Last week’s NXT may have been one of the best of the new calendar year, so tonight had much to live up to with Takeover Portland less than two weeks away. While the show did not reach those lofty heights, the confirmation of a title match for Takeover and a massive return made this a very watchable episode of NXT.
Let’s get into the details.
Angel Garza def. Isaiah Scott
Dominik Dijakovic def. Killian Daine
Mercedes Martinez def. Kacy Catanzaro
Jordan Develin def. Tyler Breeze
Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, and Pete Dunne def. Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish (DQ)
This… was a weird way to start the show. The BroserWeights came out in a new decaled golf-cart called the Bro-Mobile. Undisputed Era came out to ridicule them. Riddle got “how much fish would Bobby Fish fry if Bobby Fish could fry fish,” over. The crowd popped for a weed reference.
Takeaway: The bro-mobile was more spider-mobile than bat-mobile, if I’m being honest.
Angel Garza vs Isaiah Scott
Fresh off his RAW debut against Rey Mysterio, Garza came back to NXT to take care of some unfinished business against Isaiah “Swerve” Scott — one of the men in the Fatal Four-way match which cost him his Cruiserweight Championship.
As cruiserweights do, the pair put on a fast-paced and flippy match. Scott had a nice moment where he swept Garza’s leg under the ropes in order to mule kick him in the face. Garza countered with a kick of his own, catching Swerve in the back of the head as he tried to flip over the ropes to the outside.
Garza eventually rips off his tights and tosses them in Scott’s face, using the distraction to hit him with a super-kick. Those tights are eventually tossed back into Angel’s face and he receives a kick to the head of his own. Scott gets in a lot of nice offense throughout the match, but he inevitably has his Wings Clipped by Garza for the three count.
Following the match, the former champion gets on the mic and tells Jordan Devlin to watch his back.
Takeaway: It was the right call to have Garza win, but there are so many directions to go from here. Do they have Garza lose to Devlin at Portland and officially get called up? Or does Garza still need more time to develop so he doesn’t get lost in the main roster shuffle. Unless a Zelina Vega stable is formed on RAW, Garza should stay in NXT to keep building his burgeoning profile.
Dominik Dijakovic vs Killian Daine
The path to the #1 contender spot for the North American Championship turned out to be one person longer as Killian Daine tried to force his way to the front of the que. Dijakovic happily obliged him with a match.
This was a hard hitting bought with plenty of heavy kicks and powerful slams, mixed with Dijakovic’s trademark “big-man doing little-man things” kind of offense.
In the end, Dijakovic hits Daine with the Feast Your Eyes, officially setting up his title match with Keith Lee at TakeOver: Portland.
Takeaways: A good filler match to kill time between now and TakeOver.
Balor vs Gargano promo off
While the set-up for this segment was weird — the two men were in separate rooms, staring down a split screen camera, but their intensity made the segment work.
Gargano nails the best zinger with a great line about how he wants NXT Balor, not the RAW and SmackDown Balor that lost to Bobby Lashley 17 weeks in a row. He threatens to reclaim the NXT flag and plant it in Finn’s heart. Balor draws closer to the camera and retorts… “Johnny. I don’t have a heart.”
Takeaway: The build for the match has been slow and intense. These guys are a near lock to tear down the house in Portland.
Mercedes Martinez vs Kacy Catanzaro
Catanzaro shows off the agility you’d expect from a diminutive wrestler such as herself. However, this match was all about showing off the power of Martinez, who hoists Kacy into a suplex position and holds here there with one arm. The former Ninja Warrior is able to counter and get some offense in, but it isn’t enough. Martinez hits her with the modified brain-buster she uses as a finisher for the pin.
Takeaway: The match wasn’t amazing, but it set out and accomplished what it needed to, which was show off Martinez as a threat
Jordan Devlin vs. Tyler Breeze
Before this one can even start, Devlin drop kicks Breeze out of the ring and lays waste to him on the outside. The attack gives Devlin the advantage once the match is officially under way. Breeze counters by targeting Devlin’s leg, wrapping it around the ring post a couple times. Prince Pretty controls the match and shows off some new found aggressiveness, until Devlin is able to catch him on the outside with a beautiful moonsault.
The sequence was nice, but Devlin’s standing Spanish Fly was even nicer. The finish to this match featured near-fall after near-fall. Tyler Breeze is still so good at getting the crowd behind him I almost believed he could win. In the end, Devlin hits him with a nasty headbutt and side suplex to pick up the win over the veteran.
Takeaway: A great showcase to make sure fans get familiar with the NXT UK star. Without Fandango, Breeze is unfortunately stuck in limbo like fellow “demoted” wrestler Killian Daine, so there was no reason for the recently crowned champion to lose.
Rhea Riley face-to-face with Bianca Belair and Charlotte Flair
The Queen Charotte Flair is back in NXT! However, she quickly learns that the NXT bond is deeper than she remembers, as Belair and Ripley hoist her on their shoulders and drop her in the middle of the ring.
Takeaway: Still no official answer from Flair on who she will face at WrestleMania 36, but at this point it has to be Ripley, right?
Undisputed Era Shenanigans
Between the matches throughout the show, the camera would cut backstage to the Undisputed Era who were on a rampage looking for Ciampa.
Several backstage staff are tossed around, Strong takes electric shears to some poor guy’s hair, Cole putting Kushida through a board and into a bin, and more.
Eventually, Ciampa finally finds the Golden Foursome who uses the production truck to take out Cole’s accomplices. The fight spills out into the ring as Ciampa tries to dent the announcers table with Cole’s head. The rest of the UE manage to stop him and begin the trade mark beatdown. A save by the BroserWeights and a pissed off William Regal sets this up into a match later on in the night.
Tensions continue to boil over into mayhem until dozens of referees and ring attendants finally break it up.
Tommaso Ciampa and The BroserWeights vs. The Undisputed Era
This match was obviously great with six of NXT’s most talented workers in the ring at once. There are so many positives to list off, but the reality is that this match all lead up to one moment.
Roderick Strong gets involved as the odd-man-out, which ends the match in a DQ. The Undisputed Era lay out the BroserWeights on the outside and follow up the beatdown back inside the ring. With the assistance of Fish, O’Reilly and Strong, Adam Cole paints a yellow “X” on the back of Ciampa’s neck. Before he can plant the “last shot,” the lights go dark and the crowd goes wild.
The three circles that NXT had been teasing with the numbers 02, 05, 20 flash up on the jumbotron. The circles slowly start to move into a familiar position – the shape of Velveteen Dream’s third eye glasses. Down comes Dream from the top rope, flailing around and knocking members of the UE out of the ring. A Dream Valley Driver and an attack on Roderick Strong later, it is Dream who stands tall in the middle of the ring while the ecstatic Full Sail crowd welcome him back.
Takeaway: Velveteen Dream was sorely missed.