By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on USA Network
Aired March 25, 2020
Taped in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
[Hour One] A teaser aired with a movie style narrator hyping up Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa “answering to Triple H” for destroying parts of the Performance Center. The Slipknot intro song played in the background…
Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Phillips noted that NXT Takeover: Tampa was cancelled and that the matches that were scheduled for that show will be happening on NXT Television in upcoming matches. Austin Theory made his entrance to the crowdless Full Sail…
1. Austin Theory vs. Tyler Breeze. Theory overpowered Breeze during the initial lockup and early on. Theory bragged to Breeze about being the future while Breeze was the past. Breeze turned the tables after a jump kick. Theory ended Breeze’s flurry of strikes with a Blockbuster. Theory got a two count on Breeze. Theory then went on to chinlock variations. Breeze escaped with a Jawbreaker. Theory came back by dragging Breeze on the top rope and following up with a Rolling Thunder Shotgun Dropkick. Cut to regular commercial. [c]
John’s Thoughts: With Byron on commentary and the artist formerly known as Mike Dalton in the ring (Tyler Breeze’s old wrestling name) this is giving me Florida Championship Wrestling developmental flashbacks. The only thing missing is Wade Barrett on commentary. Barrett and Byron were an underrated commentary duo.
Breeze and Theory traded dropkicks back from the break. Breeze gave a dazed Theory a series of Forearm Smashes. Theory caught a flying Breeze into a Twisting Sitout Bomb for a two count. Theory tossed Breezed through the barricade, separating the barricade. Theory was constantly bringing up Breeze’s selfie moment from a few weeks ago where he disrespected Theory. Breeze countered a bomb into a Victory Roll for a two count. Breeze got a moment of respite after hitting Theory with a rising palm.
Theory came back with a buckle bomb. Breeze caught a flying Theory with a Supermodel Kick for a two count. Theory pulled Breeze off the top rope and hit him with a Ushigoroshi for a two count. Austin Theory beat up Breeze a bit and then cut a promo into Breeze’s phone, saying that he’s making memories for Breeze’s family to remember. Theory tried to lift Breeze while cutting his promo, but this allowed Breeze to nail Theory with the Beauty Shot for the victory.
Tyler Breeze defeated Austin Theory via pinfall in 10:07 of on-air TV Time.
Byron blamed Theory playing with the cell phone as to what cost him the match. The commentators agreed that it was a rookie mistake.
Byron Saxton hyped up the Adam Cole Championship Celebration for tonight (this was scheduled to happen last week before the massive reschedulings had to happen)…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A good match in the new empty-arena format for NXT. I actually think Theory really gained here because the lack of fans and the mic’d up ring allowed Theory to get more mic time than he’s every gotten on Television. He’s still rough in terms of sounding like a guy trying to play “jock”, but he does have good poise to go with his solid in-ring. Breeze winning is fine because gatekeepers don’t always have to lose to everyone. I also think that they’re keeping Theory as a blank slate before they repackage him with a character and look.
2. Killian Dain vs. Tehuti Miles. Phillips talked about Miles being a former collegiate athlete and military veteran. Miles tried to trash talk Dain early on, while avoiding Dain’s power. Miles showed off some good agility until he was caught by Dain. Miles escaped and gave Dain a forearm. Dain knocked Miles off the apron with a big boots. Dain called Miles “sunshine” and threw him into the steel steps. Dain then threw Miles around at ringside. Dain gave Miles a rising knee in the ring. Dain wouldn’t allow Miles to get to his feet while pummeling him. Miles kicked out at two during one pin attempt.
Miles escaped a back suplex. Miles caught Dain with a big boot. Miles came back with forearms and a kick. Miles shook up Dain a bit with a dropkick, but Dain fought through with a lariat. Dain hit Miles with a Wasteland and Senton. Dain hit Miles with the Vader Bomb for the victory.
Killian Dain defeated Tehuti Miles via pinfall in 3:39.
