This week’s NXT featured six matches that covered a wide spectrum of talent, including a main-event that saw Finn Balor team up with Karrion Kross, as well as the impressive new signee Zoey Stark face off against Dakota Kai. Tommaso Ciampa battled Marcel Barthel, LA Knight made his debut, Austin Theory came face to face with Dexter Lumis, and Breezango looked for some payback against Legado Del Fantasma. Two big names returned to NXT, a big match was made for NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, and Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly got in a heap of trouble. It was a big night that saw the show kick off with reigning NXT Champion Finn Balor make his way to the ring.

Balor’s Time Is Up

Finn Balor was stood in the ring ready to address what happened last week. He talked about how he had beaten Kyle O’Reilly, Pete Dunne, and Adam Cole, but one man remained. At NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, he would face Karrion Kross. Kross and Scarlett headed to the ring and said the fans need to know who the real champion is. Balor said everyone wants to be the champion until the real champ walks into the room. He said Kross doesn’t have what it takes to beat him. Kross promised Balor what it will feel like when he chokes him out, to which Balor said he’ll know what it feels like to be in the main event at TakeOver and choke.

Scarlett said it was in the cards and that everything happens for a reason. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan came out and said Pete Dunne should be the one to face Balor. Scarlett said Burch and Lorcan should put their tag titles on the line against Kross and Balor. After being seduced by Scarlett, Burch said they would put their titles on the line tonight. She then said everything happens for a reason, and Balor can’t change fate. Wow, we’re going to see Kross and Balor team up tonight. What a great way to start the show.

Dexter Lumis vs Austin Theory

Before the match, Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae were talking to Theory from their home and said this was the last step in his therapy. Theory took it to Lumis, throwing him out the ring as the show went into commercial. After the break, Theory hit a fallaway slam and went for the pin, but Lumis reversed into Silence. Theory broke out and powerslammed him, following it up with a standing elbow drop. Lumis hit a spinebuster, then charged at him in the corner and hit a bulldog. He landed a leg drop on Theory which led to a two-count. Lumis hit a pop-up uppercut then a springboard suplex.

Lumis climbed the turnbuckle but missed the stomp. Theory landed a backbreaker to the knee, but only managed another two-count. They traded blows until Lumis hit a clothesline and knocked him off his feet. Lumis extended his hand to Theory and he accepted. He went to hug him, to which Lumis locked in Silence. Theory broke out, but Lumis managed to lock it in again to make Theory pass out.

Winner: Dexter Lumis Rating: 7/10

Legado Del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza W/ Santos Escobar) vs Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)

Fandango took out both members of Legado Del Fantasma early on. Breeze tagged in and continued to work on Mendoza. Both teams did a good job of breaking momentum, as neither one could gain any kind of advantage. Legado Del Fantasma worked well together to wear down Fandango, with Mendoza hitting an enzuigiri as Fandango stood on the turnbuckle. After the break, Fandango whipped Mendoza over the barricades. Breeze tagged in and exploded, hitting a dropkick on Wilde. He clotheslined Mendoza over the top rope, then locked in a single-leg crab on Wilde.

Breeze hit a superkick on Wilde and went for the pin, but Mendoza broke up the pin. Legado Del Fantasma hit a double team move and secured the victory. Escobar grabbed a headset and asked the commentary team if they’d seen Jordan Devlin. Devlin’s music hit and he walked out. He grabbed a mic and told Escobar to take a good long look to see what a real champion looked like. Escobar walked into the ring. Devlin said the real Cruiserweight Champion was back, but Escobar said he has redefined what the belt means. Escobar challenged Devlin in a match at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. Devlin headbutted him and walked off.

Winner: Legado Del Fantasma Rating: 6/10

Zoey Stark vs Dakota Kai W/ Raquel Gonzalez

Kai and Stark locked up, with both women managing to counter each other. Stark hit a few arm-drags then locked in a wrist lock. Kai broke out, but Stark landed a clothesline. Kai whipped her into the turnbuckle, then hit a boot into her face. She wrapped her legs around Stark’s torso, but Stark broke out. Kai went for a kick on the apron, but Stark moved out of the way and booted Kai through the middle ropes. After the break, Kai mounted Stark for the pin, but couldn’t get the three.

They both landed a double clothesline and fell to the mat. They got to their feet and Stark hit a succession of blows followed by a half-and-half suplex. Kai managed to connect with a kick to Stark on the apron. Stark hit a spinning kick on Kai on the apron. She jumped off the top rope but ate a superkick as she landed. They both reversed pin attempts until Kai hit a detonation kick for the win. Stark is an impressive individual who has great potential in NXT. After the match, Io Shirai walked to the ring holding a contract and shoved it at Gonzalez. She then helped Stark to the back.

Winner: Dakota Kai Rating: 7.5/10

Marcel Barthel W/ Fabian Aichner vs Tommaso Ciampa

Ciampa attacked Imperium before the bell. As the match started, Barthel was able to get in some forearms and a headlock on the mat. Barthel hit a double underhook suplex, but Ciampa fought back. He went for Willow’s Bell, but Aichner held Barthel’s legs. Barthel hit a dropkick into Ciampa’s jaw as he was trapped in the ropes. Barthel looked into the camera and told Thatcher to step in line. Ciampa hit a succession of clotheslines and knocked Aichner off the apron. He hit Widow’s Bell on Barthel to pick up the victory.

