Karrion Kross def. Liam Gray
Having Kross go out there and annihilate his opponents in under a minute is absolutely for the best. Like I said two weeks ago, it makes him look like an unstoppable and unhinged killer. Tommaso Ciampa hasn't been seen since being ambushed backstage by Kross over a month ago, so it was logical that he'd resurface here to set the stage for their TakeOver: In Your House clash. Ciampa is coming off big losses to Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano, so I'm interested to see who will go over.
El Hijo del Fantasma def. Akira Tozawa in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match
Fantasma has been putting in some strong performances since arriving in NXT as part of the Cruiserweight tourney and this was no exception. Tozawa has also been a revelation throughout this tourney (despite still being positioned as a loser on Raw), so this was an excellent effort all around. Those masked men attempted to abduct Tozawa later on in the parking lot, but Fantasma once again sent them packing. I will honestly be shocked if Fantasma isn't ultimately revealed to be behind it.
Mia Yim def. Santana Garrett
Garrett is quite good and has a ton of experience, but she's quickly becoming the new Deonna Purrazzo in that she's solely being used in an enhancement role at the moment. Viewers need to know more about her in order to care about her, but I hope she can move past this eventually and be given a chance to succeed. This was designed to be a short and sweet showcase for Yim before Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae emerged to mock her about losing to Charlotte Flair recently. Keith Lee made the save, so that intergender match appears to be all but official for TakeOver: In Your House.
Roderick Strong def. Dexter Lumis
This was Lumis' chance to show what he's made of and I thought he fared well. He's obviously character-based for the most part and I hadn't seen any memorable matches involving him prior to this point, but he more than held his own here. Then again, Strong is almost incapable of having a bad match with anyone. I was slightly surprised by the outcome given how hard they've been pushing Lumis lately.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch def. Ever-Rise
Ever-Rise have impressed me whenever I've seen them in action on NXT/Raw/Main Event, but this was way too brief for them to get any real offense in. Rather, this was all about Lorcan and Burch picking up a dominant win. It's nice to see Lorcan and Burch back on NXT TV for the first time in a while and I'm glad they won, but I question how many times they can be built up as contenders to the NXT Tag Team Championship without ever actually winning them.
Drake Maverick def. Kushida in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match
Kushida seemed to be playing the heel here given how aggressive and intense he was throughout. It made sense since Maverick is the ultimate babyface right now fighting for his job and everyone wants to see him succeed. I appreciated that this received as much time as it did and wasn't cut short like some of the other tournament matches. Jake Atlas watching from behind the barricade was a nice touch considering how he beat Maverick earlier in the tourney. Maverick, Kushida and Atlas will meet in a Triple Threat next week to determine who will advance to the finals against Fantasma.
Damian Priest Addressed His Attack of Finn Balor
I think the biggest question people had last week was why Priest would go after Balor when he had an opportunity at the NXT North American Championship coming up around then, but he explained here that he'll always have his sights set on gold and that Balor was just another target for him. He became a star in NXT years ago and now Priest wants to make a name for himself at his expense by challenging him to a match at TakeOver. Hopefully he can rise to the occasion regardless of whether he wins or loses.
Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai Ended in a No Contest
I was really looking forward to this, as they haven't crossed paths one-on-one since the semifinals in the Mae Young Classic two years ago. They're two of NXT's top talents, so I was disappointed that this largely consisted of commercial breaks and never got to get out of first gear. The non-finish was underwhelming yet logical as it protected both men and keeps them in the NXT Women's Championship conversation. A Triple Threat between Charlotte Flair, Ripley and Shirai could be something special.
Things have felt like they've been in a weird holding pattern in recent months due to the current circumstances and not knowing when the next TakeOver would be hasn't helped. Thankfully, TakeOver: In Your House has been confirmed for June 7th and has forced the black-and-gold brand to start developing storylines for certain people. The women's division remains interesting, the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament is coming to a close, Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream apparently isn't over yet (ugh), and a number of other matches appear to be on the verge of being made official for TakeOver. The ending to the show wasn't the most thrilling, but on the whole, this episode was entertaining and accomplished quite a bit.
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