Angel Garza waged psychological warfare against Lio Rush for weeks, and as unbecoming as his tactics were at times, they helped him capture championship gold.
The black-and-gold brand's resident heartthrob made the most of his second opportunity versus Rush, dethroning him as NXT Cruiserweight Champion with an unconventional submission in a thrilling seesaw affair.
Rush was still clearly incensed by the mind games Garza had played — which included Garza stripping off his pants in front of Rush's wife in the crowd during their first title bout last month — and began throwing bombs of fury at his opponent before ring introductions had even concluded.
The mental chess continued through the bout, with Garza even dropping Rush with his own Come Up. But The Man of The Hour fired back, later answering with Garza's own Wing Clipper.
Garza somehow found a way to kick out of the Come Up, then his trademark pants came in handy, coming off and allowing him to slip out of Rush's attempt at a pinfall following the Final Hour.
It bought Garza just enough time to catch Rush knee-first during his second attempt at the Final Hour — this time to the outside of the ring. NXT's resident lothario then dragged Rush back into the squared circle to level him with the Wing Clipper. When that wasn't enough for the three-count, Garza pulled Rush into a reverse full-nelson to force the submission and become the first-ever Mexican NXT Cruiserweight Champion.
That wouldn't be the only victory for "The Most Beautiful Man in the World" on this night. Garza, with his newly won title over his shoulder, found his girlfriend at ringside moments later, invited her into the ring and asked her to be his wife — and she said yes.
Cameron Grimes hasn't had trouble making enemies during his short time in NXT, and two of his most recent foes collected their debts Wednesday.
Raul Mendoza defeated Grimes in one-on-one competition, gaining retribution after being attacked by The Technical Savage a week earlier. And give the assist to Kushida.
It didn't take long for Grimes to get his comeuppance after attacking Kushida earlier in the week at the WWE Performance Center. NXT's "timesplitter" provided just enough of a distraction at ringside for Mendoza to catch Grimes off-guard for the three-count.
Kushida added insult to injury by snatching Grimes' signature hat and trying it on for size, much to the Technical Savage's dismay.
Chalk up a victory for NXT UK on the march toward WWE Worlds Collide thanks to Travis Banks, who overcame some early adversity to knock off Jaxson Ryker.
The leader of The Forgotten Sons quickly overwhelmed Banks with his brute strength, but The Kiwi Buzzsaw used his quickness advantage to battle back. Banks nailed Ryker with the Slice of Heaven before Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake had a chance to get involved, escaping with an upset win.
Though victory eluded Mia Yim when she finally got the chance to go head-to-head with Dakota Kai, she found another way to leave her mark.
The Captain of Team Kick won the rivals' first one-on-one bout by nefarious means, but she didn't leave without feeling The Head Baddie in Charge's wrath.
Finally able to unleash the rage that had been pent up since Kai's heinous, clandestine attack on her last month at TakeOver: WarGames, Yim shellshocked her opponent in the early goings. But Kai responded with a seemingly newfound grit to complement her recently revealed aggression, kicking out of Yim's Code Blue attempt.
Kai used sinister shrewdness to pull out the victory, exposing the turnbuckle and smashing Yim face-first into the steel after distracting the referee with an attempt to use the knee brace of Tegan Nox — which she still totes around triumphantly.
Yim wasn't ready to merely walk away in defeat, however. She pursued Kai almost immediately after the bell, eventually brawling through the Full Sail crowd. The Head Baddie in Charge secured her proverbial pound of flesh by bringing Kai atop a platform and sending her crashing through a table below with a devastating back suplex.
Breezango delivered a devastating prognosis against The Singh Brothers this week on NXT, arriving on the scene at Full Sail in doctorly attire en route to victory.
Sunil and Samir Singh leveraged dastardly yet wise tag team tactics to isolate Tyler Breeze until the much fresher Fandango tagged in with a spark. All four combatants battled to the ringside area, with Fandango grabbing the advantage for his squad thanks to a powerbomb on the apron.
Fandango followed up with the Last Dance, and just like that, Breezango had once again danced their way into the win column.
Bianca Belair looked as impressive as ever in her first action since Survivor Series, overcoming a strong effort from Kayden Carter to pick up a victory.
Though she did her best to keep The EST of NXT off-balance with several quick-strike maneuvers, Carter eventually found herself overwhelmed by Belair's strength. A wicked pendulum backbreaker-gutbuster combination turned the tide decisively in Bianca's favor.
Sprinkling her signature sassiness throughout the performance, Belair covered Carter for the three-count after connecting with a vicious K.O.D.
"I don't watch this business. This business watches me," Finn Bálor boldly proclaimed upon his return to NXT two months ago. Those words have never rang truer now that he's a win away from claiming the black-and-gold brand's top prize for the second time.
Bálor swooped in at just the right time to best Keith Lee and Tommaso Ciampa in a gripping Triple Threat Match for the right to challenge NXT Champion Adam Cole next week.
The three competitors had all blazed very different paths toward this opportunity, but they demonstrated similar mettle in their bids for victory with spotlight-stealing moments.
Bálor creatively turned a Spirit Bomb attempt by Lee into the Coup de Grace, while Ciampa evoked gasps from the Full Sail crowd with an unbelievable Air Raid Crash on The Limitless Superstar despite a 100-plus pound difference.
Never one to miss out on a chance to make the NXT Universe bask in his glory, Lee also wowed the audience with a massive second-rope Moonsault.
But Bálor's cunning paved the way to a riveting conclusion. Lee dropped The Blackheart with the Spirit Bomb — only to be caught immediately by a perfectly timed Coup de Grace to seal Bálor's victory.
Cole arrived at ringside afterward with The Undisputed ERA by his side to stare down Bálor — the "Prince" of NXT set to perhaps once again be crowned king.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Angel Garza defeated Lio Rush (c) to win the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
- Raul Mendoza defeated Cameron Grimes
- Travis Banks defeated Jaxson Ryker (w/ Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake)
- Dakota Kai defeated Mia Yim
- Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze) defeated The Singh Brothers (Samir Singh & Sunil Singh)
- Bianca Belair defeated Kayden Carter
- Finn Balor defeated Tommaso Ciampa and Keith Lee in a Triple Threat Match to become the #1 Contender for the NXT Championship
Other on-screen talent
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Angel Garza v Lio Rush
Raul Mendoza v Cameron Grimes
Travis Banks v Jaxson Ryker
Dakota Kai v Mia Yim
Breezango v The Singh Brothers
Bianca Belair v Kayden Carter
Finn Balor v Tommaso Ciampa v Keith Lee