Corey Taylor, lead singer of Slipknot, started the show with a voiceover during a video promo for NXT. Slipknot’s song “All Out Life” usually accompanies the NXT introduction. Mauro Ranallo then followed on the mic to remind us of the special “limited commercial” broadcast of tonight’s episode on USA. It wasn’t as “limited” as I was hoping. Ranallo was on commentary with Nigel McGuinness and Beth Phoenix as usual.
NXT Championship: Matt Riddle v. Adam Cole (c)
Matt Riddle’s music hit (BRROOO) and we’re about to have ourselves an NXT Championship match to open the show. During Riddle’s entrance there was a replay of his attack on Adam Cole last week. Ranallo reminded us that Cole was “cleared for action” as we saw shots of Riddle nearly ripping his arm off just a week ago.
Adam Cole entered next as he was ready to shock the system. What an entrance the Undisputed Era has produced. They all use the same entrance and music queues, but find a way to make it personally their own. Cole’s by far gets the biggest pop (boom!). After all, he is your NXT Champion.
Riddle had some big offense to start the match. He threw Cole around with some impressive suplexes, showing off his strength. Adam Cole and Matt Riddle are very over with the NXT crowd. Midway through, there was a clear “Undisputed/Let’s Go Bro!” chant. Cole’s offense started to get on track midway through the match as well. At one point he had countered a suplex into a backstabber that was so smooth, it could’ve easily ended the match.
“This is Awesome” was being chanted as the two competitors made their way to the finale of this fight. Riddle tried going for a submission ending, but couldn’t grapple Cole before he countered. Adam Cole hit the Last Shot and got the 1-2-3. Adam Cole (BAY BAY) retains his title.
NXT does a great job of not only showing the importance of their belts, but making sure we see concise victor. This match could’ve easily been put as the main event, given the quality, but this is what started the show. That’s quite the flex by Triple H to start the show with this quality of in-ring wrestling. Riddle and Cole both walk away looking tough too while still putting together something entertaining for the viewer. This is why people watch NXT.
Winner (AND STILL): Adam Cole (c)
Post match we hear Finn Balor’s music interrupt Cole’s celebration! “Welcome Back” is chanted by the NXT crowd as he stands in front of Adam Cole with the mic. Speaking as a huge fan of Balor, I’m happy to see him on a brand that will show off his talents more consistently. He’s great to watch in-ring and if his demon gets to run loose, look out for another long title reign. Balor: “Finn Balor is NXT!”
Candice LeRae and Shayna Baszler video promo aired next. They’ll have a match later on tonight.
Velveteen Dream had an opportunity on the mic next. He is usually smooth on the mic. Tonight something felt a bit off about his promo where he used a lot of repetition and the promo went on longer than his promos usually do. He wants his belt back. He’s challenging Roderick Strong for the North American Championship. It should be a good rematch (as long as the Undisputed Era is banned from ringside).
It was announced that Lio Rush will battle Drew Gulak next week on NXT for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Io Shirai v. Mia Yim
Io Shirai was scheduled to have a match against Mia Yim next. Shirai was the first to enter. Overall, I really like the new entrance and character for Io Shirai. She looks like a maniac similar to that of Nikki Cross when she was with Sanity.
Mia Yim was the first to attack and she got her offense in quick. Io Shirai’s offense didn’t get on track until the 1st commercial break. It was a picture in picture style commercial break as you could see the NXT broadcast in the corner, but the main volume and image were on the advertisement. I guess that’s what they meant by “limited commercials”
If you haven’t had a chance to see Io Shirai wrestle since her heel turn, it is an absolute sight to behold. She attacks like a vicious animal, and her strikes hit hard. It’s astonishing that people don’t get hurt taking hits that she gives. Both women in this particular match took some pretty big chops too.
Mia Yim took the match to a 2nd commercial break after she hit a suicide dive toward the entrance ramp. During the break, both women regained their conscience before both getting counted out of the ring. That’s a good use of the commercial break. That’s not exactly action we’re missing as fans.
The action came to a close after Io Shirai hit a moonsault off the top rope for the win. Both women looked pretty strong, but Shirai looks like she needs a belt.
Winner: Io Shirai
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are in the building.
The Street Profits and Bianca Belair (Montez Ford and Belair are married) are on their way in. The Profits have a shot at the tag titles they lost. We’ll see them later on in the evening.
Tegan Nox had a video promo. She’ll be back soon after suffering that rough knee injury a year ago at the Mae Young Classic in a match against Rhea Ripley.
Johnny Gargano v. Shane Thorne
“Rebel Heart” hits and Johnny Wrestling is ready to fight. He was up for a match against Shane Thorne. There’s not a soul alive who thought Thorne had a chance to win this fight, but leave it to Johnny Gargano to help make someone look good. That’s why he is loved in the locker room.
Thorne kept his ground throughout this match too, grappling well with Gargano and countering some of his offense by simply using his size and throwing Gargano around. Thorne also effectively fought like a heel throughout this match as well, helping Johnny get babyface momentum from the crowd.
