NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai and Tegan Nox def. Candice LeRae and Dakota Kai
It was cool to see Shirai and Nox join forces following their awesome match against each other for the NXT Women's Championship two weeks ago. This matchup made sense as both LeRae and Kai have been winning a fair amount lately. They constantly kept things moving and put together an excellent opener. Since Kai wasn't pinned, she still has some credibility going into her number one contender's outing with Rhea Ripley next week. I'm banking on Ripley to win and advance to TakeOver XXX to face Shirai for the title.
Johnny Gargano def. Roderick Strong
You know you're going to get nothing short of a great match whenever Gargano and Strong are in the ring together and that's exactly what this was. Despite both men being heels, the action was entertaining enough that it didn't matter too much. It kept the show's momentum rolling after the enjoyable opener and both guys put in a hell of an effort. This was a nice rebound win for Gargano following last week's Triple Threat loss and I assume he'll find his way into the NXT North American Championship Ladder matchup at TakeOver XXX.
Mercedes Martinez def. Shotzi Blackheart
I'm still not sold on Martinez being a part of The Robert Stone Brand as I really don't think she needs them. She should have won on her own here, but I guess the interference was designed to protect Blackheart in defeat. These women are capable of more, but I was fine with this being used to re-establish Martinez as a dominant badass. Blackheart can always bounce back being the underdog babyface she is.
Karrion Kross Interrupted NXT Champion Keith Lee
I appreciated that Lee's tone reflected how angry he was coming off Kross' assault on Dominik Dijakovic last week. The swears were a little much and felt forced, but it was a good promo on the whole. Kross also cut a quality promo and set the stage for their eventual NXT Championship clash nicely. William Regal said later in the evening that title opportunities are earned, so it sounds like Kross may have to win some sort of a number one contender's match before he can contend for the NXT Championship.
NXT Tag Team Champions Imperium (Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner) def. Ever-Rise (Non-Title)
It's been so long since Imperium were last on TV that I almost forgot that NXT had tag team champions. Seriously, the brand's tag division is in shambles at the moment. It looked like they were going to start building up Indus Sher before one of them spoiled the result of Lee vs. Adam Cole on social media earlier this month. I assume that's why they haven't been on NXT TV since. Undisputed Era are fine filler opponents for them in the meantime, unless the plan is to put the belts back on them. I love me some Undisputed Era (and I'm stoked Kyle O'Reilly is finally back), but that's a "been there, done that" type of thing. They're main roster ready and have been for a while. Another run as tag champions for them would be pretty pointless if the rest of the division still sucks.
Isiah "Swerve" Scott def. JAke Atlas
These two are among the best that the Cruiserweight division has to offer at the moment. There was no rhyme or reason behind this bout other than both guys wanting to better their position in the division and potentially earn themselves an opportunity to compete for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. They had wonderful chemistry and I'd definitely be down for a rematch at some point. I was bummed Legado del Fantasma wasn't on the show at all, but maybe on Friday's 205 Live.
Dexter Lumis def. Timothy Thatcher and Finn Balor in a Triple Threat Match to Qualify for the NXT North American Championship Ladder Match at TakeOver XXX
What I liked the most about this main event was that any one of these guys could have won and it would have been logical. All three of them have been on rolls recently, so that helped make each nearfall that much more suspenseful. They didn't have a ton of time to work with, but what we did get from them was top-notch. Lumis winning was probably my second choice behind Balor. I don't see him becoming champion at TakeOver, but he belongs to be in there with how hard he's been pushed over the last few months. As for Balor, I'm interested if NXT has other plans for him at TakeOver or if this means his NXT run is coming to an end with a return to the main roster on the horizon.
On a quick side note, that profile on Bronson Reed was really well done. Viewers hadn't been given a reason to care about him until now, so that was appreciated. At any rate, this edition of NXT gets two thumbs-up from me. It had a fantastic flow to it, there was some above-average wrestling, solid storyline progression, build for TakeOver, and hype for next week's show. It felt more noteworthy than usual and it was one of those weeks where everything seemed to click.