By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on USA Network
Aired live December 11, 2019 from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] NXT started off with the now usual method of airing the highlights of last week with the Slipknot NXT theme playing in the background. Actually, it was cut off by an Adam Cole promo where he called the main event of this show stupid because of everyone coming after his title. Cole claimed that the three men did nothing to deserve a title shot. Cole then hyped up his “run of a lifetime” and talked about how the winner just gets a chance to lost to Adam Cole. “and that is Undisputed”…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary. Mauro noted the huge positive reaction that Angel Garza gets from the females in the audience. Beth noted that Garza uses that popularity to help in his mind games against opponents…
Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the Cruiserweight Championship match. Rush cut off Alicia’s intro by attacking Garza before the bell due to Garza taunting Rush…
1. Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Garza had lip stick marks on his cheek, I’m assuming from a fan kiss at ringside. The match ended up being pretty much a punching brawl to start the match. Garza tope’d Rush through the second rope and almost looked like he landed on his head. Rush aggressively tossed Garza into the steps. Garza aggressively tripped up Rush off the apron to send Rush aggressively, face first, into the mat. Garza tried to rip off his pants, but Rush recovered quickly and then ran around the ring and under Garza like he was Sonic the Hedgehog.
Garza tripped up Rush and hit him with a basement dropkick for a nearfall. Garza got a nearfall. Garza unbuttoned his pants to set up for a future pant rip. The action finally slowed down a bit and Garza trapped Rush in the turnbuckles to allow him to land a superkick. Rush came at Garza with forearms and Garza withstood it with fighting spirit. Garza escaped an Unprettier attempt and then backdropped Rush neck first into the top rope right before the picture-in-picture commercial. [c]
Garza had Rush in a Full Nelsion back from break which Rush escaped with a bodyscissors. Rush then hit Garza with a modified La Mistica armdrag. Garza blocked a huracanrana and then dumped Garza outside, but Garza fell through and got the worst of it. Rush hit Garza with an impressive Asai Moonsault. Rush hit Garza with a nice sliding Kiwami Roundhouse Kick. Rush pummeled Garza while Garza was on his knees. Garza countered Rush’s sit down spring board stunner with a mirror image springboard stunner for a two count, which Nigel called mind games.
Rush countered a rebound inverted suplex into a crossbody for a nearfall. Garza got to his knees to prevent a Final Hour attempt. Garza nailed Rush with a gamengiri. Garza landed on his feet after a Rush shove. Garza hit Rush with an amazing Super Spanish Fly and he sold the nearfall with a lot of emotion. The replay showed that the Fly cleared more than half the ring. Both men traded fatigued punches on their knees, this turned into aggressive slaps. Rush clocked Garza wiht a cross kick. Garza fell into a superkick and both men knocked each other out in stereo. (I think the mic caught the referee saying “2 minutes” at this point so they’re going home?).
Garza locked Rush in the Wing Clipper position which Rush reversed into Unprettier position. Rush then lifted the larger Garza up and hit Garza with the Wing Clipper finisher for a two count. Great nearfall. Garza blocked Rush’s sitout stunner wtih a hold to the knees. Garza put Rush in Electric Chair but Rush escaped into his sitout springboard stunner for a two count. Rush hit Garza with the Final Hour. Rush went for the pin, but Garza rolled to ringside. Rush pulled off Garza’s pants which Nigel called Irony. Rush went for a Final Hour at ringside, but Garza got the knees up. Garza hit Rush with the Wing Clipper, Rush kicked out at two. Garza turned a second wing clipper attempt into a reverse Full Nelson. Rush tapped out.
Angel Garza defeated Lio Rush via submission in 15:16 to become the new NXT Cruiserweight Champion.
Mauro said that Garza is the first Mexican NXT Cruiserweight Champion (uhm? Didn’t Kalisto win that title once? I used to review 205 Live and this was during the hell days of Enzo Amore). Mauro recapped Rush’s conquering of mental health struggles which led to him winning the title, but ultimately losing to Garza.
Nigel sent things over to a Shayna Baszler vignette where Shayna Baszler compared her life to her vintage car, a Ford Mustang. Baszler recapped all of her wins since winning the title from Ember Moon to Becky Lynch…
They showed Cameron Grimes practicing his cave-in stomp for a match later on in the show… [c]
John’s Thoughts: Holy hot fire! That was a nice piece of complete match. I liked the start with more aggression and brawling than we usually see in WWE Cruiserweight matches. Easily a match of the week that’s hard to overcome. Rush, even though his character is a bit void at the moment, has been putting on great match after great match. Garza’s a complete package of great in-ring and “it” factor. Good stuff overall. Hopefully this isn’t the end of Rush’s push because I felt like he could have used one of those Jeremy Borash family-man video packages. Hell, Garza got a Jeremy Borash family-man package and he’s a heel.
