By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on USA Network
Aired live March 4, 2020 from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] Highlights from last week’s NXT aired with the Slipknot theme playing in the background. Clips also aired hyping up the two cage matches on this week’s NXT…
Mauro Ranallo opened up the show from the commentary crow’s nest. A steel cage was set up in the ring for the opening match, Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox. Once Mauro made it to the commentary table, Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary. Mauro noted that Beth was at home recovering from Randy Orton’s RKO from Monday…
1. Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai (w/Raquel Gonzalez) in a steel cage match. Both women traded blows early on and Mauro noted that you shouldn’t expect any catch wrestling to start off a match in such a bitter feud. Nox missed an early Shiniest Wizard attempt. Nox ended up hitting Kai with a crossbody. Nigel ran through the rules which was to win via pinfall, submission, or escaping the cage. Kai managed to slow things down. Kai choked Nox in the corner using her boot. After slamming Nox on the cage, Kai got a two count on Nox. Mauro noted that even though Nox’s injuries were well noted, Kai has also been out for stretches via injury. Nox got a two count after using her back to slam Kai into the cage.
Nox hit Kai with four shoulder tackles. Nox hit Kai with an imploding cannonball. Kai slammed Nox into the steel cage to turn the tide heading into the picture-in-picture commercial. [c]
Nox womanhandled Kai all around the ring by tossing the lighter Kai into the cage with ease. Nox got a two count after a snapmare. Nox got another two count after a bridged fallaway slam. Kai caught Nox with a Scorpion Kick followed up by a Code Red Backbreaker for her own two count. Nox landed a small package on Kai followed up by a headbutt. Nox climbed up the cage. Kai met her up there. Nox chokeslamed Kai from the top rope as an ode to her hero Kane.
Kai recovered and tripped Nox off the top rope. Kai gave Nox a series of Pump Kicks. Nox escaped the corner. Both women slammed each other into the opposite turnbuckles. Nox hit Kai with a shotgun dropkick for a nearfall. Nox went to the top of the cage, but Gonzalez was waiting outside. Instead, Nox opted to give Kai a top of the cage crossbody. Nox was about to escape the cage, but Gonzalez blocked the cage from opening. Kai tried to Face Wash Nox, but Nox sidestepped Kai and Kai accidentally kicked the cage into Gonzalez.
Nox hit Kai with the Shiniest Wizard. Kai kicked out at two. Gonzalez recovered and prevented Nox from escaping again. Instead, Nox decided to climb the cage. Kai tried to pull Nox down, but Nox kicked Kai off the cage. Nox kicked the cage door to prevent Kai from escaping. Gonzalez adjusted by trapping Nox between the cage door and cage when Nox tried to climb down. This allowed Kai to win by escaping the cage.
Dakota Kai defeated Tegan Nox via escaping the cage in 16:10.
Mauro yelled “Son of a bitch!” at the result of the match. Match highlights aired…
John’s Thoughts: A well wrestled cage match with some creative cage spots in the end (along with some cage spots that were a bit too cute). Kai gets to rack up a win to build up her credibility and of course Nox was protected. I liked the aggression of the match, but there’s a part of me that wouldn’t have minded some blood and intense pain yelling to enhance the brutality of this feud. Maybe we get some sort of No-DQ match later on to escalate this feud because the end of this match didn’t seem to close the door on this program.
They cut to a Finn Balor promo. He talked about chess being about action and reaction. Balor said he always makes the first move up to this point, but he’s thanking Walter now, who’s forcing Balor’s hand. Balor said Walter is not going to like Balor’s reaction, which he’ll see sooner than Walter thinks…
Nigel McGuinness hyped up a Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair match “preview” (Ripley at the WrestleMania location) for later in the show…[c]
Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness checked in from the commentary table. Mauro sent things to a Rhea Ripley video package where she was at the Tampa Bay football stadium (there were a lot of XFL ads on the walls). Rhea Ripley sold the surreal nature of her position now. She talked about feeling speechless standing in the football stadium. Clips of old school Rhea Ripley aired and Ripley noted that people called her “Mini Charlotte” (which was true). Ripley talked about doing her best to separate herself from that comparison. Ripley said to be the best she’s going to have to beat the best…
A match graphic showed to hype up Ripley vs. Flair at Mania…
Shotzi Blackheart made her entrance in her signature toy tank…
2. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Chelsea Green (w/Robert Stone) in a qualifying match for the number one contender’s ladder match at NXT Takoever Tampa. Green changed up her look a bit, looking similar to how she looked in Lucha Undeground with the X-23 inspired look. Blackheart tripped up Green and hit her with a double Jeff Hardy legdrop. Both women traded armdrags. Blackheart caught Green with a enzuigiri. Green sidestepped Blackheart and gave Blackheart a lungblower for a two count. Green kicked Blackheart away and caught Blackheart with a missile dropkick. Green hit Blackheart with an Unprettier for the win.
