This week’s NXT saw the Undisputed Era respond to Pat McAfee, with one of them set to take on Pete Dunne in the main event. The build-up to WarGames continued, especially for Team LeRae. We saw Kevin Owens return, Rhea Ripley speak about her future in NXT, and matches that featured Timothy Thatcher, Kushida, Cameron Grimes, and Jake Atlas. It was a packed show, so let’s delve right in.

Candice LeRae W/ Indi Hartwell vs Ember Moon

Candice LeRae ran away from Ember Moon as expected, but Moon managed to land a big dropkick in the corner. She continued the assault outside by dropping LeRae into the announcer table and booted Hartwell who tried to interfere. Moon dropped LeRae with a fallaway slam. LeRae tried to escape to the back, but Moon went after her. Back in the ring, The Poison Pixie did her best to find an advantage, but Moon was just too tough for her. LeRae almost sneaked a pinfall after a roll-up, then followed it with a clothesline.

Moon hooked LeRae’s leg on her shoulder, then hit a modified fallaway slam. As LeRae rested on the second rope, Moon slid out the ring and booted her in the head. Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai walked out as the show went into commercials. After the break, LeRae had Moon in a rear chin lock, but Moon broke out. LeRae managed to lock in the Gargano Escape. Moon got out, but LeRae connected with a sleeper hold to which Moon dropped LeRae to break free.

Moon combined some kicks and a couple of suplexes. She tried to go for the Eclipse on LeRae but Hartwell interfered, taking an Eclipse herself. LeRae took advantage and went for the Wicked Stepsister to grab the victory. Gonzalez and Kai went for Moon after the bell, but Moon escaped. Toni Storm came out to even the odds. As they ran into the ring, Storm stopped Moon and attacked her. She then threw Moon into the ring which allowed LeRae, Moon, and Gonzalez to beat her down. Gonzalez hit the one-armed powerbomb as Storm looked on at ringside. What the hell are you doing, Toni?

Winner: Candice LeRae Rating: 7/10

Undisputed Era Are Back, Baby

Adam Cole talked about how McAfee said they’d killed Undisputed Era. He said people had been trying for a long time, but they failed. He wished McAfee was there but called him a coward. Cole said he couldn’t wait until he was trapped inside the cage at WarGames so he could destroy him. O’ Reilly said everyone saw what happened at Halloween Havoc, and he wanted to face Pete Dunne tonight. Cole said he was happy with that, and how he loved the angry Kyle O’Reilly.

Cole said UE would drag them through absolute hell, and how they would prove exactly who they are. They would make sure that McAfee and his goons would never be the same again, and that’s undisputed. I cannot wait for this match at WarGames. Undisputed Era have returned with an aggressive edge and bellies full of fire, and I am ready to see them in action together once again.

Timothy Thatcher vs Kushida

Before the match had begun, Tommaso Ciampa sat at ringside on a steel chair he’d brought out. Kushida went for an ankle lock, but Thatcher got out. Thatcher landed a belly-to-belly, then worked on Kushida’s leg. Kushida reversed the hold, but Thatcher reversed into a headlock. Thatcher hit a couple of uppercuts, but Kushida found some momentum. He went for a handstand kick, but Thatcher grabbed him as he stood on the apron.

After the break, Kushida took some body shots, but Thatcher stopped him in his tracks. Kushida tried to take him down and got caught in a submission hold. He went for a backside pin unsuccessfully, then tried to lock in the Hoverboard Lock. Thatcher wrenched Kushida’s arm in a brutal submission, but Kushida reversed into an armbar. Thatcher reversed into an ankle lock, but so did Kushida. Both guys reversed each other’s moves in an absolute clinic of a match.

Kushida and Thatcher ended up outside. Thatcher stared at Ciampa, then ran at Kushida and missed, hitting the turnbuckle. Kushida dropped Thatcher outside. Back in the ring, Thatcher got distracted. Kushida locked in a submission hold and Thatcher tapped out. The submission master tapped out. “Maybe, he has a problem with me now,” said Ciampa to the camera. He walked off as Thatcher looked angry as hell in the ring.

