There’s not much on the official preview for this week’s NXT. Ember Moon will be on the show, after her surprise return at TakeOver. And Tommaso Ciampa faces Kushida. That will be the first match so everything that follows is a mystery.
Tommaso Ciampa def. Kushida (DQ)
Drake Maverick & Killian Dain def. Ever-Rise
Austin Theory def Leon Ruff
Dexter Lumis def. Austin Theory
Ridge Holland def. Danny Burch
Shotzi Blackheart def. Xia Li
Ember Moon & Rhea Ripley def. Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
We got the TakeOver compilation video and introduction to the Capitol Wrestling Center, the new home of NXT, then it was straight into the action. Ember Moon had been billed to open the show, but Ciampa and Kushida had an unseen pull-apart brawl backstage and William Regal sent them to the ring to sort it out.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Kushida
Considering the recently revamped attitudes of both these superstars, this one had vicious and nasty written all over it. Kushida went for Ciampa’s arm, which gave commentary the opportunity to tell us that Velveteen Dream left his TakeOver match against Kushida with a broken wrist.
It was a match of tactical destruction rather than pace, and it lived up to the brutality it promised. It felt a little long to me if I’m honest, but it was a decent match. Sustaining a loss wouldn’t be great for either of them, which works out because Velveteen Dream appeared and caused a disqualification by diving off the top turnbuckle. He made contact with Tommaso Ciampa first by accident, then got beaten down and run off by Kushida.
Ciampa got the win by DQ, which could make this match the start of a longer feud between Ciampa and Kushida (if everyone survives the draft), and Velveteen Dream having some issues with Ciampa.
Ember Moon made her entrance during the ads, which is not the way to treat a returning superstar. She said she’s a little shocked they let her talk because it’s been a while. She’s been out for fourteen months and a lot of things have changed. While she was out she discovered Ember’s Law, no one is going to walk over her anymore. And she wants some gold.
Io Shirai came to the ring and they had a staredown, but before Shirai could speak they were joined by Rhea Ripley. She only got as far as telling Moon she loved the new attitude and she probably does deserve a title shot, before she was attacked by Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Ember Moon helped Ripley out then William Regal came out and gave them a tag team main event match.
After the ads, Shirai was asked why she hadn’t helped Ripley. She said Rhea Ripley and Ember Moon aren’t her problem, the title is.
Drake Maverick still thinks he’s in a tag team with Killian Dain, no matter how often Dain tells him otherwise.
Adam Cole said Ridge Holland clearly didn’t get the message about being made to pay for messing with the Undisputed ERA. He doesn’t know why Holland attacked him but he broke his ribs so he’s a dead man.
Ever-Rise vs Drake Maverick & Killian Dain
Killian Dain did not appreciate his partner’s choice of theme music and practically threw him into the ring in an attempt to stop him dancing. Maverick persuaded him to tag him in, but the tag nearly took Maverick’s arm off. When Maverick wanted to tag back out, Dain barely extended his arm and he couldn’t reach it. Martel cheap-shotted Dain, and that piqued Dain’s interest. Being fat-shamed by Martel after he broke up an Ever-Rise pin attempt, pissed him off enough to drag Maverick to their corner by his hair and tag himself in.
That would have been the end of things if Maverick hadn’t tagged himself in again. They argued, then Dain slammed Maverick onto one of Ever-Rise to make the pin. Drake Maverick started dancing to the children’s show worthy entrance music and Killian Dain punched him to the mat. He went back and slung him over his shoulder to carry him away, and Maverick waved to the crowd on the way out.
That’s such a silly storyline and I’m good with it.
Toni Storm has been in Cancun, Mexico, recuperating and re-evaluating, and preparing. It’s the longest time she’s had off in ten years. She decided she needed a change of scenery, and the Toni Storm we get in NXT will be a brand-new Toni Storm.
Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano were walking their dog and bitching about their losses on Sunday. They got home to find a new tv on their doorstep with a card saying it was from Indi Hartwell.
Austin Theory vs Leon Ruff
This started with Ruff getting an almost immediate two-count on Theory. He got another one a little later as well. I was expecting to be whining about an unnecessary squash match, and it did finish quickly via Theory’s ATL, but it was entertaining while it lasted.
After the match Theory excused his loss to Adam Cole by saying he hadn’t warmed up and declared he’s the future of NXT and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Dexter Lumis turned up to disagree, so they had a match.
