With no shortage of Superstars champing at the bit for a crack at his NXT Title, champion Aleister Black kicked off NXT by reminding all would-be contenders that he has only needed one shot — i.e., Black Mass — to make opponents Fade to Black.
Just then, Lars Sullivan, who beat contender hopefuls Ricochet and Velveteen Dream in a Handicap Match last week, arrived to inform Black that the dispute over his next challenger had ended with General Manager William Regal giving Sullivan the nod for NXT TakeOver: Chicago on Saturday, June 16.
Coming face-to-face with the champion, Sullivan indicated that Black's past success with Black Mass won't matter when they meet in Chicago for the simple reason that Black has never faced anyone like Sullivan. The Rocky Mountain monster then went after Black, and though The Dutch Destroyer broke free and spun into his ferocious Black Mass kick, Sullivan shockingly caught the strike before obliterating Black with the Freak Accident.
With Black laid out on the mat, Sullivan grabbed the title and held it aloft, perhaps previewing what's to come at TakeOver: Chicago.
Just like their winning streak, War Raiders’ ferocity seems to grow each time they appear on NXT TV. In the latest display of brute force and tag-team proficiency, Hanson & Rowe devoured Cody Vincent & George Hixon. With “Raiders” chants reverberating through Full Sail University, Hanson & Rowe used a series of double-team combos, including a vicious springboard clothesline/German suplex merger, to dominate their opponents After stalking Vincent like a hunter eyes its prey, War Raiders wrecked the overwhelmed wrestler with the Fallout for the win.
The “EC3 Trilogy” could have ended in disaster for EC3.
The thrilling high-wire attack of his opponent, Fabian Aichner, which was punctuated by a wild crossbody block from the top rope to the floor, threatened to derail The Top One Percent's highly anticipated third match in NXT. An unexpected mid-match appearance by Johnny Gargano, who arrived single-mindedly to deliver a signed contract agreeing to a Street Fight against Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver: Chicago, nearly stole EC3's thunder and caused visible consternation.
Yet, despite these obstacles, EC3 wrapped up his trilogy with a victory. The egocentric powerhouse downed The NXT LVL with a fireman's carry neckbreaker for the pin, causing the ever-growing “NX3 Universe” to hold up “NX3” signs in celebration.
Ricochet had his work cut out for him against the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Chris Dijak, an acclaimed WWE Performance Center recruit who was making his long-awaited NXT TV debut. The huge size difference didn't deter NXT's One and Only from aggressively bringing the fight to Dijak and sending him sprawling from the ring.
Ricochet followed up with a suicide dive, but Dijak caught him and chokeslammed him onto the ring apron. Ricochet avoided a subsequent moonsault attempt by the mindbogglingly agile Dijak and then unleashed a fast-moving series of attacks before landing his 630 Splash for the win.
After the match, Ricochet addressed Velveteen Dream, saying that while Dream is entertaining and can “basically do it all,” he showed how much of a “punk” he was last week when he attacked Ricochet during their Handicap Match against Lars Sullivan. Dream arrived on the scene, but instead of taking Ricochet up on an offer to fight on the spot, he said that a match of that magnitude warrants the spotlight of TakeOver: Chicago. Velveteen Dream also told Ricochet that anything he can do, Dream can do better.
In response, and in a moment that is sure to live on as a gif for years to come, Ricochet ran the length of the ring, flipped over the ropes and landed perfectly on the floor before getting right in Dream's face. As Velveteen Dream looked on in disbelief at Ricochet's unbelievable feat of athleticism, The One and Only left him with three words: “Then show me.”
Realizing that she held the psychological edge over Dakota Kai, NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler toyed with her challenger in the opening moments of their title bout, shoving Kai into the corner and peppering her with kicks to the leg. The ruthless Queen of Spades then ramped up her viciousness, repeatedly stomping on Kai's ankle and causing the Kiwi Superstar's leg to twist in grotesque fashion.
Baszler added insults to the injury, mocking Kai's “Captain of Team Kick” nickname before torqueing Kai's limb with a prolonged ankle lock. Courageously, Kai refused to quit, and she finally broke free with an enzuigiri kick to the champion's head. With a noticeable limp, Kai then fired off big boots in the corner, but Baszler soon snuffed out her comeback, catching her in the deadly Kirifuda Clutch to score the submission win.
Not satisfied with merely beating Kai, Baszler then sought to embarrass and injure her, as she reapplied the Kirifuda Clutch after the bell. As Kai began to fade, Nikki Cross — who'd motivated Kai prior to her match against Baszler — entered the ring, ripped the champion off Kai and briefly absconded with the NXT Women's Title. Cross then challenged a confused Baszler to an impromptu match, anointed the now-revived Kai the referee and hit Baszler with the Purge as Baszler tried to retrieve her title. Kai administered the unofficial three-count, and NXT's twisted sister did a victory lap with the championship.
Baszler might have prevailed against the determined but outmatched Kai, but a potential new challenger — one who doesn't know what it means to be intimidated by a bully — seems to be on the horizon.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) defeat Cody Vincent & George Hixon (2:48)
- EC3 defeats Fabian Aichner (2:35)
- Ricochet defeats Christopher Dijak (2:13)
- Info: This match was taped on 10.05.2018.
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