For the first time since 2015, Charlotte Flair is returning to an NXT ring tonight.
Charlotte vs. Bianca Belair is set for tonight's NXT episode. The match was made official over the weekend after a challenge that was made by Belair last week.
Belair issued the challenge after Charlotte attacked Rhea Ripley and her following Ripley vs. Belair at NXT TakeOver: Portland. Charlotte will challenge Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship at WrestleMania 36.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Austin Theory is also set for NXT tonight. As Theory was set to have a match last week, he was interrupted by Ciampa. Ciampa cut a promo addressing Johnny Gargano and said that -- if he wants to get his life back -- there can be no Johnny Gargano in NXT. Theory then tried to grab Ciampa but was laid out by him and repeatedly thrown into the guardrails.
Plus, Dominik Dijakovic will take on Cameron Grimes and Finn Balor will make an appearance.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
A promo package made up of clips from NXT: TakeOver and last week’s TV.
Next we caught Charlotte Flair pulling up in an SUV where she was greeted by William Regal.
Cameron Grimes defeated Dominik Dijakovic
Steady, deliberate start to this one. Dijakovic tired grounding the smaller Grimes, who was eventually able to shift momentum in his direction with a high dropkick.
Dijakovic ragdoll’d Grimes out of the ring, tossing him through the middle ropes to the floor. Grimes recovered and landed a penalty kick to Dijakovic from the apron before the first commercial break. Grimes maintained his offense during the ads in the inset screen.
Dijakovic made his comeback upon return. He ripped a chop across Grimes' chest, then dumped him with a release vertical suplex. Grimes returned with a big German suplex for two. When he went for some kind of running attack, Dijakovic jumped onto the middle ropes and landed a moonsault onto Grimes on the floor.
When Dijakovic was getting back into the ring, Damien Priest ran down the aisle and hit Dijakovic in the back of the knee with a baton, Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan style. Dijakovic beat the ref's count and got back into the ring at the count of 9, but Grimes rushed at him and crushed him with an insane-looking jumping double stomp for the win. Good match.
Finn Balor came to the ring next. He said he's not an internet guy or a stooge, he's the guy. He mentioned he'd done most everything already, mentioning Japan, Mexico, and all of the WWE titles he'd won. He said it was Wrestlemania season and he wanted to know who was next to get the "Finn Rub," explaining that Matt Riddle, Johnny Gargano and Ilja Dragunov already got it. Suddenly, Imperium's theme music hit and Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner came out. They said that NXT belonged to der Ring General, Walter. Balor didn't five them time to say anything else and dove onto them. When Balor went for a running shotgun dropkick on the floor, Barthel took Balor out with a flying European uppercut off of the steel steps. The two Imperium members stood tall over Balor before heading to the back.
A quick vignette aired for a new NXT wrestler. It was a chaotic montage of tanks and clocks and washed colors. Not sure who it’s for.
Footage of Bianca Belair aired next. She sounded satisfied that Flair accepted her challenge from last week.
Xia Li defeated Mia Yim
Yim gave Li a hard handshake before the match. Li ran Yim into the opposite corner, throwing a series of spinning roundhouse kicks. Yim responded with a few facewash kicks in the corner. Later, Yim hit Eat Defeat, but Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez came to the ring. Kai had a mic and taunted Yim, distracting her from the match and allowing Li to roll Yim up with a schoolboy cradle for the win. Gonzalez took out both Li and Yim, laying a few extra shots into Yim before her and Kai exited. This is a new booking trend NXT’s been using of late, the outside-interuption-into-upset-victory finish.
A pre-tape of Velveteen Dream cutting a promo into a mirror aired after commercials. Dream said he wanted another match with Roderick Strong, but this time in a cage. I'm having a hard time following the logic in this Dream/Strong family angle. Wouldn't Strong be the one who wants the cage match?
Tomasso Ciampa defeated Austin Theory
The Full Sail crowd spent time booing Theory and cheering Ciampa in the early part of this, which Theory dominated most of. The announce team went all in on putting the 22-year-old Theory over like a phenom, though I don’t think that’s how the live crowd interpreted this.
Theory landed a nice dropkick on Ciampa, though Ciampa rallied back and later whipped Theory face-first into the ringpost on the floor before the show cut to another break.
