Just two things announced ahead of tonight’s show. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas will be facing Roderick Strong. And the final place in the fatal four-way women’s championship match at TakeOver will be decided with a 16-woman battle royal. Hopefully, the lack of other advertised matches means that the battle royal will get a decent amount of time.
Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss def Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
Nikki Cross def 16 other women to earn a spot in the NXT women’s title match at TakeOver Houston
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas def Roderick Strong
William Regal announced that Nikki Cross has been added to the battle royal, as her chance to qualify for the four-way was ruined by Taynara Conti – Conti is in tonight’s match as well, so RIP Taynara Conti. He also said Authors of Pain era will be getting their title rematch against SAnitY next week, and that the member of SAnitY not competing will be banned from ringside.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
Interesting one to start the show. Lorcan and Burch have developed respect for each other over the course of their matches against each other. Burch rescued Lorcan from the clutches of Lars Sullivan as well, and now they’re apparently a tag team. No complaints about that, they are very similar in style, so should work well off each other.
This was a fun, fast, and hard-hitting opener. Not much in the way of fancy stuff, plenty of people getting slammed around, flattened, and generally beaten about a bit. I enjoyed it, and it warmed the crowd up nicely.
Tino Sabbatelli pinned Oney Lorcan off a double team finisher. Burch and Lorcan commiserated with each other afterwards, so there’s no bad blood there. Hopefully we’ll see more of them as a team, they’d make a nice addition to the division.
Nikki Cross vs Billie Kay vs Aliyah vs Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai vs Vanessa Borne vs Candice LeRae vs Taynara Conti vs Santana Garrett vs Bianca Belair vs Abbey Laith vs Reina González vs Zeda vs Lacey Evans vs Sage Beckett vs Sarah Logan vs Mercedes Martinez
Not going to lie, as a fan I love the idea of this match, as a reviewer I hate it. There are just too many people to keep track of. You’ll have to watch it if you want any of the nuances of the action. There is only time here for the basic who and how.
Seventeen women in the ring made it look very crowded. We didn’t get to see all the entrances, but Candice LeRae got the biggest pop of the ones that were shown, and that makes me very happy. Nikki Cross was last to the ring, immediately went for Taynara Conti, and managed to eliminate her. Conti then pulled Cross out of the ring, under the ropes, threw her into the barricade and left her there. Peyton Royce followed up by throwing Cross into the steps. Importantly, Cross was not eliminated, just outside the ring.
Rhea Ripley was next out, closely followed by Zeda, both eliminated by Bianca Belair. With Belair using Zeda as a weapon to take out Ripley. Dakota Kai went next, courtesy of Sage Beckett, who also eliminated Aliyah a little later. Nikki Cross made it back to the ring and flattened everyone before eliminating Vanessa Bourne, Sage Beckett, Santana Garrett and Abbey Laith. Mercedes Martinez eliminated Sarah Logan, Lacey Evans was knocked off the apron by Candice LeRae. Reina Gonzales went out at some point, I don’t remember seeing her to be honest.
The final five were Billie Kay, Nikki Cross, Candice LeRae, Bianca Belair and Mercedes Martinez. Candice LeRae was picked up overhead, and literally thrown over the top rope by Bianca Belair, right onto Sarah Logan and Sage Beckett. Belair almost eliminated Billie Kay, but Kay grabbed Belair’s plait and pulled herself back in. She paid for that by finding out the power of the braid first hand. Kay and Cross spilled out through the ropes (not eliminated) to give Mercedes Martinez and Bianca Belair chance to fight it out. Nikki Cross knocked them both while they were fighting on the apron, having both gone over the top rope.
Nikki Cross won the match, and the place in the title match, by toppling Billie Kay over the top, after Kay hooked her leg on the rope in a failed attempt to hit her Shades of Kay kick.
William Regal appeared in the ring with the title belt, just to show it off apparently. Peyton Royce and Nikki Cross were busy screaming at each other, when Ember Moon came out, followed by Kairi Sane to complete the foursome. William Regal was wagging his finger sternly at all of them, trying to keep the peace. That match is going to be amazing.
Drew McIntyre talking to reporters about doing media for NXT. Zelina Vega interrupted and asked him why she and Almas hadn’t had the contract for his title match yet. McIntyre reiterated what he’d already told her, Almas needs to ask him himself.
Aleister Black was scheduled to be in action, but it was another match that never happened. Velveteen Dream attacked him before he got to the ring. He threw Black into the steps, tied him up in the ropes and screamed ‘say my name’ a lot while slapping Black across the face. Black managed to kick out at him, free himself from the ropes, and go for the Black Mass. Unfortunately, he missed, and Velveteen Dream ran off up the ramp.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Roderick Strong
There has to be shenanigans here, otherwise why would you put a match with no major stakes over a title match qualifier. The four women lined up across the ring would have made a perfect final visual. But it wasn’t to be.
Almas came out first, with Zelina Vega. Before Strong could be introduced, Vega had a little something to say about Drew McIntyre. She accused him of trying to duck Almas because he knows that he’s not man enough to breathe the rarefied air of a champion. I think McIntyre’s made himself very clear, all Almas has to do is ask for himself, instead of sending his manager. But what do I know.
The match itself was good, as you’d expect it to be. Both Roderick Strong and Andrade Almas are very good professional wrestlers, so they had a good professional wrestling match. I’m a little surprised by how cold the crowd were though. I know they don’t care much about Almas, but they’ve been given every reason to care about Roderick Strong. They did perk up in places, but it was a quiet main event.
It was a hard-fought contest, with both men taking a lot of punishment. And a very even one as neither seemed to be able to hold the advantage for any length of time. Strong had just fought his way back on top when he knocked Almas out of the ring and followed up with a wrecking ball drop kick.
He threw Almas back into the ring, but before he could join him Zelina Vega got involved, in a very physical way. She hit a hurricanrana on Roderick Strong and sent him flying into the steel steps. Then she screeched at Almas to get Strong back into the ring. He did, and delivered the hammerlock DDT for the win.
After the match, Almas and Vega gate-crashed commentary and borrowed Mauro Ranallo’s headset. Vega said they wanted to see if McIntyre was a man of his word, so next week Almas would meet him in the ring to ask him for a title shot. Almas said McIntyre won’t show up because he’s scared (I think) and added some stuff in Spanish, but I have no idea what.
Once they’d left Undisputed Era arrived, as expected, and told Roderick Strong he needed to join them. Adam Cole held out a armband to him, and Strong took it. He still seemed hesitant and unsure, but he took it.
I wish the final part of the women’s battle royal hadn’t been so predictable. But it had to be that way. Kairi Sane earned her place by winning the whole Mae Young Classic tournament, they couldn’t very well add in another MYC participant as it would undermine Sane’s status somewhat. Still, I’m thrilled that Nikki Cross is getting a chance.
The ongoing saga between Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream is intriguing. It’s odd and off the wall, but it has been built well, and it’s progress Velveteen Dream’s character immensely. Presumably it’s heading for a TakeOver match, and I’m more than happy with that. As long as Black wins of course. I know he has to lose eventually, but please not to Velveteen Dream.
Shortly after NXT finished, Drew McIntyre tweeted that he will be at next week’s show to see how tough Almas really is. A few minutes later, William Regal posted this response saying if they want to fight it will be official, for the title, and at NXT TakeOver Houston. Next week’s meeting between the pair will now be a contract signing.