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NXT recap & reactions (Apr. 29, 2020): Still Alive

NXT returned to us last night (Apr. 29) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Still Alive

Drake Maverick picked up a win against Tony Nese this week, keeping him alive in the interim cruiserweight title tournament.

The match itself didn’t have the impressive moves the earlier match between Swerve Scott and El Hijo de Fantasma, but I found myself more invested in it. The story about Drake coming into it and the feelings he can emote can just pull you in.

The bout had a simple build. Tony Nese beat the ever loving crap out of Drake Maverick for a good 60-70% of it. But Nese’s trash talk ended up firing Drake up. That’s when Maverick brought the heat. This didn’t need the crowd to get pumped for it. I was able to get pumped just watching Drake refusing to take Nese’s crap.

It wasn’t easy for Maverick even at the end. He needed to try a bunch of big moves to put the former cruiserweight champion away. And every time a big move didn’t get the job done, the doubt started to sink in that maybe Drake couldn’t do it. Sure, him winning this match felt like a given, but they built this match to make us doubt that until the very end.

Now we see if Maverick can pull the real upset by going over Kushida. That match will surely bring the emotion.


The main event of the evening was Keith Lee defending his North American title against Damian Priest.

This was an enjoyable hoss match. While these men don’t have the chemistry that Lee and Dominik Dijakovic have, they brought the fight to each other this week. They took advantage of the lack of a crowd as they tossed each other into/through the barricade multiple times. Except for the time that Lee pressed Priest over the guard rail into the ring. That time it was over the barricade.

They concluded their feud with a fun, bruising match. In the end, Damian distracted the referee with the title to introduce the night stick. But Lee was ready. He caught the stick in his hand and handed it to the referee who had returned. That’s when he told the challenger “I am limitless” and won with two Spirit Bombs.

The final sequence with the “I am limitless” would have worked better with a crowd to respond to it. But all in all, a fun main event.

Poison Pixie

Candice LeRae’s new heel persona is off to a strong start. You can argue NXT is failing at using natural babyfaces well, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But every time they turn one of those babyfaces heel, it’s gone really well.

The newly dubbed Poison Pixie (a name I’m a big fan of) defeated her old friend Kacy Catanzaro. Picking someone that LeRae even teamed with helps sell the idea that she’s done being the mama bird. She’s good from aiding Kacy to punishing her.

She was more ruthless in the ring, giving Kacy no quarter. Her new finish is a nasty looking stomp, definitely a contrast to who she used to be. And to solidify she’s a heel, she locked in the Gargano Escape after the match.

With Johnny Gargano playing obnoxious cheerleader prior and fawning over the post match beat down after, this could be a duo we love to hate.

Know Your Bro

Matt Riddle and interim tag partner Timothy Thatcher had a little comedy bit this week. It didn’t land.

It was a “Know Your Bro” game show, hosted by over-the-top Byron Saxton, and included a laugh track. It was meant to contrast the ultra serious Thatcher and the almost never serious Riddle. The lack of crowd doomed them. To put on a comedy sketch in front of no one is a Herculean task. We’re trained to hear silence in comedy and think “That’s bombing.” Maybe the crowd would have rejected this too, but some reaction could have propped this up.

This was interrupted by Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner of Imperius so... thanks, guys? Looks like this could be our next title feud. That will be pretty great.

Good Hand

Charlotte Flair submitted Mia Yim in the Queen’s first match as champion. It was an OK match. It’s nothing that we’ll remember going forward, but it wasn’t bad by any means.

I like Mia Yim. I’ve liked her since her Impact. But she’s never clicked for me to the point I’m a big fan. She certainly hasn’t found that level during in her time at NXT. So while I discussed in the preview that losing close matches to Charlotte isn’t going really to help elevate anyone, Mia Yim wasn’t the one I’d go the extra mile to help advance with Charlotte.

That should be reserved for the woman who confronted the champ after the match. Io Shirai will get her championship match next week. She’s not going to win. But unless she’s called up to the main roster after a loss, they need to book that match to elevate the Genius of the Sky in defeat. Otherwise we could be looking at a future where Charlotte just runs over the division.

All the rest:

- In the first match of the night, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott defeated El Hijo de Fantasma. Unfortunately, the feed froze right at the finish. (It happened to Sean as well as myself, so it wasn’t just a my cable thing.) That’s poor timing. After the match, those masked men tried to abduct Fantasma again. This time, they didn’t wait until he entered the parking lot. Once again, he fought them off.

- Dexter Lumis defeated Shane Thorne. You’d think Thorne’s new manager MVP would have warned him about this. Lumis’ character may be created just for me, a fan of horror and wrestling. When he took Thorne’s offense and then slowly stood up while shooting Shane an icy stare? :chef’s kiss:

This was a pretty fun episode.

Grade: B

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