This week’s NXT looks great. There is an NXT Championship match, with Drew McIntyre defending the title for the first time, against Roderick Strong. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay have their rematch against Ruby Riot, and maybe Niki Cross – if she turns up. We also get two debuts. Kairi Sane, against an undisclosed opponent, and Lio Rush versus Aleister Black. Rush is an exciting signing for NXT, but I don’t know if he’s a big enough name to end Black’s undefeated streak. I can’t wait to find out.
Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross def Billie Kay and Peyton Royce
Aleister Black vs Lio Rush – No Contest
Kairi Sane def Aliyah
Drew McIntyre def Roderick Strong
The show opened with the build up to the main event title match. After the initial housekeeping, we were straight into the first match.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce vs Ruby Riot
Riot arrived for this match alone, as she did for the last one. There was no sign of Nikki Cross in the early part of the match, and Royce and Kay took full advantage of that. Double team moves, and frequent tags prevented Riot making any kind of headway.
Nikki Cross did turn up, she came through the crowd, and stood ringside, watching Ruby Riot being dominated by the ‘iconic duo’. Riot looked to be battling with herself as Cross extended her arm for the tag, but she reluctantly tagged her in.
Cross came in like a wild thing unleashed, and took out both Kay and Royce. Peyton Royce knocked Ruby Riot from the apron, and Royce and Kay started to double-team Cross. After a failed pin attempt they went for another double team, and Riot pulled Royce from the ring.
Ruby Riot tagged herself back in when Cross was on Kay’s back. She hit a double drop kick on her opponents, then pinned Billie Kay after a Pele kick. Nikki Cross wandered away with a big smile on her face.
Quick recap of Danny Burch saving Oney Lorcan from Lars Sullivan’s post-match beat down, before Sullivan was interviewed. Burch has asked for a match with Sullivan next week. He said he’s always in control. His opponents should be afraid
Zelina Vega, was asked how she feels about Johnny Gargano being given a rematch against Andrade ‘Cien’Almas. She said Gargano is just mad because he’s still haunted by his break up with Ciampa. She knew which emotional strings to pull without touching him. They’re happy about the rematch, because every time Almas wins, he gets closer to a title shot.
Another recap, this time of Adam Cole vs Eric Young. Used as a lead to the announcement that SAnitY will take on Undisputed Era (Cole, Fish and O’Reilly) in two weeks.
Lio Rush vs Aleister Black
NXT gets more ‘WWE does the indies’ every week. I like it. I’m starting to lose track of how many debuts we’ve had this year, and there are still more to come.
Lio Rush’s big night was not to be though. Completely gutted about this. The Velveteen Dream jumped Rush while during Aleister Black’s entrance, so the match didn’t even get started. Velveteen was obviously trying very hard to get Black’s attention.
Black had said he was going to ignore Velveteen Dream, and he did. He sat cross legged in the centre of the ring, and didn’t even look at him. This infuriated Velveteen who banged on the ring, and shouted at Black to acknowledge him and say his name. ‘I’m gonna make you say my name’, which is what Velveteen Dream was muttering as he walked away, sounds all kinds of wrong.
Kairi Sane vs Aliyah
Is there anyone out there who gave Aliyah a single chance going into this match? No, good. The winner of the Mae Young Classic was not losing on her debut, and certainly not to someone as far down the pecking order as Aliyah.
That said, Aliyah is clearly still improving. She looks better, and more rounded as a character, every time I see her. We haven’t seen her for a while, and she’s clearly been working hard.
She was a prop in this match though. It wasn’t bad at all, for what it was. Aliyah looked confident, and she got enough offence in to stop it looking like a squash. Kairi Sane is genuinely fantastic. She, of course, won the match with her diving elbow.
The first qualifying match, for the chance to take on Sane at TakeOver, will take place next week. Nikki Cross, Liv Morgan and Peyton Royce will compete in a triple threat for a spot in the fatal four-way title match. They also announced Gargano vs Almas for next week.
Drew McIntyre (C) vs Roderick Strong
McIntyre’s first title defence, and potentially Strong’s last chance at the gold for a while. There is a queue of candidates forming behind him, and it’s a long one. They both went in to this with a lot to prove.
That was the story of the match. Both had something to prove, and both were ready to do just about anything to come out on top. There is no malice between them, they’ve shown each other nothing but respect. But that didn’t stop them fighting, and fighting hard.
This wasn’t a technical masterclass, although there was plenty of technique on display. It was about hitting hard enough to try to keep the other man down for three. Steps, barricades, and the ramp were brought into play, with both Strong and McIntyre taking trips into them.
It was quite an even fight. For a lot of the match they traded blow for blow. Both had near falls. Strong almost pinned McIntyre after delivering a superplex, but McIntyre kicked out on two. There was a headbutt spot, which served to remind me how much I hate headbutt spots. Three high knees and a sick kick weren’t enough to put McIntyre away either.
Something had to give eventually. Things turned McIntyre’s way after he slammed Strong into a ringpost. The future shock DDT failed to keep Roderick Strong down, But, eventually, McIntyre won the match with the Claymore. There was a handshake of respect after the final bell.
After the match, Roderick Strong was greeted on the stage by Undisputed Era. They congratulated him on getting close to beating McIntyre, then just walked away. Strong looked mildly confused. Drew McIntyre watch the interaction angrily from the ring, apparently assuming Strong is now part of that group. Guess we’ll see what happens next week.
Firstly, I’m very annoyed we didn’t get to see Lio Rush versus Aleister Black. I was really looking forward to that match. I know it all plays into the bigger storyline, but I don’t care, I wanted to see Rush versus Black.
Now I’ve got that off my chest, how about the rest of the show. The, main event, title match took up almost half the show. That’s a reasonable length for a match, and this one deserved the time, but it made the rest of the show seem rushed, or oddly paced at least.
Two women’s matches this week as well. The vacant title, and the influx of MYC competitors onto the roster, is really perking up the division. We still don’t know how many of the MYC women will end up on the NXT roster, but we know at least a few will. The Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross dynamic is intriguing. And Kairi Sane is a delight. I love that we’re getting good, strong, characters now. Next week’s triple threat should be interesting.