By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on USA Network
Aired live January 8, 2020 from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] A highlight video package aired featuring highlights from the last NXT episode before the two Holiday episodes. The NXT Slipknot theme played in the background…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Trophy was shown sitting in Full Sail. NXT Started off with new NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley making her entrance to the Full Sail Crowd. Before cutting her promo, she soaked up the huge positive reaction to her title win which included “you deserve it” chants. Rhea talked about the memories like standing in the ring, becoming Women’s champion, and celebrating on the shoulders of the fans. Rhea said it’s those memories that will prevent her from forgetting about them.
New entrance music played, it was former NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm. Toni said she was proud of Rhea, but doesn’t Rhea remember the times Toni beat Rhea twice. Toni said she’s winning the NXT UK Women’s championship at Takeover and at World’s Collide she’s challenging Rhea to a title vs. title match. Rhea accepted. Kay Lee Ray made her entrance. Ray said there’s no way Toni is getting the title on Saturday. Ray’s promo was cut off by Io Shirai. Io spoke in Japanese about Rhea being the ichiban. She then said “mine”. Next Bianca Belair made her entrance.
John’s Thoughts: Can we just cue Teddy Long’s entrance theme already.
Bianca Belair sized up all the women around her and joked about Toni Storm “not even being from here” in regular NXT. Candice LeRrae made her entrance. Rhea yelled and said this needs to stop. Rhea assumed LeRae wanted a fight which LeRae agreed with a shrug. Rhea said she wants a fight too. Rhea clocked Belair with a right hand. Rhea, Toni, and Candice cleared the ring. A referee ran out and told Alicia Taylor that William Regal has ordered that a tag team match was happening RIGHT NOW! Candice LeRae hit the pile of women on the outside with a suicide dive heading into the picture in picture. [c]
John’s Thoughts: A good move to showcase the new NXT women’s champion in the opening segment after her big moment. I like the seed planted for a UK vs. US title match to add more stakes to World’s Collide. That said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the classic Teddy Long six person tag team setup because it came up as very WWE formula to the point where you turn your brain off at a certain point. Rhea Ripley even mocked the cliche, which I liked.
1. Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, and Toni Storm vs. Bianca Belair, Key Lee Ray, and Io Shirai. LeRae dominated Ray with her rapid fire chops early in the match. Io Shirai tagged in and the heel trio cut the ring off on Candice. Io hit LeRae with a flapjack followed by a basement dropkick for a two count. Nigel pointed out that Shirai accidentally knocked off Bianca Belair from the apron. Mauro reiterated Toni Storm’s challenge for Rhea Ripley at NXT World’s Collide. The heels then went into quick tag isolation mode.
LeRae managed to sneak in a schoolgirl pin on Ray. Ray quickly went back to the isolation game on LeRae. LeRae saw a bit of a window of opportunity, but Belair quickly intercepted and LeRae and gave LeRae a spinebuster. Ray tagged in and gave LeRae a Swanton. Things then broke apart with all six women entering the ring and hitting moves on each other. The show then cut to a traditional commercial. [c]
Candice was still selling to Ray back from the break. LeRae hit Ray with a reverse Frankendriver. LeRae sidestepped Belair and got to Storm for the hot tag. Storm hit Ray with a snap German Suplex and running forearm. Ray came back with a shortarm thrust kick. Shirai tagged in and hit Storm with a meterora in the corner. Shirai hit Storm with a Butterfly Backbreaker. Shirai went for her finisher moonsault but Belair tagged in to Shirai’s protest. Belair went for the KOD but Shirai hit Belair with a slingshot dropkick. Shirai ranted in Japanese and stormed out. Ripley tagged in, softened up Belair with clinch cravate knees, and then hit Belair with the Rip Tide for the victory.
Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, and Toni Storm defeated Bianca Belair, Kay Lee Ray, and Io Shirai via pinfall in 13:01 of on-air TV Time.
Candice LeRae held onto the title for a bit to tease tension between her and her teammates.
