This week is important for NXT. In what could indicate WWE's future direction when it comes to NXT, this week's broadcast aired on the USA Network, as was promoted ad nauseam by WWE on social media.
Knowing this, WWE tried to optimize what was put on for potential TV viewers.
We saw NXT Champion Andrade Cien Almas take on Fabian Aichner, Peyton Royce renew hostilities with NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon and Aleister Black take on Adam Cole for the right to compete in the NXT Championship Fatal 4-Way number one contendership match in a few weeks.
Fabian Aichner impresses again
In recent times, few talents have flown under the radar as much as Fabian Aichner. This week, the Cruiserweight Classic alumni took on NXT champion Andrade Cien Almas in the show's opener.
While the result was never in doubt, Aichner put on a great show against the champion, hitting a springboard plancha to the outside, as well as a stunning tornado DDT.
Ultimately, it was a distraction from Zelina Vega that proved to be the difference, with Almas throwing an off-guard Aichner into the ring steps before winning with his hammerlock DDT.
It was another impressive showing from Aichner and if this match, and his win over Johnny Gargano last month, is anything to go by, he has a bright future ahead of him in NXT.
Nikki Cross stakes her claim
This week's NXT saw NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon take on one half of the Iconic Duo: Peyton Royce. The match itself was good, but it was what transpired after the match that will prove important in the weeks ahead.
After Moon dispatched Royce, Billie Kay jumped Moon from behind and, with the help of Royce, beat down the champion. Out of nowhere, SAnitY's Nikki Cross hit the ring and vanquished the Iconic Duo. However, she appeared to have ulterior motives as she eyed up the NXT Women's Championship before she ran off into the crowd as per usual.
With that, the Scot has staked a claim for a future NXT Women's Title match against Ember Moon, all the while getting to hurt the Iconic Duo. All in all, a good day at the office.
Aleister Black shows Adam Cole what he's got
The night's main event pitted the undefeated Aleister Black against the similarly undisputed Adam Cole for a spot in the NXT Championship Number One Contendership Fatal 4-Way.
The match also saw Adam Cole's fellow Undisputed Era members Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish banned from ringside, making this a straight up one-on-one contest.
Knowing he could not measure up to the striking of Aleister Black, Cole sought to ground the Dutchman with head locks and grappling, all the while taunting Black with his signature "Bay-Bay" pose.
That strategy almost proved successful, with Adam Cole getting a near fall off of a super-kick into a backstabber, as well as a neckbreaker. Unfortunately for Cole, Black would not be denied, countering a superkick attempt into a knee strike followed by the Black Mass for the 1-2-3.
Aleister now joins a stacked lineup for the Fatal Four Way, with Johnny Gargano and Killian Dain having already qualified. The final spot will be determined when Lars Sullivan squares off with Roderick Strong.
- As seen in a video package on NXT, Mae Young Classic and UFC alumni Shayna Baszler will be coming to NXT soon. When she does, I expect her to be thrust into the NXT Women's Title scene soon after for two reasons. For starters, she would be a legitimately believable monster heel for the likes of Kairi Sane and Ember Moon to contend with. Additionally, if WWE opt to go with the UFC Four Horsewomen vs the WWE Four Horsewomen for WrestleMania, they will want to showcase at least one of them in a major way, namely Shayna Baszler.
- I can't help but think that WWE would have liked next week's episode of NXT to be shown on the USA Network, what with the stacked nature of the show. So far, Pete Dunne will defend his UK Championship against Tyler Bate in a rematch from TakeOver: Chicago, and SAnitY will defend their NXT Tag Team titles against Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish. That is not mentioning Roderick Strong vs Lars Sullivan which will likely take place. All of this is not to say that this week's episode was bad, it certainly wasn't, but next week's episode would have been even better as a showcase of the best of NXT.
- Andrade Cien Almas (w/ Zelina Vega) def. Fabian Aichner
- The Authors of Pain def. Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan
- Ember Moon def. Peyton Royce
- Aleister Black def. Adam Cole
What did you think of NXT's debut on the USA Network? Let us know in the comments below!