Wednesday nights will never be the same again, especially the black & gold brand of WWE.
NXT has grown from just WWE’s developmental brand to becoming the third top brand of the company, due to its quality roster of talent and a rabid fanbase. Led by founder and producer Triple H, NXT continues to change the world and change the face of Wednesday nights.
This past Wednesday, the NXT brand debuted its new live two-hour program on the USA Network. With limited commercial breaks advertised, the NXT Universe was ready for an action-packed night of arguably the best wrestling on the planet.
Matt Riddle v. Adam Cole: NXT Championship
The historic night began with two of NXT’s biggest stars fighting for the richest prize on the show. Adam Cole, since becoming NXT Champion has led the dominant run through the entire roster, alongside his partners of the Undisputed Era on their Golden Prophecy of collecting all the championships in NXT.
However, the Original Bro, Matt Riddle, had his eyes set to make history on the debut episode on the USA Network by becoming the new NXT Champion. Could Riddle put create a damper to the Undisputed Era’s image of being draped in gold?
The match began fast-paced and action-packed as the hard-hitting, mixed-martial artist Riddle took the fight to the champion. Riddle knew his array of strikes and moves had to keep Cole on his toes. Also, the injured hand of Cole gave a major advantage to Riddle. Was Riddle destined to become the next NXT Champion?
Cole was able to counter Riddle’s offense with his own offense. The two continued their war of attrition with countless attacks, strikes, big counters and massive spots. This is what NXT is all about, fast-paced, action and the ability to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
Riddle seemed to be closing in on the NXT Championship, but Cole’s injured hand turned out to play a major role. Cole was able to escape Riddle’s armbar which in turn allowed Cole to land a shot with the cast followed by a Last Shot knee to the head of Riddle for the pin and the win.
Adam Cole on his own successfully defended his NXT Championship, however, the celebration was abruptly cut short.
As Cole celebrated his successful title defense, Finn Balor made his return to NXT. He is the longest-reigning NXT Champion in history. The former Universal and Intercontinental Champion made his way back to the place that made him into one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. Finn Balor is back in NXT and the future of the show is “Reeeal.”
Velveteen Dream Wants the NXT North American Championship Back
Velveteen Dream, just weeks after losing the NXT North American Championship to Roderick Strong, is not backing down to the dominance of the Undisputed Era. He is stepping up to the challenge. It may be four on one, but no challenge is too big for the Dream.
That is why he stated that the next time the encounter in the ring between the two, it will be “Dream Over.”
Io Shirai v. Mia Yim
It was now time for two of the top women’s wrestlers in NXT as the Joshi Judas, Io Shirai took on the Blasian Baddie, Mia Yim. Io cost Mia a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship and Mia looks to seek out her form of revenge.
The two fierce competitors laid it on the line and showcased why they NXT women’s division is one of the best on the planet.
Just like the opening bout, these two kept the Full Sail crowd on the feet and fully invested in the action. Mia Yim seemed to be closing in on victory, but it was the Genius of the Sky, Io Shirai who was able to hit a massive Moonsault for the win. Io Shirai with the win keeps her name in the hunt for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Johnny Gargano v. Shane Thorne
Former Triple Crown Champion Johnny Gargano is one of the many leaders of NXT. He helped put NXT on the map and is one of the many reasons the brand has grown to the level it is at today. However, Shane Thorne feels like NXT is in need of a new hero in the face of the Black Swan.
Shane seemed to dethrone Johnny from the pedestal he is on but Johnny Wrestling brought Shane back to reality. Shane had the match of his career looking to pull a massive upset on the former NXT Champion.
However, the experience of Johnny Gargano was too much as he was able to outsmart Shane with a massive superkick for the win.
Give credit where it is due because Shane gave a magnificent performance and showed he can hang with the best like Johnny. But, Johnny is NXT and is a major influence on why NXT is where it is at today.
Candace LaRae v. Shayna Baszler: NXT Women’s Championship
Candace LaRae has worked and strived since the moment she stepped in NXT, for a chance to challenge for the NXT Women’s Championship.
However, she has to try to dethrone the two-time NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler. Baszler has been on a tear since regaining the NXT Women’s Championship at Evolution last year, however, Candace is no pushover and will fight till her last breath to become NXT Women’s Champion.
Baszler began the match with her strong and impactful offense. Her dominant reign has been defined as picking apart opponents and making sure the offense of her opponent is taken away. However, you cannot count out the amount of heart in LaRae.
LaRae mounted a very fast and heartfelt comeback, putting her body on the line for the NXT Women’s Championship. Candace knew what it means to be champion and she was stopping at nothing to reach the top.
However, her heart was out thinking her brain as a big mistake allowed Shayna to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch and make Candace tap out for the win. The Submission Magician knocks off yet another challenger who attempted to step in her way. Who is going to dethrone Shayna Baszler?
Pete Dunne v. Danny Burch
The former WWE United Kingdom Champion, the Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne is another focal point on why the NXT brand is where it is at today. He helped the brand expand into the United Kingdom and helped launch the NXT UK brand. Pete Dunne has now made his way back to NXT to showcase his talent in front of millions of fans, new and old.
He faced off against another bruiser from Europe, Danny Burch. The two slugged out brutal and hard-hitting shots between each other. However, it was the experience of Dunne that was able to land the Bitter End on Burch for the victory.
However, the victory was cut short as the lights went out and Damian Priest attacked Dunne from behind and laid him out. What a way to make your name heard than by taking out one of the best NXT has to offer?
The Street Profits v. The Undisputed Era: NXT Tag Team Championships
It was then main event time as Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins, The Street Profits, looked to reclaim the NXT Tag Team Championships from Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish of the Undisputed Era.
The Street Profits knew that the possible numbers game of the Undisputed Era could be the challenge ahead of them, but The Streets Profits brought the NXT Universe behind them with musician Wale performing their entrance through the Full Sail Crowd.
The two teams started the action just like every match of the night, fast-paced and action-packed. Each team throwing multiple blows and big shots at each other. Each team looking to find the one moment where they can capitalize and become NXT Tag Team Champions.
The Street Profits have reached the top of the mountain before and seemed poised to reclimb it once again. Throwing everything at the Undisputed Era, but the numbers advantage became the deciding factor.
As the Street Profits looked to be closing in on reclaiming the Tag Team Championships, NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong came down and caused a distraction to Angelo Dawkins, which led O’Reilly and Fish to hit the High/Low Combination for the win, retaining the NXT Tag Team Championships. The Prophecy still lives on.
As the Undisputed Era celebrated in the ring, NXT Champion Adam Cole came out to celebrate with his team, until a new target made his presence known.
Former NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa returned after an injury sidelined him and made him relinquish the NXT Championship. Ciampa is back and has his eyes set on his “Goldie,” the title he never lost. The landscape of NXT has changed and the future is only going to grow and get even better.
Wednesday nights will never be the same again. An action-packed night from NXT on a weekly basis will only showcase the best for the future of professional wrestling. This is a moment the NXT Universe and the wrestling world has been waiting for.
One of the most passionate fan bases in the world supporting some of the most talented wrestlers in the world, only tells us the future is bright for professional wrestling.