Preview by Joseph Currier
Tonight's episode of NXT is the go-home show for TakeOver: In Your House.
The episode will feature Drake Maverick vs. El Hijo del Fantasma in the finals of NXT's interim Cruiserweight Championship tournament. Maverick advanced to the finals last week with his win against Kushida and Jake Atlas. The finish of that match was Maverick covering Atlas while Kushida had Atlas locked in a cross armbreaker.
It was later revealed that Atlas had actually tapped out in the armbreaker before the referee counted to three. Maverick offered to have another match to decide who should advance to the finals, but Kushida told him to fight for the title and win. Maverick said he'll give Kushida the first shot at the title if he becomes champion.
After being released by WWE, Maverick's story for the tournament has been him needing to win to save his job.
Mia Yim vs. Candice LeRae will also air on tonight's show. Yim and Keith Lee have recently been feuding with LeRae and Johnny Gargano. Lee will defend his NXT North American Championship against Gargano at TakeOver: In Your House on Sunday.
Tonight's episode will also feature a Prime Target special building up Charlotte Flair vs. Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship and Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT Championship at TakeOver.
Our coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Mauro Ranallo & Beth Phoenix are on commentary.
The show is opening with a grudge match in the women's division.
Candice LeRae and Mia Yim fought to a countout
Yim with a kind of aggressive swagger, Yim took her time pummeling LeRae at the start. LeRae escaped a full nelson and landed a kick to cut. LeRae went on to target the back with several sentons. Yim sandwiched her in a corner to cut her off moments later, and then Yim followed with a cannonball into the corner, but LeRae with a flurry back her into a corner.
Yim was able to knock LeRae off the apron to the floor, and Yim followed her outside. Yim picked up LeRae in a wheelbarrow move and rammed her into the barricade. The count began to get long, and they were soon counted out.
The brawl continued up the ramp to the top of the stage. LeRae countered a powerbomb with a headscissors that sent Yim into the Titantron. That section of the video board screen even sold, as it acted as if it malfunctioned and then went black.
Tegan Nox made a run-in to try and break up the fight. No pizza this week. Then others began to pour onto the stage for an even larger brawl that included Raquel Gonzalez and Aliyah brawling with Nox and Shotzi Blackheart. They brawled their way off stage left.
Yim and LeRae continued to the brawl. Johnny Gargano ran-in, which brought out NXT North American Champion Keith Lee to sent the heels scurrying. There was no Teddy Long, but somebody made this a tag team match on the spot.
Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano defeated Mia Yim & Keith Lee
Lee and Gargano were in street clothes. They meet in a title match this Sunday at TakeOver.
Yim still showed fire as she dominated on LeRae after a commercial break.Yim delivered Sole Food to set up a near fall. Then she punked her out with some face washing. Yim turned her attention to Gargano and talked trash to him.
Yim with a Dragon suplex a bridge for a two count. Lee then powerwalked across the ring and bieled Gargano into the ring. He pulled Gargano's jacket over him like they were in a hockey fight. Lee was pummeling him when he went for a powerbomb.
Since they were in street clothes, Gargano had car keys in his pocket. In a spot that would hopefully make The Original Sheik proud, Gargano pulled out the keys and stabbed Lee in the eye with them.
Lee sold big, and Yim turned her attention to him. LeRae then rolled up Yim with a schoolgirl for the pinfall. After the bell, Gargano also injured Lee's hand and grabbed the title belt. He held up the championship, and then layed it on floor in just the right spot where the camera zoomed in on the belt and a TakeOver logo on the floor. End scene.
A vignette hyped Tommaso Ciampa vs. Karrion Kross at TakeOver.
Mckenzie Mitchell interviewed Dexter Lumis. What's this dude's deal? I don't know, but it's no buys. He wouldn't speak. Instead he got a chart and started drawing on it. What he was drawing, I don't now either becaushe he wouldn't show us. Okay, moving on.
After a commercial break, Mitchell was outside the building interviewing Drake Maverick. This was great. Total opposite of Lumis. Drake had a ton of charisma. He was free as bird as he said there was no pressure tonight. It could even be the happiest day of his life if he wins. He vowed to eat a cookie in catering because it didn't matter. He also made an inside joke about cutting a promo into camea.
Why aren't they re-signing this dude? They are right? Hopefully, since he's been so great in this role, but they sold it here like he hasn't re-signed. Maybe he doesn't want to re-sign. Who knows? Time will tell.
Next was a "Prime Target" special focusing on Velveteen Dream challenging NXT Champion at TakeOver. This was basically a mini-doc, and Ranallo voiced over a narration. It was wacky, but in a good way. Undisputed Era were in a limo going to dinner together, and Dream did a mirror-mirror-on-the-wall scene with someone that I think was supposed to be Prince. Other personalities and even WWE Champion Drew McIntyre gave their takes on the match this Sunday. Dream and Cole meet in a Backlot Brawl at TakeOver.
Dexter Lumis by this time had finished his drawing. This may be a sign he is a sociopath as his picture depicted him driving a truck with the Unidsputed Era tied up in the back.
