Here are our takeaways from the first live 2-hour episode of NXT:
Candice LeRae Earned A Shot At The NXT Women’s Championship
Io Shirai, Bianca Belair, Mia Yim, and Candice LeRae faced in a Fatal 4-Way match to determine the #1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship. The match started out with a brawl with Bianca Belair getting the better of the exchange. Belair connected with a Moonsault on Candice but Mia Yim broke up the cover.
Belair hit Yim with a Suplex and went for the cover but Io broke it up. Shirai hit a 619 on Yim and followed it up with a Springboard Dropkick on Belair for a near fall. Yim booted Io to the canvas and planted Belair with a Tornado DDT but LeRae broke up the cover.
LeRae beat Yim down in the corner and then planted Io with a Facebuster on the apron. Belair planted LeRae with a Fallaway Slam and turned around into a Suicide Dive from Mia Yim. Shirai climbed to the top rope and took out Yim and Belair with a Moonsault as NXT went to a commercial break.
When NXT returned, all four superstars crashed to the canvas with a Tower of Doom in the corner of the ring. LeRae planted Io with a German Suplex but was then slammed face-first into the turnbuckle by Belair. Yim connected with Code Blue on Belair but Io was able to break up the cover at the last second.
Belair leveled Io and Mia with a Spear and then planted LeRae with the KOD. Bianca went for the cover but Yim broke it up at two. Yim connected with Protect Ya Neck on Belair but Bianca rolled out of the ring before Mia could attempt a cover. Shirai hit Candice with Double Knees and made her way up to the top rope.
Yim hopped on the apron and shoved Io off the turnbuckle and Shirai went flying into Belair outside the ring. Yim lifted LeRae up in the Electric Chair but Candice countered into a Reverse Hurricanrana. Candice quickly followed it up with a Moonsault on Yim for the pinfall victory. Candice LeRae is the #1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.
After the match, NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir surrounded LeRae on the entrance ramp. Shayna raised the title in Candice’s face and the two started trash-talking with each other to conclude the segment. It was later announced that the match will take place on October 2nd live on the USA Network.
NXT made its debut on the USA Network with a hell of a match. If you haven’t watched NXT before tonight, one of the first things you will notice is that the commentary team actually calls the action in the ring instead of bickering with each other. Nigel McGuinness got in a subtle shot at AEW at the beginning of the broadcast by referring to NXT as “the true alternative”. Baszler has essentially run through the entire NXT women’s division, so LeRae has a tall task in front of her if she wants to capture the title.
Roderick Strong Captured The NXT North American Championship
Velveteen Dream defended his NXT North American Championship against Roderick Strong on this week’s episode of NXT. The match started off back and forth as dueling “Velveteen!” and “Undisputed!” chants broke out in the crowd. Dream Clotheslined Strong to the outside as NXT went to a break.
When NXT returned, Dream was still in control and knocked Strong out of the ring once again. Velveteen connected with a Double Axehandle off the top rope and rolled Roderick back in the ring. Strong shoved Dream off the apron and hit him with a Backbreaker on top of the steel barricade.
Roderick followed it up with a Dropkick and took a break to pose as the crowd booed him. Strong drove Dream into the ring apron and stomped on him a couple of times before the action returned to the ring. Roderick went for the cover but Dream powered out at one.
Stong applied a Sleeper Hold in the middle of the ring but Dream countered into a cover for a two count. Roderick hit Dream with a chop to the chest and the impact echoed throughout the Full Sail Arena. Strong connected with a Backbreaker and went for the cover but the NXT North American Champion kicked out at two.
Roderick hit another Backbreaker and went for the cover once again but Velveteen kicked out at the last moment. Strong booted Dream to the outside and followed him out there. Roderick missed with a Dropkick and Dream shoved him into the steel steps as NXT went to a commercial break.
Back from the break, the action was back in the ring and Strong was in control. Roderick perched Dream up on the top turnbuckle and went for a Superplex but Velveteen blocked it with a couple of shots to the ribs. Dream and Strong traded punches and Dream knocked Roderick to the canvas.
Dream connected with a Clothesline and followed it up with a Superkick for a near fall. Velveteen hit the DreamDT for another near fall as an “NXT!” chant broke out in the crowd. Dream climbed to the top rope but Strong rolled out of the ring. Roderick hit Dream with a knee to the face and tied him up in the ropes.
Strong hit Dream with several forearms to the face and followed it up with a Tiger Bomb for a near fall. Roderick applied the Boston Crab in the middle of the ring but Dream was able to battle through the pain and reached the bottom rope to break the hold. Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish made their way down to the ring as Dream and Strong traded punches.
Velveteen Dream hit a Back Body Drop but Strong battled back and shoved Velveteen into the official. Velveteen hit the Dream Valley Driver on Strong but got distracted by Cole and O’Reilly on the apron. Strong capitalized with the End of Heartache and went for the cover but somehow Dream kicked out at two. Velveteen hit the Dream Valley Driver and made his way to the top rope once but O’Reilly hopped on the apron.
Adam Cole hit Dream with a Superkick while the referee was distracted and Strong once again capitalized with the End of Heartache for the pinfall victory. Roderick Strong is the new NXT North American Champion.
