Venue: Full Sail Live (Winter Park, FL)
Lio Rush defeats Drew Gulak to win the Cruiserweight Championship
-Interesting background information on both competitors during their entrances that explained how they both got to this position in their careers. That type of character establishing information is needed now that NXT is being broadcast to a wider audience.
-Lio starting things off with a bang with a flawless looking Spanish Fly for a near fall.
-Gulak slows things down and keeps the speedy and energetic Rush down on the mat with various strikes and holds.
-Rush’s tumble off the top rope onto ring crew members on the outside leads to the first double box commercial break of the night.
-Mauro Ranallo throwing in a little reference to “Mental Health Awareness Week.” No problem with that. Ranallo’s been open about his issues and he’s clearly passionate about “smashing the stigma.”
-This one went as it should: Gulak dominated the affair throughout but Rush was able to show his resiliency and display some impressive looking finishing maneuvers with a Stunner into a Frog Splash for the pinfall victory. What a comeback moment for a young man whose future with the WWE seemed to be very up in the air just a few months ago.
-Rush has the ability to have exciting matches any time he steps in between the ropes. The current cruiserweight roster will provide plenty of interesting title defense opportunities.
Finn Balor NXT Highlight Video Package
-I doubt we’ll see Balor in person again tonight so it makes sense to have a package recapping his return last week as well as showing off some highlights from his first run that new NXT fans might not be familiar with.
Rhea Ripley defeats Aliyah
-It would be better if Rhea’s facials were more serious than dismissive during her entrance.
-A quick squash. Ripley’s Lariats could’ve looked a bit more impactful but that may have something to do with the fact that someone the caliber of Aliyah was the one taking them.
“Rhea’s going to kill you!” chants from the crowd.
-Very unnatural sounding WWE-speak post-match promo from Rhea. “There is no doubt that Shayna Baszler is the most dominant NXT Women’s Champion in history. She has tapped, napped or snapped every one of her competitors. But not me. Shayna, I’m coming for you.” Eliminate literally everything said before that final sentence and I would have liked it a lot better.
Forgotten Sons defeat Breezango
-Jaxson Ryker carries out the bodies of Ever-Rise, which means we are getting an unplanned Forgotten Sons appearance. That should go over well with the NXT crowd.
-Fandango’s powerslam gets a “Beautiful” reaction from Beth Phoenix. I agree.
-A few good-looking moves by Fandango in a quick unmemorable affair. As usual, it was a completely forgettable performance by The Forgotten Sons.
Keith Lee Video Package
-Looks as if we are getting a Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic rubber match next week. Those two have developed some pretty good chemistry but they’ve also developed a knack for no-selling big power moves.
Cameron Grimes defeats Boa
-Another quick one move and done squash by Grimes, which leads to a Killian Dain run-in and post-match beat down on Boa. Not sure what Dain’s presence is leading to. It could have just served to get him some quick screen time.
Damian Priest Video Package
-Still unsure what Damian Priest’s character is supposed to be. From the limited amount I’ve seen, I get a Danzig/Criss Angel hybrid vibe.
Roderick Strong defeats Isaiah Scott
-Outstanding kick-striking ability and fluid athleticism on display by Scott.
-Dueling “Undisputed” and “Let’s Go Scott” chants from the crowd.
-I’ve had the chance to see Scott at a few different independent shows throughout the years, so it was fun to see him have a standout performance on a show of this magnitude. Very impressive back and forth affair by these two that got the crowd invested and chanting NXT. Name-making performance by Swerve.
Adam Cole/Velveteen Dream/Tommaso Ciampa Post-Match Promo
-I prefer Dream’s taped promos to his live stuff, and this was no exception.
-The Roderick Strong posing nude with the belt stuff wasn’t my cup of tea but it got a decent reaction from the crowd.
-Speaking of getting a reaction from the crowd, Tommaso Ciampa certainly has a knack for that.
“Goldie, Daddy’s Home!” – Ciampa
Intense. Short, sweet and to the point. Take notes, Rhea.
Bianca Belair defeats Dakota Kai
-Tough spot for these women being squished in between a highly entertaining Strong/Scott match followed by a star power-laden post-match promo and the main event. They put in a good effort, though.
-Bianca’s post-match promo helps keep her in the orbit of the NXT Women’s Title.
Another Finn Balor Welcome Back to NXT Video Package
-In case we forgot about the one from an hour ago.
Pete Dunne Video Package
“How’s he going to shoot an arrow with broken fingers?”
WALTER defeats Kushida
-Walter’s entrance is always a sight to behold.
-That slip off the top rope by Kushida could have looked worse. He was able to recover somewhat before eating a boot from the big Austrian.
-Powerbomb into a DDT reversal by Kushida gives him the opening he needs.
-Sunset Powerbomb to the outside tease got a edge-of-seat reaction from me.
-Though this one may not have reached the highs that the WALTER/Tyler Bate NXT UK Title match did, it had a very similar feel in half the time. They built the big monster vs. quicker underdog dynamic about as well as they could have. Kushida frustrated him early, took his lumps in the middle and then they ended things with an exciting back-and-forth final few minutes that featured some great action and near falls. Crowd loved it and let their appreciation be known with “This Is Awesome” chants. This elevated Kushida substantially without hurting WALTER a bit, which should have been the desired goal of the match.
Nothing tonight was as good as Matt Riddle vs. Adam Cole was last week, but admittedly nothing was expected to reach the sky high bar they set. WALTER vs. Kushida was the match of the night and felt like a Takeover quality performance.
Lio Rush winning the Cruiserweight Championship was a rewarding redemption moment.
Isaiah Scott had a breakout performance in a losing effort.
Everything else besides a decent effort from Belair and Kai was pretty much just squashes and video packages. Overall, it was a decent show with enough rewarding stuff to make it a worthwhile watch.