WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from October 16
New beginnings were afoot in NXT as old stars returned and rivalries began to blossom.
Tommaso Ciampa made his big return with his first match back against the cocky-but-talented Angel Garza. Both had much to prove with title opportunities likely on the horizon for the winner.
Pete Dunne and Damian Priest clashed for the first time this week after The Archer of Infamy attacked The Bruiserweight from behind two weeks ago. Priest looked to elevate himself at the expense of Dunne.
Tegan Nox also made her long-awaited return to NXT after months of rehab to stake her claim in a wide-open women's division.
One bout that bucked the trend, though, was the rubber match between Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic. With the two tied at one-all, this final opportunity would decide which big man was truly ready for greater things.
Who would set their course for bigger opportunities? Who would be left in the dust? This week's NXT had many statements to make.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Angel Garza
Angel Garza was too fast for Tommaso Ciampa early in this match. He had the former NXT champion on his toes, but Ciampa capitalized on his first mistake. The Psycho Killer caught the Mexican with a knee and then hit the Willow's Bell for the win.
Afterward, Undisputed Era sent Ciampa a message by circling the ring while Kyle O'Reilly gave a USB drive to Mauro Ranallo to have it looked over by the production truck.
The video showed UE had laid out The Velveteen Dream backstage while Adam Cole made clear this was a statement to others who had also gotten in the group's way.
Ciampa def. Garza by pinfall
This was a fine bout, though it clearly indicated who was seen as the bigger star. Unlike recent episodes of NXT, the brand had no qualms about delivering on a short match in the opener as a statement: Ciampa is back and ready for the NXT Championship.
The way UE's attack on Dream was presented worked surprisingly well. It gave the impression the group was making the most of the control it has in NXT, with the video feeling more insidious than if it had been taped as normal.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Imperium's Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch struggled at first against the cohesive power of Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel.
Burch was isolated, which made for a huge moment when Lorcan got the hot tag. He ran over both heels, but they kept it together and hit the European Bomb for the win.
Imperium def. Lorcan and Burch by pinfall
This was an excellent sprint, particularly once Lorcan got going. These teams are among the absolute best in NXT and should both be featured heavily in the coming months in the tag team title picture.
Right now, the focus is on building Imperium as a dominant force, and it is working. The stable is delivering in the ring and winning in emphatic fashion against established stars.
Imperium seems unstoppable for the moment.
Io Shirai vs. Kayden Carter
Kayden Carter had Io Shirai off her game early, sending her tumbling outside. The two had comparable speed and athleticism in their exchanges, but The Genius of the Sky was just more crafty. She planted Carter with a release German suplex into a moonsault for the win.
Afterward, she called herself the true No. 1 contender to Shayna Baszler. Rhea Ripley took offense and marched to the ring to warn Shirai not to get in her way, especially once she defeated Bianca Belair next week. Shirai walked away for now.
Shirai def. Carter by pinfall
While this was similar to the opener in that there was little drama for the finish, it used its time much better. Shirai is giving everyone their best match possible lately, and Carter had some serious chemistry with The Genius of the Sky. The two are great strikers and have athleticism to spare.
The post-match confrontation was especially interesting. Ripley needs rivals who can bring out her best, and Shirai should be the best opponent she has ever had. The two could both be the next challengers to Baszler.
No. 1 Contender for the North American Title: Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic
Following the heinous attack on The Velveteen Dream, general manager William Regal announced he would not be able to compete for a while. In his place, the winner of Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic would face Roderick Strong next week.
These two once again were ready to do anything to win, including moves that they should not be able to do at their size. The two went off and refused to stay down, with pride and a championship opportunity on the line.
As they battled on the top rope, Strong ran down to attack both men and cause a no-contest. Regal was unfazed and announced the titleholder would now face both men in a Triple Threat match next week.
