As promised, tonight’s NXT was heavy with Raw and SmackDown Superstars as WWE loads up for Sunday’s tri-branded Survivor Series - and pulls out all the stops in their Wednesday Night War with AEW Dynamite.
That meant a lot of the same kinds of brawls we’ve been getting on Mondays and Fridays this month, which have worn a lot of us out - especially as we’ve been given no reason to be invested in The Battle For Brand Supremacy™. But NXT’s version of the t-shirt skirmishes were more entertaining to me.
Maybe it’s my affinity for the no-longer-developmental show, but I got jazzed for seeing Ricochet show up for a match with Matt Riddle here more than I have for anything since the Saudi travel snafu forced an invasion on Fox Nov. 1. The end of that segment was more inspired than the opening Becky Lynch non-finish, because Riddle actually got a win in the confusion, and because the run-ins served to sell both Sunday’s elimination tag & the Roderick Strong/Shinsuke Nakamura/AJ Styles bouts AND The King of Bros match against Finn Bálor on Saturday.
There was a second women’s melee after Becky Lynch & Rhea Ripley teamed up to fight off Shayna Baszler and I wanna say Mary and Jessica? in the opener. Not much was accomplished after Kay Lee Ray pinned Dakota Kai, but this tease of a showdown between joshi legends was worth it for me...
... and Nikki Cross got to stand tall, and anything that gives a spotlight to the former White Chocolate Cheesecake of Sports Entertainment is okay in my book.
Revival vs. Undisputed ERA lived up to the hype, and
War Viking Raiders vs. Forgotten Sons was a pretty good match that also tied into Erik & Ivar’s time from when they were still Hanson & Rowe.
Then we got a ladder match with a clean finish (Adam Cole’s win over Dominik Dijakovic to secure the entry advantage for the men’s WarGames match on Saturday was as clean as those things can be in ladder matches), and the expected end of show melee.
It started in tried and true fashion on the ramp, but got interesting when Drew McIntyre showed up to blast Dijakovic with a Claymore. After that it was a procession of big boys and big stars, with NXT’s MVP of the last month or so getting a couple big spotlight moments, first this Spirit Bomb on the former NXT champ...
And then a dive with Ivar which cleared the stage for the inaugural NXT champ to return to a mixed reaction...
And THAT set-up a great showdown with Tommaso Ciampa (who didn’t forget to f*** up his nemesis and TakeOver opponent Cole on his way to the ring). The only thing missing was AEW’s Tony Schiavone screaming “WE’RE OUT OF TIME!”
Which is funny, because as Schiavone’s presence reminds us, it’s TNT’s show that many think of as the successor to WCW. But with the big boys playing in Florida tonight, NXT gave me the Nitro vibes.
Will that, and the parade of Raw and SmackDown players they trotted out, win them the ratings battle with Dynamite for the first time?
TUNE IN TOMORROW TO FIND OUT!