WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from September 30
NXT TakeOver 31 airs this Sunday on WWE Network, so this week's go-home episode of NXT was all about setting up the event.
Damien Priest and Io Shirai teamed up to take on the people they will defend their titles against at TakeOver, Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano.
We also saw Dakota Kai and Shotzi Blackheart compete in singles action to continue the rivalry that started during last week's No. 1 Contender Battle Royal.
Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly met face to face with Shawn Michaels serving as a moderator or sorts. Were they able to keep things civil or did The Undisputed Era look at this as an opportunity to soften The Prince up for KOR before Sunday?
Let's take a look at everything that happened on this week's episode of NXT.
Here is what WWE advertised prior to the show:
- Priest and Shirai vs. Gargano and LeRae
- Michaels hosts a meeting between Balor and O'Reilly.
- Kai vs. Blackheart
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Dakota Kai
Raquel Gonzalez accompanied Kai for her match against Blackheart at the top of the show. They started at a quick pace and both women scored a few close pinfall attempts.
The green-haired grappler took control with one of Lita and Jeff Hardy's trademark moves. She used a quick rollup to get a two-count before she grounded Captain Kota in a unique submission.
Kai turned the tables and cornered her for a choke with her boot until the ref made her break. She dropped Blackheart with a backbreaker as the show went to a commercial.
Blackheart hit a nice underhook suplex into a bridge for a two-count. Gonzalez tried to give some words of encouragement, and it seemed to work because Kai rebounded with a double stomp and a slam for a near fall.
They took the fight onto the apron and Blackheart hit Sliced Bread No. 2 on the apron. Both women took hard falls to the outside and the referee rushed to see if they were alright. It looked like Blackheart spiked her head on the apron a bit but she was the first to get to her feet.
Gonzalez tripped her and Rhea Ripley ran out to take the enforcer down by driving her into the steel steps. Kai set up for her finisher but missed and was unable to kick out of a rollup. Blackheart rolled out of the ring immediately to celebrate and avoid Gonzalez at the same time.
The spot when Kai and Blackheart crashed to the floor from the apron was legitimately frightening because the impact looked so brutal. Luckily, both Superstars quickly recovered and appear to be fine.
This was a good showcase for both women. They each got to show off their specialties but Blackheart came out of this with more momentum due to the win.
The next encounter will likely be a tag bout with Ripley and Blackheart teaming up to take on Gonzalez and Kai. It may happen at TakeOver or next week's NXT.
Cameron Grimes vs. Ridge Holland
We got a short interview with Santos Escobar and Isaiah Scott before a video package for O'Reilly that looked at how he came into the business and working with The Undisputed Era.
The next segment saw Cameron Grimes step away from his Red Dead moonshine shack to deliver a promo about how last week's gauntlet match wasn't fair. He decided to have an invitational series of bouts and brought out somebody who could barely see over the top rope.
Grimes quickly hit The Cave In for an immediate win. His next opponent came stumbling onto the stage and Ridge Holland appeared behind him. Holland took off his jacket and stepped in the ring. He immediately delivered a headbutt and the ref called for the bell to get things going.
The powerhouse threw him head over heels and started beating him down with huge blows to the head. The ref was forced to disqualify Holland when he refused to stop stomping a mudhole in Grimes' body.
Most of this segment was Grimes being his usual annoying self, which is kind of the point of his character. He is designed to make it so we are happy when he gets beaten up.
Holland coming out, beating him down and leaving was a good way to continue building his character as somebody to keep an eye on. It will be interesting to see if this is a new feud or a one-time encounter. Either way, Holland came away looking like a monster.
Kushida vs. Tony Nese
Kushida was the subject of another great video package before he came out to face Tony Nese. The Premier Athlete tried to flex at him and Kushida lit him up with a kick to the head.
Nese nailed him in the throat and hung him up on the top rope. He was able to reverse an Irish whip to send Nese into the ring post. When they got back into the ring, he countered a pump handle suplex and began focusing on Nese's left arm.
He stomped the former cruiserweight champion a few times before applying the Hoverboard Lock for the submission victory.
This was a short and predictable match, especially since Kushida has a match at TakeOver and Nese does not. However, it still had its upsides.
Despite being only a few minutes long, everything they did made sense and nothing felt rushed. The quick win definitely helped make Kushida look good before his match with Velveteen Dream on Sunday.
Nese is a great wrestler but it feels like WWE only sees him as a stepping stone for others on their way to a bigger match. It's a shame because he can have show-stealing matches with just about anybody when he gets the opportunity.
Adam Cole vs. Austin Theory
Adam Cole was in the ring after the break and spoke about how people think The Undisputed Era has changed. He claimed they are the same group that won all the titles and the same group that has dominated NXT for three years.
