By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT Tag Champions Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. The Revival in a non-title match: A fantastic tag team dream match and my favorite match on a loaded Wednesday night. It didn’t seem to matter that both teams are heels. The live crowd appreciated the action and their split reaction made for a good atmosphere. It was a pleasant surprise to see an actual clean finish on a show filled with outside interference. Hey, why are The Revival so much better in NXT than on Raw or Smackdown?
NXT Champion Adam Cole vs. Dominik Dijakovic in a ladder match for the advantage in the War Games match: Both men took some big time ladder bumps and worked hard to make this a passable ladder match despite getting a little over ten minutes. I’m not really sure why they are having Cole run this crazy gauntlet that started with the ladder match, continues with a WarGames match on Saturday, and an NXT Title defense on Sunday all while working through a fractured wrist. A few weeks back, I credited AEW and NXT for not hot-shotting despite the head-to-head battle, but it looks like NXT blinked first by booking back to back weeks of ladder matches in addition to all the main roster appearances.
Becky Lynch vs. Rhea Ripley: Lynch’s promo was strong, as usual. Ripley asking The Man if she had balls was simple and perfect. The match continued the usual theme of the build to Survivor Series events – if a match looks too good for television then it will probably end with outside interference. But it sure was fun while it lasted with Ripley powering out of Lynch’s finisher in what was a good, competitive match. I look forward to seeing this match again on a bigger stage somewhere down the road.
Ricochet vs. Matt Riddle: The night of a thousand run-ins continued with Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura interfering, which led to Riddle getting the pin. Much like Lynch vs. Ripley, it was fun while it lasted and I’d love to see a full match minus with a clean finish. Hey, why does Ricochet seem like a big star in NXT and everywhere other than Raw or Smackdown?
NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray vs. Dakota Kai in a non-title match: A minor Hit. The NXT UK Champion got a win, and Kai suffered another frustration building defeat. They were in a tough spot following the hot tag team match and the Full Sail crowd clearly needed moment to catch their breath. The post match brawl was, well, another big brawl. I did enjoy the moment with Kairi Sane and Io Shirai meeting face to face only to have the brawl fire up before there could be a payoff to their meeting.
Raw Tag Champions The Viking Raiders vs. Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler in a non-title match: A minor Hit for a good tag match. The idea was clearly to use the Viking Raiders to give the Forgotten Sons a credibility boost even in defeat. The problem with Blake and Cutler isn’t their ring work, it’s that they look like generic bikers and they are stuck playing henchmen in a bland biker act. Blake and Cutler must develop their own personas in order for this act to work.
Final hype for WarGames: WarGames has sadly become a calendar event rather than something that develops organically. And having two WarGames matches on the same show is pushing it. But spending so little time on the final show before WarGames playing into those storylines was just plain weak. The event wasn’t completely ignored and I enjoyed the overall show, but as someone looking forward to Takeover more than Survivor Series, it was disappointing that the matches on Saturday’s show didn’t get the final storyline attention they needed and deserved. And on a show that clearly put the focus on Survivor Series, it’s bizarre that they didn’t announce the NXT teams for the elimination matches. At the very least, it felt like the broadcast team should have been openly wondering why those teams haven’t been announced and whether that’s strategy on Triple H’s part.