With the NXT roster in flux, now is the time for champions to either make or break their claims on gold. This week’s episode of NXT is awash in titles: Johnny Gargano comes home with his new NXT Championship; Shayna Baszler puts her NXT Women’s Championship on the line against former champion, constant foe, and recent SmackDown call-up Kairi Sane; and Velveteen Dream drew the ire of Buddy Murphy backstage at WrestleMania, leading to a fight for the North American Championship. The Black and Gold brand goes full gold for the week, so let’s get to it.
First up, it’s Dream vs. Buddy Murphy. Emotions are running high, with Murphy returning to NXT with gold on his mind after the insults from Dream at WrestleMania. It’s a true clash of styles, and that’s evident early on. Murphy is plenty strong, but Dream has the size advantage, so Murphy takes him down with a side headlock, a move he returns to a few times in order to wear down Dream early. The two are clearly feeling each other out, trading locks, pin attempts, and strikes to a stalemate in the first few minutes.
They trade shoves in the middle of the ring until the action picks up, and Murphy hits Dream with a running headscissors and a nasty knee to the face that almost snags Murphy the North American Championship. Murphy’s feeling it after that, taking to the sky and hurling his body over the top rope and into Dream. A Meteora off the top rope gets him another near fall, and suddenly Dream is looking outmatched. Murphy’s simply picking him apart with well-placed strikes.
Dream fights his way out of a sleeper hold and connects with a massive superkick when Murphy tries to attack him in the corner. Dream picks up the pace, hitting Murphy with a springboard double axe handle on the apron, and then another double axe handle off the top rope. He gets a near fall off a Codebreaker, but Murphy stays in it. They fight to the top rope, slug it out, and both come crashing down on the outside. Back in the ring, you can tell what this title match means to each guy. They throw fists with all the energy they have left, and Dream escapes a pin off a nasty DDT. Murphy goes off the top rope, but his high-risk move is countered by Dream into a Dream Valley Driver, which nearly gets him the win.
Murphy won’t quit though. He wants Dream to eat his words. He hits him with a superkick in the corner and follows it up with a sit-out powerbomb, and again it’s a near fall. Murphy fights back, hitting Dream with a knee strike on the apron, but he has trouble getting him back in the ring. That leaves Dream just enough room to hit Murphy with a Famouser when he gets back in the ring, knocking Murphy flat so that he can climb to the top and hit the Purple Rainmaker to retain the North American Championship.
After we travel backstage to see that War Raiders plan on confronting the Street Profits with the Viking Experience during a title match next week, it’s back to the ring for Johnny Gargano’s homecoming celebration as the NXT Champion. “This is what happens when you refuse to take no for an answer,” he says, pointing to the gold around his waist. He doesn’t get out another few words before Adam Cole, Gargano’s TakeOver opponent, interrupts, angry as all hell. He says that if it weren’t for the two-out-of-three falls stipulation, he’d be the champion.
Gargano has no time for arguing. He lays it out plain and simple: “the scoreboard at TakeOver read 2-1, and that’s not just definitive, that’s undisputed.” He tells Cole to bring it to the ring if he’s so upset, and that’s when Roderick Strong jumps him from behind, and the entire Undisputed Era lay a beating on the champion, capped off by Cole hitting him with a superkick. Gargano’s first appearance as NXT Champion ends with him flat on his back.
Next up, it’s Aaron Frye putting in a truly masterful perf…no, I’m kidding. Frye might be impressive in the ring, but he’s on TV here against the truly dominant Dominik Dijakovic. The bell rings, Dijakovic immediately hits him with a spinning boot, and Frye is down for the count (and probably more). Then, he gets on the mic and lets Velveteen Dream know that he’s coming after the North American Championship.
Then, it’s our main event, with Shayna Baszler putting her NXT Women’s Championship on the line against Kairi Sane. You can read all about that match here and then come back next week for a match between Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong, and a whole lot more action.
You can watch this week’s NXT on the WWE Network.