Tom Phillips hyped Triple H’s upcoming appearance on this episode…[c]
John’s Thoughts: More offense than I expected from a guy who is seemingly a WWE developmental project (I did a quick wikipedia lookup and Miles does have some time in Ring of Honor under his belt). Miles really impressed me here and I can see him being someone to look out for in 2020. Dain’s also someone NXT can be doing more with. The guy at this points keeps getting booked 50-50 so hopefully NXT can find a spot for him too.
Cameron Grimes made his usual entrance where he’s rambling and gloating to the crowd, except there’s no crowd. Tony Nese actually tweaked up his entrance a bit. He didn’t count his abs un-mic’d (I haven’t been watching 205 Live so this might be the norm with him nowadays)…
3. Cameron Grimes vs. Tony Nese. Grimes overpowered Grimes early on. Grimes cowered to the ropes for the rope break. Grimes then grinded Nese into the mat with a side headlock. Nese escaped and locked Grimes in an armbar after an armdrag. Grimes kicked out of a La Magistral pin attempt. Nese went back to the armbar. Grimes escaped by getting a vertical base and giving Nese a knee. Grimes backdropped Nese on the top rope and then got a two count. It was Grimes’s turn for the armbar sequence.
Nese got to his feet and started to chop Grimes. Grimes came back with a chop to Nese for a two count. Nese adjusted his weight to block a power bomb. Nese escaped and hit Grimes with a nice spinning slice kick. Nese gave Grimes two knees and a spinning heel kick. Both men traded reversals with Nese dragging Grimes over the top rope. Nese hit Grimes with a slingshot moonsault for a two count. Grimes avoided Nese’s slice kick this time. Nese and Grimes traded a forearm for a superkick. Grimes came back with a Superman Forearm, followed by the Cave-in Stomp for the victory.
Cameron Grimes defeated Tony Nese via pinfall in 5:35.
Saxton hyped Xia Li vs. Aliyah and Candice LeRae vs. Kayden Carter (this was advertised as Candice LeRae vs. Mercedes Martinez two weeks ago) in ladder match qualifyer matches…
John’s Thoughts: A good credibility building win for Grimes. That said, while last week’s show was all-promo, this week’s show is wrestling, wrestling, and nothing by wrestling. It helps that the wrestlers are also cutting promos during the match due to the lack of crowd cheers, but I hope they mix in some vignettes and promos into this episode. Aside from that, I do like Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton’s call of this show. Philips in particular seems to be a different announcer, in a good way, when he calls NXT. Saxton is also doing a good job adding details between the Phillips play-by-play.
Tom Phillips cut to footage from 4 months ago where Xia Li broke Aliyah’s nose. They showed the violent footage of Aliyah getting checked out backstage…
Aliyah made her entrance to the empty Full Sail arena. Xia Li’s theme played but nobody came out. The camera cut to backstage where Xia Li was rolling on the ground in pain. Aliyah wanted to win by default, but Greg Hamilton told Aliyah that William Regal has found a replacement. Io Shirai made her return to NXT. Phillips noted that Shirai has been out of action for months…
4. Aliyah vs. Io Shirai in a qualifying match for the Women’s NXT Title Number One Contendership ladder match. Shirai started out with a running dropkick early on. Shirai hit Aliyah with a slingshot double knee in the corner. Aliyah turned the tables and kicked Shirai several times in the gut. Shirai reversed a hip toss into a rising palm. Shirai hit Aliyah with a Butterfly Backbreaker. Shirai hit Aliyah with her signature moonsault for the victory.
Io Shirai defeated Aliyah via pinfall in 1:22 to qualify for the women’s number one contender ladder match.
Shirai celebrated on the top rope with an evil laugh while saying (in Japanese) that she’s the best female wrestler from Japan. Tom Phillips advertised Keith Lee appearing after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: If this was Li vs. Aliyah, I wouldn’t have minded Aliyah picking up the win to maybe give Aliyah some hope of finally getting a NXT push (She’s been featured on WWE TV since 2015 on Breaking Ground). That said, I’m happy we got the better and bigger surprise with Io Shirai returning to NXT. Shirai’s arguably the top female wrestler in NXT when firing on all cylenders. She also has arguably the best entrance in WWE too. Fight me on that point!
