NXT returned last night (Mar. 4) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results in the live blog here.
Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai’s presumed blow off match in the steel cage was really great.
It painted Tegan as the plucky babyface and established the Kai/Raquel González duo as a force to be reckoned with.
With a match like this, it’s always easy to overbook the outside interference. González could have been too involved but they really hit the right formula. She had nothing to do with the first part of the match. Nox and Kai just beat the crap out of each other.
It was when Tegan tried to escape the cage at the end that Dakota’s insurance policy got involved. She prevented Tegan from climbing down, forcing Nox to deliver a crossbody to Kai from the top of the cage. Raquel later prevented Tegan from leaving by the door, leading to a fun moment where Kai accidentally kicked the door aiming for Tegan, knocking González down and getting her leg stuck on the rope in the process (this led to a Shiniest Wizard nearfall).
Kai spent a good amount of time selling the Wizard, which is the right thing to do, as Tegan was forced to climb the cage because Raquel was once again blocking the door. González tried to pull Dakota out before Nox climbed down but Tegan kicked the door right on her foe’s leg, a superb callback to where this feud started at WarGames.
But that wasn’t enough. Despite Tegan getting her moment of revenge, Raquel held the door against her, trapping her against the cage. This allowed Dakota to climb out the door and win the match.
This was the best way to finish this feud for now. Nox was screwed over so she still looked strong. She’s not hurt by the loss. The ending validated the duo of Dakota & Raquel and can allow Dakota to go forward as a heel, with González in the role of her Diesel.
Nox and Kai will probably meet again in the future, but hopefully this is it for now. It was a great ending to serve the needs of both women at this time. Leave it now to come back to down the road.
Cage Match Part Deux
This closed the show, putting as much space as possible between the two cage matches (so Regal didn’t leave the cage up like Dream specifically asked, but still got the spirit of the request).
Unlike the Nox/Kai match, which felt like the end of their story, this was only the beginning for Dream’s.
This match had more interference with the ERA trying hard to get involved at the end. That helped differentiate it from the first cage match while leading right into the angle they were building towards.
When Undisputed tried to get into the cage, Velveteen fought them off. But Adam Cole slipped by Dream and made it in. Perhaps this was by Dream’s design or perhaps he just took advantage of the moment.
He pushed Roderick Strong out of the cage, ensuring that he lost the match. However, he took the loss to lock himself in the cage with Adam Cole. And that was more desirable than winning the match. Because he got his hands on the NXT champ and beat the crap out of him.
This was a smart way to set up the title match in Tampa while protecting everyone in the process. Hell, Roderick Strong picked up the win here, keeping him from being the guy who takes all the Ls in Undisputed.
It was a sharp angle to close the show.
We got our first real look at heel Johnny Gargano, and a bit surprisingly, it didn’t disappoint.
During his interview with Mauro Ranallo, he became more and more unhinged. And he did it in a way that you could see he believed what he was saying, even though it didn’t make a lick of sense to the rest of us. But we haven’t lost our minds like he has. His “Don’t touch me!” rants as Mauro left the set were a nice touch. That’s always shouted by the guy who has lost all reasoning who’s just looking to fight.
He ramped it up and it got uncomfortable, thanks to the reactions of Mauro. Ranallo was a great partner for Gargano here. He’s not a former wrestler like Nigel McGuinness, which makes Johnny’s actions here more despicable given Mauro isn’t a former fighter. Then there’s the fact that we know Mauro’s struggles, the man has opened his life up to us after all. It makes Johnny that much shittier for going after him.
This went a long way to selling this new round between Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. Because this Johnny is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Even when he was the heel against Aleister Black, he wasn’t this twisted.
Finally got a mic
Cameron Grimes has been kind of whatever on NXT since his debut. He’s had some great matches but hadn’t gotten a chance to show any personality otherwise. Tonight, they finally rectified that and gave him a microphone.
He had a promo segment with the always charismatic Keith Lee ahead of a North American title match between the two next week. Grimes showed off his obnoxious, arrogant personality, one that makes you want to see him get his ass kicked.
Credit the Full Sail crowd for helping him get over as they booed him every time he tried to speak. That type of crowd participation really helps elevate a segment and at the same time, elevate the talent who’s trying to get his heel personality over in that segment.
Their match next week should be a blast. Can’t wait to see how far Grimes gets pounced.
Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish defeated the Brit-Am Brawlers (or Bruisers now I guess) in a rematch from one of my favorite TakeOver tag matches in a while (I think Roddy Strong was in that match instead of Fish but still...).
The finish was the closest you’ll see someone hit a tandem finisher outta no where when Fish & O’Reilly hit their high low suddenly to cut off Oney Lorcan’s fire up.
The former tag champs cut a promo afterwards stating they’re missing their titles, which brought out the champs from the back. Before Matt Riddle could accept a rematch, they were attacked by the Grizzled Young Veterans team of
British Triple H and the Geico caveman Zack Gibson and James Drake.
This segment was designed to let folks know the tag team division isn’t a two-team game any more. It’s a three-team game instead. The Grizzled Vets are a needed addition, but they still need another established team that aren’t glorified enhancement like the Forgotten Sons or Burch & Lorcan.
- Chelsea Green defeated Shotzi Blackheart to earn a spot in the Tampa ladder match. So that’s one spot that we were trying to predict in the preview.
- Austin Theory picked up a win over Isiah “Swerve” Scott this week. Swerve worked over Theory’s left arm as much as he could. He even stomped it in a way that was really nasty - and almost too heelish. Theory to his credit never used the arm again after that and hit his ATL finish, one he has to lift the guy on his shoulders to do, one-armed. Theory’s “I’m way too cocky but back it up” persona is growing on me.
- This week, the showed us a video of Rhea Ripley at Raymond James stadium (which allowed for some sweet sweet XFL product placement). My big takeaway was when she said she changed her look because too many people told her she looked like Charlotte. That’s a great touch to the story, but it sets up the idea that the Queen is living in the Nightmare’s head. That’s not a bad thing though.
This was a strong episode of NXT after a couple weeks where they felt like they were in a bit of a rut. The cage matches were obviously a change of pace. The sit-down interview also was a good way to advance the Gargano/Ciampa story. Things are picking up as we heard towards Tampa.
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