By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on USA Network
Aired live February 12, 2020 from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] Highlights from last week’s NXT episode aired, with the NXT Slipknot theme playing in the background…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary. Mauro checked in from the NXT Commentary Crow’s Nest. Mauro ran through upcoming matches on the show…
Roderick Strong made his entrance for a show opening promo. Strong talked about how this isn’t about the Undisputed Era nor the North American Championship. Strong called out Velveteen Dream for having Marina Shafir (Roddy’s wife) and Roddy’s son Troy spraypainted on his pants last week. Roderick said he’s going to do something he won’t regret from Dream. Dream demanded an apology from Dream. Bronson Reed walked out and talked about how he he has a problem with Strong. A match started…
1. Roderick Strong vs. Bronson Reed. Nigel noted that it’s obvious that Regal gave Reed an opportunity due to Strong attacking Reed last week. Reed dominated Strong with power moves early on. Reed chopped Strong around the ring. Strong came back with his own chops. Reed hit Strong with a side slam. Reed lifted up Strong’s shirt to lay some direct chest strikes. Strong managed to turn the tide with left and right hands. Reed fended off strong with power punches. Beth noted that Reed needs less overall punches to take down Strong due to Reed’s size advantage. Reed worked on Strong for a sequence.
Strong escaped a bear hug. Reed came back with an elbow. Reed had Strong up for about 20 seconds in a delayed vertical suplex before the fall. Reed caught Strong outside with a diving shoulder block from the apron. They cut to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]
Reed got a two count after giving Strong a hip attack in the corner. Reed noted that Strong might be more distracted than usual due to Velveteen Dream. Reed hit Strong with a inside-out lariat for a two count. Reed slammed Strong to the mat. Strong met Reed on the top rope, staggering him, and preventing him from hitting a splash. Strong gave Reed a Superplex for a two count.
Nigel noted that Strong took a while to get to Reed. Strong hit Reed with a wrecking ball dropkick. Suddenly, Velveteen Dream’s mood lighting (purple) covered the arena. This distracted Strong enough to allow Reed to hit a great Suicide Dive on Strong. In the ring, Reed went for a top rope dive, but Strong caught a flying Reed with a high knee for the victory.
Roderick Strong defeated Bronson Reed via pinfall in 14:02.
Velveteen Dream talked about Strong breaking Dream’s back and compared it to Strong meeting Marina Shafir for the first time. Dream talked about how Strong almost took away his career. Dream talked about taking stuff away from Strong. He talked about Strong’s family. Dream said if anything ever happened to Strong and he can’t make it home, someone will be available to “fulfill Marina [Shafir’s] Dreams”. Dream showed off Marina and Troy’s faces on his pants which angered Strong, who marched to the back…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix checked in on commentary and ran through advertised matches…
John’s Thoughts: A decent enough match, but it was a bit clunky the way they set it up, because WWE’s explaination for impromptu matches now is that Regal is making these last minute decisions and relaying it to the commentary team. This was a way to keep Strong on television while also showcasing Bronson Reed before they ultimately push him. Before they push him, they might wanna repackage him before pushing him. Right now he’s like enhancement wrestler Brodus Clay. Hopefully he doesn’t come back as a Funkasaurus. As for Dream, he sounded sharper than usual on the mic. While that’s the case I wonder how Dream being very heelish in threatening Strong’s family will work? I think it can work, but it can also backfire. Let’s see where that goes.
