Hi everyone and welcome back to the Full Sail University NXT arena for another episode of the most developmental two hours on television. Last week, we saw NXT UK Champion WALTER defeat KUSHIDA in a battle of WWE’s two most capitalised stars. We also found out that this week would see a North American Championship match as well as the returns of Mae Young Classic II competitor Tegan Nox and former NXT Champion, Tommaso Ciampa. Let’s find out what went down:
Tommaso Ciampa def. Angel Garza // Ciampa cut off Garza with a Draping DDT for the pin Post-match: Undisputed Era turns up, Kyle hands Mauro a USB stick. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Io Shirai def. Kayden Carter // Shirai pinned Carter off a Moonsault. Post-match: Shirai has a mic, Shirai declares herself ahead of Ripley and BelAir in the queue for a title match. Ripley turns up, she takes the mic, says she’ll shut up BelAir and if Shirai speaks her name again she’ll shut her up too.
Matt Riddle def. Bronson Reed // Riddle pinned Reed off a Bro Derek leaping gotch-style Tombstone.
Tegan Nox def. Taynara // Nix pinned Taynara off a Shiniest Wizard Post-match: Dakota Kai comes out to celebrate. Before Nox can respond to Cathy’s question, the 3 Horsewomen appear, Shayna declares that Tegan doesn’t deserve a title shot because she’s hasn’t done anything yet. Which admittedly, she hasn’t. Still, maybe as there’s three of them and three of Nox, Kai and their good friend, Candice LeRae…
Pre-match: After a recap of Dain attacking Boa last week, he had a promo. It was in Chinese without subtitles Killian Dain def. Boa // Boa tapped to a modified Camel Clutch.
The Undisputed Era say they don’t think people take them seriously so to prove that Roderick Strong actually has quite a large penis, they attacked Velveteen Dream.
Johnny Gargano gets a highlight reel. Post-reel: Cathy Kelly asks Johnny how he feels about Ciampa being back. He doesn’t know how he’ll feel till he meets him face-to-face.
Bianca BelAir talks about her match next week with Rhea Ripley and says why she’s going to win.
Finn Balor has one of those mystical promos where he basically says he’s got a match.
We get a recap of Lio Rush winning the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) w/ Alexander Wolfe vs Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan
For the time given, this was a strong, action-packed match. It’s nice to see that Imperium seems to be sticking around in NXT for a while longer, especially because it’s fascinating to see the contrast between the philosophies of Imperium and The Undisputed Era, Imperium making their statement in the sacrosanct ring while the Era attack outside it. Could this be a tease of things to come for the NXT tag division as these two philosophies come closer to clashing? All four men impressed here, recalling such minor NXT classics as Samoa Joe vs Tomasso Ciampa as they performed a quick, clean and brutal sprint, giving Burch and Lorcan just enough to make them not lose too much face in defeat. Barthel and Aichner have become such a well-formed unit that frankly, if they don’t start putting more gold on Imperium soon, then what’s the point of anything? Barthel pinned Lorcan off a European Uppercut-Powerobomb combo.
Keith Lee vs Dominic Dijakovic – No Context
Pre-match: William Regal made this a number one contender’s match as Dream was unable to compete. He also confirmed Dream might be out for a while. This was possibly the worst singles match I’ve seen these two have and it was still really good. Their series stood at 1-1-1 going into the match (though if we include pre-WWE encounters, it’s 8-3-1 with the eight to Lee) so there was the desperation of both men wanting the North American Championship shot but also there’s the pride at stake of proving who is the superior big lad. This match was brought to you by the letter A for arm-work as Lee would attempt to prevent Dijakovic hitting his Feast your Eyes argentine lifted knee strike, a move that would pay off later on allowing Lee to use the arm injury to hit an impressive reverse ‘rana. While this added a nice psychological edge to the encounter, this was the first time I’ve felt that these two are beginning to suffer from the WWE need to repeat the same matches ad-nauseam. The action itself was strong but no stronger than the 3 other times I’ve seen it in the last few months. Talking of Strong, he would attack both while on the top rope causing a No Contest because then there’s no one to challenge him right? Well, Regal comes out and tells Strong he has to defend against both men next week. If Strong had thought this through for even one second he’d realise this is was always happens. We who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
Winner: No Contest
Damien Priest vs Pete Dunne
Pre-match: Killian Dain finger snap. This is Dunne and Priest’s first-time competing outside of four matches on the NXT house show loop. Despite them not being seasoned opponents, they worked an interesting contest that had a lot of drama down the homestretch. It started a little slow, working much the TV main-event formula, early grappling gave way to round the ring brawling before Priest used his wily abilities to take control and worked over Dunne till he could make a fiery comeback. Once they got into that fiery comeback, the two of them worked a good PWG-sprint giving this something of a BOLA first round feel. Dunne was on great form here, giving Priest a better showcase than any number of squashes could. Priest, for his credit, kept the action coming thick and fast. The main problem is where do things go from here? Priest will carry on his undefeated streak until defeated and Dunne, I guess is going into a programme with Dain. This was very much the epitome of USA-era NXT, good but somehow very hollow. Priest won with a kick to the knackers and a twisting DDT.
Winner: Damian Priest
While the action lacked one signature match like WALTER vs KUSHIDA or Baszler vs LeRae, this was a strong episode in terms of story development and establishing a range of contenders for different titles. It gave us a glimpse at some of the elements that could be involved with TakeOver: WarGames but it didn’t give enough away to ruin the intrigue of the build. If strapped for time, just skip to the three highlighted matches.
Finn Balor’s back, baby
Rhea Ripley vs Bianca BelAir
North American Championship: Rodderick Strong (c) vs Dominic Dijakovic vs Keith Lee
All images courtesy of WWE.com