Preview by Joseph Currier
The "Wednesday Night War" begins tonight, and NXT will present a show with three title matches.
Adam Cole defending his NXT Championship against Matt Riddle will kick off tonight's episode. Shayna Baszler will defend her NXT Women's Championship against Candice LeRae, and The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) will challenge for Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish's NXT Tag Team titles. Rapper and pro wrestling fan Wale will be appearing with The Street Profits.
Johnny Gargano is set for his first match since NXT moved to airing live. He'll face Shane Thorne tonight.
WWE has also announced that Velveteen Dream will be appearing on the episode.
NXT is airing live on USA Network for its full tour hours starting tonight. The episode will have "limited commercial interruption" and is listed as having a 15-minute overrun. It's going head-to-head with the premiere of AEW Dynamite and will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The opening video package made this show feel special. Mauro Ranallo welcomed viewers to the show, and Matt Riddle entered the scene, The crowd adored him, bro. A title match is kicking off NXT on what may be a historic night in pro wrestling.
NXT Champion Adam Cole defeated Matt Riddle to retain his title
Cole pinned Riddle after an electric match. Cole was wearing a cast on his injured right hand. Finn Balor returned to NXT after the match to confront Cole.
Riddle shot in at the bell for a takedown, and he went for the Fujiwara armbar. Cole sought sanctuary in the rope, and then Riddle was throwing him around with gutwrench suplexes. Cole was sent outside where he baited Riddle into a kick. Cole then sent Riddle crashing into the steps.
Cole began working over Riddle, and he dashed some hope spots along the way. Cole grounded Riddle, until he got to his feet for a fiery comeback that led into a penalty kick for two. After another series of exchanges, Riddle nailed Cole with a knee strike and a fisherman's buster for another near fall. A deadlift German suplex also got a two count.
Countering a fireman's carry, Cole caught Riddle with a backstabber. Then came some great back-and-forth exchanges down the stretch.
They were trading strikes when Cole stomped on Riddle's bare feet. Riddle in turn struck Cole's injured hand. Cole answered back with a superkick. Riddle then hit Cole with a stiff knee. Cole staggered to deliver a kick, but Riddle folded him up with a German suplex. Cole countered with a ushigoroshi. Riddle kicked out, and the crowd drown them in "NXT" chants.
Cole kicked Riddle off the apron -- only for Riddle to counter a plancha with a knee strike. Riddle went for Floating Bro, but Cole got his knees up. Cole then executed a Panama Sunrise for a close near fall. "Holy s**t" chants broke out.
Riddle countered an attempt at a second Panama Sunrise. He then caught Cole with a Bro 2 Sleep, and powerbomb that followd with a knee strike. Riddle delivered a Floating Bro for a very close two count. The crowd was white hot at this point.
Riddle went for the Money Clip, but he instead ate some kicks to the face. Cole then executed a second Panama Sunrise, and wert for his finisher. Riddle countered the Last Shot, and trapped Cole in the Bro-mission. Cole was able to escape only to then get trapped in a Fujiwara armbar.
Cole managed to escape the armbar to hit Riddle with his cast. Cole then followed with the Last Shot for the pinfall. After the match came a surprise return.
Finn Balor surprised the audience as his theme song interrupted Cole's victroy celebration. He entered in street clothes, and he went to confront Cole in the ring. Balor announced he was now in NXT. That got a huge pop.
Velveteen Dream was wheeled out on his new couch. He was flanked by a large group of women. He got off his couch to cut a promo on Roderick Strong. He challenged Strong to a rematch for the NXT North American Championship. This was community theater.
Announced for next week on NXT is Lio Rush challenging Drew Gulak for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Io Shirai defeated Mia Yim
Shirai pinned Yim with a moonsault press. This may have been Yim's best singles match so far in NXT, and Shirai is so great. Her character is really starting to click.
Yim dominated at the outset, until Shirai turned the tide. The first commercial break came after the heat spot. Shirai controlled throughout the break as the commericals aired with an inset on the screen of the live action.
After a hope spot, Shirai targeted a knee. Yim fought back, but got lifted into a flapjack. Shirai then did a delayed handstand into a double knee drop.
Yim threw Shirai across the ring with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. They traded strikes before Shirai bumped and fed into a comeback by Yim. She got a near fall on Shirai.
Shirai delivered a 619, and then followed with a springboard missile dropkick for a two count. Yim countered to get a nearfall off a Code Red, and then Yim flew through the ropes with a tope suicida. They teased a countout during a commercial breaks.
After the commercials, they came back from break with a superplex. Yim kicked out, but she ate a kick. Shirai then did a moonsault press off the top rope for the pinfall.
The Outsiders -- Scott Hall and Kevin Nash -- were shown in the crowd.
A video package told the story of Tegan Nox and her road to recovery after suffering an injury.
Johnny Gargano defeated Shane Thorne
Gargano pinned Tjhorne after a superkick. This was fairly good, and Thorne displayed a mean streak as Gargano fought from underneath.
They had some rapid exchanges at the outset as they countered each other in quick fashion. Thorne rocked Gargano with strike, and then he styuck with a suplex. Thorne from there began working over Gargano through a commercial break.
