As with last week’s episode of NXT, the main event of this show was deemed a big enough match that it warranted being hyped in the cold open. Last week pitted the debuting Kushida against Kassius Ohno, and this week the Undisputed Era’s Adam Cole faced off with Matt Riddle.
Bianca Belair vs. Mia Yim
We kicked things off, though, with a match from the NXT women’s division. Tensions had been brewing for a couple of weeks prior to this one. Mia Yim had called out Bianca Belair in a backstage interview, questioning her ability to get the job done against Shayna Baszler, given she has now lost two TakeOver championship matches. And last week, Belair confronted Yim at the Performance Center over her comments. The match was a fine contest, with Belair’s confident and cocky character on full display. Everything about Bianca exudes star quality, from the way she carries herself, to her hard-hitting offense, to her braided hair which she uses to her advantage, either as a weapon, or as was evident here at the finish, in more unorthodox ways. I didn’t think the closing moments of the match were executed as well as they could have been, however. Belair found herself sat on Yim’s chest, holding onto the ropes, and the referee remonstrated with her that she is attempting an illegal pinfall if she grabs onto the ropes. Yim reversed the cover into one of her own, and Belair countered that reversal into another pinfall attempt, but wrapped her hair around the rope for leverage, which the official did not see. I could have bought the idea that the ref missed the hair around the rope if she hadn’t seconds earlier been looking straight at the ropes, telling Bianca off for using them. But as events transpired, I didn’t think the finish quite clicked. It was the result I was hoping for, however, and hopefully this is a sign of bigger things to come for Bianca Belair.
Riddick Moss vs. Raul Mendoza
The returning Riddick Moss had been out for a year rehabbing an Achilles injury, and he seemed to use that as part of his gimmick here with the Riddick Regimen. His jacket, Tron video and even the water bottle that he brought to the ring were all branded with the two words. As a gym routine, it’s fair to say that the Riddick Regimen must have worked wonders, as Moss was in incredible shape, using his size and his strength to his advantage throughout this match against the high-flying Mexican, Raul Mendoza. While Moss may have been powerful, though, he certainly was not humble, telling the referee to speed up her count when Mendoza kicked out of his pinfall attempts, and condescendingly offering the Mexican a drink from his Regimen bottle. Moss’ lack of humility would come back to haunt him, as when Mendoza slapped the bottle away, he followed up with a flurry of offense which ended in a twisting splash from the top rope, and that gained him the three-count. Certainly an upset victory, I’m suddenly interested in both guys. Will Moss turn into more of a destructive heel, upset by the defeat? And is this the first in a series of victories, or perhaps something that will lead to a high-profile feud, for Mendoza?
Adam Cole vs. Matt Riddle
Two weeks ago, Johnny Gargano defeated Roderick Strong when Matt Riddle came out to neutralise interference from the other three members of the Undisputed Era. In the chaos, Adam Cole ended up striking Strong by accident, and this led to the victory for Gargano. So, the stage was set for Cole to take on the man who stuck his nose in the Era’s business and created the confusion that led to the defeat for Strong. The story, though, was in fact about the ongoing rift that is tearing apart the Undisputed Era. The match itself was an excellent display from two of the best workers in NXT today, and at one point even garnered that “Fight Forever” chant from the Full Sail crowd, with no shenanigans until the finish. Cole was down on the outside, and Strong hurried out to ringside to check on him and provide some moral support. This nearly paid off, as Riddle took out Strong, leaving himself open to eat a superkick from Cole. Riddle would transition Cole’s pinfall attempt into the Bromission, however, and the leader of the Undisputed Era tapped out. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly then made their way out to ringside, as a full-blown argument began between Cole and Strong, with Fish trying to make peace with Strong and O’Reilly with Cole. While the four men did not come to blows here, it certainly feels like that situation is on the horizon, and a match at TakeOver featuring some sort of combination of members of the Undisputed Era facing each other could be, excitingly, about to take place (despite the fact that I think the group has uncapped potential as a main roster act, and it would be dumb to break them up now, but that’s another debate).
Elsewhere on the show, we were shown CCTV footage of the Viking Raiders being attacked by the Forgotten Sons. The NXT Tag Team Champions were shown leaving the Performance Center, only for the Sons to jump out of a car and brutalise them. A future segment featuring the Viking Raiders addressing their NXT future was then advertised. I can’t help but wonder if, seeing as they are now fixtures on Monday Night Raw, the Raiders will be relinquishing their championships in that segment. Whether or not that happens, the Forgotten Sons have been positioned as the top team in the division outside of the champs, so I expect them to become new champions sooner rather than later.
Also, Io Shirai attacked the Three Horsewomen in the Performance Center, leading to a pull-apart brawl, and Kushida was advertised for another match next week.
Overall, this was an enjoyable episode of NXT, which put over Bianca Belair, Raul Mendoza, and Matt Riddle, and deepened the divide between the members of the Undisputed Era.