Finn Balor def. Ilja Dragunov
This maychup featured a veteran who has been an NXT mainstay and more of an established name taking on a relative young superstar with a lot of upside. It was mildly concerning to me that Ilja came out to almost no reaction, and that Finn would have to carry this match on his own.
Fortunately, Ilja was more than up for the task, and it resulted in a pretty damn good physical opener. Ilja was able to telegraph some of Finn’s moves and Balor had to adapt to his relentless offense. Balor was also not content in just hitting the Coup de Grace, but finishing him off with the 1916 to capitalize the win. It really hit all the best spots of any opener, and this was some good stuff to start. ***1/4
Jordan Devlin def. Angel Garza (C), Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and Travis Banks – Cruiserweight Championship
What I loved about this match the most is that they didn’t stick to the stereotypical fatal four way match formula of having two guys fight in the ring at a time while the other two sat out most of the match. For most of the match, there was always at least three superstars in the ring, ad we got a great deal of creative spots.
I’ll also take this time to address how happy I am that Jordan Devlin broke the ceiling and finally won his first championship. For a while I thought he’d just be floundering around in NXT UK, but this seems to have given him the shot in the arm that he needed. This was also long overdue for him.
Overall, this was an absolutely terrific fatal four way match with great drama, great near falls, and a satisfying ending. ****
Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano (DIY) def. Trent Seven and Tyler Bate (Moustache Mountain)
There’s nothing more I can say about these two tag teams that hasn’t already been said by other people in the past. The fact of the matter is these are two of the best tag teams that NXT has ever produced, and seeing all four ment go at it was an absolute treat.
I loved the start where both teams started to show each other respect and displaying their own signature taunts and stealing their opponent’s. Then, I love when DIY started to take things seriously and shifted the intensity of the match by chucking both men over the announcer’s table. The back and forth between these two and the creative near fall moments were absolutely incredible as well.
The best part its that you knew the intensity was gradually going to increase to what you knew it would be, and once it got there, it was absolutely awesome. Moustache Mountain had incredible matches with The Undisputed Era and DIY had great matches with The Revival, but one could arguably say that the best tag team match each team had was with each other. Then again, that 2 out of 3 falls match between DIY and The Revival was pretty hard to beat. You won’t find a better way to occupy 15+ minutes of tag team action, though. ****3/4
Rhea Ripley (C) def. Toni Storm – NXT Championship
So WWE is going ahead in removing the “women’s” tagline for the championship of the women’s division. Certainly an interesting decision and we will see how it is received, but I will say that it is a bold move, if anything else. You may want to stay on the lookout for an article on that.
Anyways, this was a pretty acceptable match by the standards set by both women, but we have seen better performances, especially by Ripley. Ripley’s gimmick is all about brutality, and her matches always tend to be at their best when she is in the ring with a woman that can match her level of physicality. That’s one of the reasons why her matches at War Games and against Shayna Baszler rocked so hard. It was because she was in the ring with someone who wasn’t able to fight fire with fire with her.
Toni Storm is a great competitor, but this didn’t reach the level I thought it could. Definitely a good match and would make for a great main event on most levels of WWE programming. Just not as good as recent WWE matches. ***
Imperium def. The Undisputed Era
I really was hoping that this match would just be an all out war between two of the most dominant factions in wrestling today, and thankfully, it lived up those expectations. I was fearful that after Wolfe went out, the 4 on 4 dynamic would be ruined. However, this ended up being a better match than I had envisioned.
You will find that the best parts of this match were the ones that had Walter taking on all four members of the UE on his own. That’s what makes his elimination at Survivor Series so cringeworthy. The man is a tank, and it should take an overwhelming effort just to take him out for a few seconds. That’s why I jumped out of my seat when I saw Roderick Strong hit the Olympic Slam onto Walter through the announcer’s table.
There were great team moments throughout, great protection of near falls and excellent psychology. With Roderick Strong losing the North American Championship and this loss coming after, it is clear that perhaps cracks are starting to form in the UE. Whatever the case may be, this was an excellent main event that absolutely lived up to the billing. ****1/2
Everything on this card served a great purpose, ad it resulted in a very entertaining 2 and a half hours of action. The tag team matches blew away the show, but there was other fun matches sprinkled in throughout. You’ll be certain to get your money’s worth here. The NXT women’s (I mean) championship match was kind of a letdown, but it didn’t overstay its welcome at just over 10 minutes. If you can get past that, you’ll enjoy yourself. This was basically a much more entertaining version of Survivor Series. Thumbs up!