WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from November 25
NXT TakeOver: WarGames approaches, and the November 25 edition of WWE NXT heralded that event with matches to set up the big contests to come.
Undisputed Era returned the previous week to begin a fight with The Kings of NXT that ended with William Regal announcing the two would fight in WarGames. Pete Dunne was set to represent Pat McAfee's team in a ladder match against a member of UE to determine who would have the advantage in WarGames.
Candice LeRae has established many enemies, who she is likely to face inside WarGames as members of Shotzi Blackheart's team. However, her first challenge was Ember Moon, who looked to continue building momentum toward a title opportunity.
With Wade Barrett out for the week, Kevin Owens stepped in as a special guest commentator. No one knew what he would say, or who would try to take their shot at a former NXT and WWE universal champion?
This show had work left to do to build toward TakeOver. While both WarGames were set, the show still needed to establish the rest of the card and give everyone something to be excited about.
Ember Moon vs. Candice LeRae (w/ Indi Hartwell)
Candice LeRae tried to slow the pace early, whispering orders for Indi Hartwell to help her. The War Goddess was not interested, slamming The Poison Pixie against every surface. LeRae attempted to walk out, but Moon went after her. Outside the ring, LeRae finally managed to get the advantage.
The Poison Pixie used short slams and clotheslines to ground The War Goddess for a time. As Moon rallied, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez arrived to support LeRae, leaving Moon badly outnumbered.
This allowed LeRae to wear down Moon with the Gargano Escape into a sleeper hold that the outnumbered babyface barely escaped. Kai and Gonzalez distracted The War Goddess during another rally.
Hartwell took the Eclipse for LeRae, setting up The Poison Pixie to hit a superkick into the Wicked Stepsister for the win. Afterward, Moon tried to escape, but Toni Storm attacked The War Goddess and threw her into the waiting arms of the heels.
LeRae def. Moon by pinfall.
This was a fun TV match, but the pacing kept the contest from rising above second gear. Moon and LeRae have so much better in them down the line. For the moment, this was a fine first act in a rivalry that could come to fruition in 2021.
Immediately, it seems The War Goddess has a variety of opponents. While she is still fighting Kai and Gonzalez, she has another enemy in a newly turned heel Storm.
The former NXT UK women's champion has teased a heel persona for the past month, but it seemed like NXT was waiting for the right moment to strike. This was rushed after so many opportunities missed, but Storm should be a fantastic heel, especially rising to meet Io Shirai soon.
Kyle O'Reilly Demands the Opportunity to FIght Pete Dunne
Legado del Fantasma talked privately about bringing the cruiserweight division to the forefront. Santos Escobar was not worried about any challenger, even his next opponent Curt Stallion.
Undisputed Era arrived to talk about The Kings of NXT. Adam Cole gave credit to Pat McAfee and his crew for giving this group a taste of their own medicine. Kyle O'Reilly demanded the chance at Pete Dunne in the ladder match. UE all agreed it was the right move.
This did not need to happen in the ring. It was a backstage two minute interview stretched out to five. Still, it is good to see Undisputed Era back, and the fire from O'Reilly sold how much the main event truly means to him beyond just advantage in WarGames.
UE's run in NXT has certainly been unforgettable, but it does seem like the quartet is reaching an end. This group's chemistry was not as on point as usual. O'Reilly seems to be moving beyond the group on his own merit while Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong need a fresh angle.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Kushida
Timothy Thatcher's students watched this technical match closely backstage while Tommaso Ciampa took a seat on the stage to watch closely.
Kushida tried to catch Thatcher with a variety of submissions, but the technical expert was one step ahead of the Japanese Superstar. Thatcher trapped Kushida's leg in the ropes with a leg wrench until the referee forced the break.
The two brawled to the mat where they struggled for holds. Every submission was an opportunity for a counter. Kushida sent Thatcher careening to the floor after blocking a sleeper then sent his left arm hard into the ramp.
The technical expert looked out of sorts against Kushida, but he managed to land an underhook suplex. This caused Ciampa to stand up from his chair. The distraction of The Blackheart standing allowed Kushida to trap Thatcher in the Hoverboard Lock for the tap out.
Kushida def. Thatcher by pinfall.
This was a technical clinic. Kushida and Thatcher clicked from the outset, putting on a brutal and impressive display unlike anything else in NXT. The two technicians showed why they are vital to the black-and-gold brand, which has been known for a particular style for so long.
Making Thatcher tap out was the biggest win of the Japanese Superstar's NXT career yet. This was a set up for a run at the very top. Kushida is suited to be the next challenger to Finn Balor when the NXT champion is ready to get back in the ring.
Thatcher vs. Ciampa continues to build, and that should be a match at the next TakeOver. The two are among the best of the black-and-gold brand. They can kick off WarGames with a match that could rival the brutality inside the double cage.
Leon Ruff vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest Made Official on Kevin Owens Show
The Kevin Owens Show made a special appearance in NXT with special guest Leon Ruff. A confident Ruff stepped into the ring with the NXT North American Championship firmly in hand. KO tried to build that confidence all the more in the champion.
Johnny Gargano arrived after Ruff named him. The Rebel Heart was not interested in Ruff's feel-good story. Damian Priest arrived shortly thereafter, stating that Ruff is better than Gargano.
William Regal arrived to announce that Ruff vs. Gargano vs. Priest for the NXT North Amreican Championship at NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
Finn Balor explained in a black-and-white interview that he was watching WarGames closely, waiting for someone to step up to him.
