Johnny Gargano def. Damian Priest in a Devil's Playground Match to Win the NXT North American Championship
This was essentially a Falls Count Anywhere match, though I could have sworn WWE nicknamed Hell in a Cell "The Devil's Playground" at one point a few years ago. Nonetheless, this was a great opening match and on the level of their TakeOver 31 encounter from earlier in the month. They made excellent use of the stipulation and constantly kept things entertaining. My guess for the guy wearing the Scream mask was Austin Theory because of how Gargano nodded at him in approval a few weeks ago, but is he really that tall? Either way, it's a nice hook. Gargano previously failed to win the NXT North American Championship three times this year, so he almost had to win it here. Yes, Priest was on a roll as champ, but he can always regain the gold after being in chase mode for a bit.
Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne and NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch Attacked Kyle O'Reilly
I was sold on McAfee being back in NXT and leading a faction of his own the moment he returned last week and I love that he had the chance to explain his actions here. He said that he originally hired Ridge Holland to attack Adam Cole at TakeOver 31 but that he convinced Lorcan and Burch to do his bidding instead once Holland got hurt. We then had the awesome surprise of Dunne returning to NXT TV for the first time since before the pandemic. Not only that, he's a heel now, too! We haven't seen Dunne in his element as a heel in over two years, so I think him joining forces with McAfee, Lorcan and Burch is brilliant. Could NXT be building toward a WarGames between the two squads eventually?
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar def. Jake Atlas (Non-Title)
It's a shame this didn't last long because I think these two could really rip it up together. That said, this was a nice little sprint in the three or four minutes it went for. Atlas attempted to battle back against the odds but ultimately fell short. Plus, Escobar had to cheat to win, so Atlas was protected in defeat in a way. The best part about this was the Day of the Dead face paint Legado del Fantasma wore along with Escobar paying tribute to Rey Mysterio's 1997 Halloween Havoc gear. That was terrific.
Rhea Ripley def. Raquel Gonzalez
I wasn't sold on this feud at first just because Gonzalez is still relatively green, but they had a super physical affair here and exceeded expectations. Gonzalez had an impressive outing and Ripley was the right opponent for her, especially given how strong their chemistry was. Honestly, if this happened on a TakeOver, it wouldn't have felt out of place. It was smart to have Ripley go over given rematch for the NXT Women's Championship eventually.
Dexter Lumis and Cameron Grimes in a Haunted House of Terror Match
I'm well-aware that this won't for everyone, but I absolutely loved it. The first half took the cinematic approach and felt a lot like the Broken Universe stuff from TNA and even WWE a few years back, probably because Jeremy Borash lent a helping hand in putting it together. This was basically the House of Horrors match Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt had at Payback 2017 but infinitely better. Grimes was the perfect person to put in this position and Lumis was right at home in this environment. The rest of this that took place in the ring didn't work as well in my opinion, but it was still cool. There wasn't a referee there to officially declare Lumis the victor, but it's safe to say he won this thing considering he stood tall in the end.
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai def. Candice LeRae in a TLS Match
In case you couldn't figure it out, TLS stood for Tables, Ladders and Scares (no, not Stairs) match. I think it was the first of its kind in NXT, as the brand had never held a TLC matchup before. They definitely delivered and it was worthy of the main event slot. There were a handful of high-risk spots and the interference from the person in the Scream mask (who I'm almost positive was Indi Hartwell) made the final few minutes suspenseful. I was expecting a LeRae title win, but I'm all for Shirai holding onto the gold for a little long as she's been a tremendous champion since June. Not to mention she still has several challengers waiting in the wings, including Ember Moon, Toni Storm and a rematch with Ripley.
By the time this show ended, I was convinced I had just seen one of my favorite wrestling events all year. Seriously, this was a stellar show. I don't know if it would have worked as a TakeOver with all of the Halloween elements, but as a special edition of NXT TV, this was wonderful. The wrestling was above-average, we got a title change, I was a fan of the cinematic stuff with Lumis and Grimes, and the McAfee angle was fantastic. This was an all-around outstanding episode where the two hours breezed by. By the way, that set looked sick!