By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on USA Network
Aired live January 22, 2020 from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] The recap video of last week’s NXT show aired with the Slipknot theme in the background…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary. Mauro hyped the Dusty Rhodes Classic up. The show started off the Dusty Tag Classic semi final match. During the UE entrance, Adam Cole approached the commentary table to yell at Mauro that he knows Imperium are in the house and UE isn’t afraid…
1. “Undisputed Era” Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish (w/Adam Cole, Roderick Strong) vs. “The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake in a Semi-Final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. O’Reilly and Gibson started off the match. O’Reilly pummeled Gibson with stiff forearms and kicks in the corner. Gibson came back with a lariat, which allowed him to tag in James Drake to continue the attack on O’Reilly. Fish distracted Drake while Drake was straddling the second rope. This allowed O’Reilly to Dragon Screw Drake on the second rope. Fish tagged in and hit Drake with Muay Thai clinch knees followed by a slingshot senton.
O’Reilly tagged in and hit Drake with a Muay Thai strike combination. UE traded quick tags to cut the ring in half on Drake. Mauro dropped in a Bad Boys reference for the current movie by calling UE Bad Boys for Life.Drake managed to tag in Gibson after a jawbreaker. Gibson got a few shots in but O’Reilly came back with a rapid fire strike combo. Gibson took care of UE with a dropkick and sweep combo. The show cut to picture-in-picture commercial with GYV having the advantage. [c]
O’Reilly managed to fight out of the Vets corner to get the hot tag on Fish. Fish fended off the Vets with footie kicks. Gibson staggered Fish with a roundhouse and Magnum. Fish countered Gibson with a heel hook. Drake pulled Gibson to the rope to cause a rope break. Fish hit Gibson with an awkward fall on the Samoan Drop. Fish crash and burned on a Swanton. Gibson hit Fish with Helter Skelter. Drake got a two count on Fish. Fish pulled the rope down to send Drake outside. Fish hit Drake with a knee at ringside. O’Reilly tagged in. UE hit Gibson with Chasing the Dragon, leading to a nearfall.
Drake punched O’Reilly away to prevent Total Elimination. O’Reilly hit Gibson with an Axe and Smash. Fish and Drake had a strong style exchange in the middle of the ring with some Muay Thai thrown in. O’Reilly tagged in. They hit Drake with a popup roundhouse followed by a stereo roundhouse on Drake. Imperium’s entrance theme played. The four Imperium members were standing spotlighted at the commentary crow’s nest. Drake and Gibson hit a distracted O’Reilly with their finisher for the win.
Grizzled Young Vets defeated Undisputed Era via pinfall in 13:00 to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Nigel McGuinness was over the top in his UK pride. Updated graphics were shown. The UE were marching around in the ring pissed at losing the trophy…
They cut to a Toni Storm vs. Rhea Ripley hype package. Beth Phoenix then advertised Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm for later in the show…[c]
John’s Thoughts: They foreshadowed Imperium and UE mixing things up. The result has me a bit surprised. I expected the finals to be UE vs. Imperium. Even if that’s not a thing, I still expect them to hold true to the UK vs. US final. Given Imperium’s interference here I expect UE to interfere in Imperium’s match later on to give the Broserweights the win. Maybe the Broserweights end up winning the whole thing which wouldn’t be a bad thing because Dunne and Riddle have been spinning their wheels and the NXT Tag Division is depleated. This also gives us a potential third “unexpected allies” tag team winning the tag classic with Samoa Joe and Finn Ballor as well as Aleister Black and Ricochet winning the cup in the past.
A Shotzi Blackheart promo package aired. She bragged about eliminating Shayna Baszler last week. She was shown playing with power tools and acting metal. Blackheart talked about how she’ll beat Baszler later tonight. Good package…
2. Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai. This match had a Stardom feel to it given the history of both women. Beth noted that Io and Toni had two time limit draws in Japan. Mauro noted that they also wrestled in the Mae Young Classic. Shirai planted storm early on with a heel hook. Toni reversed into a side headlock. After some counters, both women stood at a stalemate. Storm hit Shirai with a CQC combo. Shirai used a backflip to set up and nail Toni with a shotgun dropkick. Storm tripped Shirai and hit Shirai with a basement shotgun dropkick. Storm got a two count on Shirai.
