Kyle O’Reilly returns to NXT tonight after his victory over Adam Cole in their brutal Unsanctioned Match at NXT TakeOver Stand and Deliver. Sarray makes her debut against Zoey Stark, which is an interesting choice but should be great. Kushida is issuing a Cruiserweight Championship Open Challenge. And Dexter Lumis faces LA Knight to get some payback for Knight eliminating him from the gauntlet eliminator.
LA Knight def. Dexter Lumis
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Breezango
Sarray def. Zoey Stark
Kushida def. Oney Lorcan
Imperium def. Ever-Rise
Kyle O’Reilly def. Cameron Grimes
Kyle O’Reilly opened the show looking like he was in a great mood. He said in life we face constant struggles and challenges and at TakeOver he faced the biggest personal and physical test of his life the He asked for the lights to be turned up a bit, then took off his sunglasses, and said he’s in a great mood because he’s nowhere near Adam Cole. It’s behind him, he can be himself again and he likes it a lot.
He’s never been one to thrust himself into the spotlight. He’s always realised his work and abilities in the ring would speak for themselves. Now that Cole is behind him he has to realise it’s time to move on.
So what is next for Kyle O’Reilly? He learned at TakeOver that to succeed here you have to have that killer instinct and he found it, the same killer instinct that Cole has but O’Reilly was afraid to act on. You have to be willing to go to those extremes, to do anything and everything and pay the ultimate sacrifice in the ring to achieve his goals. But what are his goals? Does he continue to prove he is The Guy here? Does he challenge for the workhorse title, the North American Championship? Or does he take the killer instinct and hunt down the most dominant force NXT has ever seen. He’s got all the time in the world to decide. He stopped and said, ‘Huh, A time reference, I must be talking to you Karrion Kross’ and that Kross has something…
Cameron Grimes came out, congratulated him and said he made money on Draft Kings on O’Reilly because people saw him as the underdog but he sees him as more than that, a top dog. He talked about joining forces with him and O’Reilly having the new ‘Cool Kyle’ thing going on, and lots of merch ideas.
O’Reilly said he loves it and he wants to celebrate their new business arrangement. He just found out he’s cleared to compete and he just found his first opponent. Initially, he said it wasn’t Grimes because they were business associates. Then he put his sunglasses on, changed his mind, and punched Grimes in the face. The match is the main event.
We saw footage of William Regal welcoming Sarray to the PC. Zoey Stark came over and introduced herself and asked Regal if she could be Sarray’s first opponent. He said he’d like to see it, Sarray agreed to the match.
LA Knight vs Dexter Lumis
Knight and Lumis are complete opposites in communication style. Lumis has never said a word and Knight never shuts up. He had plenty to say before the match and during it. The match itself was great. Knight might be effortlessly irritating, but he’s good and so is Lumis. The finish was silly though.
Indi Hartwell appeared on the other side of the barricade and Lumis allowed himself to get distracted staring at her. Unfortunately for LA Knight, he took a few seconds to tell Hartwell she couldn’t possibly be interested in a guy like Lumis, and got knocked down by Lumis leaping over the top rope. Lumis allowed himself another few seconds of distraction as he got into the ring, and it cost him the match. Knight was ready for him, spiked his head into the mat, and it was all over.
After the match, Hartwell got up on the apron. She and Lumis were going to kiss, but the rest of The Way turned up and dragged her away. Austin Theory carried her off up the ramp.
Leon Ruff isn’t done with Swerve, but he’s done playing games. He said the next move is Swerve’s.
Beth Phoenix had a sit-down interview with Io Shirai. They talked about TakeOver In Your House, where she won the title, which Shirai said was the biggest night of her life because holding the title means you are the best wrestler in the world. Then they talked about Shirai losing the title at TakeOver Stand and Deliver. She winced at footage of herself taking a powerbomb on the outside from Gonzalez and said it hurt and sapped her energy. She looked away from the footage of her getting pinned and said wrestling is about challenges and Raquel was her biggest and toughest challenge but when the time is right she will get her rematch. Phoenix asked, now they know a title rematch is on the cards, what’s next for Shirai. Io Shirai said, ‘Rest’, She defended her title for over 300 days and her body needs time so she can come back and overcome the challenge of Raquel Gonzalez.
Franky Monet and her dog interrupted. Monet introduced herself and pissed off Beth Phoenix by telling her she’s been watching her since she was a kid (Monet is only three years younger than Phoenix). She said since Shirai was taking time off, she could replace her at the top of the women’s division. Shirai replied in a torrent of Japanese which it’s probably best I couldn’t translate, and told Monet she likes cats before she stormed off.
Breezango vs Grizzled Young Veterans
Breezango were dressed as queen’s guards before the match. Zack Gibson and James Drake were not amused.
The match was going well until James Drake tweaked his knee on a landing. Zack Gibson thumbed Fandango’s eye while the ref was checking Drake over, and he was suddenly miraculously better. Fandango was isolated for a long time before he got to Breeze and once he’d made the tag he was done.
Breeze took Drake and Gibson on, in the ring and at ringside. He ran Gibson into the barricades, but it didn’t take him out for long enough. At two on one, Tyler Breeze had no chance and he succumbed to the Ticket to Mayhem.
