After defeating Matt Riddle in a thrilling battle to retain his title and kick off NXT’s live two-hour premiere on USA Network, NXT Champion Adam Cole felt like he was on top of the world. However, Finn Bálor and Tommaso Ciampa’s shocking returns threw Cole’s reign into question quicker than you can say “boom!” Elsewhere on the black-and-gold brand, The Undisputed ERA cemented their golden prophecy, and Shayna Baszler continued to show why she will be the NXT Women’s Champion for a long time.
Adam Cole’s precious NXT Championship remains safe around his waist, but he had the spotlight stolen from him by another former champion Wednesday.
Following Cole's successful title defense against Matt Riddle, former NXT Champion Finn Bálor arrived on the scene and immediately made his intentions clear with only a few words: "As of now, Finn Bálor is NXT."
An exhausted Cole looked absolutely stunned after a grueling match with Riddle, especially given his far less than peak condition. The leader of The Undisputed ERA fought through a broken right wrist thanks to a Fujiwara Armbar at the hands of Riddle last week.
Riddle showed off his superior grappling skills early on, taking The Panama City Playboy down repeatedly and seemingly overwhelming the champion. However, Cole proved he was game with comparably astute skills.
The opponents showed they had each other's repertoires well scouted, trading a multitude of reversals, highlighted by Riddle's into a fisherman's buster and Cole's into a mid-air backstabber. Full Sail Live almost came unglued after a series that saw Riddle hit a Bro to Sleep, powerbomb, devastating knee strike and a floating bro.
The Original Bro even locked Cole into both the Bromission and Fujiwara Armbar, from which Cole managed to squirm free before hitting an elbow out of nowhere. That cleared the way for The Last Shot and a pinfall for Cole.
Shane Thorne’s never-ending quest for adulation hit a detour, at least for this week.
Thorne interrupted Johnny Gargano’s address to the NXT Universe three weeks ago, and much like that encounter, Gargano got the better of Thorne on Wednesday.
In his first NXT TV action since NXT TakeOver: Toronto, Gargano hardly missed a beat. Though Thorne withstood many of Gargano's best shots — including a high-impact slingshot spear — and responded with some of his own, Johnny Wrestling proved to be too much to overcome. Gargano secured the win following a superkick that was right on the mark.
The Undisputed ERA's golden prophecy remains intact after Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly defeated The Street Profits — but for how much longer with returning challengers circling the group's leader?
In the moment after Fish and O'Reilly's NXT Tag Team Championship defense, Adam Cole made his way to the stage, fresh off a defense of his own earlier in the night against Matt Riddle. However, it wasn't long before The Panama City Playboy was joined by a foreboding guest.
Tommaso Ciampa appeared on NXT TV for the first time since undergoing a spinal fusion surgery in March for a neck injury — an injury which forced Ciampa to surrender the same title now held by Cole. The Blackheart walked a deliberate circle around Cole, his eyes locked on to the title he so affectionately refers to as "Goldie." No words were needed to communicate that Ciampa is fixated on reclaiming his dear championship from Cole — who was confronted earlier in the night by another potential challenger in Finn Bálor.
Moments earlier, The Street Profits brought all of the smoke, but it wasn’t quite enough for them to regain the NXT Tag Team Championship, due in large part to Roderick Strong.
After electrifying the NXT Universe with an entrance emceed by Grammy-nominated rapper, Wale, The Sultans of Swag went hold for hold with the championship duo of O’Reilly and Fish, forging another storied chapter in what has developed into a fiercely competitive rivalry.
The Undisputed ERA played a keep-away game that left Montez Ford in dire straits and far away from Angelo Dawkins for much of the contest. Finally evading both adversaries, Ford's late tag saw Dawkins rock the ring with a fiery offensive flurry.
The match devolved into sheer chaos minutes later, and The Undisputed ERA took advantage. Strong appeared at ringside just in time to trip Ford up as he was perched atop the ropes and ready to perhaps finish the bout. That left Ford a sitting duck for the champions to hit Total Elimination and wrap up the win.
In other action … Velveteen Dream addresses Roderick Strong … Io Shirai def. Mia Yim … Johnny Gargano def. Shane Thorne … NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler def. Candice LeRae … and Pete Dunne def. Danny Burch.