Rhea Ripley def. Bianca Belair
These two wrestle very similar styles, so I was interested to see how well they'd work together. Sure enough, they had quality chemistry and ended up producing an excellent opener. Ripley and Belair have been booked to look dominant on NXT in recent months, so this was very evenly matched and had some suspenseful nearfalls down the stretch. I'm not usually in favor of interference in matches, but Io Shirai attempting to cost Ripley the victory (only for Candice LeRae to stop her) made sense with the story they're telling with these ladies.
Matt Riddle def. Cameron Grimes
Grimes has bored me to tears since he debuted in NXT. His matches are usually entertaining, but we know nothing about the guy, so it's been difficult to care about him. That said, this was by far the best bout he's had in NXT to date. He gained a lot from pushing Riddle to his limit and had a hell of a performance. Mauro Ranallo acknowledging the Goldberg-esque chants directed at Riddle was interesting, and Tyler Bate shoving Grimes at ringside afterward set the stage for them to square off next week.
Isiah "Swerve"Scott and Breezango def. The Forgotten Sons
Scott and Breezango made for a way better team than I would have ever anticipated. Granted, I'm a fan of both Breezango and Scott, but I had no idea they'd be as fun of a pairing as they were. Hell, I find Forgotten Sons to be incredibly dull yet even they fared well for themselves here, or at least Jaxon Ryker did. The other two don't bring much to the table. Scott has a ton of potential and appears to be gradually getting over with the fans at Full Sail University.
Angel Garza def. Gentleman Jack Gallagher
It was really cool to see Gallagher back on NXT. He was a huge fan favorite in front of the Full Sail audience years ago, so here's hoping he and the rest of the 205 Live roster will be appearing on NXT more regularly soon enough. This was a fun match and a nice preview of what I assume we'll be seeing from the Cruiserweights on NXT in the future. Garza vs. Lio Rush for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship could be an absolute banger.
Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai def. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir in a WWE Women's Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
It's about damn time the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship are defended on NXT. It was teased many months ago with the inaugural champions Sasha Banks and Bayley, but they lost the titles before it could happen. Nox and Kai, collectively known as Team Kick, are the perfect tandem to vie for the twin titles. They were a blast to watch here, even though the bout was rather brief. Then again, Duke and Shafir are still pretty green in the ring, so that was probably for the best.
NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong def. Keith Lee and Dominick Dijakovic in a Triple Threat Match; Undisputed Era and Finn Balor Attacked tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano
There was a lot to unpack here, but let's start with that tremendous three-way main event. Holy hell! Lee and Dijakovic haven't had any less than an awesome match in NXT so far, and throwing Strong into the mix only intensified matters that much more. This was spectacular stuff and I loved how Lee and Dijakovic beat the crap out of each other before Strong swooped in to steal the victory and retain his title. I figured the night would conclude with the predictable face-off between Undisputed Era and Ciampa, Gargano and Balor, but instead, Balor shocked us all when he blindsided Gargano with a pele kick. Heel Balor was always something that intrigued me, but I didn't think we get it so soon. Then again, that was why this worked so well, because no one saw it coming. It didn't seem like Balor joined Undisputed Era, but that could very well become the case at some point. Either way, this was an amazing ending to the show.
I wasn't fond of NXT's two-hour format last week because of how it felt like the squash matches populated most of the episode, but that thankfully wasn't an issue this week. The in-ring action wasn't as strong on the whole as AEW Dynamite, but everything served a purpose, seeds were planted for TakeOver: WarGames III, the main event was phenomenal, and Balor's heel turn is bound to get people talking. I was very satisfied when this show was over and was left looking forward to the direction most of these storylines appear to be headed in. The WWE Women's Tag Team Championship match and LeRae vs. Shirai on next week's show should be stellar.
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