There were four matches in particular that stood out — only two of which were announced ahead of time, and NXT managed to feature a mixture of superstars on the show including those that have seen plenty of TV action to this point and others that will be filling out the roster. There was not only a title change and two No. 1 contenders named in the show but also a big return and the debut of superstars from NXT UK that fans did not expect to see.
A night that changed WWE NXT forever TakeOver New Orleans
Triple H started the show by introducing the audience to NXT while highlights played. He spoke about the brands greatness and appeal to more hardcore fans before revealing that he was speaking live behind the curtain. He then stepped from backstage onto the ramp and the show began.
Candice LaRae def. Mia Yim (via pinfall), Io Shirai and Bianca Belair to become No. 1 contender for the Womens Championship: The action was fast and furious from the start with NXT clearly deciding to open the show with a barn-burner. Yim and Belair hit their finishers, but both pinfall attempts got interrupted. Yim pushed Shirai off the top rope to the outside as she attempted her moonsault, but LaRae recovered, hit Yim with a poisonrana and followed with a springboard moonsault for the 1-2-3. After the match, champion Shayna Baszler met LaRae on the ramp face-to-face as an intimidation tactic. This was not long enough to be rated higher, but it was intense while it lasted. Grade: B
Cameron Grimes def. Sean Maluta via pinfall: In about 10 seconds, Grimes hit a charging Maluta with a jumping stomp to the chest and picked up the victory.
North American Championship — Roderick Strong def. Velvetteen Dream (c) via pinfall to win the title: As hes wont to do, Strong spent the first half of the match continuously working on Dreams back. However, as he attempted to put Dream in the Strong Hold, he was flung out of the ring before Dream pushed him back-first into the steel steps. The DreamDT only resulted in a two count, and Strong soon had Dream prone as fans chanted, “This is wrestling.” Strong followed with a V-trigger and hung Dream up on the top rope before drilling him with running elbows and placing him in the Strong Hold. Screaming in agony, Dream eventually reached the bottom rope and the rest of Undisputed Era immediately hit the ringside area.
Dream was eventually flung into the referee, knocking him out, and the Dream Valley Driver on Strong was unable to be counted for a pinning attempt. Undisputed Era prevented Dream from capitalizing by distracting him, giving Strong an opening to hit End of Heartache — but Dream kicked out at 2.7. Dream hit the DVD again, but Kyle OReilly distracted the referee as Dream climbed the top rope, allowing Adam Cole to knock him off with a superkick and Strong to again hit End of Heartache to take the match and the title. It is Strongs first singles title in NXT, coming one month shy of three years since his debut with the company. This was a good piece of business all around and the title change — with Undisputed Era fulfilling their prophecy — feels fresh. Grade: B+
Pete Dunne def. Arturo Ruas via submission: These two wasted no time getting intense with plenty of mat wrestling, joint manipulation and German suplexes. Eventually, Dunne locked Ruas up on the mat and pulled apart his fingers to get the tap out.
Xia Li def. Aliyah via pinfall: This one did not last long, nor should it have in the first place. Li hit Aliyah with a spinning back kick and then a falling windmill kick onto Aliyahs back for the 1-2-3.
Imperium arrives in NXT: Denzel Dejournette hit the ring for a match with Kushida, but Imperium from NXT UK instead came out of the crowd and surrounded the ring, immediately taking Dejournette out with a German suplex and flying uppercut powerbomb. WALTER then received his own entrance and took a mic, saying they would restore respect to wrestling. When he began speaking Austrian, Kushidas music hit. He went straight to the ring and said this was his time and Imperium was stealing it. He took out three members of Imperium and was able to kick WALTER in the face before escaping. This was a bit of a clunky segment, but the fans were hot for a future WALTER vs. Kushida match.
Lio Rush def. Oney Lorcan to become No. 1 contender for the Cruiserweight Championship: Making his return to WWE after months away from the ring, Rush received a good ovation from the crowd. Lorcan tried to take Rush out at the bell, but Rush recovered and hit three straight tope suicidas to get the fans chanting. After Lorcan slowed the match down with his strength, Rush countered a throw into the ropes with a springboard stunner off the bottom rope. Rush missed a frog splash and sold an injured left knee on the landing, giving Lorcan the opportunity to lock him a chokehold he eventually escaped. Rush angered Lorcan, who began slapping him across the face, but Rush countered a charge with a standing Spanish fly and the Dragons Call frog splash for the impressive victory. It was a terrific return match for Rush, who was a welcome sight back in the larger WWE universe. Grade: B+
Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain ends in a no contest (Street Fight): After a running dropkick by Dain and kendo stick swing by Riddle, these two immediately headed outside of the arena and to the loading dock where WALTER was sitting at a table. After Riddle hit Dain with a running knee, WALTER and Imperium attacked Riddle. The Forgotten Sons, The Street Profits, Pete Dunne, Dominic Dijakovic and many others all began brawling in a massive fight that eventually poured its way into the arena with Riddle and Dain rolling back into the ring. Officials and agents attempted to separate Riddle and Dain, but Riddle hit one with a German suplex. The ring soon filled with nearly two dozen people but was eventually cleared with Dain left standing by himself, so he decided to run and take out six people with a tope suicida as the show went off the air. Despite the insanity of an all-out brawl encompassing much of the locker room, this was a rather lacking ending to a great show. This may have been done for timing reasons as the advertised Riddle-Dain match did not begin with the time allotment one would believe would be required for a street fight. Of course, it could have also been booked that way all along.