Mauro sent things over to another dark room Finn Balor promo. Balor complained about Regal putting him in a contender’s match after what Balor did for NXT, Keith Lee being only relevant for three weeks after Balor was NXT champion for over a year, and Ciampa getting a chance after Balor “snuffed out” Ciampa a few weeks ago.
They aired Garza cutting a promo in Full Sail after his title win. Garza said several things mean a lot to him like wrestling and family. Garza said also important to him is his girlfriend. Garza dragged his girlfriend into the ring and then proposed to her. She said yes, thank God…
John’s Thoughts: Uhm? So he’s a babyface now? Also, how does this fly by the female NXT fans that swoon over him. I can’t comment, I’m a dude.
Raul Mendoza made his entrance and a recap aired of last week’s Kushida vs. Cameron Grimes match. They showed a clip of Cameron Grimes beating up Kushida in the WWE Performance Center locker room…
2. Cameron Grimes vs. Raul Mendoza. Grimes walked to the ring with a cocky swagger (similar to what we saw from him as a comedy figure in Impact). Mendoza caught Grimes off guard with a roundhouse and even a sliding leg lariat. Mendoza caught Grimes outside with a corkscrew springboard crossbody. Grimes ended Mendoza’s momentum with a Spanish Fly powerslam. Kushida walked out wearing his Marty McFly life preserver to distract Grimes. This distraction was enough for Raul Mendoza to nail Grimes with a Frankendriver Victory Roll to pick up the pinfall win.
Raul Mendoza defeated Cameron Grimes via pinfall in 1:13.
After the match Kushida put on Grimes’s top hat and stole it. He took the hat to the back…
Cathy Kelley interviewed Mia Yim about her match against Dakota Kai. Yim said this is more than revenge, but rather Kai taking away the biggest moment of her career, War Games. Yim said that Kai is going to get beat so bad tonight, that Kai’s going to be the one leaving the arena in an ambulance this time…
A Travis Banks vignette aired. Nigel said Banks was showing up after the break to give viewers a preview of Worlds Collide…
John’s Thoughts: A smart way to continue the Grimes-Kusihida feud even though Grimes had to take a loss. I’m really loving the way that they’re protecting Grimes (which is the exact opposite of what TNA/Impact did for the talented guy). Looking forward to the next step and NXT even got a 1-2-3 kid thing going on with Mendoza (I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunter ends up bringing in Sean Waltman as a coach to coach up Mendoza as a protege). Another hype thing? I’m really high on Travis Banks and he’s one of those Daniel Bryan clones I usually bring up (Grimes is another DB clone). That guy is a hidden gem who’s only weakness is his talking.
Mauro hyped up the NXT End of the Year awards…
Oh damn, it’s a Forgotten Sons match next. Oh! Nevermind! it’s a Ryker match! That’s awesome…
3. Jaxson Ryker (w/Steve Cutler, Wesley Blake) vs.”The Kiwi Buzzsaw” Travis Banks. Banks landed a few calculated strikes on Ryker and made sure to keep a distance. Banks went for a suicide dive on Ryker and Ryker blocked Banks with an axe handle strike. Mauro brought up a shoutout to Jushin Thunder Liger ending his wrestling career at the end of the year (January 4th to be exact). Ryker hit Banks with his old finisher, the rebound suplex. Banks recovered and then fended off Ryker with a forearm and a series of dropkicks.
Banks caught Ryker in the back with a cannonball in the corner. Ryker avoided a stomp and turned Banks inside out with an axe handle. Ryker came at Banks with a high knee. Banks landed a roundhouse on Ryker and followed up with a slingshot missile dropkick. Banks hit Ryker with the Slice of Heaven. Ryker kicked out of the pin, but right after three.
Travis Banks defeated Jaxson Ryker via pinfall in 2:46.
