Three of NXT's top stars are set to face off in a triple threat match with the North American Championship on the line.
Keith Lee defending his North American Championship against Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano will headline tonight's episode of NXT. It will set the stage for a winner-take-all champion vs. champion match, with the winner facing NXT Champion Adam Cole with both titles on the line on the July 8 NXT episode.
For the first time since his dominant win against Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver: In Your House, Karrion Kross will be in action on tonight's show. Kross will face Bronson Reed, who issued a challenge to Kross last week after quickly defeating Leon Ruff.
Kross also has his eyes on the NXT Championship. Two weeks ago, Scarlett warned Cole that his time as champion is running out.
Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes will also air tonight. Priest defeated Killian Dain last Wednesday but -- after punching Grimes the previous week -- found his tires slashed in the parking lot later. Grimes then drove by and mocked Priest.
Our coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The show opened with an angle from "an hour ago" in the parking lot at Full Sail. Cameron Grimes had apparently attacked Damian Priest, and Priest was slumped over the seat of his car with his legs hanging out the open door. He was selling his back. Referees rushed to his aid, and one asked Priest where it hurt. Priest screamed it was his back in an unintentionally funny line as he was obviously already selling his back.
Cameron Grimes was seen gloating about the incident as he went inside the building, and he would also be opening the show in the ring. He cut a promo on Priest claiming that he no-showed the biggest match of his career. Grimes lied and said Priest slashed his own tires last week, and now he is acting like someone beat him up in the parking lot. Grimes said he wrestled Finn Balor with a broken jam after Priest punched him several weeks ago.
Grimes claimed Priest was afraid to wrestle him, and Grimes insisted that a referee declare him the winner of his scheduled match with Priest. At that moment, Priest hobbled to the ring with officials trying to dissuade him from getting into a fight. Priest has his ribs and back taped, and he still rolled into the ring. Grimes attacked him as Priest was rollimg inside and the match was on.
Cameron Grimes defeated Damian Priest
Grimes pinned Priest with the Cave-In after working over his back in a short match. Priest fought valiantly, but the injury from the sneak attack "an hour ago" was too much to overcome.
Grimes targeted the back, and Priest would fight back. Grimes powdered and waved off the match as if he was leaving the scene. Priest went to give chase, but it was a trap. Grimes would target the back again as he sandwiched Priest into the ring apron. Priest shot back with a kick, amd then he went for a Razor's Edge on the floor. Grimes countered the move and delivered a double stomp to Priest's back. Back in the ring, Grimes used to Cave-In to pin Priest in the middle of the ring.
Robert Stone was trying to convince Rhea Ripley to join the Robert Stone Brand. He told Ripley that her putting him in a trash can last week hurt his heart as well as his body, but he thought it was tough love. Stone said Aliyah has already signed with his stable, and Stone had a "golden ticket" for Ripley that allowed her a second chance to come aboard. He used a train metaphor and then started repeatedly hollering "choo choo". So Ripley punched him in the gut, and threw him into a dumpster. Aliyah ran up to angrily confront Ripley before slapping her. Ripley no sold the slap and smirked. Ripley said Aliyah just got a "golden ticket" for a match later on.
Next was a vignette that was the second installment of aTimothy Thatcher training seminar. Much like the first installment, Thatcher stretched and tortutred some wrestlers like he was Stu Hart in The Dungeon.
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar (with Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde) defeated Jake Atlas in a non-title match
Escobar pinned Atlas clean despite Atlas looking strong down the stretch.
Atlas got to shine early on as he had Escobar on the ropes. Mendoza & Wilde caused a distraction that allowed Escobar to shove Atlas off the apron into the dasher boards before the show cut to commercial. After the commercial break, Escobar was working over Atlas.
Escobar was working more of a WWE style than when he was under the mask as Fantasma for his first few bouts in NXT. The WWE storyline is he unmasked because he wanted to be more than a lucahdor. Of course, Escobar had already previously unmasked in Mexico in an apuesta match working for AAA. Escobar also now wears an armband as part of his gear. The armband has a symbol representing his new heel stable, because apparently that is what heel stables in WWE do ever since Nexus.