Austin Theory vs Dexter Lumis
It’s good to see Lumis back. He was just starting to become interesting when he got injured. A longer match, and a decent one. It finished with Lumis putting Theory to sleep in the middle of the ring. Before he’d had chance to let go, Cameron Grimes caught Lumis with a Cave In.
After a break, he explained it was because he spoke to Lumis last week and Lumis ignored him. He also seemingly called out Ridge Holland and ‘whoever else’ as well.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez want different things from their tag match, but the same outcome. Gonzalez wants to take Ripley out for attacking her last week (to stop her interfering on Kai’s behalf). Kai wants to show Ember Moon that the queue to face Io Shirai starts behind her.
Kyle O’Reilly broke some teeth in the title match at TakeOver. He was luckier than Finn Balor. Balor’s jaw is broken in two places.
Damian Priest said that whoever wants a shot at his title can get it, but they’re going to get a Reckoning.
In response to being asked why he attacked Adam Cole after the match, Ridge Holland said last week he didn’t have a Mercedes, this week he does, and he can thank Adam Cole for that.
Ridge Holland vs Danny Burch
Short and violent, but none the worse for it. Ridge Holland won with Northern Grit.
Burch got up and slapped Holland after the match and had to be rescued by Oney Lorcan after a slew of headbutts. Lorcan then had to be rescued by officials but he threw himself over the top rope after they’d coaxed Holland out of the ring, and the brawl started again. This time Lorcan took longer to get up after Holland put him down, but the propelled himself over the top rope onto Holland on last time before going to check on Burch, who was still laid on the mat.
Ridge Holland was stretchered out during the break with his leg immobilised. Obviously a legit injury and, from the reaction of the spectators and the sombre tones of the commentary team, quite possibly a bad one. They showed Lorcan’s final dive over the top rope and Holland catching him. The reverse angle showed his left leg buckling underneath him in directions legs aren’t supposed to bend in.
Indi Hartwell sent Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae a USB of the recent battle royal, highlighting how many times during it she’d saved LeRae. LeRae admitted she hadn’t noticed at the time, but they’re definitely interested in Hartwell now.
This week’s Thatch as Thatch can lesson was a life lesson, strike first when the opportunity presents. It still involved him breaking a trainee though.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Xia Li
Commentary took a moment to Plug Halloween Havoc, which is coming up on the 28th of this month and Blackheart is doing the ads for and hosting.
Xia Li badly needed a win here, she’s lost her last couple and hasn’t been exactly sportsmanlike about it. She didn’t get it though, and the match only got a couple of minutes. Shotzi Blackheart secured the win with a senton from the top.
Boa came to the ring and handed Xia Li an envelope while Blackheart was celebrating, and they left together.
Ember Moon & Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
It’s always a bit nervy watching someone come back from a career-threatening injury, but this was great. Rhea Ripley got caught out by Kai and Gonzalez going into a break, after some impressive work from Ember Moon early on. It was Ripley who took the majority of the punishment. Moon was on her own for a while when she got in and she came very close to getting pinned off a Kai and Gonzalez double team. She kicked out and Ripley was there when she made it back for the tag.
It all broke down a bit at the end. Gonzalez broke up a pin and got taken out by Ripley who immediately got taken out by Kai. One awkward-looking powerbomb later, Moon went to the top. Gonzalez knocked her down and was kicked in the back by Rhea Ripley and hoisted into her shoulders. Kai kicked Ripley and she stumbled backwards until she fell over the announce desk, still with Gonzalez on her shoulders. Then Ember Moon delivered the Eclipse to Dakota Kai for the win. Rhea Ripley made it back into the ring to celebrate.
We were told that NXT TakeOver 31 was the start of a new era for NXT, and the Capitol Wrestling Center looks great. There’s a lot of promising storylines, but the injury to Ridge Holland could derail at least one of those. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looked, but it looked bad. Wishing him a speedy recovery.
Of course, all storylines are subject to change as of Friday when the WWE Draft begins. NXT isn’t officially included (at time of writing), so they won’t get to pick anyone, but I’m sure that won’t stop the main roster stealing away a handful of superstars. I know RAW or SmackDown were traditionally the goals for wrestlers, but at this point, I feel vaguely sorry for anyone getting ripped from NXT to go off and try not to end up sitting in catering in three months. The women’s division worries me most. I will argue with anyone that the NXT women’s division is the best of any brand or company, but I’m fully expecting it to get robbed to prop up the main roster divisions.