[Hour Two] A vignette aired for the artist formerly known as Samuel Shaw. His name is Dexter Lumis these days and he’s still acting like a cross between Dexter and Patrick Bateman…
John’s Thoughts: So we’re getting a Killer Kross and serial killer Sam Shaw. Maybe they can ask Killer Kelly to join their stable and form some sort of Killer stable. I kid of course and Kross might come in with a name change.
John Quasto interviewed Keith Lee in the ring about getting attacked by Damien Priest a few weeks ago yet Lee attacked Dijakovic when Dijak saved him. Lee talked about being in a competitive match against Cameron Grimes before the attack. Lee said it was simple because he was knocked out, thought Dijakovic was the attacker, and thought Dijakovic was mocking him with the Championship. Lee said he does agree that he owes Dijakovic an apology. Dominic Dijakovic made his entrance.
Dijakovic said he doesn’t care about an apology, he wants a title shot. Dijakovic said that while he doesn’t blame Lee, Lee did take food off of Dijak’s place with the attack. Damien Priest interrupted and cut promos on both guys. Priest said his eyes are on the prize, the championship. Priest said the title will give him things like more women, money, and fame. Priest said Priest will live forerver. Lee said that because of the guy Priest attacked, Priest won’t live foreaver. Lee challenged Priest. Priest unraveled his Baton. Lee and Dijak both beat up on Priest, but also shoving each other out of the way. Dijakovic stood tall at the ending of the segment after hitting both men with a dive…
Tom Phillips hyped up the Adam Cole Championship celebration after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A good promo segment, but I feel like this is the exact type of segment we get all the time with Lee and Lee’s opponents. That said, it was fine here due to the lack of promos on this show, but once they gave back to the normal show, hopefully they find a way to not replicate this formula Keith Lee as-champion segment.
Adam Cole was shown “on vacation” poolside. Cole said he’s been thinking about his altercation with Velveteen Dream. Cole said he concluded that he shouldn’t be flustered. Cole ran through his accolades like winning the NA Championship, War Games, and being the longest reigning NXT Champion. Cole said Dream has no chance at winning the title. Cole challenged Dream on Bobby Fish’s behalf and said that Fish will prove that Dream is a loser. Cole said that is undisputed…
John’s Thoughts: Of course, if the shelter-in weren’t in effect, that celebration would have been more exuberant, but what can you do? Tis the world we live in these days.
5. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Shane Thorne and Brandon Vink. We saw Thorne and Vink early on this week on Raw in a match against Street Profits. Vink was a taller dude and he shoved Burch early on in the match. Phillips noted that Vink exudes smug. Vink continued to run through Burch. Thorne tagged in and continued to keep a higher ground over Burch. Burch tripped up Thorne and stompped on Thorne’s hand. Lorcan tagged in and worked on Thorne with his strong style. Thorne escaped the corner and tagged in Vink. Vink caught Lorcan with a Uranage for a two count. Thorne tagged back in and went at Lorcan a bit. He then traded strikes with Lorcan with Lorcan coming out on top with a lariat.
Vink and Burch tagged in. Burch tominated with lariats and an Ace Crusher. Burch hit Vink with a top rope dropkick. Burch then locked Vink in the crossface while Lorcan locked Thorne in a Half Crab. Thorne was the one who tapped out (was he the legal man? I forget? I guess.)
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch defeated Shane Thorne and Brandon Vink via pinfall in 3:42.
The commentators hyped LeRae vs. Carter for after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Shane Thorne and Brandon Vink looked less like jobbers tonight compared to Raw, but they are still enhancement guys here to lose. I hope they find something for Thorne because that guy is another guy on their roster who can talk, act, and do strong style. Vink and Thorne definitely seem like a huge downgrade over the Thorne and Miller tag team of The Mighty Don’t Kneel.
