots to him. The segment ended with Barthel and Aichner doing the Imperium Pose after hitting Wolfe with the European Bomb…[c]

John’s Thoughts: Interesting, but at the same time very odd. I’m still a bit invested in terms of wondering why they decided to go the swerve route. I thought it was odd at first to have Wolfe lose so quickly, but it made sense with the post match segment. Trimming the fat of course. At the same time, Imperium is still in dire need of a charismatic personality when Walter’s not around. Wolfe was their most charismatic member, but they never allowed him to show that charisma before discarding him. I get that they kicked him out due to him showing compassion, but I felt like they could have done a bit more storytelling to get there. I also am not confident in Barthel and Aichner carrying a program until they can prove themselves.

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai. Mitchell brought up Kai and Gonzalez teasing a breakup. Kai talked about how there’s no issues between the two. Gonzalez talked about how she kept her promise by defeating Mercedes Martinez. Matt Martel and Chase Parker showed up to shill their merch and podcast. Raquel Gonzalez left Martel lying by clocking him with a right hand punch…

[Hour Two] Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza were already in the ring. Wilde wears a pre match mask that makes him look like the Gold Kyoryuger…

4. “Legado Del Fantasma” Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde vs. Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. Ciampa tossed Wilde around at ringside and dominated the early part of the match. Thatcher and Mendoza tagged in with Thatcher locking in an armbar. Thatcher and Ciampa cut the ring in half on Mendoza. Mendoza managed to tag in Wilde while in an ankle lock. Ciampa got in the ring to put Wilde in an ankle lock. Ciampa and Thatcher had stereo ankle locks in. Wilde and Mendoza escaped and all men hit each other with strikes to leave all four men laying heading into the commercial.[c]

Ciampa was beating up Wilde and Mendoza with running lariats in the corner, similar to what you would see from Rocky Romero. Wilde and Mendoza rolled to ringside and managed to double team Ciampa. Joseph noted that Raul Mendoza had to be medically cleared during the break. The camera showed that Raul Mendoza had his bell rung after eating a elbow from Ciampa. Mendoza hit Ciampa with a flurry of strikes in the corner. Joseph noted that Legado has been more gritty than he expected due to them being high flyers.

Thatcher tagged in and cleaned house with suplexes to both Legado members. Thatcher and Ciampa traded quick tags to continue to keep Mendoza isolated. Mendoza managed to sidestep Ciampa, which allowed him to trade offense with Ciampa. Mendoza reversed a Fairy Tale Ending into a Shining Wizard. Barrett praised Mendoza for his endurance. Mendoza hip tossed Wilde onto Ciampa, followed up by a Mendoza moonsault for a two count. Thatcher was dumped to ringside.

Wilde hit Thatcher with a Tope Con Hilo, but he walked right into the Willow’s Bell from Ciampa. Raul Mendoza dove into the ring for a great nearfall break. While the referee was distracted by the action in the ring, James Drake and Zack Gibson showed up and attacked Ciampa at ringside. Legado Del Fantasma hit their Legsweep Enzuigiri finisher for the win on Ciampa.

Legado Del Fantasma defeated Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher via pinfall in 12:05 of on-air time. 

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Bobby Fish about his return to NXT. Fish talked about how he was forced to watch UE implode on the sidelines after McAfee, Dunne, and Lorcan put him on the shelf. They showed a picture of Fish’s stiches from his surgery. Fish challenged Dunne and Lorcan for a fight in the future…[c]

John’s Thoughts: I sure hope they aren’t building Dunne up to lose to Bobby Fish? Nah. Should be a good encounter. As for the tag match, great stuff. Ciampa’s a top-tier main eventer, but it’s also easy to forget that he was a tag team specialist from his DIY days. His partnership with Thatcher brings a different and more gritty wrestling style that gives a huge boost to the NXT tag team division that is finally looking really good now. Legado Del Fantasma shouldn’t be slighted either. They’ve been very fun to watch in their most recent tag team matches.

