NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff def. Johnny Gargano by Disqualification
This was a bit more competitive than their match last week due to lasting a little longer, though Gargano was on offense for a majority of it. I can't say I was fond of the finish, but it was a clever way of keeping the title on Ruff without having him pin Gargano for the second straight week. It was too soon to take the belt off Ruff, so I'm glad his reign isn't over yet. This served its purpose in progressing the story with these two as well as with Damian Priest, who intentionally struck Ruff to ensure he retained the title.
Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis in a Blindfold Match Ended in a No Contest
Well, this was lame. I loved their Haunted House of Terror match, but the feud feels like it's losing steam, especially since there isn't an endgame that makes sense unless Grimes eventually avenges his loss to Lumis. It didn't happen here and the Blindfold stipulation wound up being stupid. Hell, there wasn't even a proper finish, as they just brawled to the back while the referee was knocked out and then the show abruptly went to commercial. That was pretty lazy.
Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell def. Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro
NXT had been building to Hartwell joining LeRae for a while, so I'm glad they're finally a team. Hopefully it isn't long before the WWE Women's Tag Team Champions resurface in NXT because I think LeRae and Hartwell can be fun challengers for them at some point. This was a solid showcase for the heel duo as they picked up their first win together. Hartwell has a ton of potential and putting her with someone as experienced as LeRae will only help her cause.
Kushida def. Arturo Ruas
What's hilarious to me is that Ruas was selected by Raw in the recent Draft, yet hasn't appeared on the red brand since. Instead, because Raw Underground is no longer a thing, it appears he's been sent back down to NXT, which is where he belongs. I say that as a fan of his because he never got a real run on NXT and being back affords him a chance to establish an identity for himself. He had a good showing for himself here, but ultimately, this was all about Kushida who continues to build momentum by stacking up victory after victory.
Toni Storm and Ember Moon def. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez
Moon has been feuding with Moon since her return to the ring, but it feels like NXT doesn't quite know what to do yet with Storm. She's been featured here and there but doesn't have any real direction. Thankfully, she won the match for her team here, so she isn't lost in the shuffle yet. It was a very well-wrestled match and I'm glad they got as much time as they did. LeRae and Hartwell helping the heels lay out the babyfaces afterward makes me think we're headed for another women's WarGames matchup next month. Unfortunately, this one is much more thrown-together than last year's.
Timothy Thatcher def. August Grey
This has been a fine feud for Thatcher in recent weeks. He should be involved in something that's more high-profile (and it looks like he will be with Tommaso Ciampa), but it's been nice to see Grey doing something significant right out of the gate. This wasn't his match to win, however, as it made more sense for Thatcher to pick up the factor. It was decent while it lasted. Tommaso Ciampa came to Grey's aid afterward, and while I'm looking forward to Thatcher vs. Ciampa, I fear that it will end in another loss for Thatcher.
NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff, Johnny Gargano and Damian Priest Brawled
Priest was headed to the ring for a match when he was ambushed on the ramp by Gargano. What followed was a heated brawl between them and Ruff. There aren't any alliances anymore as Ruff rightfully declared that he's more than a joke and doesn't need Priest sticking up for him. I liked how he came across in this segment and how NXT isn't immediately casting him off as a joke champion. Rather, he demanded to William Regal in a backstage segment later on that he defend his title against both Priest and Gargano. I assume that Triple Threat will take place at TakeOver: WarGames IV.
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai def. Rhea Ripley
Of the few matches Shirai and Ripley have had together so far, this was easily the best of the bunch. Their chemistry is terrific and thus this was an outstanding piece of business. They beat the holy hell out of each other, the drama was great, and it built to a fantastic final stretch. Shirai finally beating Ripley was the right call as Ripley likely makes the move over to the main roster. Shirai has had an amazing reign as NXT Women's Champion and I'm interested to see who she'll feud with next.
NXT Champion Finn Balor Addressed the Audience; Undisputed Era Returned to Fight Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne and NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
Balor stepped into the ring while Shirai was making her way up the ramp because there were only a few minutes left in the show. I'm pretty positive viewers were offered an update on his condition and status as NXT Champion, and although he didn't relinquish the title, he also didn't say when he'd be back in the ring. He was interrupted by McAfee's heel stable, who then brawled with the returning Undisputed Era. It was a hot way to close out the show, and in an exclusive video that went up on WWE's YouTube channel after it went off the air, William Regal made the obvious announcement that they will collide in WarGames. Unlike the women's one, that WarGames match feels more organic as the bad blood between the two factions has been brewing for a while.
There had been rumors that NXT would hold another TakeOver special in early December, and although I figured it would be WarGames, it's coming up quickly and it doesn't feel like the brand has enough time to build up a proper card. There will be two WarGames matches again this year it seems (I'm curious how they'll be able to fit the two rings inside the Capitol Wrestling Center), but what else? Maybe Ruff vs. Gargano vs. Priest and possibly Ciampa vs. Thatcher, but Balor has no opponent (assuming he's cleared to compete by then), Shirai just beat Ripley, and Santos Escobar and Curt Stallion haven't even interacted yet following Stallion's number one contender's victory last week on 205 Live. Time will tell on that front, but this was an excellent episode nonetheless with a phenomenal final half hour, three quality women's matches, progression in the NXT North American Championship picture, and Kushida and Thatcher scoring momentum-building wins.