An ad aired for the WWE Ruthless Aggression special on the Network…
6. Candice LeRae vs. Kayden Carter in a qualifying match for the Women’s NXT Title Number One Contendership ladder match. The match started out with chain wrestling with LeRae getting at two count. Both women traded a series of armdrags. LeRae and Carter then did the stalemate dropkicks. Carter got a one count after a single leg takedown. Carter then landed rapid fire pin attempts on LeRae. Saxton noted that some people think LeRae is too nice at times. LeRae trapped Carter in the corner with a shoulder block and followed up with a blockbuster for a two count.
Carter dodged LeRae’s step up Senton. Carter hit LeRae with a back thrust kick. Carter hit LeRae with a basement Face Wash for a two count. LeRae hit Carter with her signature forearms into chops. carter escaped a GargaNo Escape into a pin attempt. LeRae hit Carter with a step up Senton. LeRae missed a lionsault, but ended up dragging Carter down into a GargaNo Escape to win via submission.
Candice LeRae defeated Kayden Carter via submission in 4:30 to qualify for the women’s number one contender ladder match.
A graphic aired to show Candice LeRae, Mia Yim, Io Shirai, Tegan Nox, and Chelsea Green as qualified for the ladder match…[c]
John’s Thoughts: So signs of LeRae turning heel with Johnny Gargano yet. Saxton’s line about LeRae being too nice be a bit of foreshadowing, but it also might be a throwaway line. LeRae is still using Gargano’s finisher, so there’s that. By comparison, the last time Johnny Gargano turned heel in NXT, LeRae turned heel instantly and started wearing all black with black lipstick.
Matt Riddle made his entrance and fist bumped invisible fans (he’s stoner Ridder, so it’s fine). Phillips noted that Pete Dunne couldn’t be at Full Sail due to “prevailing circumstances”. Phillips also noted that this was the main event match with 30 minutes left at the top of the hour (The Gargano and Ciampa segment will be the show closing segment)…
7. Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong. Riddle and Strong had a stalemate in the ground game early on. Riddle got a high guard and knees on Strong, but Strong countered with knees from the low guard position. Riddle and Strong continue to trade advantages during the opening grappling sequences. Strong used the ropes at several points to cause separation. Riddle landed a gutwrench suplex on Strong. Strong continued to use the ropes for separation. Riddle kept a low center of gravity to block an Angle Slam. Riddle escaped with a light Kimura.
Strong won the next knife chop battle. Strong and Riddle then traded forearms with Strong ending the sequence with a knee. Riddle and Strong countered each other’s signature holds. Strong hit Riddle with a front suplex on the top rope. The show cut to commercial. [c]
Strong had Riddle trapped in a Camel Clutch back from the break. Riddle went at Strong’s fingers to escape the hold. Riddle hit Strong with some straight kicks. Riddle hit Strong with a Pele Kick. Riddle ran at Strong with forearms and an Exploder Suplex. Strong reversed the PK into the Boston Crab. Riddle escaped and gave Strong a few boots. Riddle gave Strong a GTS and German Suplex for a bridged two count. Strong escaped Bro Derek with double boots. Strong hit Riddle with the Angle Slam for the two count.
Riddle dodged Strong’s rising knee. Strong escaped a power bomb and hit Riddle with a rising knee. Riddle countered Strong’s drive by punches with a Bro Derek for the pinfall win.
Matt Riddle defeated Roderick Strong via pinfall in 7:34 of on-air TV Time.
Suddenly two random long haired big men attacked Matt Riddle. They dominated Riddle. Riddle tried to fend them off with kicks, but they were fresh. The two random guys gave Riddle power moves. They were speaking a foreign language (I’m unfamilliar with the dialect).
Suddenly Malcolm Bivens showed up to cut a promo. Bivens pointed out that Pete Dunne is stuck half way across the world and he’s introducing Riddle to the future of the NXT tag team division. The unnamed team’s entrance theme played to close the segment…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A good match as expected between Riddle and Strong. The match got particularly good after the break. Not sure who the two random big guys are, but I do like that they are injecting more presumably credible tag teams in the barren NXT Tag Team Division. This debut also reminded me of the Authors of Pain debut in NXT. If these two guys can be similar to AOP, then that should be a good run. Malcolm Bivens is the manager who went by Stokely Hathaway in Ring of Honor. I remember his work most being the mouthpiece of Quinn “Moose” Ojinaka. Happy to see him finally make his NXT debut and looking forward to see what kind of manager dynamic he can bring to the show. Hopefully it’s less cartoony than Robert Stone is currently playing the character (Stone is playing the manager role like a douchebag villain).