They cut to a Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne video package. Dunne asked Riddle how they were getting the trophy to Portland. Dunne was driving with Riddle in a convertible on the wrong side of the road. Riddle told Dunne that they weren’t in London. Dunne said he isn’t even from London. Dunne and Riddle got pulled over and had their car towed for Dunne not having a US license. Riddle said he was disappointed in Dunne. Dunne noted that Riddle doesn’t even have a license either. Riddle talked about getting to Portland somehow. A “to be continued” graphic was at the bottom of the screen to show this skit will continue…[c]
Mauro Ranallo thanked YouTube star Poppy for providing the song “Fill the Crown” for NXT Takeover: Portland and noted that Poppy will perform live on Sunday at Takeover…
Cathy Kelley interviewed Angel Garza about facing Lio Rush. Garza noted that Jordan Devlin didn’t pin Garza at World’s Collide and rather pinned Isaiah Scott. Lio Rush interrupted the interview and talked about how he’s a different person since losing the title to Garza. Lio said he got faster and stronger and he’s getting the title back. Garza laughed it off…
2. Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai. Dakota Kai wore a baseball jersey to the ring for some reason. LeRae caught Kai with a Codebreaker early on. Kai came back with a Face Wash in the corner on LeRae. LeRae came right back with a side roundhouse. LeRae caught Kai with a suicide dive. LeRae gave Kai another three dives after kicking Kai in the face. LeRae hit Kai with a missile dropkick for a two count. Mauro advertised Adam Cole vs. Kushida in a non-title match for later in the show (reason being probably similar to Bronson Reed’s reasoning early on in the show. As revenge for a backstage attack).
LeRae used and elbow to back down Kai. Kai punched LeRae on the to rope. LeRae blocked kai’s superplex. Kai knocked LeRae off the top rope to the apron. Kai got a two count on LeRae in the ring. LeRae dodged a punt kick from Kai. Kai yanked LeRae’s shoulder into the second turnbuckle. LeRae rolled to the ground with her face a bloody mess from a bloody nose. They cut to regular commercial. [c]
Mauro said the NXT women’s division has more drama than a Housewives reunion. LeRae hit Kai with a Super Neckbreaker. LeRae hit Kai with a pumphandle German Suplex. LeRae then locked Kai in the GargaNo Escape. Kai reversed with a rollup for a suprise win.
Dakota Kai defeated Candice LeRae via pinfall in 5:59 of On-air TV Time.
After the match, Kai jabbed LeRae in the gut with the ring bell. Tegan Nox ran out for the save. Nox pummeled Kai wtih mounted punches. Security and referees ran out to try to separate the two. Nox broke away and got more shots in. The security and refs ultimately separated the two…
Mauro talked about Cameron Grimes and Johnny Gargano jawing with each other in Riverside, CA at a house show. Nigel advertised Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes for after the commercial…
A NXT Takeover Portland ad aried…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A good tune-up match with the right person going over. LeRae is here to serve as the babyface locker room leader role, similar to what Tommy Dreamer is doing on TV in Impact Wrestling. It’s a Teflon Gatekeeper role which isn’t a bad thing. Looking forward to Kai vs. Nox on Sunday given the backstory and Kai’s mean streak.
Johnny Gargano’s entrance music played for the next match. Mauro noted that this was Johnny Gargano’s first match in Full Sail since coming back from injury…
3. Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes. The match started off with chain wrestling. Grimes got the first waist takedown during the match. Gargano came back with a chin lock. Grimes got to the bottom rope for the break. Gargano did a judo roll into a trip. Gargano then locked Grimes in a modified Indian deathlock. Grimes got to the break. Gargano reversed a Grimes takedown with a side headlock. Gargano hit Grimes with a few armdrags. Gargano then rolled into a GargaNo Escape. Gargano modified into a Chickenwing headlock. Grimes rolled around to prevent pressure.
Grimes caught Gargano with a knee. Grimes followed up with an armbar. Mauro noted that Grimes was trained by his dad and Matt and Jeff Hardy. Gargano escaped the hold and dumped Grimes to ringside. Gargano adjusted and hit Grimes with a boot and cannonball from the apron. Gargano worked on Grimes at ringside with chops in front of the fans. Grimes grabbed the top rope to block a Slingshot DDT. Grimes tossed Gargano and hit him with a lariat heading into regular commercial. [c]
[Hour Two] Gargano rebounded in the corner after a whip. Grimes hit Gargano with his signature Deadlift German Suplex. Grimes got a two count after a bridge. Gargano got a two count after a small package. Gargano hit Grimes with a Tornado Paydirt for a moment of respite. Gargano hit Grimes with a kick followed by a lariat that turned Grimes inside-out. Gargano caught Grimes with a slingshot spear for a two count.
