WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from September 16
The biggest and brightest in NXT battled for supremacy Wednesday night on USA Network, some defending championship gold and others fighting for bragging rights as the brand prepared for its latest TakeOver on October 4.
Who emerged from the night's top battles with their arms raised in victory, championship reigns intact and momentum on their sides?
Find out now with this recap of the Sept. 16 episode.
Already announced for Wednesday's show are:
- NXT North American Championship Match: Damian Priest vs. Timothy Thatcher
- NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Breezango vs. Imperium
- Non-Title Match: Shotzi Blackheart vs. Io Shirai
- Drake Maverick and Killian Dain vs. Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish
Blackheart vs. Shirai is the most interesting match, if only because the former has built quite a bit of momentum for herself in recent months and could easily defeat Shirai for the NXT Women's Championship at some point in the near future and not look out of place as the champion.
Non-Title Match: Shotzi Blackheart vs. Io Shirai
Two of the top stars in NXT's immensely talented women's division battled at the top of Wednesday's show as Shotzi Blackheart battled NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai.
For Blackheart, a win would catapult her right into title contention. For Shirai, it would further cement her as the unquestioned face of the brand's female locker room.
Near-falls, counters and reversals dominated the opening moments of the match as the commentary team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix discussed the fearlessness exhibited by Blackheart. Shirai turned the tide in her favor, wiping Shotzi out at ringside with a moonsault plancha.
Shirai dominated during the picture-in-picture commercial break, but Blackheart fired back with a shotgun dropkick. The champion and her prospective challenger exchanged strikes until Shirai applied a crossface. Blackheart fought out and scored a near-fall.
Shirai delivered a 619 and followed with a missile dropkick but could not put Blackheart away.
The women fought onto the ring apron, where Shirai delivered a sickening German suplex. Back in the ring, Shirai delivered the moonsault for the win.
After the match, the competitors showed a sign of respect as the commentators put over the efforts of Blackheart.
Shirai defeated Blackheart
In her first major test as a big-match performer in NXT, Blackheart absolutely lived up to the moment, delivering a performance that shattered all questions about her in-ring ability as she hung move-for-move with the standard-bearer Shirai.
This was a physically intense match between two babyfaces that was well worked. Shirai scored the win, as a champion should, but it was Blackheart who earned the most as the commentary team and match itself really put her over as a player in the women's division.
If she can build on this momentum, do not be surprised if she is regularly competing for the title by the time 2020 comes to a welcome close.
Desmond Troy vs. Tommaso Ciampa
NXT upstart Desmond Troy had the unenviable task of battling Tommaso Ciampa in the night’s second match. Focused, dangerous and destructive, Ciampa rocked Troy with a double forearm, then a clothesline in the corner.
Ciampa punished Troy and finished him with The Widow’s Bell.
After the match, the former NXT champion threatened a steel chair attack on his opponent until Jake Atlas appeared on the stage. He challenged Ciampa to a match, the result of the ass-kicking he took at the hands of his newfound rival a few weeks back.
Ciampa defeated Troy
As a match, there was not much to this. As a display of the ruthlessness of Ciampa at this point, it was well done.
Time will tell if the Atlas rivalry is really worthy of Ciampa’s time, though.
It certainly feels like a step down for a former world champion, but if he can elevate an inconsistently used Atlas, it will be more than worth it as NXT looks for stars beyond the same handful who have dominated the landscape for the last three or four years.
Kushida vs. Austin Theory
Following a warning from NXT champion Finn Balor to the locker room, advising them to look both ways before they cross The Prince, Austin Theory took to the squared circle and requested a mic.
Theory called himself a future first-ballot Hall of Famer before issuing an open challenge to anyone who dared step to him. Kushida made his way to the ring, sans entrance music and fanfare, and dropped Theory with a jumping enzuigiri.
Theory weathered the early storm and delivered a suplex, followed by a backbreaker. Kushida fought back, punishing Theory and pummeling him at ringside. With Theory's arms trapped in his grasp, Kushida stomped away at the exposed chest.
He immediately applied the Hoverboard Lock, securing the submission moments after Theory had struck the ring post with the same left arm.
Kushida defeated Theory
A newer, more aggressive Kushida is exactly what the New Japan Pro-Wrestling export needed to take the next step in NXT. The smiling, world-renowned and respected babyface gimmick did not work for Hideo Itami when he made the jump from Japan to WWE, and it would not have worked for Kushida had he stayed the course.
He needed to go away and come back with some sort of edge so that he could stand alongside the likes of Finn Balor, Tommaso Ciampa, Undisputed Era and Johnny Gargano and not look out of place.
The more he grows into this new persona, with this total disregard for his opponent, the more fans will buy into him as a threat and he will achieve what so many know he is capable of.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Breezango vs. Imperium
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel of Imperium sought to make Breezango the shortest-reigning NXT tag team champions of all-time as they challenged in one of the marquee matches of this week's show.
Eager to punish the titleholders and regain their gold, Barthel and Aichner rushed the ring and took the fight to Tyler Breeze and Fandango.
