Night One of NXT’s The Great American Bash featured the NXT Women’s Championship match as its main event, with a number one contenders match for the same title to kick off the show. Oney Lorcan tweeted about a match with Timothy Thatcher, so he was given one. Roderick Strong’s fear of Dexter Lumis was to be embraced as the two men fought in a strap match, and Rhea Ripley faced Aliyah and Robert Stone to determine whether she’d join the RS Brand or not. It was no way as strong as an NXT TakeOver, but the main event between Sasha Banks and Io Shirai was definitely the highlight.

Fatal Four-Way Number One Contender Match For The NXT Women’s Championship: Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai vs Mia Yim vs Candice LeRae

Candice LeRae and Dakota Kai showed their cowardice form the beginning by leaving the ring, so Mia Yim and Tegan Nox went at it, but soon after they were blindsided by LeRae and Nox. After launching herself into Yim in the corner, LeRae drove Kai’s face into the apron, but she fell really awkwardly. The Poison Pixie capitalised with a diving plancha on Kai and Nox, then suplexed Yim of the turnbuckle in the ring. Nox and Yim worked together, which led to Yim hitting Protect Ya Neck on LeRae and getting the three-count.

Candice LeRae eliminated.

Nox and Yim worked together to get rid of Kai, and after throwing themselves into Kai who sat in the corner, went for a double pin with Kai kicking out. Yim and Nox finally faced each other, but Kai came in and kicked Nox in the face. Yim was on fire, hitting two flying head scissors and two Tope con Hilo on Nox and Kai. Yim hit Code Blue on Kai, then Nox tried to use the crucifix pin on Yim, but she kicked out. Kai then managed to pin Yim and get her eliminated.

Mia Yim eliminated.

Kai and Nox traded blows, wearing each other out until Kai levelled Nox out with a deadly kick. Nox got back to her feet and they continued to trade blows, with each Superstar using clotheslines to try and find some kind of momentum. Nox hit a succession of charges to Nox in the corner, ending with a cannonball. Nox caught Kai’s crossbody and turned it into a bridge pin, but only managed a two count.

Kai hit the Kairopractor after throwing Nox off the top turnbuckle but couldn’t grab the win. Nox planted Kai into the mat but couldn’t pin her. Nox hit the molly-go-round and then the Shiniest Wizard to pick up the win. What a great way to kick off The Great American Bash! There was a lot of back and forth, with near falls and big impact moves all round, but it was Nox who came out victorious.

Winner: Tegan Nox Rating: 7/10

Timothy Thatcher vs Oney Lorcan

I had high hopes for this one, just because both guys are hard hitters – gritty and brutal – with huge potential for this to be a visceral, savage affair. Both Thatcher and Lorcan went for catch wrestling early on. Thatcher managed to come out stronger, working Lorcan’s left arm in a multitude of ways, moving onto his head. Lorcan managed to anger the wasp by controlling Thatcher’s arms and land a few knife-edge chops, but Thatcher exploded and knocked Lorcan outside the ring.

After the break, Lorcan hit a half and half suplex followed by a running elbow, leading to the two trading huge slaps. Lorcan locked in a half Boston crab, but Thatcher reversed it. Thatcher threw Lorcan with a double underhook suplex, then continued the masterclass in mat wrestling, transitioning into the Fujiwara Armbar and making Lorcan tap. This was a good match. Neither man would back down, but it was Thatcher who’s sick and twisted technique managed to overcome Lorcan.

Winner: Timothy Thatcher Rating: 7.5/10

Handicap Match: Rhea Ripley vs Aliyah & Robert Stone

This was a feud few people wanted, but I guess Ripley needed some kind of focus after losing out to Charlotte Flair for the second time. If Ripley lost tonight, she would be joining the Robert Stone Brand. For the first time in a while, Stone didn’t look like a drunken mess, coming to the ring looking like Rocky Balboa. Stone wanted a piece of Ripley as the bell rang and got chopped down to the mat for his troubles. Aliyah then went in on Ripley, followed up by some decent teamwork by the two members of the brand. Ripley’s power was overwhelming for Aliyah, and she got dropped with the electric chair.

