This week’s NXT featured one hell of a main event as Finn Balor, Dexter Lumis, and Timothy Thatcher faced off for an opportunity to become North American Champion at NXT TakeOver: XXX. A lot went down tonight. The Undisputed Era were back with all four members for the first time since the pandemic, Keith Lee was looking for revenge after last week, and The Robert Stone Brand showed off their latest acquisition. First off, we had some tag team action featuring the current NXT Women’s Champion.

Dakota Kai & Candice LeRae vs Tegan Nox & Io Shirai

Io Shirai walked out and was immediately attacked by Dakota Kai. Tegan Nox then ran out and attacked Kai, followed by Candice LeRae. The match hadn’t even started and all four women were brawling outside the ring. When the match got underway and things calmed down, Shirai unloaded a load of kicks on Kai, but was stopped in her tracks. LeRae and Kai worked on weakening Shirai. The champion hit a flapjack on Kai, and whilst she had a lotus lock connected, LeRae attacked her.

It exploded again between all four women. LeRae whipped Nox into the steel steps after Kai hit a huge kick that sent her to the outside. After the break, LeRae and Nox headbutted each other which knocked them both to the mat. They tagged in their partners, and Shirai hit a dropkick on Kai, then a dropkick off the top turnbuckle. Shirai went for the moonsault, but Kai stopped her in her tracks. With Kai in the tree of woe, Shirai stomped her in the chest. Kai tagged in LeRae, but it only led to another missile dropkick followed by running knees into the corner to the Poison Pixie.

Shirai was on fire and hit a Tope Con Hilo on Kai as Nox hit the Shiniest Wizard on LeRae, who was trying to recover in the ring. With LeRae lying flat out in the ring, Shirai landed a moonsault and covered for the win. What a way to start NXT. This was a great match, and Shirai was on fire. It’s performances like this that highlight exactly why she deserves to be champion.

Winners: Tegan Nox & Io Shirai Rating: 8/10

Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong

Following some back and forth on Twitter where both Superstars were moaning about losing and blaming each other, William Regal made this match for tonight. These two started off with some great mat wrestling, with neither man managing to gain proper control of the other. Gargano connected with a hurricanrana, and as both men were outside, he wrenched at Strong’s right arm, knocking him to the ground. Back in the ring, Strong hit a backbreaker, then landed some big blows to Gargano’s stomach. After another backbreaker, Strong went for the pin but couldn’t get the win.

Gargano hit a twisting flatliner off the top ropes, but only managed a two-count. We were being treated to some great matches tonight. Gargano locked in the Gargano Escape, but Strong countered. Both men traded up kicks, strikes, superkicks, and every other strike in the handbook. Gargano drove Strong into the ring post outside, then the plexiglass, then the barricade. He planted Strong with the One Final Beat to pick up the win. Gargano ended with a brutal assault, providing yet another solid match for the night.

Winner: Johnny Gargano Rating: 8/10

Shotzi Blackheart vs Mercedes Martinez W/ The Robert Stone Brand

Shotzi went after Martinez, but it wasn’t long before she began to be picked apart. Blackheart fought back and hit a step-up enzuigiri, followed by a missile dropkick. She continued with a sunset bomb, multiple kicks, and punches. Martinez dropped Blackheart with a spinebuster slam, then offloaded multiple forearms on the top turnbuckle. She then hit a huge suplex from the turnbuckle and ended it all by delivering a modified air raid crash. Martinez was dominant, and I dread to think who her next victim is. She’s so good that Robert Stone didn’t need to interfere. Perhaps Aliyah could learn a lot from her.

Winner: Mercedes Martinez Rating: 7/10

Poking The Bear

Keith Lee came to the ring, and he was not happy. He addressed what happened last week to Dijakovic and that it seems as though Kross wants his attention. Lee called him out after delivering a blistering promo. Unfortunately, Cameron Grimes came out instead. He said he was going straight to the moon by taking the NXT Championship. Grimes goaded Lee and ended up taking the brunt of his frustrations. The lights went down and Scarlett appeared wearing a red dress. Grimes tried to take advantage but was struck with a Spirit Bomb. Karrion Kross appeared on the big screen and said what kind of man watches their friend suffer?

Kross then said he has two options. The first was to give him his shot at the belt. The second, Kross said, was one he definitely shouldn’t take. After the feed cut off, Keith Lee responded by telling Kross to pick the time and place, and that he would “whoop that ass.” This was a great segment. Lee was swearing, fuming, and intense. Both guys are heading to a historic battle that could end up being one of the best matches of the year. Later in the evening, William Regal said he wasn’t impressed with Lee or Kross for trying to make title matches, but it’s inevitable.

Imperium vs Ever-Rise

Honestly, what is the point in having a team like Ever-Rise face Imperium? They keep getting squashed, and it demeans the NXT tag team division. Where is Indus Sher? Where are Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan? Breezango? Legado Del Fantasma? Ever since Imperium defeated Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher, the division has been non-existent, and it’s so disappointing. As expected, Imperium destroyed them.