Beth Phoenix hyped Mia Yim vs. Dakota Kai for after the break…
John’s Thoughts: I’m a bit surprised that NXT has Ryker lose so many times (two singles from what I remember, but that’s a lot for a big man like Gunner), and his losses all came from smaller underdogs (Travis Banks and Tyler Breeze). Here’s hoping he breaks away from the Sons when he gets his push because that would be a good impetus for a soft-reboot in terms of his credibility. At least they protected him by having him kick out. It did make sense for Banks to pick up a win though because he’s advertising NXT UK and World’s Collide. Travis Banks is someone I wouldn’t mind seeing in NXT US down the road. Maybe bring in TK Cooper and have Banks and Cooper reform the South Pacific Power Trip from PROGRESS? NXT’s Tag Division is depleted and they could use a good heel tag team? Eh? Probably will never ever happen, but one can dream.
Mia Yim made her entrance first…
4. Mia Yim vs. Dakota Kai. Kai no longer has that Tegan Nox agony video wall (shame, I thought that was a nice heel touch). Yim started off the match with a shotgun Dropkick after the bell. Yim pummeled and womanhandled Kai around the ring. Yim hit Kai with a chop block and basement dropkick for a two count. Yim locked Kai in a tarantula followed by a missile dropkick. Kai made a bit of a comeback with a few axe kicks. Yim sidestepped Kai to send her spilling to ringside. Yim tossed Kai into the steps followed by a cannonball. [c]
John’s Thoughts: Update from earlier, according to Dot Net Readers, Kalisto is from Chicago. Who knew? I was familliar with his AAA work as Octagon Jr. so I just assumed he was a Mexico City person.
[Hour Two] Both women traded momentum back from the break. Kai landed a Face Wash Kick on Yim. Yim used a series of kicks to make a comeback. Yim hit Kai with a belly-to-belly. Kai blocked a Code Red attempt but Yim kept fighting and ended up hitting Kai wtih a Code Red for the nearfall. Kai countered Yim’s double kick with a sitout power bomb for a two count. Kai hit Yim with flutter kicks. Yim avoided a face wash and got kicked in the knee. Yim hit Kai with a bridged German for a two count. Yim hit Kai with the Protect Yo Neck. Kai rolled to ringside. Kai recovered and recovered Tegan Nox’s knee brace. The referee took the brace away which allowed Kai to unravel the top buckle and slam Yim’s face into it for the dirty pinfall win.
Dakota Kai defeated Mia Yim via pinfall in 6:50 of on-air TV Time.
Once Yim recovered, she pummeled a weakened Kai at ringside. Yim dragged Kai into the production area where she set up some giant thick tables. They brawled to the hard camera production booth. Yim then gave Kai a Saito Suplex through the tables at the floor (I hope Kai’s neck is okay). Yim ended up standing up from the carnage with her theme playing in the end…
Mauro sent things to a Keith Lee vignette to hype the main event. Lee talked about how it’s hard to stop him now that he’s taking advantage of an opportunity. He said he’ll beat Ciampa and ended up countering Balor’s comments on how Balor said the industry is only watching Balor. The vignette ended with clips of Lee’s GIF worthy moments with Lee saying “Bask in my glory”… [c]
John’s Thoughts: This was a good and aggressive match. Mia Yim is really hitting her stride as a Blasian Badass protagonist. She’s found it in the ring and found her voice on the mic. Mixed thoughts on Kai. She’s really good as a heel, but I also fear that if she takes too many losses she might end up as a female version of Shane Thorne. As a chicken-bleep heel who is there to take a ton of losses to the stars. We do know we have a Kai vs. Nox feud in the wings, so that’s not happening soon. I also hope that they find a way to differentiate Kai from “Blackheart” Tommaso Ciampa because they’re really similar too as characters.
This week’s Breezango stripper routine was as medical doctors. Mauro said that the doctors are in the hizzouse. Beth said that Breezango offered her a free full body exam…
5. “Breezango” Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. “The Singh Brothers” Sunil and Sumir Singh. I honestly forget which brother is witch. Breeze and Sunil started off the match, according to Nigel. Breeze hit Sunil with a backstabber for a two count. Dango tagged in but Sunil ended up gaining the advantage. Sumir tagged in and crashed his hamstrings into the corner. Dango got a two count off of Sumir. Sumir tackled Breeze and tagged in Sunil. Sunil hit Breeze with a supermodel kick and then pummeled Breeze with punches. Sumir tagged in and the Bollywood Boyz hit Breeze with the Bollywood Blast (which I think is the same finisher as the Forgotten Sons) for the two count.