Winner: Kushida Rating: 8/10

Welcome To The Kevin Owens Show

Kevin Owens welcomed out Leon Ruff to the Kevin Owens Show. Owens said Ruff had the floor. Ruff said he signed an NXT contract seven weeks ago, and now he was the North American champion. He went on to say this belt made up for every “no” he’d ever heard. Owens said Ruff should be proud of himself, and to keep his head up. Ruff said he wanted to be an inspiration. Owens said he doesn’t hear some conviction in Ruff’s voice, and that he needed to believe in what he says. Ruff did just that, then mentioned how he beat Gargano. Owens said he shouldn’t do that because if you mention someone’s name, they always come out.

Gargano did come out and started to get in Ruff’s face. Gargano mentioned Damian Priest, and Owens said the same thing about mentioning someone’s name. Priest then came out and said Gargano needed to face the reality that Ruff is better than him. Priest reminded Ruff about the promise he made last week about a triple threat match. Owens was on top form, saying if only they had Teddy Long here because he’d come out and make the match happen. William Regal came out and made a triple threat match at WarGames for the North American Championship. This was a superb segment, especially with Regal dropping the “playa” line at the end. Kevin Owens was incredible, and it only makes me want him back in NXT for good. Please WWE Gods, make it happen.

Cameron Grimes vs Jake Atlas

Both men got some good offence in after the bell rang. They traded blows in the centre of the ring, with Atlas landing a German suplex and a two-count. Grimes hit a spinning crossbody and a Cave In for the victory. This was shaping up to be a great match but ended far too quickly. Dexter Lumis appeared out of nowhere and stood behind Grimes as he celebrated. Lumis pointed to the screen as a video aired of Grimes’ running away at their match at Halloween Havoc. Lumis threw a strap over the rope, indicating he wanted a strap match with Grimes. Will he get his wish? Yes, because Regal made it official backstage, much to the chagrin of Grimes.

Winner: Cameron Grimes Rating: 5/10

Rhea Ripley’s Next Step

Rhea Ripley stood in the ring and said Shirai was one of the toughest women she’s ever faced. She said people have been speculating about her next move, and that hug after their match last week was all about respect. Ripley said she was here to stay, and that she was focused on the NXT Women’s Championship. Candice LeRae interrupted with Toni Storm. LeRae said Shirai stole two victories from her. LeRae said Ripley talks and talks, but couldn’t back it up. Team LeRae walked out, with Gonzalez holding Shirai. Ripley tried to take them all out, but the numbers were too much for her.

After they finished attacking her, Team LeRae walked off. Shirai lay motionless on the ramp, and Ripley laid beaten in the ring. I can see WarGames being incredibly eventful for the women’s division. My guess is that Ember Moon joins Shotzi Blackheart as well as Shirai and Ripley for a women’s WarGames match. If that happens, you can be guaranteed it will be an amazing match.

Kyle O’Reilly vs Pete Dunne

Undisputed Era were stood on a small fenced off area, as were Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. The match hadn’t even started when O’Reilly attacked Dunne. The match got underway after the break. O’Reilly ran off the apron and got hit, but he did it again and connected with his knees. O’Reilly tried to pull a ladder out, but Dunne stomped on his hands and kicked him in the face. Dunne set the ladder up on the apron and the barricade. O’Reilly managed to whip Dunne into the barricade face-first. In the ring, O’Reilly tried to grab the briefcase, but Dunne stopped him. Dunne bent O’Reilly’s fingers back, using the ladder for leverage. He climbed the ladder where O’Reilly hit a dragon screw in-between the ladder.

Dunne hit an enzuigiri, then powerbombed O’Reilly into a ladder set up against the turnbuckle. Dunne kicked O’Reilly’s head repeatedly on the apron but got caught with another dragon screw. O’Reilly’s fast feet and quick hands delivered some big strikes on Dunne, but Dunne managed to suplex him straight through the ladder that he’d previously set up on the apron and barricade. After the break, Dunne smashed the ladder on O’Reilly’s hand in the ring. Dunne went to smash a ladder on his back but got booted. O’Reilly almost put Dunne to sleep with a headlock, then suplexed him onto a ladder in the centre of the ring.

