By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired November 18, 2020 on USA Network
[Hour One] Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary. Alicia Taylor introduced Leon Ruff as the new NXT North Amercian Champion. Ruff made his entrance looking hyper-ecstatic. A highlight package of last week’s North American Championship aired.
Johnny Gargano marched out and yelled for the highlight package to stop. Gargano accused Ruff for being a pawn in Damian Priest’s plan to make Gargano look like a fool. Gargano and Ruff met in the ring with Ruff holding up the title in Gargano’s face. Gargano said Ruff is not a real champion and is a joke…
1. Leon Ruff vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship. Gargano dominated Ruff early on with tackles in the corner.Ruff fought out of the corner with chops and punches. Ruff caught Gargano with a forearm. Ruff countered a rollup into a handstand kick. Ruff hit Gargano with a Rey Fenix style tightrope huracanrana. Russ (barely hit) Gargano with a senton to the outside, which Wade Barrett noted didn’t hit. Gargano reversed a Crucifix Driver with a lariat. Joseph noted that Ruff won the title last week off the driver.
Gargano lawn darted Ruff into the second buckle twice. Beth noted that longer matches have favored Johnny Gargano throughout his career. Damian Priest appeared on the stage to distract Gargano. Gargano was distracted. Ruff rolled up Gargano for a nearfall. Ruff missed a Senton Bomb. Gargano planted Ruff with a power bomb. Gargano hit Ruff with One Final Beat. Priest pulled Ruff to ringside. Priest told Ruff, “Sorry kid”, as Priest clocked Ruff with a right hand punch. Gargano wins via DQ.
Johnny Gargano defeated Leon Ruff via DQ in 4:50. Leon Ruff retains the championship.
Cameron Grimes was doing his confident strutting backstage. Grimes talked about figuring out how to hide Lumis’s scary face by putting a bag on it. Grimes said after he wins tonight he’s going to the moon….[c]
John’s Thoughts: More fun stuff involving Gargano, Priest, and Ruff. Gargano continues to do some fine work as a douchey heel. It makes total sense for Priest to terrorize Gargano given how Gargano screwed Priest out of the title, and it’s fun seeing Leon Ruff utilized as the conduit for Priest’s revenge. Every player gains here. Gargano actually came out of the match looking strong in the ring by dominating the match one-sided. Ruff looked good on his end as the flukey underdog and conduit for Priest’s revenge. The person who gains the most is Priest who is coming off as a very affable and friendly babyface.
Rhea Ripley was shown walking in the PC Parking Lot.
Cameron Grimes made his entrance. The commentators noted that the referee for the next match is the “Zombie Referee”…
2. Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis in a Blindfold Match. Grimes sold fear by refusing to look Lumis in the eyes before the match. Grimes tried to attack Lumis before putting on his blindfold after Lumis did for his. Grims stated “If I put that on, I can’t see!”. Grimes put on the blindfold and was stumbling and bumbling around the ring, almost beating himself up. Lumis just stood like a statue in the center of the ring. Grimes then went to the usual blindfold spot of playing marco polo with the crowd. Grimes ended up accidentally punching the referee and putting the boots to him. REF BUMP?!?
Grimes took off the mask and noticed he beat up the ref. Grimes then went for a Cave In on Lumis but Lumis sensed it coming and clocked Lumis with a right punch. Grimes then accidentally pulled off the blindfold off of Lumis. Both men could see now and Lumis beat up Grimes around the ring. Grimes ran to ringside to escape a Lumis Kata Gatame attempt. Lumis caught up to Grimes and tossed Grimes and tossed him several times into the plexiglass at ringside. Grimes then ran off and I’m assuming the match was a no contest.
Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis ended in an apparent no contest in 4:19.
