We have arrived at the go-home episode of NXT for Takeover Portland. Every match has had quite the fun build to it, and it will certainly be quite the event on Sunday. There are some good matches slated for tonight and it will be fun to see how they play out. The Velveteen Dream returned last week, and we shall see if he has anything planned this week for Roderick Strong. So, let us jump right in and see what NXT had for us this week.
Roderick Strong In-Ring
Roderick Strong is by far the weakest member of the Undisputed Era on the mic, but he was solid enough here. He came out because he had some things to say about the Velveteen Dream. He spoke about how Dream had his wife and child on his tights last week and that he wants to get his hands on him. I liked the fire from Roddy here and this might have been some of his best mic work in NXT to date. He would be interrupted by Bronson Reed and Bronson had some words for him because of the knee he was hit with by Strong last week. Reed charged the ring to attack Strong and this would lead to the first match of the evening.
Bronson Reed vs Roderick Strong
Bronson Reed is a big man so I was interested to see how he would do in the ring with a workhorse like Roderick. To my delight, Bronson was able to keep up with the pace of Strong throughout the match and this was a fun opener. I have stated before how I have become a fan of Bronson Reed and really feel like there is a ton of potential there for him. He is an athletic big man and clearly has a personality that could connect with the crowd if given the chance. There were moments where you could tell Bronson took a minute to gather himself because of the pace of the match but it did not slow him down at all. Towards the end of the match, the purple lights of the Velveteen Dream came on and Roddy was ready to attack him. That ended up being a distraction as it allowed Bronson to hit Roddy with a tope suicida on the outside. Bronson tried to hit Strong with the splash from the top, but Roddy countered with a perfectly timed knee and that allowed him to pick up the win in a fun match.
Dream then came onto the tron in Full Sail and he had some words for Strong. Dream came off like a heel here but also a bit as a face. That is basically the only way to sum up Dream because he truly lives in a realm of his own that surpasses a face or a heel. He taunted Roddy some more with his tights and how he would take care of his family if something were to happen to him. This was firing up Roddy and he would charge to the back once the promo was over. It would be revealed later in the night that these two will have a match next week and that is certainly going to be a good one.
Traveling With The Broserweights
It was only a matter of time before we got some videos of Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne together and this was hilarious. Dunne asked Riddle how they would get to Portland with the trophy and I love how Riddle was so care-free in saying that he has a plan. They hopped into a car and both took turns driving and that is where this became even funnier. Riddle was the first to drive and then it was Dunne’s turn. I love how they had him drive on the wrong side of the road and Riddle told him to drive on the correct side in his bro-like way of saying things. They were then pulled over by the police and I love how paranoid Riddle got because it was totally a gag about his greener pastures in life. They would end up getting their car towed and I love the reveal that neither of them has their license. Dunne asked Riddle how they would get to Portland and I love how Riddle told him not to worry because he will come up with something.
Angel Garza Backstage
Have I ever said how much Angel Garza reminds me of Eddie Guerrero? I have? Well it is true, and this segment showed why I believe that once again. Garza has all the charisma that made Eddie a legend and he was great here. He spoke about how he wasn’t pinned when he lost the title and that he wants it back from Devlin. He also bragged a bit about his recent outings on Raw and he would be interrupted by Lio Rush. Rush came in to tell Garza that he is a different man from the one he last faced. They are both confident and ready to win the number one contender’s match and I cannot wait to see it.
Candice LeRae vs Dakota Kai
Candice does lack a bit in the personality department, but she most certainly does not lack in the in-ring department. She is one of the top performers in the ring among the women in NXT and there is no denying that. Dakota has found a new edge to her since she has turned heel and I have certainly enjoyed it so far. I knew this would be a solid match and it certainly was that. I also barely noticed that the gear Candice had on, which she wore in the Rumble, is inspired by Shawn Michaels and I loved it. This was a fun match and hard hitting at times too. That is to be expected because Candice is certainly a tough gal and Dakota is quite the kicker. Candice would get a bloody nose in the match and I could not tell when/where she got it. I thought Candice was going to pull out the win with her husband’s submission, but Dakota was able to reverse it for a roll up win. Candice apparently didn’t like that and would go after Dakota after the bell. Candice tried slamming Dakota’s face into the ring bell, but Dakota reversed it and sent Candice into it instead. She then grabbed it with plans of hitting Candice with it, but Tegan Nox would come from behind and attack Dakota. They would have to be separated by referees and security and I cannot wait for their street fight on Sunday at Takeover.