Atlas made a comeback and started to clean hosue on Escobar with a flurry of moves. That included a standing moonsault for a two count. Atlas moments later also moonsaulted to the floor so he could wipe out the henchmen at ringside. Atlas springboarded back into the ring, and he soon caught Escobar with a headlock DDT for a near fall.
Soon thereafter Atlas was cut off while climbing the turnbuckles. Escobar then executed the Phantom Driver, and he covered Atlas for the pinfall.
An Undisputed Era skit was a sequel to their hijicks last week. This time Roderick Strong faced his fear and got in the trunk of a car after he was talked into at the kayfabe doctor's office. Adam Cole told Strong he was face Dexter Lumis in a match tonight, and Strong suddenly looked worried.
Malcolm Bivens was with Indus Sher. He cut a promo on Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan. This looks to set up a match soon between the two teams.
A great video package hyped the upcoming champion vs. champion match in a few weeks on NXT.
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez defeated Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
Kai submitted Catanzaro to win the match.
Gonzalez was playing monster heel at the outset as Catanzaro & Carter used teamwork to try and take Gonzalez off her feet. They used some nifty double team moves, but Gonzalez was still able to tag out. The double team offense by the babyfaces continued as Carter catapulted Catanzaro into a Thesz press on Kai for a two count.
Kai cut off Catanzaro, and the heels got heat on Catanzaro. Carter jumped in to break up a pinning attempt at one point. Carter then soon ran wild after a hot tag, and she got some near falls on Kai. The babyfaces again went for the catapult into the press, but this time it was on Gonzalez and she was too powerful. She caught Catanzaro for a huge powerbomb. Kai then tagged in to apply her new submission hold, and Catanzaro tapped out.
Kai looked into the camera after the match and called out NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai. That could possibly be Shirai's first title program was champion as Kai is set for a fatal four way next week to determine a number one contender.
Karrion Kross (with Scarlett) defeated Bronson Reed
Reed was a house of fire at the start, but Kross quickly cut him off. Kross gave Reed an exploder suplex, but Reed got up to fight back. Reed answered back with a German suplex, and then they went into a Frye-Takayama sequence.
Kross took some splashes in a corner from Reed, but that only served to light a fire in him. Kross with a Northern Lights suplex into a floatover and a lariat. Next came a Saito suplex, and that was followed by the Kross Jacket for the submission.
McKenzie Mitchell in an interview backstage asked NXT Champion Adam Cole which challenger he would like to face out of the triple threat match later on. A smug Cole said he would face whoever. He called the question stupid before saying he was making room on his mantle for one more championship.
A vignette hyped the return of Mercedes Martinez. She is awesome, and I hope she gets a push.
Rhea Ripley defeated Aliyah (with Robert Stone)
Ripley tossed around Aliyah like a ragdoll. Aliyah tried some heel tactics, but Ripley cut her off easily several times. Ripley applied her standing scorpion submission hold, and was seemingly on the verge of victory when Stone threw his shoe at her.
Ripley chased Stone around the ring, and she caught him the ring where she ripped off his sports jacket. Stone fled and rolled out of the ring as Aliyah went to roll-up Ripley -- only Ripley blocked her attempt and delivered the Rip Tide. Ripley then covered Aliyah for the pinfall.
Ripley looked strong in winning, but she went from feuding with Charlotte Flair -- who at the time was the most pushed women's wrestler in the company -- to now in a comedy feud with a male manager that is doing a loser gimmick. I was hoping this match would be the end of it, but nope. More to come on this later.
Dexter Lumis defeated Roderick Strong (with Bobby Fish) via countout
Strong would get in the ring aiming to lock up, but then fear would overcome him and he would bail out of the ring. Fish tried to encourage him, but Strong was having none of it. Lumis went after Strong as he slowly stalked him. Strong trippe himself at ringside, and then he ran into the plexiglass as he tried to flee. Strong got to his feet and he ran out of the building. The referee counted him out.
Fish was left at ringside, and Lumis locked him in his sleeper hold. Fish escaped his clutches, and he fled the scene as well. Undisputed Era really kind of looks like geeks in this feud.