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix checked in on commentary. Mauro ran a plug for the Red Cross’s fundraising efforts for the Australia Wildfire. The commentators hyped some of the Dusty Classic matches for later in the show…
They cut to a Tommaso Ciampa video package where Ciampa recapped his title reign. He talked about how it stopped all of a sudden due to a broken neck. Ciampa said he handed his title and life away. Ciampa said seeing Cole as champion leaves Ciampa feeling empty. Ciampa said Cole took his life and Ciampa wants his life back…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Simple and effective video package to highlight Tommaso Ciampa’s intentions clearly. It’s the same “highlighted intentions” thing as to why I’m not a huge fan of the opening Trios match. I guess one goal was to set up a US vs. UK women’s championship match, but I don’t think they even fully set that in stone because Kay Lee Ray didn’t accept. I also have no real clue where the women’s division is heading towards when in the past NXT has done a solid job clearly setting the table for upcoming feuds and the mystery here isn’t that intriguing. Another negative, I feel like Toni Storm’s NXT main roster debut got marginalized a bit because she didn’t get to show her extreme charisma and instead kinda blended into the mix of babyfaces.
Keith Lee was shown hyping up himself in front of a Keith Lee flag (or towel) he said he was on his way to become the North American Champion…
Already in the ring, was the Forgotten Sons. An inset promo aired for Imperium where they talked about their goals. Barthel talked about the ring being sacred (which is Imperium’s MO).
2. “The Forgotten Sons” Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake (w/Jaxson Ryker) vs. “Imperium” Marcel Barthel and Fabien Aichner in a first round match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Aichner and Cutler started off the match. Nigel pointed out that Aichner is wearing a protective mask due to an injured nose. Cutler now has short hair. The Sons tried to do the quick tag offense but Aichner managed to send Blake to their corner and nail him with a double basement dropkick. Blake DDT’d Aichner. Cutler and Aichner brawled. Cutler gave Aichner a Boston Crab. Barthel distracted Cutler enough for the escape.
Imperium then hit staggered offense on Cutler. Aichner caught a flying Cutler. Aichner’s mask fell off. He hit Blake with a Fireman Carry roll. Blake caught Aicher with double boots to the face. After a lot of fast offense happened with Aicher hitting Blake with a Brainbuster. The pin was broken. The Sons hit Barthel with a Fisherman Chasing the Dragon. Aichner broke up the tag. Blake managed to fight away both Imperium guys. The sons went for their finisher but Barthel tripped Cutler off the top rope with an Enzuigiri. Imperium hit Blake with the European Bomb for the victory.
Imperium defeated The Forgotten Sons via pinfall in 5:08 to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
A graphic flashed on the screen to show Imperium advancing. Barthel and Aichner struck their Ringkampf pose in the ring before leaving.
The camera cut to Cathy Kelley interviewing Matt Riddle about Riddle’s odd pairing with Pete Dunne. Riddle talked about how he doesn’t really know Dunne well but because Dunne’s a Bruiserweight and Riddle’s a bro, then they can win the Dusty Rhodes classic. Riddle said Dunne gave Riddle the “Pete Special” which was Dunne’s signature shrug and returned the favor with the “Bro Special” which was a hang loose shrug, and the “Bro-serweights” were born…[c]
John’s Thoughts: As a lover of bad puns, I like the Broserweight tag team name. It’s actually clever. We also haven’t heard a Matt Riddle promo in a while and he was on fire with his stoner humor and timing here. He managed to sell a makeshift tag team with fun mannerisms. As for the tag, it was actually pretty fun in the end and Aicher and Barthel have some fun rapid fire offense. The match was hurt by the heel vs. heel matchup though with Imperium not getting consistent pushes on NXT US. The Sons also still are a dead act and need to be nuked.
A quick ad vignette aired to showcase the Gallus faction…
Nigel McGuinness advertised NXT Takeover Blackpool and also hyped up the Takeover Prime Target show tomorrow which is supposed to recap takeover…
Austin Theory made his entrance to Full Sail. G Dammit! DJZ came out next and his entrance now has his dumb ass ba ba ba baugh thing. He also came out dressed as a space man or some sort of alien or whatnot. I’m guessing he’s not coming out as a lite brite because that’s what Mustafa Ali does in WWE…
John’s Thoughts: By the way, WWE released a video today teasing my worse NXT nightmare, the reformation of Bro Mans which I thought I was done with forever. They somehow found each other in the same company and I hope they don’t bring Bro Mans back.
3. Austin Theory vs. Joaquin Wilde. Wilde locked in some chain wrestling and did his dumb ass ba ba ba baugh chant. Theory came back with with a dropkick and went to the cravate. Wilde hit a flying move on Theory. Theory countered Wilde with a rolling shotgun dropkick and hit him with a TKO for the victory.