The heels worked over Fandango, cutting him off from his partner. Aichner delivered a huge lariat clothesline that flattened the former ballroom dancer and allowed the heels to maintain their control. They continued their rule over the champions throughout the commercial break.
A discus clothesline allowed Fandango to create separation and finally make the tag to Breeze.
Prince Pretty exploded into the match, clearing the ring of Barthel and delivering a big superkick to the face of Aichner.
The action broke down and Fandango rocked both opponents with superkicks on the floor. Back in the ring, he tried for the top-rope leg drop but missed. A short kick to the face by Barthel and German suplex by Aichner still only put Fandango down for two.
Ultimately, Breeze re-entered the ring and put Aichner away for the successful title defense.
Breezango defeated Imperium
In the weeks leading into this match, Aichner and Barthel insisted Fandango and Breeze were jokes. They downplayed their loss to Breezango and were very confident in their ability to regain their titles. On more than one occasion in this match, their words appeared to be prophetic.
Instead, the champs showed tremendous heart and intestinal fortitude, fighting through everything their rivals threw at them en route to a successful title defense.
The only question now is who will emerge to challenge for the gold next? Undisputed Era? That feels like a retread, though we have not seen them battle Breezango in any signficant match to date.
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro vs. Jessie Kamea and Xi Li
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro battled Xia Li and Jessie Kamea in a tag team match between two young teams seeking to build momentum and prove themselves worthy of a future WWE Women's Tag Team Championship opportunity.
Kamea and Li isolated and worked over Catanzaro throughout the heart of the match before a tag to Carter sparked a comeback. After some back-and-forth action, Catanzaro pulled off a jaw-dropping roll-up for the win.
After the match, the victors tried to show respect to their opponents, but Li bailed out of the ring, wanting none of it.
Carter and Catanzaro defeated Kamea and Li
The match was fairly straightforward, more of an exhibition for the two teams and their skill sets than anything else.
The really buzzworthy moment of the segment was the teased heel turn from an increasingly frustrated Li, who has the tools but has not been able to string together consistent wins. Look for her to begin showing more of an edge and maybe even join former foe Aliyah as the newest member of The Robert Stone Brand.
Drake Maverick and Killian Dain vs. Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish
Moments after a backstage encounter in which Killian Dain told Drake Maverick he was on his own tonight, the former 205 Live general manager made his way to the ring for what amounted to a Two-on-One Handicap Match against Undisputed Era's Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish.
Maverick overcame an early onslaught to land a few strikes on Strong, but Roddy flattened him with a big boot moments later. He endured tremendous punishment heading into the break as Dain watched from the backstage area.
Following the timeout, NXT general manager William Regal talked some sense into Dain, seemingly convincing him to go to the ring and help Maverick. Dain hit the ring and rolled Maverick inside, telling him to lose like a man.
Strong and Fish taunted Dain, leading to the Northern Irishman unloading on them. Fish used a chair to draw the disqualification before Maverick pulled the weapon out of his hands. The unlikely allies stood side-by-side in the ring as Undisputed Era exited.
A fired-up Maverick shoved Dain and ate a hard right hand to close out the segment.
Dain and Maverick defeated Strong and Fish via disqualification
Put over Maverick's gutsiness? Check.
Tell the story of Dain's reluctant partnership? Check.
Use this match to set up something bigger and better for TakeOver on October 4? Time will tell, but that appears to be the direction things are heading after tonight. Maverick and Dain as mismatched partners who work surprisingly well together is a gimmick that may be stale everywhere else but fits them. If anything, Maverick will absolutely bust his ass to make it work, something that cannot be said of all performers in WWE.
NXT North American Championship Match: Damian Priest vs. Timothy Thatcher
Damian Priest made his first defense of the NXT North American Championship in the main event of this week's show as he battled the no-nonsense master technician Timothy Thatcher.
Thatcher, the more accomplished wrestler of the two, grounded the champion heading into the break and controlled the action throughout.
Priest fought back, turning his challenger inside out with a wicked clothesline. A falcon arrow followed for a near-fall. Priest uncorked consecutive kicks but missed a springboard senton. Thatcher followed up with an armbar. The champion fought out, and the competitors traded strikes.
Thatcher applied a single-leg crab, but Priest fought out. An errant clothesline followed, and Thatcher applied an armbar.
Hampered by his injured arm, Priest delivered South of Heaven, but Thatcher still kicked out. Priest overcame further offense from Thatcher and put him away with The Reckoning for the hard-fought victory.
Priest defeated Thatcher
This was a strong main event with a great, gutsy performance from Priest.
The NXT North American champion grows and evolves as a performer with every passing week and has shown flashes of being a great big-man babyface in the same vein as Razor Ramon, if that is the direction the brand wants to head with him.
Kudos to Thatcher, too, who continues to prove he is one of the very best mat technicians in the sport. His time will come, particularly if NXT officials continue to put over his expertise and no-nonsense attitude.
The brand is his for the taking.