“On This Day” is published every Sunday to look back at how the past has affected the present in the world of wrestling. Today’s feature focuses on WWE NXT.
On this day… June 21, 2019, WWE held an NXT live event in Houston, Texas. 8 matches made up the card at the former Verizon Wireless Theater as the black-and-gold brand began the road to TakeOver: Toronto.
The beauty of NXT live events, whether it’s in front of a hundred fans in Florida or a few thousand on the road, is that the “stars of tomorrow” are able to perfect their craft before taking their new spots, matches, or rivalries to Wednesday nights or even TakeOver.
How relevant is that Houston card today? Let’s take a look.
1) NXT Tag Team Championship: The Street Profits (c) def. The Forgotten Sons
In the opening match, The Street Profits defended their newly-won NXT Tag Team Championship against Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler of The Forgotten Sons.
The Street Profits’ NXT title reign officially established them as key players for the future of WWE’s tag division. That statement remains true today as they are the first team to surpass 100 days as Raw Tag Team Champions since The New Day’s historic reign.
The Forgotten Sons remained in NXT up until recently, though their push seems to have been stalled in wake of Jaxson Ryker’s ill-timed pro-Trump tweet. The gimmick may not be favorable, but Blake and Cutler are fully capable of working well with the best of the best. It remains to be seen what’s next for them.
The Street Profits are currently embroiled in an “anything you can do, we can do better” feud with The Viking Raiders, which culminates in a title match on the June 22nd edition of Raw.
2) Jordan Myles def. Cameron Grimes
The summer of 2019 marked the arrival of a number of new and up-and-coming stars in NXT, which resulted in the first NXT Breakout Tournament taking place. This particular match in Houston would serve as the practice run for what was to come in Toronto.
Jordan Myles would go on to beat Cameron Grimes to win the Breakout Tournament, but his tenure in NXT didn’t last much longer. The former ACH left WWE after lashing out over a racist t-shirt design.
Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes has become a weekly fixture on NXT TV after competing against the likes of Finn Balor, Tyler Bate, Keith Lee, and Johnny Gargano. His established character work lands him in a match against Damian Priest on the the June 24th episode of NXT.
3) Rachael Evers & Raquel Gonzalez def. Jessi Kamea & Kayden Carter
In the first women’s match of the night, Rachael Evers teamed with Reina Gonzalez (who we now know as Dakota Kai’s partner Raquel) to beat Jessi Kamea and Lacey Lane (who we now know as Kayden Carter).
Raquel used to frequent the Texas loops as she’s billed from La Feria. Needless to say, she’s become the biggest star out of these four names so far. Kayden Carter frequents NXT TV, but has struggled to score wins recently.
Jessi Kamea made her TV debut recently with a loss to Mia Yim, while Rachael Evers is no longer working for the company. She reportedly requested her release earlier this spring.
4) Damian Priest def. Raul Mendoza
The gimmick of Damian Priest has only been around for a year, while Raul Mendoza has been grinding away on NXT house shows since the Cruiserweight Classic four years ago. Luckily they are both now regularly seen on NXT TV.
In fact, Priest may be on the verge of a pseudo-babyface turn following his loss to Finn Balor at TakeOver: In Your House. He defeated Killian Dain on June 17, and is prepped to take on Cameron Grimes on June 24.
Mendoza seems to finally be finding his footing as a member of Santos Escobar’s new faction within the cruiserweight division. Teaming alongside Joaquin Wilde should do wonders for the former CWC competitor.
5) Matt Riddle & Velveteen Dream def. Dorian Mak & Riddick Moss
There’s quite a bit to unpack from this pre-intermission main event.
In the present day, Matt Riddle and Velveteen Dream are both under fire for online accusations, though that has yet to completely halt their pushes. Riddle just debuted on SmackDown with a huge win over Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles.
Dream, who was North American Champion one year ago, is still in the uppercard of NXT after recently coming up short against NXT Champion Adam Cole. Dream seems destined to team with Dexter Lumis in the meantime.
Dorian Mak, formerly known as Dan Matha, is no longer employed after being cut in April. Interestingly enough, Mak has gone on record to state that he requested his release before the pandemic.
Before Riddick Moss entered the 24/7 Championship division, he was being built up in this team with Mak. In fact, they were being managed by Robert Stone before Stone debuted on TV alongside Chelsea Green.
NXT live events truly are the home for testing out ideas. Unfortunately, some never see the light of TV.
6) Kushida def. Kona Reeves
Coming out of intermission that night, Kushida scored a win over “The Finest” Kona Reeves. Both were perhaps more relevant at this time compared to now, but that’s likely just a matter of circumstances.
Kushida suffered an injury in the fall of 2019, which kept him out of storylines for a bit. It wasn’t long before Kushida started competing in the cruiserweight division. As for Reeves, he’s largely been used as a strong enhancement talent on TV, but he’s currently out of action rehabbing an injury.
7) NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler (c) def. Mia Yim
In the semi-main event of the evening, Shayna Baszler put her NXT Women’s Championship on the line against the rising Mia Yim. As we now know, this was a preview for their TakeOver clash in Toronto.
Baszler went on to hold the title for the remainder of the year, while Yim continues to be a top name in the NXT women’s division. It remains to be seen if The HBIC will capture the gold before she moves on to the bigger stage, but there’s no doubt that she’ll cross paths again with The Queen of Spades down the road.
8) NXT Championship: Adam Cole (c) def. Keith Lee
Houston’s main event one year ago may very well be a main event we see on NXT TV or even TakeOver at some point this year.
Adam Cole, who was just two weeks into his year-long NXT Title reign, successfully defended against Keith Lee. This was at a time where Lee was considered directionless and had yet to challenge for a major championship.
Keith Lee changed that all around after NXT premiered on the USA Network months later. Now, he’s one of the company’s hottest stars who could very well be a future WrestleMania headliner. In fact, if he retains his North American Title against Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano on June 24, Lee will be next to challenge Cole in a Winner Takes All match.
Cole vs. Lee is a big money match in the present day. WWE may not have known it a year ago, but the powers that be certainly know it today. Who knows what their fates will look like 365 days from now.