O’Reilly jumped off the top turnbuckle, but Dunne moved out the way and drove his knee into the metal of the ladder. Dunne set up a ladder and almost grabbed the briefcase, but O’Reilly stopped him. Dunne went for an enzuigiri but booted the ladder instead. Both men battled in and around the ladder, trying to use it to their advantage. Dunne pushed the ladder into O’Reilly, then O’Reilly did the same, knocking Dunne to the ground. Both men climbed the ladder to grab the briefcase. They hit each other at the top of the ladder. Dunne hit an enzuigiri on the mat, then O’Reilly hit a huge lariat. O’Reilly managed to get back to his feet when Dunne attacked him with a chair.

Outside the ring, Dunne hit a pump-handle slam on the barricade. Dunne climbed the ladder, but O’Reilly pushed him off as he fell into the ladder set up against the turnbuckle. O’Reilly climbed the ladder, but someone in a mask pushed him off as he fell outside the ring. Dunne managed to climb the ladder and grab the briefcase. What an incredible match. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a bad match involving Pete Dunne or Kyle O’Reilly, and this exceeded the already high expectations I had going in. WarGames is going to be amazing.

Winner: Pete Dunne Rating: 9/10

What Else Went Down?

– A video package aired featuring Legado Del Fantasma. Escobar said it had been their year. They had taken out everyone. They talked about who was next, mentioning Kurt Stallion. Escobar said that if they are going to do something, they’ll get it done.

– Backstage, LeRae announced Toni Storm was in her team at WarGames. I’m still in shock at what went down earlier. Storm is a great addition to Team LeRae. Let’s hope the opposition is just as good.

– We got a recap of Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai’s match from last week. Both women talked about how much of a toll the match took on them. Ripley said she didn’t know where to go after her loss.

– Pete Dunne, Danny Burch, and Oney Lorcan were backstage. Dunne said if he had faced Finn Balor, Balor wouldn’t have been out for two weeks, he’d have been out for two years. They said they were going to get the job done tonight against Kyle O’ Reilly.

– We saw a video featuring Boa and Xia Li in the back of a car looking worse for wear. They got out and approached someone, bowing to him and called him “master.” They dropped to their knees and bowed to someone in a black robe with a black hood, saying they were sorry… A black mark was placed on their hands, and they both cried and screamed.

– Ever-Rise came out for their match but were attacked by the Grizzled Young Veterans. Call me biased, but it’s great to have them back in NXT.

– LeRae and Gargano were in the parking lot. Gargano grabbed LeRae away from her interview and got in their car. As they drove away, another Ghostface was in the car, sat next to Indi Hartwell. Is there another person aiding the Garganos or was it just a throwaway reference?

After The Bell

After last week’s mediocre show, this one was much better. I love how NXT has built the women’s WarGames match, including countless feuds into one match. With Rhea Ripley now involved, it has the potential to be the match of the night come December 6. Saying that, though Undisputed Era are on top form and their match with McAfee and company could also be a classic.

I’m starting to warm to Leon Ruff, and I genuinely hope he puts on a great performance against Johnny Gargano and Damian Priest to retain at WarGames. Kevin Owens was great this week, and I’d give anything to see him return to NXT. I think Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher has the chance to be a decent match, but it still hasn’t received a build-up worthy of both men.

Cameron Grimes vs Dexter Lumis II will be a welcomed addition to WarGames, and I hope the strap match is the best stipulation for it. With Grizzled Young Veterans returning, I hope the tag team division picks up some steam. I’d love to see Moustache Mountain return, so fingers crossed. Either way, having GYV back could provide an interesting dynamic if they go straight for Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan after next month’s PPV.

Star of the Show: Kyle O’ Reilly Overall Rating: 8/10

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