Austin Theory defeated Joaquin Wilde via pinfall in 2:59.
Austin Theory’s generic entrance music played. They then showed Undisputed Era sparring backstage heading into commercial…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Sorry for my anti-Bro Mans sentiment, but I’ve actually been huge fans of the work of Robbie E and DJZ even saying that they had the potential to be world champions at points. For some reason though, Joaquin Wilde is very stubborn with his Wrestling DJ thing and the air horn noise, not noticing that it’s not getting over with the crowd. In fact, the air horn was meant to draw heat from the crowd because it reminds them of douchey DJs. I hope he drops the act soon because him as a cocky heel has a lot of money behind it which is what he was doing during his early Impact X Division Championship run. As for Theory, he looks really good in the ring, but he needs a character. Right now he’s a really really high stat WWE2K Create a Wrestler and that gets emphasized with his generic royalty free music.
[Hour Two] Damien Priest was shown hanging out with his groupies backstage. He stated his claim for the NXT North American Championship…
John’s Thoughts: With that voice, promo delivery, and skin tone, Priest looks like Low Ki with a long hair wig.
The four Undisputed Era members made their entrance. Mauro noted that Cole broke the record for NXT EOTY awards by winning four…
4. “Undisputed Era” Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish (w/Roderick Strong, Adam Cole) vs. “Gallus” Wolfgang and Mark Coffey in a first round Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match. Both teams showed off their tag belts to each other and jawed a bit. Wolfgang and KO started off the match. Wolfgang tagged in Mark Coffey to beat down O’Reilly. O’Reilly got Mark to his corner to allow Fish to tag in. Fish went for Muay Thai clinch moves, but Coffey countered with bare knuckle punches. Wolfgang tagged in and they hit Fish with a double team Monkey Flip. Fish managed to cut the ring in half on Wolfgang.
UE pummeled Wolfgang wiht martial arts strikes. Wolfgang hit O’Reilly with a body slam which allowed him to tag in Coffey. Coffey gave KO two strong Irish Whips into the corner. O’Reilly came back with Muay Thai kneees. Woflgang gave both UE members hip tosses. Fish was spilled to the outside followed by O’Reilly. Strong and Cole climbed on the apron to jaw with Gallus as the show cut to commercial. [c]
Wolfgang and O’Reilly were in the ring back from the break. UE hit Wolfgang with a double roundhouse for a two count. The UE worked on Wolfgang for a moment. Wolfgang hit O’Reilly with a back suplex for a window of opportunity. Fish tripped Coffey off the rope. Wolfgang fought out of O’Reilly’s heel hook to eventually reach Coffey. Coffey cleaned house. Coffey hit O’Reilly with a Uranage for a two count. O’Reilly tagged in Fish and they hit double team Muay Thai kicks on Coffey for the two count. UE was giving Coffey knees in the corner. O’Reilly accidentally hit Fish with a Face Wash kick.
Coffey hit Fish with a Samoan Drop for a two count. Both teams recovered for a bit of a reset. UE was sent to outside. Wolfgang threw Coffey like a dart to O’Reilly on the outside. Adam Cole kicked Wolfgang with a step up enzuigiri from ringside. This allowed O’Reilly and Fish to hit Wolfgang with Total Elimination for the victory.
Undisputed Era defeated Gallus via pinfall in 8:51 of on-air TV time to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
They showed the updated Dusty Classic graphic…
The commentators then cut to highlights from the Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano saga. Beth Phoenix hyped up Johnny Gargano appearing live after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A decent enough match, but Gallus didn’t come off strong as Tag Team Champions. If Grizzled Young Veterans were still the tag champs (Hell, even FMW and Mark Andrews), I feel like this match would have felt like a bigger deal. I think the biggest problem in this picture is Wolfgang and Mark Coffey not really standing out much as a unit. Joe Coffey’s great! Mark and Wolfgang? They need a bit of work. Speaking of Grizzled Young Vets, I feel like they are going to keep things pretty even in terms of UK vs. US in terms of brackets so I assume GYV’s beat Kushida and ? (and no “?” is “mystery parther” not the legendary master of Karate, Question Mark).
