Venue: Full Sail Live (Winter Park, FL)
The show began with Mauro Ranallo breaking the news that The O.C. had invaded NXT and gotten retribution for the NXT’s takeover of Raw by beating down Undisputed Era outside of Full Sail.
AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows then made their way to the ring.
“All your champions are out of commission, so The O.C. is taking over NXT. That’s just not phenomenal. That is undisputed.”
Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit and he made his way to the top of the ramp as the crowd chanted “Daddy’s Home!”
“For years now, I used to be asked the same damn question: When are you going to go up to the main roster? Well AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, allow me to be the first to welcome you to the main roster. NXT is now and always has been the show. And more importantly, NXT just happens to be daddy’s home.”
Styles and his crew praised Ciampa for having the balls to come out and say something to them. They also reminded him of the three-on-one disadvantage he faced.
Keith Lee and Matt Riddle then entered stage right and left to even up the odds as the crowd chanted “Oh, Bask In His Glory!”
Ciampa then told the three Raw representatives, “At War Games, Bro, Limitless, Blackheart, we’re prepared for The Undisputed Era, but boys, tonight, y’all might as well put your gear on and we go to war with you.”
Styles took a second to think about it before responding, “You’re on!”
Pete Dunne vs. Damian Preist (8:10:16 – 8:25:28)
After closing the show in the main event a few weeks ago, the two opened up the action tonight with Dunne looking to avenge his loss. After Dunne did a leapfrog over a charging Preist, Damian responded with The Reckoning but the Bruiserweight was able to escape and evade a few kick strike attempts.
Commercial Break No. 1 (PIP)
Returning from commercial, a ‘Breaking News’ scroll let the audience know that The O.C. vs. Ciampa, Riddle and Lee had been made official for tonight’s main event.
After getting beaten on by The Archer of Infamy, Dunne was able to hit an X Plex to buy some time to recover. He eventually fired up with a spurt of slaps. He then hit a Step Up Enziguri and followed it up with a Missile Dropkick off the turnbuckle to take Priest’s legs out from under him.
Pete was able to land on his feet after a German Suplex and nail Priest with a kick to the head sending him to the outside. He then went for a risky Moonsault off the second rope and nailed it. Unfortunately, Priest didn’t seem to feel the effects for long, as he quickly got up and chokeslammed Dunne onto the apron.
Back in the ring, Dunne regained the advantage and nearly picked up the victory with a Sit Out Powerbomb but Damian kicked out.
Priest then got an “Oh!” reaction from the crowd and a “Mamma Mia!” reaction from Mauro with a graceful flip over the top rope onto Dunne.
Commercial Break No. 2
The two traded clubbing blows and kicks to the head before they both collapsed in the middle of the ring from exhaustion. Priest was back to his feet first but it was Dunne who managed to rock him with a headbutt before Priest answered back with a Clothesline that turned him inside out.
Dunne climbed the ropes but Damian grabbed him on his way up and hit a Crucifix Bomb, which nearly garnered a three count before Pete kicked out at the last second. Priest made the mistake of standing up to do his archer taunt but Dunne made him pay, grabbing his left hand and trying to snap his fingers.
After retreating into the corner, Damian attempted the same low blow that helped him win their last contest. This time, though, Dunne was ready, and turned the tables hitting Priest with a low blow of his own before rolling over into position for an Armbreaker, breaking apart Damian’s fingers and then yanking on his left arm for a tap out victory.
Result: Dunne submitted Priest with an Armbreaker (15:12)
As Pete was celebrating in the middle of the ring after the match, Killian Dain nailed him from behind. Priest, seeking his own revenge, pulled Dain off of Dunne but that just earned him a headbutt. Killian then squashed Pete in the corner before nailing him with a Vader Bomb.
“This great Dain is on the hunt.” – Mauro Ranallo
Priest awakened to confront the attacker but he paid the price yet again. Dain slammed his head into the steel steps and then squashed him with a Running Cannonball.
Overall, this was a good physical, hard-hitting, tone-setting opener. Priest has been impressive in his two bouts with Dunne, displaying a unique skill-set and kick-striking ability for a taller, lankier wrestler. The interference from Dain on Dunne was expected, but Damian’s involvement and subsequent beating at the hands of Killian is interesting. It opens up the possibility of a triple-threat match on a coming episode.
Cathy Kelley interviewed Dakota Kai, asking her what she hoped to prove in her match with Shayna Baszler later tonight.
Kai said that since she’s returned from injury, she has more aggression and more fire.
“I’m going to prove to Rhea Ripley why I deserve to be on her team; Why I deserve to be in that double cage at Takeover War Games. If Shayna wants to say that I’m a waste of a pick, we’ll see what she says after I kick her face off tonight.”
Taynara Conti vs. Santana Garrett (8:36:36 – 8:40:45)
The two locked up to begin the match with Conti going for an Arm Bar early.