Grimes ducked a Listo Kick. Gargano reversed a German into a two count rollup. Grimes hit Gargano with a side slam for a two count. Both men traded fatigued strikes. After running around a bit, Grimes hit Gargano with his signature Spanish Fly Power Slam for the two count.
John’s Thoughts: I don’t see anyone do as smooth a Spanish Fly power slam than Cameron Grimes. Does anyone else even do that move? Grimes also has a sweet double stomp.
Gargano reversed a side slam into a snug DDT. Grimes came back with a high roundhouse. Gargano escaped a Cave in attempt and locked Grimes in the GargaNo Escape. Grimes tapped out.
Johnny Gargano defeated Cameron Grimes via submission in 10:04 of on-air TV Time.
After the match, Gargano (off mic) Gargano called out Finn Balor and said he’s hoping that Balor is watching in preparation for Takeover. Mauro hyped Gargano vs. Balor for Sunday.
John’s Thoughts: As much as I would like to see Cameron Grimes get a main event level of push and protection, he’s not the big star having a match against Finn Balor at a Takeover on Sunday. This is totally fine and Gargano needed the TV time after being very limited on TV over the past few months due to injury. Grimes will main event this show in due time if he remains in this trajectory. As for Gargano, he’s still very underwhelming since NXT moved to USA. I honestly think they should put Balor over at Takeover given Balor has more upside in NXT at this point due to star power. I can see Gargano winning, but I hope that also results in Balor paring up with Kevin Kross afterwards as his new underboss. Yes, I’m still fantasy booking that.
Cathy Kelley tried to interview Adam Cole about his upcoming match. Roderick Strong was pacing backstage and Cole told Strong not to worry too much. Cole then talked about how Ciampa is hyping not losing the Championshp.
They cut back to the Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne road trip cinematic. Dunne and Riddle were riding a swan boat. Riddle said he had a lightbulb flash in his head on how they’re going to get the trophy to Portland. To be continued…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Drone shots and cinematic multi-cam? I missed the Jeremy Borash cinematics which he made famous during the Matt Hardy Broken Universe. While it may not be for some, I think Borash does a solid job with these. Hopefully we see more of this for more wrestlers.
A Robert Stone (f.k.a Robbie E) vignette aired where he cut a promo on Kayden Carter. Chelsea Green was also there. Stone challenged Carter for a rematch against Green next week. Stone said it will be the relaunch of the Robert Stone Brand. They then cut to a graphic that showed that Roderick Strong vs. Velveteen Dream was also booked for next week…
4. Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza for a NXT Cruiserweight Championship title shot. Garza took off his pants right off the bat. Rush ran circles around Garza. Garza dodged a come-up attempt. Garza caught Rush with a running dropkick. Garza slowed things down and choped Rush in the corner. Garza hit Rush with a pop up punt. Garza put Rush in the Tree of Woe and hit Rush with a running shin kick. Garza caught Rush outside from a crossbody attempt. Garza rammed Rush into the ringpost and steel steps. Garza then kicked Rush’s shoulders into the barricade. [c]
Rush hit Garza with a suicide dive and corkscrew Phoenix Splash on the outside. Rush got a two count on Garza in the ring after a Capoiera kick. Mauro talked about how we’re seeing a “different” Lio Rush (really?). Rush and Garza traded kicks with Rush doing Capoiera kicks. Garza used a dropkick to block a rush Come-up stunner. Garza then hit Rush with a pumphandle X-Factor for a two count. Garza teased a Super Wing Clipper, but Rush punched his way out of the butterfly hold.
Lio Rush hit Garza with a Super Ace Crusher. Garza rolled to ringside to prevent the pin. Rush hit Garza with a Final Hour at ringside. Mauro noted that it might have hurt Rush equally. Rush got Garza in the ring. Garza used knees to block Rush’s Final Hour. Garza superkicked Rush. Rush rolled up Garza with a small package for the win.
