By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Live from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Aired April 15, 2020 on USA Network
[Hour One] Highlights from last week’s NXT aired with the Slipknot theme playing in the background. The video did point out Killer Kross making a cameo appearance in the end of the closing cinematic…
Tom Philips and Byron Saxton checked in from the live commentary table. Finn Balor made his entrance and the commentators noted that Balor’s current goal is the NXT UK Championship…
1. Finn Balor vs. Fabien Aichner (w/Marcel Barthel). Balor got a two count after a quick side headlock takedown. Aichner reversed the move into an armbar. Balor countered into a headscissors submission which Aichner quickly escaped and turned into a headlock on Balor. Both men traded suplex counters with Aichner nailing Balor with a nice release hammerlock toss. Balor countered a Sunset Flip into a dropkick. More counters were traded until Balor hit Aichner with a forearm drop. The show went to commercial after Balor with a diving jump kick to ringside. [c]
Aichner nailed Balor with a Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, leading to Aichner dominating Balor for a few minutes. Balor responded to a chop with a flurry of strikes and a snapmare. Aichner blocked a PK and came back with a strick combination. Balor’s body was covered in welts and bruises from Aichner’s strikes. Balor escaped a hold and hit Aichner with a stomp. Balor hit Aichner with a slingblade. Aichner got a rollup on Balor after a distraction from Barthel. Balor kicked out but Aichner deadlifted Balor into a suplex.
At ringside Balor was next to the steps, but he avoided a Aichner knee. Balor gave Barthel a Sling Blade and a shotgun dropkick into the barricade. Barthel tossed Balor back in the ring and hit a tightrope springboard moonsault. Balor knocked Aichner to the mat and hit Aichner with Coup De Grace. Balor hit Aichner with 1916 for the victory.
Finn Balor defeated Fabien Aichner via pinfall in 8:28 of on air TV Time.
Phillips noted the bruises and cars that Balor got from the match with Aichner. Balor trash talked Walter in the camera…
They cut to Velveteen Dream sitting on his sex couch waiting for Adam Cole. Byron Saxton noted that Charlotte Flair will address the NXT Women’s Division later in the show…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A good match with a commercial break in between. Solid showcase for Balor, but Aichner continues to show that he’s is definitely underutilized as Walter’s henchman. The guy is a good combination of Strength and Agility. Aichner has the best in-ring parts of Cesaro and Rey Fenix and they need to really take advantage of that someday. Maybe his promos aren’t great. Anyway, I do like them building up towards what should be a great Balor vs. Walter match.
Tom Phillips hyped up Tegan Nox vs. Raquel Gonzalez for later in the show. The show cut to a video package, spotlighting the Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai feud, featuring Raquel Gonzalez’s constant interference…
Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton checked in from the commentary table where they discussed Charlotte Flair. Tom cut to a Charlotte Flair interview. Flair talked about backing up what she says. Flair said Ripley is in fact the future, but Flair is not going to apologize for greatness. Charlotte said she’s going to solidify her legacy as NXT Women’s Champion by taking over the past, present, and future of Women’s Wrestling. Flair bragged about beating Paige at her peak and even beating Trish Stratus. Flair listed all of the women she beat including dominating the undefeated Asuka and making Ronda Rousey suffer. Flair talked about how the new generation wants a shot at the champion now. Flair talked about how she’s looking at Mia Yim in particular because Yim was the first person Flair wrestled in WWE. Flair said after she takes care of Yim, she’s going to take everybody else out one by one. Flair said she’s going to best, past, present, and future…
John’s Thoughts: It might just be the new setting, but I think that may have been one of Charlotte Flair’s best promos of all time. She was arrogant and laid out a good mission statement. I like her calling out Mia Yim out of left field and having a good backstory. It also made it look like Charlotte was calling her shots which is a positive.
2. Xia Li vs. Aliyah. Li quickly dominated Aliyah, causing Aliyah to run around the ring. Aliyah hid behind the referee. This allowed Aliyah to hit Li with a pump kick. Aliyah fired up and hit Li with a Thesz Press. Aliyah then locked Li in a chinlock. Li fended off Aliyah with a series of kicks. Li hit Aliyah with a shotgun dropkick. Li hit Aliyah with a spinning waterfall kick for the victory.
Xia Li defeated Aliyah via pinfall in 3:11.
A video package aired which spotlighted the wrestlers in the NXT Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Byron Saxton hyped up Isaiah Scott vs. Akira Tozawa for after the break. The match graphics had a win-loss record to spotlight the round robin rules of the first round…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Aliyah can’t catch a break. She disappears for stretches and comes back to more losses. I’m curious as to Aliyah’s win-loss record during her long WWE tenure. I do understand Li being protected given WWE’s want to get into the Chinese market as well as Li’s continual improvement every time she gets TV time. She’s still not quite ready for long matches though.
