Hello and welcome back to NXT. Last week we saw Roderick Strong interrupt a match between Dominic Dijakovic and Keith Lee leading to both men getting a shot at his North American Championship tonight. Alongside this, we have matches with championship implications including the NXT Women’s division, the Cruiserweights and the Women’s tag division. So, no messing around, let’s get into it.

The Undercard

Matt Riddle def. Cameron Grimes // Riddle won with a Bro Derek leaping gotch-style tombstone. Post-match: Grimes hassled Tyler Bate at ringside who laid out Grimes with the Bop Bang distraction fist

Breezango & Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott def. Forgotten Sons (Blake, Cutler & Ryker) // Scott pinned Blake off a seated single-leg dropkick. The match itself was fine but please, go out of your way to watch Breezango’s Top Gun-inspired entrance.

Angel Garza def. Jack Gallagher // Garza pinned Jack Gallagher off Cero de a Cilla springboard Quebrada Lio Rush was on commentary for this match, after the match, Garza taunted Rush, setting him up to be Rush’s first challenger.

Women’s Tag-Team Championship Number One Contender’s: Team Fly Kicks (Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai) def. Shayna’s Friends Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir // Nox pinned Duke off a Shiniest Wizard – Post-match: the Kabuki Warriors appeared on screen and mocked their challengers.

Packages

Tommaso Ciampa highlight reel

Dominic Dijakovic explains why he’s going to win the title tonight

Roderick Strong explains why he’s going to retain the title tonight

Killian Dain stood by a burning bin and declared he would break Pete Dunne

Keith Lee explains why he’s going to win the title tonight

Rhea Ripley vs Bianca BelAir

This was a solid match. But the thing is I’m quite glad it wasn’t better because this felt like proper NXT. Too much of the brand seems to be built on pre-established stars and here we have two performers that could be the future of their division but they aren’t quite the most-rounded in-ring competitors yet. In something of a piece of echoing of things to come, this felt like a women’s division version of Keith Lee vs Dominic Dijakovic, just two powerhouses ragdolling each other. The early stages of the match did show that perhaps this does not have the easy, immediate chemistry of a Dijak v Lee but once it got going it was a nicely competitive match with some strong counter work.

The finish was very interesting in terms of potential future match set-ups. Just ass Ripley had the ball rolling, in came Shirai with a tiger feint kick to the outside, giving BelAir the opening for a near-fall but before Shirai could get further involved, LeRae evened the odds, pulling Shirai off the apron, giving Ripley the opportunity to hit the Riptide pump handle bomb for the pin. An interesting match that opens up a lot of possibilities in the NXT Women’s division but also reminded us that even hitting one move and falling off the apron, Shirai is still the most compelling presence in all of WWE. Also of note, Beth Phoenix referred to this as “The first time these two have met on NXT television.” Do house shows now count under WWE canon? We’ll have more after the break.

North American Championship: Dominic Dijakovic vs Keith Lee vs Roderick Strong (c)

I’m going to say this once as I hope I don’t need to repeat it, Keith Lee is fucking gold and not putting all the titles on him forever is a mistake. But for their credit, Dijakovic and Strong are both very good here. This one firmly followed the ‘three-way dance where two of the competitors want to murder each other’ formula of Strong trying to get Lee and Dijakovic to wear each other down so he could pick them off. While it was relatively formulaic, that worked well for the match type as it allowed the simple storytelling to highlight how balls-to-the-goddamn-wall good all three men are. Lee is one of the most pure babyfaces big men I’ve ever seen, Dijakovic slotted neatly into a tweener role simply by not being as much of a jackass as Strong and because he can do a lot of cool shit, Strong is really in his element playing a douche. Though anyone who watched him in PWG already knew this.

Now I could keep telling you about all the good stuff in this match but really, we all want to talk about what happened after the match, right? Ok, so after Lee and Dijakvoic hit some sick tag team shit on Strong, they brawled back into the ring and Lee hit a super spirit bomb on Dijakovic only for Strong to slide in with a Sick Kick for the pin. This was really good, go out of your way to watch this especially for what happened next. Post-match: The Undisputed Era beat down on Lee till Ciampa made the save. He was backed up by Johnny Gargano and Finn Balor until Finn hit a Pele kick on Gargano, while the era swarmed on Ciampa, Balor John Woo dropkicked Gargano through a barrier and some people before Bloody Sunday lifting DDTing him on the ramp. Man, this was wild. I genuinely loved how smoothly everything moved here with everyone playing their parts perfectly, even the way the camera focussed on Balor’s quick-quick-slow movements while keeping the Era’s pack mentality in the background was stunning. I am fascinated to see where this goes from here and this was just the jolt of energy the main-event scene in NXT needed.

Winner: Roderick Strong

 

This was a good and easy watch with everything at least watchable, though, until the main event, there was nothing unmissable, outside of Breezango’s entrance. Still another strong week in terms of character work that was perhaps a little undone by being too stuffed full of short matches that didn’t really have any unexpected finishes as all the faces were set-up to contend for championships held by heel champs and vice versa. Still, another entertaining watch, just predominantly, not an essential one.

Next Week:

  • Cameron Grimes vs Tyler Bate
  • WWE Women’s Tag-Team Championship: Kabuki Warriors (c) vs Team Fly Kicks
  • Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae

All pics courtesy of WWE