Lio Rush defeated Angel Garza via pinall in 7:04 of on-air TV time to become number one contender to the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Rush celebrated at the top of the stage. His theme was cut off by Jordan Devlin making his entrance. He congratulated Devlin on a good match. Devlin said Rush is the next stop on the Devlin Championship tour. Devlin said Rush doesn’t have good chance because you don’t bet against an ace. Mauro announced Devlin vs. Rush on next week’s NXT.
John’s Thoughts: While I honestly thought they’d put Garza over given the way they’ve been presenting Garza, this finish makes sense. I talked about how it was odd last week that they were building towards a heel vs. heel matchup with Devlin and Garza. This one keeps that from happening. I was thinking that they’d take the title off of Devlin, but after that mic work, I think they should have him develop as a heel champion a bit. He’s solid on the mic and has presence. The only thing I’d pull back on is the forced catchphrase predicates at the end of his promos.
They cut to the commentary table where Nigel advertised Keith Lee on WWE Backstage next week. Beth Phoenix sent things over to a Mark Henry video package where Mark Henry hyped up the Dominik Dijakovic and Keith Lee match. Henry talked about how both of these big men are standing out. Henry said Lee’s seems unstoppable, but Dominik Dijakovic might be the man who can stop him. Henry compared Dijak to both Undertaker and Rey Mysterio. Henry said he can’t wait to Feast his Eyes and Bask in the Glory on Sunday for the North American Championship. Henry said it’s going to be a fun match because “that’s what they do”…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A good promo package by Mark Henry who is always a treat to watch on the mic. Back around 2010, this guy became one of my favorite all time heels, and part of that was due to his strong mic work. A smart decision to have a great big man hype the big man match. This plays into what I’ve been saying for weeks that the NXT North American Championship picture has turned into a land of agile giants. Throw in Damien Priest and Killian Dain, and you get more agile big men in this picture. Good stuff.
Mauro thanked Poppy again for providing the song “Anything Like Me” for Takeover: Portland. The commentary team then ran through the advertised Takeover Portland matches…
5. Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett. Belair quickly speared Garrett right after the bell. Belair wouldn’t let Garrett get up with boots and a moonsault. Belair hit Garrett with a Glam Slam into the top turnbuckle (which Mauro and Nigel referenced towards Beth). Belair hit Garrett with the KOD for the victory.
Bianca Belair defeated Santana Garrett via pinfall in 0:42.
Belair said that Rhea is going to Raw alot acting like Belair isn’t here. Belair said she ain’t invisible. Belair said Rhea can keep making like that because Belair is walking out of Sunday as the new NXT Women’s Champion. Rhea Ripley made her entrance to cut off Belair’s promo. Rhea noted that she’s not looking past Belair, she’s looking right at Belair. Rhea said that on Sunday, she’s going right through Belair.
Rhea ducked a lariat. Belair followed through with a right hand. Belair planted Rhea to stand tall to close the segment. Nigel wondered if this will be the same scene as Sunday (probably not?). Mauro then hyped Adam Cole vs. Kushida in a non-title match for after the break…
They cut to Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne’s road trip cinematic. Matt Riddle talked about knowing a guy who can get them transportation. Riddle and Dunne then shoved their trophy in the luggage part of the private plane. Riddle then shoved Riddle in the trunk and Dunne figured out that Riddle didn’t ask for permission for this plane ride. Suddenly Triple H was seen entering his private plane. The plane lifted off to end the segment…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Formula stuff from Belair and Ripley heading into Ripley’s title defense on Sunday. Not a bad thing, but hit totally has me thinking that Belair has no chance. Maybe they try to subvert expectations with a swerve, but would that really be beneficial? To talk about Garrett a bit. I kinda hope she doesn’t end up like Deonna Purrazzo, spending over a year as enhancement talent. You would think that Garrett’s solid talent and her being a protege of Scott Hall would work in her favor?