Dream and Strong put on a great match tonight. I’m assuming that Velveteen Dream will get a rematch for the NXT North American Championship in the near future. One of the things I am going to miss about NXT on the WWE Network is not having commercial breaks during the matches.
Pete Dunne Tapped Out Arturo Ruas
Pete Dunne faced Arturo Ruas in the first match of the second hour of this week’s episode. The second hour aired on the WWE Network. Both superstars went for an Arm Breaker early but neither were able to lock it in.
Dunne leveled Ruas with a Clothesline and started bending back Arturo’s fingers. Dunne stomped on Ruas’ elbow and tried to do it again but Arturo dodged it. Ruas connected with a Dropkick and returned the favor by bending back Dunne’s fingers.
Pete Dunne battled back with a flurry of chops to the chest but Ruas knocked Dunne to the canvas with a kick to the knee. Dunne battled back with a Dragon Screw as the crowd chanted “Bruiserweight!”. Dunne connected with an Enziguri and followed it up with a German Suplex for a near fall.
Dunne hit the X-Plex and went for the cover but Ruas was able to kick out at two. Pete applied a Triangle submission in the middle of the ring but Ruas escaped and hit a German Suplex of his own for a near fall. Dunne hit an Enziguri and snapped back Ruas’ fingers and continued to bend them back for the submission victory.
Kushida Confronted Walter
Imperium (Fabian Aichner, Alexander Wolfe, and Marcel Barthel) surrounded Denzel Dejournette and beat him down as the crowd chanted “where is Walter?”.
UK Champion Walter made his way down to the ring and posed with the rest of Imperium. Walter grabbed a microphone and said “we are Imperium and to us this mat is scared. We are here to restore the honor and tradition of our sport”.
Kushida interrupted and said this was his time. Kushida hopped up on the apron and fought off Wolfe, Aichner, and Barthel. Walter attacked Kushida from behind but Kushida was able to escape. Kushida then booted Walter in the face before escaping out of the ring. The commentary hinted at a future match between Walter and Kushida at the end of the segment.
Lio Rush Is The #1 Contender For The Cruiserweight Title
Lio Rush battled Oney Lorcan tonight on NXT. The winner of the match will earn a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship. The crowd chanted “welcome back!” at Lio Rush before the match.
Once the bell rang, Oney Lorcan sprinted across the ring and leveled Lio with a Blockbuster for a two count. Rush knocked Lorcan to the outside and hit him with three Suicide Dives in a row.
Back in the ring, Rush hit a flurry of kicks and went for the cover but Oney kicked out at two. Lorcan battled back with a Dragon Screw and followed it up with a couple of chops in the corner of the ring.
Lorcan hit Rush with an uppercut that sent Lio tumbling to the outside. Oney brought Rush back into the ring and planted him with a Powerbomb for a near fall. Lio Rush hit a ridiculous Springboard Stunner out of nowhere for a two count. Lorcan planted Rush with another Powerbomb and locked in a submission hold but Lio escaped.
Oney tripped up Rush and locked in a Single-Legged Crab in the middle of the ring. Lorcan transitioned into an STF in the middle of the ring as a “fight Lio fight!” chant broke out. Rush battled through the pain and got his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold.
Rush slapped Oney in the face and Lorcan got pissed off. Lorcan unloaded a series of chops and then charged at Rush but Lio countered into a beautiful Spanish Fly. Rush climbed to the top rope and hit a Frog Splash for the pinfall victory. Lio Rush will face Drew Gulak for the Cruiserweight Championship.
I actually thought this match was better than the NXT North American Championship match earlier in the night. It was great to see Lio Rush back in the ring and showing off his immense talent instead of playing the role of a hype man for Lashley.
The Show Ended With A Massive Brawl
Riddle went for the Broton but Dain got his knees up. Killian grabbed a kendo stick from under the ring but Riddle took it from him and bashed him in the midsection. Riddle charged but Dain was ready and sent Matt flying over the barricade with a Back Body Drop.
Dain shouted “you want a Senton?” at Riddle and then promptly hit him with a Senton. Dain and Riddle battled through the crowd and to the backstage area. The Forgotten Sons trash-talked them as Dain launched Riddle into a production truck. They then battled next to Walter and Imperium and Riddle hit Dain with a knee to the face.
Imperium attacked Riddle before a massive brawl broke out with the entire NXT locker room. Dain and Riddle found each other within the brawl and started trading shots once again. The action returned to the ring and the entire locker room joined them at ringside while still throwing punches with each other.
Security rushed the ring but the NXT superstars beat them down. The brawl continued in the ring as the crowd chanted “NXT!”. Killian Dain took out a bunch of superstars with a Suicide Dive as NXT went off the air.
Overall, NXT had a very solid debut on the USA Network for the first hour and picked up right where they left off on the WWE Network for hour two. The only blemish during tonight’s show was the match between Xia Li and Aliyah. It was a botch-fest that did nothing positive for either superstar.
The women’s Fatal 4-Way, NXT North American Championship, and Rush versus Lorcan were all great matches. I was really looking forward to Dain versus Riddle and that a letdown. The brawl was fun but I still wanted to see an ending to the Street Fight. There will definitely be a much better match between those two superstars in the upcoming weeks.