WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from September 23
The next TakeOver special will air October 4, so most of the segments on this week's episode of NXT were spent building up the event.
Wednesday's show featured the first-ever Gauntlet Eliminator match. The rules were a little different than the usual Gauntlet match. Instead of each competitor waiting until someone has been eliminated to enter, this bout saw people enter the ring every four minutes, so it wasn't always a one-on-one fight.
The match featured Bronson Reed, Kushida, Kyle O'Reilly, Timothy Thatcher and Cameron Grimes competing for a shot at Finn Balor's NXT Championship.
We also saw a women's Battle Royal determine the No. 1 contender for the NXT Women's Championship, and Jake Atlas attempted to get revenge against Tommaso Ciampa.
Let's take a look at everything that happened on Wednesday's episode of NXT.
Here are the segments WWE advertised ahead of the show:
- Five-man Gauntlet Eliminator match to determine the No. 1 contender for the NXT title.
- Women's Battle Royal to determine the No. 1 contender for the NXT women's title.
- Atlas vs. Ciampa
Women's Battle Royal
NXT opened with a graphic paying tribute to the late Road Warrior Animal before we went to the ring for the women's Battle Royal. We were shown a clip of Candice LeRae attacking Tegan Nox earlier in the day.
As soon as the bell rang, all of the women in the ring began fighting. There was a lot of unorganized chaos early on as Rhea Ripley scored the first elimination. Many of the women in the ring were lesser-known Performance Center recruits, so they provided some easy eliminations for the more established stars.
Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez dominated the competition and threw several women over the top rope. Every time one of them would get an elimination, the other one would even the score.
Kacy Catanzaro avoided elimination with a unique save just as the show went to a break. She saved herself a few more times using her ninja skill set. Ripley and Gonzalez eliminated each other and brawled until a group of officials forced them to break it up. This left LeRae, Shotzi Blackheart, Indi Hartwell, Dakota Kai and Catanzaro in the ring.
Hartwell was the first to go, and Catanzaro soon followed. Kai and LeRae worked as a team against Blackheart until the green-haired grappler took out Captain Kota. The Poison Pixie was able to eliminate Blackheart to get the win and earn a title shot at TakeOver.
The first half of this match was all about making Gonzalez and Ripley look good. They each scored a number of eliminations as the announcers put them over as the heavy favorites.
Unfortunately, this Battle Royal suffered from the same problem many of these matches have. There were too many people in the ring at the beginning so nobody was able to do anything cool until they cleared out at least half of the competitors.
What really shined here was the attention to detail. A lot of different feuds, both past and present, were addressed as different combinations of wrestlers fought each other throughout the match.
The second half was much better and allowed several Superstars to have their time in the spotlight. LeRae was the right choice to win this one, as she will be able to have an incredible match against Io Shirai.
Jake Atlas vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Atlas was looking to get some revenge and started off the match with a flurry of strikes in the corner. Ciampa tried to get the upper hand, but he was stomped into the ground.
The former NXT champion eventually hit a huge clothesline to give himself a little breathing room. He stomped on Atlas' head as he said he is the main event.
Atlas was able to make a comeback and hit a moonsault from the middle rope to the floor. He rolled Ciampa back in for a blockbuster but failed to get the pin.
Ciampa countered the cartwheel DDT with a kick and hit Willow's Belle. Instead of making the cover, he taunted Atlas and told him to get up before hitting the Fairytale Ending for the win.
This was a short but entertaining match. Atlas looked really good against one of the best NXT has to offer, and if management decided to make this a long-term feud, they would likely produce better matches with each future encounter.
Ciampa is such a great heel. He knows how to play a badass who is more than willing to take a few shortcuts to get a victory. When he gets back into the title scene, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Roderick Strong and Danny Burch vs. Fabian Aichner and Raul Mendoza
Fandango pitched an idea to general manager William Regal to have a mini-tournament to determine a new set of No. 1 contenders for the NXT tag titles. That is what led to this unique matchup with the winners' teams facing off next week for the title shot.
Roderick Strong and Fabian Aichner started for their teams. Once he got the advantage, Aichner brought in Raul Mendoza to hit a splash for a two-count.
Both teams made stiff tags to show that they did not get along with each other. Shockingly, their partners were not at ringside to offer support.
