NXT returned to us last night (Sept. 25) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.
The first main event, the one that appeared on USA so the one that NXT felt was the biggest one, was the street fight between Matt Riddle and Killian Dain for right to face Adam Cole for the NXT title next week.
Though you may not have known it was a street fight early on as the action was mainly contained to the ring for the first segment and a half outside a kendo stick used during the break (prompting a timely Pete Alonso reference from Mauro). But finally, chairs made their way into the match and then the fighters ventured into the crowd.
This is when the match really started to click. The in-ring stuff was fine, but this is a street fight. And with the animosity between these two men, it needed to be a real brawl for it to match the story they have been telling.
When the match made its way back into the ring for the finish, it maintained its street fight feel. Riddle had to survive the three Vader Bombs that was his undoing against Dain last time before kneeing a chair into the Beast of Belfast’s face and winning with a Fujiwara Armbar.
We immediately learned this match will be next week, setting up three title matches for the first show against AEW. And unfortunately, those three title matches have had minimal build. The tag title match is at least a rematch, but none of these have stories that seem to warrant a change, which means NXT’s counter programming moves are going to either end with zero of three belts changing hands or a sudden title change that wasn’t earned.
NXT has earned enough faith that I trust they have something strong planned, but they put themselves in somewhat a tough position.
The WWE Network main event was Imperium (minus WALTER) facing Kushida and his mystery partners, who turned out to be the Fashion Police!
It was a fun enough match with Breezango playing the face in peril until it broke down. A bit surprisingly, Imperium took the loss (surprising because they’re the established unit while Kushida hadn’t teamed with the Fashion Cops before).
The big angle at the end was WALTER coming out and booting Kushida in the face and Imperium pulling out their pose. And seriously, the Imperium entrance/music/pose is so badass. It’s extremely imposing.
This story will make its way to USA next week for the wider audience to see. When it does, will Kushida be going one on one against the UK Champion? It looks like that’s the plan.
Like predicted in our preview, the USA portion of the show opened with this match. And it makes perfect sense. They know these guys have worked together plenty and they have seen them deliver a baller match prior. So why not do it again for USA?
Once again, it was the larger than life fight that we got the first time. Big men doing big moves in the same, from displays of power to friggin’ moonsaults! (No, seriously, both men did a moonsault.)
Lee winning was a surprising choice. It feels like a course reversal given how much was made of the Limitless One’s losing skid prior to tonight. I was excited for the possibility of a heel turn because it felt like his character needed just a bit more in NXT. But let’s see where finally picking up a win takes him. Well, after the rubber match of course.
Dakota Kai made her return and her first task was defeating an ever improving Taynara. The Brazilian seemed to be at a standstill for awhile but lately, she has started to show improvement each time we see her. Clearly they think so too because they trusted her to perform on live TV - and the cable portion no less.
It was great to see Kai, and she looked good. But that finisher? It’s gotta go. It’s one of those moves may hurt but looks like crap. And in this business, it’s all about looking devastating. The name - GTK (Go To Kick) is also really bad. Her running helluva kick is a better finish.
All the Rest:
Rhea Ripley def. Kayden Carter: The former Lacey Lane is back on TV, giving Ripley a bit of a challenge before the larger Ripley reminded us all who’s boss. More Ripley on TV is always a good thing.
Brit-Am Brawlers def. Ever-Rise: Another showcase match, this time for Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. But the team of Ever Rise had a strong enough showing that this helped their stock as well. Of course, I guess just being on TV is a rise in stock because I had not heard of them prior to today.
Cameron Grimes def. Raul Mendoza: Props to Grimes for trying to win with his double stomp off the bat. But Mendoza was too smart for that and Cameron had to wrestle for more than 5 seconds this week. Mendoza remains a superb wrestler who makes everyone look better. And this was certainly a challenge for the technical savage. In fact, Grimes was struggling before he was able to deliver that stomp, a move they’re really working on building up.
This was an enjoyable episode, but not to the level of last week’s. Hopefully with their move to USA, they won’t stack the less important matches back to back to back like they did in the second hour tonight.
Get ready for a huge episode next week!
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