Storm hit Shirai with European Uppercuts. Mauro noted that Storm’s style is influenced by the 80s Los Angeles rock scene. Shirai draped Storm on the bottom rope and hit her with a Drive By dropkick. Shirai stomped a mudhole on Storm in the corner. Shirai worked on Storm for a sequence. The show cut to standard commercial. [c]
John’s Thoughts: Given that Toni has the title shot on Saturday, Toni’s winning right?
Shirai had Storm in a headlock back from the break. Shirai countered Toni’s counter with a double stomp. Shirai played to the crowd after a stomp. Storm hit Shirai with a German Suplex and lariat for a two count. Shirai escaped a Storm Zero attempt. Shirai hit Storm with a palm. Storm came back with a clothesline. A graphic flashed on the screen saying that Finn Balor is “in action” up next. Shirai went for a 619, but Storm blocked it. Storm gave Shirai a dropkick to send her outside. Bianca Belair ran out and punched Storm for the DQ
Toni Storm defeated Io Shirai via apparent DQ in 7:29 of on-air TV Time.
Belair also punched Shirai off the apron. Belair hit Storm with a Glam Slam and started gloating around the win while slappng her ass to mock the crowd. Rhea Ripley made her entrance to confront Belair. Belair called for Ripley and got the upper hand initially in the ground and pound. Ripley turned the tables. Shirai recovered and cleared Ripley and Belair from the ring. Shirai hit Ripley and Belair with an Asai Moonsault. Storm hit Shirai with a suicide dive. Storm stood tall in the ring with the Women’s Title belt. The crowd gave her heavy boos and she reacted a bit to the boos…
Cathy Kelley tried to interview Undisputed Era who were ranting about their recent loss and Imperium’s intereference. Adam Cole said they should focus and make sure Roderick Strong remains North American Champion. Cole said they need to make sure that UE remains draped in gold…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A fluky finish, but a finish I really liked given the odd booking of what should be a main event women’s program. I’m glad they didn’t put over Toni Storm clean because they should be keeping Io Shirai as strong as possible because Shirai is one of their top stars. The post match stuff also does a good job keeping feuds alive and interesting. It’s also interesting seeing the NXT US crowd giving Toni Storm a ton of boos.
An Ilja Dragonov video package aired where he hyped up his match against Finn Balor for Saturday. He ended the promo by saying “I will not miss”…
Booo! DJ F’n Z (Joaquin Wilde) made his entrance. He came outs as some sort of alien jellyfish with fur, or something like that. Of course, he continues to ba ba ba baugh…
John’s Thoughts: Oh Dammit! No! Why?
3. Finn Balor vs. Joaquin Wilde. The crowd chanted “let’s go Finn”, which is totally valid given how much Bro Mans sucks! I kid, I kid. Balor was extra aggressive in using the ropes to help him stomp on Wilde. As long as Balor dominates Wilde, the less I have to hear of ba ba ba baugh. Wilde managed to escape the corner a bit but he caught a dropkick from Balor. Balor sized up and followed up on Wilde with a Shotgun Dropkick. Balor hit Wilde with the Coup De Grace. Balor hit Wilde with Bloody Sunday for the victory.
Finn Balor defeated Joaquin Wilde via pinfall 2:04.
Nigel McGuinness hyped Roderick Strong vs. Keith Lee for later in the show…
John’s Thoughts: Balor is the biggest babyface of the day. Beating up the last reminants of BroMans because BroMans and ba ba ba baugh sucks. Is Bro Mans finally dead? Probably not, because like TNA, Bro Mans is Hard to Kill. Again, of course I’m just joking in being over the top, but this guy just won’t let Bro Mans and being a wrestling DJ go.
