This week’s NXT was filled with spooky happenings and plenty of action, as Halloween Havoc returned to WWE. Damian Priest defended his North American Championship against Johnny Gargano, Cameron Grimes faced his fears in the form of Dexter Lumis, and Rhea Ripley faced off against Raquel Gonzalez. Santos Escobar fought Jake Atlas in a non-title match, and Io Shirai took on Candice LeRae in a thrilling conclusion to the show. Buckle up, brace yourself, and grab your treats as we delve into the action.
NXT North American Championship Match: Damian Priest (C) vs Johnny Gargano
After a live guitarist played Damian Priest’s music and Johnny Gargano came out and slashed the inflatable pumpkin on the ramp, Shotzi Blackheart spun the wheel and a Devil’s Playground Match (no rules whatsoever) was announced as the match stipulation. Priest wasted no time in going after Gargano, who landed a big splash in the corner and a big strike to Gargano’s jaw which knocked him outside. Priest went for The Reckoning, but Gargano got out and managed to take advantage by whipping Priest’s leg against the apron. Gargano grabbed a kendo stick from underneath the ring, but Priest moved out of the way and took advantage once again, throwing Gargano into the plexiglass.
The Archer of Infamy smashed the ring steps into Gargano, then hit some big uppercuts into his throat. On top of the ramp, Priest hit a big boot and went for a pin, but Gargano kicked out. Gargano landed two big kicks to Priest and scraped his eyes on the ramp, then flipped off the stage into Priest. He picked up the kendo stick again and was more successful this time around. Back in the ring, Gargano went for a jumping kick but Priest used the nightstick on his foot, then landed the Broken Arrow but only managed a two-count.
Gargano launched Priest into the plexiglass outside the ring and slammed him onto the steel steps. He went for a pin, but Priest kicked out. Priest fought back and dropped Gargano onto the announcer table. The two fought into the back of the arena. Gargano used a fire extinguisher to blind Priest, then put a trashcan on his head and slammed him into the shutters, and a pushed a storage bin at Priest to knock the wind out of him. After smashing Priest with a crowbar, he locked in a crossface with it, but Priest got out and threw him into the barrier.
The two men fought up to the wheel, and after Priest missed out on landing a powerbomb, Gargano hit a superkick and started to smash a metal trashcan onto his back. Priest played possum and kicked Gargano. He lined up The Reckoning, but someone dressed as Ghostface from Scream attacked him. The mystery attacker passed Gargano a tombstone and he used it to knock Priest off the stage, ten feet to the ground below. Gargano climbed down and pinned Priest, who is now a two-time NXT North American Champion. What a fantastic match. Priest and Gargano put on one hell of a performance, and the touch with the tombstone at the end was excellent.
Winner: Johnny Gargano (New NXT North American Champion) Rating: 8.5/10
Pat McAfee Introduces A New Friend
Pat McAfee showed up backstage with Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan at his side. They headed to the ring, and McAfee talked about his debut at NXT TakeOver: XXX being the greatest of all time. He did a great job of playing the heel, calling everyone losers and stooges. He said “that scumbag Adam Cole” didn’t congratulate him after their match, and when he was on his private jet back home, McAfee kept thinking about him. He talked about getting Ridge Holland to help him out at TakeOver 31 by taking out Adam Cole. McAfee talked about buying help to destroy Undisputed Era, and thankfully, Kyle O’ Reilly came down to shut him up.
Pete Dunne made a surprise return and came out with a couple of chairs in hand to help out O’ Reilly. He handed a chair to O’ Reilly, then out of nowhere struck the UE member across the back. Dunne, Burch, and Lorcan then attacked him. What the hell just happened? Dunne worked O’ Reilly’s arm, then stomped on it. Burch and Lorcan drove him into a steel chair, then McAfee said they were the new kings of the brand, and “that was undisputed.”