After the match, WALTER appeared on the ramp. He walked to the ring and stared down Ciampa. As Barthel and Aichner attacked him, WALTER hit a huge chop on his chest. He then hit an epic powerbomb on Ciampa as all three stood over him. Words can’t describe how happy I am to see WALTER back on NXT.

Winner: Tommaso Ciampa Rating: 6/10

LA Knight vs August Grey

Knight was vicious. He hit an over-the-rope shoulder barge and a powerslam on Grey. Reed walked out holding Knight’s jacket. He tried it on and ripped it as a result. Grey tried to roll up Knight but only managed a two-count. Knight pummelled Grey, then drove his face into the mat with a headlock driver for the win.

Winner: LA Knight Rating: 4/10

Tag Team Championship Match: Karrion Kross W/ Scarlett & Finn Balor vs Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan (C)

Kross was able to beat both Lorcan and Burch up in the early stages. He locked a bear hug in on Burch, then slammed him to the mat. Lorcan ran in, but Kross suplexed both of them. After the break, Balor hit a dropkick to Lorcan’s jaw. He locked in a mat submission on Lorcan’s arm as he stared at Kross. Lorcan fought back and continued to strike the Prince. He landed a suplex, but Balor kicked out. Burch was being checked on at ringside by medical personnel.

Lorcan hit Kross off the apron, allowing Balor to hit a flurry of attacks. He hit a sling blade outside the ring, then a dropkick which knocked Scarlett over. Balor checked on her, and Kross went berserk. He rammed Balor into the barricade. Lorcan managed to get the pin, but Kross his a couple of Doomsday Saitos on Lorcan. Kross decimated the NXT Champion. He locked him in the Kross Jacket but Scarlett stopped him. She placed her hands on Balor as Kross hit him from behind. She crouched down and said, “everything happens for a reason. You can’t escape fate.” They stood over Balor as the show went off-air.

Winners: Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan (Still NXT Tag Team Champions) Rating: 7.5/10

What Else Went Down

– McKenzie Mitchell was backstage talking about the tag team title match when Tommaso Ciampa interrupted and asked her to speak with Barthel and Aichner to see if they’d seen Wolfe around tonight, and then to tell them only one of them would be left standing tonight.

– Adam Cole stood in the ring and said O’Reilly made the biggest mistake in his life last week. He cost him the title, and that he was jealous of Cole. He congratulated O’Reilly and said he’d signed his own death warrant. William Regal walked out and said O’Reilly had injured his neck further after the attack last week, and that he was banned from the building. O’Reilly appeared on the screen and said they’d get a chance to hash things out soon. O’Reilly said he’s normally patient, but when it comes to Cole, he wasn’t. He threatened Cole and was furious he’d almost cost him his career. Cole stormed off and said he was going to find O’Reilly.

– NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Ember Moon and Shotzi were interviewed backstage. The Robert Stone Brand interrupted and challenged them for the titles next week. Moon and Blackheart accepted.

– Jordan Devlin was shown arriving in the parking lot.

– McKenzie Mitchell spoke to Adam Cole. He was not happy about what had ensued earlier.

– NXT announced they had signed Sarray (FKA Sareee in Japan). This is a big signing, and I implore you all to check out her work in Sendai Girls.

– Mitchell tried to talk to Regal about the Devlin and Escobar situation, but he was interrupted by NXT staff who said something had happened and he needed to come with him. Later on, Regal headed to the parking lot and saw O’Reilly being shoved into the back of a cop car, as well as Cole in handcuffs. Cole was swearing his head off. Regal said before the main event that if the police dropped charges he would have a solution for them next week.

– A video package aired featuring MSK. Afterwards, Grizzled Young Veterans said the stunt they pulled last week was the biggest mistake they’d ever make. Gibson said they’d pay for it and they wouldn’t like where it would go next.

– LA Knight cut a promo before his match as Bronson Reed watched on.

– Mitchell interviewed Gonzalez. Kai said they had a match with Shirai and Stark next week.

– A vignette aired with Xia Li.

After The Bell

Whilst none of the matches tonight were exceptional, there was plenty of build-up for TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. In a weird way, I hope Santos Escobar drops the interim Cruiserweight Championship so he can focus on the NXT Championship. He’s a huge talent, and I’d love to see how he’d do in matches with the likes of Adam Cole or Finn Balor. As for Cole, his rivalry with O’Reilly is reaching epic proportions. I can envisage him facing off against Cole in a Last Man Standing or Street Fight match at TakeOver. Shirai and Gonzalez could have a fantastic match if NXT let them take each other to the limit, but I’m not sure how Dakota Kai fits in anymore. Could we see falling out over the coming months?

LA Knight may not have got to do too much in his match, but he still managed to show how impressive he is in the ring. Bronson Reed is a great first feud for him, and I expect the two to come to blows come TakeOver. My favourite moment of the night has to be the return of WALTER. I’ve been a big fan of him since seeing him in Progress, and getting the chance to watch him face Tyler Bate at Wembley was an honour. The Imperium angle at the moment is exciting, especially if Timothy Thatcher does indeed join them. Can you imagine how dominant they could become in NXT?

Star of the Show: WALTER Overall Rating: 7.5/10

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