We have a WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match tonight. The Kabuki Warriors are defending their titles against Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai. Also on the card is The Undisputed ERA’s Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish versus Keith Lee & Matt Riddle, Candice LeRae versus Io Shirai, and Tyler Bate versus Cameron Grimes. And we should get an explanation from Finn Balor as to why he Pele kicked Johnny Gargano last week.
Io Shirai def. Candice LeRae
Bronson Reed def. Shane Thorne
The Kabuki Warriors def. Dakota Kai & Tegan Nox
Cameron Grimes def. Tyler Bate
The Undisputed ERA def. Matt Riddle & Keith Lee
The show opened with a recap of last week while Poppy played ‘I Disagree’ live, then played Io Shirai in with ‘Scary Mask’, accompanying Shirai to the ring. It was a pretty cool start if I’m honest.
Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae
They didn’t waste any time getting into it. Candice LeRae was very much the aggressor early on, but it settled into an interesting match. LeRae ended up bleeding from the nose and instead of pretending it wasn’t there, as they often do, Shirai smeared the blood with her fingers. Shirai also took every opportunity to belittle LeRae, derisive kicks to the head that were just shoves with her foot. Hard-hitting and vicious, it was every inch the bitter grudge match it was sold as.
Io Shirai brought a chair into the ring but ref Jess took it from her and LeRae almost got the roll-up. When that didn’t work, she knocked Shirai down and delivered a moonsault. Unfortunately for Candice LeRae, Shirai had landed on the chair and when she moved LeRae landed with her head on it and knocked herself senseless, making it an easy pin for Shirai.
After the match Shirai attacked LeRae, but when she picked the chair up, Rhea Ripley ran down and kicked the chair out of her hands then picked it up and swung it at her.
» Pete Dunne will face Damian Priest again next week.
In the package preceding his explanation segment, Finn Balor said RAW and SmackDown is like Hollywood, it’s easy to hide behind all the special effect. NXT is like Broadway, there’s nowhere to hide and he needs to test himself. Balor got a thank you Finn chant when he came. He started by saying that two months ago he was lying down for the hottest thing in the business just because he got a new mask. But now he’s taken his mask off, and he’s the hottest thing in the business (an obvious reference to him being beaten by Bray Wyatt’s Fiend character at SummerSlam, an unsurprising final straw if that’s what triggered his return to NXT). And everyone’s got their opinions. The trouble is, there are too many fans in the locker room. He doesn’t watch this business, this business watches him. He congratulated Gargano on getting out of the hospital, then told him that if Gargano wanted to do it again he’d put him straight back in and he won’t be Johnny Wrestling, he’ll be Johnny watches wrestling, exactly as it should be.
Shane Thorne vs Bronson Reed
Shane Thorne wanted to finish it as quick as he could, and he was headed in the right direction until Reed clotheslined him and halted his momentum, and possibly his breathing. They went blow for blow until Thorne managed to get a run of kicks in, but again Reed comprehensively halted his momentum, this time with a suplex.
There was a tussle on the turnbuckle, but Shane Thorne was thrown to the mat and Bronson Reed got the win with a frogsplash from the top turnbuckle.
» Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai got a backstage interview before the match. They said they were good nervous. They’ve both fought back from injury and they’re bringing the fight to The Kabuki Warriors.
» Mia Yim got a hype video. She’s the rose that grew from concrete.
The Kabuki Warriors (C) vs Dakota Kai & Tegan Nox – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Kai and Nox are quietly popular with the NXT crowd, but Kairi Sane and Asuka are returning heroes and they got a huge welcome back chant. They also have co-ordinating gear now, which looks much better but really doesn’t say ‘about to drop the belts’.
Asuka was unbeaten in NXT and was looking to keep it that way. There’s a lot of posture and flourish in the new attitude Kabuki Warriors, but it doesn’t seem to make them any less effective. Nox and Kai had no intention of letting them have it all their own way though and it made for an excellent match which got plenty of time to play out.
Dakota Kai got caught in the opposition half of the ring for a long time before she got to Tegan Nox. When ox got in she had some of the best opportunities of the match. Asuka got her in a kneebar when she went for the Shiniest Wizard, but the braces helped her resists and fight Asuka into an armbar which Sane had to break up.
