WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from May 23
The latest chapters in several rivalries highlighted the May 23 episode of NXT as the brand continued to build toward its TakeOver: Chicago event on June 16.
Ricochet and Velveteen Dream attempted to put aside their differences just long enough to thwart the challenge of the massive Lars Sullivan, while Kairi Sane sought to avenge weeks of torment and frustration at the hands of Lacey Evans.
Sprinkle in a little Heavy Machinery vs. TM61 in a rematch from a few weeks back and the return of Johnny Gargano to television, and you have another quality night of television courtesy of the developmental brand of WWE.
Heavy Machinery vs. TM61
Weeks after dropping a tag team match to TM61 following underhanded tactics by the Australian duo, Heavy Machinery sought revenge as it met the cocky young team.
Shane Thorne and Nick Miller overcame an early onslaught by the babyfaces, grounding Tucker Knight and isolating him from partner Otis Dozovic.
A hot tag to the explosive Dozovic, though, had Heavy Machinery in position to score the win. He even landed his worm/elbow-drop combination.
Unfortunately for him, Thorne and Miller capitalized on an opening, holding Dozovic's legs down undetected by the official and scoring the cheap pinfall.
TM61 defeated Heavy Machinery
Thorne and Miller should feel like a bigger deal this early in their heel run, but the booking of the young duo, both before and after injury, has been so inconsistent that it is hard to take them seriously as any sort of threat.
The nature of the win all but ensures the rivalry with Heavy Machinery continues.
That should mean something, but unfortunately at this point, it just earns both teams continued treadmill booking in the lower half of the tag team division.
Kairi Sane vs. Lacey Evans
Lacey Evans has excelled under her new attitude, showing a meaner, nastier side of herself while subsequently targeting Kairi Sane. Wednesday night, they brought weeks of intensifying dislike to the surface in a singles bout.
Neither woman was able to gain an advantage throughout the match, but the intensity and aggression with which they fought each other was off the charts.
Sane overcame a momentary onslaught by Evans and delivered her sliding elbow.
The Pirate Princess climbed the stairs and delivered one off there before rolling Evans back in the ring and attempting her In-Sane Elbow.
Evans, though, delivered her Woman's Right from out of nowhere and scored the impressive upset victory.
Evans defeated Sane
Evans continues to develop and now, with a finisher she can hit out of nowhere, has added a valuable tool to her arsenal.
There are some who will complain about Sane doing the job here, but the women's division will be stronger with more credible contenders to the title. Evans is a step in the right direction, while The Pirate Princess will overcome this loss and still accomplish a great deal.
Ricochet and Velveteen Dream vs. Lars Sullivan
A week ago, Ricochet and Velveteen Dream attempted to bring their rivalry to a head in a singles contest before Lars Sullivan hit the ring, interrupted the proceedings and laid out both men to close the segment.
This week, Ricochet and Dream teamed up to battle the unstoppable monster that is Sullivan in a Handicap match.
Sullivan dominated early, using his power and size advantage to toss his opponents around the ring. It was not until Dream and Ricochet put aside their differences to focus on attacking their opponent that their fortunes changed.
At one point, the rivals teamed up for a high cross-body block/shooting-star-press combination that nearly put away Sullivan.
Frustration proved too much for Ricochet and Dream, and they exchanged blows, culminating with Dream leaving Ricochet lying following his rolling Death Valley Driver. Sullivan scored the win from there, as the eccentric Dream abandoned his partner.
Sullivan defeated Dream and Ricochet
Sullivan continues his winning ways as he seeks a shot at the NXT Championship. The match, though, was more about the developing rivalry between Dream and Ricochet.
The duo worked well enough together, but as is the case in any tag team consisting of two Superstars who dislike each other, it was short-lived and egos proved their downfall.
Logical booking, even if it is nothing we haven't seen before.
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae Promo
An injured Johnny Gargano, sporting a neck brace and accompanied to the ring by wife Candice LeRae, returned to NXT television in the night's main event segment.
Introspective, Gargano questioned whether the feud with Tommaso Ciampa and the injuries he has suffered have been worth all the strain they have put on his relationships. Fans erupted into a "yes!" chant, and Gargano agreed. He tore the brace from his neck and ordered Ciampa to the ring.
LeRae was not at all pleased with the decision and pleaded with her husband to change his mind. Ciampa appeared and egged the situation on, taunting Gargano by insinuating that Candice runs the family.
As Gargano attempted to get his hands on Ciampa, he was knocked from the ring apron and into Candice, who slammed into the steel entrance ramp. The beloved babyface checked on his significant other as Ciampa exited, proud of himself.
Just when you think NXT cannot possibly maintain the intensity and emotion of the Gargano-Ciampa storyline, it exceeds expectations and the wrestlers deliver another quality segment that enhances the program.
This added stakes to the feud. Now it is not only about Gargano preserving his own job or integrity, it is also about avenging his LeRae. Ciampa, on the other hand, grows more and more detestable with every passing week, wrestling's great villain.
Superb stuff from all involved.