Breeze hit Sumir with an enzuigiri to allow for the hot tag to Dango. Sunil tagged in and took a kick and backdrop. Dango hit Sumir with a Super Falcon Arrow. Dango hit Sunil with a regular Falcon Arrow. Sumir broke up the pin. Dango gave a Singh Brother a bomb on the apron (which the brother sold like he got shot) and the other brother ate a wheelbarrow elbow drop. Dango hit his leg drop finisher on a Singh Brother for the victory.
Breezango defeated The Singh Brothers via pinfall in 4:16
Beth Phoenix hyped a preview to the Shayna Baszler vs. Rhea Ripley match for after the break… [c]
John’s Thoughts: Man! Those Singh Brothers are bump machines, as we also found out in Jinder’s feud against Randy Orton where Randy turned one Singh into a human boomerang. Still not a huge fan of the stripper routine. Can we get Johnny Curtis back please? Even the creepy Dirty Curtis would be fine. This match wasn’t too special, but NXT’s tag division is in rebuild mode after the other shows [war] raided NXT’s tag division. Pun intended.
They aired a package hyping the Rhea Ripley and Shayna Baszler showdown match. They showed Rhea at a Florida radio show. The video package showed Rhea Ripley 1.0 where she looked like an Australian Charlotte Flair (to steal a Becky Lynch reference). Rhea recapped her run in the two Mae Young classics. Ripley talked about her journey and how she’s going to end it by taking down Shayna Baszler. A trailer video package aired to hype the Baszler vs. Ripley match for next week…
John’s Thoughts: Nice piece of package that really reminded me of those Nike commercials in a good way (MLW has done this for the Von Erichs too). They’ve done a good job all night building up the two world title matches for next week with promo packages.
6. Bianca Belair vs. Kayden Carter. Belair simply shoved Carter early on and then stomped a mudhole in Carter. Carter hit Belair with a few Capoeira kicks. Beth noted that Carter studies Lucha Libre. Carter hit Belair with a springboard drunken boot. Belair reversed a huracanrana into a gutbuster. Belair locked Carter in a Canadian Rack. Carter escaped and hit Belair with a jawbreaker. Belair countered with a football tackle on Carter into the ringpost. Belair gloated by doing squats while carrying Carter.
Belair deadlifted Carter and hit Carter with a Baldo Bomb for a two count. Belair hit Carter with a few standing Banzais. Belair reversed a Tornado DDT into a rebound vertical suplex. Carter caught Belair with a pair of surprise knees. Carter sent Belair to ringside. Carter did a cartwheel and thrust kick on Belair from the apron. Carter went for a Lethal Injection, but Belair dodged it and hit Carter with a Spear. Belair hit Carter with the KOD for the victory.
Bianca Belair defeated Kayden Carter via pinfall in 4:51.
Adam Cole made his entrance to watch the main event… [c]
John’s Thoughts: This might have been the most competitive we’ve seen Carter in NXT. Belair’s the bigger star and she allowed Carter to be elevated by having her deliver so much offense. I’m not sure what NXT does with Belair next because she’s been in a holding pattern for a long long time. She was even filler in the War Games and Survivor Series matches. Maybe make a trade with Raw and Smackdown? I’d trade Bianca Belair for Kairi Sane in an even value trade for two miscast wrestlers (once Kairi drops the tag strap). Again, more minimally realistic fantasy booking from me.
Adam Cole ended up watching the match from what looked like the NXT commentary crow’s nest. They cut to a Tommaso Ciampa promo package where he talked about his quest to get Goldie back. Ciampa said there is only one path and that’s to Goldie. Ciampa said the path goes through Lee and Balor. Ciampa said that he’s then going to look at Adam Cole and tell Cole that Cole’s days are numbered…
They cut to a cinematic low-fps shot of Ciampa at the Gorilla Position where he told the camera “Goldie! This is for you!”. Ciampa made his entrance for the main event match. Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the number one contender’s match. The match started with about ten minutes left at the top of the hour…
7. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Keith Lee vs. Finn Balor in a Triple Threat for a shot at the NXT Championship. Lee swatted Balor early on to send Balor into ringside retreat. Balor ran right into Willow’s Bell position. Lee caught up to Balor and tripped his face into the apron. Ciampa then struggled to fend off both Lee and Balor. Lee nailed both opponents with a slingshot crossbody to head into the traditional commerical break. [c]
Lee dominated Ciampa and Balor back from the break. Mauro noted that Lee was nominated for NXT breakout star of the year. Lee hit Ciampa and Balor with running splashes in the corner. Balor hit Lee in the back with a shotgun dropkick. Lee stayed on his feet. Ciampa took Lee out to the outside with a lariat. Ciampa and Balor brawled in the ring. Ciampa had the upper hand with the strikes. He hit Balor with a running knee into the bottom turnbuckle. Ciampa used a running knee to knock Lee off the apron. Ciampa hit both Lee and Balor with a double Willow’s Bell (which I think is named after his daughter).