Tom Phillips advertised Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish for next week. Saxton hyped a “Second Chance Gauntlet” for the final spot in the Number One contender’s ladder match betwen all the losers of the qualifying matches. They also advertised Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Damien Priest for next week’s show…
Paul “Triple H” Levesque was in the ring as he was recapping the multi-year feud between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. Hunter’s recap was cut off by Tommaso Ciampa’s entrance. Ciampa said everything’s already been said and he just wants Gargano out here because he knows Gargano is in the back. Hunter said there should be no physicality tonight and he asked Gargano to come out. Johnny Gargano made his entrance saying that he should be in the ring with Ciampa. Gargano argued about being fined by Triple H when it was all Ciampa’s fault. Hunter said that Gargano is just making excuses and he wants both men in the ring.
Hunter said if this was Regal’s decision, Regal wanted to fire both guys if they took things further. Hunter told both men not to touch in the ring. Hunter said he understands how this all goes because he went through it with Shawn Michaels. Hunger said that one day they will figure out that there is more to life than this ring. Hunter said it has to end someday. Hunter said he can’t have them tearing up buildings and endangering people Ciampa talked about how this encounter is supposed to happen at a big stage. Gargano said this match was supposed to happen last year and Gargano wishes he was the man to break Ciampa’s neck. Ciampa said while “bigger things are happening in this world” big things are happening in Ciampa’s world. Hunter said this needs to be a big stage match. Ciampa said he doesn’t care as long as there’s a cameraman and a ring. Ciampa said it’s about who’s the NXT heart and soul.
Gargano said Gargano is the heart and soul and he’s going to prove how much of a monster Ciampa really is. Hunter said he’s giving them a match whenever they want. Hunter asked if they want it now. Gargano said he’s not ready now and needs two weeks due to the attack at the PC a few weeks ago. Hunter said he’s providing Ciampa and Gargano with an empty building and a referee for the final match. Hunter said if the fight continues after that match, then neither Gargano or Ciampa will be in NXT. Hunter said he’s going to send Ciampa and Gargano a note with a secret location for this match. Gargano said he’s going to prove that not only is he a better wrestler, but he’s a better everything. The Doomsday video interrupted the standoff. Kevin Kross’s face can clearly be seen along with the Tick-tock white rabbit allusions. Kross’s teaser closed the show…
John’s Thoughts: Really strong stuff from Gargano and Ciampa here. Last week’s 70 minute Gargano and Ciampa video package really did a good job establishing the characterizations of both men. It helped Ciampa by making him relatable and sympathetic. It established Gargano as whiny and petulant. Gargano needed last week’s promo the most and it really helped him show up as a character this week. Of course, with the shelter-in situation, we all have to make the best of a bad situation and NXT did that all across the board, including this empty building match (Levesque mentioning a “secret message” reminded me of WarGames two years ago where I got a fortune cookie strip of paper telling me to meet Hunter for the post-show conference call. I wonder if he’ll actually give Gargano and Ciampa a cookie). The part I’m most hyped about, Kevin F’n Kross of course. Give that guy an empty arena, MMA boots, a mic, a camera, even team him up with El Torrito (yes, his former tag team partner is El Torrito of Los Matadores) and this guy can make the best out of any situation. Looking forward to see him featured in a big way in WWE.
This show was very enjoyable. I would have liked more video packages than just creepy ass Samuel Shaw, but we can all understand given the current state of the world. This was an enjoyable show and I thought it was actually better than Raw and Smackdown which felt like it needed a lot of filler. They “filled” this time with matches, but the matches and promos all told strong stories. I’ll be by tomorrow morning with more thought via audio with my Member’s Exclusive Dot Net Audio Review for NXT. Jason Powell will be by with his thoughts once he gets to watching the show and his thoughts will be provided via hit list.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...