Gargano started a comeback that built to a tope. Thorne blocked his first attempt, but Gargano fired back with a second successful try for the tope. A slinshot DDT got Gargano a near fall.
Thorne cut off Gargano to deliver a leg lariat. A sit-out powerbomb got a near fall for Thorne. Gargano fought back and delivered a reverse rana. Gargano then measured Thorne for a superkick, and Gargano covered him for the pinfall.
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler defeated Candice LeRae to retain her title
Baszler submitted LeRae to retain. Some of their best stuff came during a commercial break, which was odd. They went outside very early into the match. LeRae did a springboard crossbody before a commercial. LeRae was on fire as he springboarded back into the ring with stunner. During the commercial break, Baszler cut her off.
Baszler grounded LeRae, and she targeted her arm. LeRae countered into an octopus stretch.
Outside of the ring, Baszler sent LeRae into the ring steps. Baszler then Pillmanized LeRae's arm in the steps, and Baszler back in the ring went to work on the arm again.
Baszler tortured LeRae with joint locks. They fought on the apron where LeRae caught Baszler with a reverse STO on the apron. LeRae did a trifecta of topes to the outside.
Baszler slipped once on the ropes before she gave LeRae an avalanche gutwrench suplex. That led to a commercial break where they looked to have the best exchange so far. Too bad it was in an inset with commercials playing. Baszler dashed a hope spot for a near fall.
LeRae fought back, but Baszler dashed another hope spot. There was a double down, and they started trading strikes. Baszler hit a step-up knee strike for a two count.
Baszler began taunting and toying with LeRae. That only served to fire up LeRae. She started a comeback. Baszler went for her sleeper finish, but LeRae countered to apply her own sleeper. Baszler escaped to apply a hanging sleeper.
LeRae with Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for a close near fall. LeRae again countered an attempt at a sleeper. Baszler then a moment later countered a lionsault to apply the sleeper, and LeRae tapped out.
Stephanie McMahon, Mark Henry and Madusa were shown in the crowd.
The announcers did a hard sell for Hell in the Cell this Sunday. That show feels like such an afterthought this week. There was also some hype and a video package building Kushida vs. Walter next week on NXT.
At this point this show is getting long in the tooth.
Pete Dunne defeated Danny Burch
Dunne pinned Burch after a Bitter End. Mauro on commentary pushed this as British Strong Style. It was strong that is for sure.
The match began with technical grappling. They wrestled to a stalemate. The fight spilled out to the floor. Dunne dropped Burch on the apron with a release suplex.
Dunne targeted an arm during a commercial break, and Dunne stomped on it. Burch fired up on Dunne. They were trading strikes when they returned from the break.
Dunne exploded into a flurry that led into a Liger bomb for a two count. Burch moments later answered back with his own powerbomb, and then he hit a knee strike. Burch then delivered a draping DDT for two.
After a finger break spot, Dunne put away Burch with the Bitter End for a pinfall.
Damian Priest attacked Dunne after the match. The arena lights went out, and Priest like magic appeared in the ring for a sneak attack.
Cathy Kelly interviewed NXT Champion Adam Cole. The rest of Undisputed Era joinedCole and he gave them a quick pep talk.
NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) defeated The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) to retain their titles
O'Reilly pinned Ford to retain the titles. This was good in places, yet this was not their best match. The final moments were exciting, but the match was too long compared to the pacing of the other matches on the show. It plodded along in the middle, but got good by the end.
Wale rapped during the entrance of The Street Profits as they entered through the crowd.
This match started slower than the rest on the card. They two teams went back-and-worth through a commercial break. The Street Profits got to shine with tandem moves and flashy offense.
Ford fold himself cut off from his partner as the tide turned. Fish & O'Reilly got heat on Ford as they proverbially cut the ring in half. Ford continued to sell through a commercial break.
Fish was backdropped out of the ring, and Ford gave O'Reilly a uranage. Fish rushed over to pull Dawkins off the apron to block the hot tag. Fish & O'Reilly ganged up on Ford as they kept pummeling him.
Finally Ford made a hot tag to Dawkins, and he cleaned house on Unidsputed Era. He ran wild doing some cool spots into a spear. They traded strikes before Dawkins captured a leg and suplexed O'Reilly for a two count.
They soon cut off Dawkins, but Dawkins was able to escape their clutches. Fish was still able to injury Dawkins' knee. Dawkins crawled towards his corner. Ford was nowhere in sight.
O'Reilly flew off the top with a Bobby Eaton flying knee drop. He then applied a leglock on Dawkins. Everybody got involved in a creative spot to break the hold.
Fish missed a splash off the top, and Ford leapt into a five-star frog splasg on Fish. Ford a moment later sailed over the ropes with a tope con giro.
Roderick Strong ran in the interfere as he distracted Ford. Fish and O'Reilly with Total Elimination, and O'Reilly covered Ford for the pinfall.
Adam Cole came out to celebrate with his stable. He was alone on the stage when he was confronted by the returning Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa circled Cole and got in his face as the show closed.