0 of 6
For the first time in eight years, The Great American Bash returned, this time as a special edition of WWE NXT. The opening night of the event featured some huge first-time matches.
Sasha Banks returned to NXT flanked by Bayley to fight Io Shirai. Two of the best wrestlers in the company, this was a showcase of top talent in the women’s division.
Roderick Strong continued to battle his personal demon as he stepped into the ring with Dexter Lumis in NXT’s first-ever Strap Match. The Messiah of the Backbreaker has been running scared for weeks, but he finally had to face his fear or get choked out.
While Shirai was battling an NXT legend, the young stars of the black-and-gold brand got a chance to earn a title opportunity against the NXT women’s champion. Mia Yim, Tegan Nox, Candice LeRae and Dakota Kai fought to become the new No. 1 contender.
Oney Lorcan has always run head-first into a fight, so he put the challenge out to Timothy Thatcher for a pure brawl. William Regal agreed to this sure-to-be vicious clash.
Rhea Ripley put her future on the line in a handicap match, battling both Aliyah and Robert Stone. The Nightmare agreed to join The Robert Stone Brand if she lost.
This was one of the biggest NXT events of the entire year, built on a strong card and some of the top talent WWE has to offer.
1 of 6
After early chaos, Candice LeRae took a back elbow from Tegan Nox into a corner big boot from Dakota Kai. With The Poison Pixie dazed, Mia Yim put away her rival with the Protect Yo Neck for the first elimination. LaRae is eliminated.
The Captain of Team Kick found herself outnumbered against a pair of enemies. Kai barely kicked out of a pinfall with Nox and The HBIC stacked on top of her. After a miscommunication where Nox was hit by Sole Food, Kai snuck in with O’Connor Roll on The HBIC for three. Yim is eliminated.
With Raquel Gonzalez banned from ringside, The Girl with the Shiniest Wizard finally got her revenge. She survived The Captain of Team Kick’s best shots then hit the Molly Go Round into the Shiniest Wizard for the win.
Nox def. Kai, Yim and LeRae to become the new No. 1 contender to the NXT Women’s Championship.
This was a fantastic opener to the night. While it was disappointing for LaRae to go out before the first commercial break, everyone else got a chance to shine. This was Yim’s match until her elimination, flying around the ring.
After The HBIC’s elimination, the third edition of Kai vs. Nox was as physical and memorable as expected. It was great to see the Welsh Superstar get this big opportunity. She has needed the right spotlight to take over NXT. That begins with matches with Io Shirai to prove her talent.
2 of 6
Backstage, Damian Priest called out Cameron Grimes to fight him like a man and stop playing tricks.
Oney Lorcan wanted a match with Timothy Thatcher, and he got exactly what he wanted. This got physical on the mat. The two men grappled in a classic catch-as-catch-can style match as Thatcher wore down the left arm of Lorcan.
It seemed like Lorcan was invulnerable. He kept getting back up from a vicious series of technical holds. However, he ran out of energy against the vicious assault of Thatcher, who locked in a Fujiwara armbar to force a tap out.
Thatcher def. Lorcan by submission.
This was as fun a brawl as one would expect from these two. They leaned into their chops and technical holds. Lorcan and Thatcher left each other bruised, and it was the most either man has felt truly dangerous in the ring.
The only problem here was the lack of build up, which made it obvious only Thatcher could win. The lack of drama held back a contest that could have been the showstealer if Lorcan was treated with more respect.
3 of 6
Ahead of the match, Karrion Kross and Scarlett promised that time was running out in an eerie video package.
Robert Stone walked in shockingly confident, and he showed why, thanks to his surprising chemistry with Aliyah. He managed to get in the right position for his client at many points, allowing them to wear down Rhea Ripley with focused strikes.
Aliyah locked in a crossface while Stone trapped Ripley in a Boston crab, but The Nightmare refused to give up. The Robert Stone Brand dynamic started to fall apart when Stone got in the way of Aliyah pinning Ripley.
This allowed Ripley to recover enough to fight back. The Nightmare dumped Aliyah between the legs of Stone. She then locked in the Prism Trap on both competitors for side-by-side submissions.
Ripley def. Aliyah and Stone by submission.
