The preview for tonight’s NXT is short, but two of the three announced matches shouldn’t be. The TakeOver challengers for Finn Balor’s NXT Championship and Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Championship will be decided in the big matches. The women have a Battle Royal. The number one contender for the men’s title will be decided in the first-ever Gauntlet Elimination match – I’ll explain the rules later – featuring Timothy Thatcher, Kushida, Kyle O’Reilly, Bronson Reed, and Cameron Grimes. The only other advertised match is Tommaso Ciampa versus Jake Atlas.
Candice LeRae won the Battle Royal
Tommaso Ciampa def. Jake Atlas
Roderick Strong & Danny Burch def. Fabian Aichner & Raul Mendoza
Damian Priest def. Austin Theory
Ridge Holland def. Antonio de Luca
Kyle O’Reilly def. Cameron Grimes, Timothy Thatcher, Bronson Reed, and Kushida
The show was dedicated to the memory of Joe Laurinaitis – Road Warrior Animal.
Women’s Number One Contender Battle Royal
Most of the women were already in the ring, and there were a lot more of them than were previously announced. Candice LeRae made her entrance as the show began, then we were shown footage of LeRae taking Tegan Nox out backstage, potentially reinjuring her knee. Rhea Ripley also got an entrance, but they were the only ones.
All of the unannounced participants went out first. Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez seemed to be in competition to see who could get the most out. If they were, Gonzalez won five to four by the time we got down to the announced participants. Half the unannounced women didn’t even get a name check as they hit the floor. Marina Sharif and Catalina did, and some of the others got first names which could have been made up on the spot for all I know, but it was all very quick and chaotic and they were literally there to be thrown over the top rope.
Kacy Catanzaro got thrown out but landed on her back without her feet touching the floor. She spun around, hooked her feet under the bottom rope, and pulled herself back in. She got a second spot after a break where she was climbing on the barricades. Kayden Carter tried to help her and got eliminated by Gonzalez, so Carter got Catanzaro back into the ring on her shoulders.
Xia Li and Aliyah were apparently eliminated during the ads because there were there before the break and gone after. I have no idea who eliminated them or how.
Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez eliminated each other and had to be held apart by officials all the way out. Dakota Kai looked terrified. Kacy Catanzaro eliminated Indi Hartwell but was finally eliminated by Kai with some help from LeRae.
The final three were Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae and Shotzi Blackheart. Kai went first, courtesy of Blackheart when she avoided Kai’s kick in the corner.
They both ended up outside the ring, fighting on the apron and steps having gone over the top rope. Blackheart tried to push LeRae off the steps, but Candice LeRae hung on and got her feet up then used them to flip Shotzi Blackheart off the steps to the floor.
While she was celebrating, we found out that Johnny Gargano will face Damian Priest at TakeOver for the NXT North American Championship.
Damian Priest had a backstage interview immediately afterwards. He’s not phased by Johnny Gargano, or by Austin Theory, who he has a match with later.
Fandango, as Sherlock, devised a complicated system for deciding Breezango’s next challengers. He had a whiteboard and everything. He explained to William Regal that members of different teams will team up and face each other. The winners of the match will then fight each other (individually or as a team is not clear) and the winner of that match will face Breezango.
The other teams appeared to understand, or Danny Burch did anyway, so Regal left them to it.
Jake Atlas vs Tommaso Ciampa
This match was undoubtedly the most pissed off version of Jake Atlas we’ve seen. He came in ready to make Ciampa pay for what he did to him and set about making it happen. Overall, the match was about 80% Atlas, but Ciampa managed to avoid being catapulted into the underside of the ring, so Atlas didn’t get that revenge, and everything Ciampa did manage to land was devastating.
Ciampa delivered Willow’s Bell, but moved off the cover and told Atlas to get up. When he did, he got a Fairytale Ending and pinned.
Ridge Holland had a vignette where he talked about his rugby background and how much he likes hurting people. He did not discuss the reasoning for the ridiculous name.