“Stallion” Matt Riddle was shown on the phone chatting with “Stallion” Pete Dunne. Pete Dunne refused to reveal who’s Riddle mystery partner was to Riddle and Riddle told Dunne, “Bro!”…
3. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott (Record 0-0) vs. Akira Tozawa (Record 0-0) in a Group B match of the Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Byron noted that Tozawa is a former Cruiserweight Champion, but he must be disappointed because he only held the title for a week. The match started off with chain wrestling. Phillips said he’s looking forward most to seeing El Hijo Del Fantasma (a.k.a King Cuerno) making his debut in the tournament. Scott and Tozawa traded strikes with Tozawa’s right hand getting the upper hand. Tozawa kicked Scott to ringside. Tozawa gave Scott kicks when he had higher ground.
Tozawa tossed Scott off the apron when he tried to come up. Scott hit Tozawa with a dropkick to send Tozawa to to the mat heading into commercial.[c]
Tozawa used a kick to escape a headlock. Scott avoided a suicide dive attempt, but Tozawa hit the brakes and then gave Scott a running cannonball from the apron (or “Ramen Noodle Moonsault” as Jerry Lawler would put it? I actually didn’t think it was offensive, I’m saying this as an Asian American that eats ramen noodles). In the ring, Tozawa locked Scott in the Octopus Hold. Scott escaped and hit Tozawa with a brainbuster.
Tozawa got a two count after a Victory Roll attempt. After trading counters, Scott hit Tozawa with a German Suplex. Scott hit Tozawa with the House Call Kick for the two count. Tozawa used a donkey kick to counter Scott. Tozawa hit Scott with a Belly To Belly in the corner. Tozawa hit Scott with a cyclone roundhouse followed by his diving senton for the victory.
Akira Tozawa defeated Isaiah Scott via pinfall in 7:56 of on-air TV time to earn a victory in Group B.
McKenzie Mitchell asked Tozawa how he felt getting his first win. Tozawa said he has to keep fighting and winning. Tozawa said he’ll be Cruiserweight Champion again…
They cut to Velveteen Dream still waiting on his sex couch for a response from Adam Cole. Saxton hyped Tegan Nox vs. Raquel Gonzalez for after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Two very talented cruiserweights delivering as their talent level would cause you to presume. The only slight negative is Tozawa is presented as an enhancement wrestler on Raw that shows up and wins a match against one of NXT’s credible regulars. That nitpick aside, Tozawa’s talent level is definitely higher than his enhancement presentation. While the guy speaks broken English, he’s at least a decent talker and the guy has done character stuff very well on 205 Live.
An introduction vignette aired for El Hijo Del Fantasma where he spoke in spanish about coming from a legendar Luchador family. He ended the promo saying he’s a future Cruiserweight Champion. He wore a black mask this time and had a black suit…
John’s Thoughts: He’s someone to really look out for and I got to see for years. He’s not the most flashy of wrestlers and prefers to work more of a Randy Orton methodical style, but he’s really good at that style. He also has the best Suicide Dive that I’ve seen live in all my time watching professional wrestling. While we heard him speak Spanish here, Fantasma is a really eloquent English speaker from his very good and methodical promos he delivered as a Bounty Hunter character in Lucha Underground. Given how the guy is a good talker and how well he cleans up with a professional look, he’s my actual frontrunner for being the Lucha mob boss behind all the kidnappings in NXT recently (my fake kayfabe NXT Exalted One is Jeremy Borash for being at the Samoa Joe Kidnapping crime scene)
[Hour Two] Entrances for the upcoming women’s match took place…
4. Tegan Nox vs. Raquel Gonzalez (w/Dakota Kai). Gonzalez dominated Nox with power. Nox was grounded after a backbreaker. Gonzalez countered a lot of Nox’s counters with pure strength. Nox managed to land a few forearms, but Gonzalez came back with the power and Irish Whips. Gonzalez distracted the referee so Kai could hit Nox with a Yakuza kick. Shotzi Blackheart ran out to attack Kai using her horned helmet. Gonzalez got her hands on Blackheart and went for a chokeslam on the apron. Nox rolled up the distracted Gonzalez for the victory.
Tegan Nox defeated Raquel Gonzalez via pinfall in 3:15.
