Tommaso Ciampa is back in action tonight for the first time since his injury. He faces Angel Garza. We’ve also got Pete Dunne versus Damian Priest and Keith Lee vs Dominik Dijakovic part four to look forward to, as well as the NXT return of Tegan Nox.
Tommaso Ciampa def. Angel Garza
Imperium def Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Io Shirai def. Kayden Carter
Dominik Dijakovic vs Keith Lee – No Contest
Tegan Nox def. Taynara
Killian Dain def. Boa
Damian Priest def. Pete Dunne
Tommaso Ciampa vs Angel Garza
This was a decent show opener, albeit a bit of a foregone conclusion. Apparently, Angel Garza went to William Regal to request the match after Tommaso Ciampa punched him in the face last week. Ciampa is in phenomenal shape and he gave the crowd a smile for their ‘Ciampa’s gonna kill you’ chant. They weren’t wrong. Garza had a few moments to shine. He even built enough momentum to rip away his stripper pants and throw them at Ciampa. Ciampa took that as a huge sign of disrespect and spent a few moments beating the pants up before delivering a draping DDT to Garza and pinning him.
Ciampa took a few moments to absorb the ‘Welcome Back’ chants after the match, then Undisputed ERA arrived. They surrounded the ring while Ciampa sat in a chair holding his crutch, then Kyle O’Reilly gave Mauro Ranallo a USB stick and they left while Ranallo sent it to ‘the truck’ to find out what was on it.
The video was of Undisputed ERA standing over an unconscious Velveteen Dream. They warned, Tommaso Ciampa, Finn Balor, and anyone else who gets in their way would face the same fate.
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs Imperium
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel represented Imperium, with Alexander Wolfe on the outside. Strong and fast-paced match from two of the teams trying to stake a claim for a place near the top of the NXT tag division. This round went to Imperium courtesy of a double team finisher on Oney Lorcan.
» There was a huge hype package leading into an interview with Johnny Gargano. He was asked how he feels about Tommaso Ciampa and he said he doesn’t know and won’t until he sees him face to face.
Io Shirai vs Kayden Carter
This match was beautifully athletic and a lot of fun to watch. Shirai is still struggling to get a consistent negative reaction from the crowd. People like badass Io. Kayden Carter looked good in the match, strong in defeat. Shirai looked a couple of times like she might have underestimated her. The result was never really in question though. A German suplex put Carter down in the right position, and Shirai’s picture-perfect moonsault kept her down.
After the match, Shirai took to the mic and said, ‘Not Rhea. Not Bianca. Shayna, it’s me’. Then Rhea Ripley came to join her and snatched the mic away. She said last week Bianca ran her mouth and next week she gets to put her back in her place. And if Shirai ever spits her name out again she’ll have no problem in shutting her up too.
The crowd chanted for them to fight but Shirai just smiled, shouted at her in Japanese, and left.
» William Regal confirmed that Velveteen Dream is out of next week’s match, and for the foreseeable future thanks to the beating from Undisputed ERA. But Roderick Strong will still defend his title next week, against the winner of Keith Lee versus Dominik Dijakovic.
Keith Lee vs Dominik Dijakovic
So, instead of just being the best of three (or four with the double count-out) decider, this became a number one contender’s match for the North American Championship. I’m not sure the stakes altered the match. There was already an investment in coming out on top in the series, and there isn’t much left that these two haven’t already done to each other, twice.
That’s not to say it was bad, far from it. They’re very powerful and agile and entertaining etc. It really was a very good match. I’m just ready for them to move on to other opponents now.
Sadly, Roderick Strong spoiled it by interfering and causing a disqualification. He got out of the ring laughing and shouting ‘They don’t deserve it’, but he stopped laughing when William Regal came out and made next week’s match a triple threat.
Minutes later Undisputed ERA were shown screaming at William Regal, who just walked away from them.
Matt Riddle vs Bronson Reed
I really enjoyed this match. Riddle went all out to put his strength on display, lifting Reed several times before he got the pin with ‘Bro Derek’. There was a nice chemistry, they both looked like they were having a lot of fun. Reed is going to need more than ‘powerhouse’ as a label to make a mark on this NXT roster, but there’s time for him to show more of his character. There was a fistbump of respect from Riddle to Bronson at the end.
» Bianca Belair got a hype package.
» Kushida has a fractured wrist.
Tegan Nox vs Taynara
Tegan Nox got a warm reception from the Full Sail crowd. Taynara was looking to spoil the return. I wish WWE would realise that removing someone’s last name is not the same thing as building them a character. Taynara has the potential to come through the ranks, but she has no traits other than a martial arts background and that makes her much harder to invest in. I’m concerned that she’s going to face the same problem as Aliyah where her characterisation rather than her ability stops her progressing.
However, this was Tegan Nox’ night and she finished Taynara with The Shiniest Wizard.
Dakota Kai joined Tegan Nox during her post-match interview. She didn’t get to answer any questions, because Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir arrived.
Baszler asked if Nox wanted to throw her name into the hat as well. When Tegan Nox said yes Baszler told her to ask Kai what it’s like to be in the ring with her, and said that Nox is running out of limbs to rehab. Nox yelled at her to give her a title shot if she wanted to test that. Baszler said she hasn’t earned a title shot and to come back when she’d done something worth talking about.
» Finn Balor did a long and lyrical promo, the important part of which was that he looked in his heart and that’s why he’s back in NXT. His first match is next week.
Boa vs Killian Dain
Boa asked for this so he could get some retribution for Dain’s attack on him last week. He did get a good few kicks in, enough for Dain to take a break on the outside. The mistake Boa made was following him. He took a crossbody from Dai on the outside, then was put back in the ring and destroyed. It was impressive that Boa was still moving after three Vader Bombs, but Dain tapped him out seconds later.
» Lio Rush got a hype video promo package to celebrate his new NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Pete Dunne vs Damian Priest
There was a little commotion during Pete Dunne’s entrance because Killian Dain was still leaving. They got in each other’s faces and Dunne snapped Dain’s fingers. Dain was dragged away by a lot of officials.
Once the match got started, Dunne went straight for Priest’s hand and arm. It was all Pete Dunne in the early going. He told Priest he wasn’t going to make it easy for him to make a name for himself at his expense. Eventually, the superior power of Damian Priest came into play, and all the momentum Dunne had built was lost.
Dunne went for a moonsault, but Priest got his knees up. He lifted Dunne above his head ready to finish him, but Dunne struggled free and tried to snap Priest’s fingers. They ended up in the corner and when the ref stepped out from between them, Damian Priest kicked Dunne in the balls and delivered The Reckoning.
Clearly, this one is going to continue. I can’t see The Bruiserweight accepting he was bested by a kick in the nuts and moving on. I’m ok with that. There is a lot more to explore in this rivalry.
I don’t say this often, but there were too many matches on NXT this week. The show felt rushed and overstuffed. There were some great matches. Dunne vs Priest, Lorcan & Burch vs Imperium, Riddle vs Reed, and Shirai vs Carter were all worth taking time to check out. But eight matches crammed into a two-hour tv show (just over an hour and a half on WWE Network) which also contained hype packages, and other segments, was just too much.
Rhea Ripley vs Bianca Belair and Roderick Strong vs Dominik Dijakovic vs Keith Lee are happening next week, and Finn Balor said he’s back too.