As much as I loved last week’s NXT—which featured the debut of Matt Riddle and a parking lot brawl featuring Undisputed Era, War Raiders, and Ricochet—this week’s episode is what I’ve been looking forward to. That’s probably true for most of the NXT Universe, ever since Johnny Gargano went on Twitter last week and said that he’d show up at Full Sail to explain his actions soon enough. We’ve all been waiting to hear Johnny’s side of the story when it comes to his attack on Aleister Black, and we finally get that tonight. Add in an impromptu match between Velveteen Dream and Lars Sullivan after their confrontation last week, and suddenly you have an explosive episode of NXT.
This week’s show kicks off in the beefiest fashion possible, as Heavy Machinery take on Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake of the Forgotten Sons. That’s a ring full of big boys, perhaps none more impressive than Otis Dozovic, who enters the match having recently squared off against the NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, where he took the champ to his limit. These two teams are looking to find their way into NXT Tag Team Championship contention though, which is no easy task in such a stacked division.
The Dozer manages to get Heavy Machinery the upper hand early on, especially after hitting an elbow drop after a perfect execution of The Worm. The Forgotten Sons fire back by keeping Dozovic in their own corner, making quick tags and keeping the big man grounded. Tucker Knight gets back in the ring eventually though, throwing Cutler around the ring before climbing to the top rope and just throwing his massive body at the Forgotten Son. The two teams trade momentum for a bit, but Heavy Machinery is just too overpowering, and Dozovic gets the 1-2-3 after an impressive pop-up front slam.
After Candice LeRae makes it known that she’s not done confronting Nikki Cross—asking William Regal to give her a match that’s set for next week, while Regal also lets Shayna Baszler know that she’ll be defending her NXT Women’s Championship at NXT TakeOver: War Games against Kairi Sane—it’s time for more in-ring action. It’s two Mae Young Classic competitors in Dakota Kai and Taynara Conti. Conti comes out a little too hot, her anger and energy getting the best of her as Kai manages to use that against her, dodging strikes and hitting back with her own kicks.
Conti is no slouch though, and her aggression eventually overpowers Kai; well, her aggression and a swift boot to the face (see above) do the trick. Going toe-to-toe (see what I did there?) with the captain of Team Kick though is a bad idea. Kai hits Conti with one kick after another before hitting her unique backstabber to get the win. It’s just the momentum she needs coming off a first-round loss at the Mae Young Classic. A lot of women are making an impact in the division right now—Bianca Belair is undefeated, and new NXT signee Mia Yim’s star is already rising—but if Kai can string a few wins together, she could find herself in line for a title shot.
Then, it’s the moment so many of us have been waiting for. Johnny Gargano, submitting a self-recorded video from earlier, explains why he attacked Aleister Black and put him on the shelf for weeks. He says that it was nothing personal, that Black was just “collateral damage” on his path to Tommaso Ciampa. He says that he only did something slightly evil and that he’s still the good guy the NXT Universe has always known. Is that true though? Gargano seems to be finding a darker edge, and his obsession with Ciampa has been pushing him to do things he normally wouldn’t. But if this video tells us anything, it’s that his obsession isn’t going away, and that could mean bad news for both the NXT Champion and the rest of the locker room.
Finally, we’re at our main event, as Lars Sullivan gets his hands on Velveteen Dream. Sullivan is livid that Dream is getting a shot at the NXT Championship at WarGames; he thinks that’s a spot he deserves, that Dream is all flash and no follow through. Sullivan proves his point early on, absolutely demolishing Dream at every turn. He hits him with massive clotheslines, stiff forearms, all before tossing him all the way across the ring.
As the match progresses, you can tell that both men have a point to prove. Dream wants to prove that he deserves his shot at the NXT Championship, and Sullivan wants to show that he’s being unfairly overlooked and that he can dominate anybody in that NXT locker room. Somehow, Dream kicks out of a vicious powerslam to stay alive, and that sends Sullivan to the top rope in desperation. He barely connects with a flying headbutt, and the slight miss gives Dream the opening he needs. He heads to the top rope to hit the Purple Rainmaker, but a lurking Tommaso Ciampa acts as a distraction. Dream lays Ciampa out, but it comes at the expense of losing the match, as Sullivan immediately hits Dream with the Freak Accident when he gets back in the ring. As if that’s not enough, Ciampa beats him down as well.
You know what though?
You can watch this week’s NXT on the WWE Network