Building to a pair of major pay-per-views in a single weekend is a tough task, but thanks to the greatness that is NXT, it seemed as if WWE navigated it quite well this week. After a solid three-hour edition of Raw on Monday, the company’s “third brand” delivered in a major way Wednesday night with NXT simultaneously getting enough momentum going towards NXT TakeOver: WarGames 3 while allowing the primary brands an opportunity to build anticipation for WWE Survivor Series.
What remains is the potential for one of the hottest two-day stretches for WWE in years this coming weekend. The company has one more go-home show opportunity Friday on SmackDown, but it is going to be exceedingly tough to match the quality programming we have received from Raw and NXT over the last three days. Wednesday’s show in particular included one of the best segments on WWE TV — NXT included — in quite some time. Yes, it received an “A+” grade below.
Here’s what went down Wednesday night on NXT. Don’t forget to listen to our complete WWE Survivor Series preview on the State of Combat with Brian Campbell podcast by streaming below or clicking here to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Rhea Ripley ends in a no contest in a non-title match: Lynch opened the show by hitting the ring to insult Bayley by tell her that she killed all the Bayley buddies that mattered … except Sasha Banks. She then called out Shayna Baszler, asking the NXT women’s champion what she was going to do about the Raw women’s champion being in the ring. Instead, Rhea Ripley’s music hit and she demanded to see if The Man “had any balls.” After back-and-forth action, Lynch caught RIpley in the Dis-Arm-Her, but Ripley used her strength to power out. Following a superplex by Ripley, the NXT Horsewomen charged the ring. Lynch and Ripley teamed up to clear house but there were no pleasantries exchanged. Hot start to the show — Lynch’s promo was particularly good — but another no contest is hard to be overly excited about despite some good action. Grade: B-
Matt Riddle def. Ricochet via pinfall: As Kona Reeves made his way to the ring, Ricochet attacked him from behind. Riddle made his scheduled entrance and the two agreed to fight. Riddle immediately caught an attempted standing shooting star press from Ricochet with a triangle. Once Ricochet escaped, Riddle hit him with the Broton and then an exploder suplex. Ricochet responded with a Northern Lights suplex and spinning neckbreaker followed by a connected standing shooting star. Riddle immediately answered with a Final Flash and release German suplex as the intensity reached a 10. Suddenly, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura ran in, but they were quickly dispatched off the ring apron. Riddle used this chaos as an entry to locking Ricochet up in a crucifix pinning combination for the 1-2-3.
Cesaro and Nakamura returned to brawl, but they were fought off. Ricochet hit a springboard splash over the barricade to take out Cesaro. Nakamura had a leg up on Riddle with a 360 hook kick, but Roderick Strong made the save on an attempted Kinshasa. Out of nowhere, Finn Balor ran in to attack Riddle, but just as he was piling on, a Final Flash from Riddle bounced Balor outside the ring. A fast-paced, chaotic match between two of the best in-ring performers WWE has rostered combined with an intense invasion and Balor’s first real ring action in months had me hooked from start to finish. What a segment! Grade: A+
Undisputed Era (c) def. The Revival via pinfall in a non-title match: Dash Wilder was singled out for the majority of the match, but after taking a huge beating, he hit Scott Dawson for the hot tag. Dawson hit a diving headbutt on Bobby Fish for a two count as the crowd chanted “tag team wrest-ling.” He followed with a brainbuster for another two count. The Revival nearly hit the #DIY finisher but were interrupted by an invading Kyle O’Reilly. A Dawson superplex was similarly thwarted by O’Reilly, though Wilder planted him on the ring apron to take him out. The Revival then hit a combination superplex and splash on Fish in a rare high-risk maneuver but only got a two count. Fish’s nose got busted open on an errant kick from Dawson, and after a slight pause, Revival countered Total Elimination with Shatter Machine, but O’Reilly pulled Dawson out of the ring to break up the pinning combination and threw him into the barricade. He then threw Wilder face-first into the post and nailed him with double knees into the ring bell. O’Reilly hit a flying knee to the small of Dawson’s back for a 2.5 count. A severely battered Dawson was stalked; by the time he got to his feet, he could only muster “kiss my ass” to Undisputed Era, which responded by hitting Total Elimination for the 1-2-3. Fantastic match with a bit of an anti-climactic finish considering the action, though it was quite old school in the story it told. Grade: A