William Regal was berating Damian Priest for getting involved in Leon Ruff’s title defense. Priest told Regal that it was all just a joke. Leon Ruff confronted Priest for saying that he was a joke. Priest tried to say that he didn’t mean that. Ruff told Regal that if he isn’t able to defend the title he shouldn’t be champion. Priest apologized to Ruff again. Ruff then told Priest that he’ll prove that he’s not a joke. Ruff slapped Priest before walking off. Regal said that it serves Priest right…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Eh, not the best Grimes and Lumis segment. I’m assuming we’re getting more. The only thing really keeping this program fun is Grimes and his over-the-top antics, and even then I’m hoping he turns the corner into serious (with comedic elements) soon. What I did really like was the Priest, Ruff, and Regal segment. Priest is really coming off as an affable person and I thought he looked good in trying to not offend Ruff. Ruff showed some good personality in that segment too and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.
A Shotzi Blackheart promo vignette aired. Shotzi Blackheart was in a car garage with power tools. She hyped up an upcoming match against Candice LeRae on December 6 at the War Games show. Blackheart was sawing things with a circular saw…
Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell got televised entrances while their opponents were already in the ring…
3. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell vs. Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro. Hartwell and Carter started the match. Catanzaro and Carter traded quick tags to keep Hartwell under control. Catanzaro and Carter hit Hartwell with basement tandem moves leading to a slingshot senton for a two count. LeRae tagged in. LeRae hit Catanzaro with a gutbuster after Catanzaro did a handstand. Hartwell tagged in and the heels isolated Kacy in their corner. Carter tagged in and gave LeRae clubbing blows to the chest. Carter hit LeRae with a Flatliner. Carter dumped Hartwell to ringside.
Carter hit LeRae with a superkick for a two count. LeRae pulled Carter’s hair and hit Carter with a Brainbuster. Hartwell made sure Catanzaro was kept at ringside. LeRae hit Carter with the Wicked Step-sister for the victory.
Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell defeated Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro via pinfall in 4:30.
An Arturo Ruas return vignette aired saying he was returning after the commercial…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A basic enhancement match that showcased the new LeRae and Hartwell duo. Hartwell only got limited time here but I thought she looked good now that she’s being featured in a bigger spot. But hey! What I’m more excited for is the return of Arturo Ruas. This guy is someone who has really won be over after he was sent down to EVOLVE for some seasoning. I really like his hybrid capoeira, Taekwondo, Karate, and BJJ fighting style and how he integrates it into the kayfabe world of pro wrestling. If this guy can pull it all together I think that he might end up being the next big thing in pro wrestling. I’m not joking.
Io Shirai was shown entering the WWE PC from the parking lot…
Arturo Ruas was already in the ring and his opponent was Kushida…
John’s Thoughts: Welp, I have a feeling that my “next best thing” might get his ass kicked.
4. Arturo Ruas vs. Kushida. Kushida and Ruas traded ground chain wrestling. Kushida escaped a Ruas Kimura attempt. Ruas got Kushida back under control with forearms and elbows. Ruas locked Kushida in a fujiwara armbar. The commentators brought McKenzie Mitchell into the feed who said that Finn Balor wasn’t at the PC yet and she’ll give the NXT viewers an update when she hears of it. Ruas slammed Kushida down for a two count. Kushida got to a vertical base and hit Ruas with a dropkick.
Kushida hit Ruas with his signature cartwheel dropkick combo. Ruas kicked out at two. Kushida locked Rusa in a body scissors Kimura. Ruas countered into a Surfboard, but Ruas used the jackknife position to get Ruas’s shoulders on the mat for the pinfall win.
Kushida defeated Arturo Ruas via pinfall in 4:22.
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Toni Storm and Embet Moon about facing Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai. Both women talked about looking forward to facing Gonzalez and Kai. Storm tried to bring up possibly going against Moon en route to the Women’s Championship. Moon said they can worry about the championship after they pick up a win tonight…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A nice win for Kushida, but it still looks like NXT doesn’t know what to do with him yet. I have a feeling they were building him up for a match against Finn Balor, which would have been built around the two former Junior Aces of New Japan, but the Balor injury put that on hold. They are keeping Kushida strong though. Hopefully we get good news and a short timetable tonight for the Balor injury.
