By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT Live Event
St. Paul, Minnesota at Roy Wilkins Auditorium
Report by Dot Net editor Jason Powell
There were an estimated 1,400 and 1,5000 fans in attendance. Alicia Taylor was ring announcer.
1. Dominik Dijakovic over Damian Priest. A good opener. Dijakovic was vocal and fun for fans within earshot, and Priest also had his moments. This was a quality match with a couple of good near falls before Dijkovic put away Priest with Feast Your Eyes.
2. Bianca Belair over Kayden Carter. Belair received one of the biggest pops of the night. The live crowd loved her and she definitely came off like a star. Carter got some offense in, but Belair went over clean.
3. Dexter Lumis beat Rik Bugez. Lumis stole the pin with a handful of tights. Bugez did his big post match air musician bit and probably exerts more energy doing that than he does while actually wrestling. I was exhausted just watching him. The crowd had fun with it and he got Taylor and then referee Drake Wuertz to join his air band in a fun house show bit.
4. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez over Mia Yim and Tegan Nox. Kai and Gonzalez are going to be good together if this early match in their run is any indication. They did a nice job here with Kai hiding behind her heavy at times. Kai was a blast both in terms of her heel antics and in responding to fan taunts during the match. She pinned Yim while using the ropes for leverage.
5. Finn Balor beat Keith Lee by DQ in a North American Championship match. It was a pleasant surprise to have this match on the show. Both guys were over and there were dueling chants and even a “both these guys” chant. There was a late ref bump. Balor grabbed the North American Title belt and was about to hit Lee with it, but Dijakovic came out and stopped him. The referee came to and called for the bell once he spotted Dijakovic in the ring. Dijakovic stared at the title belt before giving it back to Lee. They had a long stare down that concluded with a fist bump.
6. Kushida over Cameron Grimes. A good match and I have no doubt that these two could blow this away on television or at a Takeover. Kushida showed a playful side by grabbing Grimes’s hat and wearing it. Kushida won via submission with the Hoverboard Lock.
7. Rhea Ripley defeated Chelsea Green (w/Robert Stone) to retain the NXT Women’s Championship. Green wore a bandage and/or a wrap on one of her hips. Stone’s white shoes with small spikes top were among the highlights of the night. Seriously, where the hell would a person even find those Cousin Eddie with attitude specials? Some guy next to me (who looked a lot like Wade Keller of PWTorch.com) said the referee was crooked. Stone liked that and handed him a business card. Green tried to pin Ripley while using the ropes and then Stone leapt up and added to her leverage. The referee caught them and did the big buildup to eject Stone, which got a good reaction. Ripley, who was super over, got the clean win shortly thereafter with her Riptide finisher.
8. Tommaso Ciampa, Velveteen Dream, Matt Riddle, and Pete Dunne beat “Undisputed Era” Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong in an eight-man tag match. A terrific house show main event. Ciampa pinned Fish to win the match for his team. Ciampa cut a promo afterward about NXT holding its first event ten years to the day earlier. Ciampa and the other babyfaces led the crowd in singing happy birthday in a segment filmed for social media (see below). Ciampa also pointed out a shy cousin in the front row and greeted her and her friends afterward. They were seated next to our group, so I was able to tell Ciampa that he has the voice of an angel. Ciampa laughed and said that singing not his strong suit. Ciampa, Riddle, and Dunne shook hands at ringside and posed for selfies, while Dream apparently headed to the back (I didn’t see when he made his exit).
Notes: The NXT live experience continues to be far more enjoyable than I find Raw and Smackdown live events to be, though in fairness it has been a while since I’ve attended a Raw or Smackdown house show. It still baffles me that NXT doesn’t advertise matches or wrestlers in advance. I wonder if they would do better at the box office if they advertised the bigger names and a few matches in advance. On the plus side, I like that they shook up the card rather than run the same live event that they ran the night before in Oshkosh. Overall, this was a strong show with a lively crowd. It’s also worth nothing that both referees did a very nice job of coming off as if they were working a legitimate sporting event. I was within listening range and they were great about ordering the wrestlers to hold the tag ropes (pay attention referee Rob Page!), break holds before five counts, etc. I don’t recall a single moment where the referees broke character.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) February 24, 2020
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...