Blackheart and Nox stood tall up the ramp with Blackheart doing her wolf howl…
They cut to a tweet from Johnny Gargano saying that he can’t wait to hear what Ciampa is going to say later in the show…
They aired a bit of a Keith Lee interview where he talked about his family life before WWE. They used this teaser to tease an upcoming documentary interview for later in the show…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A well booked and efficient match. Raquel Gonzalez did the typical “monster heel” offense better than a lot of wrestlers who try to play monster-heel. Kai continuing her cheating makes sense. Blackheart got some more spotlight. The finish protects Gonzalez and builds up Nox.
The show cut to the Keith Lee documentary style interview. Lee talked about how Keith Lee’s journey started out back when he was introduced to pro wrestling by his grandma. Lee said he looked up to people like the Von Erichs and Macho Man. Lee talked about how his parents didn’t like it. Lee talked about stealing his parents’ car to wrestle matches with Mick Foley on the indies. Lee said he was kicked out of the house for a bit. Lee talked about putting in hard work and grind. Lee talked about finally making it to WWE where the greatest athletes are.
Lee then hyped up his feud with Dijakovic and talked about that feud leading him to being showcased at Survivor Series. Lee then talked about winning his first championship in WWE, The North American Championship. Lee said it was all full circle when he got to chat with Mick Foley as champion. Lee said you can give up or grind and overcome, that’s what it means to be “limitless”…
John’s Thoughts: Really good interviews tonight from Charlotte and Keith. This documentary style promo at a remote location really does a lot to take the viewers away from what can be a depressing empty arena (NXT’s colors being black and yellow do help make you forget of the lack of crowd due to the black component). Lee was good here. NXT does a stellar job when doing these documentary pieces.
Creepy ass Sam Shaw made his entrance. Of course, he’s Dexter Lumis now…
John’s Thoughts: How funny would it be if Dexter Loomis was the one kidnapping NXT wrestlers and taking them to his murder dungeon?
5. Dexter Lumis vs. Tehuti Miles. Miles tried to get the attention of Lumis, who gave Miles a death stare. He then gave Miles a precision clubbing blow. Miles managed to land a few dropkicks, but couldn’t get Lumis off his feet. Lumis fought through and gave Miles a spinebuster. Lumis then crawled around the ring like a snake. Lumis hit Miles with a sitout Uranage. Lumis made Miles tap out to the Anaconda Vice.
Dexter Lumis defeated Tehuti Miles via submission in 1:45.
The commentary team continue to sell the creepiness of Lumis while Lumis continued flashing his blank and focused stares…
Velveteen was still waiting on his sex couch. This time Dream looked frustrated at not getting an answer from Adam Cole…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Miles has done a great job over the years evolving his Patrick Bateman/Dexter serial killer character. He used to not be so great in integrating the killer character in the ring, but he has now in the form of precision and methodical offense with a bit of judo. Again, what will be interesting to see is how Lumis will end up standing out when a more serious version of the psychopath character, Kevin Kross, shows up.
Adam Cole was shown hanging out at his pool. Cole called Dream stupid for thinking Cole would show up at the NXT Show. Cole said he’s trying to protect reality. Cole said there’s nobody in WWE that deserves a shot at the championship. Cole said there are more important things in the world, like Undisputed Era getting back their Tag Titles…
Tom Phillips said it was ridiculous that Cole would say that he won’t defend the title to anybody. Saxton said it’s just Cole being Cole in playing games with people. Velveteen Dream made his entrance to a podium set up at the stage. Dream mocked Cole for playing video games (via Twitch). Dream said Cole thinks he’s some sort of mastermind and leader. Dream said he knows Cole is the last remaining champion, and the very last. Dream said Cole might be the greatest NXT Champion of all time due to title length. Dream said he wants Cole to remember two words bay bay, “Dream Over”.
Finn Balor showed up behind Dream. Balor said he doesn’t know or like Dream. Balor said he’s never even talked to Dream before. Balor said when you’re talking best NXT Champion of all time, you’re looking at him. Balor told Dream to watch what he says or else he’ll get a date with the Prince. Dream said he fancies a date with a date with the Prince and he told the Prince to pick him up next week. Dream ended the promo with a snap of the fingers…
The commentators hyped Riddle and a Mystery Partner vs. Fish and Strong for after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: More good promo work on this show. Dream was good here and efficient with his words. A nice twist to pull Balor away from the UK picture and into a logical position here because Balor fancies himself as the best of all time, a title Adam Cole is flaunting. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Dream vs. Balor feud brew if they can’t get Walter to the US anytime soon.
Malcom Bivens was shown backstage cutting a promo about Matt Riddle. Bivens talked about having one of the strongest tag teams in the large country of India. Rinku and Saurav were behind bivens. They both spoke in their natural language to end the promo.
