The big pre-announced match for tonight’s show is the steel cage match between Tye Dillinger and Eric Young. It’s Dillinger’s farewell to NXT, and the wrap up to the storyline with SAnitY. It should be great. Nothing else announced, but WWE.com teased the possibility of Billie Kay seeking revenge on Aliyah and Liv Morgan for pushing her into a hydrotherapy tub last week. Anyone else sense another tag match coming?
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas def Danny Burch
Aliyah and Liv Morgan def Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
Tye Dillinger def Eric Young
The show opened with Bobby Roode in a suit, with the title belt looking like a badly judged fashion choice. He said he’d made WrestleMania week glorious for the second year in a row (he was first pictured in the crowd at the ‘mania week TakeOver last year). Then he talked about having snuffed out the old NXT and transformed it into his glorious era. He thought it was complete until he saw fans and co-workers celebrating Shinsuke Nakamura last week. Roode said Nakamura only left NXT because he beat him so badly, and embarrassed him so much that Nakamura had no choice. As he was berating the fans, and telling them they aren’t good enough to be part of his NXT, Hideo Itami’s music hit.
Itami came to the ring, also in a suit. He and Roode stared at each other for a while, then Itami slapped him. The crowd chanted one more time as the stare-down continued until Roode started to undress and trash talk. He took a couple of steps forward to really get in Itami’s face, and got hit with a GTS. Itami held the title belt for a few moments, then left the ring.
Commentary announced that Aliyah and Liv Morgan will be taking on Billie Kay and Peyton Royce this week. Not remotely unexpected, but a little disappointing.
Tyler Bate and Jack Gallagher being polite and complimentary to each other by way of a match promo was very sweet, and the match will be great. There was a real sense of, this is how Americans see the Brits, but let’s not fall down the wrestling and stereotypes rabbit hole tonight. Let’s just focus on how good that match is going to be.
After a quick recap of Hideo Itami making Bobby Roode go to sleep, and footage of officials still trying to wake him up and get him out of the ring, we got a performance centre segment. It was supposed to be about Heavy Machinery but instead caught Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas squaring up to Drew McIntyre and saying he’ll see him next week.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Danny Burch
Twenty minutes in and we got the first match of the show. All were bets on this one being short, with a tag team match and a steel cage match still to fit into the hour. And it was, two minutes and all done. Two talented men in the ring, but because one of them was Almas the crowd were disinterested. I’m not sure what the poor guy needs to do to make the NXT crowd care, maybe there’s nothing he can do. It might be time to move him to the main roster and see if the crowds there will either love or hate him. Anything is better than this indifference.
Almas was dominant in this match, although Burch got enough offence to be credible (as well he should). Almas finished things up with a hammerlock DDT.
During the match, commentary were pushing a narrative of Almas having been seen partying, and his commitment being questioned. This was used last week as well, so I guess something is being built on that line.
We got an interesting little promo package next, showcasing Asuka, and the women who are desperate to dethrone her. Hopefully this means the women’s division is about to start getting the care and attention it has been lacking in recent months.
Nice video package for the main event of the evening shown next, chronicling the storyline between Tye Dillinger and Eric Young.
Liv Morgan and Aliyah vs Billie Kay and Peyton Royce
I feel like we’ve seen every possible permutation of these four, several times. I have no objection to any of them, although the best friends gimmick is annoying – but it’s supposed to be. My problem is, NXT have a huge talent pool at their disposal, they’re using lots of different women at live shows, and the list seems to be growing daily. But, so far, that hasn’t transferred to tv.
Another ultra-short match, decent enough but there’s a limit to what can be achieved in approximately three minutes. Everyone got to do their little bit, then Aliyah pinned Peyton Royce from a roll-up after Liv Morgan drop-kicked Billie Kay off the apron to stop her interfering. Post-match, Royce and Kay threw and almighty tantrum in the centre of the ring.
Two announcements for next week Aleister Black will face an unnamed opponent, and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas will take on Drew McIntyre. There was also another reminder that the UK championship match will take place on next week’s show. Looks like next week will be a big one.
Tye Dillinger vs Eric Young – Steel cage match
SAnitY accompanied Eric Young to the stage, then he waved them away. Tye Dillinger, already waiting for him in the cage, looked completely ready to tidy up his unfinished business with SAnitY and Young.
I’ve made no secret of being a Dillinger fan, and I’m thrilled he finally made it to the main roster. This was a fantastic send off for him. Intense and brutal to start, with the cage being used to good effect. I’m guessing that it was one of the trips into the cage that cut Eric Young’s head, but we had a rare-ish sighting of blood. Young was the first to throw himself off the top of the cage onto his opponent, but Dillinger recovered and hit the Tye-Breaker before crawling towards the cage door.
Of course, the rest of SAnitY weren’t going to stay out the back for the whole match. They appeared just in time to stop Dillinger escaping the cage through the door, closing it on him and locking it up. Kassius Ohno, Ruby Riot and Roderick Strong rand down to even the odds. Riot chased Cross backstage, and Ohno and Strong attempted to stop Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe gaining access to the cage. Dain took everyone, including a ref, out by slamming them into the cage.
Tye Dillinger managed to knock both Dain and Wolfe off the cage once by throwing himself against it while they were climbing up, but they weren’t giving up and it looked like the numbers might be too much one last time. Wolfe was waiting for Dillinger as he tried to escape over the top, and while he was distracted with him, Killian Dain entered the cage via the door.
With no options left, Tye Dillinger threw himself off the cage onto Eric Young and Killian Dain, then waited for Alexander Wolfe to fully commit to climbing into the cage before escaping through the door for the win. He locked the door behind him, and celebrated with Ohno and Strong while SAnitY threw a strop inside the cage.
The final shot of the show was a beaming Dillinger sat on the shoulders of Ohno and Strong while the crowd chanted ‘Thank you Tye’.
What a great main event that was. It’s unusual for a superstar to leave NXT for the main roster and go out on a win. I’m glad they made an exception here. It felt like the proper ending to this storyline and a SAnitY win wouldn’t have worked.
I’m starting to seriously question the two to three minute match structure for the rest of the show though. Maybe it would be better to reduce the matches to just two if there is a lot of business to get through, or maybe the show needs extending to an hour and a half. I’m just not sure that ultra-short matches achieve much. Next week’s show looks just as packed full as this one, so we’ll see how the timings work out there.