Johnny Gargano vs Cameron Grimes
They don’t call him “Johnny Wrestling” for nothing because this was a fantastic match. It has been a minute since we have seen Grimes on television, so it was great to see him in action here. It was obvious that he was probably losing but the match was still great, nonetheless. Grimes was able to go step for step with Gargano and not every man can do that. Sure, Gargano brings the best out of people, but you still have to have it in order for it to come out. Really great back and forth action in this match and I did wonder if Finn would show up during the match, but I believe the commentary team said he was on his way or in Portland already. The moves these two were hitting on one another were great and I really cannot do much justice to it by trying to describe it. I will say that at one point, Gargano had Grimes in a very nice submission, and it made me think how amazing a match between Gargano and Daniel Bryan could be. That would probably break the scale on ratings if it ever did. Gargano would pick up the win here and yell to the camera at Finn that he is coming for him at Takeover. Fun match and this was my match of the night for NXT.
Adam Cole Backstage
Adam Cole was backstage, and he was interviewed about his upcoming match with KUSHIDA. I love how Strong was pacing in the background and Cole was trying to calm him down before he said anything in the interview. Cole was confident that he would beat KUSHIDA and that he will do the same to Ciampa. I loved the passion from Cole here because he is showing how much the title means to him. Cole is a genius on the mic, and he showed is here once again.
Traveling With The Broserweights Part 2
Much like the first part, this was flat out hilarious. Pete Dunne was questioning whether they are traveling to Portland in a boat and I love how Riddle said he does his best thinking in the boat. The camera panned out and it was revealed that they were in a swan paddle boat and that had me dying. I had no idea I would love this pairing as much as I do and these two seem made for each other. Dunne’s face as Riddle sat there thinking of an idea was perfect and Riddle would come up with a plan at the segment closed for commercial.
Robert Stone Brand Vignette
I have wondered where they are going with the gimmick of the Robert Stone Brand and we got a bit of a taste of that here. Stone was sitting in an office and spoke about his brand. Stone announced that there would be a rematch next week and they are relaunching the brand as well. Chelsea Green said the same thing and I really wonder where they are going with this. I also wonder if more people will be added to this and who they could be. I will say that I am intrigued by all of this.
Lio Rush vs Angel Garza
I don’t know if it is because their previous matches were so darn good, but this match didn’t hit me as well as their previous encounters. I guess they have set the bar so high that anything less will leave you wanting. I did love how Nigel spoke about lucha royalty and how Garza is a part of that. He also brought up Eddie Guerrero and how Garza has the same confidence Eddie had. I am not claiming to be the first to compare the two, but I will say that I like that the comparison is being made on NXT. I love how Garza tore his pants away at the start of the match because Lio was wearing something similar and he didn’t like that. Fun enough match and that is to be expected from these two amazing talents. They had some great counters and I did wonder if Garza would pick up the win over Rush here. That would not be the case though as Rush would pick up the win here and earn a shot at Jordan Devlin. Speaking of Devlin, he would come out to the entrance ramp while Rush celebrated to talk some trash to his face. He said he would beat him next week and that match is sure to be straight fire.
Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic Hype Package
If there is something we always say WWE nails every time, it is their hype packages for matches because this was another great one. Mark Henry did the voiceover for this and that added a nice oomph to this video package. This hyped up the rivalry between these two and their previous encounters in NXT. Really great stuff here and it certainly did its job in getting me hyped for their match on Sunday. If that match can touch what they have done in the past, we are in for a doozy and quite possibly a match of the weekend.
