After NXT TakeOver: WarGames, this week’s show had a lot to live up to. There was plenty of fallout from the PPV, along with the emergence of potential opponents for the NXT Champion, Finn Balor. The main event saw Raquel Gonzalez take on Ember Moon, but we also got a triple threat tag team match, Tommaso Ciampa vs Cameron Grimes, and Killian Dain wanting a little payback from the man who put him out of action. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into it.
All Eyes On The Prince
Finn Balor opened the show. He said the time for team sports is over, and the champ is back. Balor said some people love him whilst others hate him, but if there was anyone in the back that wanted to get to know him better, they should come out. The Bruiserweight stepped out the back and headed to the ring. Pete Dunne said he and Balor were cut from the same cloth, and it was about time they stood face to face. He said it was only a matter of time before he put Balor back on the shelf. Kyle O’Reilly then came out. He said Dunne was tough and they went to war at WarGames, but it was the now the Undisputed Era and everyone was living in it.
O’Reilly continued to focus on Balor until Damian Priest came out. He said no offence to Pete or Kyle, but him against Balor was the right match. Dunne stepped in and got in Priest’s face. O’Reilly then got in the mix and all three argued it out as Balor walked off. Priest noticed and asked where he thought he was going. Balor said at New Year’s Evil, one of them would be facing the champion, but William Regal was the one who would be getting the final say. Suddenly, Karrion Kross’ music hit and out walked Scarlett. Balor said that he knew what she was going to say and that she should tell her boy that when he’s ready, Finn’s ready.
Damian Priest spoke to Scarlett and asked if she usually told her boy to wait in the car whilst she sorts out his business. Next time he wants a fight, he should step up and be a man. Scarlett turned to Priest and smiled, then walked off. What a way to kick off NXT. The NXT Championship picture has well and truly been set up for the next month. O’Reilly turning up along with Dunne and Priest made me very happy, and when Scarlett came out, things got even more interesting. Roll on New Year’s Evil.
Jake Atlas vs Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
The two locked up, but neither could gain the advantage until Swerve booted Atlas in the face as he stood on the apron. Atlas got in a few strikes, but Swerve hit a flatliner, only to get a two-count. Atlas hit a superkick, then a high knee. He followed it up with a clothesline and pop-up modified powerbomb, but couldn’t pick up the win. Swerve tried to lock in a submission, but after a couple of reversals, Atlas managed to roll him up and get the surprise victory. After the match, Atlas held his hand out to shake, but Swerve ignored him and walked off.
Winner: Jake Atlas Rating: 5/10
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Imperium vs Ever-Rise
All six men started brawling at ringside until Gibson and Aichner started things off. Barthel tagged in and hit an arm drag on Gibson. Drake managed to tag in who dropkicked Barthel’s leg to knock him to the ground, then knocked Martel off the apron who had been playing possum with Parker. GYVs worked to wear down Barthel, but Ever-Rise finally got into the match and beat down James Drake and Marcel Barthel. Martel got taken out by Drake and Barthel as he celebrated a little too early. Martel came back and took out Imperium and Zack Gibson. They almost got the pin on Drake, but Aichner broke it up.
Imperium worked together on Drake, then did the same to Gibson outside the ring. They both took out Drake until Ever-Rise sneaked in. GYV got back in the ring and finished off Chase Parker with the Ticket to Ride for the win. A pretty average match to be honest. I don’t quite know why Ever-Rise are getting a push as they are nowhere near as compelling to watch as GYV or Imperium. Thankfully they didn’t win.
Winners: Grizzled Young Veterans Rating: 5.5/10
Cameron Grimes vs Tommaso Ciampa
Ciampa worked on Grimes’ left arm, but Grimes reversed into a leg lock. Timothy Thatcher came to ringside and sat down on a steel chair. Back in the ring, Ciampa hit a big elbow into Grimes’ jaw. The two men took the action outside, with Thatcher standing up and staring down Ciampa. Back in the ring, Grimes kneed Ciampa in the stomach after whipping him at the ropes. After the break, Grimes was wearing down Ciampa but ended up getting caught with a succession of clotheslines.
