NXT North American Champion Keith Lee Saved Velveteen Dream from Undisputed Era
Dream was originally advertised as facing Finn Balor on this show, but viewers were told that Balor couldn't compete due to being ambushed backstage before the show. Adam Cole interrupted Dream before leading an attack on him, which caused Lee to make the save and set the stage for the night's main event. This was a solid segment on the whole that didn't overstay its welcome, but it certainly feels like they're killing time before getting to Cole vs. Dream for the NXT Championship.
Dakota Kai & Reina Gonzalez def. Shotzi Blackheart & Tegan Nox
Not only do Kai and Gonzalez have good chemistry together, their alliance helps hide Gonzalez's weaknesses as well. She looked better here than she did last week and her picking up the win for her team was smart so she could build credibility. It was a perfectly fine tag team affair while it lasted. The babyfaces won't lose anything in defeat, but I do question where this is headed assuming this wasn't the end of the angle.
Jake Atlas def. Drake Maverick in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match
I felt bad for Atlas here. He lost his debut against Dexter Lumis and practically had to win here, but his win came at the expense of the super sympathetic Maverick. I'd be shocked if his firing ended up being a work, but it's also odd that he'd receive so much television time on this way out. Either way, this was a fun little match. Both guys got to shine and the result was the right one. I'm very intrigued to see how Maverick's next few matches will play out.
Kushida def. Tony Nese in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match
Kushida has been so underutilized in NXT over the last year that I think he may need to win this tourney more than anyone else involved (those that are still employed, that is). Nese is a talented performer in his own right and you can never go wrong with a match of his. This was very well-wrestled and they made excellent use of the time allotted to them. On a side note, I loved the mini video packages that ran on everyone before their respective matches as it gave viewers a reason to care about them.
Mia Yim def. Jessi Kamea
Kamea has been in NXT for several years but has never been introduced as a regular on NXT TV. From what I've seen of her (including in EVOLVE), she has potential, but her character (whatever it's supposed to be) needs work. This was a decent outing that largely existed so the post-match face-off between Yim and Charlotte Flair could happen. I appreciated how they acknowledged their history and how Flair managed to get a jab in at the end of their exchange. They'll go one-on-one next week.
El Hijo del Fantasma def. Jack Gallagher in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight championship Tournament Match
Fantasma previously wrestled as King Cuerno in Lucha Underground and also had a run in IMPACT a few years ago. He's apparently been on WWE's radar for a long time and this was his chance to show what he's all about. As for Gallagher, I'm a fan of his new look and aggressive style. They put forth a terrific effort here and went all out in an effort to impress. All things considered, I'd call this a successful debut for Fantasma.
Velveteen Dream and Dexter Lumis def. Undisputed Era (NXT Champion Adam Cole & Roderick Strong)
Lee was ambushed by Damian Priest (who he'll defend his NXT North American Championship against next week) and thus had to pull out. Dream fought Cole and Strong on his own for a bit before being joined by Lumis for no apparent reason. I guess it will be explained at some point, but it struck me as odd since I thought Lumis was supposed to be a heel. Yes, Lumis stalked Undisputed Era last week, but I'm not sure if this means he'll be feuding with them going forward. At the very least, it's more a matter of when than if Dream vs. Cole will happen at this point.
The Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament is shaping up to be a blast and is bound to be the best part of this program for the next few weeks. Cole vs. Dream is only inevitable, but in the meantime, we have Flair vs. Yim and Lee vs. Priest to look forward to next week. As for this edition of NXT, it was well-structured and everything served a purpose. The extra emphasis on the video packages was noticeable and effective. They're continuing to make the most of the empty arena and I've honestly accepted it as normal by now. While not an amazing episode, this was an efficient and enjoyable two hours of TV.
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