For a more detailed recap, check our live results post here.
We’re just shy of two weeks away from TakeOver: Chicago, and while last night’s episode of NXT wasn’t entirely focused on the big event, the featured feuds are taking shape.
How did she get that title back?
She may be "crazy"... but she's not afraid to take care of business, either! @NikkiCrossWWE #WWENXT pic.twitter.com/IkxkX7dqZ1— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) June 7, 2018
Despite Nikki Cross having “won” the NXT Women’s Championship on last week’s show in an unsanctioned match the show opened with the real champion, Shayna Baszler making her way to the ring with the title around her waist. She then delivered a brutal in ring promo directed at the “weak” women’s locker room.
“I’m tougher. I’m stronger. I’m better. And the strong will always beat the weak.” She proclaimed. “But there’s always gotta be one. One person in the group that thinks the law doesn’t apply to them.” She continued as her focus turned to the chaos fueled Nikki Cross.
Over all I thought Shayna did really well with this promo. She sounded confident, powerful and, frankly, like a champion. Her palpable disgust of the other female competitors is effective as is her hatred and confusion regarding Cross.
Naturally, Nikki couldn’t resist answering Shayna’s threat and she made her way to the ring. The two had quite the stare off – Baszler in the ring and Nikki just outside. Both competitors literally shook with what I assume was anger on Baszler’s end and joy on Crosses.
As Cross entered the ring, Baszler’s bravado faded a little bit as she hesitantly stood her ground. She threated to put Cross asleep and then threw her mic directly at her - perhaps in an attempt to ward off her ever present insanity. Cross gleefully picked up the mic and in an almost a sing song-ey voice began chanting, “Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it Shayna. Do it. Please? Do it.” The Full Sail audience joined in the song and Baszler, for the first time in NXT, looked genuinely at a loss.
Cross let out a guttural scream, shocking Baszler, and then opened fire on the champion, knocking her down and beating the hell out of her. Baszler couldn’t escape the wild fists and feet of Cross and was pushed out of the ring with a bloody lip. Ranallo summed it up perfectly saying, “Nikki Cross has literally drawn first blood.”
I LOVED this segment. Like I mentioned before, Baszler is doing an excellent job as a top dog, heel champion. Her in ring work is still a little green for my taste, but she is delivering on the bad ass MMA persona we’ve been presented with (unlike someone else I know…).
But her arrogance can’t hold a candle to Nikki Cross’s chaos. Cross understands her character so well and literally every move she makes and every word she says drips with crazy. She is the true embodiment of what Sanity stood for – not good, not evil, always chaos.
If Ember’s goodness helped to solidify Baszler as a heel, and Dakota’s weakness made Baszler look strong, Cross’s brilliant character work is serving to give Baszler more dimension in her own character.
I, for one, cannot wait for this match-up!
Those poor babies!
Lars Sullivan vs Aliester Black for the NXT Championship was set for TakeOver last week. This week we didn’t get another confrontation from the two but instead were treated to a video from the Performance Center. I really like these PC videos because it really sets a different tone for NXT than that of the main roster and while NXT is full of seasoned vets it’s a nice reminder that it is technically still developmental.
The video shows Sullivan dominating all of the NXT trainees that were - let’s face it – sacrificed to him. There was on extended shot were it honestly looked like he was gong to decapitate a trainee with his forearms! The video did an excellent job of making Sullivan look strong and prevented him from talking (please never let him talk). My favorite part of the video, however, was a small background cameo from TM61.
If you watch closely you can see the door to the PC open and two figures - which I’m 99% sure are TM61- enter. They take one look at Sullivan, shake their heads and leave. It was perfect.
Later in the night we also got a dark video package from the champ where he proclaimed to Sullivan, “Your actions last week do not determine my reality.”
Although I am less than thrilled by this match up – Lars Sullivan just doesn’t do it for me – the build toward this feud in such a short amount of time has been effective.
Oh, we’re all using the same music now? Cool. Cool.
Speaking of the NXT Tag Titles, there was a match between the Undisputed Era’s Roderick Strong and Danny Burch.
The match up was great, both men being excellent technical wrestlers, but let’s face it, this match was not about wrestling, but about continuing to push The Undisputed Era as Heely champs that never win anything alone and to solidify the team-up of Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch and Pete Dunne. Which it did successfully.
Plus, we did got a nice moment of Dunne beating the crap out of Strong before The Undisputed Era laid waste to their competition.
Overall a fun segment, but nothing new.
It seems like we’ve been embroiled in this Ciampa vs Gargano Feud forever… and I never want it to end.
Ciampa entered Full Sail to a symphony of boos (Honestly, the real feud is between Ciampa and the audience. “Spare me your Psycho Killer chants.”) and delivered his speech calling out Gargano and Candice like a gargoyle perched on the ring apron.
As we saw last week, Gargano is at the end of his rope and no longer cares for decorum. He fought his way past security guards to beat the crap out of a deserving Ciampa and, once again, made him tap.
With every match we get to see a new side of Gargano. Ciampa is the perfect foil because no matter how many times Gargano beats him or makes him tap Ciampa – in his mind - is always going to be justified in his actions.
And at this point, even if Gargano wins, does he really? He’s lost his mind over the last couple months and now can’t focus on anything except Ciampa’s destruction. Not his career, not even his wife.
Ciampa has crafted a perfect win-win situation for himself.
All the rest
- The Mighty
TM61 viciously destroyed their enhancement talent opponents, Mike Hughley & Robbie Grand. They were hyper aggressive – driving Hughley’s face into the mat with their feet, applying and reapplying a nasty fishhook – and finished the match handedly with a clubbing blow to the back of Grand’s head.
After the match they reminded us all of the winning streak they have been on, staking their claim as the next challengers to the tag belts. “Kneel before The Mighty.”
I’m here for TM61. They are incredibly likable – even as heels - and excellent competitors. I would love to see a match between TM61 and either of the winners of the NXT Tag Team Championships.
Also, I think we are supposed to call them The Mighty now and not TM61. Unclear.
- Make Me Feel It
A great video package between Ricochet and The Velveteen Dream was played complete with Ricochet calling Dream out for failing to win Tough Enough and The Dream saying, “I have no memory of that.”
This feud is excellent because they are both simultaneously building each other up as amazing competitors – one might even say they have crushes on each other.
He’s really cute and good, but I’m even cuter and better.
HERE FOR IT.
- The One Percent vs The Knockout Artist
EC3 interrupted Kassius Ohno during his hilariously awkward photoshoot asking, “Are you trying to break the camera?”
Obviously Ohno has no time for EC3’s nonsense. He had maybe my favorite line of the night when he said, “If you keep talking to me in this manner you’ll be 1% away from being 99% unconscious.”
Ohno then challenged EC3 to a matchup that is going to take place next week.
I hope this one turns into a running feud!
- Lacey Evans and Kairi Sane in a rubber match
Kairi Sane defeated Lacey Evans in their rubber match. The End.
Lacey Evans takes off gloves weird and Kairi did the same three moves she always does. It was boring. I really want to like Kairi, but I find her incredibly stale.
Yes, her elbow drop is next level amazing…but that’s kinda it. Lacey Evans is a fine wrestler but is simply unlikable. Not even in a heel way, just in a “I don’t want to watch this” way.
Also, did I mention she takes off her gloves weird? Who pulls from the middle?
Overall a fun show that both continued the build toward TakeOver, but also sprinkled in some nice moments with the mid-card.
Grade: A- (because Nikki Cross is the best)