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NXT recap & reactions (May 13, 2020): Bros No Mo

NXT returned last night (May 13) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here. We learned this week they are building towards TakeOver: In Your House on June 7.

Bros No Mo

NXT took care of their tag team title situation this week and kicked off a strong feud in the process.

They could always have run with the new rag tag group of Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher. But they were never really the champs. The BroserWeights were. And we may not see Pete Dunne for many months.

So they fixed that in a really smart way. Riddle & Thatcher lost the straps to a real team of Imperium’s Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner. They are an extremely talented duo who certainly deserve to hold the titles. NXT moved the straps to a legit team and set up a great feud at the same time.

Thatcher wasn’t happy with how the match went. He may have complained afterwards about Riddle’s dumb antics, but that’s not what happened in the match. They just weren’t on the same page (understandable given this was their second match together). Riddle was trying to fight his way to Tim to make the tag but ended up monkey flipping Marcel Barthel into Thatcher. That knocked him off the apron. And then he just left.

That had nothing to do with Bro’s antics. It was just him being a jerk.

And if there’s any doubt, Thatcher is the heel here. He attacked Riddle later. That set the main event with the two ex-partners facing off.

Surprisingly, we got a full match with a finish. The bout featured plenty of mat based grappling, which was very enjoyable. It’s a different style than many matches we see in NXT, and in wrestling, different is good when done right.

Riddle picked up the win, but an enraged Thatcher made him pay afterwards, ensuring this feud will continue.

So with this angle, we have new tag champs and a new hot feud. Now with the tag champs, there could be an issue with the fact I’m hard pressed to think of any babyface teams that can challenge Imperium. That could risk the titles being forgotten. But the Riddle/Thatcher feud should be great and it sets up Pete Dunne/Tim Thatcher months down the line when he returns.

Punching Upward

Damian Priest revealed himself to be Finn Bálor’s attacker this week.

Honestly, it feels like a bit of a let down. Priest maxes out at “he’s fine” for me. He seems to be missing something to fully connect. And it doesn’t help that he just lost to Keith Lee in the midcard title feud, so he’s certainly punching upward.

With cooler options on the table, such as Karrion Kross or Undisputed ERA, Damian Priest elicited more of a “Oh, him” than a “This should be a great feud.” Feuding with a midcarder who just lost his last feud seems beneath Bálor. But with the new TakeOver: In You House only a few weeks away, it’s likely not going to be a long program. If Priest wants to take it to that next level, working with Bálor is this best chance.

Speaking of guys NXT loves but hasn’t connected yet, Cameron Grimes picked up a huge win here. It doesn’t matter the circumstances. Beating a wrestler of Finn’s caliber is a massive accomplishment. And it’s not as if the Prince was kicking the crap out of him prior. He was giving a lot in this match.

Grimes was getting there when the crowd would rain boos down on him. But then they lost the crowds and he is back where he started. Hopefully, they’ll come up with a plan for him that earns the big wins he’s gotten.

Cruiserweight Update

Jake Atlas defeated Tony Nese to end the round play at 2-1. The former cruiserweight champion went 0-3 in the tournament. But it’s Tony Nese. That’s what he was here for.

If Drake Maverick can beat the favorite Kushida (I think he’ll pull the upset), that will put Drake, Kushy, and Jake all at 2-1 and probably set up a triple threat match to decide who goes to the finals.

Nese going 0-3 was referenced by Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in a pre-match interview. That prompted Tony to attack Swerve prior to his match with Jack Gallagher. That attack ended up making the difference. Swerve lost his match, knocking him out of contention. It sets up a feud between Nese and Scott. Being able to use these tournaments to set up multiple angles is the goal.

Zoom Douches

Kyle O’Reilly finally rejoined Undisputed... via Zoom chat. But don’t worry. The chemistry these guys have exist on broadband as well. I loved their dumb woof sound they did each time a new one popped into the chat. It’s just the type of douchey frat stuff guys like this would do.

Apparently, Kyle is out filming a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis DeVito. I loved him as Lincoln in Always Sunny. And we learned that Roderick Strong will be the first to try to take care of the Dexter Lumis problem. I don’t know if the creepy Lumis needs to be the focus of all the ERA, but it’s a good way to debut the man.

All the Rest:

- They played a lot of video promos tonight, which was smart. There’s no reason to do a bunch of promos in the empty arena when they can do ones that capture the mood better. We saw a really good Killer Kross/Scarlett promo, one they paid for Alter Bridge as the background song. Dakota Kai gave us a good retrospective of her heel turn. And we had another dinner with the Garganos, which have been quite entertaining. This one set up feuds with Keith Lee and Mia Yim for Mr. and Mrs.

- Tegan Nox defeat the debuting Indi Hartwell in a match that allowed the newcomer to shine before the established talent won.

- Rhea Ripley cut a backstage promo, likely filmed after the pull apart brawl with Io Shirai last week, stating that the fact that she lost to Charlotte Flair eats her up. And if she needs to go through Shirai to get her gold back, she will. It was a strong promo from the returning Nightmare, immediately hyping me up for both potential matches.

- Aliyah was trying to impress Robert Stone, who walked out to watch her match against Kayden Carter. She tried too hard and ended up tapping to Carter. She attempted to plead her case to Stone, but desperation isn’t part of Robert Stone’s brand.

I don’t miss the crowd for NXT like I do on Mondays and Fridays. Yes, I wish they were there because they make all shows better. But NXT is still telling compelling stories. I think Mauro’s enthusiasm helps (and using Byron Saxton as the ringside commentator instead of Tom Phillips helped the dynamic this week). I think telling good stories helps more.

Grade: B+

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