Isaiah "Swerve" Scott defeated Tony Nese
Swerve was a house of fire at the outset, until Nese cut him off and grounded him. Swerve powered out of a guillotine to give Nese a suplex. Nese tried to dash his hopes, but Nese missed a Super Crazy springboard moonsault. Nese was backdropped to the outside, and then he ate a penalty kick. Swerve whipped him into the steps, and continued his onslaught.
Nese tried to cut him with a chop to the throat, but Swerve fought back. Jack Gallagher came out trying to distract Swerve. Nese was going for a finisher when Swerve with a sunset roll-up scored the pinfall.
Gallagher rushed the ring, but it was too late. Swerve had already won.
Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) defeated Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish) and The Brit-Am Brawlers (Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan) in a triple threat tag team match to become number one contenders
Breezango were revealed as the mystery third team in the match. They did a spacewalk entrance like they were on a SpaceX mission.
There were three legal wrestlers in the ring at one time, and there was a lot going on at once. Good stuff, though. The match eventually settled down between a commercial break, but soon a melee started.
Breezango ran wild briefly, and then Lorcan cleaned house after a hot tag. They did a group spot that looked very choreographed when Fandango was backdropped over the ropes into a dive on a pile of bodies.
Dexter Lumis appeared out of nowhere to stalk Undisputed Era. He startled Bobby Fish, and Fish ate a kick from Breeze. While everyone else was brawling on the floor, Fandango jumped off the top rope with a Bobby Eaton flying leg drop. He then covered Fish for a pinfall.
In winning, Breezango become number one contenders for the NXT Tag Team Titles. The champions -- Imperium -- came to have a staredown. Indus Sher joined them for a triple stand-off. This looks to set up a three-way, but we already got a three-way. The plot thickens.
The skit aired showing Chelsea Green firing Robert Stone as her manager.
Santana Garrett defeated Aliyah
This was a showcase for Garrett. A disheveled Robert Stone came to ringside, and his other client Ailyah lost. Stone was a mess.
Garrett with a flying headscissors and a back handspring into a standing moonsault, and then she scored an easy pinfall on Aliyah.
Next was a "Prime Target" special feature focusing on the NXT Women's Championship match at TakeOver. It is a triple threat with Champion Charlotte Flair defendeding against Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai. This was a better mini-doc than the other Prime Target feature on the show. It wasn't wacky, and was far more serious. This profiled the three combatants, and told the tale of how each got to the match this Sunday. This was really great.
Cameron Grimes defeated Bronson Reed
Grimes pinned Reed in match where Reed almost all the offense before the finsh.
Reed mauled Grimes and manhandled him at the outset. Grimes soon fought back, but Reed ran him over.
The tide turned when Reed missed a splash off the top rope, and Grimes capitalized with a Cave-In to score the pinfall.
Karrion Kross -- flanked by Scarlett -- ran in after the match to attack Reed.
Kross suplexed Reed on his head with a Saito suplex. He stared into the camera and threatened Ciampa.
El Hijo del Fantasma defeated Drake Maverick to win the NXT Cruiserweight Championship in the tournament finals
Fantasma pinned Maverick after outside interference. After the match, Triple H gave Maverick a new contract for a happy ending.
They shook hands, and Fantasma shot in to roll-up Maverick for a near fall right from the start. Maverick played the underdog role of course, as he fought from underneath. Fantasma with more quick pin attempts kept getting the better of Maverick -- yet he kept kicking out.
Maverick with a tilt-a-whirl flying headscissors sent Fantasma out of the ring. That led into Maverick doing a running somersault senton off the apron before a commercial break.
Maverick was still rolling after the break as he kept countering Fantasma. He flew off the top with a missile dropkick. The fight spilled outside again.
Fantasma delivered a sit-out powerbomb on the floor. Maverick sold great, as he screamed in pain. Fantsama targeted the back, and he applied a Romero Special. A backdrop driver from Fantasma set up a near fall. Maverick somehow kicked out again.
Fantasma dashed a hope spot, and he applied a Boston crab. That punished Maverick's back even further with another sit-out powerbomb. Maverick kicked out yet again.
Maverick screamed at Fantasma that he was not quiting, and then he slapped Fantasma -- who in turn further punsihed the back.
Maverick fired up with a clothesline and a flurry of punches. He caught Fantasma with a bulldog, and then Maverick climbed the turnbuckles. He dropeed a flying elbow for a two count.
They went on to fight on the turnbuckles and both were knocked off the apron. The mysterious masked men that had been kidnapping people showed up a ringside. Maverick wiped them out with a dive through the ropes. He then started cleaning house on them at ringside. This distraction allowed Fantasma to recover.
Maverick got back in the ring, and he walked into a superkick from Fantasma. After a Phantom Driver, Fantasma covered Maverick for the pinfall.
After all that great storytelling, Maverick lost due to interference. That was cheap way out of the story. What a letdown! But wait, there's more...
Maverick was very sad. The announcers sold this like Maverick's entire career was over. Luckily for him, he had a savior. Out came Triple H with a new contract for Maverick.
Maverick was in tears as he signed the contract. He didn't even let a lawyer read it, but it made for a happy ending to the show. All is well that ends well.