WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from May 15
The May 15 episode of NXT addressed the proverbial elephant in the room: With The Viking Raiders running roughshod over Monday Night Raw, what does that mean for their status as NXT tag team champions?
The Street Profits, The Forgotten Sons and Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch all made their intentions clear, but were any able to halt the momentum of Ivar and Erik?
What happened when Keith Lee returned to the squared circle, and which cruiserweight unexpectedly appeared during Kushida's showdown with Kona Reeves?
Find out the answers to those questions with this recap of Wednesday's WWE Network presentation.
Viking Raiders Address the NXT Tag Team Championships
NXT tag team champions Erik and Ivar, The Viking Raiders, kicked off the show to a chant of "war" from the brand's faithful.
The champions claimed they are far from finished dominating Raw but they still have their NXT titles. They asked general manager William Regal to join them in the squared circle. He obliged.
Erik said since they know no one can take the titles from them, they were there to relinquish them.
Before Regal could respond, The Street Profits' Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins interrupted.
Ford and Dawkins insisted they could win the titles, the latter claiming they could beat The Viking Raiders..."if that's your real name."
The crowd popped, the champions demanded a match and Regal made it official.
With one team on its way out, the attention shifted to another that will look to carry the mantle.
This was a textbook case of stellar booking that put the spotlight on the underutilized Street Profits while continuing to present Ivar and Erik as an unstoppable force and undeniable presence.
In one promo, their match became more anticipated than almost anything on the main roster's Money in the Bank pay-per-view, and that is a testament to the simple yet effective booking of the NXT brand.
Keith Lee vs. Cezar Bononi
Keith Lee returned to action Wednesday to a thunderous ovation from an appreciative Full Sail University, squaring off with talented, young big man Cezar Bononi.
The heavyweights displayed some extraordinary athleticism early before an overconfident Bononi found himself on the receiving end of a nasty open hand chop to the chest by Lee. The Pounce followed, as Bononi was sent flying across the squared circle.
A Spirit Bomb by Lee ended the match and earned the returning hero an impressive victory.
Lee defeated Bononi
The majority of the "B" grade can be attributed to the fact that Lee was presented as a huge star upon his return to the brand.
From the theme music to the manner in which he so easily manipulated the crowd reaction, all the way to the dominant win over a guy in Bononi whom management was very high on not all that long ago, Lee looked like the proverbial "million bucks."
Whether he can build momentum for himself with strong performances in the ring and that long-awaited showdown with the now-injured Dominik Dijakovic is the question.
Kushida vs. Kona Reeves
Kona Reeves, formerly of a push that stalled about as quickly as it took fans to realize his initial character was little more than a ripoff of The Rock, returned to action for a match with the hottest free-agent signee in recent NXT history, former New Japan Pro-Wrestling star Kushida.
Kushida took down Reeves early, targeting the left arm. His early roll was halted, though, when Drew Gulak appeared on the entrance ramp and provided an unexpected distraction.
Reeves seized control, slamming his opponent in the corner and catching him with a big knee.
Kushida fought back and applied the Hoverboard Lock, but Reeves powered out. A heel kick from Kushida and a somersault plancha wiped out Reeves at ringside. Back in, he reapplied the Hoverboard Lock and forced the tapout.
Kushida defeated Reeves
Kushida continued to look like an absolute star here, wrestling circles around Reeves en route to a victory and the first hints of a rivalry with Gulak.
To Reeves' credit, he looked solid in his brief stints on offense. He has worked main events in NXT house shows around the country and even shared the ring for an angle with Rey Mysterio. The more he develops, the better off he will be. He does, though, need to find himself as a character because right now he feels too much like "just some guy."
The Gulak rivalry will be perfect for Kushida if only because the cruiserweight standout is able to work the style that will best suit The Time Splitter's efforts to showcase his abilities.
Jessie vs. Vanessa Borne
Aliyah accompanied tag team partner Vanessa Borne to the ring, as the latter was set to battle 2018 Mae Young Classic competitor Jessie.
Borne dominated from the outset, working over the still unproven and seemingly overmatched Jessie despite a crowd trying its best to will the underdog back into the match.
Interference from Aliyah in the form of a slap to the face, followed by a nasty whiplash neckbreaker, ended Jessie's comeback attempt as Borne picked up a big win.
Borne defeated Jessie
This was little more than a squash match designed to put over Borne and partner Aliyah. There is nothing wrong with that, and in fact, it is the right call as NXT faces a future in which Shayna Baszler will not be around to continue carrying the load for the women's division.
With that said, squashes like this would mean more and be more effective if fans had a reason to invest in Borne and Aliyah. Give them promo time, let them establish their characters, and they would be so much better off.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits vs. The Viking Warriors
The crowd was solidly behind Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in Wednesday's main event as they challenged Erik and Ivar in an NXT Tag Team Championship match.
The dynamic champions overwhelmed their challengers early but nearly paid for it, as Dawkins and Ford turned their momentum against them. Dawkins and Ivar exchanged cartwheels, and Ford delivered a picture-perfect frog splash on the latter for a near-fall.
Before the match could continue, The Forgotten Sons hit the ring and brawled with the champions. The referee called for the bell, bringing the match to a premature end.
Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan joined the fray as the action continued to break down.
Ultimately, The Viking Raiders obliterated the competition and stood tall.
Staring down at the NXT Tag Team Championships they have called their own since dethroning Undisputed Era's Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong, they laid them in the center of the ring and gave one final bow, bringing this chapter of their story to a close.
Building on what was accomplished earlier in the show, this was a glorified attempt by NXT officials to highlight the tag team division as it will look beyond The Viking Raiders' reign of dominance. Oney and Lorcan, The Forgotten Sons and The Street Profits figure to make up the nucleus of the division, and though they bumped around for Ivar and Erik, they will be the teams competing for gold well past Wednesday's show.
And don't forget the pesky Undisputed Era's Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish, who would love to regain the titles.
This main event segment was a nice goodbye for the champions and created genuine intrigue surrounding the status of the titles.