NXT results, recap, grades: Exciting title change, WALTER-Kushida thrills, Tommaso Ciampa stands up
An action-packed episode of NXT gave us a glimpse of how the show will look going forward
The second complete week of NXT on USA Network gave the viewer a better look at what they can expect from the show going forward following the insanely juiced show that was provided last week as NXT went head-to-head with the debut of AEW Dynamite. And the future of NXT looks bright as Wednesday night brought an action-packed two hours with three tremendous matches and a title change to boot.
Perhaps most notable about the show was the fact that there was a clear concentration on developing characters aside from focusing solely on ring work. There were four different superstars who took the microphone on the show and four vignettes giving viewers a better look at the competitors in a pair of matches on next week's show.
The incredible action and good characters in NXT do a well enough job selling the show to its die-hard audience. But now that NXT is on cable television, it has to reach out to both the normal WWE fans and other wrestling fans looking for something different but not completely aware of what NXT has to offer. The program certainly did that on Wednesday night, and there were a couple TV-14 moments as well that let the audience know NXT is clearly different from WWE.
Check out what went down as we provide results with grades and highlights below, and don't forget to subscribe to the State of Combat with Brian Campbell podcast for weekly coverage of WWE and beyond.
Cruiserweight Championship -- Lio Rush def. Drew Gulak (c) via pinfall to win the title: Rush hit a Spanish fly on Gulak just a second after the bell rang, but Gulak quickly overwhelmed his more diminutive challenger with his size and strength. Just as Rush looked to gain some momentum, he was caught in the Gulock but was able to escape. Rush attempted a dragon sleeper reversal, but Gulak immediately picked him up for the Cyclone Clash. He only got a two count, however, because Rush found the bottom rope during the pin attempt. Gulak took an ill-advised trip to the top rope to attempt a superplex, but Rush blocked it and immediately took advantage, hitting a splash, springboard stunner and a Final Hour for the 1-2-3.
General manager William Regal hit the ring after the match to formally present Rush with the title, but Gulak reentered, stole the title, gave it to Rush and shook his hand. Near the end of the show, Rush was shown receiving congratulations from his peers, and he looked to be quite humble in taking the praise. Stellar match and another hot start to NXT. Putting the strap on the charismatic Rush was the right move as the cruiserweight division seemingly moves to NXT. This was good action, though the middle third of the match took place in a corner of the screen due to the commercial break. Grade: B+
Rhea Ripley def. Aliyah via submission after dominating a short match from bell to bell. Ripley immediately grabbed a microphone and put over NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler's dominance but promised Baszler had never seen anything like her and promised she would be coming for the champion. Nothing special to the match, but solid short promo from Ripley.
Forgotten Sons def Breezango via pinfall: Breezango was set to face Ever-Rise, but when the latter's music hit, Jackson Riker walked out carrying both members of the tag team. The rest of the Forgotten Sons soon followed to step in for the match. Breezango was aggressive early and looked to be in control after Fandango hit a sunset bomb and followed with a tope con hilo onto Riker. However, Wesley Blake followed with one of his own, and the Sons followed with Memory Remains to take the victory. Riker taking out Ever-Rise was a unique start, but the match was completely forgettable ... like the Sons. Grade: D+
Cameron Grimes def. Boa via pinfall as Killian Dane attacked. Just as the bell rang, Grimes pointed to the ramp, distracting Boa, who immediately ate a running double stomp. Dane, the one who distracted the competitors, slid in and hit Boa with a Vader Bomb before dragging him out of the ring and throwing him on the announcers' table. "This is just the beginning," Dain screamed.
Vignettes were shown for Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, Damian Priest and Pete Dunne: Unlike the first couple of weeks, which were solely focused on wrestling, NXT did a good job finally introducing some of its superstars to the new members of its audience. Lee and Dijakovic focused on each other and their trilogy match next week, while Priest said he attacked Dunne last week as a way to gain infamy and live forever. Dunne later said it will be difficult for Priest to shoot his arrows with broken fingers.
Roderick Strong def. Isaiah "Swerve" Scott via submission: Scott got a near-three count on Strong shortly after the bell by countering trash talk from the North American champion with a pinpoint kick to the chin. After Swerve showcased his athleticism, Strong grounded him with a backbreaker. Just as Swerve was gaining momentum again with a superkick and draping DDT, the rest of Undisputed Era hit the ramp. Swerve continued with a German suplex, rolling flatliner and temple kick only to see Strong kick out at 2.8. With UE screaming at him, Swerve dove out of the ring with a slingshot double stomp to a hanging Strong, but as Swerve tried to reenter, UE distracted him, giving Strong the opportunity to hit a Claymore, End of Heartache and the Strong Hold to survive the youngster. Swerve looked fantastic in yet another showcase match. Grade: B
Velveteen Dream, Tommaso Ciampa intimidate Undisputed Era: Just as NXT champion Adam Cole praised Swerve and said Ciampa and Finn Balor returned only because they know how great the competition is in NXT, Velveteen Dream interrupted him standing above the announcers table. Dream showed a picture of a naked Strong draped in the North American championship, then said he would prove in two weeks during his rematch for the title that Strong does not "measure up." Dream snapped his fingers and the title disappeared, leaving a naked Strong with a blurred out private area. Ciampa's music then hit and he dragged a camouflage crutch to the ring, setting up a chair as UE scurried away. Ciampa said, 'Goldie, daddy's home" as UE feigned attacking him but never did. After the commercial break, Angel Garza tried to stand face-to-face with Ciampa backstage, so he punched the cruiserweight.
Bianca Belair def. Dakota Kai via pinfall: Kai got in some solid offense, but Belair was dominant due to her overwhelming physicality. Belair hit a standing shooting star press followed soon after by the Kiss of Death to pick up the easy win and work her way back to the top of the women's division. After the match, Belair grabbed a mic and said that she -- not Ripley -- would be the one to dethrone Baszler. Grade: C
WALTER def. Kushida via pinfall: WALTER dominated the early juncture of the match until Kushida gained some momentum with a tornado DDT and cartwheel basement dropkick. WALTER held onto the ropes to stop a sunset powerbomb to the ringside area and looked to retake the advantage until Kushida got him to the ground inside the ring, locking the U.K. champion in an armbar. A small package resulted in a 2.8 count for Kushida, but the angry Austrian followed with a German release suplex and half-nelson pump handle for a 2.8 count of his own.
On the top rope, Kudhsida put the Hoverboard Lock on WALTER, suplexed him to the canvas and kept it locked in for a near-submission. However, when Kushida attempted to lock it in again, WALTER pushed him off and followed with a shotgun dropkick and powerbomb for a 2.9 count. A ripcord lariat followed from WALTER for the 1-2-3 in an epic match that had the crowd on its feet throughout and delivered in every way. Grade: A
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