WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 26
Charlotte Flair was poised to return home on the February 26 edition of WWE NXT. In her first competitive appearance on the black-and-gold brand in over four years, she would step into the ring with Bianca Belair.
Rhea Ripley may have been in the shadows, but The EST was not going to wait for anything. Her focus was no longer just on gold: She wanted revenge.
Finn Balor promised a major moment in NXT following his impressive victory over Johnny Gargano. The Prince told everyone he was playing chess and wouldn't wait any longer for his next move.
Tommaso Ciampa had to give a special message to Gargano by fighting the imposing upstart Austin Theory. This first-time match was likely to get physical quickly.
Another big match on the night was Dominik Dijakovic vs. Cameron Grimes. This clash of styles between two top contenders for the NXT North American Championship had the potential to steal the show.
This episode felt like a true Road to WrestleMania showcase. The talent was on display, and the promise of action was around every corner.
Dominik Dijakovic vs. Cameron Grimes
Cameron Grimes tried to wear down Dominik Dijakovic, making use of the fact the big man was still nursing old injuries. However, Dijakovic looked too focused to lose.
A badly timed moonsault to the outside set up Damian Priest to run down and kneecap Dijakovic. This allowed Grimes to connect on the Cave-In for the victory.
Grimes def. Dijakovic by pinfall.
This was a solid match to open the show even if the two wrestlers have odd styles. They didn't mesh cleanly, but they worked hard throughout. In particular, Grimes continues to overdeliver against top competitors.
Priest taking out Dijakovic now is a smart decision. It keeps Keith Lee vs. Dijakovic from happening immediately, and it sets up The Archer of Infamy to sneak into title contention.
Imperium Gives Finn Balor a Message from WALTER
Finn Balor questioned who would step up to him next on the Road to WrestleMania.
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel gave a message to The Prince from WALTER, stomping him into the ring steps.
The potential of WALTER vs. Balor is off the charts. The Irishman has often been praised as one of the best in the business, but he doesn't always show it. The NXT United Kingdom champion can help him reach new levels.
As always, it is smart not to have Balor cutting promos for too long. He will do much better establishing himself by fighting guys like Barthel and Aichner. His in-ring work tells a much better story than he can express in words.
Mia Yim vs. Xia Li
Mia Yim dominated Xia Li throughout this match, but she could not put away the Chinese Superstar.
As The Head Baddie in Charge connected on Sole Food, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez interrupted to distract her and she got rolled up for three.
Afterward, Kai and Gonzalez laid out Yim.
Li def. Yim by pinfall.
Li and Yim never really got going in this match. It was a perfectly fine back-and-forth contest, but it was closer to a squash for The Head Baddie. The finish made sense to keep both women relevant, but it did not truly help either of them.
Kai and Gonzalez need time to make this alliance work. It will help to have The Captain of Team Kick ruining the lives of many of NXT's top women. She and Yim still have a story or two left to tell.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Austin Theory
Austin Theory showed Tommaso Ciampa he was not going to let The Blackheart take advantage of him again. His athleticism caught the former NXT champion off guard.
However, Theory got too wrapped up in his own emotion. As he mocked Ciampa, he got caught with a draping DDT and the Fairytale Ending for the loss.
Johnny Gargano arrived and attacked The Blackheart, laying him out and mocking him on the apron.
Ciampa def. Theory by pinfall.
Theory is an impressive performer in the ring, but he does not seem to get it yet. He spends too much time showing off and not enough telling a story. That was clear in this match, where Ciampa had to push him to be more than an athletic, muscular performer.
Gargano's post-match brawl elevated the segment, as he displayed a side of his personality no one has seen before. He seems possessed and almost monotone without saying a word. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say for himself soon.
Killian Dain vs. Bronson Reed
Bronson Reed gave Killian Dain more of a fight than he bargained for, but The Beast of Belfast was still too focused.
Dain fought through the best offense of the Aussie and hit a Vader Bomb for three.
Dain def. Reed by pinfall.
One of the main reasons Dain does not feel like he will ever rise up the ranks in NXT is that he cannot stack up to the competition. He is impressive for his size, but he doesn't seem to be able to get it done in the ring.
Honestly, Reed feels better suited to a strong push right now, but he never gets that opportunity. The Aussie has talent to spare and impresses often, even in far-too-short showcases.
The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. The Forgotten Sons
The Forgotten Sons challenged The Grizzled Young Veterans to a match to show the power of the United States of America. Zack Gibson ran down the NXT Universe and the U.S. before the match.
Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake looked extra-motivated early, throwing around Gibson and James Drake.
After Jaxson Ryker was eliminated from the action, selfless tag team wrestling gave Gibson and Drake the edge. They hit the Ticket to Mayhem for the win.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Forgotten Sons by pinfall.
The build forward of The Grizzled Young Veterans has been impressive. Even though they fell short in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, Gibson and Drake have quickly made a name for themselves beyond NXT UK.
The Forgotten Sons playing the faces was an odd shift for the trio, and it didn't wholly land. That's not to say it cannot work, though. It just didn't work here as Cutler and Blake seemed a step off throughout.
Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair
Bianca Belair brought the fight to Charlotte Flair, challenging her strength for strength in an athletic contest.
While The EST had The Queen on the ropes for a while, a spear slowed Belair long enough for Charlotte to hit Natural Selection for the victory.
Afterward, The Queen tried to injure The EST further with the Figure-Eight. However, Rhea Ripley stormed the ring and sent her running.
Charlotte def. Belair by pinfall.
Charlotte vs. Belair was not the classic one would hope for from two of the most athletic women in the business, but time constraints and commercial breaks did not help. More importantly, the two still need to find time to get comfortable with each other.
Still, it was a fun match that showed why The Queen will remain among the elite in WWE for a while and The EST is constantly rising. Belair can hang with the best of them.