Lee vs. Dijakovic goes to a no-contest
This was not as good as their last match, hurt certainly by the ending. It's still amazing what these two can do together, but they do go a bit overboard. They will likely work better with a third party involved.
It made sense to set up the Triple Threat, but it is a shame to have a company promise a clear winner in a match and then go with a non-finish. Hopefully, this rivalry finally gets a clear victory soon.
Matt Riddle vs. Bronson Reed
Matt Riddle came out kicking against Bronson Reed. However, the heavyweight refused to stay down even after an impressive combination of the Bro 2 Sleep, powerbomb and Final Flash.
The Original Bro then caught Reed jumping out of the corner to hit the BroDerek for the win.
Riddle def. Reed by pinfall
Wednesday night was loaded with solid performances from wrestlers with no chance of winning, and Reed may have been the most impressive. He pushed Riddle more than expected. Now he just needs to start picking up wins.
The NXT hierarchy has a lot of talented wrestlers looking like they don't really matter. Reed especially should be much more dominant than he has been to date.
Tegan Nox vs. Taynara Conti
A snap kick from Taynara Conti sent Tegan Nox barreling to the outside. With an impressive sequence of judo throws, Taynara dominated Nox until The Welsh Wonder caught her second wind. She hit a chokeslam into a diving crossbody right into the Shiniest Wizard for the win.
Dakota Kai headed to the ring to celebrate Nox's first NXT victory since her injury. Shayna Baszler interrupted The Welsh Wonder's post-match interview, mocking Nox and Kai for being the latest to even consider challenging her.
Nox def. Taynara by pinfall
As mostly expected of a Taynara match, this was sloppy but entertaining. It was a tale of two halves despite being only a few minutes long. Once Nox got going, she looked impressive and smooth, taking the win as she needed to.
It was very in-character for Baszler to interrupt and mock Nox for calling her out. While Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai have proved they can challenge Baszler, Nox is an easy target.
However, The Welsh Wonder may also be perfectly suited to dethroning Baszler, particularly in place of Kai. NXT appears to have little interest in the New Zealander despite her history with the NXT women's champion.
Killian Dain vs. Boa
After last week's attack, Boa came out angry against Killian Dain. He kicked him repeatedly and sent him running, but the Divide from Dain stopped him cold. The Beast of Belfast assaulted the injured ribs of Boa.
A trio of Vader Bombs clearly won the match, but Dain wanted to do more damage still. He locked in a modified camel clutch for the tapout.
As Pete Dunne arrived for his match, The Beast of Belfast got in his face, and The Bruiserweight snapped his fingers.
Dain def. Boa by submission
This was a surprisingly effective squash. Boa has not had much of an impact to date, but the crowd was wholly behind him with his early flurry. When Dain stopped him, it was a true heel moment with Dain showing how lethal he can be.
Clearly, The Beast of Belfast has a bright future in NXT. He may even have an immediate future fighting The Bruiserweight if their interaction was anything to go by.
Pete Dunne vs. Damian Priest
The ingenuity of Pete Dunne was on full display as he looked dominant against the much bigger man.
The Bruiserweight brutalized and planted The Archer of Infamy with everything he had, but Priest got back into it when he threw Dunne shoulder-first into the steel post.
The Archer of Infamy caught Dunne with a cyclone kick to set up a Frankensteiner and then South of Heaven for a near-fall. The two traded big strikes, including an emphatic right hand from Dunne on a jumping Priest.
The referee got caught in the mix and missed a low blow from Priest into the Reckoning for the win.
Priest def. Dunne by pinfall
This wasn't quite up to the same level of recent NXT main events, but Priest looked good in the biggest match of his career to date. The final few minutes were truly spectacular. While far from clean, this was a huge performance and victory for The Archer of Infamy.
Dunne can handle a loss, especially a contentious one. It will be interesting to see if this feud continues from here. Dunne teased a rivalry with Killian Dain, and Priest got what he wanted. More matches with The Bruiserweight would threaten his undefeated record.