Jack Atlas vs Santos Escobar w/ Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza
Santos Escobar paid homage to Rey Mysterio in purple tights and skeleton makeup. He went straight after Jake Atlas, but Atlas showed off his aggressive side. He connected with a cartwheel DDT and went for a pin, but Escobar got a foot on the rope. Atlas took out Mendoza and Wilde at ringside. Atlas was then attacked by them, which allowed Escobar to hit the Phantom Driver for the victory. This could have been much better but ended up being way too short.
Winner: Santos Escobar Rating: 5/10
Haunted House Of Terror Match: Cameron Grimes vs Dexter Lumis
The white van pulled up and Grimes jumped out looking terrified. He called out for Lumis, and as he walked into the house he jumped out his skin after seeing the head of a deer on the wall and a tricycle move on its own. Lumis was seen watching him in the background. Grimes found a referee who was facing the wall. The ref turned round to look like a zombie, then Lumis arrived and grabbed Grimes around the neck. Grimes escaped but had to run away with Lumis in pursuit. Grimes saw a woman having a shower.
He took his top off, pulled back the shower curtain, and revealed a woman contorted in white makeup. Lumis continued to hunt Grimes down. The woman from the shower attacked Grimes and the fight spilled outside. Zombie versions of the ref and Kayden Carter appeared alongside the other weird woman from the shower and chased Grimes. He got back in the white van, but Lumis was sat in the driver’s seat. The match continued later in the night, but it took a break for the time being.
Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez
The two women collided as soon as the bell rang, but none of them could gain the upper hand. They both hit each other multiple times in the middle of the ring. Gonzalez went for a suplex but Ripley got out. They both attempted Samoan drops, but neither managed it. Ripley landed a dropkick, then went through the ropes to kick Gonzalez who was at ringside. Gonzalez managed to pick Ripley up and powerslam her into the plexiglass. Back in the ring, Gonzalez whipped Ripley into the corner and used some big boots to wear her down.
Gonzalez hit a big boot on Ripley in the middle of the ring, then trapped her in a double arm lock. Gonzalez hit a powerslam, then used another submission to weaken Ripley’s back. Ripley was struggling as Gonzalez showed off her power in a multitude of ways. Ripley fought back and hit a basement dropkick. She went for a pin but Gonzalez kicked out. Ripley focused on Gonzalez’s neck and locked in an inverted cloverleaf. Gonzalez got up and hit a spinning powerslam. The two women fought on the top turnbuckle. Ripley went for a Riptide off the turnbuckle, but Gonzalez threw her over her shoulders and landed in the centre of the ring.
Ripley managed to land the Riptide and got the three-count. These two had a fantastic match, with both women showing off tons of athleticism. It was great to see Gonzalez wrestle for a longer period of time. It showed off how good she is, and that she is much more than hired muscle.
Winner: Rhea Ripley Rating: 8/10
Haunted House Of Terror Match: Cameron Grimes vs Dexter Lumis (continued)
Cameron Grimes managed to get back to the arena after running all the way back. He saw two women crawling towards him. Grimes got in the ring, but Lumis was stood behind him. He beat the hell out of Grimes and landed a spinebuster that took the wind out of him. Smoke filled the ring, and multiple zombies surrounded the ring. One climbed in the ring but ate a Cave In. Another climbed on Lumis and he threw them onto Grimes. He hit an uranage, then locked in the Anaconda Vice. Grimes passed out, and Lumis stroked his head as the female zombies crawled into the ring. This was crazy, and I loved every minute of it. The lights went off, and ‘The End’ appeared in red letters on the screen.
Winner: Dexter Lumis Rating: 9/10
NXT Women’s Championship: Candice LeRae vs Io Shirai (C)
After Candice LeRae came to the ring, Poppy appeared and her band played entrance music for Io Shirai. Shotzi Blackheart spun the wheel and it ended on ‘Tables, Ladders, and Scares.’ Shirai wiped out LeRae at ringside. Shirai grabbed a ladder, but LeRae whipped her into the plexiglass. LeRae picked up a table with a bag on it. She poured the contents of the bag out to reveal multiple body parts. After jumping out her skin and being struck with one of the limbs from the bag, Shirai threw LeRae into the ring post. She was then thrown into the announcer table and pulled on top. LeRae hit Shirai hard with one of the laptops and knocked her off.
