9/8 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Super Tuesday II special with Cole vs. Balor for the NXT Championship and Martinez vs. Ripley in a Steel Cage Match

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch Contributor



Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett


– The show opened with a highlights package of last week’s “Super Tuesday” edition. Rhea Ripley, Mercedes Martinez, and the Fatal Four Way Ironman Match were featured. The package then moved to hype for Adam Cole vs. Finn Balor, including footage from throughout their history in NXT.

– Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett opened the show and hyped the NXT Championship Match, which is the first match of the show.

– Finn Balor made his entrance first, sans the Demon gimmick. Adam Cole entered as the announcers drew comparisons between the past title reigns of Balor and Cole. Formal introductions took place, as William Regal stood in the ring with the NXT Championship in hand.

(1) ADAM COLE vs. FINN BALOR – NXT Championship Match

The match started slow but intense, with side headlocks exchanged between Cole and Balor. Balor took control on the mat. Both men made it to their feet and Balor hit a shoulder tackle for a one count. Balor went back to the headlock which Cole eventually escaped with a reversal into a hammerlock. Cole went for a pin but Balor kicked out. After some more chain wrestling, Cole landed a dropkick on Balor and followed up with a Death Valley Driver into a backbreaker as the show went to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

Control of the match shifted to Balor during the picture-in-picture commercial. Balor grounded Cole with a series of picks and covered Cole for a two count as the program re-entered full screen. Cole tried to come back with a jawbreaker but Balor responded with a running elbow. Balor hit a body slam and running elbow drop for a nearfall. Balor tried for another pin after landing a basement dropkick but could only keep Cole down for two. Balor tackled Cole and hit a strike combo in the corner. Cole mounted a comeback and hit Balor with clotheslines and a pump kick. Cole hit an enziguri followed by a backstabber. Cole covered Balor but could only manage a two count. Balor hit a Sling Blade on Cole. Cole responded with a Shining Wizard and covered Balor for another nearfall. Cole setup for a Last Shot but took too long, as Balor took Cole down and hit a double stomp. Balor continued to stomp Cole, who took a powder at ringside. Balor followed Cole to the outside and continued to stomp Cole. Cole ended up slumped on a chair. Balor went for a shotgun dropkick but Cole caught Balor with a superkick. Both men recovered at ringside as the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

Back in full screen, Cole applied a figure four leg lock to Balor. Balor avoided a Last Shot attempt from Cole and hit a slingblade as he sold his knee. Balor went to the top rope and hit a Coup de Grace. Balor took longer than usual to make the cover as he continued to sell the knee. Balor covered Cole and Cole kicked out, to the shock of the announcers. Balor applied a Bloody Sunday and Cole reversed it into a figure four leglock. Balor tried to escape and rolled Cole into a small package. Both wrestlers got back to their feet and Cole hit a superkick followed by a Last Shot. Cole covered Balor and Balor kicked out. Balor reversed a Panama Sunrise from Cole and managed to hit a Bloody Sunday. Balor went to the top rope again but was met with a superkick from Cole. Both wrestlers tussled on the top rope which ended with Balor drilling Cole with a 1916 from the top rope. Balor covered Cole for the victory.

WINNER: Finn Balor at 23:10

– Balor celebrated on the ramp in a cloud of smoke.

– Rhea Ripley was shown backstage next to the chain-link fence and hyped the upcoming steel cage match against Mercedes Martinez. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A fantastic match, which is certainly to be expected from these two. This match could’ve gone even longer for my taste, but considering it opened the show it made sense to be a more TV-friendly length. Cole kicking out from the Coup de Grace was sold by the announcers as the first time anyone has kicked out after the move, so there is a door open for more between these two down the line. Ripley and Martinez have their work cut out for them to justify the main event slot, considering the standard of this match.)

– Back from commercial, Finn Balor was walking backstage. Triple H and William Regal were among those who congratulated Balor for his victory. Adam Cole appeared and gave Balor a respectful handshake. Balor told an off-camera interviewer that he came to do his business and become the champion.

– McKenzie Mitchell was with Robert Stone who came across Shotzi Blackheart’s tank backstage. Stone was about to try damage the tank but Blackheart appeared to make Stone back down. Aliyah jumped Blackheart from behind. Aliyah attacked Blackheart but inadvertently hit Io Shirai who was in the middle of a photo shoot. Aliyah, Shirai, and Blackheart made their way to the ring where the faces hit a series of big moves on Aliyah. Stone tried to make the save with a dive from the top rope, but Blackheart took Stone out. Shirai and Blackheart hit stereo dives onto Aliyah. Blackheart and Shirai had a moment with the NXT Women’s Championship.