A hype vignette aired where NXT wrestlers and NXT coaches gave their predictions for the Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley match. Paul Levesque’s pick was Rhea Ripley…
Gonzalez and Kai were out first with Storm and Moon out after. Moon still wears a badass jacket with an out of place floofy white tail before the match…
5. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez vs. Toni Storm and Ember Moon. Gonzalez shoved Storm to the mat early in the match. Kai tagged in and hit Storm with a Face Wash into the bottom buckle. Kai choked Storm with a boot against the turnbuckles. Kai picked up a two count. Storm tripped up Kai with a dropkick and followed up with a float over suplex for a two count. Moon tagged in and gave Kai a lariat. Moon dropkicked Gonzalez and the babyfaces dumped Gonzalez to ringside. The show cut to PIP commercial.[c]
[Hour Two] Storm was getting womanhandled by Gonzalez, but was able to hit Gonzalez with a huracanrana. Moon got the hot tag and cleaned house. Moon hit Gonzalez with a Magnum in the corner. Kai lured Moon to ringside. Gonzalez flattened Moon with a lariat at ringside. Gonzalez gave Moon a flapjack on the apron for a two count in the ring. Gonzalez locked Moon in a butterfly Gory Special. Moon flipped out and dumped Gonzalez to ringside. Gonzalez ran right back in the ring and gave Moon the Pounce for a two count.
Moon was able to tag in Storm after hitting Kai with a headscissors takedown. Storm hit Kai with a series of German Suplexes. Storm hit Kai with a hip attack into the bottom buckle. Storm hit Kai with a fisherman suplex. Gonzalez broke up the pin. Moon planted Gonazlez with a tornado DDT. Kai hit Moon with a superkick. Kai and Storm took each other out with a lariat. Vic Joseph noted that the NXT Women’s division was the best in pro wrestling.
Storm caught Kai with a Yakuza Kick. Gonzalez tossed Storm into the ringpost. Moon gave Gonzalez a suicide dive into the announce table. Kai tried to take advantage of the staggered Storm, but Storm rolled up Kai for the win.
Toni Storm and Ember Moon defeated Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez in 12:06.
Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell ran out to beat up Moon and Storm. Storm and Moon were tossed back in the ring. Kai and Gonzalez ended up leaving Moon and Storm lying after hitting their finishers. Joseph noted that this was LeRae recruiting for her War Games team (no duh…).
Pat McAfee, Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch, and Pete Dunne were shown entering the PC from the parking lot…
Io Shirai was stretching backstage…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Now that was a fun tag team match with a lot of good drama and action. I felt like Storm was the one who needed the win the most because she has been a bit player in recent weeks. What was a bit eye-rolling was LeRae and Hartwell showing up to lead to the most impromptu setup for a War Games match. These quick War Games builds with no build always feel underwhelming. I’m assuming Undisputed Era is facing McAfee and Friends at War Games, and at least that has been brewing over the last few weeks.
Highlights from Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly aired. Vic Joseph hyped Finn Balor appearing later tonight…
6. Timothy Thatcher vs. August Grey. August Grey was already in ring, looking like he was a actor who did porn in the 80s. Grey shook up Thatcher with punches. Grey rolled up Thatcher with a backslide for a two count. Thatcher took down Grey with an aggressive hip toss. Thatcher locked Grey in a Cravate followed up by a European Uppercut. Thatcher put the boots to Grey in the corner. Thatcher hit Grey with a suplex for a two count. Thatcher beat up Grey with methodical offense. Grey tried to rally back, but to no avail.
Thatcher locked Grey in a double wrist lock on the ground. Thatcher prevented Grey from getting up by punching Grey in the ribs. Thatcher tripped Grey with a knee to the hamstring. Grey used boots to fend off Thatcher. Grey hit Thatcher with a few punches. Grey caught Thatcher with a superkick. Thatcher swatted a flying Grey. Thatcher then hit Grey with a Butterfly Jackhammer. Thatcher locked Grey in a Guillotine Choke for the tapout.
Timothy Thatcher defeated August Grey via submission in 2:24.