Garrett hit a series of Arm Drags and a Russian Leg Sweep before Taynara turned the advantage in her favor with a knee strike into the ropes. She kept up the aggression, striking her with some more knees, kicks and judo throws.
Conti then applied an Omoplata but failed to get the submission. Eventually, Santana found her way to her feet and attempted a Handspring Moonsault off the the ropes but Taynara managed to avoid it and hit her with a kick to the head to get the pinfall victory.
Result: Conti pinned Garrett following a kick (4:11)
Eh, this one didn’t flow very well but Taynara did at least show some improvement from past outings. Garrett seemed a little nervous but she has some decent skills to work with and an interesting background story given that her recently deceased father was a former wrestler and her mentor.
Commercial Break No. 4
A quick Angel Garza video package was shown to promote his match with Tony Nese.
Dakota Kai vs. Shayna Baszler vs. (8:49:06 – 9:00:20)
The crowd chanted “Shayna’s Gonna Kill You!” before the two locked up to start things off. Kai showed no fear early on, slapping Shayna before striking her with a few kicks and a knee.
Baszler, feeling a little overwhelmed, headed to the outside to compose herself. Kai didn’t seem ready to settle things down, though, as she attempted to knee Shayna from the apron. It didn’t go as planned. The NXT Women’s Champion grabbed her by the leg and threw her face first into the ring post.
Back inside the ring, Shayna showed no mercy, targeting Dakota’s braced right knee with a series of stomps and twists.
Commercial Break No. 5
Back from commercial, a limping Kai was able to fire up and hit a few kicks with her wounded right leg. After Dakota made her way to the top rope, Shayna met her and delivered a Gutwrench Superplex. Kai showed her toughness, though, kicking out at the last second.
The two traded blows in the middle of the ring for an extended period of time before they both hit kicks to each other’s heads before collapsing to the mat.
A Step Up Knee from Shayna looked as if it was going to wrap things up but Dakota refused to stay down. Unfortunately, her fortitude could only serve her so long. Baszler eventually wrapped her in the Kirifuda Clutch and tapped her out.
Result: Baszler submitted Kai with the Kirifuda Clutch (11:14)
Judging from Kai’s promo earlier on, this match was used to show a new level of toughness and attitude from Dakota, and it achieved that goal.
After the match, Baszler, Marina Shaffir and Jessamyn Duke assaulted Dakota. Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox and Candice Lerae all came down to make the save. Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and a kendo stick-wielding Mia Yim also entered the fray. The brawl ended with Yim clearing house and an impressed Ripley nodding in approval.
A highlight package of the NXT roster’s consecutive takeovers of SmackDown and Raw was shown before the show cut to the backstage area where Cathy Kelley was standing by with Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle and Keith Lee.
When asked about who he planned to have as his fourth team member at War Games, Ciampa told Cathy, “One war at a time” before taunting the house crashing trio of Styles, Gallows and Anderson, telling them “we left the door open, come on in.”
Commercial Break No. 6
A quick highlight package was shown of Isaiah “Swerve” Scott.
Tony Nese vs. Angel Garza (9:13:28 – 9:25:48)
The two locked up and battled for strength to start things off. They then took the action down to the mat with a series of reversals and escapes.
Nese got the first upper hand of the match by working over Garza’s left arm but Angel was able to escape.
“There is a lot of ego in that ring, almost as much ego as there is abs.” – Beth Phoenix
After delivering a Flying Head Scissors, Garza attempted to do his ripping off his pants spot but Nese interrupted him with a slap to the chest. Angel returned the favor with a slap of his own.
The two eventually found themselves in the corner. Nese attempted a Sunset Bomb but instead ended up slamming Garza’s tearaway pants to the canvas.
Commercial Break No. 7
Back from commercial, Garza hit multiple dropkicks before sending Nese to the outside. Then, Angel took a page out of Pete Dunne’s playbook and hit a Moonsault from the second turnbuckle onto the outside.
After delivering a Lungblower to Nese, Garza looked to hit a move off the top rope but Tony countered it and sent him bouncing down to the outside. Out on the floor, Nese delivered a DDT onto the padding before throwing his opponent back in the ring and hitting a 450 Splash. Finding himself on the wrong side of a pin attempt, a last second foot on the rope saved Garza’s hopes.
Garza regained control of the match with a Sit Out Power Bomb before eventually hitting a Wing Clipper to gain the victory and earn an opportunity to face Lio Rush for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Result: Garza pinned Nese following a Wing Clipper (12:20)
A ton of athleticism was shown by both men in this one. Garza is really beginning to win over the NXT audience. He’s got the personality and charisma needed for stardom.
After the match, Rush came out to offer up a show of sportsmanship handshake only to be rebuked and slapped by Garza. Their title bout next week has the ingredients needed to be an exciting action-packed affair.
Backstage, Cathy interviewed Rhea Ripley, who was surrounded by Candice, Tegan, Dakota and Mia, asking her if she made a decision regarding who the fourth member of her team will be.