– The show went to pre-taped footage at the Gargano Residence. Candice LeRae told Gargano that he had to be nice to Tegan Nox. Nox arrived and Gargano tried to crack a joke about Nox forgetting to bring a pizza. Gargano and Nox sat down at the dinner table and Gargano made things awkward by smiling broadly at the two women. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Thank god nothing happened to Shotzi Blackheart’s glorious tank. I wasn’t expecting Blackheart to make her way into the title picture at this point, but it probably time to move her on from the comedy feud with Robert Stone – as entertaining as it has been. I’m still not sold on the “Dinner with the Gargano’s” idea, but I did get a kick out of Johnny Gargano’s awkward attempts to be nice.)

– This week’s “Thatch as Thatch Can” episode was a film study of Damian Priest. Thatcher gave a negative review of Priest’s wrestling and said that life grinds you into the ground, like Thatcher does.

– Velveteen Dream made his entrance.


Dream pushed Adonis into the corner. Adonis hit a flurry of moves, landing clotheslines, and a dropkick. Adonis rolled up Dream and got a two count. Adonis hit a DDT on Dream but missed with a follow-up superkick. Dream landed a Dream Valley Driver for the victory.

WINNER: Velveteen Dream at 1:35.

– Dream took a mic but was ambushed by Kushida. Kushida landed a huge right-hand and viciously targetted Dream’s shoulder, driving it into the ring post. Kushida trapped Dream in a Juli Gatame using the ropes and turnbuckles for added intensity.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: The match was nothing more than a means to get to the post-match angle. However, Adonis got in far more offense than I would’ve imagined an enhancement talent to against Dream. Adonis seemed quite comfortable in the ring. Dream was Dream, and it was good to see more fire and aggression from Kushida. On commentary, Barrett observed that he hadn’t seen Kushida act this aggressive since his time in Japan, so we may be seeing a shift in Kushida’s character.)

-Breezango cut a backstage promo which was followed by a video package covering their feud with Imperium. Fandango dropped the accent again this week. Beth Pheonix hyped Breezango vs. Imperium for next week’s show and Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory was promoted for after the commercial break. [c]

– Back from commercial and back to the Gargano Residence. Gargano was still trying too hard to be friendly and eventually realized it. He excused himself from the dinner table and left LeRae and Nox to talk. LeRae said that Nox should apologize for her mistakes, but Nox thought that it should be LeRae apologizing. LeRae said she always had Nox’s back and that Nox didn’t understand the Gargano way. LeRae suggested they get back on the same page and Nox was visibly thinking about it.


– Bronson Reed and Austin Theory made their entrances.


After some chain wrestling, Reed took control with a side headlock. Theory escaped but was quickly driven to the mat by Reed, who followed up with a springboard elbow drop. Reed covered Theory for a two-count. Theory made a dash for ringside, but Reed brought him back into the ring where he applied a sleeper hold. Theory attempted a Sunset Flip but Reed reversed it into a Bansai Drop. Reed hit Theory with a shoulder tackle on the apron as the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

Reed maintained control over Theory and hit a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall. Theory managed to score with a blockbuster and covered Reed for a two-count. Theory tried in vain to lift Reed and ended up crushed underneath Reed. Reed went to the top rope and hit a Tsunami Splash for the pinfall.

WINNER: Bronson Reed at 10:50

– Adam Cole was interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell. Cole gave Balor credit for being the better man on the night and said he has respect for Balor. However, the next time they meet in the ring will be different, according to Cole. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: As if the match didn’t make it clear enough, that interview pretty much confirms that Cole is going babyface. It makes sense, considering the void left at the top of the card for babyfaces, and the in-built storyline that comes with the inevitable split between Cole and the rest of Undisputed Era. Bronson vs. Reed was fine, but essentially a long squash. Hard to see much else on the cards for Austin Theory after how he was presented in that match.)

– Mercedes Martinez hyped the main event and compared herself to a lion that would leave nothing of Ripley behind.


Strong made sure to avoid Dain as much as possible from the outset. Strong made a dash for ringside and was followed by Dain. At ringside, Fish caused a distraction so Strong could blindside Dain. Strong and Dain returned to the ring where Dain seized control by sending Strong into the corner for a series of abdomen strikes. Dain took down Strong with a hard-hitting clothesline. Strong managed to get Dain to the outside, but Dain scored with a Uranage off the apron. Fish interfered while the ref was distracted, as the show went to commercial. [c]

Back from commercial, Dain powered out of a headlock and took Strong down with a clothesline. Dain followed up with an Avalanche as Joseph noted on commentary that Barrett used to use that move. Fish distracted the ref and was disposed of by Dain. Strong took advantage with a high knee followed by a cover for the win.

