Angel Garza def. Lio Rush to Win the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
I absolutely loved the last match these two had against each other and this managed to be even better. I appreciated how they incorporated more aggression as a result of Garza targeting Rush's family in recent weeks and switched up their respective styles a bit to make it feel as personal as possible. They really went all out here, put forth an exceptional effort and had the crowd buying into all of the nearfalls down the stretch. Garza's title victory was well deserved and the right call. Rush's reign barely lasted two months, but Garza is the hot hand at the moment and is the better choice for champion.
Raul Mendoza def. Cameron Grimes
I like that Grimes' beatdown of Mendoza last week on the show wasn't forgotten about and how Mendoza sought revenge here. It ended up being less of a match and more of an angle considering it lasted all of a minute. Before Grimes could put Mendoza away, Kushida (who Grimes attacked at the Performance Center on Tuesday) distracted Grimes from ringside and allowed Mendoza to roll him up for the victory. Kushida and Grimes are on track to face off in a rematch sooner rather than later.
Travis Banks def. Jaxson Ryker
Well, this was random. Yes, I suppose it was designed to promote the upcoming NXT vs. NXT UK Worlds Collide show over Royal Rumble weekend, but that didn't make it feel any less strange. Ryker easily has the most potential of the three Forgotten Sons members, but even he needs work. He and Banks had a decent match and I wasn't expecting Banks to win. However, he didn't escape unscathed as he walked away with a nasty cut above his eye.
Dakota Kai def. Mia Yim
Kai revealed last week that she was the one who attacked Yim backstage at TakeOver: WarGames III (as we all expected), so I loved that Yim wasted no time in taking the fight to Kai here. They worked with excellent intensity and a consistent pace throughout. It would have been premature for Kai to lose this soon, so her winning was the right call. After all, Yim made up for it by proceeding to put Kai through a table and came across like a total badass in the process.
Breezango def. The Singh Brothers
When I think of talent I want back in NXT, The Singh Brothers are not who I have in mind. They've actually been dragging down 205 Live lately, so I have no desire to see them do the same to NXT. The black-and-gold brand could definitely use more tag teams (their division is rather depleted), but The Singh Brothers are not the answer. The match was whatever, but at least Breezango won.
Bianca Belair def. Kayden Carter
I was beginning to wonder what was next for girls like Belair and Io Shirai following their loss at WarGames, so at least Belair resurfaced in a short squash versus Carter. Carter scored some offense and had a decent showing, but it's clear there is plenty of room for improvement with her. It feels like Belair has done it all in NXT short of winning the NXT Women's Championship, so I'm genuinely curious what else she'll do going forward outside of wrestling the same three or four ladies.
Finn Balor def. Keith Lee and Tommaso ciampa in an NXT Championship No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match
When you put three of NXT's finest in the ring together, you are guaranteed to get a great match. This was all action and just a ton of fun from start to finish. The best part about it was its unpredictability considering any one of them could have realistically won. I'm honestly surprised Balor pinned Lee since Lee has been on a roll in recent weeks, but that also gives me hope that they'll revisit Lee vs. Adam Cole down the line. Balor vs. Cole has been built up nicely since Balor's return to NXT and makes sense from a storyline standpoint. There's no reason for Balor to win the title, of course, but maybe they'll go with a shock ending for the final live NXT of the year. I'm excited to find out.
Not to say it was bad, but this edition of NXT reminded me of the old one-hour NXT shows that were typically filled with squash matches and video packages. It just wasn't as hot on the whole as other episodes have been lately and felt like filler ahead of next week's loaded show. That said, it did feature a title change in an awesome opener as well as a wonderful main event, so I can't complain. The Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley vignettes also did a terrific job of getting me hyped for their NXT Women's Championship clash next week. Check that stuff out, but the rest is far from must-see.
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