This week’s WWE NXT episode started with a replay of last week’s highlights. Last week gave us an amazing show with three title matches and the return of both Finn Balor and Tommaso Ciampa. After the highlight footage aired, we heard Lio Rush’s music hit. NXT’s first match of the night was going to be for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Cruiserweight Championship: Lio Rush vs. Drew Gulak (c)
Lio Rush started this contest with some quick, strong offense. Gulak eventually recovered and slowed the pace with his grapple/submission style offense. The two men made their way to the top rope, where we saw Rush take a big bump. He was knocked off the rope into some “NXT Crew” that were there. This took us into our first commercial break. I know I whined about the commercials last week, but this first commercial break was almost comically bad. The first two commercials aired. During the third one, the match between Gulak and Rush continued, unannounced, with no sound in the top left-hand corner of the screen while the ad continued to play. I get that they need to do ads to make money, but I find it silly how they show the ads at times.
Back from the break is where we saw the two competitors start to win the crowd over. They put impressive combinations and counter combinations together that paid close attention to detail. Rush had two nearfalls that, if you paid close enough attention to, the body part that helped Rush kick out, was the only part not carefully covered by Gulak. Eventually Rush got on a roll that Gulak couldn’t keep up with. Rush hit the bottom rope springboard stunner, then followed with a monster frog splash from the top rope and Lio Rush is your new NXT Cruiserweight Champion. Gulak had held the belt for 108 days before this match. Cedric Alexander, Buddy Murphy and Neville were the only other former Cruiserweight Champs to have reigns longer than 100 days.
Winner AND NEW Cruiserweight Champion: Lio Rush
Post match, we had Gulak interrupt William Regal as he tried to put the belt on Rush. Gulak gave it back to Rush with begrudging respect. He wants a rematch.
Finn Balor got a video package and highlights of his Demon/NXT days. I am so excited to see Finn wrestle big matches again. They’re already showing the video of him as the Demon. I’m equally excited to see the different designs and makeup work they might do in the future too.
Tegan Nox is returning to in-ring action next week. It’s good to see she’s back and healthy. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Rhea Ripley’s music hit and she got a pretty good pop. She’s just an absolute monster. She is set to have a match against Aaliyah.
Rhea Ripley vs. Aaliyah
It didn’t take long before the crowd was chanting “Ripley’s Gonna Kill You!” at Aaliyah. Ripley absolutely tore Aaliyah apart. The finale of this match had Ripley swinging Aaliyah around while she was being held in a leg-lock. While holding her in the same leg-lock, Ripley then power slammed Aaliyah to the mat while Aaliyah tapped.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Post match, Ripley grabbed the mic to call out Shayna Baszler. She’s ready for the NXT Women’s belt. Give it to her.
A big press conference was announced for this Friday on the WWE Network. Triple H is going to address the situation live. Joining him will be Cain Velasquez, Braun Strowman, Tyson Fury and Brock Lesnar.
Reminder: Kushida against Walter will be tonight’s main event.
Breezango entered in a very odd, but fun construction themed intro. They’re getting some big love from the NXT crowd. Ever-Rise was set to go against Breezango, but after their music and intro started, Jackson Ryker dragged their unconscious bodies across the stage. Forgotten Sons music hit, and we soon realized they were going to be Breezango’s opponents.
Breezango vs Forgotten Sons
This match went by quicker than I had anticipated. Breeze was first in for Breezango. He wasn’t particularly effective in this match. He got knocked around to start and never truly recovered. When Fandango made his appearance into the match, the tides turned towards Breezango’s fortune. He put in some impressive offense before tagging Breeze back in. Eventually, Jackson Ryker intervened with the action. As soon as Fandango’s attention was turned towards Ryker, the tides shifted back towards the Forgotten Sons and they got the win.
Winner: Forgotten Sons
Keith Lee had a video promo after this tag match. Are you ready to bask in his glory?
We returned from a commercial break to have Boa mid-introduction. His opponent for the evening was going to be Cameron Grimes. The match barely happened. Grimes distracted the ref (with his hat, I guess?) and then hit Boa with his double stomp finisher. He got the quick victory. However, Grimes’ celebration was short-lived as Killian Dain rushed the ring. Grimes escaped untouched, but Boa was less fortunate. He took a pretty big beating from Dain. Dain launched Boa onto the announcer’s table and said “This is just the beginning,” to a confused announce table.
Damien Priest had a video promo following Dain’s chaos. Priest is going after Pete Dunne because he wants the attention. Dunne has a big name and Priest wants his own name to live forever. I’m not entirely certain how the logic behind that works, but they should have a good match together. Dunne is technically sound and creative in the ring. Pair that with Priest’s size and it should make for an interesting contest.
We started the top of the 2nd hour with Roderick Strong entering the ring. He’s excited to be wearing that new North American Championship belt. He’s set for action against Isaiah “Swerve” Scott.