After Ripley dropped Stone outside the ring, Aliyah dived through the ropes and drove Ripley’s head into the ground. More decent teamwork followed, as Stone locked in a Boston crab as Aliyah locked in a headlock. They managed a double suplex but argued about who should attempt a pin. They went for another double suplex, but Ripley countered with one of her own. Ripley spun Aliyah into Stone, then dropped her right into his groin as he sat in the corner.

Stone’s desperation continued but received a headbutt in return. Ripley then locked in a double Prism Trap and made them both tap out. It was an average match with nothing standing out, but at least Ripley is not joining the Robert Stone Brand.

Winner: Rhea Ripley Rating: 5.5/10

Strap Match: Roderick Strong vs Dexter Lumis

Before the match, we saw a video where Strong said he had to face his fears to overcome Dexter Lumis. He looked visibly nervous about the match and quite honestly, he should be. Lumis has been on NXT a lot in recent months, hounding Undisputed Era and striking fear into an often arrogant and unphased Roddy. Strong wouldn’t put the strap on and hesitated for a while. He attacked Lumis, however, Lumis knocked him down and attached the strap himself.

Lumis used the strap to pull Strong into the ring apron after being knocked outside by an uppercut. Strong tried to whip Lumis across the back, but he ducked and continued his assault. After a back body drop and countless strikes on Strong in the ring, Roddy managed to get to his feet. He tried his best to hurt Lumis, but he wasn’t phased at all. Strong wrapped the strap around his fist and punched Lumis in the face, but again, Lumis countered with a huge uppercut between the legs as Roddy stood on the second turnbuckle.

It was all Lumis. Outside the ring, Lumis continued to beat down Strong, who drove him face-first into the Great American Bash set. He opened one of the trunks to the cars that stood near the back of the ramp, but Strong stopped Lumis. Strong hit an Olympic slam on Lumis next to the ring, which gave him a much-needed break. He rolled Lumis in the ring and used the strap to whack his back. Lumis got back to his feet and landed some boots to the mid-section of Strong, but he managed to knock him back down to the mat.

Lumis then took the fight to Roddy, almost getting a pin after a bulldog. He landed a springboard suplex and used the strap to whip Strong’s back. In an attempt to put away Lumis, Strong hit a superplex but still couldn’t get the win. He tied Lumis’ feet together and attempted a modified Boston crab, but Lumis slid outside the ring. Of course, Bobby Fish couldn’t help but get involved. He tripped Lumis up on the apron, and in the ring, Strong went for a big boot but could only get a two-count. Fish was wiped out, and Lumis hit the Uranage. In what Lumis calls The Silencer (Anaconda Vice), he made Strong tap out, picking up a huge win. Dexter Lumis deserved the win tonight, and now he’s defeated Strong, what’s next for him?

Winner: Dexter Lumis Rating: 7.5/10

Non-Title Match: Io Shirai (C) vs Sasha Banks W/ Bayley

Accompanied by Bayley, Sasha Banks made one hell of an entrance in a Jaguar. The Genius of the Sky hit a missile dropkick followed by a tope con hilo. She wasn’t messing around, continuing to wear down Banks in the corner of the ring. Bayley distracted Shirai by honking the horn of one of the cars, which allowed Banks to lock in a rear chin lock.  Banks hit a double knee into Shirai’s sternum, then worked on Shirai’s left arm. Banks then hit a double running knee and continued to wear Shirai down with another submission. She drove Shirai’s face into the turnbuckle with her feet, but Shirai fought back with a Frankensteiner.

Shirai hit a flapjack, then a 619 and missile dropkick off the ropes. After some reversals, Shirai drove Banks into the mat with a German suplex, but Banks locked in the Bank Statement. Thankfully, Shirai broke out and double stomped Banks’ stomach. Banks told the recruits they wouldn’t be in NXT without her. Shirai went for a moonsault but Banks got up, hit a Meteora, but only managed a two count.