Ultimately, Gargano’s in-ring expertise and move set toppled Shane Thorne. Gargano paid homage to his wife and Tommaso Ciampa to finish this match. He used a combination of LeRae’s finisher and DIY’s superkick to get the 3 count. Where’s Gargano going next? I could see Keith Lee or Dominik Dijakovic have a run at Gargano next. It would be a great size difference match to watch.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Speaking of Candice LeRae, her match for the women’s belt against Shayna Baszler was set.
NXT Women’s Championship: Candice LeRae v. Shayna Baszler (c)
LeRae was first on the attack, but as soon as her attack commenced, so did the commercials. For a match that had such a great finish, it was handcuffed by commercials throughout the body of it.
Shayna Baszler had control of most of the match following LeRae’s quick spurt. She was a dominating presence with both grappling and the ability to slam her opponent. Candice LeRae had some momentum towards the end of the match, but as soon as she went for her finisher, Shayna Baszler countered into the Kirifuda Clutch. LeRae showed a little spark, but was eventually taken down by the Queen of Spades.
Baszler has had an absolutely dominant run as NXT Women’s Champ. If anyone has a shot at her right now it could go to either Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai or better yet, bring back Asuka.
Winner (AND STILL): Shayna Baszler
Imperium promo followed the women’s match. Kushida will fight against Walter next week.
Pete Dunne v Danny Burch
Pete Dunne out next. He’s set for a match against Danny Burch. Burch’s tag partner, Oney Lorcan, had a great match against Lio Rush two weeks ago, and I would hope to see the same from Burch tonight. Dunne and Burch looked evenly matched to start, reversals on top of reversals before the first commercial breaks up the action.
This was, unfortunately, a match where a majority of the action happened during the commercial break. These two brutes were going to town on each other, but most of that action was lost on the smaller screen. Pete Dunne finished Burch off with the Bitter End shortly following the first commercial break. It looked like a quick slug-fest between the two, but didn’t transfer that way as the ad break ripped into the middle of the match.
Winner: Pete Dunne
Post match, Damien Priest attacked Dunne. I guess that’s what they’ve been saving Pete Dunne for. Dunne will make Priest look good in the ring, so let’s see how they’ll deliver that in the squared circle.
After the match between Dunne and Burch, Adam Cole was found in an interview. He was pumping up the Undisputed Era for their upcoming match against the Street Profits. The Undisputed Era wasn’t pleased with Balor’s return.
NXT Tag Team Championship: Street Profits v. Undisputed Era (c)
Rapper Wale helped the Street Profits with their entrance. They were set to fire the crowd up as the jumped through the crowd on their way to the ring. They always get the crowd hyped for matches, so it’s easy to see why they are fan favorites. Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) entered and were ready to defend their titles.
Another long commercial break interrupted the early action. These breaks came at very odd times all night. The viewer is missing a lot of the in-ring action (crowd reactions, wrestler interactions, announcers, etc.) only to hear ads instead. Did I mention it is frustrating to watch this way?
The Undisputed Era took control early in this match. Kyle O’Reilly showed off his mixed martial arts skills while Bobby Fish threw Montez Ford around like a sack of potatoes. Ford took a beating early on in this match.
The second commercial break returned to see Ford still getting his teeth kicked in by O’Reilly and Fish. At one point Ford went for the tag, but couldn’t reach Dawkins as Dawkins had his feet taken away from him by Bobby Fish. This was an early indication of just how much Fish and O’Reilly were going to try and get away with.
Ford eventually made a hot tag on Angelo Dawkins and he came in with the smoke. Dawkins had an impressive offensive combination, laying waste to the Undisputed Era, that was capped off by a fantastic spear on Bobby Fish.
O’Reilly quickly regained control and the Undisputed Era continued to fight like heels. They took advantage of some very liberal 5-counts by the ref and put in cheap shots whenever the ref wasn’t looking. At one point Roderick Strong even intervened and eventually, the Undisputed Era knocked off Ford to retain the titles.
Winner (AND STILL): Undisputed Era (c)
Post match, Roderick Strong and Adam Cole came to celebrate with Fish and O’Reilly, but Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit. Adam Cole looked visibly worried about Ciampa’s presence. Tommaso Ciampa had his eyes all over that NXT belt. Could a match between Cole, Finn and Ciampa be in the near future? That would be great.
Finn is back! Ciampa is back! We’ll see how “back” Ciampa is when it comes to in ring competition, but it sure seems like he is going to get another quick shot at the title as his previous injury might’ve left him on borrowed time. I’m excited to see Finn and Ciampa, and I personally look forward to seeing Finn in the ring once again. We haven’t seen Finn Balor since he was eaten alive by “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt at SummerSlam two months ago.
This episode had some very entertaining matches that were held captive to some extremely distracting and misplaced commercial breaks. It’s odd to complain about a commercial break on cable TV, but this was going to be something NXT would struggle with now that they don’t have the luxury of being on WWE Network with pre-taped episodes.
NXT continues to deliver great in ring action, now let’s see how their stories start to develop with some pretty big faces (like Ciampa and Balor) back in the mix.
I’ll leave you with this post-show video of The Street Profits and Johnny Gargano thanking the fans for their support.