A “Daddy’s Home” chant ensueed. Ciampa air raid crashed Balor on Lee. Ciampa got a two count on both Balor and Lee in succession. Mauro noted that both Ciampa and Lee were the last two men to pin Adam Cole. Lee fought through Ciampa with a right hand. Ciampa came back with an eye poke which Nigel noted goes back to the bad guy Ciampa. Lee hit Ciampa with the Grizzly Magnum. Ciampa blocked Lee’s splash with knees. Balor kicked Lee and gave Ciampa a double stomp. Balor used a double leg takedown on Lee and gave him a stomp.
Lee blocked a shotgun dropkick from Balor with a shove. He also shoved Ciampa into a corner. Lee went back to the corner splashes on both opponents. Lee then tossed Balor in the air like a basketball into Ciampa. Lee then backdropped Ciampa and Balor. Lee put Ciampa on top of Balor. Ciampa got up to block whatever Lee’s high risk move was. Ciampa and Balor hit Lee with a Top Rope Russian Legsweep to head into the picture-in-picture. [c]
[Overrun] Balor and Ciampa brawled to the top rope. Ciampa had Balor in Air Raid Position, while Lee had Ciampa in the electric chair. The men slammed in an Air Raid Tower of Doom. Lee crawled to Ciampa to get a two count. Lee put Ciampa in position for a high risk move. Lee crash and burned on a moonsault. Lee blocked Ciampa’s Fairy Tale Ending into a Jackhammer. Balor countered a Jackhammer into a schoolboy for a two count. Balor ended up countering a Spirit Bomb into a double stomp. Balor got rid of Ciampa and then hit Lee with a Tope Con Hilo.
Balor dropkicked Ciampa into planted fans at ringside. Ciampa avoided a Coup D’ Grace in the ring. Lee shoved Balor away to ringside to leave him and Lee alone in the ring. Ciampa struggled to get to his feet but avoided a power bomb. Ciampa hit Lee with a chop block. Ciampa lifted the super heavyweight and hit Lee with an Air Raid Crash. Lee kicked out at two for a great nearfall. Lee countered a running Ciampa with a Uranage. Lee hit Ciampa with a moonsault for his own great nearfall. Nigel said Lee should have hooked the leg. Lee went for and hit a Spirit Bomb on Ciampa. Finn Balor came out of nowhere leaving Lee wide eyed as Balor nailed a seated Lee with a Coup de Grace for the victory.
Finn Balor defeated Keith Lee and Tommaso Ciampa via pinfall in 14:35 of on-air TV Time to become number one contender to the NXT Championship.
The commentators hyped next week’s two world championship matches. Cole left the crow’s nest and backtracked up the ramp jawing with Balor from a distance. Balor shot his double finger guns at Cole. Cole was joined by the rest of Undisputed Era, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong, and even Bobby Fish. UE struck their hand sign up the ramp to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: While the opening match was strong in terms of workrate, this was a fun main event nonetheless with a good showcase of NXT’s main eventers. The styles of the three men meshed very well and the nearfalls in the end were very solid, with Balor sneaking in his finisher on Lee to give Lee some level of protection in the triple threat. I didn’t expect Lee to be the one pinned given Lee’s elevation in recent weeks. This sets up an interesting heel vs. heel matchup between Finn Balor and Adam Cole next week. Given Finn Balor’s past status as a Raw and Smackdown main eventer, I can see a bit of doubt in Cole retaining being a foregone conclusion.
NXT continues to settle in to it’s new two-hour formula and that two-hour formula is a good amount of entertaining combined with efficiency. Without having to build towards two PPVs, WWE can sprinkle a lot of backstage promos and interviews. Credit to whoever’s producing the Finn Balor promos (That’s how they should be doing Aleister Black’s promos on the Raw show). The other promos throughout the show were solid too. Even that Baszler one about the car. This was a solid episode. I’ll be by tomorrow morning with my NXT audio review for the Dot Net members while Jason Powell will be by with an NXT Hit list when he finishes up watching the show.