Finn Balor def. Trent Seven
When Balor attempted to ambush Johnny Gargano backstage at Worlds Collide, Moustache Mountain made the save, leading to this match. Balor's newfound aggression has been a breath of fresh air as far as his matches go and Seven was his usual excellent self. It was a very hard-hitting affair and Balor went over he should have. The outcome was never in doubt, but I enjoyed this for what it was.
Shotzi Blackheart def. Deonna Purrazzo
Blackheart eliminated Purrazzo from the Battle Royal two weeks ago and Purrazzo vowed revenge by attacking her backstage following last week's episode. Blackheart has a ton of potential and has boatloads of charisma, but she's a work in progress in the ring. Purrazzo is the better wrestler of the two, but she doesn't stand out nearly as much. This was a decent match that gave Blackheart a nice momentum-boosting victory.
NXT North American Champion Keith Lee Addressed the Audience; Dominik Dijakovic def. Damian Priest
Lee just radiates super stardom every time he makes his entrance. He's had a hell of a past week between winning the NXT North American Championship, facing off with Brock Lesnar in the Royal Rumble and now receiving this reaction from the Full Sail University faithful. He basically said he'll take on all comers before being interrupted by Priest and Dijakovic, who both own singles victories over Lee (which I'm surprised they didn't reference). Priest and Dijakovic had a really fun match that played to their strengths and featured a ton of jaw-dropping spots. It looks like Dijakovic may be next in line for a shot at Lee's title, which is fine by me.
Tommaso Ciampa Attacked NXT Champion Adam Cole
Ciampa and Cole have been feuding over the NXT Championship since Ciampa returned to action four months ago and it was clear NXT was holding off on having them clash for the title until the time was right. Well, TakeOver: Portland is as good of a time as any for the match to happen. Ciampa and Cole did a great job of heating their rivalry back up with this angle. Ciampa in particular looked like a total badass putting Cole through a table and subsequently signing the contract for their match at TakeOver: Portland with his own blood. For some reason, it didn't seem as corny as when The Fiend did it on SmackDown last week.
Tegan Nox def. Dakota Kai
I realize this was designed to be less of a match and more of an angle, but I wasn't a fan of how they went through with it instead of saving it for TakeOver. They brawled all around ringside and really brought the fight to each other, which I appreciated, but I could have done without Nox straight up pinning Kai. I'm well aware that she used the knee brace to beat Kai and Candice LeRae's interference made sense, but I think a non-finish would have worked better in this case.
Kayden Carter def. Chelsea Green
I mentioned the amazing week Lee's had, yet Green's week has been the complete opposite. Did her Royal Rumble appearance really mean anything when she lasted all of 10 seconds? Worse yet, she lost her debut match to someone who had never won on NXT TV before. The match was well wrestled for the most part, but Green didn't have the most impressive showing. We'll see where this goes, but Green isn't off to the strongest start in NXT.
The BroserWeights def. Grizzled Young Veterans to Win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
I wouldn't have had a problem with this happening at TakeOver, and in fact, I would have preferred it because of how outstanding it was. However, I understand Riddle and Dunne are being set up for a shot at the NXT Tag Team Championship in Portland. At least we got an above-average NXT TV main event out of it where it was all action from bell to bell and both teams had phenomenal performances. Grizzled Young Veterans have scored a few upsets throughout this tournament and it wouldn't have been a stretch for them to win the whole thing, so there was definitely some unpredictability surrounding the outcome. Riddle and Dunne have become such a stellar tandem in the span of a few weeks and it's been the best thing for both of them. Here's hoping they walk out of TakeOver as the new tag champs.
As enjoyable of an episode as this was on the whole, there were more questionable booking decisions than usual, specifically with the women. Green losing her debut match was odd and Nox vs. Kai felt rushed. Plus, we didn't hear from Rhea Ripley or Bianca Belair at all despite their newsworthy weekends. On the bright side, the main event was exceptional, Ciampa vs. Cole for the NXT Championship was confirmed for TakeOver, and there were two quality matches with Balor and Seven as well as with Seven and Priest. It's crazy to think TakeOver is right around the corner already given we just had Royal Rumble weekend, but I'm looking forward to it, nonetheless.
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