The show cut back to Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell at the spa again. The masseuse lady talked about how Candice LeRae’s card declined due to a “unpaid expense”. LeRae assumed that Austin Theory bought a bunch of pizza on the card. For some reason, the masseuse kept grilling LeRae about the unpaid expense having to do with Flowers from two weeks ago. Hartwell figured out that Candice LeRae was trying to stir the pot. Instead of being angry, Hartwell was shouting and leaping for joy because she realized that Dexter Lumis still loves her…

The commentary team sent the show to a backstage promo with Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory. Gargano hyped up his steel cage match against Bronson Reed…

The Robert Stone Brand were in the ring with Robert Stone dressed up as a pimp for some reason…

5. Sarray vs. Aliyah (w/Robert Stone, Jessi Kamea).  Kamea distracted Sarray to allow Aliyah to have the advantage over Sarray for a stretch of time. Aliyah hit Sarray with a Face Wash kick in the corner. Sarray knocked down Aliyah with a back kick. Sarray fired up the crowd after a Saito Suplex. Sarray hit Aliyah with a basement dropkick. Sarray hit Aliyah with a T Bone Suplex for the victory.

Sarray defeated Aliyah via pinfall in 2:23. 

The show cut to an Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart promo from Shotzi’s garage. Blackheart and Moon hyped up their future rematch against Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell. The promo ended with Shotzi’s signature wolf howl…

Isaiah Scott, Ashanti Adonis, B Fab, and AJ Francis were shown through the hallway of the WWE Performance Center…[c]

A vignette aired for whatever the hell “Diamond Mine” is supposed to be. It still looks like the commercial for an MMA gym…

Hit Row made their entrance for the next tag team match. Hey! An Ariya Daivari sighting!

6. “Hit Row” Top Dollar and Ashanti The Adonis (w/Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, B-Fab) vs. Toni Nese and Ariya Daivari. Adonis gave Nese a backdrop to start the match. Dollar yanked and tossed Nese across the ring. Dollar lifted up both opponents and hit them with a Wasteland. Joseph reminded viewers that Top Dollar has a NFL background. Adonis tagged in and Daivari got a flurry of offense in. Adonis ended that flurry with a dropkick. Adonis was beating up Daivari so bad that Top Dollar had to pull him back. Top Dollar hit Daivari with a Death Valley Suplex for the win.

Hit Row defeated Toni Nese and Ariya Daivari via pinfall in 2:14.

All of the hit row members took turns hyping themselves up. Scott talked about how the heat rises to the top. Scott said he’s paying attention to the North American Title match and he’ll be coming after the winner…

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed William Regal who announced that Legado Del Fantasma are the new number one contenders to the NXT Tag Team Championships. Regal announced The Way vs. Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon for the Women’s Tag Titles for next weeks. Regal dropped NXT’s weekly line of saying how they have the best women’s division in the world. Regal also said he’s bringing in more cruiserweights to NXT to face Kushida…[c]

John’s Thoughts: This Hit Row thing is already fire, and I’m 100% sold on this act rising to the top. They kinda remind me of the Latin American XChange (LAX) in terms of cool and relatability factor. All four of these people have it. B-Fab and AJ Francis in particular have sounded strong on the microphone. Over all of this, I’m really happy for Isaiah Scott living up to his talent and finally getting out of his shell in terms of developing a quality persona. “Swerve” has finally arrived. I never really understood what old “Swerve” (despite “Swerve” having the best indie theme ever with the Chaka Khan).

A vignette aired to hype Franky Monet’s in-ring debut next week…

The commentary team checked in and hyped a Ted DiBiase and Cameron Grimes confrontation as well as Karrion Kross vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Championship for next week…

Entrances for the North American Championship match took place. Joseph noted how this may be Reed’s last chance at the North American Title (is that a giveway?). Alicia Taylor handled the formal in-ring introductions for the title match. Johnny Gargano’s Marvel gear of the week was X-Men themed. The match started with ten minutes left at the top of the hour…

7. Johnny Gargano (w/Austin Theory) vs. “The Colossal” Bronson Reed in a steel cage match for the NXT North American Championship. Gargano immediately tried to rush for the cage door, but Reed yanked him back in. Gargano then kept trying to climb over the cage with Reed pulling him back in the ring. Gargano went for a leapfrog over Reed, but Reed gave Gargano a pounce. Reed manhandled Gargano all over the ring. Vic Joseph noted that Reed’s wife was in the Performance Center crowd.

