I’ve had a few weeks off reviewing NXT because my MSc final research project stole my life. What a few weeks I missed. Titles created, a two-night TakeOver on the horizon (which I probably won’t be reviewing for uni reasons), and some vert interesting storyline developments. Sadly, as happens from time to time, injury has changed the plans for at least one of those storylines.
News broke on Tuesday the Danny Burch has suffered a separated shoulder and, as a result, William Regal has made the decision to vacate the tag titles. He has promised to address the NXT Universe on Wednesday to provide further details. Oney Lorcan goes one on one with Karrion Kross to try to get some payback. Drake Maverick is facing WALTER tonight. I know you can never count Maverick out, but if WALTER lands a chop it will turn him to meat paste. LA Knight faces Bronson Reed. Jordan Devlin and Kushida have a non-title match. Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon put the tag titles on the line against The Robert Stone Brand. Io Shirai and Zoey Stark team up to take on Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. And, after Adam Cole tracked Kyle O’Reilly down while O’Reilly was training, William Regal has demanded they attend the CWC to face the consequences of their actions.
This is still a two-hour show.
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez def. Io Shirai & Zoey Stark
Bronson Reed def. LA Knight
Karrion Kross def. Oney Lorcan
WALTER def. Drake Maverick
Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon def. Aliyah & Mercedes Martinez
Jordan Devlin def. Kushida
Adam Cole was shown arriving with a security detail.
Io Shirai & Zoey Stark vs Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
Zoey Stark has arrived in NXT in style. There’s no clearer ‘Pay attention to this one’ message than the calibre of opponents she’s been given in her first few matches. Ok, she hasn’t won, but at this point, that doesn’t matter. She’s made an impact.
She made an impact in this one too, hanging with and sometimes bettering Kai and Gonzalez. Considering they’re a throw-together team, she and Shirai worked well together. The match was good. Shirai took herself out in the process of putting Gonzalez down on the outside. Stark had already sent Kai and Gonzalez into the ringpost, but Shirai decided to follow up with a moonsault onto Gonzalez. It looked like she might have hurt herself because Gonzalez was working up to finishing off Zoey Stark by the time Shirai dragged herself onto the apron. With Stark held over her head, Gonzalez took a second to kick Shirai off the apron before slamming Stark into the mat for the win.
After the match, Shirai and Gonzalez got face to face. Shirai intercepted Kai coming from behind her, but left herself open to a big boot from Gonzalez. Raquel Gonzalez picked her up and slammed her onto the announce desk.
Kyle O’Reilly also has a security detail. McKenzie Mitchell asked him for his thoughts but before he could give them Roderick Strong arrived and said that after everything Adam has done to them O’Reilly needs to go out there and kick his ass. O’Reilly said he appreciates that, but there is no more them, this is between him and Adam. Strong told him they can both go to hell.
O’Reilly is calm and controlled and emotionless. Dangerously so. He asked McKenzie if that answered her question and left.
LA Knight vs Bronson Reed
LA Knight had a lot to say before the match about it being his game. He didn’t say anything about being manhandled and thrown around the ring by Reed, which is what happened for the first half of the match. He did a better job of backing up the big talk in the second half. LA Knight is great, but he just talks so much. Anyway, decent match. Bronson Reed eventually got fed up with Knight having the upper hand and stepped it up a gear. Despite Knight’s best efforts, he succumbed to a tsunami splash.
Danny Burch is out for an estimated six months. The new tag champions will be decided on night one of TakeOver in a match featuring MSK, Grizzled Young Veterans, and Legado del Fantasma.
Karrion Kross, with Scarlett, vs Oney Lorcan
Karrion Kross’ entrance is great, but it’s very full-on for a normal NXT, especially when facing someone like Oney Lorcan who just walks to the ring and gets on with it. I’m not sure what Lorcan was hoping for out of this match, but I’m fairly sure he was hoping it would involve being brutalised a little less.
Lorcan hurt Kross’ arm and there was disbelief on Kross’ face that he was hurt. Lorcan had possibly his best chance to come out on top after that, but Karrion Kross used the arm that wasn’t bothering him to knock Lorcan out from behind and pin him.