“Did you see what happened out there? That was absolute brutality. Exactly how I like it. If Shayna wants a fight. She’s going to get a fight. And after what I just witnessed, my fourth member for War Games is Mia Yim. Dakota, I’m sorry, you just didn’t make the cut.”
A disappointed Dakota hung her head and walked out of the shot.
Commercial Break No. 8
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Dominik Dijakovic (9:35:48 – 9:43:06)
The bigger, stronger Dijakovic manhandled the quicker Scott early on, pounding on him and throwing him around the ring.
Swerve was able to hit a Flatliner followed by a German Suplex to stun his big foe. In the corner, Scott hit a Superkick and a DDT before getting a two count on a pin attempt. Dijakovic didn’t stay down for long. He eventually crotched Scott on the top turnbuckle before lifting him into a torture rack/knee combination. Scott somehow managed to avoid the knee and roll up Dominik for a near fall.
Dijakovic responded to the sneaky Scott with a big boot and a Choke Bomb for a near fall of his own. He then lifted Swerve up and the two had a face to face maniacal smile off in the middle of the ring before Dominic attempted another Choke Bomb that Isaiah managed to reverse into a Poison Rana. Scott then headed to the top rope and hit him with a Double Stomp.
After another near fall, the crowd started a “Whose House? Swerve’s House!” chant.
A vicious Clothesline somehow didn’t seem to phase Scott but the Torture Rack into a Knee maneuver did prove to ultimately be just too much for the feisty competitor.
Result: Dijakovic pinned Scott following a knee (7:18)
Though Scott didn’t pull an upset, he had yet another performance that won over the NXT faithful. He got a surprising amount of offense and near fall spots in this one and got the chance to show that he can go toe-to-toe and won’t back down against one of the more intimidating members of the NXT roster. That’s how you build guys up organically. Scott’s stock trajectory is pointing way up right now.
Commercial Break No. 9
The O.C. vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle and Keith (9:53:36 – 10:07:24)
The two trios didn’t wait for the bell to start the fight. They brawled on the outside for a minute and brought the crowd to its feet.
Back in the ring, “NXT” chants echoed throughout the arena as the bell rang and Ciampa and Styles faced off. A powerful dropkick by AJ sent Tommaso crashing to the outside. Styles then went for a Phenomenal Forearm over the top rope but Ciampa moved out of the way and The O.C. leader hit Riddle instead.
Trying to climb back through the ropes, Styles was greeted with a Willow’s Bell by Ciampa, which earned the first near fall of the match.
Soon enough, the two big hosses, Keith Lee and Luke Gallows, tagged in and squared off. With the NXT fans firmly behind him, chanting “Oh, Bask In his Glory!” Lee was able to get the better of Gallows, who tagged out to Karl Anderson.
Commercial Break No. 10
Ciampa found himself stuck in The O.C. corner, struggling to make it back to the friendly side of the ring. Styles, Gallows and Anderson each took turns slamming him around and whaling on him.
After a leap off the top rope, Anderson was greeted with a knee to the face, which gave Tommaso the time he needed to make the hot tag to a fired up Riddle, which sent the fans into a frenzy, yelling “Bro!” with every single impact maneuver he hit.
An Everest German Suplex looked to have Styles down for the count, but Gallows was able to break up the pin just in time. Anderson and Gallows then attempted a Magic Killer on Keith Lee but Ciampa came running in to break that up. Lee then picked up Gallows and slammed him to the mat before AJ came running in to knock him out with a DDT.
The focus then returned to Riddle and Styles. After Riddle ducked a Phenomenal Forearm attempt, Lee came charging in to hit Styles with a Pounce but unfortunately, it sent him colliding into referee Drake Younger.
Lee then clotheslined Anderson to the outside and Riddle soon followed doing a Fosbury Flop over the top rope to knock out both Anderson and Gallows.
Back in the ring, Ciampa looked to finish off AJ but he was distracted by Finn Balor’s appearance at the top of the ramp. Styles seized the opportunity, hitting Tommaso with a Pelé Kick. Balor then spiked Riddle with a 1916 on the outside before trading too sweet/bullet club hand gestures with Styles.
AJ looked to hit Ciampa with a Styles Clash but Adam Cole flew into the ring to take out AJ with a Superkick and then Tommaso with a Last Shot.
The show then ended with Cole and Balor staring at each other, smiling in mutual appreciation.
Result: Um, No Contest? (13:48)
That was a bit of a confusing and convoluted ending to what was an entertaining main event. Just seeing a wrestler the caliber of AJ Styles in an atmosphere like NXT was a sight to behold.
Overall, this show checked all the boxes it needed to. It had stars from the main roster invade NXT to get retribution. It continued to build the War Games storylines and teams while still leaving a few spots open to be decided in the coming weeks. It set up an intriguing title match (Rush vs. Garza) to promote for next week’s episode. Plus, there was some good character work and development with Dakota Kai.
It’s been quite a past few days for the NXT brand. With War Games and Survivor Series on the horizon, things are only going to continue to heat up.