Shirai got caught on the top rope and got hit with a big kick. Banks then drove Shirai into the plexiglass after a huge sunset flip powerbomb. Back in the ring, Banks then went for a frog splash, but Shirai reversed into a crossface. Bayley threw the title in the ring and distracted the ref, only for Shirai to get hit in the face with the other belt. Out of nowhere, Asuka sprayed green mist at Sasha, which led to Shirai hitting the moonsault on Banks and picking up the victory by pinfall. This was a great main event, and whilst Banks can be exceptional, Shirai deserved the win. Not only did Shirai assert her dominance in the women’s division, but it helped to build the match between Banks and Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship.

Winner: Io Shirai (Still NXT Women’s Champion) Rating: 8/10

What Else Went Down?

– Damian Priest was being interviewed by McKenzie Mitchell and challenged Cameron Grimes to a match. “No tricks,” he said, just a straightforward one-on-one match.

– A Karrion Kross promo aired where he talked about delusional people within NXT. Scarlett also featured, with clips of Keith Lee and Adam Cole popping up. Kross is definitely getting involved in that match. Another great video featuring Kross and Scarlett.

– Tom Philips introduced an inside look into The Great American Bash’s main event of night two next week between Keith Lee and Adam Cole. Lee said, “NXT is now NX Lee.” He talked about waiting patiently for this opportunity. He called Cole’s reign epic, and almost legendary. Cole then ran down Lee’s accomplishments in WWE but said his were better. He led the charge at Survivor Series, and he would hold both belts, saying he was “the best champion in the brand’s history.” Well, I am officially pumped for this one!

– Candice LeRae was interviewed backstage with Johnny Gargano when LeRae ran off and attacked Mia Yim. She was with Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, and Gargano had a few choice words for him. This was likely a way to get the two into a match for the second night of The Great American Bash next week.

-Santos Escobar was in the ring with Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza. He cut a promo in the ring about how Luchadores used to be idols, but how their “historic tradition turned into a sideshow.” Escobar said he “was more than a mask,” and he would restore the honour,” helping to “rebuild their empire.” His promo was interrupted by Drake Maverick wearing a neck brace, then ran in the ring, only to be attacked by Mendoza and Wilde. “I told you, little guy, no-one can touch me,” said Escobar. Enter Breezango! Breeze and Fandango got rid of Escobar’s lackies, which led to Fandango saying that on night two, they would “have no place to hide.”

– Cameron Grimes was interviewed by MacKenzie Mitchell and mocked Priest’s low voice. He said he was going to the top, and whoever won between Keith Lee and Adam Cole, he would face them as the number one contender. I really hope not.

– Another Mercedes Martinez vignette aired, telling NXT to take notice of her. She will be back next week (finally!).

– Two matches were made official for next week, with Breezango teaming up with Drake Maverick to take on Escobar, Mendoza, and Wilde, and Mia Yim would face Candice LeRae in a Street Fight.

After The Bell

Night One of The Great American Bash was filled with some decent matches, especially the main event. Whilst not in the same calibre as an NXT TakeOver, we still got a majority of entertaining encounters, with the Ripley match being the only dud.

Thatcher and Lorcan put on a masterclass in catch wrestling, the women’s number one contender match was a solid start to the night, and the strap match was also a fun watch, especially as my man Dexter Lumis managed to defeat Roddy Strong. I was also impressed with Karrion Kross and Scarlett’s promo. Whilst I don’t think he’ll ruin the match, he may well come down at the end and wipe them both out, setting up a match with the winner.

The night belonged to Io Shirai as she showed just why she deserves to be champion. With Sasha Banks out of the picture, I am excited to see how NXT builds Tegan Nox vs Io Shirai. They are both faces on the brand, so I wonder if they will turn Nox heel? Shirai is likely to be the one who will look like the bad guy, but I would rather the black and gold brand flip things on its head.

I cannot wait for next week. I was already hyped for Cole and Lee, but with the addition of Breezango and Maverick vs Escobar, Mendoza, and Wilde and Yim vs LeRae, there is going to be another packed night with plenty of diversity in the Superstars involved.

Star of the Show: Io Shirai Overall Rating: 7/10

All images and videos courtesy of WWE