After the match, Kross sent a message to Balor that his actions last week had intention and malice, and he realised he’s been giving respect to a man who doesn’t deserve it. Balor might be a champion, but his neck felt just the same as anyone else’s in Kross’ hands. When the fuse is lit, there’s no stopping what’s coming next, and that’s him.
Finn Balor strolled down the ramp and paused in front of Oney Lorcan, who was still laying on the floor, before getting in the ring and facing Kross. He said last week Kross gave him his best shot and The Prince is still standing. But what he really did was show him his weakness. When a man is young, he fights with uncontrollable emotion. It wasn’t until Balor learned to control his emotion and become cold that he became untouchable. Kross still fights with emotion, everything he does is a reaction, and in those moments, he’s vulnerable.
At TakeOver Stand and Deliver he’s going to push Kross to the point where he’s only got two options. He can surprise everyone and master his emotions or two, which Balor believes will happen, his emotions will master him. And when they do, Balor will drag him into the cold deep water and with no emotion, drown him.
Next week there will be a 12-man battle royal. The final six will go into a gauntlet match in the order they were eliminated in, on night one of TakeOver. The winner of that will face Johnny Gargano on night two of TakeOver.
WALTER vs Drake Maverick
There was a getting to know you package for WALTER earlier in the show for any fans who needed an introduction or a reminder. That package lasted longer than the match, which finished with Drake Maverick unconscious on the canvas.
Tommaso Ciampa arrived after the match as said he’d misspoken when he said WALTER intrigues him. It’s the NXT UK Championship that intrigues him and he’s challenging WALTER for it at TakeOver. WALTER accepted and Imperium beat Ciampa up. WALTER ripped Ciampa’s necklace off, while Aichner and Barthel held him still. and Ciampa kicked out at him, so WALTER delivered one of his infamous chops.
Pete Dunne thinks he’s going to dominate the battle royal and become North American Champion at TakeOver. I could live with that outcome.
Jessi Kamea got hurt in training so Robert Stone paid Mercedes Martinez to take her place and team with Aliyah. She took what they offered her and said it was half and she wants the other half after the match. Stone agreed but confessed to Aliyah he doesn’t have any more money.
Shotzi Blackheart got a getting to know you package. Her authenticity is very endearing.
Johnny Gargano asked William Regal to explain his decision. He’s not happy that he won’t know who his opponent is until 24 hours before the match. Regal said if Gargano is the champion he says he is then it shouldn’t be a problem, and suggested he studies all twelve potential opponents.
Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon (C) vs Aliyah & Mercedes Martinez – NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Wade Barrett informed us that this is Aliyah’s first-ever championship match, and if that’s true it’s been a really long time coming. Robert Stone was a pain in the ass on the outside, almost from the outset. Aliyah took Ember Moon off the apron while they had Blackheart in trouble, but they couldn’t put her away and Moon was back when she needed her.
Inevitably, it was Aliyah who took the Eclipse that finished the match.
Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell put themselves forward for a tag title opportunity backstage. Moon and Blackheart laughed and said they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again
Cameron Grimes tried to buy the intellectual property rights to Undisputed ERA from Roderick Strong. Strong punched him in the face and left.
Io Shirai versus Raquel Gonzalez will main event Night one of NXT TakeOver Stand and Deliver. WALTER versus Tommaso Ciampa has also been confirmed for night one, as has the tag title match announced earlier and the gauntlet match for the North American Championship opportunity.
Finn Balor versus Karrion Kross will be the main event of night two. Santos Escobar versus Jordan Devlin, and Johnny Gargano versus the gauntlet winner are also confirmed for night two.
Jordan Devlin vs Kushida
Both Devlin and Kushida had promos during the show. They both think they’re great etc. To be fair, they’re not wrong. This was the main event, with Regal wrangling Cole and O’Reilly taking the closing slot, and it was worthy of the accolade.