Kay Lee Ray (c) def. Dakota Kai via pinfall in a non-title match: Kai appeared to take out Ray by throwing her into the steel steps and delivering a big boot. However, by the time they got back in the ring, Ray hit Kai with a superkick and Gory Bomb for the win. Those that do not watch NXT UK got a good look at the brand’s women’s champion, though the match was largely unspectacular. Grade: C+
Women invade and attack: Following the match, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville from SmackDown attacked the competitors in the ring. Soon, the entire NXT women’s roster — with the exception of the Horsewomen — evened things out only for Kairi Sane, Natalya and Sarah Logan from Raw to run in. As the Raw women looked to be dominating, SmackDown’s Nikki Cross came through with a garbage can lid and cleaned house. There was a brief, fun moment of a staredown between Sane and Io Shirai — now both heels — but it was short-lived.
Viking Raiders (c) def. Forgotten Sons via pinfall in a non-title match: These two teams were shown being separated in the parking lot earlier in the show. In a minor bit of long-term booking, NXT is picking up from a confrontation these teams had on the Raiders’ last night in NXT. The match looked to be over in a matter of moments following a powerbomb and splash, but Steve Cutler interrupted the count. Culter later delivered an impressive death valley driver to Erik on the ring apron, but following some interference by Jaxson Ryker, the leader of Sons got ejected from ringside. Ivar cannonballed off the top rope, and the teams soon rose to face one another. After a handspring double back elbow by Ivar, the War Raiders hit their throw powerslam finisher for the win. This totally overdelivered and provided some hope that the Sons have a bright future in NXT after a rough start. Grade: B
Adam Cole (c) def. Dominic Dijakovic in a non-title Ladder Match: The ladder was introduced quickly with Cole using a baseball slide and Dijakovic responding with a 360 boot. Cole then attacked Dijakovic’s surgically-repaired knee, knocking him off the ladder, and later followed with a ushigoroshi. Dijakovic grabbed a climbing Cole and chokeslammed him hard into a ladder propped up in the corner. Cole avoided Feast Your Eyes by grabbing onto the ladder, but as Dijakovic tried to pull him down, Cole flipped him over for an insane Panama Sunrise. Dijakovic gained momentum when he used his injured knee to knock Cole out, but he had to hobble up the ladder on one foot. Cole quickly ran up the ladder when he regained consciousness and used the briefcase as a weapon, knocking Dijakovic in the head and sending him tumbling through another propped up ladder. Inventive finish along with an action-packed match but not enough time to reach that second level. Grade: B+
Chaotic brawl ends the show: As Undisputed Era made their way out to celebrate with Cole, the SmackDown superstars from earlier took them out. Then Raw superstars, including Street Profits, began brawling. More NXT superstars came out, and Drew McIntyre entered the ring to hit Dijakovic with the CLaymore. Suddenly, Keith Lee slid in and drove McIntyre into the mat with a Spirit Bomb. Lee and Ivar faced off but instead nodded to each other and hit a tope suicida (Ivar) and tope cannonball to take out all the remaining superstars. With Cole celebrating in the ring bhimselflf, Seth Rollins appeared out of nowhere with a superkick. The crowd booed as Rollins called for The Stomp, and as he was about to hit it, Tommaso Ciampa’s theme hit. Ciampa slowly made his way to the ring to face Rollins but took out Cole first. He then stepped in face-to-face with Rollins as fans chanted “Seth’s not cool.” A hockey fight ensued as NXT went off the air. It was a good finish to the show albeit a predictable one. McIntyre actually seemed to elicit the biggest pop, which should indicate something. Grade: B