Chelsea Green defeated Shotzi Blackheart via pinfall in 2:20 to qualify for the Takeover: Tampa ladder match.
Green jawed with the crowd while Stone did his golf clap in the ring. Nigel McGuinness hyped up Keith Lee appearing after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A bit surprising given how high WWE seems on Shotzi, but Shotzi’s a plucky babyface so she can easily bounce back while Green is the one who needed the win more after being presented as enhancement fodder out of the gate during the beginning of her WWE run. I like Green changing up her look a bit, similar to her X-23 look which I was so high on. Hopefully she changes up her character a bit, even getting some character definition because the former Robbie E is more identifiable in the act than her at the moment.
The random Doomsday/End of the World graphics aired (of course, I’m always ready for a bait and switch, but Kevin Kross had these graphics in every other company he’s worked in. So?)…
NXT North American Champion made his entrance wearing sweatpants and a hoodie for an in-ring promo. Lee soaked in the Seven Nation Army chants from the crowd to Lee’s “Bask in my glory” catchphrase. Lee said everyone is now conversing with the limitless one, Keith Lee. Lee noted that a lot of people are invoking his name now that he’s champion. People who want to fight forever, like Dijakovic, or people that want to live forever like Damien Preist.
Cameron Grimes made his entrance to cut off Keith Lee’s promo. Grimes said you don’t have to talk about Priest or Dijakovic, you need to talk about Cameron Grimes. Grimes bragged about hitting Dijakovic with a cave-in. Grimes said it was impressive because Lee took much longer, 20 minutes, to take down Dijakovic. Lee tried to cut off Grimes, but Grimes yelled over Lee. This drew massive boos. Lee said he’s willing to hear what Grimes has to say. Grimes tried to talk, but he was overtaken by crowd boos.
Grimes said people see Lee vs. Dijakovic as a five star match. Grimes said Regal gave Grimes an opportunity for the North American Championship next week. Lee shoved Grimes out of the ring. Lee said he accepts the match and for Grimes it’s going to be an equal opportunity ass whooping…
Former Impact Wrestling Interviewer McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Austin Theory outside of full sail. Theory was saying he’s the greatest in NXT in his young career. Isaiah Scott interrupted and challenged Theory to a match…
They cut over to Undisputed Era sparring backstage while Adam Cole was hyping the UE for their respective matches later in the show…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Good promo exchange between Lee and Grimes. I like Grimes showing confidence and not fading into the background in the North American Championship land of agile giants. That said, I hope he does tweak his promos a bit to not sound as much like a goofball. It’s not as bad as his jobber promos from Impact, but there is a level of goofy that still persists in his promos. What was a positive sign was the heat he was generating from the crowd. I wouldn’t mind more promos from Grimes because this guy is a real blue chipper that NXT is clearly high on.
Mauro Ranallo congratulated Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins for picking up the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships and announced that Seth Rollins and [Buddy] Murphy will be getting a rematch at Elimination Chamber…
3. “Undisputed Era” Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Mauro noted that this is a rematch from a Takeover match around a year ago. Lorcan and Fish traded strong style strikes early on. All four men had a standoff. They all traded blows to knock each other to the mat. Lorcan cleaned the ring with uppercuts. Lorcan took down both opponents at ringside with a double blockbuster. [c]
[Hour Two] Lorcan was no-selling Fish’s roundhouses for his hulk up spot. Fish came back at Lorcan with Muay Thai clinch knees. Lorcan blocked a slingshot senton with his knees. Burch tagged in and hit O’Reilly with a series of punches and uppercuts. Lorcan caught O’Reilly with an Ace Crusher. O’Reilly sent Burch outside and tagged in Fish. Fish caught Burch with an axe handle strike. UE cut the ring in half on Burch with quick tags and Muay Thai.
After a few minutes of isolation, Burch managed to get a window of opportunity by clocking Fish with a right hand. O’Reilly tagged in and gave Burch a back suplex. Burch leapt, and tagged in Lorcan for the hot tag. Lorcan hit both opponents with blockbusters and a corkscrew plancha. Lorcan attacked both opponents with corner splashes, but he was in the perfect position for Fish and O’Reilly’s finisher. UE hit Lorcan with Total Elimination to give O’Reilly the pinfall win.
The Undisputed Era defeated Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch via pinfall in 8:26 of on-air TV Time.
