Roderick Strong vs. Branson Reed
Roderick Strong came out and we started this episode of NXT with a little promo by him. He said that this wouldn’t be about the Undisputed Era or the North American Championship and called out Velveteen Dream as he had last week Marina Shafir (Strong’s wife) and his son on his pants last week. He also demanded an apology, but instead Branson Reed came out and their match started which Reed dominated for long periods.
In the final phase, the arena lightning changed to Dream’s typical purple and it distracted Strong and gave Reed once more the chance to show off his offence. Just seconds later, he went to the top rope for a dive, but Strong caught him with a high knee for the win.
After the match, Dream appeared on the big screen and talked about Strong almost ending Dream’s career. He added that if anything will ever happen to Strong and he can’t make it home, someone will be available to fulfil Marina’s dreams. Then we saw Shafir’s and Strong’s son’s face on Dream’s pants. Strong got angry and went backstage.
Opinion: A good match to open the show in which Reed once more showed a decent performance and I think that it’s just a matter of time until he gets the push which he deserves. On the other side, it’s a bit weird to see Dream acting like a heel in his feud with Strong, but it will be interesting to see where this lead.
Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai
Throughout the show, we saw several video packages as Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle made their way to Portland. I won’t describe them since it’s not really necessary, but these segments were really funny since Dunne always stays serious and Riddle is just Riddle.
Then, the match between Candice LeRae and Dakota Kai took place and took about six minutes as in the end, it seemed as Kai would find no way to escape from the GargaNo Escape, but then she countered it into a rollup for the three count.
After the match, Kai attacked LeRae with the ring bell, but out of nowhere, Tegan Nox appeared to attack Kai. However, security and refs came out to separate them.
Opinion: Solid match and a logical post-match segment ahead of the Street Fight at NXT TakeOver: Portland between Kai and Nox.
Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes
This match was really entertaining and took about 10 minutes. Cameron Grimes once more showed off what an incredible in-ring athlete he is, and that Johnny Gargano is a world-class wrestler is no secret anymore. However, other than Kai, Grimes had to tap out to the GargaNo Escape.
Opinion: This was a perfect match as Grimes had the chance to show his talent against one of the biggest faces of NXT or even WWE. So, the loss doesn’t let him look weak especially as it took Gargano 10 minutes to win the match. Additionally, Gargano picks up an important victory ahead of his clash with Finn Balor at NXT TakeOver: Portland.
Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza to declare the number one contender for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
We had this match for the title two times in December and back then both matches were incredible. This match was also good, but quite short compared to their former fights as it took about seven minutes until Lio Rush picked up the victory with the aid of a rollup.
After the match, he celebrated on the stage as then the NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin joined him. He said that Rush would be the next stop on the Devlin Championship tour and added that Rush would have no good chance as you don’t bet against an ace.
Opinion: It was a bit surprising that Angel Garza didn’t pick up the win as he looked incredibly good on Raw and NXT within the last weeks. However, then we would have had a heel vs. heel match for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship and I guess they didn’t want that. Devil is doing quite a good job as champ and I expect him to defend the title to even look stronger.
Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett
This fight between Bianca Belair and Santana Garrett was over after less than one minute what is no huge surprise at all. After Belair’s KOD, Garrett had no chance to kick out. As the match was over, Belair took a mic and said that Rhea Ripley would act on Raw as she wouldn’t be here and then added that she would win the NXT Women’s Championship on Sunday. Ripley’s music hit, she joined Belair in the ring and said that at NXT TakeOver: Portland she would go right through her. Then, Belair attacked the champ and planted her with a KOD as the segment closed.
Opinion: Typical post-match segment ahead of the title match on Sunday. My main problem with this match is that it’s 100% clear that Ripley will walk out as champion. Surely, this match will be great, but the finish is obvious.
NXT Champion Adam Cole vs. Kushida in a non-title match
Ahead of this match, we saw Tommaso Ciampa in a classroom and he once more explained that he never lost the NXT Championship. He noted that Cole is on his way to becoming the longest-reigning champion if he’s able to defeat Ciampa on Sunday. He added that a man is most dangerous when there is nothing he can lose.
After this segment, the main event of this week’s episode of NXT took place as Kushida fought against Adam Cole. The match took about 13 minutes and, in the end, it was Cole who picked up the win after the Last Shot Shining Wizard.
As the fight was over, Ciampa came out for a face-off. Off-mic Ciampa said that he would take back his life on Sunday while Cole answered “over my dead body you do” as the show went off air.
Opinion: The match was really good and entertaining but we had the problem that it was just clear that Cole would go over ahead of his match on Sunday. The post-match angle was simple but effective.
This was a great episode of WWE’s NXT even though I had several times the problem that it was ahead of the match already clear how it would end. The feud between Strong and Dream is absolutely outstanding and also the other storylines work out well. NXT TakeOver: Portland will be awesome.