Isiah "Swerve" Scott def. El Hijo del Fantasma in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match
I completely forgot until Scott mentioned it afterward that these two are Lucha Underground alumni. In fact, they actually faced off in that promotion at least one time from what I could gather. They had a really enjoyable match here and both guys had the chance to shine. Normally, I'd question Fantasma losing his second week in, but it was done in a way where he was protected in defeat. Plus, Scott needed the win after losing to Akira Tozawa two weeks ago.
Candice LeRae def. Kacy Catanzaro
LeRae getting new entrance music to match her new dark persona was a smart move, and I also like how Johnny Gargano is serving as her manager. We haven't seen a ton of Catanzaro on NXT TV lately, but I thought she had a solid showing here. It was a nice little match that successfully got LeRae over as a threat. I'm digging the duo of Gargano and LeRae and I think it has the potential to be the blast. On a side note, I'm looking forward to Gargano vs. Dominik Dijakovic next week.
Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) Attacked NXT Tag Team Champion Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher on The Newly-Bro Show
Personally, I liked this game show-style segment. I understand that it won't be for everyone (Byron Saxton was almost unbearable at certain points), but I found it funny and Riddle and Thatcher played off each other well. Imperium attacking Riddle and Thatcher should lead to them clashing for the NXT Tag Team Championship on an upcoming episode of NXT. I know Riddle and Pete Dunne were in the middle of a feud with The Grizzled Young Veterans before the pandemic happened, but I honestly wouldn't mind Imperium taking the titles from them if that's the direction they end up going in.
NXT Women's Champion Charlotte Flair def. Mia Yim (Non-Title)
I love that they went back to this six years removed from their first encounter on NXT (and no, it wasn't Flair's in-ring debut as she claimed at one point). The psychology was on-point and Yim was made to look like an equal to Flair in defeat. Granted, the outcome was never in doubt, but it was a competitive contest and Yim lost nothing here. She can lose to the bigger stars and still be considered credible. Flair vs. Io Shirai for the NXT Women's Championship next week should be stellar.
Dexter Lumis def. Shane Thorne
Lumis is still a work in progress, but he's coming along nicely and his character is definitely intriguing. I think he'd work better as as heel, but I'll reserve judgement until I see what they have in mind with him and Undisputed Era. While this was exactly what it needed as a showcase for Lumis, I question the decision to have Thorne be the one to get fed to him considering he and Brendan Vink will be facing Ricochet and Cedric Alexander again next week on Raw. Here's hoping that means MVP won't be their manager full-time and he'll be managing someone more important instead.
Drake Maverick def. Tony Nese in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match
I figured there was a chance Maverick would win since his opponent was Nese (who has been a stepping stone in the Cruiserweight division for the past year) and I'm glad he did. They worked well together, produced a pretty good match, and hit all the right notes with Maverick being the sympathetic underdog and Nese attempting to end his Cinderella story prematurely. If Maverick can win his next matchup against Kushida, he very well could advance to the finals (and I believe he should).
NXT North American Champion Keith Lee def. Damian Priest
I feel these hoss battles suffer the most from not having a crowd (see: Lee vs. Priest vs. Dijakovic from earlier this month), as there's no one there to react to their incredible feats of strength and athleticism. Despite that, this was a hell of a match from Lee and Priest. Although Priest's character and mic work lacks at times (I'd argue he's been improving in that department lately), he never ceases to deliver in the ring, especially when he's in there with someone as talented as Lee. Priest winning the title was certainly a possibility, so the suspense and drama added to the outing. With Lee winning decisively, I'm curious who will be next to challenge Lee for the championship. He's already knocked off Roderick Strong, Dijakovic, Priest and Cameron Grimes, so Johnny Gargano and Karrion Kross might be viable options.
First of all, it was a treat to hear Mauro Ranallo and Beth Phoenix on commentary again alongside Tom Phillips. While they weren't there in person, they recorded their lines from home and, for the most part, you couldn't even tell. NXT struggles more from not having a crowd than Raw and SmackDown because the fans are a big part of what makes the shows so fun. That said, NXT has managed to remain entertaining on the whole in recent weeks and I thought this was one of their strongest shows yet. It felt focused, the matches and segments served a purpose and held my attention, feuds were furthered, and the hype for next week was well done. The lineup for that show looks outstanding on paper and is almost TakeOver worthy, so fingers crossed it's as epic as advertised.