I have to confess, I have not, to this point, been a huge fan of NXT. I get why people liked it a lot when Raw and Smackdown were the only real alternative for an American wrestling show, but even then, its indie atmosphere has always felt a little too manufactured to me. It's like if Walmart opened a Mom and Pop brand that opened smaller towns around the country because they've run out of real ones to put out of business. Then when AEW launched Dynamite, WWE sent NXT on a mission to drain viewers from them. That mission succeeded in that the audience is split between both shows. Still, it also failed in that not only does a smaller portion of that audience watch NXT over AEW, but it's hard to play the role of scrappy underdogs when you're literally being used by a global conglomerate to squash its completion (and failing at it at that).
But look, I really liked In Your House, and I think it may represent a turning point for NXT where the show can find its identity in the new wrestling landscape. So I'm coming into NXT tonight with a fresh perspective, ready to give it a fair shot. Let's see how it goes.
The show starts with a recap of NXT Takeover: In Your House. Undisputed Era comes out. It looks like Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish must have escaped Dexter Lumis's sex dungeon. Adam Cole brags that his NXT Championship reign will continue. He says nobody thought Velveteen Dream had a shot at winning on Sunday. Dream is no longer allowed to challenge Cole for the title, so he'll need a new challenger. Cole brings up Lumis. Cole calls what Lumis did to Fish and Strong despicable. Apparently, all he did was lock them in a trunk for twelve hours. Well, either that or they're mentally blocking out what he really did. Strong keeps seeing Lumis in the audience, but when the camera checks, he's not there. Cole has a match with Lumis for tonight. After Cole and Fish go backstage, Dexter Lumis really is in the office, causing Strong to run away.
Backstage, Cole and Fish are doing their best to calm down Strong when Keith Lee and Mia Yim arrive. Keith hints that he wants to challenge for the NXT Championship. You can't have two championships, Lee. Lee and Yim head to the ring for a tag match. They're fighting Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. Didn't this just happen last week?
The match begins with all four competitors battling in the ring. The referee tries to explain the rules of tag team wrestling, but nobody is paying attention. Lee and Yim powerbomb Gargano and LeRea into each other, which looked a lot less awesome than it sounds. The match finally settled into the women in the ring first. The match is typical back-and-forth for a while until Yim became fed up with Gargano and starts beating the crap out of him. A few spots like that happen throughout the match, with either the men teasing they're about to do a move on the women, or the women actually doing moves on the men. At one point, Gargano DDTs Lee on top of LeRae, which is equivalent to Lee splashing her. Lee is distraught and picks up LeRea to carry her to the back, giving Gargano a chance to roll him up for the pin and to get his win back from the PPV. I guess this feud continues then?
We see a recap of Finn Balor vs. Damian Priest at the PPV. In a backstage interview from after the show, Priest does an admirable job of remembering his promo. Backstage, Cameron Grimes talks some trash about Finn Balor and what a loser Damian Priest is for losing to him. Priest shows up and punches him in the face. I get that NXT is, as Randy Orton put it, a "wrestling school," and that putting these people on TV is meant to help them improve their skills, but Priest comes off as a mediocre actor playing a character rather than a pro wrestler living his character.
We see a recap of the very good main event from NXT Takeover: In Your House in which Io Shirai won the NXT Women's Championship. Indus Sher come to the ring with Malcolm Bivens for a tag team match against… some jobbers. Or a pair of beloved NXT stars. I don't usually watch this show. Either way, Indus Sher made quick work of them. Now, these guys look like they believe in their characters.
A blonde woman whose name I think is MacKenzie is seeking information on Cameron Grimes' condition backstage. A referee talks to William Regal on facetime and says Grimes claims to have a broken jaw. Regal wants to talk to Grimes. After the commercial, they find him bragging to some female superstars about how he's perfectly fine, and Damian Priest is no problem. Once Grimes sees Regal is on the iPad, he tries to pretend he's injured, but Regal isn't buying it. I'm disappointed that no one is called "Sunshine."
Fandango and Tyler Breeze reminisce about their past cosplay exploits in a video package. It was fun, but they feel like they lost focus on winning matches while on Smackdown. Lost focus here means "were booked like s**t." NXT is another story, of course, and here Breezango is going to leave the comedy behind and become winners again. Of course, they're joking throughout the video. In any case, they say they'll win the tag team championships from Imperium next week.
Check back in a little bit for part two of this NXT recap.