He hit a running knee on Grimes in the corner and went for the pin, but only got a two-count. Grimes almost grabbed a victory after hitting the Spanish fly slam. The two men slugged it out until Tyler Rust ran out and tried to attack Ciampa, but didn’t manage to affect the flow of the match. Ciampa ended it with a Willow’s Bell on Grimes. It was a weird match in the fact that they didn’t seem to have any good chemistry. Grimes and Ciampa are both excellent Superstars, but this encounter wasn’t anything exciting. After the match, Ciampa stared down Thatcher as he walked to the back. Grimes got in Thatcher’s face until the submission machine grabbed Grimes’ leg and wrenched at it with force, sending him to the floor in agony.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa Rating: 5/10
A Gargano Celebration
The Gargano family headed to the ring with Austin Theory and Indi Hartwell. Gargano said for months they said they would show everyone the way; not just the future, but the present of NXT. He said they were the way. LeRae piped up and said they dominated at WarGames. Theory jumped in and said, “the Milky Way,” a joke that really didn’t hit at all. Gargano showed his stitches and said he overcame everything to become the three-time NXT North American Champion.
Gargano called LeRae humbled. He started to get annoyed with the crowd. Gargano said he had a surprise for LeRae, all the way from Italy. He asked for a drum roll from Theory and Hartwell, but it was awful so they got one from Tim, the sound guy. The gift was a trophy with Shotzi Blackheart’s ‘head’ on it. Gargano mentioned the tag team match he and Theory would have with Leon Ruff and Damian Priest next week. Priest came out headed to the ring until Karrion Kross came out and attacked him. Kross decimated him on the ramp. Kross powerbombed him through a table, then walked off to the parking lot where Scarlett was waiting for him in a car.
I have to say, I love Johnny Gargano and this whole cocky attitude him and LeRae have. Theory tried to be funny, but I’m still not entirely sure why he’s part of the Gargano way. Regardless, seeing Kross at the end was superb, and I am all for watching him and Priest go at it in the next few weeks.
Pete Dunne vs Killian Dain
Dain exploded on Dunne early on. He hit two big boots into Dunne’s face, then slammed his face into the apron. Dunne managed to get in some offence, landing some big strikes on Dain. Dain hit an overhead belly-to-belly, but Dunne took back control with a German suplex and some big kicks to Dain’s head. After the break, Dunne continued to dominate. He locked in a headlock, but Dain got back to his feet. Dunne jumped on his back, but Dain dropped him to the floor.
Dain pummelled Dunne’s head in the corner, one-arm slammed him as he stood on the apron, then powerbombed him, almost grabbing the win. Dunne tried to make Dain submit, but he reversed it into a one-armed powerbomb. Dunne stomped into Dain after a failed cannonball in the corner. He climbed the turnbuckle, but Dain hit him with a fishermen’s suplex off the top rope. Dain continued to beat down Dunne. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch ran down, but Drake Maverick attacked them with a chair. The tag team champs appeared to run off, but they came back and attacked Maverick.
Dain stopped them, but Dunne took advantage of a distracted Dain as he hit the Bitter End for the win. This was the best we’ve seen Killian Dain in a while. He was never going to get the win, but it was an entertaining match nonetheless. It also looks as though Maverick and Dain will be facing Lorcan and Burch soon for the tag team belts.
Winner: Pete Dunne Rating:7/10
Raquel Gonzalez vs Ember Moon
Gonzalez rough-housed Moon, throwing her around the ring in the early stages. She was toying with her, and every time Moon got in a kick, Gonzalez was right there to stop any kind of momentum. Moon got in some big kicks, but couldn’t knock Gonzalez off her feet. Finally, she hit a kneeling flatliner on her and followed it up with a dive at Gonzalez who was stood on the apron. After the break, Gonzalez was back in control, wearing Moon down with a submission on her shoulders. She landed a massive boot into Moon’s chest, then controlled the flow of the match by locking in an arm lock on the mat.