LeRae grabbed a ladder and balanced it on the apron and the announcer table as Shirai threw a steel chair at her. Shirai drove her two knees into LeRae as she rested on the steel steps, then grabbed multiple chairs from underneath the ring. Shirai hit a suplex outside the ring, then set up a table. She threw LeRae into the steel steps and tried to set up another table, but got interrupted. Shirai climbed the top turnbuckle as LeRae rolled into the ring and hit her with a dropkick. Shirai and LeRae grabbed ladders and took them in the ring.
LeRae set up the other ladder against the turnbuckle then attempted to grab the championship in the middle ladder already set up by Shirai, to no avail. Shirai landed a backbreaker, then went for a moonsault as LeRae laid on the chairs. LeRae moved out the way and Shirai landed on the pile of steel chairs. Shirai suplexed LeRae onto a steel chair that hat been set up shortly before, then attempted to climb the ladder. LeRae grabbed her boot and pulled her down. Shirai went for a double running knee on LeRae, but she moved out the way and ran straight into the other ladder.
Shirai trapped LeRae’s leg in a chair and whipped it to the mat. She went for a 619 and missed, which allowed LeRae to smash a chair across her back. LeRae then hit a modified neckbreaker into the two tables set up at ringside. The person dressed as Ghostface from Scream came back out and tried to get LeRae up the ladder, but Shotzi Blackheart stopped him. Two ladders were now set up in the middle of the ring. Both women climbed them, and Shirai pushed LeRae off hers, which saw he fall through the ladder she had set up earlier between the apron and the announcer table. Shirai then climbed up the remaining ladder to pick up the NXT Women’s Championship.
Winner: Io Shirai (Still NXT Women’s Champion) Rating: 9.5/10
What Else Went Down?
– Cameron Grimes spent much of the time before his match whining at William Regal. Regal told him to go to the parking lot. Whilst there, Michael Hayes climbed out a white van and got Grimes to jump in.
– Drake Maverick was dressed like Hulk Hogan and Killian Dain was dressed as Shock Master in a brilliant segment. These two are going from strength to strength. Whoever came up with this idea needs a promotion.
– Tommaso Ciampa talked about how he doesn’t recognise NXT anymore. He said the colours are the same, but everyone walks around like they are owed something. Ciampa said the roster is hungry, but he’s hungrier than everyone, and everyone wants to blame someone for what they don’t have. He wants to take back the gold from Finn Balor, but it starts with Velveteen Dream. He called Dream a dead man as the promo ended.
– Two matches were made for next week’s NXT. Tommaso Ciampa will face Velveteen Dream and Ember Moon goes up against Dakota Kai.
After The Bell
This was by far one of the best episodes of NXT this year. All but one of the matches were great, and the overall presentation was excellent. Io Shirai and Candice LeRae had a superb match, and I’m glad Shirai retained the title. But who was the person that helped Gargano win the NXT North American Championship and almost helped LeRae win the NXT Women’s Championship?
The Pete Dunne heel turn was completely unexpected. As much as I can’t stand McAfee, I’m excited to see where this goes from here. Undisputed Era are now faces, and to see them go up against the self-proclaimed “kings of NXT” will be an interesting storyline over the coming months. Maverick and Dain need a championship opportunity. They are great together, and even though they didn’t wrestle, their backstage segment was hilarious.
Ripley and Gonzalez had a physical match that paid off, and the Gargano and Priest match was superb. Lumis vs Grimes was also amazing, showing that cinematic matches can be great when proper attention is given to them. Apart from Atlas and Escobar, NXT’s take on Halloween Havoc was brilliant, and well done to Shotzi Blackheart for doing a great job on the wheel.
Star of the Show: Cameron Grimes Overall Rating: 9/10
All images and videos courtesy of WWE