Tonight was all about bitter feuds and burgeoning ones too. The Road to TakeOver: Tampa Bay — the Road to WrestleMania’s uglier but funner cousin — continues with a pair of steel cage matches. Will WALTER show up to confront Bálor after last week’s attack? (no). Will Gargano and Ciampa face off? (also, no) but the ending of tonight’s episode was something to behold.
Here’s what happened on the March 4 episode of NXT.
Dakota Kai def. Teagan Nox in a Steel Cage Match
Chelsea Green def. Shotzi Blackheart
Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish def. Oney Lorcan and Danny Birch
Austin Theory def. Isaiah Scott
Roderick Strong def. The Velveteen Dream in Steel Cage Match
Dakota Kai vs Tegan Nox- Steel Cage Match
This heated rivalry escalated the same way all great fueds do, by adding a steel cage. This match was great, with both women battering each other at the start. Raquel González is was cageside, usually screaming at Nox while Kai used her legs to pin her opponent’s face to the steel.
Now, I’ve always hated the idea that you can win by escaping to win a steel cage match, but this match at least had some creative escape spots. First, as Nox looked to escape from the top of the cage, she turned her attention to Kai and dove 20-feet to hit the massive cross-body. Nox then tried to escape through the gate but González pinned the referee to it to keep it shut. Kai tried to boot Nox as she stood by the gate, but a quick dodge slammed the steel into González’s face. Nox then tried to escape over the top of the cage, even kicking the door shut on Kai who was being dragged out by her bodyguard. González gets back up and pin Nox in between the cage and the door until Kai can escape with the win.
TakeAways: This was a great addition to the best feud going in NXT (excluding Gargano vs Ciampa). The two at least avoided some of the logical pit falls that a steel cage match provides, and made for an entertaining match. Plus, the result allows this feud to continue all the way to TakeOver: Tampa Bay.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Chelsea Green
The first match in deciding a future participant in the #1 contender ladder match was a short one. Outside of a top rope dropkick and a few arm drags, this was a pretty simple match. Chelsea Green hits the “I’m Prettier” for the win.
TakeAways: The right person won, but this match didn’t do much to build either competitor. Blackheart still feels too green (get it, because of the hair) to be a legit competitor, where Green at least has the size and look the WWE likes to invest in. Both competitors are a still a ways away from being in the title picture.
Keith Lee Promo
Before the segment, Mauro Ranallo informs everyone that Dominic Dijakovic is on the shelf for the next few weeks following the attack by Damian Priest. As Keith Lee begins to set up a potential next opponent, his hand is forced by Cameron Grimes. Grimes mentions his win last week but he is continuously interrupted by the Full Sail crowd with “No One Likes You!” chants and raucous boos. Grimes is finally able to get it out that he has a title match next week, or an “equal opportunity ass-whooping” as Keith Lee calls it.
TakeAways: Sure. Grimes can bump for Lee while Dijakovic is on the shelf, but I have the same chance of winning the title next week as he does.
Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish vs Danny Birch and Oney Lorcan
Fish and Lorcan get this started by exchanging strikes in the middle of the ring until they are joined by their partners, who also partake in the slugfest. The two tag teams spend the majority of the match cutting off the ring and exchanging strikes, with only a cutter by Birch really reminding you that this is a wrestling match. Birch spends an extended time trying ge the hot tag to Lorcan, and when he finally does, the pace picks up. He comes out flying with his offense until he has The Undisputed Era members at opposite sides of the ring. He begins to splash until Fish and O’Reilly explode out and hit Lorcan with the High-Low for the win. A short promo by Fish and O’Reilly leads to the BroserWeights coming out. Before the pair can set up a rematch, The Grizzled Young Veterans jump the babyfaces and say they will be next in line for the title, re-match clause be damned.
TakeAways: Mediocre match with a decent ending. NXT’s decision to (hopefully) not jump right back into an Undisputed Era/BroserWeights feud is likely the right call.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Austin Theory
The man who lost to Ciampa a week ago has been running around calling himself the “Greatest of All-time,” so “Swerve” Scott decided he needed to put him in his place. He does so early in the match with a jumping overhead kick which staggers Theory to the canvas. Swerve is impressive throughout the match, snapping the arms of Theory in a submission attempt. Despite the clipped wing, Theory is able to rake the eyes of Scott before nailing him with the ATL. The modified cutter is enough to pick up a win for the 22-year-old.
TakeAways: This was the best non-cage match of the night. These two are both crazy athletic and Scott didn’t look weak in the loss. However, the Theory win was inevitable as the NXT rocket has been strapped to him. Bold prediction: After a lengthy reign, Theory will be the one to eventually take the title off of Lee.
Johnny Gargano Promo
TakeAways: Gargano gives one hell of a promo without saying a whole heck of a lot. He gets into Ranallo’s face to the point the “Mamma Mia” man has to leave the interview. Gargano tells Ciampa, he knows why he did it (I assume it’s the entire year or two of being an absolute bastard, but what do I know?) and that next week he’ll reveal it on his terms. I still don’t love Ciampa as the face in this feud, considering the history and the character work, but it should keep things fresh in the long run.
Roderick Strong vs The Velveteen Dream- Steel Cage Match
These two get off to a flying start, with Dream faking trying to escape the cage, only to dive into Strong from the top rope. Strong ends up taking control, hitting Dream with a barrage of elbows until a quick counter leaves both men sprawled on the canvas. Marina Shafir – you may remember her from Velveteen’s tights – runs down to the ring and slides her husband Strong a kendo stick. It takes a while before the weapon comes into play as both men have it knocked out of their hands until Strong uses it to hoist up Dream for a backbreaker.
The pair end up going to the top rope while trying to escape, which leads to Dream grabbing Strong by the back of his pants and exposing his bare ass. Strong retaliates by hitting Dream with a top rope Angle Slam, to send the men back to the canvas. Eventually the other members of the UE come out to help their brother in the ring. Dream fights them off, including Adam Cole who had found his way inside the cage, and turns his eyes to an escaping Roderick Strong. Instead of stopping Strong, he tosses him out of the cage and hand-cuff the door shut, sealing himself and Cole inside. Dream uses Cole to batter any of the UE members trying to get back inside and uses the kendo stick to batter him. A Dream-Valley Driver on a steel chair later and Dream stands tall over Cole holding his NXT Championship.
TakeAway: This was brilliant. The swerve at the end was incredible and Dream using this opportunity to put himself in the title picture was perfect.