This week on WWE NXT, a few exciting things were lined up like the returns of Tommaso Ciampa, Damian Priest and Tegan Nox. The former two haven’t wrestled in months while the latter just came back from an injury rehab. Perhaps the most anticipated appearance was Nox whose emotional story with the terrible knee injury last year touched many fans. Needless to say, the Full Sail crowd was ecstatic to see her back in action.
Ciampa also made an impact in his in-ring return as he battled 3rd-generation Mexican wrestler Angel Garza. Ciampa showed shades of his old dark sadistic side when he bashed Garza with a corner running knee strike and then did it again with the luchador’s tights, placing them in the corner as if it were him. What a chilling display. Ciampa then took him down once and for all with the Widow’s Belle. Priest too didn’t end the night without a statement as he and Pete Dunne really went at it in the main event.
NXT was all-round a pretty solid show. Every segment and match were thoughtfully planned out to fill the bigger picture. And the fact that not everyone on the roster was booked that night yet made their presence felt in some way. For example, the backstage scene where The Undisputed ERA took out Velveteen Dream who was supposed to face Roderick Strong’s challenger for the North American championship, Strong later ruining the match between Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic so that neither could win the challenger’s spot for his title, GM William Regal interrupting him to announce Strong vs Lee vs Dijakovic instead for the title match next week, Dakota Kai running out to ringside to hug Nox in a tearful celebration after her match before Shayna Baszler and her crew came out to dampen the mood and intimidate them, and even the intense post-match confrontation between Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley.
Those are definitely some of the best moments of WWE NXT this week. Other matches include Imperium facing Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, Io Shirai taking on Kayden Carter, Matt Riddle competing with Bronson Reed and Killain Dain battling Boa. Now, here are my top 3!
Keith Lee vs Dominik Dijakovic
No. 1 contender’s match for NXT North American Championship
This was Match of the Night for me. After GM Regal confirmed that Dream won’t be able to face Strong next week for the North American title, he gave Lee and Dijakovic a chance to fight for the opportunity. And fight they did!
With the stakes raised, their rivalry culminated in a very heated battle that left Dijakovic hurting his left arm and Lee pulling out the stops to take him out. But somehow both men dug deep and managed to stay alive as they kicked out of pin after pin. Dijakovic showed great resilience even after Lee landed a huge diving body splash onto his bad arm. Lee on the other hand displayed incredible strength when Dijakovic blocked his suplex attempt twice before finally relenting to the third.
The pacing was done so well that by the end of it, I find myself cheering for both men and not minding either one to win and move on to face Strong next week. But alas, during another intense moment on the top turnbuckle, Strong suddenly came out to attack both with his championship belt to end the match in a most unsatisfying no contest. Fortunately, GM Regal had a backup plan as he made the title match a triple threat next week with Strong taking on both Lee and Dijakovic. After what he had done to them, I’m sure they’d love to give him some payback.
Though Dream is officially removed from the title match, I wonder if he would still be able to make an appearance at least and affect the match in any way. I’m looking forward to this one very much!
Check out some parts of the match here:
Tegan Nox vs Taynara Conti
Since being cleared for a return, Nox has made it clear that she’s gunning for the top prize. Which is the NXT Women’s Championship held by none other than Baszler. But Nox is determined to get it and her plan begins with taking on Taynara Conti.
Nox showed no display of ring rust as she nearly got the pin in about 30 seconds into the match. Conti was no easy opponent either as she overwhelmed Nox with some Judo takedowns. But Nox soon took back control of the match with a beautiful corner senton and crossbody sequence. Then it’s all down to delivering her patented The Shiniest Wizard that earned her her first victory back.
After the match, Nox was briefly interviewed at ringside where her tag partner Kai joined her for a celebratory hug. That made me a little choked up too. It was so good to see Nox doing her thing again! But then Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir came out to intimidate them and said how Nox hadn’t earned a shot at the NXT Women’s championship yet before taking a shot at how Kai tried and failed twice. This angered both Nox and Kai, putting smirks on the faces of Baszler and her crew as they walked away.
Watch Nox take on Conti:
Pete Dunne vs Damian Priest
This match was payback opportunity for Dunne after Priest attacked him two weeks ago on NXT’s TV debut episode. The Bruiserweight was all set to break some fingers while Priest was looking for a successful return at his expense.
In pursuit of revenge, Dunne doled out punishment with multiple attempts of joint manipulation and arm stomps and even an impressive moonsault off the top rope. But Priest too had his own tricks that included a breathtaking springboard somersault senton to the outside and a well-timed cyclone kick right to Dunne’s noggin.
After a heated fight, both men somehow made it back to their feet, ready to throw hands again on unsteady feet. But Priest had had enough as he drew Dunne in for a tie-up while somehow tangling up the referee as well. When the referee escaped, Priest immediately stole the opportunity to deliver perhaps his biggest trick in the book, a devastating kick below the belt, that left Dunne momentarily incapacitated. Without wasting a second more, Priest followed it up with the Reckoning for the win.
Watch some of the intense main event: