Candice LeRae def. Mia Yim, Bianca Belair and Candice LeRae in an NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match
Kicking off the show with this Fatal 4-Way was a super smart move. NXT has one of the best women's divisions out there and each of these ladies got to shine at one point or another. This was all action and the crowd was hot for it from start to finish. I know the women from Raw and SmackDown Live are capable of contesting such an exciting outing, they just need the time and chance to do so. With the win, LeRae is set to face Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women's Championship in two weeks on NXT. That's a big hook for the episode going head-to-head with AEW on TNT that night. I assume Shirai will factor into the finish and screw her out of the title.
Cameron Grimes def. Sean Maluta
Putting Grimes on NXT's USA Network debut show seemed like a strange move to me, just because there are a handful of other stars I'd rather see showcased on such an important occasion before him. Nevertheless, he made the most of the opportunity and came across very well by beating Grimes in record time. I still say he has to ditch the dumb top hat, but other than that, this was a solid start for him on USA.
Roderick Strong def. Velveteen Dream to Win the NXT North American Championship
I loved that this was given as much as time as it was and how it had a big fight feel to it. Both guys are great, so it was hardly surprising that this was so entertaining. They worked a solid pace early on before building to a suspenseful final stretch. I could have done without all the interference from Undisputed Era down the stretch, but the result was what it needed to be with Strong becoming the new NXT North American Champion. Now every member of Undisputed Era holds gold.
Pete Dunne def. Arturo Ruas
Dunne wrestling on NXT's USA debut show (even though this portion aired on the WWE Network) is a testament to how highly they view him. He's an absolute star and it's awesome to see him get more exposure. Although this was basically a glorified squash match, Ruas scored a lot of offense before losing and looked good in defeat. This was a hard-hitting affair and featured strong showings from both men.
Xia Li def. Aliyah
Li has been a top prospect at the Performance Center for a while now and has impressed me whenever I've seen her wrestle, including in last year's Mae Young Classic and again in the 2019 women's Royal Rumble match. This didn't last long at all, but it was fine for what it was and gave Li a nice momentum-building victory. It was cool that NXT opted to feature their women's division not once but twice on this show, so hopefully that becomes the norm for the new two-hour format.
Kushida Interrupted Imperium
Well, that was a headline I never expected to write. Kushida was supposed to be in action against some dude named Denzel Dejournette, but Imperium attacked Dejournette before the bout could begin. WALTER (who was a pleasant surprise to see in Full Sail University) proceeded to cut the same promo he did last week on NXT UK before being interrupted by Kushida, who accused Imperium of taking his television time. Kushida took the fight to the faction and was the last man standing, seemingly signaling that he wants a match with WALTER. That's something I didn't know I wanted until now.
Lio Rush def. Oney Lorcan in a WWE Cruiserweight Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
Does this mean 205 Live is slowly going to be integrated into NXT? There have been rumors about that for a while, and honestly, I wouldn't be opposed to it, especially if this match was any indication. It was a ton of fun and exactly what we should be seeing from the Cruiserweights. Rush, who hasn't appeared on WWE programming since the night after WrestleMania 35 I believe, looked outstanding and put in his most memorable performance since signing with WWE two years ago. These two killed it and I'm looking forward to Rush vs. Drew Gulak for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain in a Street Fight Descended Into Chaos
I assumed this wasn't going to be a true blow-off to their feud when I realized it was going to start 15 minutes before the show was supposed to end. There was no way they were going to have this run short, so the non-finish was the right call. It looked like the entire NXT roster was out there creating chaos by brawling with each other. It was a wild way to close the show, even though it didn't really accomplish anything aside from keeping the Dain-Riddle rivalry alive. Obviously, you can't do this type of stuff every week, but when done sparingly, it can be effective like it was here.
I had high hopes for NXT's premiere episode on USA and it did not disappoint. They loaded this show with excellent matches, successful squashes, hype for upcoming episodes, surprise appearances and a notable title change. NXT TV was always enjoyable, but now it finally feels like can't-miss programming, which is what I'm sure they were going for with AEW on TNT airing opposite of them starting in two weeks. The two hours flew by, and if they can keep this format up going forward, NXT will somehow be even better than it was before (and that's saying something).
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