This was not a great match, but it was an entertaining segment. Stone and Aliyah showed some chemistry while Ripley was able to show her strength. Her feats of strength against both competitors made her look truly unstoppable in a way she hadn’t even looked as NXT women’s champion.
Hopefully, this will end Stone’s obsession with The Nightmare. He can move on, trying to build up Aliyah. Meanwhile, Ripley can get back to fighting for her title.
4 of 6
Roderick Strong attacked Dexter Lumis before the bell, but he lost his confidence once he was strapped to his tormentor. The Messiah of the Backbreaker tried to escape the ring, but Lumis pulled him back inside repeatedly.
The two fought onto the stage where Strong finally managed to clearly injure Lumis. The enigmatic Superstar struggled to rise as The Messiah of the Backbreaker pulled him back to the ring. Strong whipped Lumis with the strap repeatedly, trying to overcome his fear with trash talk.
Bobby Fish tripped the enigmatic Superstar to set up a running knee by Strong, but Lumis still kicked out. He ran Strong into Fish then hit a uranage before locking in the Silence with the strap wrapped around Strong’s mouth for the tap out.
Lumis def. Strong by submission.
This was a fun story-filled brawl where Strong carried the action. Lumis has clearly found his niche, and it works perfectly with a pure worker like The Messiah of the Backbreaker. This was an old school battle of brawlers that would have shined on an even bigger stage given the story behind it.
Lumis had to win. It was honestly surprising that he lost to Strong in their first match. This was a huge victory that sets him up for continued success. NXT is building him up as a top guy with each performance against the Undisputed Era.
5 of 6
A video package was shown for next week’s title match between Adam Cole and Keith Lee. Both men put this over as the biggest match of their careers.
Candice LeRae got into a brawl with Mia Yim backstage. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott tried to break it up, but Johnny Gargano pulled him away. Officials had to separate Gargano and Swerve.
Santos Escobar explained that he alongside Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde would change the perception of lucha libre. Drake Maverick interrupted, joined by Breezango to run off the trio. Fandango challenged the three heels to a match for night two of the Great American Bash.
Cameron Grimes was unfazed by Damian Priest’s earlier comments, telling him he would lose again. The Technical Savage was more focused on title opportunities than The Archer of Infamy.
Mercedes Martinez promised to make a mark on NXT, starting with her return to action next week.
This felt like a desperate attempt to build up the card for night two of the Great American Bash. NXT threw all these segment together ahead of the main event, setting up matches that lacked real heat.
Escobar and his support vs. Breezango and Maverick could be fun and is building off NXT’s best story, but it did not need to be rushed. Maverick could have sold the injury better.
Gargano vs. Swerve is a good match set up by weird circumstances. Only Grimes vs. Priest was set up as a strong second match to the obvious Cole vs. Lee main event for night two, and that was already expected.
6 of 6
Sasha Banks and Bayley came out in a nice car, decked out in specialty Great American Bash gear. Io Shirai walked out with her typical attire and entrance, unfazed by the spectacle. The NXT legends constantly taunted The Joshi Judas, but she refused to give up no matter what.
Battling back and forth, the two women leaned into their kicks and forearms. Shirai struggled to keep up with The Legit Boss, who used every strategy in her arsenal. Banks caught her best offense and powerbombed her into the plexiglass.
Shirai caught Banks in a crossface, and The Role Model threw her WWE Tag Team Championship in the ring to distract the referee. It allowed Bayley to hit The Joshi Judas with a forearm.
In the ensuing chaos, Asuka appeared from under the ring and caught The Boss with green mist, setting up a Shirai moonsault for the win.
Shirai def. Banks by pinfall.
Banks and Shirai absolutely delivered with no commercial breaks. This was a fantastic match, driven by the talent of two of the best in WWE right now. The physicality was on point. Both women were not afraid to connect on their strikes on a night driven by physical wrestling.
While the chaos at the end took away from the in-ring work, Asuka’s appearance only made the moment more memorable. By bending the brand division for the women’s division, so many interesting moments are possible.
In the end, this showed that Shirai needs to continue working off the best talent in the business. Hopefully, this will lead to Shirai and Asuka vs. Banks and Bayley because that could be even better.