We returned from a break to see Aichner hit a huge side suplex to Danny Burch. Strong got the hot tag and came in like the Tazmanian Devil with a series of kicks and slams to both opponents.
Strong and Burch were able to get the win, which means Burch and Oney Lorcan will battle The Undisputed Era to see which team gets to face Breezango for the titles.
When you think about the fact that neither one of these teams has ever worked together as partners before, this was even better than expected.
All four of these Superstars have their specialties, and each one was on full display. The exchanges between Aichner and Burch were especially entertaining.
Strong and Burch had some solid chemistry, but when the match was over, The Master of the Backbreaker refused to shake his partner's hand.
Damian Priest vs. Austin Theory
The North American champion had a non-title match this week when Damian Priest took on Austin Theory in a singles bout. Before it took place, Johnny Gargano was shown talking to Theory backstage and complimenting his ability in the ring.
They sized each other up before Priest grabbed his opponent in a wristlock. They traded counters, and The Archer of Infamy sent Theory into the corner. Theory smiled before they locked up again and he hit a big back elbow. Priest answered back with a jumping elbow.
Priest took a page out of The Undertaker's playbook and walked across the top rope to set up a crossbody. We returned from a break to see Theory hit a rolling dropkick for a close two-count.
They took the fight out of the ring, and Priest planted Theory on the apron with a Razor's Edge before hitting the Reckoning for the win. Gargano hit a superkick out of nowhere as Priest was celebrating his victory.
These are two men who combine agility and power in ways most Superstars aren't capable of, so this was a fun match from the moment it began.
Theory looked good, but this match was all about making Priest look strong ahead of his title match with Gargano at TakeOver. If that was the goal, WWE accomplished its mission.
The young Superstar provided a good challenge for the NA champion. He hit a lot of big moves and came close to winning a few times. This is a combo we need to see more of in the future because they worked together well.
Ridge Holland vs. Antonio De Luca
Ridge Holland was in action this week against an enhancement talent named Antonio De Luca. The jobber got in a few early shots before Holland sent him flying with a pounce.
The former rugby player threw De Luca across the ring with a belly-to-belly suplex and then hit a series of brutal headbutts in the corner. He brought De Luca to the middle of the ring to hit his finisher for an easy win.
As far as squash matches go, this one wasn't bad. De Luca did a good job selling Holland's offense to make him look like a monster in the ring.
Holland has a lot of good qualities as a performer. It is going to be interesting to see how he is used with such a crowded roster of talented wrestlers.
Gauntlet Eliminator Match
Kushida and O'Reilly began the match. The only way to be eliminated in this match was by pinfall or submission, so disqualifications and count-outs were out the window.
O'Reilly and Kushida had a very technical exchange early on. They came to a stalemate and rest before going right back down to the mat with submissions and reversals. Once they got back to their feet, they started throwing hands. That is when Bronson Reed made his way to the ring as the next entrant.
O'Reilly and Kushida looked at each other and decided to go after the big man together, but it was a futile effort. The Thicc Boi took them down with ease. Kushida nailed him in the head with a few kicks before he turned his attention back to KOR.
Velveteen Dream came out of nowhere to hit Kushida with a Dream Valley Driver to give Reed a chance to hit his finisher and eliminate Kushida from the match right before Thatcher came out as the next entrant. All three men were still in the ring when Grimes came out as the final competitor.
We saw every combination of opponents fight each other over the next few minutes. It took a long time before O'Reilly was able to eliminate Reed. He took out Thatcher to bring it down to just him and Grimes. The Technical Savage thought he won with the Cave-In, but O'Reilly kicked out at the last second.
O'Reilly was able to apply a leglock to get the submission victory and earn a shot at Balor's NXT Championship at TakeOver.
This match was great from start to finish. All five men had several standout moments, but O'Reilly shined brighter than everyone else in the ring.
His technical prowess is second to none. For a guy who has mostly been known for his tag team matches in NXT, this was potentially a star-making performance.
It was a shame that Kushida had to be eliminated so early, but somebody always has to be the first one to go out in matches like this, and he drew the short straw this time.
Seeing O'Reilly face Balor is going to be incredible if he performs the way he did in this bout.