It’s title match night on NXT tonight. Ember Moon has granted Shayna Baszler a rematch for the NXT Women’s Championship, having been blatantly goaded into it. And Pete Dunne will face Roderick Strong, giving Strong the opportunity to become the first American to hold the WWE UK Championship. Aleister Black is also set to appear but
Pete Dunne (C) def Roderick Strong
TM61 def Jon Skyler and Andrew Duckworth
Shayna Baszler def Ember Moon (C) – No title change
No messing about tonight, straight into the first match. The announce desk has moved to ringside, it looks very cramped.
Pete Dunne (C) vs Roderick Strong – WWE UK Championship match
Interesting call to start the show with the UK title match, guess that means the women will main event.
Longish feeling out process in the early part of the match, lots of lock-ups and shoving. Not unexpected considering they haven’t faced each other before. Pete Dunne has really matured as a performer over the last year to eighteen months, it’s been a genuine pleasure to observe the progression.
Dunne took the first period of control, choosing to manipulate Strong’s wrist and fingers and lead him around outside the ring like that. He got caught as he went to stomp on Strong’s hand, Shayna Baszler style, and Strong scooped him up and dumped him back first on the steps.
That put Strong in the ascendency, and he maintained the advantage for quite a while. He couldn’t get more than a two count on the champion though.
Slow and steady kind of a match, bringing the technical skills and big strikes to the forefront. Dunne took considerably more punishment than Strong but kicked out of everything. The fight back from Dunne was gradual, and frequently thwarted.
Eventually, Pete Dunne won the match with the Bitter End to retain the WWE UK Championship.
Recap of Gargano agreeing to a ‘loser leaves NXT’ match against Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas next week.
Velveteen Dream interview. He has a match with No Way Jose next week. He said, ‘No Way Jose will bring the fiesta, Velveteen Dream will bring the experience, that’s it’. Then he talked about Tyler Bate being five foot nothing and thinking he’s a big enough man to meet the Velveteen Dream one on one. Velveteen Dream versus Tyler Bate could be extremely good.
Aleister Black came to the ring in a suit to address the NXT universe. He said, ‘This path has always led one way. It has put me face to face with a sensation, led to an experience, and pushed my limits in the face of an era. But now there is a devil on my back and that devil is driving me, because that devil is the NXT championship. And that devil is driving me to possess…’
That was as far as he got before Killian Dain came out. Dain took his time making his way to the ring. When he eventually spoke, he said, ‘The devil isn’t on your back, I am. And I will not stop until the NXT Championship is around my waist. But, if you have a problem with that, then I am warning you that your path will be stopped by chaos.’
He started to walk away but Black stopped him with, ‘Killian Dain, you crossed me so now you must fade to black’. Dain smiled, jumped down from the apron, and walked away. Some beautifully intense stare-down action in that segment.
TM61 vs Jon Skyler and Andrew Duckworth
I was expecting a basic squash match here. But it turned out a bit better than that. Shane Thorne got himself stuck in the opposing corner for a while, after Skyler attacked his recently injured knee, and Skyler and Duckworth got a lot more offence in that I would have expected.
It didn’t last long though, and the result was the same. TM61 hit Thunder Valley, after a short match, and it was all over.
Ember Moon (C) vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Women’s Championship match
There’s no reason for Baszler to have been given this rematch other than her calling Moon a coward. Commentary made a point of saying several times that Moon is medically cleared but not a hundred percent fit. She had kiniseo tape on her arm and shoulder as well, just to drive the point home. Mauro Ranallo is still pushing the ‘Shenom’ tag for Moon.
Moon came out swinging, and obviously trying to keep the injured arm away from Shayna Baszler. Early in the match Ember Moon was trying to go for the Eclipse, but Baszler rolled out of the ring, so Moon hit a suicide dive instead and sent her crashing into the announce desk.
The move did Moon more damage than it did Baszler. That allowed Baszler to start working Moon’s injured arm. And she never really stopped.
She did the stomp, and got Moon in locked in an armbar, forcing the champion to go for the ropes. While Ember Moon was trying to fight back, Baszler threw her into the corner and she crashed through to the floor.
Baszler used the barricade to do more damage and was about to use the steps when Kairi Sane appeared from nowhere and jumped off the top of the steps onto Baszler, at which point Moon was disqualified. Sane proceeded to hand out some measure of revenge on Baszler for attacking her.
After a few decent blows and a spear from Sane Baszler got away. The show went off air with Kairi Sane helping Ember Moon from the ring.
The two title matches took up most of the show tonight, even with the twist ending to the women’s match (actually the UK title match got most of it, the women’s match only got about 6 minutes). Obviously, that’s as it should be, but it does highlight once again how inadequate the one-hour per week pre-recorded format is for the purposes of showcasing NXT’s enormous talent pool. They are using a tiny fraction of their personnel in each show and I have concerns about it affecting how invested fans are in the characters. You can have a well-established character disappear for a while and come back to a raucous welcome, but if the character isn’t already cared about the audience will forget they exist.
I normally rave about the UK lads getting NXT time, but the UK title match didn’t make me want to wax lyrical about it. It was good, but I felt that something was missing, the chemistry was off or something, it dragged a bit for me.
Screwed finishes usually annoy me, but I liked the ending to the women’s title match. Kairi Sane needs to be involved in the women’s division, and this is a good in for her. She beat Baszler in the Mae Young Classic final, they could have a fabulous feud on NXT. We were also teased with Sane versus Moon before Baszler got involved.
Next week we have another title match. Johnny Gargano gets his final chance at Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. If Gargano loses, he must leave NXT.