NXT Cruiserweight Champion Lio Rush def. Angel Garza
You had to know these guys were going to rip it up (especially in the opener) and they did not disappoint. I don't think it's a stretch to say that this was one of the best Cruiserweight title matches I've seen at least in the last year. They kicked out of each other's finisher (which isn't always necessary but it worked here), went all out, and had the crowd hanging on their every move. I'd argue Garza didn't do enough to turn the fans in attendance against him, but that might have been by design based off how Rush apparently took Garza's foot off the bottom rope at the last second (though I may have been seeing things). I'd be fully in favor of a match at TakeOver: WarGames III to help fill out the card.
Xia Li def. Aliyah
Aliyah has never done anything for me and I honestly don't see her making it much farther than this, but at least she held her own here. That said, Li was clearly the star, as they appear to have big plans for her in NXT's women's division. They tried with the two minutes they had, but it wasn't too good. It felt like it ended a bit abruptly, possibly because Aliyah was legitimately injured.
Finn Balor Addressed the NXT Roster
It's crazy how much more comfortable Balor is on the mic now that he's a heel. I guess anyone who's been following him since his days in New Japan Pro-Wrestling days would have already known that, but it's been a breath of fresh air for those of us who have only been watching him since he signed with WWE five years ago. He transitioned from talking about Johnny Gargano to Matt Riddle, so it was no surprise that a match pitting them against each other was made official for TakeOver later in the night. Roderick Strong and Keith Lee also cut better promos than we're used to hearing from them, which set up the subsequent matchup between them.
Keith Lee def. NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong (Non-Title)
This has the potential to be an awesome feud over the NXT North American Championship at some point. Both of these guys are tremendous talents and put forth an incredible effort here. They were given a ton of time, but it didn't feel like it at all as they managed to keep things exciting throughout. Expect this to be revisited after TakeOver. It may be too soon for Strong to be dropping the strap, but Lee would be a fantastic fit as North American champ.
Isiah "Swerve" Scott def. Bronson Reed
It's apparent officials are high on Scott, who has had stellar showings every time he's been in action on NXT TV over the past month. That said, fans shouldn't be sleeping on Reed, either. He really impressed me with his performance versus Shane Thorne a few weeks ago and he killed it once again here. These two had a fun dynamic together and had an enjoyable affair. Reed doesn't lose much in defeat while Scott continues to build momentum.
Pete Dunne vs. Killian Dain Went to a No Contest
Dunne and Dain have been teasing a match for a while now, so this was inevitable. However, it never got the chance to get started due to Damian Priest (who Dain attacked last week in addition to Dunne) ambushing Dain before the bell. That led to all three guys going at it, seemingly setting the stage for a Triple Threat at TakeOver. That could be an excellent addition to what is shaping up to be a hell of a card.
Io Shirai def. Mia Yim in a WarGames Advantage Ladder Match
I'm somewhat shocked NXT didn't make a bigger deal over this considering I believe it marked the first-ever women's match on WWE programming (not counting women's Money in the Bank Ladder matches and OVW from years ago), especially since it ended up being as exceptional as it was. Yim put her body through absolute hell (that finish looked brutal!) and Shirai was smart with everything she did. The interference was perfectly executed with NXT UK Women's Champion Kay Lee Ray helping Shirai win and joining Team Baszler in the process. Although Kai attempted to aid Yim to victory here, I still sense there's a chance we may see her go heel at some point for being left off Team Ripley. Bayley laying out Shayna Baszler to close out the episode was just the cherry on top.
Since moving to USA Network two months ago, NXT has proven to produce strong shows every single week with this episode being no exception. The wrestling was wonderful as always, we got unexpected appearances from Ray and Bayley, the NXT Cruiserweight title was successfully defended, the build for TakeOver was well done, and a new match (Balor vs. Riddle) was added to the event lineup. Next week is the go-home show before TakeOver, so obviously, the card will be completed then. My only nitpick of these shows is that they need more promos (aside from just the top talent), but otherwise, NXT continues to be an absolute blast to tune into.
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