By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on USA Network
Aired live December 18, 2019 from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] Highlights from last week’s NXT episode aired combined with the NXT Slipknot theme…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix were on commmentary. Mauro noted that there were two NXT Championship matches on this week’s show. Finn Balor made his entrance first and his video wall focuses on the word “Prince” with the arena LED banner saying the words “Prince Balor”. Adam Cole made his entrance by himself. Mauro noted Cole’s hot November run and how he defended his title on Raw, Smackdown, and NXT…
Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the world championship match. Drake Younger was the referee for the match…
1. Adam Cole vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Championship. Mauro noted that the other two two-time NXT Champions were Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura and Balor has a chance to join that company if he wins the title today. Balor grounded Cole with a side headlock. There were dueling “Undisputed” and “Let’s go Finn” chants. Cole got to a vertical base and clocked Balor with right hands to get the advantage. Balor reversed a sunset flip into a front basement dropkick. Balor slowed things back down with a armbar. Cole got up and ate some chops from Cole.
Mauro noted that Balor were a part of the same [Bullet] Club in Japan. Balor slammed Cole to the mat and got a two count. Balor gave Cole a heat seeking dropkick from the ring to baseball slide position with Cole at ringside. Cole used a thrust kick to trip Balor on the apron and gain the advantage. Cole hit Balor with a hangman neckbreaker in the ring. Mauro pointed out the tape on Cole’s wrist stemming from his wrist injury. Cole worked on Balor for a sequence. Mauro noted that Adam Cole is both a master of video games and mind games (Supposedly this guy has 100 percented every Dark Souls game, including Sekiro and Bloodborne. I still need to beat Sekiro’s final boss, dammit Cole!)
Balor tried to make a recovery but Cole took his knee out with a basement dropkick. Cole went back to the submissions, next with a figure four headscissors submission. Mauro used the rest period to advertise the NXT EOTY awards. Cole escaped the move but Cole took him back down with a running elbow strike. Balor used the boots to fight out of the corner. Balor hit Cole with an Eye of the Hurricane for a two count. Balor gave Cole running knife edge chops in the corner. Cole reversed a headlock with a lungblower for a two count. After a series of reversals Cole hit Balor with an enzuigiri. Balor hit Cole with a sling blade. Cole came back with a superkick to Balor for the nearfall.
Both men blocked the other’s suplex. Cole and Balor then traded strong style punches. Cole hit Balor with two pump kicks. Balor came back with a Pele Kick. Cole fell on top of the worn out Balor for a really good nearfall. Mauro reminded viewers of Balor’s heel turn which involved a Pele Kick. Cole and Balor recovered with a standoff. Cole kicked Balor in the knee. Balor reversed a Panama Sunrise/Canadian Destroyer from Cole. Cole reversed a Bloody Sunday. Cole hit Balor with the Ushigoroshi Last Shot for the nearfall.
Balor reversed the Last Shot with a leg take down into the double stonp. Balor hit Cole with a shotgun dropkick. Cole kicked Balor off the top rope to prevent him from hitting the Coup De Grace. Nigel noted that Cole is a Fighting Champion for breaking the ref’s 10 count. Beth said that Cole is arrogant. Balor recovered, attacked Cole, and hit him with a shotgun dropkick into the barricade, giving the viewers the weekly planted NXT “fans” bump of the week. Back in the ring, Cole hit Balor with a Last Shot for a great nearfall.
Cole went for another Last Shot with the knee pad down, but Cole turned Cole inside out with a lariat. Balor hit Cole with a Shoggun Dropkick and Coup De Grace. Balor went for Bloody Sunday but both he and Drake Younger were distracted by Johnny Gargano returning at the top of the ramp. Cole hit Balor with a nut shot and Last Shot to pick up the win. Mauro noted that the nut shot was appropriate because this is the season of the Nutcracker.
Adam Cole defeated Finn Balor via pinfall in 15:14 to retain the NXT Championship.
