Wrestling Review: WWE NXT, May 22 2019

We opened this week’s episode of NXT with a recap of last week’s events from the tag team division. The Viking Raiders had come to the ring in an attempt to relinquish their Tag Team Championships due to their main roster call-up, but were instead greeted with the Street Profits, and a match was made with the titles on the line. The Forgotten Sons interfered and caused a DQ, however, and Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch also entered the fray. The Viking Raiders would stand tall, only to lay the championships down in front of them. Thus, a TakeOver: XXV match was announced for the now-vacant championships: Street Profits vs Forgotten Sons vs Lorcan and Burch vs Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish of the Undisputed Era. This is not all, however. The titles will be suspended high above the ring and the contest will be fought under Ladder Match rules! Seeing as the multi-man Ladder Match for the inaugural North American Championship is one of the best matches in NXT history, this is a great piece of booking and I can’t wait to see what transpires at TakeOver.

Undisputed Era Segment

After Roderick Strong proved his loyalty to the Undisputed Era last week by attacking Matt Riddle backstage, the four members of the Era were back in the ring with a united front this week, and looking stronger than ever. This segment started off as an Adam Cole promo where he discussed the fact that he was going to beat Johnny Gargano at TakeOver: XXV for the NXT Championship, and O’Reilly and Fish were going to recapture the Tag Team Championships in the aforementioned Ladder Match, and that old claim that the Undisputed Era would be “draped in championship gold” would finally ring true. Gargano would soon interrupt, and he and Cole jacked jaws at each other until Riddle, still smarting from the attack by Strong last week, decided to take advantage of the Era’s backs being turned and attacked them from behind. This would turn into a 4-on-2 brawl, and eventually referees would separate the warring wrestlers.

Later, Cathy Kelley was outside William Regal’s office, where shouting could be heard from inside. The Undisputed Era soon emerged, followed by Regal, and the NXT General Manager announced two matches, booked due to the Era’s unacceptable antics: for TakeOver, Roderick Strong vs Matt Riddle, and for tonight, a tag team match between Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish and Johnny Gargano and Matt Riddle. TakeOver: XXV is turning into quite the Undisputed Era show, with their members involved in three of the five match-ups. It will be interesting to see how united the front stands once the dust from that show is settled.

Mansoor vs Sean Maluta

Mansoor is probably best known to NXT viewers for his recent match with Dominik Dijakovic, where he impressed but came up short to the towering Croatian. Here, he went one better and picked up a victory over Sean Maluta, who is best known for his appearance in the Cruiserweight Classic tournament of 2016. The match was good, and both men exchanged exciting-looking offense for the most part, but Maluta would fall to a twisting inverted suplex from Mansoor. Mansoor now joins the likes of Raul Mendoza as competitors who have recently won matches in NXT and seem to be in line for a bit more. It will be interesting whether that extra something comes to fruition.

Velveteen Dream Segment

With NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream’s upcoming match with Dominik Dijakovic nixed due to an injury to the challenger, a new opponent for Dream was established here: none other than NXT’s original flamboyant competitor, “Prince Pretty” Tyler Breeze. This was an amazingly entertaining segment, with two guys who use very similar gimmicks bouncing off each other on the mic. Dream told Breeze he can’t cut it on the main roster, but Breeze retorted by telling him that NXT is what inspires him, and more specifically, Dream’s North American Championship. The segment culminated when Dream asked Tyler for a selfie, only to get cheap-shotted as the snap was taken. While the title match between the two should be great, it’s a shame that with TakeOver happening on June 1st, we won’t get more promo battles between these two, as character work is really where they excel, and rarely do you get to see two characters as similar as these two working together.

Candice LeRae vs Reina Gonzalez

Candice LeRae was pitted against a much bigger and stronger Reina Gonzalez in this one, and she did well to overcome her, as she won a good match with her trademark springboard moonsault. This was really about furthering the heat between NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler and her TakeOver: XXV challenger Io Shirai, however. After the bell, Baszler and her buddies Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke stormed the ring and attacked LeRae, only for Shirai to make the save, armed with a Kendo stick! This was a one-sided assault, and the stick seemed to more than make up for the numbers disadvantage Shirai was suffering from. Io looked great here, and seemed to have finally found a suitable tactic to take down Baszler. Of course, Kendo sticks won’t be legal in the match at TakeOver, so it will be interesting to see how she attempts to readjust.

Johnny Gargano and Matt Riddle vs Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish)

This match was all about the Undisputed Era proving that they are all back on the same page, and that the numbers game will always work to their advantage. The in-ring action itself was predictably excellent, with the two top babyfaces in NXT teaming up to take on the tag team specialists of the top heel stable. I love this kind of dynamic in a match, as a strong heel stable running the show is in my opinion one of the most entertaining storylines that can be told in wrestling.

This great match was, of course, won by the Undisputed Era. Although Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish came to ringside unaccompanied, Cole and Strong would not stay backstage forever. Adam Cole appeared first, marching down the ramp only to be taken out by a suicide dive from Gargano. With the referee distracted by the melee between the NXT Champion and his TakeOver challenger, Riddle was left open for an attack from Roderick Strong, who seemed to come from the crowd. He rolled Riddle back into the ring afterwards, and O’Reilly and Fish hit High And Low to pick up the victory. The show went off the air with all four members of the Undisputed Era pummeling their foes after the bout had ended. Although they looked super strong here, tensions within the Era’s ranks had been building for weeks prior to last week. With TakeOver fast approaching, I still don’t think a Strong turn in Bridgeport is out of the question. Whatever happens, potential events for TakeOver are looking very exciting.

Elsewhere on this show, future non-TakeOver bouts between Kushida and Drew Gulak, and Bianca Belair and Mia Yim, were also announced. Both these matches had been teased in previous weeks, and should both be great, particularly Kushida vs Gulak.

Overall, this was a great episode of NXT, though it did not quite hit the heady heights of last week. It was great to see Undisputed Era on top, as they are four of the best wrestlers in the world, and excel in their role as a dominant heel stable. They are shaping up to be a major part of TakeOver, and for that alone I am very much looking forward to the show.