Following Keith Lee’s decision to vacate the North American Championship, NXT continued its build towards Takeover: XXX and its multi-man, championship ladder match. Tonight’s big triple-threat pitted Finn Balor, Dexter Lumis and Timothy Thatcher together in an interesting main event, to say the least.
Regarding tonight’s undercard…it’s NXT. The yellow brand continually delivers a solid two hours to count on; highlights include Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong’s mat classic and Keith Lee’s response to Karrion Kross. WWE’s underground show is looking fly.
Io Shirai and Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai and Candice Lerae
The NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai makes the initial entrance before Dakota Kai attacks her from behind. Tegan Nox charges Kai as Candice Lerae joins the fray for an awkward kick off.
Nox and Lerae decelerate the action before their teammates tag in. The champion is hot with quick strikes and flurries as Kai delivers the same. The heel team works down Shirai until she catches Kai with a Flapjack. Shirai and Nox then attempt a double team but fail to deliver as Lerae throws the latter into the steps before commercial.
Nox and Lerae butt heads before tagging in their partners. Shirai displays her impressive athleticism and takes out Kai with a springboard dropkick. She follows with a German, looks for the Moonsault, but is stopped by her opponent. The champion regains control by hitting a double footstomp and Tiger Feint Kick on the now legal Lerae. She then hits a front dropkick and takes out Kai as Nox hits her Shiniest Wizard. Shirai gains the victory with a top-rope Moonsault. The match started shaky but quickly turned things around.
Winners: Io Shirai and Tegan Nox
Match Rating: 3/5
Adam Cole’s “Pat McAfee Show” incident is replayed on-screen. Triple H and Pat McAfee tease a future confrontation with Cole. The gig is up, brother; this answers last week’s hot question.
Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong
The two thoroughbreds rally through some impressive chain-wrestling sequences. As Mauro Ranallo puts it, “This is NXT, this is wrestling.” Gargano takes control with a side headlock and delivers a Hurricanrana. He reverses Strong’s attack outside and targets the arm before commercial.
Strong comes back with a backbreaker and strikes Gargano around the ring. He catches Gargano’s One Final Beat and delivers another backbreaker. Gargano then hits a Flatliner while continuing the assault on Strong’s left arm. They trade blows until Gargano hits the Superkick and throws his opponent around ringside. Gargano finally delivers the One Final Beat for the victory. If anybody forgot that Gargano and Strong could wrestle, this was a good reminder.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Match Rating: 4/5
Dakota Kai is interviewed backstage and says she’s done being a team player. But in comes Rhea Ripley — sporting her new bleach blonde hair — who stakes her claim against NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai.
After commercial, Timothy Thatcher calls out Finn Balor and Dexter Lumis, his opponents for tonight.
The Undisputed Era is shaken up backstage. Kyle O’Reilly aggressively tries to encourage his teammates.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Mercedes Martinez
Mercedes Martinez makes her Robert Stone Brand debut. She visually outclasses her weasley faction with her awesome Mortal Kombat-like appearance.
Martinez throws Blackheart over the top rope and plants her into the apron. Blackheart hits an Enziguri, corner dropkick, and Sunset Flip for a two-count. She follows with some strikes and a senton before getting caught with a Spinebuster. Martinez counters the Sliced Bread and hits a Release German from the top. She ends it with an Air Raid for the three-count. This should have been a dominating display for Martinez, but the pendulum perplexingly swung the other way.
Winner: Mercedes Martinez
Match Rating: 2/5
A debut vignette plays for a roughshod Englishman. A former rugby player and future NXT star from the looks of it, Rich Holland debuts next week.
NXT Champion Keith Lee enters the ring, serious as ever. He talks deeply and sternly, which surely Jim Cornette will appreciate after taking shots at Lee’s delivery. The champion calls out Karrion Kross: “You have clearly made it a point that you want my attention, that you want this championship. And you’ve done so much extra bullshit!” Lee lays out the championship and demands a face-to-face with Kross. But instead, Cameron Grimes interrupts — walking down the ramp with his infuriating, exaggerated Southern drawl. Lee hauls Grimes into the ring as Scarlett makes her entrance. Grimes attempts to attack the champion but is comically caught by Lee’s powerbomb. Kross appears on the titantron and officially demands an NXT Title match.
Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel) vs Ever-Rise
The NXT Tag Team Champions should consider this an off-day against Ever-Rise. Both Barthel and Aichner take arm-control on Matt Martel. The latter attempts a double team before Aicher catches Chase Parker. The champions deliver devastating combinations before hitting the European Bomb for the victory.
Match Rating: 2/5
Barthel takes the mic to gloat, but The Undisputed Era storms the ring. The faction destroys the champions while making a statement. It’s nice to see an aggressive “UE” once again.
A vignette for Bronson Reed displays his life-long passion for wrestling. He says that “The Thicc Boi dream comes true” at Takeover: XXX.
General Manager William Regal says opportunities are earned in NXT, vetoing Karrion Kross’s demand for NXT gold.
Isaiah Scott vs Jake Atlas
Scott and Atlas attempt to gain control with “good lucha things” across the ring. Atlas hits a dropkick and continues to strike his opponent before getting kicked with a boot before break.
Atlas delivers a Springboard Blockbuster for a two-count. He catches Scott with a pump kick before getting rolled up into a German. They hop to the top, and Atlas connects with an Avalanche Pumphandle. He misses his finisher and is met with a Superkick by Scott. The latter hits the JML Driver for the three-count. This was an impressive bout, albeit not must-see.
Winner: Isaiah Scott
Match Rating: 3/5
Damian Priest calls out Rich Holland and vows to win the North American Championship at Takeover.
Dexter Lumis vs Timothy Thatcher vs Finn Balor – North American Championship Series Match
Thatcher and Balor brawl as Lumis lifelessly watches on. He finally decides to attack, and he throws the two outside. Lumis attempts to recreate Ricochet’s unforgettable landing dive to the floor, except a questionable camera cut ruins it. He takes out Balor and Thatcher with a closeline and follows with a backdrop. Balor then targets the left ankle while Thatcher brings the strikes. The latter knocks Balor off the top as he attempts the Coup De Grace before break. At this point, the match is a cluster of unclashable styles.
Balor attempts a rollup before Thatcher pressures in with strikes. They trade blows until Lumis makes his comeback. Balor delivers the Pele Kick and everyone is down. He then hits a Slingblade on Lumis before Thatcher pulls his leg into the post. The latter continues the pressure on Balor’s leg as Lumis takes control with a Spinebuster. Lumis hits the Urange and is then caught by the Coup De Grace. But Thatcher catches a leg lock on Balor’s injured knee. Just as Balor ponders the tap, Lumis sinches an arm triangle on Thatcher, knocking him out for the victory. This really hurts Thatcher’s credibility as an unphasable technician and Balor’s gritty aura. But Lumis prevails, hopefully just a casualty of setting up Balor’s next feud with Thatcher.
Winner: Dexter Lumis
Match Rating: 3/5
Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL
Overall at step down from last week but still a solid show; it had its moments. It at least set up a good card for next week.