A cruiserweight title match kicks us off this week, Drew Gulak defends against Lio Rush. And WALTER versus Kushida is the main event. With appearances from Breezango, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott somewhere in between, it’s looking like another strong show from NXT this week.
Lio Rush def. Drew Gulak
Rhea Ripley def. Aliyah
Forgotten Sons def. Breezango
Cameron Grimes def. Boa
Roderick Strong def. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Bianca Belair def. Dakota Kai
WALTER def. Kushida
Drew Gulak (C) vs Lio Rush – NXT Cruiserweight Championship match
The title has received a name change, bringing it officially into the NXT fold.
Unsurprisingly, Gulak’s primary aim was to keep Rush grounded and under control, which he did well for most of the match. Gulak tried to tame Rush with submission moves, without success. He kicked Rush off the top turnbuckle, but a couple of NXT staff kindly broke his fall.
Lio Rush was impressive whenever he got some offence in, he just didn’t do it very often. He got out of a Gulock and nearly turned it into a pin, but lost the momentum almost immediately. Then, after a tussle on the turnbuckle, Rush shoved Gulak down, hit a Final Hour frogsplash, followed it up with a stunner and another Final Hour for the win.
Drew Gulak wrenched the title from William Regal’s hands when he came out to present it to Rush, and gave it to him himself. Gulak left the ring for Regal to put the belt around Rush’s waist.
» There was a video package of Finn Balor’s history in NXT, but no word from the man himself.
» Tegan Nox returns to NXT next week.
Rhea Ripley vs Aliyah
This was fun, but not for Aliyah. Jumping on Ripley’s back and screaming loud enough to deafen her was the closest she got to offence. The way Rhea Ripley finished the short match was hanging Aliyah upside down in a submission and spinning her around then sitting down. Aliyah tapped.
After the massacre match, Ripley said that Shayna Baszler is the most dominant champion in NXT history. She has snapped, napped, or tapped every one of her opponents, but not her. She’s coming for her.
Breezango came out dressed as construction workers, or porn construction workers. Whatever it is, I like it. They were supposed to be fighting Ever-Rise, but plans changed when Jaxson Ryker appeared carrying one of them and dragging the others.
Breezango vs Forgotten Sons
Really enjoyable match. Forgotten Sons are thoroughly unlikeable and made themselves more so by cheating at every opportunity. It was cheating that got them the win, when Jaxson Ryker sent Tyler Breeze flying into the ringpost. With Breeze out of the match, Fandango quickly fell victim to a double team finisher.
» Keith Lee had a video package promo for his match against Dominik Dijakovic next week. He talked about expecting a lot from himself and wanting it more than Dijakovic.
Boa vs Cameron Grimes
Cameron Grimes finished the match in one move again, which was just as well because he managed to get out of the ring before Killian Dain arrived. Boa was not so lucky. He took a couple of Vader Bombs from Dain before being thrown onto the announce desk.
» Damian Priest said he attacked Pete Dunne for the attention. Dunne has made a name for himself in NXT, but that’s a bullseye for Priest, who is trying to live in infamy. He’s panning to do that at Dunne’s expense.
Roderick Strong vs Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Scott nearly got the win after about a minute, after he responded to Strong’s trash-talk by kicking him in the face, but Strong kicked out. Swerve is always fun to watch, and this match was no exception, but he struggled to build momentum. Every time he started to put anything together, Strong delivered another backbreaker.
Swerve was finally getting a good run in and seemed close to building to a finish, when the rest of Undisputed ERA turned up. They just hung around on the ramp, but that was enough to affect his concentration and he ended up tapping to a Stronghold.
After the match, Adam Cole addressed the crowd with his trademark smugness. Apparently, the whole of NXT is there to see if they can measure up to the Undisputed ERA. They want to fulfil an unrealistic dream that they’re going to dethrone Undisputed ERA and that’s not going to happen.
Velveteen Dream arrived on the balcony over the announce desk. He has a match against Strong for the North American Championship match. There was some stuff with a badly photoshopped photo of Roderick Strong… you’ll find it if you want to. Then Tommaso Ciampa arrived.
By the time he got to the ring, he had a crutch in one hand and a chair in the other. Undisputed ERA didn’t hang around to find out his plans. As it was, he sat on the chair and told Goldie (the NXT title belt) ‘Daddy’s home’.
» We got some footage from during the commercials before Ciampa came to the ring. Angel Garza wanted the planning attention and was rude about it, so Ciampa knocked him out.
Dakota Kai vs Bianca Belair
This was easily my favourite match of the night. If Bianca Belair has one fault, it’s her tendency to posture too much when things are going in her favour. Dakota Kai made her pay for that. Kai was wildly outpowered by Belair though, and it was that which gave Belair the majority of the match control. Once Dakota Kai built some momentum, Belair struggled with the speed at which the offence arrived.
Belair powered her way back into it, but got frustrated when her elevated double chicken wing followed by a standing shooting star wasn’t enough to get her the win. Eventually, she managed to deliver the K.O.D. and got the pin.
Post-match, she angrily grabbed a mic and said she heard what Rhea Ripley said and she doesn’t care if Ripley was the first NXT UK Women’ Champions. If anyone wants a piece of Shayna Baszler, they have to go through her.
» Dominik Dijakovic said it’s like he and Keith Lee are meant to fight forever, they bring out the best in each other, but he knows Lee’s limits. He knows the secrets to Keith Lee. Next week is for everything, they both know it, and he’s not planning to lose.
» Balor’s main roster run and return to NXT was covered in another video package, but still no word from Balor.
» Pete Dunne gave his thoughts on Damian Priest. Dunne made a name for himself on Triple H’s advice, so he understands the motivation, but he won’t let Priest make a name for himself at his expense. Priest said he’s going to live forever, but he might not survive next week.
WALTER vs Kushida
The main event of the evening, with both men going into it undeafeated. WALTER came to the ring alone, but that rarely means anything. Kushida’s speed was winning out over WALTER’s power until he slipped on the ropes and took a very large boot to the face while trying to regain his balance. Catching WALTER with a DDT gave him some time to recover and get back into it, but he’d taken a lot of punishment by then and every strike from WALTER stopped him in his tracks.
He got back into it by sending WALTER into the ringpost and delivering a DDT on the outside. They both just made it back into the ring within the ref’s count. Really good match with a ton of near falls, any one of which would have been an acceptable finish. In the end, it was a ripcord lariat that sealed the win for WALTER.
The rest of Imperium came to the stage to congratulate their leader at the end of the match.
» Just before the show went off air, Cathy Kelley announced Tommaso Ciampa versus Angel Garza for next week, in addition to Damian Priest versus Pete Dunne, and Keith Lee versus Dominik Dijakovic. And Roderick Strong faces Velveteen Dream, for the NXT North American Championship, the week after.
Another really good show from NXT. AEW once again outdid them in the rankings. It is still much too early to read anything into that, and I honestly think the majority of people are watching both. At the moment the two shows have different aims as well. AEW is building a new product and NXT is trying to introduce a new audience to an existing and established ‘cast’. It will take months before true comparisons can be drawn.