John’s Thoughts: They’re laying it on thick in terms of making it look like Reed is going to win.

Reed used his body girth to press Gargano against the cage. Gargano went for his slingshot spear, but his legs got caught in the cage, which allowed Reed to nail Gargano with a draping DDT. Gargano managed to get Reed to a knee with a chop block. Gargano climbed to the top rope to hit Reed with a lionsault. Reed recovered and hit Gargano with a Jackhammer for the two count. Reed climbed to the top rope, but Theory distracted Reed to allow Gargano to crotch Reed on the top rope. The show cut to picture-in-picture commercial.[c]

[Overrun] Gargano gave Reed a basement dropkick while Theory gave Reed a shoulder tackle from the other side of the cage. Reed recovered and hit Gargano with a series of clotheslines. Reed hit Gargano with an Atomic Drop and Catapult into the cage. Reed dragged Gargano to the top rope and hit Gargano with a Super Samoan Drop. Gargano kicked out at two after Reed took a while for the cover. Reed climbed to the top rope, but Gargano hit Reed with an impressive springboard Sunset Bomb for a two count.

Theory opened the door and tried to drag Gargano out, but Reed grabbed on to Gargano’s legs. Reed slipped off the steps and Reed hit Gargano with a Banzai Drop. Reed went for the door, but Theory held the door shut. Reed knocked Theory off the steps by slamming the door into him. Gargano and Reed traded offense, with Gargano coming out on top by hitting Reed with a Poisonrana. Gargano went for One Final Beat, but Reed caught him and chucked him into the cage.

Reed was about to escape the door, but Theory slammed the door into Reed’s face. Gargano hit Reed with a Tornado One Final Beat for the two count. Reed and Gargano brawled to the top rope. Gargano tried to escape over the top of the cage, but Reed caught him and planted him with a Super Power Bomb. Reed tried to climb over the top rope, but he was met at the top by Austin Theory. Reed managed to swat off Gargano and Theory. Gargano was about to crawl out, but he got caught by a splash from Reed. Reed followed up with a Tsunami Splash for the victory.

Bronson Reed defeated Johnny Gargano via pinfall in 15:29 to become the new NXT North American Champion. 

Highlights from the match aired. Reed got the sparkler pyro to commemorate his title win. Vic Joseph closed the show selling the journey Reed took to become champion…

John’s Thoughts: A great match as expected, even though I thought the commentary team and earlier vignettes laid it on a bit thick by giving away that Reed was going to come out the winner. They were saying things like this may be Reed’s last chance, it took him 14 years, his wife was in attendance. Not too much of a hinderance and I think Austin Theory’s interference actually did a good job to raise some doubt. I’m happy for Reed though, he took a long path, even in NXT to iron out the rough parts of his act to ultimately become one of the best pure big men on the current WWE roster.

I’m interested to see if NXT bounces back a bit in the ratings. They did put in at least a little hype for this match on other shows, but at the same Bronson Reed and Johnny Gargano aren’t necessarily household names to the casual Raw and Smackdown audience (introductory vignettes would have helped on the other shows for that). Great show nonetheless. The main event was strong and would also recommend checking out the tag team match between Thatcher and Ciampa against the Legado guys. I’ll have more thoughts for the dot net members in my NXT Audio Review.

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. Cornelius Talmage May 18, 2021 @ 11:15 pm

    Diamond Mine is obviously a yoga studio.

  2. How is it that NXT has a 2 hour show that is so well paced. A lot happens yet it doesn’t seem rushed (AEW) or dragged out (raw/sdl).

    I feel at the end like “wow a lot happened” and yet I want to see more.

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