In the end, the only way for Asuka and Sane to retain their titles was to cheat. While the ref was trying to stop Sane invading the ring, Asuka sprayed Dakota Kai with the green mist. She tagged Sane in and knocked Nox off the apron. Sane delivered the InSane Elbow and covered Kai for the pin, angling herself so the ref couldn’t see the green.
After the match, while they were still trying to get the green stuff out of Dakota Kai’s eyes, Shayna Baszler arrived with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. To protect Kai, Tegan Nox went on the offensive and landed the first blow to Baszler, but was immediately overwhelmed by the numbers. Baszler was about to stomp on Nox’s arm while Duke and Shafir held her still, when Rhea Ripley appeared. She didn’t even get to the ring before Io Shirai attacked her, quickly followed by Bianca Belair, then Candice LeRae to try to help out Ripley.
Baszler and Ripley got into it in the ring, then everyone else piled in until William Regal came to the podium above the commentary desk and demanded they be separated by officials. Once it was under control, he said he had a simple solution for this, War Games. Everyone looked at each other then the heel side of the locker room was dragged away by officials.
It was later announced that Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley will be the team captains for the match.
Tyler Bate vs Cameron Grimes
Good match, not much to say about it. It was a solid and enjoyable test of one-upmanship. Bate’s near fall from a hurricanrana was impressive. Grimes’ best chance came from a slam. It could have gone on like that indefinitely just waiting for someone to get the difference-maker.
Killian Dain tipped the balance. He appeared and distracted Tyler Bate just enough for Grimes to land his finisher. After Bate had been pinned he got beaten up by Dain, who told him to tell Pete Dunne they had unfinished business.
» Angel Garza got an introductory hype video talking about his family legacy in wrestling.
Keith Lee & Matt Riddle vs The Undisputed ERA (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
This was a non-title match, but still the main event. Fish and O’Reilly tried to take Riddle down straight away to concentrate on Lee, but the quickly backfired.
Riddle is still using Goldberg’s jackhammer. The crowd still like it. Undisputed ERA did their best to keep Keith Lee out of the match, because every time he was in they got levelled. Riddle and Lee worked together pretty well, but their tag work was never going to be at the level of Fish and O’Reilly, who have been teaming together for years.
Inevitably, Adam Cole and Roderick Strong inserted themselves into the match when Riddle built some momentum. He took the whole of Undisputed ERA down with a moonsault to the outside
Keith Lee Pounced Adam Cole into Roderick Strong, which I will never get tired of watching. I want someone to make a gif of it. The match finished with a high low on Matt Riddle to secure the Undisputed ERA win.
Predictably, there was a post-match beatdown by The Undisputed ERA. This week it was broken up by Tommaso Ciampa and his crutch. Kyle O’Reilly tried to save Adam Cole from Ciampa and got trapped in the ring surrounded by Lee, Riddle, and Ciampa. Ciampa pounded on him a bit, Riddle kneed him in the face, then Keith Lee did the kindest thing. He picked O’Reilly up over his head and threw him back onto his friends.
Tommaso Ciampa grabbed a mic and addressed the title belt. He said, ‘Goldie, you’re going to have to wait. Daddy’s going to war’.
The women’s War Games match is going to be incredible. Every time the women’s division are given a historic first they go all out to make sure they prove it was the right decision. Considering how brutal and inventive the previous War Games matches have been, I’m excited to see what they come up with.
One tiny gripe; the women’s tag title match should have main evented the show, especially considering the historic announcement at the end. It was a more important match, as a title match, and arguably a better one.
It has also been announced that NXT will be part of Survivor Series this year, for the first time. That means some people may have a very busy weekend with NXT TakeOver WarGames the night before.
NOTE/RANT – It took FOUR hours to do this review because WWE network has been a piece of shit since the big update and continues to be a piece of shit nine out of ten times I use it. I watch on Roku and network used to be the most reliable app on there. It is now the worst by such a big margin I have ceased to complain about any niggling problems with any of the others. Sadly, for someone who covers WWE on a weekly basis, there is no other legal way to access the shows. A few more weeks like this might be enough to stop me covering or watching WWE entirely.