Undisputed Era Interrupted Velveteen Dream
We haven't seen too much of Dream on NXT TV since his loss to NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver: WarGames II, raising questions as to what his status was on the brand. During his promo here, he announced his intentions to set his sights on the NXT North American Championship, only to be interrupted by Adam Cole and Bobby Fish. They're looking to win gold soon as well to match their stablemates Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong. This was a solid segment, and if I had to guess, this will be a filler feud to keep Dream and Cole busy before they move on to something more meaningful.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch def. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel
Aichner and Barthel have quickly come into their own as a tag team on NXT UK and it's great to see them join the NXT tag team ranks as well. They work wonderfully together, and when it was announced they'd be doing battle with Lorcan and Aichner, I knew it'd be a barn-burner of a bout. Sure enough, they did not disappoint, as this was extremely exciting while it lasted. The crowd was electric for their innovative, high-flying offense and all four guys put forth an incredible effort. The roll-up win for Lorcan and Burch makes me hopeful that more matches between the two tandems are on the horizon.
Kairi Sane and Io Shirai def. Tanea Brooks and Amber Nova
I never thought I'd see the day where former TNA/IMPACT Knockout Rebel (Brooks) was wrestling in an NXT ring, but here we are. In fact, Nova has made a handful of appearances for IMPACT in the past as well, not to mention it was reported today that Abyss and Sonjay Dutt are WWE bound. IMPACT invasion confirmed! In all seriousness, this was a perfectly fine showcase for Sane and Shirai. They hit their signature spots and won with ease. I'm curious what's next for them if Sane has already lost to Shayna Baszler on multiple occasions. Hell, I wouldn't mind them chasing the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship eventually.
Velveteen Dream def. Bobby Fish
Dream won't be a part of TakeOver: Phoenix on Saturday, so I was glad he was in action on this show. He and Fish told a good story here with Fish targeting Dream's knee for the first half and Dream battling back in the second. It was a quality contest, and despite interference from Cole, Dream was able to pull out the victory. I honestly wouldn't count out a possible one-off Royal Rumble appearance from him on Sunday.
NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano Attacked Aleister Black and NXT North American Champion Ricochet
I was already hyped for Ricochet vs. Gargano at TakeOver: Phoenix (the match sells itself on paper), but this was a great way to get me more amped for it than I already was. The brawl between Ricochet and Gargano was short and sweet, Ciampa and Black furthered their feud by getting involved, the heels stood tall heading into Saturday, and there was another tease for a possible DIY reunion. When are we getting DIY vs. Black and Ricochet?
Where the main roster lacks, NXT thrives. The build for TakeOver: Phoenix has been strong on the whole and it looks to be yet another stellar special. This was a top-notch go-home show with the opening and closing segments serving a purpose, Kane and Shirai teaming for the first time in NXT, Dream maintaining momentum, and Lorcan and Burch going all out with Aichner and Barthel. It was an excellent hour of wrestling that left me highly anticipating TakeOver and looking forward to the future of the brand.