Drake Maverick def. Jake Atlas and Kushida in a Triple Threat Match to Advance to the Finals of the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament
Having three guys in there who realistically could have won really added to the drama of the match and the suspense surrounding the outcome. Okay, so I never actually thought Atlas was going to advance, but I had no idea who would win between Kushida and Maverick. It was a very well-worked Triple Threat and was the best choice to start the show with. Maverick's journey to the title (despite being unemployed, supposedly) continues and part of me thinks he may actually become the champion, but I'm also sticking with El Hijo del Fantasma as my pick.
Johnny Gargano def. Adrian Alanis
Gargano referred to this as the first-ever "Johnny Gargano Invitational," accidentally calling his opponent Adrian Adonis. Alanis may have gotten a move or two in, but this was all about Gargano, who won in the matter of a minute. The real focus was on what happened afterward with Keith Lee and Mia Yim mocking the recent Gargano dinners from their own home. It allowed them to show some personality for a change and set the stage for the eventual mixed tag team match.
Raquel Gonzalez def. Dakota Kai
Blackheart and Tegan Nox have had issues with Gonzalez and Dakota Kai for several weeks, so this match made sense. Gonzalez is still a work in progress, but she's coming along nicely. Blackheart, on the other hand, has breakout babyface potential and is also improving by the week. This was a decent little match with a distraction from Candice LeRae at ringside leading to another win for the heels. With LeRae facing Yim next week, I'd love if LeRae vs. Nox was saved for TakeOver: In Your House.
NXT Women's Champion Charlotte Flair and Chelsea Green def. Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley
I hate to sound like a broken record, but I'm officially finished with Flair as the NXT Women's Champion. The experiment has run its course and needs to end at TakeOver, ideally at the hands of Shirai. Then again, Shirai losing here doesn't do her any favors. It was a solid tag team match on the whole and it was nice to see Green back, but Ripley and Shirai don't feel like threats to the title whatsoever at the moment, which once again goes to show how this Flair championship reign hasn't benefited anybody in the division.
Tommaso Ciampa def. Leon Ruff
Ruff originally lost to Karrion Kross in Kross' debut match earlier this month. Ciampa also made quick work of him, but only after getting temporarily distracted by Scarlett at ringside. This was exactly what it needed to be and I appreciate how Kross' mind games seem to be getting to Ciampa. Kross' post-match promo was great and I'm really looking forward to seeing them clash at TakeOver.
Timothy Thatcher def. Matt Riddle in a Fight Pit
While not the Lion's Den, this was still a sweet structure and the Tale of the Tape beforehand was a terrific touch. Angle serving as the special guest referee felt more like an attempt to draw ratings as he never played an important role or factored into the finish at all, but it was cool to see him involved, nonetheless. This was excellently executed and came across like something you'd see in a true mixed martial arts fight for the most part. They beat the holy hell out of each other, but in the end, Thatcher was able to secure the victory as he should have. Does this confirm the rumors that Ridde is SmackDown bound sooner rather than later?
There was also a Skype/Zoom call between Adam Cole and William Regal where it was announced that Cole will defend his NXT Championship against Velveteen Dream at TakeOver. With the stipulation being that Dream won't be afforded any more title shots if he loses, my guess is that he finally wins. As for this edition of NXT, it was entertaining and efficient. The main event was a spectacle of sorts, multiple matches were confirmed for next week, and the build to TakeOver next week was effective. It's shapring up to be a hell of a show, but it won't matter how fantastic the card is if they don't bring back the classic In Your House stage design. Also, as was the case with Raw, the addition of Performance Center recruits in the crowd made for a much better environment than what we've had lately, especially since NXT isn't the same without that electric atmosphere it's known for.