WINNER: Roderick Strong at 7:30

– Strong and Fish attacked Dain until Drake Maverick ran in for the save. Maverick had a baseball bat but still fell victim to the numbers game, as Strong and Fish teamed up against Maverick. Dain grabbed the baseball bat and ran Strong and Fish away. Dain went to leave, but Maverick got up and offered a handshake. Dain thought about the offer but drilled Maverick with a right-hand instead.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: It was a weak finish, even despite the interference from Fish. I like the slow burn towards a potential Dain/ Maverick alliance though. Maverick does a great job playing the plucky underdog, and a pairing with a big man like Dain could prove to be entertaining.)

– Back at the Gargano Residence and LeRae made a toast to the repaired friendship and the future NXT Women’s Champion – herself. Nox took issue with the idea that LeRae would be the next champion. After some back and forth bickering, LeRae threw a bowl of salad on to Nox. Nox returned serve by throwing her drink on to LeRae. Gargano returned and went off at Nox, who replied with a “f–k you” and dumped her spaghetti on Gargano’s head. LeRae tried to throw a TV remote at Nox but missed, smashing the TV screen instead – much to Gargano’s dismay.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: What is it with WWE and food fights? Asides from that cliche, these segments did nothing for me. Nox is so dry and flat with her acting, especially when juxtaposed with LeRae and Gargano. Hopefully, once this makes it into the ring we’ll see some more out of Nox.)

– McKenzie Mitchell was backstage with Damian Priest, and asked him for his thoughts on Timothy Thatcher. Priest called Thatcher ugly and said he would beat him up until his face changes. Priest hit on McKenzie and said she was always invited to his party.

– The announcers ran through the card for next week’s return to Wednesday nights, which includes Thatcher vs. Priest, Breezango vs. Imperium, and Io Shirai vs. Shotzi Blackheart.

– Mercedes Martinez made her entrance for the cage match, as Wade Barrett put over the dangers of the match and reflected on his experiences with the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton. As Martinez threw weapons over the cage and into the ring, Rhea Ripley attacked Martinez from behind and threw her into the ring to start the match.

(5) RHEA RIPLEY vs. MERCEDES MARTINEZ (w/Robert Stone) – Steel Cage match

Ripley was in complete control of the match from the outset, using the cage as a weapon repeatedly. Martinez tried to even the score with a steel chair, but Ripley countered with a kick. Ripley went to the top rope but was dragged back down by Martinez, who hit a powerslam onto the steel chair as the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

In split-screen, Robert Stone repeatedly tried to distract Ripley to no avail. Martinez turned a Tree of Woe situation into a German suplex in an impressive show of strength. Ripley threw a chair at Martinez, who was still in the corner and hit Martinez with a dropkick. Ripley hit a big superplex but wasn’t able to cover Martinez quick enough for anything more than a two count. Martinez fired back with forearm strikes and a spinebuster. After both wrestlers sold on the mat for a while, they made their way back to their feet and Ripley hit Martinez with an Electric Chair Slam. Ripley applied her Prism Hold submission move, which Martinez escaped by hitting Ripley with a kendo stick.

Ripley got her hands on the kendo sick and unloaded on Martinez when Robert Stone tried to interfere. Ripley climbed up and got her hands on Stone but Martinez hit Ripley from behind with the kendo stick. Martinez scored with a neckbreaker from the top rope. As Ripley sold the effects of the move, Martinez set a table up in the ring. Martinez took Ripley to the top rope and attempted a fisherman suplex. Ripley blocked the move with a headbutt and picked Martinez up for a Super Rip Tide through the table for the win.

WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 14:20

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: While it took a little while to get going, this turned into quite a good match. I feel it was hurt by being on last, particularly considering the great match for the NXT Championship that opened the show. However, it was a good showcase of both wrestler’s powerful style and they used the cage environment to good effect. Ripley continues to be the centerpiece and it will be interesting to see how long they wait before injecting her back into the NXT Women’s Championship picture.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this show much more than I did last week’s “Super Tuesday” special and it was satisfying to have a resolution to the NXT Championship situation. That said, I still would have had the NXT Championship in the main event, or even held over until next week to provide a big match to line-up against AEW Dynamite. Hopefully, we will now see things settle into a new rhythm, after a couple of weeks of understandable storyline reshuffling due to Karrion Kross’ injury. While it is sad to see Mauro Ranallo gone from NXT, Wade Barrett is doing a great job on commentary. The whole presentation is continuing on nicely actually, particularly when compared to the relative mess seen on Monday and Friday nights. I hope that the mild infusion of silliness we are seeing occasionally, with things like the food fight, remains just that – mild and infrequent.

Make sure to check out Kelly Wells’ report for his perspective on this show. You can also find me on Twitter at @mattyhuss.

1 Comment on 9/8 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Super Tuesday II special with Cole vs. Balor for the NXT Championship and Martinez vs. Ripley in a Steel Cage Match

  1. I thought Theory sold like a champ, and it was hardly a squash. Losing to someone clearly in the middle of a push is no crime. Don’t know what happened to Theory’s push but he is very young and has plenty of toime to make his mark.

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