On the heels of an explosive NXT TakeOver: WarGames, the revolutionary brand returned to WWE Network with a show that was essentially a recap of Saturday night’s live event special but did feature an extraordinary battle for the WWE United Kingdom Championship between “Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne and challenger Johnny Gargano.
Would Johnny Wrestling be able to shake off a recent losing streak to stun Dunne and win the title or would the ruthless and relentless champion emerge with his championship intact, further establishing the era of the Bruiserweight?
It was not the only match on the card as new WWE call-ups Ruby Riot and Sonya Deville squared off in singles competition.
What grades did the matches earn on this, an otherwise uneventful episode of the Wednesday night delight?
Ruby Riot vs. Sonya Deville
Chain wrestling started the match as the competitors traded control. Riot one-upped her opponent, her experience the difference. A series of arm drags and an onslaught of kicks continued the Punk Rock Princess’ early roll but Deville targeted the previously injured ankle of her opponent, seizing control heading into the break.
Back from the break, Riot scored a schoolgirl rollup for a count of two but Deville cut her off with a big spinebuster that played up the heel’s strength advantage.
Riot caught a charging Deville with an elbow to the face but she was unable to follow up, hurting her foot as she headed to the ring apron. She still mustered enough energy for a DDT through the ropes, to Deville, that left both women struggling to their feet.
Riot, on one leg, delivered a springboard senton that scored her a near-fall.
Deville caught Riot in a triangle arm bar, then shifted and trapped the injured Riot in an ankle lock. Somehow, she fought through the immense pain, made it to the ropes to force the hold broken. She fought back and delivered a windup overhead kick for the pinfall win.
Ruby Riot defeated Sonya Deville
The match lost a great deal of meaning to the long-term future of NXT’s women’s division on Monday and Tuesday night when Deville and Riot debuted on Raw and SmackDown Live, respectively.
With that said, the match itself was well-wrestled and told a sold story of Riot fighting through considerable pain to emerge victoriously.
Deville was convincing as she targeted the injured limb of her opponent in hopes of scoring the victory with an ankle lock.
When that did not work, frustration set in and the alert Riot was able to deliver a devastating kick for the win.
Strong, quality wrestling from two women with bright futures on the main roster.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne
The crowd was extremely receptive to both Johnny Gargano and Pete Dunne, showing the Superstars tremendous respect as they hit the ring for the United Kingdom Championship match.
Both champion Dunne and challenger Gargano engaged in grappling early, each trying to out-wrestle the other for the early advantage. Said advantage finally came moments later, though, when Dunne countered a DDT attempt by his opponent and sent him into the apron ahead of the break.
Dunne partook in joint manipulation, torturing Gargano. Johnny Wrestling, though, showed the resilience he has become most associated with while fighting back into the match.
He reversed Dunne’s Bitter End finisher into a DDT and scored a near-fall with a headscissors takedown into a Gargano Escape.
The match speed and intensity increased as the Superstars sought victory. Dunne survived the submission attempt and caught Gargano in a slingshot spear attempt, blasting him with a big right hand. He followed up immediately with The Bitter End for the successful title retention.
Pete Dunne defeated Johnny Gargano
Two of the best wrestlers associated with the NXT brand had a fantastic main event match this week, in front of a red-hot crowd. The match, taped before TakeOver, set the bar high for the other Superstars to surpass.
Gargano losing fits his losing streak gimmick while Dunne continues to look like an unbeatable champion. His ability to withstand tremendous punishment and still channel his aggression into a victory makes him an incredibly engrossing worker.
A great match with no long-lasting effects on the brand to speak of, outside of Gargano’s continued plight.