Thank god for Undisputed Era. All four members came to the ring and attacked Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel. UE are back in business, and I was so happy to see all four men back together again. NXT, you redeemed yourself, but please, no more Ever-Rise. What’s even better is that Kyle O’ Reilly and Bobby Fish face off against Imperium for the tag titles next week on NXT. Bravo, Regal.

Winners: Imperium Rating: 3/10

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Jake Atlas

Atlas and Swerve danced around the ring with grace, reversing each other and trying to get some momentum. Swerve hit a massive kick to Altas’ face as he stood in the corner which sent him to the mat. Atlas hit a crossbody on Swerve’s stomach, then a springboard blockbuster, but only got the two count. Atlas was on fire, but he couldn’t get the victory. Swerve managed to get in some offence, but Atlas hit an amazing spinning Samoan drop off the top turnbuckle. After a House Call outside the ring, Swerve landed the JML Driver in the centre of the ring to get the win. Another superb match.

Winner: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott Rating: 7.5/10

Dexter Lumis vs Timothy Thatcher vs Finn Balor

Dexter Lumis had been watching over his opponents throughout the night. How lucky are we to get this match? All three are incredible talents, and there was never a doubt this was going to be fantastic. Lumis watched on as Thatcher and Balor went at each other. He then attacked both of them in the ring and threw them outside. Lumis dived over the rope and landed on his feet, then did the same again. As the action returned inside the ring, he hit a backdrop driver on Balor, but only got the two-count.

Thatcher then locked in a wrist lock after a belly to belly suplex. Each man took a hell of a beating, and neither one of the three were getting anywhere. Brutal uppercuts and strikes saw Balor get knocked to the ground by Thatcher. As Lumis tried to get back in the ring, Thatcher knocked him back to the outside. Balor’s body was bruised, but he fought back with a forearm smash on Thatcher. Lumis finally got back in the ring and floored Thatcher. He tried to do the same to Balor but got caught with a Pelé Kick.

Balor was ready to attack Lumis, but Thatcher grabbed his feet from outside and pulled him into the post. Lumis broke up Thatcher’s hold on Balor and took Thatcher back in the ring. He landed a spinebuster, but Thatcher got back to his feet. Lumis hit the uranage and locked in the Silence, but Balor launched himself off the top turnbuckle and hit the Coup de Grace. Thatcher locked in an ankle lock, but Lumis locked in the Silence on Thatcher to make him pass out. Dexter Lumis is heading to NXT TakeOver: XXX. This was a savage match. Each man gave it everything, but Lumis came out victorious.

Winner: Dexter Lumis Rating: 8/10

What Else Went Down?

– After Adam Cole snapped on The Pat McAfee Show, conversations on social media have been ablaze as to whether it was a shoot or not. With NXT addressing it on the show, it seems pretty obvious that it was all staged, but it was still a great way for the company to get some buzz. We saw a recap of what actually happened, with him swearing at McAfee after he commented on his size, then pushing security when they tried to interfere. HHH’s chat with McAfee also aired, where he called it a “misunderstanding.”

– After her match, Dakota Kai was being interviewed backstage, saying she was the number one contender and that she was in Io Shirai’s head. Rhea Ripley interrupted and said that she was next in line for a championship shot. Kai said she’ll see what William Regal had to say about that. Next week, these two women would face each other to see who will become the number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.

– Undisputed Era were backstage, where Cole was venting his frustration. Kyle O’ Reilly talked about how they should be running the business. UE are back in business, but what does that mean for NXT?

– We got a vignette for Ridge Holland who will be debuting next week. The rugby player-turned NXT Superstar could be a great acquisition for the black and gold brand, and I’m excited to see what he does.

– A video package aired featuring Bronson Reed’s journey to NXT. He ended it by saying at NXT TakeOver: XXX, the Thicc Boi dream comes true.

– Damian Priest found out he would be facing the debuting Ridge Holland and Oney Lorcan in the next triple threat match to see who would be entering the ladder match at NXT TakeOver: XXX. He seemed pretty confident and said that the era of infamy would begin.

After The Bell

This week’s show was excellent. Every match apart from Imperium vs Ever-Rise was great, with everyone putting in superb performances. From the opening women’s tag match to the triple threat main event, I had a blast watching NXT. Keith Lee delivered a promo that helped to build his showdown with Karrion Kross, and Kross only helped to hype it up, too. It was also a pleasure to see Kyle O’ Reilly properly return to NXT. I forgot how much I’d missed all four guys together, and I hope they can recapture the tag team titles next week.

I’m so happy for Dexter Lumis. Not only did he beat Timothy Thatcher, but he defeated The Prince Finn Balor. I love the way NXT is building this ladder match with high-quality triple threat matches, featuring ring veterans and the best up and coming talent on the brand. I really hope Dakota Kai defeats Rhea Ripley next week as I’m bored of seeing Ripley in the title picture. Hopefully, it’s just a chance to build Kai up before her ultimate showdown with Io Shirai.

Star of the Show: Dexter Lumis Rating: 8/10

All images and videos courtesy of WWE

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