A quick ad vignette aired to introduce viewers to the Welsh duo of Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster. The song in the background was “Fall to Pieces” by Mark’s band Junior…
Johnny Gargano made his entrance to Full Sail. Gargano quickly talked about how Finn Balor put NXT on the map and he’s not taking anything away from Balor. Gargano said Balor also put Gargano on the shelf, making Johnny Takeover miss a takeover. Johnny said Balor always talks about the future being the past, and the past is standing in the ring. Johnny Gargano talked about how when Balor got the callup phone call to the main roster, Balor quickly bailed and gave up the NXT Flag. Johnny said he also got the phone call and turned down the offer, showing he loves NXT.
Johnny mocked Finn Balor’s main roster grin and “Extraordinary man” catchphrse. Johnny talked about how Johnny Wrestling appeared on NXT while this happened and NXT proved that they didn’t need Balor. Finn Balor walked out now with his hair back and talked about how Johnny should be called “Johnny Promo” because the doctors will probably only clear him to cut promos. Balor called Gargano a rat that cost him the championship. Balor said Gargano is soft. Balor said rather than whine right now, Gargano should go to Regal to ask for a match at Takeover Portland. Balor said he’s fine with having a match if Johnny can make it to Takeover in good health…
Cameron Grimes was shown talking to himself, hyping himself for the North American Championship contendership four way…
Mauro Ranallo plugged the Red Cross donation efforts for the Australian Wildfire recovery… [c]
John’s Thoughts: While a bit wordy and jam packed, I liked the promo setup and small jabs between Balor and Gargano. The best part was Gargano pointing out how bad Balor’s “Extraordinary man that does extraordinary things” gimmick was, showing that NXT is aware that grinning Finn Balor sucked.
A quick vignette aired for the Grizzled Young Veterans…
Mauro announced that Kushida’s mystery partner is his long time tag team partner Alex Shelley and that the Time Splitters will be making their NXT debut next week…
John’s Thoughts: Hot Damn!!! Alex Freakin’ Shelly! So happy for the guy that he gets at least one NXT match. Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin, the Motor City Machine Guns, is one of my favorite tag teams of all time and the Back to the Future tag team of the Time Splitters were really fun too. Nice surprise and hook for next week’s show.
5. Mia Yim vs. Kayden Carter. Yim and Carter missed kicks on their opponents. Carter hit Yim with the Rey Fenix tightrope armdrag. After an exchange, Yim hit Carter with a sitout power bomb for a two count. Mauro Ranallo noted that while Carter has just started her NXT career, they threw her into the fire by putting her in matches against Shayna Baszler, Io Shirai, and now Mia Yim. Carter countered Yim’s submission into a pin attempt. Yim hit Carter with a Saito Suplex for a two count. Carter dodged Yim’s face wash and came back with chops. Carter hit Yim with a bottom rope Face Wash. Carter got a two count on Yim. Carter went for a dive, but Yim caught Carter mid air with the Protect Ya Neck for the victory.
Mia Yim defeated Kayden Carter via pinfall in 3:46.
Yim helped up Carter after the match. Chelsea Green then cleared the two women from the ring. Suddenly, the former Robbie E from Impact Wrestling appeared on the top of the ramp. Robbie E said his name was now Robert Stone and that he was signing his first free agent to his stable, Chelsea Green. Mauro noted that Robbie and Chelsea made an instant “Impact” (ha! I see what you did there Mauro…)
Dominik Dijakovic was shown shadowboxing and cutting a monologue. He talked about promising his family the North American Championship. He said soon the world will feast their eyes on the next North American Champion…
They cut to another part of the Tommaso Ciampa promo which started earlier. Ciampa said that Cole’s legacy is tainted because he never beat Ciampa and the title was handed to Cole. Ciampa yelled and asked for Cole to give him back Goldie. Ciampa said he only needs one chance. Ciampa begged for a match with Cole. Ciampa talked about how Cole has Ciampa’s life in his hands and Ciampa doesn’t know what person Ciampa will become without the belt…
John’s Thoughts: Funny. The day I make a joke about my worst NXT Nightmare, the reunion of Bro Mans, Robbie E makes his WWE debut. I hope he doesn’t sign Joaquin Wilde to his stable. That said, I’m happy that Robbie has given up the Jersey Shore ripoff gimmick. Anyway, I was afraid that Chelsea Green taking a ton of losses on WWE Main Event recently meant she was going to be a Raw jobber, but it looks like she might be getting built in NXT with a manager. Chelsea Green is someone I really turned around on following her Impact run. Go out of your way to check out Chelsea Green vs. Pentagon Jr. in an intergender match on Paramount’s free streaming service to see Chelsea have one of the sleeper hit matches of 2018. (which you can find HERE)
Beth Phoenix announced a NXT Women’s Battle Royal for number one contendership next week…
6. Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Damien Priest vs. Cameron Grimes in a four-way for a shot at the NXT North American Championship. Cameron Grimes jawed with Priest and Dijak, but was psyched out by Lee. Lee and Dijak then teamed up to face their other two opponents. They clocked Priest and Grimes with right hands. Lee and Dijakovic then had their big man agility stalemate sequence. Lee and Dijakovic then had a karate stalemate. Grimes and Priest then stomped a mudhole in Lee and Dijakovic.