Cathy Kelly interviewed Shayna Baszler about being eliminated by Shotzi Blackheart. Baszler said Shotzi essentially ended her own career before it really started by messing with Baszler. Baszler swore to tear through the entire NXT Women’s roster again to become a 3 time NXT Women’s Champion… [c]
[Hour Two] A vintage DIY video package aired with highlights from their early NXT Career. The DIY “Chrome Hearts” song played in the background…
4. Shayna Baszler vs. Shotzi Blackheart. Shotzi ran over the camera person during her entrance. Beth noted that Shotzi calls herself a Samurai Pizza Cat like the cartoon. Mauro noted that Blackheart is a fan of Joan Jett which is why she calls herself Blackheart. Baszler toyed with Blackheart early on and pat her on the head after getting light shots in. Baszler continued to dominated Blackheart with submission moves. Baszler went into joint manipulation on Blackheart. Blackheart pulled down the top rope to send Baszler outside.
Blackheart caught Baszler with a back elbow. Baszler dodged Blackheart and tossed Blackheart over the top rope. Baszler suplexed Blackheart on the apron. Baszler gave Blackheart clubbing blows to the back. Mauro talked about Baszler’s Strikeforce history and talked about how Baszler was trained at pro wrestling by Josh Barnett. Baszler countered Blackheart’s kick with a Speeper which Blackheart reversed into a STO on the buckle. Blackheart hit Baszler with a DDT. Blackheart kept footsies with a kick combination on Baszler. Blackheart hit Baszler with a inverted cannonball.
Baszler staggered Blackheart on the apron with a high kick. Blackheart recovered and hit Baszler with a Sliced Bread #2 on the ring apron. Blackheart crashed and burned on a senton attempt. Baszler locked Blackheart in the Kirafuda Clutch. Blackheart managed to roll Baszler to her back, but Baszler fought back and got Blackheart back to the mat. Blackheart finally tapped out.
Shayna Baszler defeated Shotzi Blackheart via submission 6:20.
Baszler let go of the hold after sticking with it about ten seconds after the bell. Mauro noted that Blackheart loss, but she looked good…
They aired a Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai promo video package. Nox talked about how Dakota Kai was her best friend who supported her through her devastating injury. They showed Kai betraying Nox. Kai talked about being justified in attacking Nox. Kai said Nox deserve every moment of the beatdown. Nox said she’s going to beat down Kai and enjoy every second of it. Kai said Nox is due for another injury. Beth Phoenix advertised Nox vs. Kai for next week…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A really good match between two women who came up through the Oakland and SF independents. Shotzi looks to have gotten some new ring gear too. I had no doubts that Baszler was going over strong, but Baszler did a great job making Shotzi look scrappy. Shotzi gained in defeat in her hope spots. I’m really high on Shotzi’s ceiling and really think she can be a huge merchandise pusher for WWE, especially with the way she connects with the younger female fans from what I’ve seen. I compare Blackheart to steampunk Becky Lynch.
A quick Moustashe Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) video package aired…
Cathy Kelley interviewed Angel Garza about defending his title at World’s Collide. Garza said when you’re as good as Garza, you don’t lose. Garza said he’ll beat whoever comes from the United Kingdom. Garza said Swerve thinks it’s Swerve’s House, but the title proves that it’s Garza’s house now. Garza said right now there’s a Latino en la casa…
John’s Thoughts: That was heelish enough right? he didn’t randomly turn babyface this week like he usually does. Hopefully he sticks to something in future weeks too.
5. Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne vs. “Imperium” Fabien Aichner and Marcel Barthel (w/Big Daddy Walter, Alexander Wolfe) in a semi-final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Dunne and Aichner started off the match at a stalemate during the chain wrestling sequence. Barthel tagged in. Mauro reminded viewers that Aichner was a cruiserweight at one point before gaining muscle weight, yet retaining his high flying ability. Barthel tagged back in Aichner who planted Dunne with an armdrag. Mauro noted that Dunne made it to the finals of a Tag Classic before before his tag partner Roderick Strong betrayed him and he loss to Undisputed Era.