Gargano took one fo the chairs from the planted “fans” and then started beating up Cole with the chair. Cole even stumbled on the planted “fans” for more insult to their misery (poor indie/developmental wrestlers). Cole retreated through the crowd area and Gargano walked to the back…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix checked in on commentary where they hyped Baszler vs. Ripley. Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, and Jessamyn Duke were shown walking outside of Full Sail. The commentators then talked over highlights from the Damien Priest vs. Pete Dunne vs. Killian Dain from the last Takeover. They also showed the clip of the doctors not clearing Priest due to rib injuries…
John’s Thoughts: A really good match to start the show. A bit odd with the heel vs. heel matchup, but because these are both over heels, there was just a lot of crowd reaction as opposed to the usual fear of fans sitting on their hands. The match kept up a good pace. Balor is protected since Cole cheated to win, as is his character, and he was distracted by the returning Johnny Gargano to pick up where Balor and Gargano left off before Gargano’s injury. By the way, Kevin Kross just got released from Impact Wrestling, Thank God! My dream scenario of Kevin becoming Finn Balor’s big man associate still has a chance of happening (I know, fantasy booking, but I totally think that makes sense and Kevin Kross is a future world champion in the making).
2. Killian Dain vs. Damien Priest. After a bit of an exchange, Dain slowed the action down with a bear hug on Priest. Dain tangled Priest in between the second and top turnbuckle. Dain gave Priest a dropkick in the ribs. Dain followed up with another basement dropkick on Dain while Priest was on the ground. Dain softened up Priest by ripping off Priest’s kinesio tape which was on Priest’s ribs. Dain dominated Priest for a sequence with strikes and submissions. The crowd gave Dain a “shave your back hair” chant. Dain got a two count after a running splash.
Dain got another two count after a Fisherman Suplex. Mauro noted that Dain is bringing the pain to Priest. Priest fought out of a Cravate. Dain came back at Priest with a shotgun dropkick. The show then cut to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]
John’s Thoughts: Finally, a break and a chance to click the refresh button (I know, woe is me right?). I was afraid this whole show was going to be no-commercial. I use the PIP commercials as a break, even though I keep my stopwatch running due to action still happening for viewers.
Priest hit Dain with a CQC combo and lariat. Priest hit Dain with a leaping back elbow. It took Priest two attempts, but Dain lifted up the heavyweight Dain with a suplex. Priest went high risk but Dain rolled to ringside. Dain ran to the opposite side of the ring to hit Dain with a Springboard Tope Con Hilo. Priest hit Dain with the South Of Heaven (sitout chokeslam) for the two count. Dain came back with his own power bomb and elbow for a two count. Nigel and Beth noted that Priest might have landed awkwardly. Priest reversed Dain’s One Winged Angel attempt and hit Dain with a Cyclone Kick.
Priest wasn’t able to lfit Dain into a power bomb. Beth noted that Priest doesn’t have the core strength due to the injured ribs. Dain went for a Vader Bomb, but Priest got the knees up. Priest hit Dain with the Reckoning (Cross Rhodes) for the victory.
Damien Priest defeated Killian Dain via pinfall in 14:16.
The commentators ran though graphics showing the nominees for the NXT EOTY Awards…
Kushida was shown backstage doing resistance band training. Cameron Grimes was also backstage practicing his Cave-in stomp… [c]
John’s Thoughts: Another heel-vs-heel match that also was exciting enough to be interesting due to their long standing feud. With the opening match not being “Takeover level” exhausting, this match was allowed to shine a bit. That said, they need to do something different to freshening up this Dain, Priest, and Dunne feud. Maybe split them up because these three have been built enough to have different feuds?
A video aired to hype up the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Mauro noted the team announcements will happen on the New Year’s Eve episode of NXT (Does NXT even have enough tag teams?)…
Cameron Grimes made his entrance without a top hat, because Kushida stole it last week. Beth noted that Grimes looked frustrated. Kushida did his usual Doc Brown goggle entrance, but he then took them off to show off him wearing the Grimes top hat. I’m surprised Mauro hasn’t bade a Back to the Future 3 reference…
3. Cameron Grimes vs. Kushida. Kushida dominated early on with a wrist lock during the chain wrestling. Both men then matched each other with the escapes, with Kushida being the one to show boat over Grimes. Grimes slowed things down wiht a shoulder block on Grimes. Grimes countered a running Grimes with a Cross Armbreaker. Kushida turned a double arm hook submission into a double arm falling snap. Kushida hit Grimes with a top rope chop followed by an Octopus Stretch. Grimes escaped, but ate a dropkick and got put in the Octopus hold. Kushida rolled up Grimes for the two count heading into the picture-in-piecure.[c]
[Hour Two] They showed a replay of Grimes hitting Kushida with his signature Spanish Fly Power Slam. Grimes then tossed Kushida like a shot put. Grimes worked on Kushida’s lower back with a reverse camel clutch like move. Mauro noted that this was the “technical” part of the “Technical Savage” moniker of Grimes. Grimes turned a backbreaker into a bow and arrow stretch on Kushida’s back. Kushida came back at Grimes with a handstand back elbow which Mauro noted was a ode to Tajiri. Kushida hit Grimes with a few dropkicks. After a nearfall, Kushida locked Grimes in a Juji Gatame.
