WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from July 17

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2019

WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from July 17

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    Credit: WWE.com

    NXT presented an explosive broadcast Wednesday night on WWE Network, headlined by the latest chapter in the rivalry between Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole over the NXT Championship.

    Cole's advertised first title defense was interrupted by a vengeful Gargano, who made it abundantly clear that he wants another shot at the leader of Undisputed Era.

    That red-hot segment closed a show that featured a superb battle between Kushida and main roster star Apollo Crews, the latest in the Breakout Tournament and the shocking return of an NXT alumnus.

    Dive deeper into the action from this week's show with this recap of the July 17 episode.

Matt Riddle vs. Arturo Ruas

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    Two of the most impressive Superstars from the Evolve 10th Anniversary event squared off in the opening match of the night's broadcast as Matt Riddle battled Arturo Ruas.

    Riddle and Ruas grappled, each looked to ground and pound, then tap their opponent out.

    The competitors exchanged hard strikes but a few kicks, a hard knee strike and a nasty barrage of his own strikes led to a referee stoppage and a win for The Original Bro.

    After the match, a masked man attacked Riddle. He revealed himself to be Killian Dain, formerly of Sanity, and unloaded a series of strikes and sentons, the last of which sent both men crashing through the stage.

       

    Result

    Riddle defeated Ruas

        

    Grade

    A+

       

    Analysis

    What was a wholly original match, laid out more like a legit MMA fight than a wrestling match, was overshadowed by a brilliant re-debut for Dain, who brutalized Riddle and instantly set himself up for a match with one of the top babyfaces on the roster.

    Dain has always had the talent to succeed but floundered on the main roster. Returning to the platform he never should have left, he has the rare opportunity to make a second first impression.

    Hopefully, he reminds management of why he was a breakout star as part of Sanity and makes the most of this chance.

Breakout Tournament: Bronson Reed vs. Dexter Lumis

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    The Breakout Tournament continued this week as Bronson Reed and Dexter Lumis fought for the right to advance to the next round.

    Reed struck first with a big running crossbody on the floor, but it was all Lumis—formerly Sam Shaw in Impact Wrestling—from there as he grounded his larger opponent and worked him over.

    Reed—formerly Jonah Rock—fought back, though, capitalizing on a missed senton by his cerebral opponent and delivering a massive splash to pick up the win.

        

    Result

    Reed defeated Lumis

       

    Grade

    C+

       

    Analysis

    Reed and Lumis did not get the time others in the tournament have, but they made the most of their minutes and still delivered a fun, competitive little match.

    The crowd's favoritism towards Lumis suggests he is a name to watch as he gets more exposure in the NXT Arena. His aura, mannerisms, facial expressions and cerebral approach to his performances set him apart from other guys who are hired based solely on the fact that they are good workers.

    He will be a fun alternative to the rest of the roster from that standpoint.

    Reed is an athletic big man who made a name for himself in Australia and now has the opportunity to dominate stateside. This was a big win for him that catapults him to higher profile action in the semifinals.

Apollo Crews vs. Kushida

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    Fresh off an upset victory over Andrade on Tuesday's SmackDown Live, Apollo Crews returned to the brand he once called home to square off with one of its brightest stars, Kushida, in singles competition.

    Crews caught Kushida off-guard early but a springboard kick by The Timesplitter evened things out momentarily. The physically gifted Crews, though, turned the tide back in his favor with a popup gutbuster. Kushida again answered, this time with an array that included a basement dropkick and tornado DDT.

    The arm of Crews became the focal point of Kushida's offense and the effect on it became obvious. At one point, the arm gave out in a military press attempt. Later in the match, as the two competitors were perched on the top rope, Kushida flipped Crews into the Hoverboard Lock for the submission win.

       

    Result

    Kushida defeated Crews

       

    Grade

    A

       

    Analysis

    Crews has been handled so incredibly wrong since his call-up to the main roster that it is easy to forget how talented he is between the ropes. There was no Titus Worldwide, no half-hearted pushes or forced character traits here. This was a talented wrestler going out, having a hell of a match with one of the best in the world, and silencing anyone who questioned whether his years across the indies were anomalies.

    Kushida earned as much, if not more, from this win than he has any other victory to date because Crews is a main roster star. He had that quality of a match with a guy appearing on SmackDown Live and fans unfamiliar with his work in New Japan Pro-Wrestling will take that to heart.

    This should lead to bigger and better things for Kushida going forward, who is ready to compete for the top prize on the brand right now.

Adam Cole Defends the NXT Championship

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    After a week of advertisements promoting his first NXT Championship defense, Adam Cole made his way to the ring and called out...Twan Tucker.

    Fans of NXT may remember Tucker as one of the prospective wrestlers who spoke to Johnny Gargano when the former champion returned to his hometown of Cleveland. The hesitant rookie made his way to the stage and revealed he had not come alone.

    Gargano's music played and Johnny Wrestling hit the ring. A brawl ensued and the action spilled into the stands until officials arrived to split them up.

    Cole, not content with the ass-whooping he just endured, raised his title overhead and taunted Gargano. The result? A stage dive from the babyface onto the heel. The fight returned to the ring, where Gargano applied his trademark Garga-No Escape.

    As Cole retreated, Gargano signaled that he wants a third match with the champ.

       

    Grade

    A

       

    Analysis

    Gargano and Cole have one of the hottest rivalries in all of WWE, thanks in large part to Cole's ability to antagonize. He has taunted, poked, prodded and provoked Gargano in every way imaginable and as a result, has brought Johnny Wrestling's retribution on himself.

    If their previous matches are any indication, fans can expect a genuine Match of the Year candidate. A brawl like this makes one think it may be a relaxed-rules gimmick match, maybe No Holds Barred, that brings about the conclusion of their program.

    For as great as their series has been, it is necessary so that each can move on to fresher things for both their own and NXT's sake.

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