NXT returned last night (June 3) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.
Drake Maverick lost his match against El Hijo del Fantasma but still earned himself an NXT contract. It was all very weird.
The match itself was good. It had the drama of Drake’s last chance, and the emotion that he brings forth every time. He worked his underdog style against Fantasma, but brought enough to the match that it didn’t seem too one sided.
It was at the end things started getting curious.
The masked men came down to the ring, presumably to attack Fantasma, which they’ve been just terribly incompetent in doing. But Drake saw them and hit both men with a suicide dive, fighting them off. When he slid into the ring, Fantasma was waiting with a superkick and his finish. 1-2-3. Career over.
The luchador kidnappers were bound to get involved. I’ve been suspicious that they have been working for El HIjo del Fantasma this entire time, and this would help prove that theory. Even though it looked like they were coming for him, he was the one who benefitted.
In fact, my partner in NXT Sean and I debated if this was the night to reveal that. He felt they should tease it out. I felt there was no better time than right now to reveal himself as a big heel as he breaks the heart of Drake Maverick.
That all doesn’t really matter now because as Maverick was standing on the ramp, Triple H came out and offered him a contract.
The idea is that despite losing, Maverick proved he has the heart to earn himself an NXT contract. But that really undercuts everything else. Fighting for your career for weeks only to lose and get to re-sign anyway diminishes all the stakes prior. And it lessens the moment of the loss. Sign him again on TV eventually, but let this emotion play out first.
Plus, if we learn that Fantasma is a big bad, undoing his dastardly deed lessens that eventual impact. If that’s not the outcome, then it’ll be hard to ever take those masked guys seriously given how bad they are at what they do.
The Drake stuff reminded me of the time that Shane McMahon fought Undertaker at WrestleMania with the stipulation that if he won, he would run Raw but if he lost, he’d be fired. Then he lost but still got to run Raw anyway. What’s the point of stakes if they’re ignored?
The story was good and Drake raised his stock. But immediately re-signing him despite the outcome seemed to cheapen it all.
The opening match of the show was the Candice LeRae vs. Mia Yim match. But that ended in a double countout and transitioned to a Candice and Johnny Gargano vs. Mia & Keith Lee match, something you may have guess would have happened. But not before they served another story, with first Tegan Nox trying to stop LeRae from beating down Yim and then Dakota Kai, Raquel González, and Shotzi Blackheart all getting involved.
It’s always appreciated when they can service or represent multiple angles in a segment, reminding us that everything in interconnected.
This eventually led to the mixed tag it concluded as and that once again showcased how good Candice and especially Johnny are in this role. Gargano spent the time complaining that he wasn’t ready because he was in street clothes, jawing at Mia Yim, and being an overall douche.
Keith Lee didn’t officially get into the match, but that may have helped him look more like a boss. The desperation that Candice showed trying to keep Mia from tagging out so her husband wouldn’t have to face the North American champion put him over as a force to be reckoned with. And got the big strength spot when he pressed Gargano into the ring with Candice hanging off his back.
The end was very clever. The men were in the ring, but they weren’t legal. Keith tried to lift Johnny, but Gargano reached into his pocket and grabbed his car keys and poked Lee in the eye. After complaining so much about wearing his street clothes, it was that little thing that helped them. The referee was trying to get the women back in the ring so didn’t see that and Keith’s injury allowed Candice to roll up a distracted Mia for the win.
After match, Johnny kicked the steel steps against the ring post, injuring Lee’s hand which was caught in between. This gives them an injury to play up on Sunday that Gargano can use to earn the advantage.
An Actual Rewarding Mystery Reveal
Breezango is back, baby!
In a very surprising return coming off a “mystery tease” sprung on not long before the match, Fandango & Tyler Breeze returned to the tag title scene. Dango’s UCL injury was slated to keep him out of time much longer, but he opted not to have surgery and try rehab instead, allowing him to return in just six months.
They earned a tag title match by defeating Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch and Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish in a triple threat match. These three teams are all greatly talented and had themselves a really fun match.
In the end, a creeping Dexter Lumis distracted Undisputed (to be fair he was behind the plexiglass which is totally fair) and Breeze & Dango picked up the win.
After the match, Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner walked out to check out their upcoming competition. However, Malcolm Bivens brought Indus Sher to the party, allowing us to see that maybe NXT’s tag division isn’t as shallow as we had previously thought.
It’s doubtful that Breezango will defeat Imperium given the talented duo just won the titles. (And I’d prefer they continue to build up Lorcan & Burch for that role anyway.) But they’ll have a great match for sure.
– The two main singles titles matches at TakeOver were represented by Prime Target hype videos. The women’s package did a very good job selling why any of these women feasibly could win this match. I was already excited for the match and it added a little to that. The men’s one was fun as well, but didn’t do anything more to get me excited for a match that I’m not really excited for to begin with.
– Robert Stone is very good at what he does. After getting dropped by Chelsea Green last week, he walked out to watch Aliyah’s match against Santana Garrett completely disheveled. He was just hoping Aliyah could give him a reason to bring her on. But she’s just not good enough, which is her gimmick right now. She can’t get the job done. All she needs to do is give Robbie a reason to sign her and continually fails to do so. It’s a fun little dynamic.
– Isaiah “Swerve” Scott defeated Tony Nese to get some retribution for costing him in the cruiserweight tournament. Jack Gallagher tried to distracted Scott but it wasn’t enough. (Apparently Nese and Gallagher are allied now.) This should lead to Swerve vs. Jack, which was the match that Swerve lost due to Nese in the Cruiserweight tournament.
– Cameron Grimes picked up a win over the larger Bronson Reed with the Cave In. That shouldn’t be surprising. They’re clearly very high on Grimes. After his L, Reed took a Doomsday Saito from Karrion Kross, who wanted to send one last message to Tommaso Ciampa.
This was a pretty good episode. The main event was good, but the immediate signing of Drake took away from the potential emotion. The show didn’t add anything big to the pay-per-view stories, but served as a good reminder what it has in store.
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