Finn Balor def. Adam Cole to Win the NXT Championship
I loved the decision to have this open the show after the Iron Man match ended in underwhelming fashion last week on the show. It also gave the episode a must-see feel because it's rare such a blockbuster bout kicks off the night. Much like their initial encounter last December, this was excellent. The commercial breaks hindered the momentum a bit, but that was to be expected. I never felt like Cole had a legitimate chance of walking out with the title considering he just wrapped up a year-long reign, but those suspenseful nearfalls down the stretch helped with that. Balor getting the belt back was the right call and it's well-deserved after all the awesome work he's been doing since returning to NXT a year ago. As for Cole, I'm tired of speculating whether a main roster call-up is imminent for him because I feel like I've been saying that for a year now.
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai and Shotzi Blackheart Attacked Aliyah and Robert Stone
Stone was about to vandalize Blackheart's signature tank before Blackheart stopped him, and while Aliyah was ambushing Blackheart, she accidentally ran into Shirai. That led to Blackheart and Shirai teaming up to take out Stone and Aliyah in the ring. It was a short and simple segment designed to tease Blackheart as Blackheart's next challenger to the NXT Women's Championship.
Velveteen Dream def. Ashante "Thee" Adonis
Adonis is the former Tehuti Miles, who has been a fixture on 205 Live. I have no clue why they changed his name, but this was way better than the straightforward squash I was expecting. Granted, it didn't last long, but it didn't need to. Adonis tried to make a name for himself at Dream's expense and came close to winning at one point. I've gotten Dream vibes from Adonis in the past, but he stood out as his own man here. Post-match, Kushida attacked Dream before he could cut a promo, I assume for pinning him in that Triple Threat before TakeOver XXX last month. It's about damn time Kushida found direction.
Bronson Reed def. Austin Theory
NXT is where Theory belongs right now and I think this match proved that. The guy is great, but he'll get more chances to shine and improve on the black-and-gold brand than he would have on Raw or SmackDown at this stage of his career. He sold super well for Reed's offense, Reed was terrific as always, and I appreciated that they worked with a sense of urgency. Theory put in such a strong effort that he doesn't lose much in defeat, while the win for Reed gets him another step closer to contending for the NXT North American Championship again.
Roderick Strong def. Killian Dain
This stemmed from Undisputed Era interrupting Dain's match with Drake Maverick last month. It was pretty good for a heel vs. heel matchup with both guys delivering and keeping it interesting. My only complaint is that the commercial break ate up a majority of their time. Maverick once again attempted to forge a friendship with Dain afterward, but Dain laid him out in return. It's obviously leading somewhere, and if it's a misfit tag team, that has potential. Plus, the tag team division could use some new blood at the moment.
Rhea Ripley def. Mercedes Martinez in a Steel Cage Match
Given the stipulation, this felt like a blow-off, which is disappointing because this rivalry was just getting started. Maybe there's more to come, but I don't know if I would've had them face each other inside of a steel cage for their first match if it was going to continue. Despite that, this was a hard-hitting, highly entertaining main event. The interference from Stone was kept to a minimum and they even managed to incorporate a few weapons like chairs and a table, which played into the finish. Martinez was my pick to win so she could be cemented as the new top heel in NXT's women's division, but her loss tells me she's actually main roster bound to be a part of RETRIBUTION as has been rumored. If that's the case, best of luck to her because she's going to need it.
It might have been just me, but this edition of NXT seemed to have a different energy to it compared to other episodes recently. There was never a dull moment, and unlike last week, the show lived up to its "Super Tuesday" billing and the evening ended on a high note. The opening and closing matches were obviously the biggest highlights, but the middle was enjoyable as well. NXT returns to Wednesday night next week with three matches including Io Shirai vs. Shotzi Blackheart in non-title action, Breezango vs. Imperium for the NXT Tag Team Championship, and Damian Priest vs. Timothy Thatcher for the NXT North American Championship.