Tommaso Ciampa def. Kushida by Disqualification
I was really surprised when this was announced ahead of time, as there wasn't any storyline reason for it and it's big enough that it should have been built up beforehand. Kushida's clearly in the midst of a push at the moment and Ciampa shouldn't have lost here, so while I understood the disqualification finish, the match probably shouldn't have been booked in the first place. That said, this was a well-wrestled opener. I just don't get why Kushida is continuing to feud with Velveteen Dream when Kushida beat him decisively at TakeOver 31 (as he should have). Kushida's post-match attack on Dream on Sunday was significant enough that I thought Dream was being written off the show for a while (if not for good), but apparently not.
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai Confronted Ember Moon; Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez Attacked Rhea Ripley
It's great to have Moon back after a year away due to injury and specifically in NXT. She was never booked properly on the main roster, so here's hoping she's treated like the star she is on the black-and-gold brand. She cut a quality promo and came off as genuine, but it might be better for her to say less in order to feel more like a badass. Then again, maybe she'd be copying Rhea Ripley if she did that because Ripley already has that down pat. This set up the main event for the evening nicely.
Drake Maverick and Killian Dain def. Ever-Rise
I wasn't sold on the storyline with Maverick and Dain initially, but what they did here got a laugh out of me. It screams Team Hell No 2.0, but the people involved are involved are entertaining enough that I have faith they can make it work. Maverick's goofy dancing was hilarious and it went well with the ridiculous entrance music. I feel like people will either find it funny or completely stupid, but hey, NXT's tag team division is so depleted at the moment that adding them to the mix wouldn't hurt.
Austin Theory def. Leon Ruff; Dexter Lumis def. Theory
Ruff has appeared in several squash matches this year on NXT, Raw and SmackDown and was officially announced as having signed with WWE earlier today, so congrats to him on that. His match with Theory didn't last long at all, but he was pretty impressive in that time before eating defeat. Theory vs. Lumis was much more competitive. It was solid and served to give Lumis a win in his return to the ring. Shouldn't he be owed a shot at the NXT North American Championship after not being able to compete in the Ladder matchup at TakeOver 30 due to his injury? Before then, it looks like he'll be feuding with Cameron Grimes. By the way, Theory has been excellent in his role since returning to NXT despite losing more often than not.
Ridge Holland def. Danny Burch
Burch scored more offense than I thought he would have, but then again, he took Karrion Kross to the limit earlier this year, so it wasn't entirely illogical. Either way, this was a hard-hitting affair that allowed Holland to showcase his skills again. I liked his post-match brawl with Oney Lorcan, except for how Holland was seemingly injured during it. I don't know what the hell happened or what he hurt, but he better hope he isn't seriously injured right now considering the huge push he's apparently about to get.
Shotzi Blackheart def. Xia Li
There can be no doubt that Li is headed for a heel turn if her recent actions have been any indication, but if so, she has to ditch her current entrance music and mannerisms. It just doesn't gel with what she's trying to go for now. That said, I'm intrigued by the direction NXT seems to be taking her in. The match itself was nothing special, but I'm happy Blackheart is picking up wins and Boa looking to recruit Li has potential. He'll definitely need to distinguish himself from Robert Stone who already does something similar, but at least it gets him back on TV in a semi-regular role. By the way, where's Malcolm Bivens at?
Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley def. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez
Despite being gone for over a year, Moon didn't look like she missed a step here whatsoever. She had terrific chemistry with Ripley and this turned out to be a superb main event. I feel like we've seen Ripley and a partner (whether it's Blackheart, Io Shirai or someone else) team up against Kai and Gonzalez a few times before, but they managed to make this feel like a main event, largely because it was Moon's first bout back in NXT in nearly two and a half years. Ripley vs. Gonzalez will obviously happen eventually, but it's possible we get Ripley vs. Moon sometime soon as well with the winner earning the next crack at the NXT Women's Championship.
Between TakeOver 31 and this show, I've found the Capital Wrestling Center to be a nice improvement in atmosphere for NXT. It's not exactly a jam-packed Full Sail University, but we're a long way from getting that back, so this is better than what we had before. On the whole, this show had an enjoyable variety. Nothing was must-see, but Moon's return was notable and more storylines started to take shape. The Toni Storm video package was well done, the pairing of Maverick and Dain is growing on me, and the women's division is on fire right now. It sucks Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly will be off the show for a few weeks, but I'm glad they're not worse off following their brutal encounter at TakeOver.