The APG Federal Credit Union Arena in Bel Air, Maryland.
- Lince Dorado def. Wesley Blake
- Liv Morgan def. Aliyah
- Authors of Pain def. TM61
- No Way Jose def. Elias Samson
- Bobby Roode def. Cedric Alexander
- Asuka def. Peyton Royce to retain the Women’s championship
- Shinsuke Nakamura & Tye Dillinger def. Samoa Joe & Austin Aries
What caught our eye?
For a change of pace, this will be a more literal “what caught our eye”, since your boy and my man Kyle Decker were sitting roughly 20-30 feet away from the ring...
The venue - a Community College arena in Northeastern Maryland roughly equidistant from Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware - filled in late, but it was announced as a sellout and there were only a few empty seats visible. The crowd was fired up from the first time Mike Rome hopped in the ring - although the most over person at the jump might have been Matt Hardy, as “DELETE” chants were an early and frequent staple of the evening.
Others may have a different take, and I’ll probably get called a grumpy old man some more (I’m used to it), but for the four matches before intermission, NXT delivered a decent show - but not one that would have stayed with me past the parking lot.
- He gets eyerolls online, but Beautiful Blonde Blake knows how to work a live crowd. Despite there not being a lot of familiarity with Dorado, the former tag champ made it fun to root for the cruiserweight.
- They’ll likely be in developmental for a while, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Aliyah vs. Liv had good energy - and a spot I’ve honestly never seen before were they rolled around the ring like a katamari trying to pin one another - and the crowd responded, especially to Morgan.
- I was excited to see AoP come out, and technically the Aussies did everything I’d like to see a face tag team to engage the crowd, but our first tag match of the night was just kind of there. Akam & Rezar are impressive, and Nick Miller & Shane Thorne got a decent pop for clearing out the heels after taking the loss, but this did nothing to alleviate my concerns about TMDK’s WWE run.
- The Drifter made sure I wasn’t the most hated Pittsburgh native in the room - the heat was such that it was difficult to hear the song he wrote for Bel Air (set-up nicely by pretending he’d heard one kid through the sea of boos who wanted him to play). He’s never gonna be my cup of tea - especially after leading the room in doing the wave - but folks love No Way Jose. He is a big guy who can move, and that is a damn catchy theme song. But even then, folks were into the theatrics both men brought a lot more than the match, which featured Samson’s patented rest holds and Jose’s standard comeback.
- After a brief (too brief, in my opinion, considering how long the lines were for concessions, merchandise and restrooms) intermission, business picked ALL THE WAY UP THO. I’d heard good things about Alexander and Roode from Norfolk, and their outing here more than lived up to the hype. Cedric got a nice pop at the outset, but you sensed folks were waiting to sing “Glorious Domination” (the match card posters accurately presented the card, so we all knew what was coming).
We didn’t get the riser or any props, but Roode doesn’t need them. He’s got this smirking, egomaniac character down pat, and has even worked the #GloriousBomb nod into his entrance schtick.
Their match was everything you’d want from a house show bout. They both played to the crowd, including a great bit where Ced moved around the ring to chop Roode, then high-five a fan after each strike:
And this bit, assisted by the beautiful and talented Danilo Anfibio, who blocked Cedric from leaping on Roode because they’d just had trouble standing after beating the crap out of each, only for Alexander to leap over him to get to his opponent while the ref checked on Bobby:
Chants were about 50/50 “Let’s Go Cedric” / “Bobby Roode” midway through the match, but credit to both guys for getting things swung noticeably in the babyface’s favor by the climax. There were a ton of great nearfalls, and the end came when the Glorious One blocked a suplex by grabbing Anfibio, then low-blowed Ced when he complained to the official.
After his win, Roode cleared out, leaving us to have this moment with our new favorite wrestler:
This guy is your next big star, Haitch.
- The women’s title match was solid, and kind of reminded me the highlights of the pre-intermission bouts. Asuka’s got a great presence, and it’s undoubtedly a blast to chant about how she’d gonna kill her opponent, or get scared when she laughes off strikes and shouts in her native tongue. Royce plays a great heel, and most of her leg-based offense looks dangerous - but too many of her moves obviously didn’t connect. And in a match where everyone in the room already knows the outcome, that doesn’t help.
Oh, one more thing, props to the guys who started an “Aas-Kah” chant to the tune of Kurt Angle’s “Medal” while the champ had the ankle lock on Peyton.
- I’ve mocked the proliferation of Nakamura entrance videos from NXT house shows on Twitter, but no more. That $#!+ is electric, and is something you want to be in the building to experience.
All four guys in the main event were on point from the moment they stepped through the curtain. Aries hammy confidence was perfect with Joe’s “I can’t believe I have to deal with this crap” attitude. And as if you didn’t already want to cheer Dillinger, he sells feeling privledged to team with the champ really, really well.
The other great thing about the last match of the night was how they balanced the comedy with the story of Nak & Joe’s rivalry. Tye and Aries did a routine where A-Double wanted to do the old “Test of Strength”, but everytime he raised his hand to start it, Dillinger and the crowd would admonish him about only holding up “five” when Tye was a “ten” (sounds kind of corny but I, and the thousand or so folks in Bel Air with me, ate it up).
The championship rivalry was teased a couple of times, with the former champ both avoiding Shinsuke and using how badly he wanted to get his hands on Joe as a stratagem for his team.
In the end, the good guys worked around the heelish antics to send everyone home happy after a Dillinger superkick sent Joe to the outside and let Swagsuke finish Aries with KINSHAHSA!
I’m still disappointed a few names weren’t here (mostly the Revival, but also DIY, or Ember Moon, or Hideo Itami), but I have no regrets about the time or money I invested in making the show.
NXT remains in a transitional period, but they’re managing it well. One takeaway I had from the show was that while I understand the criticism of “wasting” Nakamura in Community College gyms - NXT very much needs him in this role right now. His star power is what takes an event like this from “fun” to “must see”.
But in Dillinger and Alexander (and maybe a couple years down the road, Morgan), they’re getting ready for life after Strong Style. And it’s still a blast watching them figure it out on the fly.
TV taping at Full Sail on Thursday, Oct. 13 - which should take us home for Toronto.
Thanks to DJLuongo on Instagram for our main page image!