Adam Silverstein joined CBS Sports in 2014 as college football and golf editor. He also helps lead pro wrestling, boxing and mixed martial arts coverage. Adam still maintains that Tim Tebow could have… Full Bio
Share All sharing options Share All sharing options for: Vince McMahon and a bunch of people whove been on NXT reflect on the show ahead of its USA premiere Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Its a big night for a brand that means a lot to WWE, and the Chairman himself is out here promoting it.
To quote the man behind the incredible success of #WWENXT, Are you ready? Tonight, the pride and passion of our NXT Superstars will shine under a new spotlight on @USA_Network. pic.twitter.com/hka3dao0te
Of course, Vince McMahon has never been hands on with the show, and according to the man referred to as the father of NXT, he wont be now, either. Triple H and a few members of his team are tweeting about the move to live and USA Network:
There have been so many moments for @WWENXT. First shows, first international tours, first TakeOvers, and TONIGHT we go live on @USA_Network. Weve done a lot to get here, but this isnt the destination, this is the start…and you havent seen anything yet!We. Are. N-X-T!
It took a lot of hard work from a lot of hard working, talented people to get to this point. The hard work doesnt stop and theres a lot of hard working, talented people ready to give their all. We are ready for tonight. We. Are. NXT. #NXTonUSA pic.twitter.com/m5FxgQwlks
6 Years ago, I came to the @WWEPC not really knowing what was ahead of me. Tonight @WWENXT goes live on @USA_Network What an achievement from everyone connected with the black and gold brand…lets have it. #WeAreNXT
Tonight @WWENXT goes live on the USA Network. Im so proud to have played a small role in creating a brand that has flourished into something beyond all of our wildest dreams. Let the games begin. @TripleH @WWE #dream pic.twitter.com/gBzDAJvgRQ
I started in NXT as a “broken toy” but landing there gave my career life again. I knew then what I know now: the whole world needs to experience this. And so they shall, starting tonight on @USA_Network.
I didnt get to spend as much time there as I would have liked to but @WWENXT will always feel like home for me. Its full of good and very talented people, both in and out of the ring, and everyone there has worked so hard to get to this point.Tonight is going to be special.
I think about my years in @WWENXT all the time. I was told all the time Remember, these are the best days of your life…and they truly were. I am beyond proud to have been a part of this dream, to where we are now. Tonight #NXT debuts on @USA_Network. Congratulations to all ❤️ pic.twitter.com/RuE56wxC0O
Lots of people are weighing in on @WWENXT making its historic debut on national TV tonight, and I just want to say this honestly never would have happened if it wasnt for me (and @WWECesaro) though Im used to not getting credit for things by now. Enjoy the show xo -SZ
Coming to @WWENXT brought the Empress to all of you. Now I cannot wait to watch #WWENXT on @USA_Network LIVE tomorrow!!! pic.twitter.com/QLV6yC69nf
NXT had no plans or hopes for us. Now were the first team to win the NXT, Raw, and Smackdown titles. Oh yeah, they go live tonight. @WWENXT
I spent 9 amazing months in @WWENXT and I couldnt be more grateful for that time. Since then my friends and other amazing performers have taken it to new heights! And tomorrow its premiering on the @USA_Network at 8/7c! #WEARENXT pic.twitter.com/F2OLkpcQK4
NXT & the WWE Performance Center created a new platform for pro wrestlers to grow. In 2016 the Cruiserweight Division became its first extension giving many journeymen like myself a place to compete regularly on a worldwide level. Were excited for the future. #NXTonUSA #205live pic.twitter.com/L19efYuScQ
Tonight is it. Tonight everything changes forever. Tonight, the #UndisputedERA ushers in a new ERA not just for @WWENXT, but for all of @WWE. #AdamColeBayBay pic.twitter.com/HxYL1Dvw4y
All of these moments and MORE have led up to today!TODAY is the day!@WWENXT goes LIVE on the @USA_Network 8/7c. pic.twitter.com/C0iwoyMVoX
So, I went to Facebook & a time hop photo popped up that kind of got to meToday, 4 years ago I was at the @WWEPC for my @WWENXT tryout… Today, 4 years later we go live on the @USA_Network I took this picture in the airport on the way back from my tryout 4 years ago… pic.twitter.com/sNaRvBirxn
I was there for Arrival and every Takeover since. @WWENXT was the only sports entertainment I knew for 5 great years. To have been a small part in what is a momentous occasion tonight is special to me.Tonight on @USA_Network something special begins.Enjoy.
Ever make a post on social media and know what 98% of the comments will be?Anyways, my fondest well wishes to @wwenxt on their live debut tonight on the @usa_network.The only way you can light people on fire is to be lit yourself, from the inside.#wwenxt pic.twitter.com/dwPXPretjF
What an exciting day in history for @WWENXT ! I am forever grateful for NXT as it launched my career & had some of the best memories there! I cannot wait to see what the future holds & watch it every Wednesday live on @USA_Network ! The future is NOW #WeAreNXT ! @WWE @WWENXT pic.twitter.com/AoO5NM7lQL
My last time in an NXT ring and years full of great memories. So happy that starting today, and every Wednesday at 8pm, @WWENXT will be live on the @USA_Network! #HeavyMachinery pic.twitter.com/pUcvxFqVkH
Seen any we missed, Cagesiders? Have any NXT memories or reflections of youre own youd like to share.