Bianca Belair vs Santana Garrett
I wish I could say something about the match, but this was about as clear of a squash as squash matches go. Santana got not offense in and it was all Bianca in this one. I do like that it wasn’t done in the typical way a squash match goes though because you could clearly see Bianca was sending a message to Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair that she is someone that should not be overlooked. Bianca got on the mic after the match to reiterate that point and that she plans on winning on Sunday. That would bring out Rhea and she said she would be the victor at Takeover. The two would eventually come to blows and Bianca would get the better of the exchange when she would hit Rhea with the K.O.D. and stood tall in the ring. I will say that the grade is probably 99% the post-match stuff and 1% the actual match itself.
Traveling With The Broserweights Part 3
Matt Riddle did indeed come up with a plan and he was somewhere with Pete Dunne and the Dusty Classic Cup. It would be revealed they were on a tarmac and that Riddle had gotten them a plane. At least that is what Riddle let Dunne believe as they put the Cup in the plane and then Riddle pushed Dunne into the plane. Riddle then got in as well and it would be revealed that the plane was Triple H’s private jet and the tag team were stowaways. I should have seen this coming because this is totally something that Riddle’s character would do and yet it caught me by surprise and had me dying of laughter. I hope these two have a nice run as a tag team because they are gold together.
Tommaso Ciampa Promo
Like Adam Cole, Tommaso Ciampa is fantastic on the mic and he was able to showcase that here. He was somewhere in Full Sail and was watching the video of himself relinquishing the NXT Championship to Triple H after he injured his neck. Ciampa spoke about that day and how he wasn’t sure if he would be able to wrestle again because of the injury he sustained. Ciampa then moved on and spoke about how he is days away from his match with Adam Cole and the possibilities of whoever comes out the victor. Honestly, this was a masterclass in how to do a wrestling promo and Ciampa nailed this on every level. How Ciampa goes from calm to intense is something special to behold and this was a fantastic promo by him. That promo should honestly be shown to those who are in the developmental part of NXT, not the ones who have plenty of experience, because Ciampa gave a lesson in how you cut a promo.
Adam Cole vs KUSHIDA
KUSHIDA was ready to have his revenge for the attack from the Undisputed Era last week and this was a fun match. It feels like I say that a lot when I write about NXT, but it is hard not to say that. NXT just knows how to book matches and they are fun 9 time out of 10. Really great back and forth here in this match and I really hope KUSHIDA is able to do something this year. He is still early in his NXT run and has dealt with an injury so maybe that halted whatever plans they had for him. It does remind me a bit of Keith Lee and how we wondered why they weren’t doing anything with him and then he eventually got his shot. I guess patience is a virtue and can lead to good things if you wait it out enough. Really fun match and I loved KUSHIDA’s counter on the outside to an armbar. KUSHIDA is one of the best workers of all-time and you can see how he can work with anyone. I really wondered if KUSHIDA would beat Cole here due to a distraction from Ciampa but that would not happen. KUSHIDA did his best but it was not enough as Adam Cole would pick up the win in a competitive match. Also, I think this was the first time anybody in NXT made a reference to Adam Cole being in Bullet Club prior to WWE because Mauro mentioned how Cole was in a club in Japan. Ciampa would come out after the match and had a nice stare down with Cole as NXT came to a close.
What more can I say other than this was a fun episode of NXT once again. NXT is by far my favorite wrestling program right now and it is easy to see why. Every match tonight was on point except for the Bianca/Santana one but that was in part due to a bigger story, so it gets a pass from me. The Broserweight stuff was hilarious and Ciampa had one of the best promos he has ever given. Rush/Garza was fun too and the Gargano/Grimes match was fantastic. All in all, great night for NXT this week and one definitely worth checking out. Make sure you join us on Sunday for the Dignified Discussion for Takeover Portland because it will certainly be a fun time indeed. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all around the WRC.