Roderick Strong vs Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
These two men put on an impressive match together when you factor in the pace at which they were wrestling and how long the match was. They started quick, Swerve was getting in some solid offense before Strong would counter with some sort of back-breaker. This pace continued as the match headed into the PiP commercial break. It was hard to see, but the match continued with the same intensity and pace during the break as well.
Swerve Scott got on an impressive offensive roll as the Undisputed Era made their way toward ringside. The Undisputed Era didn’t interrupt even while Strong took some pretty big bumps and near-falls from Scott. The action made its way outside of the ring, and although it was subtle, the Undisputed Era eventually (effectively) distracted Swerve long enough for Strong to get the victory.
Winner: Roderick Strong
After the match, the Undisputed Era was celebrating in the ring while Adam Cole took the mic. They were quickly interrupted by Velveteen Dream. He got a quick “Velveteen” chant from the crowd. He had a great promo on the mic, calling for a rematch of the North American Championship. His promo was great, got Strong pissed off when he showed a photo-shopped picture of Strong with a tiny penis.
However, the Undisputed Era was not finished being owned. Ciampa interrupted the UE as well. He came in holding his crutch, and grabbed a chair at ringside as well. The entire Undisputed Era fled towards the stage. Ciampa grabbed the mic and said “Goldie, daddy’s home.” Big pop from the NXT crowd. It looks like the Undisputed Era has their hands full.
During the commercial break, Tommaso Ciampa was set to be interviewed. Angel Garcia was trying to grab the attention of the reporter, but then intervened to diss Ciampa in Spanish. Before Garcia could finish, Ciampa knocked him out. When asked if he knew what Garcia was saying, Ciampa said he had no idea.
Dakota Kai was set to go next. Her opponent, Bianca Belair. Belair has been booked pretty tough so far in the NXT, despite not having any belts to show for it.
Dakota Kai vs Bianca Belair
Kai was the first to get some offensive momentum going in this match. She got Belair with some nasty penalty kicks and dropkicks. Those penalty kicks looks like they hurt. Ouch. Belair finally countered when she started to use her size advantage. She’s adapted this new move in the ring corner, where it almost like a continuous spear. It looks ferocious and makes Belair look like an animal. This took us into a commercial break.
Back from the break and the tables had turned. Dakota Kai was completely in charge. Her innovative kicks are pretty fun to watch. Belair was selling them pretty well too. Kai had showed some heart, but couldn’t overcome Belair’s power. Bianca Belair got the pin, overcoming a solid comeback from Dakota Kai.
Winner: Bianca Belair
After the match, Belair got on the mic and called out Rhea Ripley. She told Ripley if she wants a shot at the title then she has to go through her. Ripley and Belair will probably have a match to see who gets a chance at the NXT Women’s belt soon. I like Belair, but I don’t see her beating Ripley in a 1 on 1.
Dominik Dijakovic had his own video promo. His match against Keith Lee will be the main event of next week’s NXT episode.
Pete Dunne had his rebuttal to Damien Priest. “How are you gonna shoot an arrow when you’ve got broken fingers?” That’s a pretty solid line. I like Dunne in that match, but the booking seems 50/50.
Main Event time. Kushida is the first to enter.
Kushida vs Walter
The action moved with a quick pace to start this match. Walter was first with the control on offense, showing his size differential early. The crowd had his back early too, but were generally rooting for whoever was getting the most offense in. It’s great they do these shows at Full Sail. The crowd makes each match feel so special with the amount of passion and volume they bring each week.
Kushida regained control briefly before the first commercial break. He was getting into Walter’s head as he wouldn’t allow Walter back into the ring, drop-kicking Walter as he would approach the ropes. As the break ended, Kushida’s offense stalled. He went for a top rope springboard jump, but his foot slipped. Walter hit him with the big boot and Kushida looked like he was out cold.
Walter landed some big chops on Kushida and was looking to finish Kushida off. He went for the powerbomb, but Kushida reversed it into a slick DDT. Kushida started to unload some unique offense on Walter, as both men made their way out of the ring with crowd chanting “N-X-T!”
Kushida and Walter’s match neared a conclusion as both fighters were within victory’s reach. Walter eventually hit Kushida with a massive powerbomb and close-lined Kushida with a punishing lariant. Kushida was done. Walter, the NXT UK Champion, was victorious. This was a great match. What I loved about this one, in particular, is that I think both competitors still have so many other tricks up their sleeve. I’d love to see a rematch between Walter and Kushida.
NXT continues to build the legitimacy of its brand. Each week they produce great matches, entertaining storylines, and unique characters. The quality of in ring talent is being valued heavily by this brand and the weekly show has produced highly entertaining matches. If they keep the consistent quality of their storytelling, they shouldn’t have any trouble sustaining success.
What matches are you looking forward to? Comment below or continue the discussion on twitter!