Moon broke out, then connected with a tornado suplex. Moon used her feet to kick the hell out of Gonzalez and connected with a spinning DDT. She dropkicked Gonzales out the ring, following it up with a suicide dive. As Gonzalez lay on the announcer table, Moon climbed up the steel pillar next to it. Gonzalez grabbed her off the pillar and threw her into the turnbuckle head-first. Back in the ring, Gonzalez ran into the turnbuckle after Moon moved out of the way, then ate a big boot to the face as Moon ran at her on the apron. Moon went for the Eclipse, but Gonzalez caught her. Gonzalez went for a one-armed powerbomb, but Moon tried to roll her up, grabbing a near fall. Gonzalez went for another one-armed powerbomb and connected, pinning her for the victory.
Toni Storm came out and was about to attack Moon, but Rhea Ripley came out to save her. Ripley entered the ring and faced Gonzalez. Gonzalez walked off as both women continued to stare at each other as the show went off the air. A solid main event and easily the best of the night. It looks as though the Ripley and Gonzalez feud is far from over.
Winner: Raquel Gonzalez Rating: 7.5/10
What Else Went Down
– Pete Dunne was backstage where he said he didn’t come back to NXT to wait for an opportunity. Before he got a chance to say anything else, he got attacked by Killian Dain. A match was made between the two for later in the show.
– Ciampa was backstage where he talked about leaving the past behind. He focused on Cameron Grimes, calling him the squeakiest tool in the shed. He said Grimes was brash and loud. He ended his promo by saying Grimes was either confident or insecure, and we would find out tonight.
– A video package aired about WarGames where various Superstars talked about how brutal the PPV was. It showed how Bobby Fish, Dakota Kai, and Candice LeRae were all injured as a result of the carnage.
– Toni Storm was backstage where she talked about turning on Ember Moon before WarGames. Storm said Moon stole her thunder, but she was the next Women’s Champion. Io Shirai showed up and attacked her. The two fought each other, with the action spilling out into the ring. Shirai went for the moonsault, but Storm escaped. Moon ran out and attacked Storm as she tried to escape and threw her back into the ring. Shirai finally managed to land the moonsault.
– Raquel Gonzalez was backstage where she said Dakota Kai was sat at home because of what Ember Moon did. Tonight, she would teach Moon a lesson.
– Xia Li was shown pushing her training to the limit. Boa was being punished with a kendo stick. The master was shown telling Li to train harder and to get the man to hit Boa harder. They were both bleeding profusely. As the video finished, we got a close-up of the mysterious woman who had red make up across her eyes.
– Backstage, Tyler Rust was approached by Malcolm Bivens. Bivens said the two of them should talk business.
– Leon Ruff was being interviewed backstage. Gargano and Theory interrupted, mocking him about not having a partner next week after Priest was attacked by Kross. As they walked off, Kushida approached Ruff and offered himself as a replacement.
After The Bell
This week’s show started off strong, with the future of the NXT Championship being the main focus. It looks as though Karrion Kross is set for a showdown with Damian Priest over the coming weeks, but I’d be surprised if Kross doesn’t come out of it the victor. I’d love to see Kyle O’Reilly with the belt around his waist. He can kill it on the mic and in the ring, and it’s great NXT is pushing him towards the title instead of Adam Cole. Either way, the weeks leading up to New Year’s Evil look set to be very interesting.
Most of the matches this week were mediocre apart from the main event. When is Raquel Gonzalez going to get a shot at the title? It looks as though Ripley and Storm are in the mix, but anything can happen in NXT. Pete Dunne and Killian Dain also had a pretty good match. I’m happy that we will be getting a showdown between the tag champs and Dain & Maverick soon.
It wasn’t the best show we’ve seen recently, and after a superb WarGames PPV, it felt a bit underwhelming. Still, NXT has some potential to build a decent card for New Year’s Evil, so we’ll just have to wait and find out. Plus, Karrion Kross is back, which is always a great thing.
Star of the Show: Raquel Gonzalez Overall rating: 7/10
All images and videos courtesy of WWE