Tommasso Ciampa was shown sitting in a Full Sail Classroom where Triple H gives seminars. Ciampa talked about how he felt a bit of self doubt sitting here after his injury. He talked about contemplating life with the looming specter of losing his wrestling future. Ciampa said the NXT Championship can be gone from him. Ciampa said it’s four days away from Takeover Portland. Ciampa reiterated that he never lost the title. Ciampa brought up Cole possibly winning and becoming the longest reigning champion in NXT history.
Ciampa said there might be one guy who wants it that much more and has been through much more, Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa said the bell can ring with Ciampa winning, bringing him back with Goldie. Ciampa talked about having all eyes on him WrestleMania weekend if Champa wins. Ciampa said a man is most dangerous when he has nothing to lose. Ciampa put his face up to the camera and said when you look in Ciampa’s eyes, you will know how true that is…
Entrances for the main event took place with ten minutes left at the top of the hour…
6. NXT Champion Adam Cole vs. Kushida in a non-title match. Beth Phoenix noted that Kushida was most prominent in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Kushida and Cole started off with chain wrestling. Kushida dropkicked Cole at ringside. Kushida caught a diving cole with a cool counter with a cross armbreaker. Mauro noted that Kushida beat Kyle O’Reilly in the Best of the Super Juniors in New Japan a few years ago. Kushida worked on Cole’s arm a bit. Cole knocked off Cole from the apron with a handspring boot. Cole came back with a pump kick. [c]
Kushida gave Cole a few axe handle strikes back from the picture-in-picture. Kushida hit Cole with a hip toss. Cole rolled to the apron. Kushida caught Cole again with the handspring boots, this time on the top rope. Kushida and Cole brawled to the top rope. Kushida reversed a sunset flip into a cross armbreaker. Kushida dropkicked Cole’s arm to focused on the potential submission. Cole reversed a hoverboard lock and hit Kushida with a Shining Wizard for a two count.
[Overrun] Cole and Kushida had a strong style forearm exchange. They added knees in the exchange. Cole landed a superkick. Kushida landed a haymaker. Cole hit Kushida with a series of Ushigoroshis. Mauro noted that Cole used that move a lot as a member of the [Bullet] Club. Kushida avoided Cole’s finisher but was nailed by Cole’s superkick. Cole went to the top rope for a Panama Sunrise. Kushida countered it into a Hoverboard Lock. Cole got out of the move partially, but Kushida rolled Cole to the center of the ring to prevent escape.
Kushida stomped on Cole’s head while in the lock. Cole rolled up Kushida to break the hold. Cole and Kushida then traded rollups. Kushida caught a running Cole with a Pele kick. Kushida hit Cole with Kawada kicks. Cole countered Kushida and hit him with the Last Shot Shining Wizard for the victory.
Adam Cole defeated Kushida via pinfall in 12:51.
Replays from the finish aired. Adam Cole kissed his title belt after the match. Mauro noted that Cole has been champion for 256 days. Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance to confront Adam Cole. The crowd gave Ciampa “Psycho Killer” chants. Cole and Ciampa stood face-to-face with Cole holding his title up. Ciampa said he’s taking his life back on Sunday. Cole said “over my dead body you do” to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A really good main event match, but a bit of the suspension of disbelief was taken away given that the match result was a foregone conclusion given that Cole needs to go into Sunday looking strong. I do guess it’s nice to take this approach every once in a while, but hopefully they don’t repeat this during the next Takeover go-home show. Another odd thing, was it just me or were all three commentators making way more New Japan Pro Wrestling references than they’ve ever had? It wasn’t just Kushida, they brought up Kyle O’Reilly, Bullet Club, Super Juniors, Ushigoroshis, etc. I don’t think it means anything, just a bit jarring.
While a decent episode of NXT, it wasn’t as compelling as most NXT’s have been since moving to USA. I’ll rank it on the lower end of NXT shows in terms of quality since moving over to USA, but that’s still a B+ to A- given that it was a solid show. While I thought the Riddle and Dunne segments could have been funnier, I still appreciated that they were back to using the cinematic character pieces and hope they do it for more wrestlers. I’ll be by tomorrow morning with my member’s exclusive audio review. Jason Powell will be by tomorrow with his hit list whenever he watches the show.