Ciampa made a comeback just as the show returned. Theory returned with a few flashy moves, including something called Ataxia, a modified suplex-into-shoulderbreaker thing. He scored a two-count and a replay for that.
On the floor, Theory threw Ciampa into the barricades on the floor, just as Ciampa did to him last week. Back in the ring, Theory ate a running knee as he was climbing back through the ropes. After a draping DDT, Ciampa used Fairytale Ending to put Theory away.
Johnny Garganno attacked Ciampa immediately after the match. The two got into it until Theory tried peeling Ciampa away; Ciampa decked him with a punch and Theory did a cartoony bump to sell it. This allowed Gargano to nail Ciampa with a superkick. He then sat on the ring apron and taunted the crowd. Half the audience booed Gargano while the other half cheered him on.
Overall, this was fine. The last bit between Ciampa and Theory was good, and the Gargano angle is intriguing enough for now.
A backstage interview with the Undisputed Era aired next. Fish and O’Reilly went after the Broserweights in their promo, Strong at Velveteen Dream in his.
Killian Dain defeated Bronson Reed
These are two big boys. Lots of hard lariats and slam variations in this. At one point, Dain and Reed crashed stomach-first in the middle of the ring when they both went for a running cross-body blocked, which looked cool. Reed made a comeback after a few minutes of Dain beating on him, landing a diving DDT off the ropes. Later, Dain superplexed Reed into the ring, then landed two running sentons and a Vader Bomb out of the corner for the win. NXT might have one of the deepest benches of top-shelf hoss-dudes in the business right now.
A short Forgotten Sons video aired afterwards. They were ready to take out the Grizzled Young Veterans tonight, since they're "real" veterans. That's the story.
A Broserweights video package aired after more commercials.
Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) defeated The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake)
Zack Gibson, maybe one of the best heel promos going today, brought a mic with him to the ring and yelled about the Forgotten Sons sticking their noses in GYV's business. He also said "red, white and blue" was really just an acronym for rednecks, white trash and blue collar. Crowd began chanting "U-S-A!" after this.
The Forgotten Sons were in new gear, or relatively new, each decked out in a new white and gray color scheme. Between that and the crowd response, plus to how they were put over on commentary, it felt like the trio is being repositioned and slightly repackaged.
Back from break and we caught a replay of GYZ using some innovative offense on the outside of the ring, a backbreaker/pescado combo. Gibson worked Blake over until Steve Cutler was tagged. Cutler cleaned house and planted James Drake in one corner with a Buckle Bomb. When Blake missed a moonsault, GYV put him away with A Ticket to Mayhem for the win.
Backstage interview with Tegan Nox next. She explained how she'd end her feud with Dakota Kai next week in their cage match.
A backstage bit with Damian Priest aired after break. He had two women on each arm and explained that his attack on Dijakovic expressed to Keith Lee that he wants Lee's North American title. "Keith Lee knows what I want."
Charlotte Flair defeated Bianca Belair
This had a big-match feel. Charisma like Flair’s is something the NXT show needs right now. Early on in the match, a fan yelled something at Flair and she shouted something back, and while I couldn’t hear what she said, it sounded to have a ripple effect in the crowd. She caught lots of boos for it and ate them up. From here is when the audience shifted to a more pro-Bianca position. Belair leaned right into this and felt all the equal to Flair. She looked better than ever in this.
Flair controlled Belair on the mat during the break and we could watch it in the final hour’s inset screen. Seems like USA allows two per week.
Belair landed a pretty handspring moonsault onto Flair for two. The crowd here sounded about 60–40 in favor of “ the EST,” Belair.
Flair missed a moonsault but landed on her feet, then reversed Belair's moonsault-counter by grabbing Belair's legs and flipping her over into a Boston Crab. Looked very vool.
Belair exploded with a spear, but Flair then responded with a spear of her own to win the match at 10:05 EST. Hot finish to a good match. Flair went to attack Belair with a chair when NXT champion Rhea Rhipley appeared as the show cut to black.
Everything was good tonight, more or less, though nothing stood out. It was an easy watch with sound booking, and stronger than last week's episode.
Next week's main event will be Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox in a steel cage match.