Stone and Aliyah were video chatting with William Regal. Stone said they deserved a rematch with Ripley next week. Regal agreed they both deserved a match, so he booked a two-on-one mixed handicap match with Stone & Aliyah against Ripley in a match next Wednesday on NXT. Ripley entered the picture and she agreed. The match is on for next week. If Ripley loses, she has to join the Robert Stone Brand.
Also announced for next week is a fatal four way number one contender's match to decide a challenger for the NXT Women's Championship with Mia Yim vs. Tegan Nox vs. Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai.
A gimmick match was also announced for the next epiosde with Roderick Strongs meeting Dexter Lumis in a strap match.
The episode next week is also being branded as "The Great American Bash" based around Independence Day in the United States. The Bash name originated from a series of summer events from Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid-1980s, and the name was later used for PPVs in WCW until 2000. WWE would also use the name for PPVs before retiring it several years ago. Now it's back for a NXT show that goes head-to-head with the first week of Fyter Fest.
NXT North American Champion Keith Lee defeated Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano in a triple threat match to retain his title
Lee pinned Balor to retain in the exciting conclusion of a great triple threat match.
Although the handicap match was booked for next week, this first half of this match was basically turned into a handicap match with twos Davids against a Goliath.
The first part of the match was a showcase for Lee to look like a powerhouse. Balor and Gargano bumped and fed for him before the show cut to commercial. Lee was still striking them down as the show returned from the commercial break. The two smaller wrestlers both tried to ride Lee while applying sleeper holds. Lee threw them off his back, but just as soon as he could throw one then the other other would jump on his back.
Lee finally went down with Balor applying a sleeper, but Lee powered out to break the hold. He was back to his feet and back to power moves. Gargano and Balor were trying to take Lee off his feet when he snatched them both in his clutches before supexing both them over his head.
Balor again applied a sleeper, and Gargano simultaneously applied a leglock -- but neither were to no avail. Lee flung Balor off of him like a school kid would toss a backpack off his shoulders, and then he mowed down Gargano with a forearm strike.
The fight spilled outside the ring, and Balor struck with sling blade to Lee on the floor. Gargano followed with a rolling senton off the apron on Lee. Before the show cut to its final commercial break, Lee was sent crashing into the steps and he was down selling. Balor and Gargano were fighting in the ring as the show returned from the break. They picked up the pace.
Balor with a tope con giro flying over the ropes onto Lee, and then Balor followed that with a Final Cut on Gargano for a near fall. Balor with a sling blade looked to set up his finishing sequence. In a call back to a previously infamous spot, Lee rose up on the apron into the camera frame behind Balor. Lee took out both Balor and Gargano with a slingshot crossbody.
Lee was smashing them both, when Balor suddenly struck with a double stomp out of nowhere. Balor went for the 1916, but Lee broke it up and picked up Balor in an electric chair. Balor escaped to apply a sleeper. Gargano jumped back into the fray, and he executed a slingshot DDT on Balor for a near fall. Lee broke up the count, and Gargano caught him in a guillotine. Lee took a tornado DDT, and he rolled outside.
Gargano flew through the ropes with a tope on Lee. Gargano then went for a tope on Balor, but he was blocked. Balor teased giving Gargano the 1916 on the floor (which was a call back to the spot where Gargano legit suffered an injury many months ago). Lee broke them up with a Monty Brown pounce.
Lee went to powerbomb Balor, but Balor countered into a delivering a double stomp. Gargano intercepted Balor only for Gargano to take a shotgun dropkick that bounced him off of Lee, and Lee fell on Gargano in another call back to a spot from a few weeks ago. Balor climbed the turnbuckles, and Lee got him in a guzzle. Gargano jumped in to strike Lee, which also crotched Balor. Gargano then rolled up Lee and put his foot on the middle rope for illegal leverage. Lee still managed to kick out.
Lee fired up to flatten Gargano with the Big Bang Catastrophe. Balor jumped off the top with a Coup de Grace on Gargano to break up the subsequent pinning attempt. Balor the ran into Lee, and Lee with another Big Bang Catastrophe. Lee then covered Balor for a clean pinfall.
NXT Champion Adam Cole had a staredown with Lee after the match where each held up their respective title belts. They meet in two weeks time in a title-for-title champion vs. champion match that runs head-to-head with week two of Fyter Fest on July 8.