O’Reilly took a mic and said he likes to win and it feels good to be winning again. O’Reilly said they’re missing their tag team title belts. Fish yelled that the titles are with an undeserving makeshift team in the LoserWeights. Fish was ranting, and was cut off by Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne making their entrance. Riddle said “Stallion” Riddle and “Stallion” Dunne are down for a rematch.
Suddenly, Riddle’s promo was cut short by Zack Gibson and James Drake blindsiding Riddle and Dunne and leaving them lying. Gibson called UE “Dweebs”. He said he’s not waiting for William Regal to chime in. Gibson said it’s out with the old and in with the Grizzled Young Veterans “Soon to be recognized” as the world’s number one…
Mauro hyped sitting down with Johnny Gargano for an interview later in the show where Gargano will explain “why”…
An Austin Theory vs. Isaiah Scott hype package aired…[c]
John’s Thoughts: That was a fun tag team match and I liked the ending where it came out of nowhere, and we didn’t have to get a lot of finisher no-sells. While I would rather have a team like Ever-Rise in this enhancement role, I guess Lorcan and Burch aren’t bad designated enhancement guys as that’s been their roles for a while (Though, I feel Lorcan hasn’t been presented strong since signing a new WWE contract). The post match segment was solid at laying out the current NXT Tag Team picture. It’s a slow process, but hopefully they add a few more tag teams to boast NXT’s thin tag divsion.
Velveteen Dream was shown taping his wrists up while standing in a smokey room…
4. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Austin Theory. The crowd were giving Scott his signature “Swerve’s house” chants. Scott and Theory started off with chain wrestling. Mauro noted that Scott is a military veteran (he was active military while working for Lucha Underground early in his run there). Theory took down Scott with a shoulder tackle. Scott surprised Theory with a unique handstand into a huracanrana. Scott hit Theory with a basement shotgun dropkick. Scott knocked Theory to the mat with a jumping back kick heading into regular commercial. [c]
Theory caught Scott with a rolling thunder dropkick back from break. Scott and Theory traded right hands with Scott coming out on top, following up his last punch with a discus lariat. Scott caught Theory in the shoulders with a diving uppercut. Scott hit Theory with Muay Thai roundhouses followed by a rolling Paydirt for a two count. Theory blocked Scott’s Half Nelson. Theory also blocked a huracanrana, giving Scott a Buckle Bomb. Theory gave Scott a Michinoku Driver on his knee for a two count.
Theory staggered Scott with an elbow. Scott came back with a right hand. Scott caught a flying Theory into a Juji Gatame. Theory powered out. Scott adjusted and snapped Theory’s shoulder, using the bottom of his foot as fulcrum. Theory poked the eyes of Scott to end Scott’s momentum. Theory picked up the pinfall win after hitting Scott with a TKO.
Austin Theory defeated Isaiah Scott via pinfall in 7:38 of on-air TV time.
Mauro hyped up his sitdown with Johnny Gargano after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Scott and Theory can always be counted upon for a well received match and this was no exception. The fun parts were after the break. Praise aside, both men could use a little more character tweaks. It’s really tough to explain what “Swerve” is, and it’s harder to connect with him these days after he lost the Chaka Khan theme. Theory needs a character in general. He’s like “Ruthless Aggression” John Cena complete with the Create-a-wrestler look and jobber music. Just like Cena, that can easily be fixed whenever they want to elevate Theory on the card, so there’s no real fear on that front.
The Doomsday and tick-tock graphics aired on the screen again…
Mauro Ranallo interviewed Johnny Gargano at the WWE Performance Center. Mauro wanted to know “why?” Gargano attacked Ciampa at Takeover. Gargano talked about how Gargano was the only person to show up at the red carpet premiere of Mauro’s documentary. Gargano said Mauro is the best person who can tell people “who” Gargano is. Mauro said he can tell people who Gargano is, but why the sneak attacks on Ciampa. Gargano yelled that his last attack wasn’t a sneak attack because he was wearing a powder blue sports coat. Gargano kept cutting off Mauro’s questions.
Gargano acted unhinged. Mauro reiterated his question “Why?”. Gargano said Mauro knows why? Gargano jumpped up and got in Mauro’s face. Gargano said Mauro knows why. Gargano yelled at Mauro for calling him “Johnny Turncoat” on air. Gargano said Mauro knows nothing about Gargano. Gargano berated Mauro for praising Ciampa on air. Gargano said that Mauro is a liar. Mauro felt uncomfortable and walked away. Gargano mocked Mauro for saying “Mama Mia”. Gargano got in the camera and said next week it was time to show Ciampa that it’s time to things “The Johnny Gargano way”…
Nigel McGuinness hyped Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong in a cage match. A video package aired to hype this match. After the video, they showed the return of the cage to surround the NXT ring…[c]
John’s Thoughts: The stuff I said was missing from Gargano’s heel turn (which I talked about last week) was addressed here. Good stuff from Gargano and good for him acting unhinged as opposed to brooding. It was a nice touch getting in Mauro’s face because Mauro is such a beloved person.
