The first two men to hold NXT's coveted North American Championship did battle in Wednesday's main event, as Ricochet squared off with The Undisputed Era's Adam Cole in a star-studded main event.
The competitors, very familiar with each other dating back to their previous encounter at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, jockeyed for position as they sought to improve their standings in championship contention.
The Street Profits returned to action Wednesday, Taynara Conti squared off with Aliyah in a match between infrequently utilized female stars, and Kassius Ohno had a message for the NXT Universe.
Find out what that message was, who emerged victoriously from the blockbuster main event and how it all may affect the brand going forward with this recap of the February 13 episode of NXT.
Dominik Dijakovic vs. Shane Thorne
TM-61's Shane Thorne made his first singles appearance on NXT television Wednesday night, squaring off with the undefeated Dominik Dijakovic.
Thorne attacked from the opening bell, looking to offset his opponent's size and strength advantage with speed and an onslaught of strikes.
A nasty release suplex from Dijakovic halted that onslaught momentarily. He overpowered Thorne and took him off the top rope. He then followed with a superkick that sent his opponent to the floor.
A twisting cross-body followed, and Feast Your Eyes earned the former Ring of Honor standout the victory.
Dijakovic defeated Thorne
Considering how bland some of the squash matches in NXT have been, this was a fun, competitive one that put Dijakovic over without hurting Thorne much. The Aussie looked competitive and was not run over like most of the Superstars in his position would have been.
NXT is in an interesting conundrum right now in that it has so many talented young stars waiting to find a place on the television show that guys such as Dijakovic are kind of left to wander aimlessly until someone gets called up to the main roster.
Until Undisputed Era, Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, Tommaso Ciampa or Johnny Gargano finds his way to Raw or SmackDown, Dijakovic will continue to make his presence felt in these sorts of squash matches but nothing of any real substance.
The Street Profits vs. Humberto Carrillo and Stacey Ervin Jr.
Before a scheduled match pitting the team of Humberto Carrillo and Stacey Ervin Jr. against The Street Profits, Kassius Ohno made his presence felt. No longer feeling welcome, he vowed to take his talents elsewhere.
Keith Lee, a previous victim of Ohno's, blasted him with an elbow and told Ohno not to let the door hit him on the way out.
The match got underway with Ervin and Carrillo frustrating the more celebrated Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford with their raw athleticism. However, the popular Street Profits worked over Ervin until the relative newcomer avoided them and made the hot tag.
Carrillo rolled, using his speed to keep the opposition reeling. An ill-fated tag to Ervin led to a big blockbuster from Dawkins for a harder-than-imagined victory.
After the match, The Street Profits attempted to call out The War Raiders for a tag title opportunity, but Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner interrupted them. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch followed, and NXT tag team champions The War Raiders finally appeared.
Undisputed Era, never missing an opportunity to sneak-attack its rivals, jumped the champions and sparked a brawl between the teams. The champions ultimately cleared the ring.
The Street Profits defeated Carrillo and Ervin
There are times too much happens in a given segment of WWE television, and this might just qualify for that distinction.
First, Lee and Ohno sparked a rivalry. Then there was the match itself, which gave way too much to Carrillo and Ervin unless the plan is for them to be a young, upstart tag team.
The post-match brawl made little sense in that a team like Barthel and Aichner are way too early in their NXT TV run to be considered for tag title opportunities while The Street Profits lost to The Forgotten Sons, who were not even featured in the segment.
If the plan is to get right back to Undisputed Era vs. War Raiders, just go in that direction and do not waste time. Otherwise, it only makes the rest of the division look lesser than those two prominent tandems, through no fault of their own or lack of talent.
Taynara Conti vs. Aliyah
Aliyah and Taynara Conti returned to NXT television for the first time in months, squaring off in singles competition, each seeking to advance her career in what is already a stacked women's division.
Vanessa Borne, another underutilized competitor, interrupted the proceedings early and made her presence felt at ringside.
Conti used her Brazilian jiu-jitsu background to throw Aliyah around the squared circle and stun her with strikes. Just as she was rolling, though, Borne interfered and tripped her up on the top rope.
Aliyah capitalized with a kimura, added some kicks and scored the submission victory.
As Borne and Aliyah celebrated their new team, NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler hit the ring. The newly formed duo bailed, but Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir attacked them from behind.
A furious Baszler, frustrated after last week's loss, issued a warning to the locker room not to piss them off.
Aliyah defeated Conti
Why the hell would NXT officials go through the trouble of establishing the Aliyah-Borne tandem, only to beat them down and kill their heat all within a two-minute span? It's dumbfounding, especially if you consider the idea that they are going to be used to put over Baszler and Co. sometime in the near future.
The match itself was not particularly great, either, so the entire purpose of the segment boils down to Baszler cutting a promo she could have done backstage.
Ricochet vs. Adam Cole
Two of the most elite performers in the entire sport did battle in the main event of Wednesday's show, as Ricochet squared off with Adam Cole in a rematch of their TakeOver: Brooklyn IV near-classic.
The One and Only frustrated Cole early, wiping him out with a suicide dive and delivering a series of right hands. The action, as it did in their first match, was back-and-forth with neither man gaining an early upper hand.
That is, until Cole wrapped Ricochet's knee around the post and took to targeting the limb. He applied a kneebar at one point but was unable to drive the fight out of his opponent. Everything the popular babyface did to try to fight his way back into the ring was thwarted by the knee injury.
Finally, he executed a kick that floored Cole. The first North American champion answered with one of his own. Able to string together an onslaught, Ricochet scored the pinfall victory.
After the match, Undisputed Era hit the ring and beat down Ricochet. Aleister Black tried to make the save but failed as the heel faction stood tall to close out the show.
Ricochet defeated Cole
Cole loses so much.
The leader of Undisputed Era is one of the most over stars in all of WWE, let alone NXT, but the guy cannot seem to buy a win in a high-profile match since last WrestleMania weekend.
The match was good and featured some solid selling from Ricochet. With that said, it feels like a lot of the same from a creative team that really doesn't know what it wants to do with the talent in question.
They are on a treadmill of sorts, with no forward progression to speak of at the moment.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing because it is indicative of the depth on the roster, but at some point, Cole needs a big win to support what is already considerable popularity.