Two title matches set for tonight’s NXT. Pete Dunne will defend his UK Championship against Tyler Bate, and Undisputed ERA face SAnitY for the Tag Championships. The final spot in the number one contender’s fatal four-way will also be claimed on this episode, by either Roderick Strong or Lars Sullivan. Should make for a decent episode.
Undisputed ERA def SAnitY – to become new NXT Tag Team Champions
Lars Sullivan def Roderick Strong – to qualify for the fatal four-way number one contender’s match
Pete Dunne def Tyler Bate – to retain the WWE UK Championship
SAnitY (C) vs Undisputed ERA – NXT Tag Championship match
The tag title match opened the show, presumably meaning the UK title match will main event. Eric Young and Killian Dain represented SAnitY. Alexander Wolfe is not yet medically cleared after the WarGames match, in which he was badly busted open, and didn’t come out with them. Nikki Cross was also absent. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly represented Undisputed ERA, Adam Cole did not accompany them to the ring.
I’m a big fan of NXT starting each episode strong. This was a brilliant match to start with, and it got a good amount of time.
Killian Dain started things off, and he dealt with Fish and O’Reilly to the point where they left the ring, and had a cuddle before getting back in. Eric Young came in and carried on with the domination of Undisputed ERA, until Bobby Fish took his feet out from underneath him on the apron, and he landed hard on his arm.
After that Young was isolated in the wrong half of the ring for a long time. Fish and O’Reilly utilised frequent tags to wear him down. Fish and O’Reilly may be new to NXT, but they’ve been a tag team for several years, and held titles in the US and Japan. It shows.
Eventually Young managed to get back to Killian Dain, and the tables turned in SAnitY’s favour. For no apparent reason, Dain tagged Eric Young back in, and he was legal when Adam Cole made his inevitable interference.
Cole knocked Young from the top turnbuckle, then something wonderful happened. Nikki Cross appeared, launched herself at Adam Cole, and punched him until she was physically dragged off him by two refs, while the crowd chanted ‘let them fight.’
Eric Young and Killian Dain allowed themselves to get distracted by Adam Cole. It cost them the match. Young was pinned by Kyle O’Reilly.
Undisputed ERA are the new NXT Tag Team Champions.
Video package for Roderick Strong next, ahead of his match with Lars Sullivan.
Shayna Baszler promo, which was essentially her breathing hard to the soundtrack of JR and Lita’s Mae Young Classic commentary. Doesn’t matter what the promo looks like, Baszler is going to change the game when she arrives. She’s got future women’s champ written all over her.
Little segment with Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic apparently getting too close to the expensive car jointly owned by Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss – they call it their baby. Heavy Machinery decided it was badly parker, so Dozovic was going to pick it up and move it. Moss and Sabbatelli appeared, were condescending and arrogant as ever, then got in the car and drove away when Dozovic suggested a fight.
Sonya Deville was interviewed, after a recap of her beating Ruby Riott two weeks ago. Deville said Ember Moon never pinned her. Moon stole the pin on Riott, after Deville had weakened her with the ankle lock. They have unfinished business, and they’re going to settle it next week.
Lars Sullivan promo package next. He is NXT’s monster through and through.
Recap of Aleister Black qualifying for the fatal four-way. Watching him kick Adam Cole in the face again pleases me. Obviously, I just mean it was a beautiful kick…
Lars Sullivan vs Roderick Strong
Right, we all know Roderick Strong is very good, and I wouldn’t rule him out of anything, but Sullivan is being built as an unstoppable beast. You just have to feel this may not be Strong’s night.
Strong came out swinging, but what else could he do? If he had waited for Sullivan to come for him, he had no chance. He made a little headway, possibly, maybe. If he did, it was short lived. And Sullivan quickly took control.
Roderick Strong did make a comeback, several in fact. He managed to tangle Sullivan’s leg in the ropes, and eventually knocked him out of the ring. Sullivan landed on his feet, and just stopped Strong in his tracks on the next attempt to push him off the apron. Roderick Strong managed to superplex Sullivan off the top turnbuckle, but only got two. An Olympic slam also got a two count. Whatever he did, Sullivan just got back up and carried on.
When it was time to put Strong out of his misery, Lars Sullivan hit the Freak Accident, and Strong was finished.
Lars Sullivan takes the final place in the fatal four-way.
Street Profits, Street Talk, segment up next. They were out and about getting validation from the crowd again. It’s amusing, and they’re very over.
The fatal four-way, number one contender, match is next week. Lars Sullivan vs Killian Dain vs Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano – that’s a fascinating match.
Tyler Bate said he and Pete Dunne go way back. He beat him last January in the UK tournament, Dunne took the title off him in Chicago (not to mention all their indie work – which he didn’t). Tonight is his night. He’s going to take back the UK championship.
Pete Dunne (C) vs Tyler Bate – WWE UK Championship match
Do I need to rhapsodise about just how good these two are, individually and together, all over again? Hey, it keeps the word count up, so why not. Seriously though, I don’t believe they have ever had a bad match together. And they didn’t start tonight.
I don’t know where to start, they did so much. The storytelling was lovely. They played on their knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses with almost endless reversals. And upped the brutality levels because each knows how good the other is, and what it takes to beat them. There was a spot where Dunne appeared to have dislocated Bate’s finger, and they kept the camera on Bate while he put it back, only for Dunne to immediately stomp on his hand again. That was fun.
Pete Dunne reversed the Tyler Driver 97 into a triangle. Bate broke that up by picking Dunne up and catapulting him into the top rope from below. Bate’s strength was well showcased, and he got the airplane spin in.
The match ran over, NXT went 15 minutes over the allotted hour. That’s a great thing to see. It gives it a sense of being important enough not to rush. Bate and Dunne put on a match worthy of a TakeOver spot, and the crowd loved it. The NXT universe have really taken to Bate and Dunne, which makes this UK fan very happy.
They threw each other off and into the ramp, the stairs and the apron, kicked, punched and kneed each other in every imaginable way, and still neither would stay down. They were just too evenly matched.
Pete Dunne looked to be about to get counted out, so Bate launched himself over the top rope, breaking the count and sending Dunne crashing into the ramp. He got Dunne back in the ring, hit the Tyler Driver 97, and Dunne still kicked out. He went to the top rope, hit Dunne with a corkscrew headbutt, that Dunne almost got out of the way of, and still only got two. It was starting to seem like they’d never find the difference maker.
Pete Dunne landed on his feet from an avalanche german suplex and delivered The Bitter End, and finally Bate stayed down for three. Pete Dunne is still WWE UK Champion.
Nikki Cross beating up Adam Cole was the best thing I’ve seen in a while. I would very much like to see that match. Undisputed ERA becoming champions had an air of inevitability to it, as did Cole being a factor.
No women’s match this week, but I can’t complain too much because I spent last week complaining that matches were crammed in and not given enough time. This week the matches were longer, and better for it. Now that the women’s Royal Rumble match has been announced, I’d expect the women’s division to pick up a bit. No info has been announced regarding number of competitors in the women’s rumble, but it’s likely they’ll need at least a few NXT names to make up the numbers. I hope so, it would be exciting to see some of them get a main roster appearance. At the very least I’d expect one or both of the Iconic Duo to appear (Peyton Royce if they only use one).
Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne did what Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne do, they had a fantastic match. There’s not much more I can add to that.
Next week’s four-way will be intriguing. Lars Sullivan is the unstoppable monster, Killian Dain is a beast, Aleister Black is undefeated for good reason, and Johnny Gargano is the ultimate talented underdog. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.