Thatcher said that the next lesson in Thatch as Thatch Can is to not pick a fight with someone you can’t beat. Thatcher went back to choke out Grey, but Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance. Thatcher and Ciampa stood face-to-face in the ring. Thatcher backed down saying “I have no problem with you”. Ciampa continued to glare at Thatcher as Thatcher backtracked to the back…
Damian Priest was shown heading to the ring…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Hopefully this was the last we’ve seen of Thatcher vs. Grey. It was okay, but Thatcher should be doing bigger and better things while Grey needs to develop a gimmick and presence. I also hope he isn’t bringing the 70s gimmick to NXT. Unfortunately for Thatcher, I don’t see him getting a win in a feud against Tommaso Ciampa.
McKenzie Mitchell asked Ciampa about what he went to the ring for. Ciampa said “I think I made it obvious, I want to fight Thatcher”. McKenzie pointed out to the camera that Ciampa was pretty clear about what he wants…
Damian Priest made his entrance, but Johnny Gargano attacked Damian Priest during Priest’s entrance. Priest and Gargano brawled in the ring. Gargano retreated to ringside after eating a kick combo from Priest slammed Gargano on the announce table. Gargano recovered and leapt off the table onto Priest with a flying forearm. Priest recovered and tossed Gargano back in the ring. Leon Ruff ran out and gave Priest a dropkick and Gargano a huracanrana. Preist tried to go after Ruff, but Ruff ducked Priest.
Ruff dropkicked Gargano into Priest to send priest to ringside. Ruff then dumped Gargano on top of Priest. Ruff posed in the ring with the North American Championship. Gargano and Priest then both went to attack Ruff, who ran to the top of the ramp. Ruff’s theme played to close the segment right as Gargano remembered that he was supposed to be enemies with Priest…
Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett checked in from ringside. Joseph noted that the Undertaker Last Ride Documentary was happening on USA after the show. Wade Barrett noted that he has to miss a week and that Kevin Owens will be the guest commentator of next week’s NXT Show…
Vic Joseph recapped last week’s Boa and mystery man segment. Joseph noted that the mystery man was called “Shi Fu” by Boa, which translates to “master”…
William Regal was shown at the front door of Boa who opened up the door looking disheveled and in a hoodie. Regal told Boa to get back to work at the PC. Boa said he can’t because “she’s coming”. Regal said Xia Li hasn’t been back for two weeks. Boa kept saying that it wasn’t Xia and that “She’s coming”…
The commentators hyped Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley heading into commercial…[c]
John’s Thoughts: More good stuff from Gargano, Ruff, and Priest. They have been the highlights of the show with their ongoing antics. The Boa thing is still strange, but still intriguing. We know that “she” is coming, probably in addition to the “master” guy? Hmmm. She? Just because pro wrestling likes to put people of ethnic background together, is Karen Q close to returning? She’s actually pretty solid and at one point the unofficial face of Women of Honor. She also can speak English which would help out Boa and Xia. I wonder if she can speak Chinese though. I say this as a person who lost the ability to speak Mandarin due to lack of practice.
Vic Joseph hyped up War Games for December 6…
The camera caught up with Leon Ruff and William Regal backstage. Ruff told Regal that everyone thinks he’s a joke, so he wants to face both Gargano and Priest. Ruff walked off…
Entrances for the Women’s Championship match aired. Vic Joseph noted that this match was unique in that the Champion called out the Challenger. Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the title match…
7. Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship. Shirai used her agility to avoid Ripley early on, hitting Ripley with a Shotgun Dropkick. Ripley used her power to dominate the next set of reversals. The audio cut to McKenzie Mitchell who said Finn Balor was arriving in a few minutes. Ripley caught Shirai with a forearm when Shirai went for a dive. Ripley hit Shirai with a electric chair drop on the apron heading into picture-in-picture.[c]
Shirai fought out of a bodyscissors with forearms. Ripley avoided a meteora in the corner. Ripley hit Shirai with a reverse back suplex. Ripley countered a rollup into a Deadlift Vertical Suplex for the two count. The camera showed that Finn Balor has finally arrived. Shirai slipped out of a Superplex attempt and hit Ripley with a Super German Suplex. Shirai hit Ripley with a rising palm and double stomp. Shirai got a two count after a shotgun dropkick. Ripley escaped a Crossface and hit Shrai with a Yakuza Kick. Shirai twisted Ripley’s arm and slammed Ripley’a arm to the mat.
