WWE NXT Results: Superstars Who Made the Biggest Impact on USA Premiere
A bad first impression is hard to come back from, so NXT had to deliver on its USA Network debut.
Each Superstar was under pressure to shine not just for the developmental brand as a whole, but also to make an impact for their own future.
While the premiere was a success that showcased a wide variety of gifted performers, some noteworthy figures took a little more of the spotlight and stood out as the top talent of the night.
Looking back on NXT's two-hour debut on the channel, here are the top five Superstars who made the biggest impact.
It's hard not to gush over the talent from this show, as NXT has some of the best wrestlers in sports entertainment. For this particular night, though, some just didn't make our cut.
Velveteen Dream is among the brightest stars in all of WWE and should main-event WrestleMania someday. His role on Wednesday, though, was to drop the North American Championship to Roderick Strong. It was a great fight that he only lost due to interference, but he came up short nevertheless.
The same applies to Bianca Belair, Io Shirai and Mia Yim, who played their part in a fantastic opening contest.
Xia Li scored a victory over Aliyah and showed once more how much progress she is making since her first Mae Young Classic match in 2017. Both should be great stars but don't compare to some others on this list.
Pete Dunne was his usual winning self, taking out Arturo Ruas by submission. That's all well and good, but nothing worth a ranking here.
The last Superstars to mention are Matt Riddle and Killian Dain. As two of the featured attractions in the main event, they should have been easy picks, but they underperformed. Street fights should finish a feud, yet they didn't do anything special, and the non-finish was an underwhelming way to cap off the episode.
Cameron Grimes made his NXT debut two months ago and narrowly missed out on a title opportunity when he finished runner-up in the Breakout Tournament.
That was already a sign that WWE is invested in him, and his stock shot up even more with his performance on Wednesday's episode.
With just one move—his finisher, of course—Grimes stomped Sean Maluta into the mat and pinned him to win his match in under 10 seconds. That may well be a record for NXT, or at least on a par with Matt Riddle's one-shot knockout of Kassius Ohno.
Maluta is no main eventer, but it's still a firm stamp of approval to book Grimes in such a one-sided way.
Imperium and Kushida
NXT UK will not be overlooked as Imperium made a statement by destroying Denzel Dejournette after intruding on a scheduled match against Kushida.
Walter then let it be known that anyone who gets in the stable's way and disagrees with their methods will have to answer to him. They will be a force to be reckoned with and have now extended their reach over a second brand.
However, Kushida—Dejournette's scheduled opponent—did not stand for this disruption and declared vengeance on them for stealing that time away from him. Normally, that would be the end for someone his size and the numbers game so much against him, but that was not the case.
One man—a cruiserweight, at that—stood up to the most dominant stable in NXT UK and got away unscathed. That's mightily impressive.
This segment confirmed NXT UK will have a presence and Kushida is not to be messed with.
Lio Rush had been missing from action since WrestleMania 35, with no signs of his return along the way. From an outsider's perspective, it seemed he was sitting out his contract and would eventually be released from WWE.
However, The Man of the Hour is back in NXT, seemingly with a new lease of life. In his return match, he toppled 205 Live featured player Oney Lorcan and earned a future title shot at the Cruiserweight Championship.
Suddenly, Rush has gone from possibly leaving the company to having a clash with Drew Gulak and a potential first title.
Excluding house shows, Candice LeRae has never received a shot at the NXT Women's Championship despite being in the WWE family for over two years.
However, after taking out Belair, Shirai and Yim in a fun opening match to ring in the new era of NXT, she will finally get her opportunity to take on titleholder Shayna Baszler.
With the draft coming up on October 11 and 14, WWE may have plans to move The Queen of Spades to Raw or SmackDown. As LeRae and Baszler will square off in two weeks, there's a chance a new champion will be crowned.
In retrospect, that will make this No. 1 Contender's match the launching pad to LeRae's title reign and arguably the second most important thing to happen on NXT's USA Network debut.
The only thing worth surpassing a No. 1 contender win is when someone actually wins a championship, which is why Roderick Strong tops our list.
With some help from Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish, he became the new North American champion and fulfilled the prophecy that The Undisputed Era would obtain all the gold in 2019.
This was to be expected, as WWE loves having title changes on major shows and explains why Kofi Kingston is likely doomed when he fights Brock Lesnar on SmackDown's debut on Fox.
But being predictable doesn't take away from the moment as this was a crowning achievement for Strong.
With this title, The Messiah of the Backbreaker positions himself as the leader of the midcard on the brand and a top heel who will have some amazing feuds with many talented babyfaces in the coming months.
It's Strong's first singles title in WWE and another sign that joining The Undisputed Era was the best decision of his career and one that will likely lead to further success.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.