Grimes reversed a hoverboard lock attempt into a side slam for a two count. Nigel pointed out the ugly landing on the neck of Kushida. Kushida gave Grimes a flatliner into the second turnbuckle. Grimes came back with a Superman Forearm. Kushida blocked Grimes’s Sunset German initially, but Grimes followed through into a deadlift German Suplex. Kushida did a top rope senton on Grimes to ringside, but Nigel noted that Kushida might have got the worse of the move due to barely hitting Grimes and hitting mostly floor. The men fought to the corner.
Kushida hit Grimes with a Super Victory Roll for a good nearfall. Both men traded stiff strikes. Kushida blocked an initial Cave-in stomp. After dodging Kushida, Grimes nailed Kushida with a Cave-in Stomp. Grimes picked up the clean pinfall!
Cameron Grimes defeated Kushida via pinfall in 13:58.
Grimes made sure not to forget his top hat as he went to the back…
Rhea Ripley was doing pushups and lunges backstage. They then cut to an Io Shirai quick vignette to hype up Shirai having a match after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: That was a funner match than I expected on a show headlined by two main title matches. Given how they’ve been building Grimes as a bit petulant, I totally expected him to lose or pick up a dirty win here. I’m happy he got a clean win and even happier coming off him being treated as an idiot jobber in Impact (Credit to Impact though, it looked like they were going to give him a serious push right before he left). Kushida can take the loss, easily. Kushida’s the Rey Misterio of NXT. With Grimes I’m looking forward to what he does next. Maybe after one more warm-up feud, he’ll be ready for a spotlight Takeover match, maybe for the NA title.
Beth Phoenix went over the Shayna Baszler vs. Rhea Ripley Tale of the Tape. Beth noted that Baszler has the technique and experience advantage while Ripley has an overall size advantage…
Io Shirai made what I continue to say is one of the coolest entrances in modern pro wrestling. I love me some of that club scene.
4. Io Shirai vs. Santana Garrett. The commentators noted that Shirai has seven nominations in for the Match of the Year 2020. Garrett hit Shirai with an armdrag. Nigel noted that Garrett was trained by Larry Zbyszko and Scott Hall. Mauro wished Trish Stratus a happy birthday. After Garrett had a bit of momentum, it was ended by a Shirai flapjack. Garrett came back with a side Russian Legsweep for a two count. Garrett hit Shirai with a somersault into an elbow. Garrett locked Shirai in a Muta Lock after a pin attempt. Shirai slipped out (not sure why the ref called for the break).
Shirai put Garrett in the corner and hit her with a meteora. Shirai went to the top rope and hit Garrett with a moonsault for the victory.
Io Shirai defeated Santana Garrett via pinfall in 4:02.
Mauro sent things over to a NXT US vs. NXT UK Worlds Collide hype package…
John’s Thoughts: A good showing for Garrett, but given Garrett’s generic music and costume-y version of her Wonder Woman attire, you had to know she was going to be an enhancement talent today (which is what she’s been in WWE for years off-contract). Garrett has made a name herself outside of WWE though, even having MLW and Women of Wrestling building their women’s division around her. Hopefully she gets her time sometimes and we don’t see her end up like Deonna Purrazzo who was a touted signing only to end up off TV for the longest time (before showing up to Raw to be enhancement talent).