Riddle tagged in and hit Aichner with a double team leg drop combo for a two count. Riddle hit Aichner with a deadlift Gutwrench Suplex. Barthel tagged in, was tripped up, but blocked a senton with his knees. Barthel dominated Riddle in the corner. Barthel blocked Riddle’s Muay Thai. Both men got tags. Dunne dominated Barthel with his hand double stomp. Dunne got Aichner to the mat and hit him with a running kick. Dunne hit Aichner with a Crucifix Bomb for a two count. Dunne gave Aichner an X Plex on the apron. Dunne then faced off with Walter, the guy who beat Dunne for the UK title. Aichner slammed Dunne into the steps and then smashed his skull with a knee strike into the steps heading into traditional commercial. [c]
Dunne and Barthel brawled back from break. Dunne punched a flying Barthel out of the air. Aichner tagged in. Dunne tried to flip out of the corner, but his knee gave out (or it was a botch). Dunne hit Aichner with a step up enzuigiri. This allowed Riddle to tag in. Riddle gave Aichner a superman punch. He gave both men exploders and Sentons. Riddle hit Barthel with a PK followed by a Fisherman Buster on Aichner. Aichner escaped a fireman carry and shoved Riddle into Dunne.
Imperium hit Riddle with their stereo basement dropkicks to Riddle in the Tree of Woe. Imperium ate double knees form Riddle. Dunne came in and hit Aichner with a forearm. Dunne flipped kicked off of Aichner, but right into a wheelbarrow by Barthel. Aichner hit Dunne with a DDT. Riddle broke up the subsequent pin. Dunne reversed a Suplex into a key lock. Riddle locked Barthel in an ankle lock for stereo submissions. Aichner escaped using kicks. Riddle came back with a V Trigger. Aichner hit Dunne with a strike combo. Riddle and Dunne hit Aichner with a running gut punch. Riddle hit Aichner with the Goldberg Jackhammer for a two count.
Aichner staggered Riddle on the top rope with a punch. Aichner fought to the top. Dunne got the blind tag in. Barthel hit Riddle with a Brainbuster. Mauro lost track of the legal men. Riddle escaped a European Bomb attempt and hit Barthel with a German. Riddle hit Aichner with a Final Flash. Dunne tagged in and the Broserweights hit their knee-dropkick finishing move to pick up the win.
Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne defeated Imperium via pinfall 11:23 of on-air TV Time to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Zack Gibson and James Drake walked out. Gibson mocked the Broserweights and talked about how they do joint manipulation. Gibson said Riddle and Dunne are jokers. Gibson said he was directing Dunne directly. Gibson said the “Full Sail Neckbeards” see Dunne as the best thing to come out of UK, but they know the truth that Dunne is the most selfish. Gibson said Dunne has been a road block in the Vets career. Gibson said they’re taking Dunne out and taking the trophy back to Liverpool.
Riddle snatched the mic from Gibson and said “bro”. Riddle said he couldn’t understand the words that Gibson was saying. Riddle said that the only thing he understood was Gibson talking about “manipulating a joint”. Riddle said because of hearing about a joint, that caused Riddle to daydream. A “Riddle’s gonna smoke you” chant ensued. Dunne said while Riddle was up in the clouds, the GYV’s were reminding people when they enter the ring with Dunne, they lose all the time. Dunne said next week they lose again and the BroSerweights will walk out with the trophy… Bro… [c]
John’s Thoughts: NXT tag team wrestling at its finest. The Broserweights are showing surprisingly good chemistry during their short stint together. There was a part of me hoping for some interference to protect Imperium, but the clean win does put steam behind Riddle and Dunne (which has me expecting interference in the main event). Gibson continues to do a good job after matches providing heat. Riddle is still a master of the stoner promo in wrestling. His line about “manipulating a joint” was classic. Gibson did throw some doubt in there which I like. Either the Broserweights last a while as a tag team, or Pete Dunne turns heel (which he’s better at than being a babyface). Both are good outcomes, though there’s a part of me that sees NXT’s need for tag teams and would like to see Riddle and Dunne last a few months at least.
Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the main event…
6. Roderick Strong (w/Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Keith Lee for the NXT North American Championship. Strong went right for Lee’s leg, but Lee lifted Strong up. Strong slapped Lee, which Lee no sold. Lee manhandled Strong around the ring. Lee gave Strong a chop and forearm, making Strong crumple. Lee tossed Strong around the ring. Strong rolled to ringside to avoid the Grizzly Magnum. Strong rested with the rest of Undisputed Era heading into the commercial. [c]
Lee did his Lucha Libre agility sequence into a crossbody on Strong back from the break. Undisputed Era approached Lee for the distraction. UE managed to get Lee’s attention a bit. This allowed Strong to give Lee a dropkick to the knee and wrecking ball dropkick. Strong focused his attack on the ankle’s of Lee, even booting Lee’s ankles into the steel steps. Lee kicked out of a pin at two, and Strong went right for Lee’s ankles with the boots. Strong then locked Lee in a modified ankle lock.
Strong used a Dragon Screw to continue to focus his attack on Lee’s ankle. Strong then used a Banzai Drop on Lee’s ankle. Lee tossed Strong over the top rope for a moment of respite. Strong went right for Lee’s ankle again with the ankle lock. Lee tried to kick out, but Strong wouldn’t let go initially. Lee managed to kick Strong away. Strong hit Lee with an enzuigiri, followed by his drive by forearms. Strong hit Lee with a Northern Forearm heading into the picture in picture. [c]
[Overrun] Lee body slammed Strong back from the break. Lee then hit Strong with a high angle Uranage. Strong rolled to ringside for a moment of respite. Lee continued to be distracted by UE at ringside. Cole distracted the referee which allowed Fish to roundhouse Lee’s ankle. Strong slammed Lee for a two count. Lee and Strong traded punches. Both men took each other out with a headbutt. Lee used the ropes to help him get to his feet. Lee climbed up the rope but Strong went right after him.
Strong continued to punch at Lee’s ankles. Strong went to the top and went for a back superplex. Lee punched Strong to the mat. Lee continued to sell his ankle while on the second rope. Strong recovered and hit Lee with a Super Angle Slam. Lee kicked out of the pin at one and cradled Strong off him. Strong used his palm to block a high knee. Lee then hit Strong with his signature Pounce, launching him outside to the Undisputed Era. Lee hit Strong with a Clothesline from Hell. Strong kicked out at two.
Lee went back to climbing the top rope which Nigel and Mauro said might not be the best move. Lee crash and burned on a moonsault attempt. Roderick Strong locked in and grapevined the ankle lock. Lee managed to crawl to the bottom rope for the break. Mauro and Nigel praised Lee’s cardio for being a big man. Lee hobbled and sent Strong to the mat with a right hand. Lee then was distracted as he punched UE members off the apron. Strong hit Lee with a running Leg Lariat for a two count. Lee caught a running Strong with the Jackhammer to pick up the pinfall win.
Keith Lee defeated Roderick Strong via pinfall in 16:56 of on-air TV time to win the NXT North American Championship.
Lee posed with the championship up the ramp. Mauro then pointed out that Undisputed Era was down one championship. Walter, Alexander Wolfe, Fabien Aichner, and Marcel Barthel confronted Undisputed Era in the ring. UE and Imperium then brawled. Walter turned Cole inside out with a chop. The referees ran out to try to separate the two teams. The WWE signature appeared on the bottom of the screen to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A great match as expected and Strong did a wonderful job overpowering the larger Lee despite going into the match as the underdog heel. Strong usually does this with big men, where he manages to use his skillset to manhandle larger opponents believably. A good story told with Strong focusing on Lee’s ankle, somehow building sympathy for the larger man hand having Lee work from under to overcome an entire faction. Lee continues to shine in the huge push WWE is giving him at the moment, so props there too.
A good show that focused on some really strong in-ring action. The UK stuff still feels a bit shoehorned, but it wasn’t too jarring as to make this show less enjoyable. After a disappointing first week, the rest of the Dusty Classic has provided for some entertaining in-ring matches. This show also didn’t neglect it’s promo packages either. Good show overall as usual. I’ll be by tomorrow morning with my Member’s Exclusive Audio Review. Jason Powell will be by too with his hit list when he ends up watching the show.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...