A match for the ages kicked NXT off this week while a final, brutal goodbye to one of NXT’s most beloved characters was handed out to end the show.
NXT North American Championship: Velveteen Dream vs Buddy Murphy
NXT this week started with a big title match as recently-dethroned former Cruiserweight champion, Buddy Murphy, returned to NXT to challenge the incumbent NXT North American champion, the Velveteen Dream.
This match came about after Dream had some choice words for Murphy during WrestleMania weekend. Dream called Murphy out for not being able to handle the WrestleMania pressure and subsequently losing his title. This match was made official by General Manager William Regal last week.
Both men came out to huge ovations from the NXT faithful. Duelling ‘Buddy Murphy’ and ‘Velveteen’ chants rang around the arena at various points in the match, despite Velveteen technically being a heel. This was Murphy’s first match back in NXT in at least two years after the breakup of Blake and Murphy and the latter moving to 205. Recently announced as the newest member of the Smackdown roster, Buddy entered with the Smackdown graphic bearing his name to showcase his new allegiances.
The match was a slow build but would not have looked out of place at any TakeOver show – and that is the biggest compliment one can give. The two extremely improved singles competitors awed the crowd with some exceptional show of athleticism and match psychology. Both men tried to one-up each other with the Dream, as nonchalant as ever, acting unimpressed with Murphy’s offense.
Murphy pulled out all the stops including a fantastic ‘tope con hilo’ to the outside followed up by a top-rope meteora. The meticulous Murphy kept the upper hand for most of the match with the Dream occasional mounting comebacks. Both men were almost counted out after both fell off the top rope. Murphy’s “V-Trigger” looks absolutely vicious whenever he does it. Dream’s selling made it even better.
Dream got the upper hand at a crucial point by delivering the death valley driver. Murphy would kick out though and respond with a sit-down powerbomb from the top rope for the very near fall. One of Murphy’s many lethal kicks during this match saw him charge up for one final push for the title. However, the Dream was alert and countered with a Fame-Asser as Murphy was entering through the second rope.
That would be all she wrote for the former Cruiserweight champion as Velveteen Dream followed that up with the Purple Rainmaker from the top rope to retain his title. The crowd lapped up every moment of this match. One of the best NXT singles matches on NXT TV this year.
After beating Barthel and Aichner last week on NXT, the Street Profits were in a backstage segment looking cheery and upbeat as they made their way to GM William Regal’s office. As they knocked on the door, out came the current NXT Tag-Team Champions, the War Raiders, even wearing t-shirts that said “War Raiders”. This NXT writer refuses to refer to Hanson and Rowe by their new names out of protest.
Rowe informed Ford and Dawkins that they know what wanted and they took care of it for them. Hanson then told the Street Profits to be careful of what they wish for. An NXT Tag-Team Championship match between these two should be in the offing sometime soon.
Era of Johnny Champion
The NEW NXT Champion, Johnny Gargano, came out to a huge reception from the smiling Full Sail crowd. Gargano was wearing a t-shirt that said “Johnny Champion” and the crowd held out signs which said the same.
Johnny started his promo by saying “we’ve been waiting a long time for this, Full Sail”. Crowd started the now overdone “you deserve it” chants. However, Johnny had not completed more than a few sentences before the Undisputed Era’s music hit and out came a furious-looking Adam Cole, flanked by Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly – Roderick Strong conspicuous by his absence.
As Cole cut an enraged, typical post-defeat heel “babyface not deserving to win” promo, the crowd chanted “you tapped out” at him. The leader of the Undisputed Era called himself the uncrowned NXT Champion. Gargano responded by asking Cole if he was okay and whether everything was in sync right now, presumably pointing at friction in the Undisputed Era.
Gargano was sarcastic throughout the promo, reminding a disgusted Adam Cole that he made him tap out twice in a row in New York. As Cole continued to fume on the entrance ramp, Johnny continued his provocative line, saying that if the “bay bay” wanted “to grow a pair” and step into the ring with him, he’d be happy to add more W’s into the win column for himself.
No Friction in the Undisputed Era
However, the mystery of Roderick Strong soon became clear as he attacked the NXT Champion from behind. The rest of the Undisputed Era soon joined him in the ring.
Adam Cole picked up the NXT Championship and, as the rest of his stable mates held Gargano up, talked trash to the champion’s face by shoving the title in his face before delivering a super kick.
Dominik Dijakovic, fresh off a widely-acclaimed match with Luke Harper at WWE Worlds Collide at Axxess, took on enhancement talent Aaron Frye this week on NXT.
Dijakovic impressed immensely in defeat against Harper and he kept that momentum up by squashing Frye. One swift spinning front kick and that was it. Not even 10 seconds. Dijakovic is set to have a decent 2019.
After the match, he got on the mic and surprisingly gave a “family-man” promo. Dijakovic talked about how his family sacrificed for him and how he is only here because of them. His blood drives him. This was a surprisingly babyface-ish promo even though the crowd didn’t take it as such.
Shayna Baszler took on new Smackdown superstar Kairi Sane for the NXT Women’s Championship in the main event this week. Sane, unlike Murphy, still came out to the old NXT nameplate. Her appearance in Canada this week on Smackdown perhaps too soon for the NXT graphic team.
Important to note that Sane came out alone while Baszler was flanked by Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke who stayed ringside for the match.
This match started off at a fierce pace as Kairi took it to Shayna with her aerial offense. It looked like it might even end early before the champion slowed the pace down to her comfort. Kairi Sane is a fantastic character and an even better in-ring performer but the way she performs the spear needs some work.
The match maintained a frenetic pace however as both women consistently busted out high-impact moves. Baszler’s limb-dissection offense on Kairi’s elbow looked as gruesome as ever.
Both women employed various submission moves throughout the match and it was Baszler who did the most damage. Sane was seemingly unable to continue with her injured elbow as the referee called out paramedics to check on her injury. Io Shirai also came out to check on Kairi.
Shayna Baszler and STILL
The Pirate Princess defiantly decided to continue however but it would be the wrong decision as Baszler immediately put the kirifuda clutch on before looking to smash her injured elbow again. Io Shirai had seen enough though and pushed Baszler off just as she was about to further aggravate Kairi’s elbow. Shirai would cause the DQ in favor of Baszler which now means that Kairi will no longer receive any title shot as long as Baszler is the champion.
The segment would not end here however as Shirai and Baszler went face-to-face before Duke and Shafir pulled Io Shirai out of the ring and threw her against the ringside barrier.
What followed was peak Shayna Baszler as her cronies, Duke and Shafir, grabbed Io Shirai and made her watch as Baszler placed Kairi’s elbow in position before delivering one final strike on the main-roster bound Kairi Sane. The heels made left the ring amidst a chorus of boos as an emotional Io Shirai checked up on her best friend, Kairi Sane.
Whoever dethrones Shayna Baszler will gain massively from ending the very well-built reign of tyranny of the current NXT Women’s Champion.
After Roderick Strong’s sneak attack on the NXT Champion earlier in the show, NXT GM William Regal approached the Undisputed Era backstage and informed the faction that Strong will be facing Johnny Gargano next week on NXT.
Candice LeRae vs Vanessa Borne was also announced for next week, two weeks after Candice beat Aliyah on NXT TV.