He called out Austin Theory for running his mouth about O'Reilly and dared him to say the same thing to his face. He gave Theory the chance to get in the ring or suffer a beating by the entire group. Theory took him up on the first option and got in the ring for a match.
Cole got the upper hand right away with a series of kicks and punches. He nailed a pump kick to the face and a neckbreaker as he continued talking trash at Theory.
He followed Theory out of the ring and drilled him with another kick to the face. He kept countering everything Theory would try to do. He tried to make Theory tap out to a headlock but the younger wrestler kept mouthing off at him.
Theory finally managed to get in a little offense with a dropkick just as the show went to a break. When we returned, Cole was the one fighting to get back in control. He was able to begin making a comeback and hit a backstabber for a two-count.
Theory countered the Panama Sunrise and hit a blue thunder bomb for a near fall. They traded strikes as they got back to their feet. The leader of the UE scored the win and gave a promo pushing KOR to the camera.
The first half of this match made Cole look great. It was the first time since he lost the NXT title that he felt like the confident and dominant competitor he usually is.
The second half was more competitive and allowed Theory to show off a bit with moves like a standing moonsault and a springboard dropkick. He looked good against one of NXT's best.
In fact, Theory would have fit right in with the UE a year ago. If this doesn't turn into a big feud, it wouldn't be surprising to see Cole try to recruit Theory at some point.
Kayden Carter vs. Xia Li
Kacy Catanzaro was there to support Kayden Carter as she faced Xia Li in the next matchup. They began with an exchange of quick takedowns and counters before coming to a stalemate.
Carter scored the first big hit with a dropkick from the middle rope but Li quickly took her down and began controlling the pace with vicious strikes.
They began exchanging pinning combinations and Carter was able to get the victory with a sunset flip. Carter offered Li her hand but Li shoved her to the mat and walked away.
The first few minutes of this match was a furious exchange of offense. It was fun to watch but unfortunately, the final pinning combination was sloppy.
This could be the start of a heel turn for Li, which would be the first real character development she has had in NXT. Management has not done much to define her character so this could be the first step.
Carter and Catanzaro are a good combo. If WWE keeps the rule about the women's tag titles being defended on all three brands, they could be challenging for the belts by the end of the year.
Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly
The meeting between Balor and O'Reilly began with a friendly handshake. Balor congratulated KOR on earning this opportunity and said he had the utmost respect for him as a competitor. O'Reilly gave him the same respect.
Michaels asked Balor what he thought of KOR and he said only somebody who doesn't pay attention would underestimate O'Reilly. He knows exactly how good he is. O'Reilly said he is a fan of Balor but also said he can tell he has a big ego.
KOR said he would defeat Balor and The Prince asked if he was going to be a man and do this himself or bring his Undisputed Era buddies with him. KOR said he would be a man and do this on his own.
They traded a few more barbs but remained quiet and civil. It ended without a single punch being thrown.
The way WWE presented this segment was awesome. O'Reilly and Balor showing each other respect while also saying they would each win was the best way to go with this match.
This is KOR's big moment to prove he is capable of being a top guy on his own. He didn't look nervous or hesitant. He was confident and convincing in every way.
Balor is the heavy favorite but O'Reilly did an excellent job giving people a reason to think he might win at TakeOver.
The Power Couple vs. Damien Priest and Io Shirai
Priest and Shirai went right after Gargano and LeRae before the bell. The referee was forced to wait until things had calmed down before he called for the match to begin.
Johnny Wrestling tried a stick and move technique but the North American champion caught him with a boot to the face and several clubbing blows in the corner.
Shirai asked for the tag and Priest was happy to oblige. She and LeRae traded a couple of words before they started throwing punches. The Poison Pixie countered a German suplex and rolled her up for a two count.
Priest and Shirai performed a cool double team move when she stood on his shoulders and he ran to throw her onto the Garganos at ringside. We returned from a break to see LeRae in control after she countered a 619 during the commercial.
Shirai punched Gargano off of the apron before LeRae dropped her on her face. The women's champion avoided a moonsault and hit a backbreaker. Gargano saved his wife but ended up taking Shirai's moosault himself. Priest tagged in but LeRae hit a low blow from behind while the ref was distracted. Gargano spiked him with a DDT for the win.
This was a fun main event. Shirai and Priest showed a surprising amount of chemistry for two people who have never teamed up before.
LeRae and Shirai have a more personal feud at the moment but both titles match on Sunday should be entertaining if this bout was anything to go by.
The Power Couple has developed into two of the best heels in NXT. Whether they win or lose on Sunday, they will continue to big a big part of the show moving forward.