Preview by Joseph Currier
NXT will follow up on last week's beginning of a new era as tonight's live episode is again split across the USA Network and WWE Network.
A street fight between Matt Riddle and Killian Dain will headline the USA Network hour. The winner of the match will become the number one contender to Adam Cole's NXT Championship.
Riddle and Dain also faced off in a street fight last week, but the match ended without a finish due to a wild brawl breaking out.
Dominick Dijakovic and Keith Lee's rivalry will continue tonight. This will be their third match against each other in NXT. The first ended in a double countout, then Dijakovic won their second matchup.
After getting into a confrontation with WALTER and his Imperium stablemates last week, Kushida will find two partners to face Imperium in a six-man tag tonight. Dakota Kai will also return to the ring for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in December.
Starting next week, NXT will begin airing on USA Network for the full two hours.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The show opened with a music video recapping last week's episode. The video package included footage of Roderick Strong winning the NXT North American Championship. Cut to a shot of the live crowd at Full Sail, and Undisputed Era strolled onto an eagle's nest above the crowd. They posed before the announce team welcomed viewers to the show. Mauro, Beth and Nigel are all on the call again.
The episode kicks off with an anticapted return match.
Keith Lee defeated Dominick Dijakovic
Lee pinned Dijakovic after delivering a jackhammer. This was a hoss match. It started like the proverbial unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.
They each tried to take the other off their feet as they wrestled through a series of exchanges. Lee showed his agility with a leapfrog into a crossbody that finally took Dijakovic off his feet. Lee followed with a shoudler tackle pounce that sent Dijakovic over the top rope out to the floor.
The fight spilled onto the apron where Dijakovic chokeslammed Lee on the side of the ring. Lee was looking strong before a commerical break, and he was still going strong after the show returned from break. Dijakovic fought back to no avail, and then Lee wiped him out with a corkscrew pescado to the outside.
Back in the ring, Dijakovic caught Lee in a guillotine. Lee escaped and a slugfest soon developed. Lee then executed a moonsault off the middle rope for a near fall. That led into a parade of highspots. Dijakovic with an avalanche Candaian Destroyer off the top rope got a close two count.
Dijakovic followed the Destroyer with a moonsault press. Lee kicked out of a pinning attempt by deadlifting Dijakovic into a fireman's carry. Lee from there delivered a jackhammer for the pinfall.
For next week head up against AEW, they are promising "limited commercials" on NXT.
The capatain of Team Kick returned in the next segment. Bryan and Vinny are going to be so excited!
Dakota Kai defeated Taynara Conti
Kai pinned Conti upon hitting her GTK finisher in a short match.
Kai at the outset dropped Conti with a kick and immediately climbed the turnbuckles. Conti tripped Kai up and hit Kai with kicks of her own.
Just as Conti was really starting to get som heat on her, Kai suddenly made a comeback. Kai charged into a corner with a running kick, and then she delivered her new finisher for the pinfall. Kai used the GTK -- Go to Kick. It is basically a kick version of the GTS.
Matt Riddle defeated Killian Dane in a number one contender's street fight
Riddle submitted Dain with a Fujiwara armbar. Riddle in winning became the number one contender to the NXT Championship. He faces Adam Cole next week for the title. Cole would confront Riddle after the match, and he paid for it.
This feud has felt like watching the same brawl over and over again without a finish. I was beginning to feel like Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day. This was finally different in many ways than their other encounters, as they did an actual finish. It was a good brawl as well. There was a stunt at one point too.
They actually started in the ring this time. Dain tried to maul Riddle, and he fought of Dain with grappling counters. Riddle had Dain reeling when he ran around the ring and leapt off the ring steps for a flying forearm smash. During a commercial break, they brawled around ringside.
Riddle ran wild after a ripcord knee strike. He got a near fall, and later did a victory roll. Dain soon cut him off.
Riddle fought back with an Alabama Slam and a Floating Bro. They traded near falls before the fight spilled outside again. It felt like Groundhog Day again.
Dain flew trough the ropes with a tope suicida. Dain hit Riddle with chairshots. They fought around the building, and both of them crashed through a wood structure doing a stunt. They brawled through a commercial break, and fought their way back to the ring.
Chairs and kendo sticks also found their way into the ring. Dain sandwiched Riddle with a chair, and then he followed with several Vader bombs. Riddle still kicked out. Dain used the weapons, but Riddle suprised him with a chairshot to the back.