Shirai gave Ripley’s left shoulder a dropkick. Shirai continued to torture Ripley’s left elbow and shoulder. Shirai did a twisting shoulder slam to Ripley (which Ripley fell into in a scary way). Shirai slammed Ripley into the steel steps heading into picture-in-picture.[c]
Ripley gave Shirai a superplex for a two count. Ripley and Shirai traded strong style forearms. Ripley came back with clinch knees. Ripley dropkicked Shirai’s shoulder. Ripley locked Shirai in the reverse Texas Cloverleaf. Ripley used a Giant Swing to transition to a grapevined reverse Cloverleaf. Shirai got to the bottom rope for the break. Ripley went for the Rip Tide, but Shirai countered into a Juji Gatame.
Ripley tried to deadlift out, but Shirai dragged Ripley back down. Ripley got her foot on the bottom rope for the break. Shirai missed two 619’s. Shirai clocked Ripley with a rising palm. Shirai hit Ripley with the 619. Shirai hit Ripley with a missile shotgun dropkick for a two count. Shirai caught Ripley in the corner with the meteora knees. Shirai rolled away from Shirai’s signature moonsault. Ripley took Shirai inside-out with a lariat.
Shirai reversed a Rip Tide into a Spike DDT. Ripley recovered on the apron and Shirai didn’t relent by diving through the ropes and hitting Ripley with a Sunset Flip from the apron and through the announce table. Ripley broke the referee’s count at 9. Ripley rolled right into Io Shirai’s finisher, the moonsault, to give Io Shirai the clean win.
Io Shirai defeated Rhea Ripley via pinfall in 22:03 to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
[Overrun] Highlights from the match aired.Shirai and Ripley hugged at ringside. Shirai posed at the top of the stage. With no transition, Finn Balor entered the ring. Balor congratulated Io Shirai for defending the championship, but said it was time to get down to business. Finn Balor talked about how he defended the NXT Championship with his jaw broken in two places. Balor said he now has three plates in his jaw that say he’s a bad son of a bitch. Pat McAfee and his crew made their entrance to cut off Balor’s promo.
Pat McAfee bragged about everything his group has done since Balor has been out injured. McAfee, Dunne, Lorcan, and Burch then surrounded the ring. McAfee demanded that Balor hand the title to his crew or else end up like everyone else who was crushed by his crew. Balor then said it’s easier for the mice to run around when the cat is away, but the cat is back, and look what the cat dragged in. The lights went out for a bit and Undisputed Era all made their entrance, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish. Both four men teams brawled to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A lot of great stuff in that final half hour. First of all, stellar women’s championship match with Io Shirai coming out looking the best she’s look during her NXT Women’s Title run. Kudos to Ripley for her strong selling and storytelling which made Shirai look good while also keeping her strong. This was definitely their best match out of their series. The end of the match had me nervous though. Nervous of the fact that we might have seen a Rhea Ripley swan song in NXT. Main Roster callups should be celebrated, but you know how WWE tends to screw up can’t-fail callups. Heck, they didn’t do a strong job building up Ripley last time when she was featured in main roster programs en route to WrestleMania against Charlotte. Ultimately, I hope Ripley is sticking around, but at the same time don’t mind if she’s heading up for the bigger paychecks.
I also assume Finn Balor close to being wrestle-ready. It’s cool that they didn’t have to drop the title and he looked good from what we saw in the ring. Maybe they can even get a few more weeks without him wrestling to allow that jaw to heal up more. Pat McAfee continues to be a nice heel agitator on the mic. This NFL Punter might have found a way to surpass a lot of NFL stars in terms of longevity in terms of jumping right into pro wrestling with main event mic work (and damn good in-ring work too). Looking forward to more UE vs. McAfee and friends. This was a top notch episode of NXT with great stuff all across the board. I’ll be able to talk about those parts with Dot Net Members when I deliver my Member’s Exclusive Audio Reiview.