Venue: Full Sail Live (Winter Park, FL)
We open with Slipknot lead singer Corey Taylor doing a voice over a video highlight package.
Now is the time. The future has arrived.
If you’re asking, “Who is NXT?”
I’ll tell you who we are.
We are hellacious.
We are a ruthless dream.
We are the kings and queens of kicking wholesale ass.
And we are undisputed.
Let us not forget where we came from.
But make no mistake, there is no going back.
From now on, we are the most exclusive brand of combat in the world.
If you’ve been looking for something more, welcome home.
We are NXT.
*Fade into NXT chants from the live crowd at Full Sail*
WWE may have its faults but that crew knows how to deliver a spirited, professional-looking, chill-inducing video package.
Adam Cole defeats Matt Riddle to retain the NXT Title
-Matt Riddle’s Bro echoes over the speakers as his theme music hits and the crowd immediately realizes that this show is in go big or go home mode right from the get go.
-Starting off with Riddle dominating early before getting caught with a kick.
-Cole’s striking ability on display.
-Great counter with a Backstabber by Cole.
-My brain had to process that Shoulder Kick by Riddle into a Superkick by Cole into a Running Knee by Riddle into an Enziguri by Cole into a German Release Suplex by Riddle into an Ushigoroshi by Cole combination of maneuvers so I rewound it in slow motion and then watched it back in slow motion, and…wow, the sheer physics of that, just an unbelievable back and forth chain of events.
-Not even 10 minutes in, and the “This Is Awesome!” and “Holy Shit!” chants are in full effect.
-Cole had to sneak over a bit from the middle of the ring in order to get into position for the Floating Bro.
-Teasing a tap spot with the Bromission and a Fujiwara Armbar had the crowd going nuts.
-Great use of Cole’s cast for that strike into the final Last Shot to seal the win for the retaining NXT champion. No help needed for Cole here. Just a fantastic fight with an electric crowd. Few people in the business are as naturally fluid as Riddle is in the ring.
Just when it seemed like the crowd couldn’t pop any harder, Finn Balor’s music hits!
Face to face in the ring with Adam Cole, with the crowd furiously chanting “Welcome Back,” Balor announces “As of now, Finn Balor is NXT.” An infusion of some proven star power to the NXT roster can only help. Interesting is the list of former NXT champions with no current path on the main roster who might also be potential return candidates.
Velveteen Dream Promo
“The Dream has never complained about being able to take on more than one man at a time.”
Dream wants his North American Title back and he’s ready to go through the entire Undisputed Era to get it.
Drew Gulak/Lio Rush Video Package
-What a transformation for Lio Rush during his absence. He left as an obnoxious, overconfident hype man heel manager who was rumored to be rubbing everyone backstage the wrong way. Now, he’s returned, looking refreshed, transforming himself into a scrappy undersized title contender who is capable of wowing a crowd with his quickness and athleticism. He proved he can get the fans behind him in his match with Oney Lorcan on NXT’s first USA show. His bout with Gulak should be even better.
Io Shirai defeats Mia Yim
-Somewhat of a “crowd needs to take a breath” match spot here following that insane opener. But both women are working hard regardless.
-Diving Topé spot by Yim onto Shirai didn’t look great. Both ladies seem a little winded.
-Io’s Moonsault is always a thing of beauty.
-Good hard-fought win by Shirai to keep her in the NXT Women’s Title picture.
Kevin Nash & Scott Hall Shown In the Crowd
-Figured they’d do a spot putting a couple of well-known legends on screen. Not a surprise it was HHH and HBK’s buddies.
Tegan Knox Video Package
-Good potential overcoming injuries story brewing there. Smart to run with it and see if it works out.
Johnny Gargano defeats Shane Thorne
-Good chemistry between these two. Nice way to reestablish Gargano while also giving Thorne a little bit of shine.
Shayna Baszler defeats Candice LeRae to retain the NXT Women’s Title
-LeRae is the total package: Beautiful, athletic, tough, and has a natural feel in the ring. She needs these type of big match opportunities to show it.
-Slam on the apron by LeRae gets the crowd really into it. Dives onto Baszler on the outside take it up another notch.
-Awkward slip off the rope by Baszler.
-Shayna with the expected win by tap out. Nevertheless, it was an impressive and needed showing by LeRae. Hopefully, this loss forces Candice to break out a more savage streak.
Walter-Kushida Video Package
-That boot by Walter onto an unsuspecting Kushida looks even more brutal on second viewing.
Pete Dunne defeats Danny Burch
-Good hard-hitting British Strong Style brawl. Nothing spectacular. Just a good old fight.
-Burch is going to wake up with gnarly shiner under that right eye tomorrow.
-Damian Priest ends the segment with a sneak attack on Dunne. At this point, for Dunne, it feels like Priest is a step down from Burch. That gimmick does nothing for me.
Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly defeat The Street Profits to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles
-Quite a visual of a red cup waving crowd backdrop for the Street Profits’ entrance.
-Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins may have the edge when it comes to on-screen charisma but this is the kind of situation that reveals a clear disparity when it comes to in-ring ability and awareness. Fish and O’Reilly are doing a complete carry job.
-“We Want the Smoke” chants from the crowd.
-That Montez Ford flip over the top rope was a highlight of the night and a crowd pleaser. Dawkins was good for a couple of powerful spears. Other than that, this match was all Fish and O’Reilly.
-The Street Profits have a gimmick that works and connects with the fans but they still need to be carried to a good match. The Undisputed Era were up to the task tonight.
-The Tomasso Ciampa-Adam Cole stare down was an interesting end to the show. Even if he isn’t ready to challenge for the title soon, it keeps him in the audience’s mind as a lurking threat. Do Cole-Balor in the interim.
-The Riddle-Cole match felt like a Takeover quality main event without the 8-10 minutes of extra fluff that would’ve been added on if it had actually main evented a Takeover.
-Baszler-LeRae met expectations but didn’t do much to exceed them.
-Everything else was decent. The Street Profits don’t feel like a show-closing act but considering the circumstances tonight presented, it’s not surprising that the brass wanted to put Riddle and Cole on first and start the show with a bang.
-Crowd at Full Sail tonight was awesome. Great energy, especially for the first match.
-Ultimately, I’d like to view and appreciate AEW and NXT as separate entities without buying into the whole “war” thing. But I will say that NXT definitely felt like the superior show tonight and nothing AEW did felt like it came close to matching Riddle-Cole.