Riddle gave Dain a powerbomb, and he followed with a Van Daminator knee strike. Riddle used some weapons.
Riddle was hitting Dain with ground and pound, but Dain was able to get to his feet. So Riddle wacked him hard with a chairshot out of nowhere. They were slugging it out when Riddle caught Dain in a Fujiwara armbar, and Dain tapped out.
NXT Champion Adam Cole marched to the ring and confronted Riddle. Cole got in Riddle's face and insulted him. Riddle answered back by trapping him in a Fujiwara armbar. Cole's Undisputed Era stablemates ran down to run off Riddle.
Riddle still had the champion's number ahead of their upcoming title match next week.
The second hour on the WWE Network opened with Cole and his stablemates still in the ring looking disheveled.
Rhea Ripley defeated Kayden Carter
Ripley pinned Carter after a Riptide. Ripley looked very strong in winning, and Carter also got a moment to shine.
Carter was formerly known as Lacey Lane. She charged towards Ripley as the bell sounded. She would pay for that as Ripley started to pummel her. Ripley executed a delayed vertical suplex, and then she continued mauling Carter.
Carter made a comeback with a schoolgirl and an arsenal of lucha moves. Ripley cut her off to deliver a pumphandle Riptide for the pinfall.
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch defeated Chase Parker & Matt Martel
Lorcan scored the pinfall after a tandem implant DDT. Parker and Martel was calling themselves "Everrise", so they got that going for them.
They used an illegal dirty tactic for the heat spot. Lorcan & Burch were using tandem offense. The referee was distracted trying to get one of them out of the ring when Martel heeled with an attack behind the ref's back.
Burch eventually cleaned house after a hot tag. He flew into a missile dropkick. Lorcan & Burch let out primal roar, which apparently is meant to signal their finisher. They used a double team implant DDT to get the pinfall.
Chelsea Green & Deonna Purrazzo were shown in the crowd.
Cameron Grimes defeated Raul Mendoza
Grimes pinned Mendoza after leaping into a double stomp.
Grimes went for a quick finish as he attempted his double stomp at the outset. Mendoza dodged the stomp, and he took the early part of the match. Grimes soon cut him off and went to work. Grimes since debuting in NXT has really liked the armbar. He used it a lot here too.
Mendoza got a hope spot with a crucifix. Grimes went back to the arm. Mendoza made a comeback and rocked Grimes with a step-up enzuigiri. Mendoza followed with a second one, and then a missile dropkick. Grimes was climbing the turnbuckles when Mendoza caught him with an avalanche Frankensteiner.
After kick out from an O'Connor Roll, Grimes leapt into a double stomp that scored him the pinfall.
Kushida, Tyler Breeze & Fandango vs. Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner & Alexander Wolfe
Kushida pinned Barthel when he rolled him up with a bridging cradle.
Kushida started the match with Aichner, and Kushida was on a roll when a blind tag by the heels set up some heat. Imperium briefly worked over Kushida until Breeze tagged in the match.
Imperium used teamwork to dastardly gain an advantage. They got heat on Breeze as they worked him over.
When Breeze was close to tagging out, Imperium pulled his partners off the apron just as Breeze leaped over trying to tag. Eventually, Fandango got to run wild after a hot tag. He cleaned house on the heels. He did a Falcon Arrown, a tornado DDT and a tope con giro.
Kushida springboarded into a missile dropkick, and then he applied a cross-armbreaker that was broken up. The fight continued for a moment before they soon went home.
Barthel countered a handspring back elbow by Kushida, but Kushida used a counter of his own to score the pinfall. Kushida rolled up Barthel with an O'Connor Roll and bridging cradle for the win.
Kushida was celebrating on the stage when Walter jumped him for a sneak attack. Walter left him laying, and Imperium posed over the fallen Kushida as the show closed.
Final Thoughts --
The show on both USA and WWE Network was all wrestling. There was little in the way of angles or gaga. The show had a frantic pace. Maybe they think that's what the youngsters want to watch. Maybe the young people do, but maybe this NXT show is also like putting a ton of stuff in a ten pound sack. The action itself was usually good to great, but can the show sustain this pacing? If they can, more power to them. Just maybe give the audience a chance to breath from time to time. Otherwise, keep up the great work. The real fight begins next week head up against AEW.