Mauro Ranallo hyped up next week’s NXT show airing live from the WWE Performance Center. They hyped up Keith Lee vs. Cameron Grimes as well as The Broserweights vs. Undisputed Era…
Entrances for the steel cage main event took place with about ten minutes left at the top of the hour…
5. Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong in a steel cage match. A brawl ensued once Strong entered the ring. Both men traded strikes and chops. Dream escalated the cage and hit Strong with a dive. Strong used the top rope to block a Dream Valley Driver. Dream came at Strong with a punch and lift kick. Strong got a little bit of a breather after tossing Dream into the cage. Nigel noted that Strong is dressed in street clothes for this match. Strong hit Dream with a backbreaker suplex. Strong took off his shirt revealing his signature Calvin Klein underwear again.
John’s Thoughts: Is Roddy getting some extra sponsorship money for this? He’s NXT’s resident Calvin Klein underwear model.
The crowd gave Roddy a “Calvin Klein” chant. Velveteen Dream hit Strong a few time and gave him a back body drop into the steel cage. Roddy’s wife, Marina Shafir, ran out and slid a kendo stick in the ring for Roderick to use. The show then cut to picture-in-picture commercial.[c]
Dream locked Strong in a Boston Crab. Strong escaped and locked Dream in a Boston Crab. Dream escaped with a rollup attempt. Dream backdropped Strong into the cage. Dream kicked Strong several times into the cage. Dream yelled at referee Drake Wuertz to open the cage. Strong recovered and tried to hit Dream with the stick. Dream stole the stick. Dream came back with two kicks. Strong used the stick to lift Dream into a backbreaker. Strong tried to climb the cage, but Dream pulled the underwear down from Strong, exposing his bare ass to the crowd.
[Overrun] After a bit of an and adjustment, Strong hit Dream with a Super Angle Slam. Dream kicked out at two. Dream and Strong then jockeyed to escape the cage. Dream hit Strong with a Dream Valley Driver. Strong no-sold it and Dream hit him with a second driver. Dream went to the top rope and posed. Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, and Bobby Fish then appeared at ringside with weapons. They tried to enter the cage, but Dream fought them off as much as he could. Cole managed to get in.
Cole was tossed to the mat. Strong was near the cage door. Dream prevented Strong from escaping. After glaring at Adam Cole, Dream gave up on the match and shoved Strong outside, giving Strong the win.
Roderick Strong defeated Velveteen Dream by escaping the cage in 13:07.
Dream locked the cage with a chain and padlock, trapping himself in with Adam Cole. Dream used the stick to keep Strong, Fish and O’Reilly outside. Dream hit Cole with a top rope stick strike. Dream catapulted Cole into Strong who entered the cage, crotching Strong. Dream hit Cole with a DDT on the steel chair.
Dream grabbed the NXT Title Belt and put it near the face of Roderick Strong, who was in the Tree of Woe. Dream then hit Adam Cole with the NXT Championship. Dream posed, standing over Adam Cole, while holding the Championship. Velveteen Dream then sat on the top of the steel cage with the NXT Championship on his shoulder. This closed the show, 7 minutes into the overrun…
John’s Thoughts: A huge improvement over Dream and Strong’s last match and was more akin to the hard hitting Roderick Strong matches NXT viewers have gotten used to. The only odd part was the slight focus on Roddy’s ass and Calvin Klein. I like seeing that Strong has more personality these days, but why the sudden love for Calvin Klein (last time, it was a bit more natural because he wrestled in that underwear due to Bobby Fish getting injured in the middle of a segment). I can see the match finish being divisive, but I personally like it because it makes Dream out to be cerebral. Cerebral Dream is best Dream, but we haven’t seen the best of Velveteen Dream since his amazing feud with Aleister Black, the launch pad for the Velveteen Dream we see today.
So, Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream at WrestleMania weekend? Can’t say I’m fully sold on it, but this was a good start to start selling viewers on this matchup. The story makes sense, but I hope Dream can elevate his character work. I keep going to his feud with Aleister Black where he said less words, and the words he did say had more impact. He also told great stories with his body language, which we haven’t seen in full force since that feud. Let’s see where they go with this. As for the rest of the show, it was good. Two weeks in a row of great NXT shows after a stretch of pretty “decent” shows. The cage matches could have used maybe a bit of violence, but that’s tough in WWE’s current landscape. At least NXT is back to being very efficient. I’ll be by tomorrow with my NXT audio review for dot net members and Jason Powell will be by later with his NXT Hit List whenever he gets to watching the show.