NXT – The Illustrious Future: Strong’s Last Opportunity?

I’m not sure what everyone else is thinking, but I absolutely think NXT is on fire right now. With that said, I have a new-found excitement to analyze the weekly product and share my thoughts with you, the loyal readers.

So this week’s show opened with three of the brand’s top women competing in what started as a handicap match. Ruby Riot went to battle with the Iconic Duo again, only for Nikki Cross to swoop in and save the day. The match was fine for what it was, with Cross’ involvement obviously being the highlight. I’m very intrigued to see if this budding partnership between Riot and Cross will go anywhere. We know that there’s three spots to be filled in the Women’s Title match at TakeOver: War Games, and it would be a big mistake if at least one or two of these women weren’t included.

Lars Sullivan had an interview about beating Oney Lorcan last week. Lars is something special, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him. Additionally, I’m looking forward to seeing what could happen with the potential partnership between Lorcan and Danny Burch.

Zelina Vega was shown talking to reporters outside. Needless to say, she is the piece of Andrade Almas we never knew he needed. She is perfect in her role and has already helped “Cien” tremendously. We now know that Almas will take on Johnny Gargano again next week. Let me assure you, this will be better than their TakeOver bout.

Lio Rush was set to make his TV debut against Aleister Black, but we had a sneak attack from none other than The Velveteen Dream. It’s safe to say Rush was going to lose regardless, yet I thought it was a really nice touch to have Dream play mind games with Black. This developing rivalry is going to be must-see, which I never once thought I’d say a month ago. As for Lio Rush, I’m looking forward to his real debut. Fingers-crossed he stays humble during his early days in WWE.

Kairi Sane made her NXT TV debut in winning fashion over Aliyah. Aside from the top rope elbow drop, I didn’t feel there was anything too special here. I was able to catch this match in person during the post-Irma tapings. Full Sail really loves this woman, so I guess you can say she’ll make for a good Asuka replacement.

In the main event, Drew McIntyre managed to beat Roderick Strong to retain his NXT Championship. This was a really fun, hard-fought battle. The only problem I had with this is – where does Roddy go from here? He’s come up short time and time again against Roode and McIntyre. Unless he can earn another title shot, or turn… I’d say he’s done for a while. The show ended with a nice cliff-hanger involving Strong being confronted by The Undisputed Era. Is there something to be said about their ROH history?

Overall, this was a solid episode. Two women’s matches, a debut ruined, and an NXT Title match to hold us over until TakeOver. As they say, the future is now. What a time to be a wrestling/NXT fan.