WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 31
The top contender to Pete Dunne's WWE United Kingdom Championship would be determined in a superb main event Wednesday night as Roderick Strong battled Tyler Bate.
That match, a Match of the Week candidate any other week, headlined a broadcast that adequately spotlighted fresh faces and young talent such as Lacey Evans and the returning TM61.
As the brand attempts to rebuild and refuel in the wake of another acclaimed TakeOver special, relive Wednesday's broadcast and find out why each match graded out the way it did.
Nikki Cross vs. Lacey Evans
Upon her return to television, Lacey Evans demonstrated attributes suggesting she would be undergoing a heel turn. During a post-match promo, just seconds after defeating Aliyah, she addressed the NXT Universe and called Nikki Cross out by name.
Wednesday, she battled the unstable competitor in singles competition.
Evans surprisingly controlled a good portion of the bout but scaled the ropes for a moonsault that did not connect.
The missed high-risk maneuver gave way to a frantic comeback by Cross, who delivered a big neckbreaker for the win.
Nikki Cross defeated Lacey Evans
What was the point of bringing Evans back to television, teasing this new heel persona and having her call out Cross only to lose to the unpredictable Superstar clean in the center of the ring without any sort of hint that their issues will continue?
It is curious booking that severely hampers Evans' ability to get over in whatever new role it is management has for the inspirational competitor.
TM61 vs. The Ealy Brothers
After weeks of video packages hyping their return to action, TM61 finally set foot back inside the squared circle, battling the little-used Ealy Brothers.
Nick Miller and Shane Thorne outclassed their opponents early, but the Ealys utilized old-school heel twin magic and seized control of the bout.
Eventually, the babyface Aussies fought their way back into the match. Thorne even soared through the air and crashed into the opposition.
From there, TM61 disposed of one of the Ealys and delivered their double-team Thunder Road finisher to score the impressive victory.
TM61 defeated The Ealy Brothers
This was meant to be nothing more than a showcase for the returning tandem, and in that sense, it was effective.
TM61 looked fresh, inspired and determined to remind fans they are one of the more promising teams in the NXT locker room and favorites to oppose Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly for the tag team gold sooner than later.
Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Bate
Since its inception, the WWE United Kingdom Championship has been fought over almost exclusively, to superb results, by Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne.
Wednesday night, Roderick Strong had the opportunity to break up the monotony by knocking off Bate and cashing his ticket to a showdown with The Bruiserweight.
Strong controlled the pace early, but it was short-lived. Neither Superstar was really able to get the upper hand on their opponent for long. That is, until former champion Bate asserted his dominance. He delivered a running shooting star press but was unable to capitalize.
It was damage done to his back throughout the fight, the target of Strong's onslaught, that ultimately cost Bate the bout.
Late, he tried for his Tyler Driver '97 finisher, but his back gave out on him. Strong answered with a flurry of ferocious strikes and slams, culminating with a backbreaker that earned him the win and a match with Dunne.
Roderick Strong defeated Tyler Bate
If Strong was going to supplant Bate as the top contender to the UK Championship, he was going to have to earn it.
He did in a hell of a match.
Strong and Bate pummeled each other with stiff shots throughout, and the in-ring psychology helped enhance the bout.
The Messiah of the Backbreaker is called that for a reason and his methodical attack of his opponent's back served him well and added to the emotion and story of the bout.
A superb way to wrap up what has been an extraordinary few days for NXT.