The band Poppy opened the show with a live performance of the song “I Disagree” from their new album. It was odd to start with a cold open and no introduction to the band. Highlights from recent NXT episodes played behind the band while Poppy played. Poppy went straight into their song “Scary Mask” while Io Shirai entered. Her entrance with the lead singer of Poppy was fun. Shirai’s been over pretty big with the NXT crowd.
Io Shirai’s opponent tonight, Candice LeRae, entered soon after the music stopped. LeRae’s music is interesting. If you listen to the guitar riff, it sounds almost exactly like her husband’s. Honestly, I think Gargano’s music hits a little harder. Rebel Heart Forever.
Candice LeRae vs Io Shirai
This match wasn’t short on action. Within the first minute of, both women were outside the ring, trading off suicide dives. The crowd got into this match early too. Candice LeRae showed some color early, with a pretty nasty nose-bleed.
The contest went PiP during the commercial break. Shirai was dominating throughout the ads. However; as soon as the ads ended, so did Shirai’s dominating offense.
Candice LeRae grabbed some offensive momentum before the finale of this contest. Shirai went for a chair to end the match quickly, but the ref intervened. LeRae performed a nice suspended side suplex on Shirai while she was distracted with the ref. LeRae went to finish Shirai off, laying her on the rogue chair. She attempted her springboard moonsault, but Shirai rolled away in time. LeRae landed on the chair, and Shirai got the pin.
Winner: Io Shirai
After the match, Shirai was beating up on LeRae when she was interrupted by a sprinting Rhea Ripley. Ripley got a few slaps in on Shirai, but Shirai avoided taking any major damage.
Finn Balor had a video promotion before his entrance to the ring. It showed “backstage” interviews with him explaining why he has turned heel. It also showed replays of his brutal dropkick and brainbuster to Gargano last week.
Finn entered the ring to his usual entrance music, “Catch Your Breath”, but the lights were different this time. Instead of the lights shining outwards during his musical and physical queue, the lights instead went black and only centered around him. It looked pretty cool.
Finn’s in-ring promo was fantastic. My favorite line he gave out was, “I don’t watch this business, this business watches me!” Finn is calling out for Johnny Gargano. Gargano was hospitalized by Finn last week. This is a fantasy match up for in ring wrestling fans. These two are beyond talented and can perform so quickly and devastating. I’m curious if Finn will use his demon persona early or often. NXT continues to show glimpses of it in all of Balor’s promotions.
After Finn exited, we saw a promo for the Kabuki Warriors. It was honestly better than any promo I had ever seen on either Raw or Smackdown. It featured a song by the band called Babymetal. They rock.
Shane Thorne vs Bronson Reed
Shane Thorne hasn’t seen too much action since I’ve been following NXT, so here’s my opinion of his look. Everything about this guy (his hair, trunks, country of origin, etc.) screams “shark gimmick”, but he wears a brown kneepad and a leather/fur collared vest. It just seems like a missed opportunity. Bronson Reed is also from Australia, if you did not know.
Bronson Reed appears to have an official intro with NXT now. Reed and Thorne have clashed in NXT before. Thorne was the victor. Both have impressed over the last few weeks.
This match lasted less than 5 minutes. There was a “Ric Flair-chop off” that lasted nearly a full minute. Both competitors looked strong, but this match was moving at breakneck speed. Ultimately, Reed countered a top rope suplex attempt by Thorne. Reed then landed a frog splash off the top rope. It was fun, but I guess these guys don’t get paid by the hour.
Winner: Bronson Reed
Women’s Tag Team Championship: Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai vs Kabuki Warriors
Before the match started, Asuka and Kairi Sane were greeted to a “Welcome Back” chant from Full Sail Arena. Sane and Asuka each had amazing singles matches during their NXT tenures. If you ever forget what they’re capable of, go back and watch some of their NXT highlights.
The match itself went nearly 30 minutes with 2 separate commercial breaks. If I were to separate the match into 3 parts based on those commercial breaks, the 1st and 3rd part were fantastic. The 2nd part was paced oddly. Sane and Asuka wrestled like they were stalling, and it makes me curious if there was a queue missed.
The finale of the match was incredible. Nox finally gained some offensive momentum, and made it seem like her team had a chance to pull out a victory. But, like the Kabuki Warriors said before the match, there was “no chance” Nox and Kai would win. Asuka distracted Kai with the green mist, and Kairi Sane hit her “Insane Elbow” from the top rope. 1-2-3.
If the middle of this match didn’t have an odd pace, I would’ve enjoyed it more. It’s still great to see Asuka and Sane, but unfortunately, they’re not currently singles competitors.
Winner (AND STILL): Kabuki Warriors
After the match, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke attacked Tegan Nox. Before Baszler could break Nox’s arm, Rhea Ripley interrupted. Io Shirai, Candice LeRae, and Bianca Belair soon followed. Pandemonium broke out, until William Regal quieted the storm. He came over the mic to make an easy solution for the mess, “War Games.” The first ever Women’s WarGames match. There’s so much talent on this roster, it should make an exciting Takeover.
Tyler Bate vs Cameron Grimes
These two are squaring away because Tyler Bate was celebrating with Matt Riddle ringside last week, and Cameron Grimes took offense to that. Grimes had a good match with Riddle, despite taking the loss.
It’s easy to see why Tyler Bate is getting over right now. He has a large list of moves and counters he can perform, while still doing a great job at selling for his opponent. Grimes and Bate had good chemistry throughout the match. Two of the more memorable combinations were Grimes’ backflip suplex counter and Bate’s executioner chair counter flip.
The finale of the match had Cameron Grimes hit his boot stomp finisher on a distracted Tyler Bate. Bate was distracted by Killian Dain, who rose from the crowd.
The match ended a bit more abrupt than I’d like, but leaves me wanting to see both Bate and Grimes fight again. Bate impressed, but Grimes continues to show more potential in the ring each week. He’s starting to hit his stride
Winner: Cameron Grimes
After the match, Killian Dain attacked Tyler Bate. Dain hit Bate with a cannonball against the steel steps and now wants to challenge Pete Dunne. The Bruiserweight vs the Beast of Belfast, that’s quite the alliteration.
Angel Garza had a video promotion. It centered around him and his family, the Garza Dynasty. The stars who were in the NXT Breakout Tournament have been featured up and down the card the last few weeks. The winner of that tournament was Jordan Myles, who we haven’t seen since his Championship match with Adam Cole.
NXT Tag Team Championship: Keith Lee & Matt Riddle vs The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)
There was no story leading into this main event match. Lee and Riddle were seemingly put together last minute. This looks more like a Raw main event, than an NXT main event.
Despite the lack of story, the action did not disappoint. Keith Lee and Matt Riddle were in control early and often on offense. Both Lee and Riddle showed their unique power and athleticism. It’s shocking to me that neither of these competitors have won a belt in NXT.
Both Riddle and Lee were so strong, so early in this match, that even from video game logic they should’ve easily walked away with the belts. However, wrestling continues to have a hard time booking a powerhouse babyface.
O’Reilly and Fish survived long enough in this contest for the rest of the Undisputed Era to show up. Riddle and Lee seemed to handle Cole and Strong with ease during their distraction, but Riddle found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Riddle was hit with the “Total Elimination” by O’Reilly and Fish in the center of the ring. The Undisputed Era retained.
The match moved quickly and was never dull on action. With the match ending because of a distraction by the other members of the Undisputed Era, Riddle and Lee could potentially get a rematch for the belt. Riddle and Lee are getting booked so strong. They’re going to start needing some victories together so they can get the gold around their waste.
Winners (AND STILL): Undisputed Era
After the match, the Undisputed Era continued to assault Lee and Riddle, until Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit. He came in to make the save for Lee and Riddle. He beat up on the UE with his crutch, until he was alone in the ring with Adam Cole. Cole ran away, leaving O’Reilly in the ring alone with Lee, Riddle and Ciampa. The three men cleared the ring and stood tall.
Ciampa told Goldie he would need to go to war before they were reunited.
The main event pairing makes more sense now. Lee and Riddle were there to join Ciampa in WarGames. If NXT wants to pair them together to start building a better tag division, they would do an excellent job. They looked great together, and could honestly be a dominant team. Despite the chemistry, I would still prefer Keith Lee and Matt Riddle to remain in singles competition.
We’re just under a month away from Takeover WarGames and we’re already starting to get teased with what’s to come. Rhea Ripley and Shayna Baszler have been made the captains for their teams for WarGames. The woman’s division is on fire right now. Shayna has been on a long, dominant title run, yet there are multiple women who could believably be wearing the NXT Women’s Championship belt too.
Who do you think will join Team Ciampa? Will it be Johnny Gargano, Velveteen Dream or a babyface Dijakovic? Do you see any title changes before Takeover? Comment below your thoughts. Or continue the discussion on Twitter.