Tom Phillips hyped up three Cruiserweight Group matches for next week. Phillips noted that out of that set of matches, Drake Maverick has the most to prove (Ugh, check out Spud’s Twitter if you haven’t. A really emotional speech he gave after being put in the group of released wrestlers today.)…
Undisputed Era came out first. Riddle came out next with both title belts. Pete Dunne was on the big screen where he said he can’t help Riddle due to being stuck in UK. Dunne said he found a man who can break some jaws with Riddle, Timothy Thatcher…
6. Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher vs. “Undisputed Era” Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Riddle and Fish started out the match. Riddle kept trying to tell his Bobby Fish frying joke. Riddle then got a takedown on Fish. Riddle dominated the ground grappling. Fish ended up retreating to ringside heading into commercial.[c]
Riddle and Thatcher isolated Strong in their corner. Thatcher used some ground game on Strong. Thatcher locked Strong in a Bow and Arrow. Strong kicked out of a pin attempt. Thatcher used the rope for separation. Fish tagged in and dominated Thatcher. Fish hit Thatcher with a slingshot swanton for a two count. Fish and Thatcher traded advantages during the ground game. Riddle tagged in and both babyfaces did tandem offense. Riddle hit Strong with a Senton for a two count.
Riddle hit Strong with three consecutive Gutwrench suplexes. Thatcher gave Fish a suplex too. Fish grabbed Riddle by the foot and flipped Riddle on Strong. Fish ended up tripping up Thatcher at ringside. Strong hit Riddle with a Butterfly Suplex. Fish and Strong cut the ring in half on Riddle. Fish and Strong double teamed Riddle at ringside. Suddenly, they saw Dexter Lumis who had a light on him at ringside at the crowd area. He did flash his creepy glare.
Strong kept Riddle under control and hit Riddle with the Olympic Slam for a two count. Dexter Lumis remained at ringside.[c]
John’s Thoughts: Of all people, the empty arenas actually boost the stock of serial killer Dexter Lumis.
Strong and Fish continued to dominate Riddle. Phillips noted that Tommaso Ciampa will give his words on Johnny Gargano after this match. Fish and Strong continued to isolate Riddle. Riddle managed to get in Thatcher in for a hot tag who cleaned house with Belly to Belly suplexes. Thatcher gave Strong a series of stiff strikes. Thatcher caught Strong with a jump kick. Strong used the bottom rope to prevent Thatcher from locking in a Fujiwara armbar.
Thatcher smacked Strong to the mat with a stiff clubbing blow. Fish distracted Thatcher to prevent him from suplexing Strong. Fish tagged in and caught Thatcher with a flying shoulder block for a two count. Strong hit Thatcher with a knee for a two count. Riddle caught Fish with a Knee. Thatcher pulled Strong in to a Fujiwara for the submission win.
Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher defeated Undisputed Era via submission to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships.
John’s Thoughts: I was never the biggest fan of Thatcher initially because he was a bit boring when tag teaming with Walter back when Thatcher was in Imperium. Thatcher has gotten a lot more dynamic since then and he really won me over in his MLW run where he brought a good level of realistic grappling arts to the ring. That’s the talent MLW had a lot of and I really felt like AEW actually could have really benefited from having Thatcher because they are a bit low on more realistic wrestlers. That said, Thatcher has won me over and he’s a good addition to NXT.
[Overrun] They cut to Tommaso Ciampa sitting down in front of a camera at a backstage storage area. Ciampa said he’s tired of all this stuff with Johnny and Candice. Ciampa then congratulated Gargano for being the better man. Suddenly Ciampa was given a German Suplex off the storage crate and beat up off camera. The camera fell to the ground and caught Ciampa knocked out on the ground. You could then see a high heeled boot next to the camera (presumably Scarlett Bordeaux). Kevin Kross then crawled next to the fallen Ciampa and said “Tick tock” (which was his Lucha Underground catchphrase as The White Rabbit of Wonderland). The show ended…
John’s Thoughts: There we go, the dude’s finally doing stuff. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Killer Kross will definitely be a fun physical and psychological war if given the time (I wouldn’t mind a Killer Kross vs. Velveteen Dream psychological feud to harken back to the great Dream vs. Black program). I’m assuming Johnny and Candice are moving on now while Ciampa is easily transitioned to Kross. Get ready for great promos and good video packages.
This was a really good episode of NXT. Not sure if they really had to go “live”, but the overall show was balanced. They had good wrestling, good character development, and strong promos. The promos on this show were stronger than usual too. Charlotte Flair and Keith Lee’s video packages were particularly good. This also felt like a bit like the beginning of a new season with a lot of new feuds starting. Jason Powell will be by tomorrow with his NXT Hit List. I’ll be by tomorrow with my member’s exclusive NXT audio review.