John’s Thoughts: The confusing typing error of the week. Typing Lee for when I’m talking about Cameron Grimes, not Keith Lee, because he used to be called Trevor Lee. FML.
Priest clocked Grimes with a right hand. Lee lifted Priest into power bomb position and then swung him at the opponents like a battering ram. Beth noted it was impressive due to Priest’s height. Grimes and Dijakovic gave Lee wombo combo punches at ringside. Grimes hit the trio of men with a springboard Tope Con Hilo. The show cut to picture-in-picture heading into the overrun.[c]
[Overrun] Lee and Priest brawled to the top rope. Lee hit Priest with an impressive delayed vertical deadlift superplex. Dijakovic hit Lee with a moonsault for a nearfall. Grimes and Priest brawled to one corner. Grimes was given a Frankensteiner, but Grimes went right into the hands of Lee. Dijak pulled Grimes away and hit him with the Feast Your Eyes. Lee hit Dijak with a Pounce. Priest hit Lee with the Reckoning (Cross Rhodes). Dijakovic hit Priest with a Face Wash Kick to break up the great nearfall.
Dijakovic hit Priest with a martial arts combo. Dijakovic took down Preist with a thrust kick. Lee did his signature rise to his feet to surprise Priest and Dijakovic with a double chokeslam. Grimes came out of nowhere, I think with the Cave in, I missed the move, but he got a nearfall. Grimes then fought the other two opponents away and hit Priest with a beautiful Golden Triangle Moonsault. Grimes hit Dijakovic on the apron with a Cave In. Lee caught a flying Grimes with a Grizzly Magnum chop to send him to the mat. The two Lee’s had a punch battle. Keith Lee fought thorough Grimes’s punches to hit him with the Spirit Bomb for the victory.
Keith Lee defeated Cameron Grimes, Damien Priest, and Dominik Dijakovic via pinfall in 13:59 to earn a title shot at the NXT North American Championship.
Highlights aired from the four way match. Mauro said Keith Lee will challenge Roderick Strong for the North American Championship in two weeks. Mauro Ranallo closed out the show and USA went on to air Bad Boys….
John’s Thoughts: Now that was a strong match and a standalone standout from the entire show. Lots of fun mini-stories going on in this match and each wrestler was elevated somewhat. Lee and Dijak continue their eternal rival thing. Priest got to look good with a visual pinfall and having his height stand out in a good way. I was afraid that Cameron Grimes was going to fade into the background given that he was in a world of giants, but they gave Grimes the huge fighting spirit sequence in the end. This was a good test for Grimes to give him a taste of the main event, but haven’t I’ve been saying it for years? Trevor Lee is the real deal. That said, Keith Lee is the guy WWE is in the business of and he should have won here. Priest and Dijakovic were protected by being left out of the finish.
Not the greatest episode of NXT, but the main event match brought this back to the “great show” form that weekly NXT usually gets to. I think the most disappointing matches from the show were the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic matches. The first match was a poorly hyped heel vs. heel matchup and Gallus didn’t stand out too much in the second tag team match. WWE also seemed to try to book almost two more weeks of NXT in a single show to make up for the rest weeks because there was a lot of promo stuff in this show. While I didn’t give it enough credit early on, I really liked the Tommaso Ciampa dissent into darkness promos which is setting up Cole vs. Ciampa in a good way. I’ll have more thoughts to say in my weekly NXT Audio Review for the dot net members. Jason Powell will be by later too with his Hit List when he gets to watching the show.