This was a ton of fun, mainly because of KO. The promos did their job, even if there was not much there to talk about. What really sold it all was the brazen way that Owens pointed out the tropes before they happened. By making it clear that he was in on it all, the expected tropes felt less generic.
This triple threat match has serious potential. In particular, it could allow Ruff to have the biggest performance of his career. His story of proving himself against the best is what will carry this contest past the repetitive feeling of Gargano vs. Priest.
Cameron Grimes vs. Jake Atlas
Jake Atlas tried to push the pace against Cameron Grimes, but The Technical Savage was more interested in doing damage. The two men went back and forth until a standing Spanish Fly stopped Atlas cold, followed by a quick Cave In for the victory.
Dexter Lumis arrived and showed off his specially made video of Grimes' constant running. He offered a strap to Grimes, which The Technical Savage would not agree to wear.
William Regal told Grimes backstage that he would fight Lumis in a strap match at NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
Grimes def. Atlas by pinfall.
Atlas put on a great showing against Santos Escobar recently, and this felt like the right time to show that he can hang with top competitors. Instead, he was treated as enhancement talent, losing in short order to a supposed coward.
What came afterward was better. The video by Lumis spoke for him, and The Tortured Artist set the stage for a hopeful final match. A strap match makes sense for the two, though it would have made just as much sense to lower the WarGames cage and have a steel cage match between them.
Candice LeRae Ruins Rhea Ripley's Moment
Backstage, LeRae introduced her team for WarGames: herself, Kai, Gonzalez and Storm.
Rhea Ripley put over Io Shirai in a pre-taped interview showing their match last week. The Nightmare was not sure what she would do next.
In the ring, The Nightmare explained that she was still focused on the NXT Women's Championship and was not leaving the black-and-gold brand. Candice LeRae interrupted with Toni Storm, mocking Ripley. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez arrived, carrying Shirai.
The heels stormed the ring and took down The Nightmare. They made sure to deal serious damage to Ripley, wanting to make sure she could not compete at WarGames, much like they did Ember Moon earlier in the night.
LeRae and her team explained that the heels would hurt absolutely anyone in the way of a victory at WarGames. She announced that Gonzalez would beat Shotzi Blackheart next week to earn WarGames advantage. Johnny Gargano arrived, and he, LeRae, Indi Hartwell and another Ghostface drove away.
While the segment made sense, this felt less necessary than it should. Ripley barely got a chance to even tease that she might leave NXT. Instead, the intrigue was immediately dashed, and the focus was on the heels attacking more women.
The entire women's division revolves around the WarGames match, but NXT has so much talent in the women's match. Even if LeRae, Kai, Gonzalez and Storm vs. Blackheart, Ripley, Shirai and Moon will be an incredible match, The Genius of the Sky and The Nightmare did not need to be involved.
The Grizzled Young Veterans Return
Xia Li and Boa were forced into a car where they were driven to meet the old man, who had marked Boa previously. They met a mysterious woman.
Ever-Rise looked to build some momentum again as a tag team. Instead, The Grizzled Young Veterans returned to attack them. James Drake and Zack Gibson beat down Chase Parker and Matt Martel, announcing their arrival back in NXT.
Returns do not get simpler than this. An Ever-Rise match was never going to a featured moment on the show, so The Grizzled Young Veterans made a statement instead.
Gibson and Drake are two of the best tag team wrestlers in WWE, so they are absolutely needed back in the division. Whether they go after Undisputed Era, Breezango or others, this team adds needed depth to a strong tag team division.
The Li and Boa story has taken a fascinating direction. There is just one big question: will it go anywhere important? Neither Li or Boa are featured performers, but the mysterious woman that threatens them could be.
WarGames Advantage Ladder: Pete Dunne vs. Kyle O'Reilly
Pete Dunne and Kyle O'Reilly did not care that they had a WarGames match in less than two weeks. They were willing to take any punishment to dish the same out in this physical ladder match.
The Bruiserweight went after the left hand of O'Reilly while the Undisputed Era member used a series of dragon screws to isolate the left leg of Dunne. The two broke a ladder as Dunne suplexed O'Reilly through it.
The Undisputed Era's representative proved he was deserving of the opportunity as he blocked the Bitter End and locked in a guillotine. However, The Bruiserweight turned it around and sent the knee of O'Reilly into a ladder.
Both men were limping and wounded with a ladder set up in the center of the ring. They swung at each other with fists under the ladder. Dunne broke the fingers of O'Reilly, but the UE member rebounded into a clothesline after knocking down the ladder.
The Bruiserweight grabbed a steel chair to do serious damage to O'Reilly before hitting the Bitter End on the guardrail. Somehow, O'Reilly recovered to take out Dunne, but a hooded man knocked him down off the ladder to the outside. Dunne pulled down the briefcase and stood tall
Dunne def. O'Reilly by pulling down the briefcase to earn the advantage at WarGames.
Unsurprisingly, this was good enough to be a TakeOver match. These two future NXT Championship contenders went all out in a ladder match that sold their brutality. O'Reilly especially elevated his game as he did before his injury, selling his physical style.
The two men did each other no favors with two weeks before WarGames. They will need to recover quickly for a contest that is known be difficult to manage. This was ultimately a preview of what we can expect, and that is a great match to come.
The silly finish aside, O'Reilly vs. Dunne is a match that needs to happen again. This was everything it promised to be and more.