Indi Hartwell had a backstage interview, but the rest of The Way shut it down. Bronson Reed interrupted and accused them of not loving love, then told Gargano he still wants the North American Championship. Gargano said he lost and goes to the back of the line. Reed threatened to rip off Gargano’s head. Theory said he’d already spoken to Willian Regal and Regal agreed that the only way Reed would get another shot is if he beats Theory first. Reed was happy with that and Theory seemed pleased with himself, until Gargano reminded him Reed pinned him last week and poked him in his still sore ribs.
Cameron Grimes said Kyle O’Reilly is going to end up back in the hospital, then found out Ted Dibiase had outbid him on an NFT and got cross.
Sarray vs Zoey Stark
So much hype surrounding Sarray and, to my shame, I’ve never seen her wrestle before. Much as I think Zoey Stark was a strange choice for first opponent, considering it’s basically a guaranteed loss for her, the match was good and I’d much rather see this than a display debut. Sarray is a wrestler and we got to see her wrestle. Such a simple concept, so often messed up on debuts.
I really like her and she’s going to be a great fit in NXT. She got her debut victory with a Saito suplex, and there was a lovely show of respect before Stark gave Sarray the ring. She got halfway to the stage before Toni Storm attacked her and smashed her into the barricades. Storm backed off when Sarray came to tend to Stark.
Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai had a backstage interview about their thoughts on what Shirai had to say. Gonzalez said Shirai was a great champion but she’s been busting her ass to kick everyone else’s to prove she’s going to be an even better one. Kai said they beat Io so bad she had to go and take a little vacation. She also fielded the next question, about Mercedes Martinez wanting the title, saying Martinez wants the title and she wants to go and study at Hogwarts. We don’t always get what we want. Gonzalez said all the women who want to step up, can form a line and she’ll take them down one by one.
Indi Hartwell got told to stop being distracted and focus by Candice LeRae. She’s determined to get her hands on the tag titles and went to confront Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart. She lost Hartwell on the way there, ran her mouth without backup and got beaten up.
Kushida’s Open Challenge was answered by Oney Lorcan.
Kushida (C) vs Oney Lorcan – NXT Cruiserweight Championship match
Wade Barrett pointed out that Kushida wasn’t wearing wrestling boots, which is a new development. It wasn’t the technical masterpiece of the match with Dunne. Lorcan likes to hit people and Kushida can play that game too, so it was fun.
Kushida retained the title with the hoverboard lock.
After the match, Santos Escobar came to the stage. While Kushida was looking at him, Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde ambushed him and beat him down. MSK arrived to even the odds and ran Legado del Fantasma out.
Mercedes Martinez accused Raquel Gonzalez of ducking her, and of being Dakota Kai’s lapdog. She’s offering/threatening/promising to take Kai out so there’ll be nothing standing between her and a title shot.
The Way are falling apart. Gargano was quizzing Theory on how things went down with Regal when LeRae arrived back from her beating. Hartwell arrived back a few moments later thrilled because she’s made eye contact with Lumis, and mentioned she’d seen William Regal (which LeRae had told her not to do) and got them a tag title match.
Imperium vs Ever-Rise
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel were accompanied by Alexander Wolfe. He had to fend off Killian Dain mid-match, a distraction that nearly cost Aichner the match. Drake Maverick joined his partner and shoved Wolfe, so Dain carried him to the back just in time for the cameras to cut back to Imperium’s double team finisher.
Less a match and more of a mission statement for Imperium’s intended domination.
Karrion Kross and Scarlett were waiting for O’Reilly as he prepared to make his entrance. There was a stare-down. Neither man flinched.
Kyle O’Reilly vs Cameron Grimes
It was interesting to hear how commentary talked about O’Reilly in this match, because that’s the narrative they’re pushing. It seems they’re going for, he’s got everything but needs to learn to bring out that ‘sixth gear’, killer instinct, that competitors like Cole, Kross, and Balor have naturally, more regularly. There was also some emphasis on medically cleared does not equal one hundred percent ok.
As far as the match went, O’Reilly was mostly dismantling Grimes in the early going. A German suplex left O’Reilly rolling on the floor clutching his neck. He was still holding it after the break, and Grimes was running the show, but he was back in the match.
That was Grimes’ time to shine, but he failed to capitalise and an almost casual knee in the gut got O’Reilly back in the game. Grimes had some clever counters and timely reversals, and a few credible pin attempts, but he couldn’t keep O’Reilly down and the frustration grew with each failure. Once O’Reilly got a couple of combos in and found his rhythm, the result seemed inevitable. It was a brainbuster and a knee to the back from the top rope that finally sealed the win.
The reinvention of Kyle O’Reilly is fascinating. He’s great on the mic but doesn’t have the natural showmanship of a Finn Balor or an Adam Cole, which he addressed when he said he lets his work do the talking. Trouble is, that doesn’t work. If it did, the PWI rankings for the last ten years would look very different. He’s capable of being the top guy, he has been elsewhere, but they need to bring out that showmanship.
Austin Theory versus Bronson Reed has been made official for next week. If Reed wins, he gets another shot at Johnny Gargano’s NXT North American Championship. Also confirmed for next week is Dakota Kai vs Mercedes Martinez, and MSK & Kushida versus Legado del Fantasma.