WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from May 9
The May 9 episode of NXT saw the return of Tommaso Ciampa to the squared circle, just weeks after a brutal assault left Johnny Gargano's career in doubt. EC3 and The War Raiders also made their in-ring debuts.
All eyes were on the future as those acts wowed fans, drawing loud reactions. Throw in a little Ricochet and some Velveteen Dream, sprinkle with Dakota Kai and Shayna Baszler, and you have a show that knows what direction to go, who it wants to spotlight and what it means for the brand as a whole.
With TakeOver: Chicago approaching sooner than later, relive Wednesday's broadcast and find out how each segment graded out with this recap of the WWE Network presentation.
Ricochet and Velveteen Dream Spar Verbally
Ricochet kicked off the show and immediately made his desire to challenge for the NXT Championship apparent.
This brought out Velveteen Dream, with whom Ricochet had several memorable moments back at TakeOver: New Orleans.
Dream poked fun at Ricochet's flippy, high-flying offense and ordered him to the back of the line. The two traded verbal jabs before Dream insisted that anything Ricochet can do, he can do better. This led to the babyface challenging Dream's assertion and daring him to step up.
Dream teased it before bailing, saving his fight for another day.
There may not be another match more likely to produce a collective scream of joy from the internet wrestling fanbase than a showdown between Ricochet and Velveteen Dream. They are favorites of the diehard fanbase and two Superstars who are likely to deliver when the lights are brightest.
Programming them against each other not only is logical given their exchanges in the New Orleans ladder match but also guarantees a midcard match that could very well steal the show.
A few more weeks of promos in which they tear each other apart should make for entertaining television to boot.
Raul Mendoza vs. EC3
Wednesday may have been EC3's return to NXT television, but Raul Mendoza had no plans on taking it easy on the former TNA world heavyweight champion.
Mendoza kept his opponent off guard, using his speed and agility to frustrate EC3.
The Superstar who repeatedly refers to himself as the Top One Percent fought back and ended the squash with a TKO, earning him his first victory with the brand.
EC3 defeated Mendoza
It was fun watching Mendoza unload with a flurry early, creating the impression that EC3 may have taken him too lightly. Of course, the highly touted newcomer found his way and won the match, but the quick onslaught made for a fresher take on the squash match.
EC3 is going to be a big star for NXT.
When and how he gets there is the big question.
Dakota Kai vs. Vanessa Borne
Dakota Kai returned to the ring, squaring off with the enormously confident Vanessa Borne.
Borne was intense early, working Kai over with her strength advantage.
The Kiwi mounted a comeback, though, firing off the kicks that had become such a staple of her offensive skill set. She delivered a sunset flip Backstabber and scored the pinfall victory.
After the match, the sudden appearance of NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler cut off Kai's celebration. She backed Kai into the corner, terrifying the woman who was her first victim on the brand.
As if she were sending a message, Baszler choked out Borne while Kai bailed out of the ring to the safety of the floor.
Kai defeated Borne
The dynamic between Kai and Baszler is so intriguing.
After having her arm stomped into bone dust by Baszler months ago, Kai is understandably scared of the women's champion. At some point, though, she will have to shake the fear and confront her bully, and when that time comes, fans will be eager to see the New Zealand native unload on the former mixed martial artist.
Borne still has the raw ability to be a star in the division, but she needs more seasoning and consistent ring work to develop herself to that point.
Heavy Machinery vs. The War Raiders
The mounting tension between Heavy Machinery and newcomers The War Raiders culminated Wednesday in a tag team slugfest between the two.
The competitors brawled to start before settling down. Otis Dozovic found himself isolated and at the mercy of Hanson and Rowe, who punished him with their intense onslaught.
Dozovic fought his way back into the match, delivering an enormous overhead suplex to Hanson.
Tucker Knight made the hot tag, and the action broke down.
Hanson launched himself through the ropes with a suicide dive, wiping Dozovic out at ringside. Back inside, the massive newcomers delivered Fallout to score the win.
War Raiders defeated Heavy Machinery
This was a fantastic way to introduce The War Raiders to the NXT faithful, via a hard-fought win over the massive Heavy Machinery tandem.
Do they gain much in the way of credibility through their win? No, but their intense performances in the ring made up for it.
Total badasses who should dominate the tag team division for years to come.
Kassius Ohno vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Tommaso Ciampa returned to the squared circle in the night's main event, battling Kassius Ohno in what was sure to be a physical, hard-hitting match.
Ohno unloaded a can of whoop-ass on Ciampa, paying the Boston native back for his cowardly attack on Johnny Gargano from a few weeks back. He pummeled Ciampa at ringside and was even overheard asking him "How does that feel?!"
Ciampa used stomps, kicks and knees to seize control of the match.
Ohno fought back and targeted the injured eye of Ciampa, an eye that still has not healed from TakeOver. Ciampa, seizing the opportunity, targeted Ohno's own eye. Moments later, he would ground Ohno for the win.
After the match, Ciampa used his knee brace to choke out Ohno.
Ciampa defeated Ohno
Ciampa is such a joy to watch as a heel because he clearly does not worry about being the coolest bad guy on the roster. He is detestable, unlikable and an old-school heel to boot. He is a throwback to a time when getting heat was more important than anything else.
Ohno, like always, worked hard, but the outcome was never in doubt.
Ciampa's post-match attack was perfectly done, and the heat for him was off the chart.