Devlin got distracted by the appearance of Legado del Fantasma, and Kushida took full advantage. Devlin was locked in an armbar when Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza pulled him out of the ring. Nothing happened except a staring match with Escobar. Devlin ducked Mendoza and Wilde to get back in the ring, let Kushida knock them off the apron while going for him, then caught Kushida on the rebound and pinned him with a bridge.
Kushida destroyed Wilde and Mendoza after the match but Escobar got into the ring with Devlin for a standoff. Shawn Michaels came out when they were nose to nose and everyone looked confused. He pulled a ladder out from under the ring and slid it in between Devlin and Escobar. So that’s it, a ladder match to decide the true NXT Cruiserweight champion.
Michaels ran into Adam Cole as he and his security were making their way to the ring. He gave him a long look and walked away.
William Regal had Cole and O’Reilly sat at either end of a long table on the stage, with three security guards each. He yelled at them for embarrassing the company with their enmity ending up with the police being involved. He gave them a contract for the co-main event of night two. Kyle O’Reilly isn’t cleared, so in addition to both of them signing the contract, O’Reilly has to acknowledge NXT is not liable for any injuries he incurs. An Unsanctioned Match.
Adam Cole told a story about O’Reilly making him realise he didn’t need the Undisputed ERA anymore. It was never about brotherhood. He was offended by O’Reilly befriending Finn Balor after losing to him twice and it made him realise O’Reilly is a sidekick, a lapdog. Comfortable being on the sidelines, and Cole isn’t like that. He’s the greatest NXT Champion there has ever been, and he will never sit on the sidelines.
O’Reilly lost sight of what Undisputed ERA was about. It was never about friendship or brotherhood, it was about being the best. He is the best. He thinks O’Reilly should be thanking him because he would never have made it to WWE let alone been successful if it wasn’t for him. The Undisputed ERA doesn’t work without Adam Cole. He led the charge. He’s the one with the title reigns and the main events, and O’Reilly is nothing. He can’t wait to fight him at TakeOver because he already knows who wins. Everyone except the pathetic lapdog sitting across the table knows who wins.
Kyle O’Reilly had been silent and motionless while Cole spoke. But he had his own view of Undisputed ERA’s run. He said they were like four pitbulls when they arrived, they didn’t care who they stepped on or who footed the bill. They’ll forever have heat with the general manager and the locker room for what they did. But he grew up and started to take some accountability for his actions. You look a man in the eyes before you kick his teeth in. No more sneak attacks, no more four on one beatdowns, no more BS. And since coming to NXT they’ve become better wrestlers, better fighters, champions, and stars. But only one of them became a better human being. Adam Cole is the same asshole who walked into this place three and a half years ago.
He’s tried to tell himself the Undisputed ERA meant nothing. Forcing himself to believe it, because if any part of him thinks one day they could be cool again, maybe go for a beer, he won’t be able to do what he’s got to do to put Cole down for good. He sold his soul for the Undisputed ERA and he wants it back. Cole is an insecure prick who used his best friends and that’s so cold and somehow, he’s not surprised in the least. But not one single person will be surprised after he beats him into a pulp and for the first time in damned near fours years, he sleeps like a baby. He screamed at him to look him in the eyes for the last bit.
Cole told him to go ahead and sign his death warrant. O’Reilly signed and threw the pen at him. Cole tipped the table and the show closed with security holding them back while they snarled and screamed at each other.
NXT TakeOver Stand and Deliver looks like it’s going to be exceptional on both nights. There is one week left to complete the cards, but they’re looking stacked already.
I’m always happy to declare my biases. I love everything about Kyle O’Reilly stepping out of Adam Cole’s shadow to take the spotlight that should always have been his. Cole is undoubtedly the better showman, but that’s where his superiority ends. I can’t wait for that match. Everyone knows Adam Cole is slick on the mic, but that was powerful from O’Reilly and that’s his transformation into plucky babyface complete. I don’t care about the positioning, I just want the match to be everything it’s capable of being. The unsanctioned stipulation makes sense in the storyline, but it’s not the one I would have chosen. I think I would have made it an I Quit match.