Approaching a packed Sunday night was NXT’s go-home show for Battleground, headlined by the NXT Championship rematch between Carmelo Hayes and Bron Breakker. The finals for the NXT Women’s Championship tournament were decided tonight, alongside a lot of post-match assaults and pull-apart brawls… essentially every segment in retrospect.
Lyra Valkyria vs Cora Jade
Despite the four remaining competitors being generally weak verbalists, tonight’s opener follows a series of chroma-key promos. The action doesn’t excel either when Valkyria slips on the ropes early on, and the supposed grudge match ends quickly with her spinning heel kick. Jade attacks post-match with a kendo stick as referees attempt to separate the rivals, so fortunately the two can finish off stronger.
Winner: Lyra Valkyria
The referees, on their A-game tonight, stop Ilja Dragunov from enacting revenge on Dijak by trying to shut a garage door onto him.
Axiom vs Dabba-Kato
A tale-of-the-tape is presented beforehand, but the visual alone is concrete enough. Dabba-Kato impressively ragdolls Axiom around, and a two-hand chokeslam gives him the victory. “What is getting into everyone tonight?” asks commentary when Dabba-Kato continues the assault, but catapulting from the corner is Reggie – free from the Scrypts gimmick to save his former rival. Orlando shouts possibly the first “Reggie” chant in recorded history, but Axiom doesn’t trust him just yet.
Tony D’Angelo is questioned in the interrogation room, captured by security-cam footage. After multiple on-screen homicide attempts, this actually gives credibility and realism to one of NXT’s most generic gimmicks – that has evidently turned around for the better.
Speaking of turning, a promo package recaps the rivalry between Bron Breakker and NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes, who have thrived in their current positions. The rematch at Battleground needs to surpass their initial encounter, and probably will.
An abrasively green tint covers Gallus’ in-ring promo until the Creed Brothers’ blue cancels it out. The talented Creeds expose why they’re still in developmental on the microphone, but the teams eventually brawl with Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo evening the odds.
North American Champion Wes Lee is interviewed backstage as Tyler Bate appears to explain himself. Lee walks out, but Bate has “nothing but respect” for his former friend.
Eddy Thorpe vs Tyler Bate
Lee joins the commentary booth feeling like he’s been “played” by Bate, who battles in an even contest against a unique-styled Thorpe. Bate connects with a rebound lariat and Tyler Driver 97 for the pinfall victory, but Joe Gacy commits a post-match assault, and Lee inadvertently socks the victor. Gacy takes out both opponents with his handspring lariat, standing tall and looking great without the spooky hoopla.
Winner: Tyler Bate
Lyra Valkyria provides a medical update after an attack from Cora Jade, saying she’ll be okay for Battleground. She wants Roxanne Perez on Sunday, “the best in NXT.”
Noam Dar vs Nathan Frazer
Dar gets an exhibition before defending the Heritage Cup against Dragon Lee at Battleground, the first showing of the stipulation in the United States. “Good God, man!” aptly says Booker T when Frazer displays his amazing lighting speed before picture-in-picture, but Dar controls the pace thereafter. Both are incredibly smooth, and the back-and-forth continues until Lee appears as a distraction, and Frazer capitalizes with a Phoenix Splash for the upset victory.
Winner: Nathan Frazer
Ilja Dragunov is interviewed in the locker room, where Dijak storms in for a pull-apart brawl. They’re doing extra for a match that will unquestionably burn barns at Battleground regardless.
Looking like a superstar, a package for NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes recaps his media tour in his hometown of Boston. He was courtside for the Celtics game but clearly wasn’t a good luck charm.
Hank Walker vs Tank Ledger
Fledgling partners go one-on-one as a bonding experience of sorts, but Booker T doesn’t think it’s “productive” and also confuses Ledger’s college football career. The rookie hosses hold their own, and Walker pulls the longer stick, winning after a double crossbody. But with the absolute best spear in wrestling comes Bron Breakker to take out both competitors, standing tall as the supreme footballer in preparation for his match on Sunday.
Winner: Hank Walker
Diamond Mine and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo are working together against Gallus, but the Creed Brothers turn down his cornerman offer at Battleground. The Don will be hearing about this, as Lorenzo rings the phone.
Gigi Dolin “will do anything to end” Jacy Jayne, who appears from the stands where the Toxic Lounge would’ve been. They exude confidence in a back-and-forth, ultimately setting a weaponized steel cage match for next week to end a rivalry that has stretched quite some time.
A nice package explains the Heritage Cup rules and history, as the lineage continues stateside. A Twitter video shows Noam Dar begging Oro Mensah to corner him, which he declines, and Lash Legend and Miss Jackson rub salt in the wound.
Luca Crusifino vs Von Wagner
“The Legal Eagle” is complete with generic lawyer music and a promo outside an Orlando courthouse, wrestling in slacks and a tie. He actually gets considerable offense in on the main-roster free agent and takes Wagner’s baby picture away from Mr. Stone. “Look at this freak!” he says, but Wagner retaliates for a referee’s no-contest and powerbombs Crusifino atop the announce desk.
Tony D’Angelo is handcuffed in the interrogation room, but the story ends there. “That can’t be right!” says commentary, although D’Angelo has virtually killed three wrestlers on NXT television.
Tiffany Stratton vs Roxanne Perez
21-year-old Perez is the veteran in tonight’s main event, although rookie opponent Stratton is destined for the top. Her athleticism is on display and controls into picture-in-picture until Perez comes back with two outside dives and avoids the PME. Stratton powers through multiple near-falls and eventually connects with the finishing moonsault for the clean victory, advancing to Battleground as the inevitable new NXT Women’s Champion.
Winner: Tiffany Stratton
Capping tonight’s theme of chaos, the hooded masked female attacks Perez before Dijak and Ilja Dragunov continue their brawl. Dijak signs the contract, and Dragunov does too after chopping his rival over the barricade. The latter stands tall, violently clubbing Dijak from off the steps for a crazy go-home show to Battleground.
With a couple exceptions, the matches tonight were pretty solid and showcased some less prominent talents. I immediately criticized the overuse of brawls, pull-aparts, and post-match attacks (literally every segment), but it was fine leading up to Battleground.