5. Pete Dunne vs. Travis Banks. Nigel noted that Travis Banks is one of the few people to have a win over Dunne from a match early in Dunne’s wrestling career. Dunne started off with his usual joint manipulation. Dunne hit his signature spots and a roundhouse on Banks. Nigel wondered what side Pete Dunne truly lies on with him being on the NXT US roster, but his nationality being with the UK. They cut to the Picture-in-picture commercial. [c]
Banks hit Dunne with a PK to the knee and then hit Dunne with rapid fast offense in the corner, topped off with a running cannonball. Banks caught Dunne at ringside with a low-pe. Mauro noted that Banks competed in an Olympic series as a Sumo Wrestler. Banks hit Dunne in the corner with a double stomp for a two count. Banks went for the Slice of Heaven but was swatted out of the air with a right hand. Dunne hit Banks with the X-Plex for the two count.
Dunne did a backflip to reverse a sunset flip. Banks countered a Bitter End wtih a DDT. Dunne countered a Slice of Heaven into a curb stomp. Banks countered a Bitter End and hit Dunne with a Low Ki Crusher for the two count (Banks calls it the Kiwi Crusher). Dunne hit Banks with a power bomb. Banks recovered and got Dunne to the top rope. Dunen recovered and hit Banks with the Super X-Plex. Pete Dunne hit Banks with the kick and Bitter End for the victory.
Pete Dunne defeated Travis Banks via pinfall in 10:53.
Dunne did his signature shrug to the crowd. He also gave Banks a fist bump out of respect after the match…
Mauro hyped up NXT’s EOTY awards again and said the awards will be anounced New Years Day…
John’s Thoughts: A good and shorter version of the PROGRESS matches that I’ve seen these guys involved in. I’m not sure if it was a throwaway line by Nigel, but I think I would be an interesting story if they played up Pete Dunne being a person that can possibly betray team NXT US because of his nationality. NXT UK needs a bit of a boost so it would be good for them to get that handicap in their favor. But in order to make that effective, Dunne needs to rack up some wins and credibility again. Not only has he taken more losses in the last two months than he has his entire WWE career, but NXT on USA viewers weren’t exposed to his dominant WWE UK Championship run.
Cathy Kelley interviewed Dakota Kai about getting put through two tables last week by Mia Yim. Kai said she does have ten staples in her head now, but in the end Kai beat Yim. Kai said she’ll continue to beat every woman in the division until she’s NXT Women’s Champion…
Shayna Baszler was shown doing grappling training with Shafir and Duke in preparation for the main event of this show…[c]
Nigel McGuinness announced “Roderick Strong’s North American Championship Challenge”. Also announced was Keith Lee and Lio Rush vs. Damien Priest and Tony Nese. It sounded like the background music was Motörhead singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer…
Shayna Baszler got the Goldberg-like follow entrance. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke escorted Baszler to the Gorilla Position area before letting her head to the ring by herself. Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the main event match with about 15 minutes left at the top of the hour…
John’s Thoughts: This is interesting. I don’t remember Shayna Baszler matches ever given this much time. I’m predicting some semblance of time due to it being on regular TV.
6. Shayna Baszler vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship. Nigel noted that Baszler has a longer Women’s Championship title reign than Asuka (of course, Asuka’s claim to fame is her undefeated streak which extends to the main roster). Ripley stood to her feet to counter Baszler’s signature elbow stomp. Ripley then made Baszler flinch to the mat with a fakeout punch. Ripley nailed Baszler with a boot and Irish Whip to the corner. They cut to picture-in-picture. [c]
Ripley gave Baszler Snake Eyes in teh corner and then rallied with lariats. Ripley hit Baszler with Cravate Knees. Baszler rolled and tripped up Ripley. Baszler and Ripley had a martial arts exchange. Mauro named off some of Baszler’s UFC matches. Mauro said he also had the honor of calling some of Baszler’s MMA matches (In Strikeforce I assume?). Ripley hit Baszler with a Superplex for a two count. Ripley ducked a Baszler roundhouse and hit Baszler with a German Suplex. Baszler’s goons, Shafir and Duke ran out. Ripley shoved them off the apron and also tripped up Baszler to leave all three women lying at ringside. Ripley hit Duke and Shafir with a cannonball from the apron to ringside with Baszler ducking away.