The main event promo package featured all the competitors talking over a performance of Culture Head by Corey Taylor. Good package, but they usually are.
Fabian Aichner & Raul Mendoza vs Roderick Strong & Danny Burch.
Well, this was different. No one in the match likes each other opponents and teammates alike. It did make for an entertaining and competitive match though, albeit a confusing one at times.
Burch and Strong won when Danny Burch pinned Raul Mendoza, so it sounds like Undisputed ERA versus Burch & Lorcan will be the number one contender’s match.
Austin Theory’s interview was interrupted so he could be patronised by Johnny Gargano, who wanted to let Theory know he wouldn’t forget it if he softened Damian Priest up for him before TakeOver.
Damian Priest vs Austin Theory
Theory does a good job of making me dislike him. Possibly too good as I don’t want to listen to or watch him. Damian Priest is probably the only one on the roster who can truly match him in terms of arrogance, so there was a whole lot of ego in this one.
They’re both legitimately good though and their styles mesh well enough, so it was a decent match to watch. For all Theory’s talk, Priest had the height, power, and skill advantage. That’s not to say Theory had no answers, he had his moments, but he never really looked like he’d pick up the win. He had a credible-ish chance with a blue thunder bomb, but Priest kicked out. Priest delivered a Razor’s edge on the apron which made the match-winning Reckoning a mere formality.
Johnny Gargano came out at the end of the match and kicked Priest in the face.
Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott had a promo to remind Santos Escobar he has beaten him twice. And he wants the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. He wants a match without Legado del Fantasma present, which might be more of a stretch.
Ridge Holland vs Antonio de Luca
There was no need to crowbar a squash match into this show. It was already busy enough and it didn’t add much of anything. I’d rather have seen the battle royal get a few more minutes. Holland’s finisher is called Northern Grit, apparently. He also likes to headbutt people.
Io Shirai doesn’t like Candice LeRae, never has never will. She didn’t get much further than that before Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano interrupted. They both got in Shirai’s face, but Damian Priest arrived and punched Gargano.
Shotzi Blackheart and Dakota Kai have a one on one match next week, after Blackheart eliminated Kai from the Battle Royal.
Gauntlet Eliminator match
So, these are the rules for the Gauntlet Eliminator match: Two men start, and another is added every four minutes. The only way to be eliminated is via pinfall of submission. Last man standing gets Finn Balor at TakeOver on October 4th.
Kyle O’Reilly and Kushida started things off. They were both still in the ring when Bronson Reed joined them. Kushida became the first elimination after interference from Velveteen Dream. Kyle O’Reilly had taken a spill to the floor and the ref was checking on him when Velveteen snuck into the ring, delivered a Dream Valley Driver, and left unnoticed. Reed finished Kushida off with a Tsunami Splash just before Timothy Thatcher arrived and we went for a break. Cameron Grimes arrived just after we got back.
Kyle O’Reilly took out Bronson Reed after Reed missed a splash on Thatcher. O’Reilly also eliminated Timothy Thatcher. Cameron Grimes thought he’d won the match off a Cave In immediately after Thatcher went out, but O’Reilly got his foot on the rope. He went down the trash-talk route, telling O’Reilly he was nothing like Adam Cole, and Cole was the ‘man’ of Undisputed ERA. Obviously, that fired Kyle O’Reilly up and when Grimes missed his second attempt at a Cave In he found himself tapping out seconds later to a heel hook.
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong came out to help him celebrate. Finn Balor came to the stage so they could stare at each other.
It was announced after the show that ‘as a result of Candice LeRae’s attack’ Tegan Nox has been sent for an MRI on a suspected ACL tear, which is potentially another year or so out. If she can come back that’s great. She would be a huge loss to the women’s division, but another knee injury is a real worry and no one would blame her for retiring to preserve her future mobility.
I’m very pleased with the outcome of the Gauntlet Eliminator. Of all the members of Undisputed ERA, I would argue that Kyle O’Reilly is probably the most deserving of a single’s push, and is definitely the most interesting choice to face Balor. That match will be great.