Baszler slammed Ripley into the steps and hit Ripley with her signature elbow stomp on the steel steps. Baszler locked Ripley into a Chickenwing which Nigel noted Baszler uses in MMA. Baszler initiated the joint manipulation with Ripley crying in agony. The show cut to a traditional commercial heading into overrun. [c]
[Overrun] Baszler had Ripley locked in the joint manipulation back from the break, leading to the elbow stomp position. Baszler stompped on Ripley’s elbow. They aired footage of Shafir and Duke getting cheap shots in on Ripley. The referee ejected Shafir and Duke for interfering. They also showed a doctor checking on Ripley during the break to work an elbow injury angle. Back to the present time, Baszler worked on Ripley’s injured elbow. Ripley made a comeback with a kick. Baszler escaped a Rip Tide. Ripley hit Baszler with a dropkick sending her into the referee. REF BUMP!!!
Ripley hit Baszler with a Rip Tide. The crowd chanted “We want Drake” in terms of Drake Younger. Baszler hid at ringside and even almost locked Ripley in the Kirafuda Clutch, but Ripley escaped before Baszler could lock the move in. Baszler introduced a chair in the ring. Ripley was about to use the chair but Baszler used the chair as a distraction to DDT Ripley on the chair. The referee recovered for a really good nearfall. Ripley quickly rolled away form the Kirafuda Clutch. Ripley went for her reverse Cloverleaf but Baszler rolled Ripley into the locked Kirafuda Clutch. Ripley got to her knees and almost got to the bottom rope, but Baszler adjusted her weight and fell backwards to prevent the rope break.
Ripley got back on all fours and tried to crawl to a perpendicular rope. Baszler adjusted her weight to her side to stumble on the side. Nigel said this is like watching a snake conquer their prey in a nature program. Ripley started fading. Nigel begged for the ref to check on Ripley’s arm for her health. Ripley prevented the arm from fading by choking the referee by the collar. Ripley escaped and reverse curb stomped a mudhole in Baszler.
Ripley locked Baszler in her signature reverse Cloverleaf. Mauro noted that it would be ironic if Ripley beat the Submission Magician wiht a submisison. Baszler escaped and hit Ripley with a high knee. Baszler staggered Ripley to the top rope. Ripley hit Baszler with a headbutt and then hit Baszler with a Super Rip Tide for the victory.
Rhea Ripley defeated Shayna Baszler via pinfall in 17:47 of on-air TV Time to become the new NXT Women’s Champion.
Mauro made a Star Wars reference by saying that Rhea Ripley has just dethroned NXT’s version of Darth Sidious. Replays of the really hot ending played. The NXT developmental and main roster came out to flood the ring like sardines. The NXT Roster put Ripley on their shoulders like a Mosh Pit. They carried Ripley to the corner for her to pose as the new NXT Women’s Champion to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: While I’ve definitely been a fan of some of the shorter Shayna Baszler title defenses more (mostly due to the storytelling and experienced opponents), this one was a damn good Takeover-worthy match. I also think the longer form of the match really helped because it allowed a story to develop. It’s one of those, it was around 20 minutes, but it didn’t feel like 20 minutes, which is great. While Ripley’s push is manufactured, this is EXACTLY how you build a Hulk Hogan type of flagship babyface. Ripley’s push has been stellar and Ripley has held her end of the bargain by shining every time the spotlight is on her, both as a heel and currently as a babyface. This was a very fun main event.
Can we start speculating Shayna Baszler finally moving over to Raw or Smackdown? Last time we thought that and Baszler lost the title, Baszler ended up picking up the title back and then holding it for over a year. I do expect this to lead to a rematch at Takeover Portland, but if we get any inkling of when Ronda Rousey is coming back then we can probably make our guesses as to when Baszler is moved over. Anyway, good stuff and I’m interested to see how the NXT women’s division opens up once Baszler is out of the title picture. Let’s not forget, this was a fun show otherwise. The opening title match was a nice tone setter that had the return of Johnny Gargano. The midcard matches were all good with Kushida vs. Grimes being the best. Overall, while not “Takeover” top to bottom, it was a still strong, like a good WWE main roster PPV. I’ll have more thoughts in my member’s exclusive audio review which will be released tomorrow. Jason Powell will be by with his NXT Hit List whenever he finishes up watching the show…
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more...