By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired December 9, 2020 on USA Network
[Hour One] Highlights from NXT Takeover WarGames 2020 aired to start out the show. The package ended with the imagery of a vulture with Karrion Kross saying the words “Tick Tock” in the background…
Finn Balor was already in the ring to start of the show. Balor reiterated the promo he did on Sunday where he talked about team sports being over and how the champion is back. Balor said he knows people in the back like him and hate him. Balor challenged anyone in the back to come out and challenge him, but before he could even complete a sentence Pete Dunne made his entrance. Dunne had a mic and talked about having a similar career path to Finn Balor in terms of being from the UK and making a name for himself in the US.
Dunne said it’s a matter of time before Balor and Dunne will face each other and the NXT Title will be Dunne’s. Kyle O’Reilly made his entrance to confront Dunne and Balor. O’Reilly talked about how UE won war games. O’Reilly then talked about how Balor technically won the match, yet O’Reilly forced Balor to eat his meals through a straw over the past few months. Damian Priest then interjected himself into the opening segment. Yo! Where’s Teddy Long At!?! Priest said that Balor vs. Priest for the title will be a marquee match. Dunne got in Priest’s face pointing out how Priest lost to lost to Leon Ruff recently.
Finn Balor quietly walked up the ramp while O’Reilly, Dunne, and Priest were trading childish jabs at each other. Priest then called out Balor for walking away. Balor noted that he will be defending the title at the New Years Evil show and it’s Regal’s job to pick who will end up getting that “Finn rub”. Karrion Kross’s entrance music then played. Scarlett [Bordeaux] then showed up to confront Balor. Balor said he guesses that Scarlett is here to say the words tick tock, but Balor’s message to Kross is that when Kross is ready, Finn is ready. Balor made his way to the back. Priest then called out Scarlett. He addressed her by her old Impact nickname as “The Smokeshow”. Priest said it always seems that Scarlett sends the messages while Kross stays in the car. Priest then called out Karrion Kross for a fight and told Scarlett to tell Kross to step up like a man. The show cut to commercial with the camera zooming into the Kross logo after Scarlett flashed a smile at Priest…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A WWE main roster-esque opening, notably Smackdown most of the 2000s sans Teddy Long. Kevin Owens made fun of this format a few weeks ago. That said, it was solid and I think the segment was carried by Priest and Balor looking like badasses that you can root for. O’Reilly and Dunne were solid playing their characters too, Dunne being the stoic badass while O’Reilly was the quirky goofball with an edge.
Pete Dunne was approached by the camera man backstage. Before Dunne can get out any words, he was attacked by Killian Dain was was trying to get revenge against Dunne for smashing his face with a car door…
Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett were calling the match from the WWE PC while Beth Phoenix called the match from home…
1. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Jake Atlas. Vic Joseph noted that Curt Stallion is the number one contender to the Cruiserweight Title (and I’m guessing this guy won the title shot on 205 Live, which NXT doesn’t even bother to give highlight packages for). Scott dominated the match early on. Atlas got a huracanrana in, but Scott immediately ducked a crossbody to regain control. Scott hit Atlas with a Paydirt for a two count. Atlas caught Scott with a back kick and superkick. Atlas hit Scott with a modified Falcon Arrow for a two count.
Scott recovered, planted Atlas, and hit Atlas with a House Call kick. Atlas tried to get a victory roll on Scott, but Scott countered to an armbar. Atlas escaped by putting Scott’s shoulders on the mat. Scott tried to roll up Atlas via a La Magistral cradle, but Atlas adjusted his weight to get Scott’s shoulders on the mat for the surprise win.
Jake Atlas defeated Isaiah Scott via pinfall in 4:26.
Atlas tried to ask Scott for a handshake, but Scott stood up while seething. Scott walked away form the handshake looking salty…
Tommaso Ciampa cut a promo from his usual truck container spot. Ciampa talked about how no one is safe now. He then addressed his match later with Cameron Grimes. He said Grimes is the squeekiest tool in the shed. Ciampa said Grimes might be loud because he’s either confident or insecure. Ciampa said insecurity sometimes disguises itself as confidence and we’ll see which one applies to Grimes tonight…[c]
John’s Thoughts: An interesting twist in terms of a potential heel turn for Isaiah Scott. To be honest, I think this is the way to go because he’s a pretty decent heel promo from what I saw him do in Lucha Underground. They also seem to be building up Jake Atlas a bit after that random post-match interview with McKenzie Mitchell a few weeks ago. This can be a fun program and I hear that Scott and Atlas have great chemistry in longer matches (I heard that they had a really good encounter in the San Franscisco APW indie promotion back in 2019 which you can watch on Youtube).
2. “The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. “Imperium” Marcel Barthel and Fabien Aichner vs. “Ever Rise” Chase Parker and Matt Martel. Ever Rise tried to run away at ringside, but they ended up getting left lying at ringside. Marcel Barthel and Zack Gibson then wrestled in the ring. The Ever Rise guys were shown hiding near the steps looking fine while the other teams wrestled. Matt Martel tried to get involved, but Gibson quickly shoved him back to ringside. GYV traded tags and tandem moves to keep Barthel under control. After Drake hit Barthel with a suplex, Matt Martel put the boots to Drake and Barthel. Martel tagged himself in. Martel hit Barthel with a senton for a two count.
Martel almost got a victory after hitting Drake with a double team Snake Eyes. Imperium hit Parker with a double dropkick to the head. Barthel hit Drake with a Suplex for a two count. Aichner baseball slid Gibson into Aichner’s suplex. Imperium hit Drake with a double team Wheelbarrow DDT. Parker almost stole the pin on Drake. The GYV’s recovered and hit Parker with the Ticket to Ride to give Drake the victory.
The Grizzled Young Veterans defeated Ever Rise and Imperium via pinfall in 7:07.
Wade Barrett teased a “Casualties of WarGames” video package after the break…
John’s Thoughts: An odd decision to put three heel teams against each other. These are also three teams that really need to establish characters and personalities. That said, I thought Ever Rise surprised me as the most entertaining part of this match. They reminded me of some of the fun and quirky teams of the Attitude Era. They were scrappy and shameless. That kinda worked. This tag team division still needs a lot of work though and NXT should take their time making it worth it to care about any of these tag teams.
A highlight Video Package aired with the wrestlers in the WarGames giving their thoughts on the match. It was noted that Bobby Fish had to reattach his triceps muscle after the match…
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Toni Storm asking her about betraying Ember Moon a few weeks before WarGames. Storm talked about how Storm came back for the NXT Women’s Championship and all Moon was doing was stealing her thunder. Io Shirai showed up and said now that War Games is over the title is her only problem. Shirai then said she simply doesn’t like Toni Storm. Right after saying that, she punched Toni Storm. Storm and Shirai ended up brawling from the backstage to the ring. Shirai was about to hit Storm with a moonsault but Storm rolled to ringside. Ember Moon showed up and tossed Storm into the steel steps. Io Shirai hit Toni Storm with the moonsault when Moon put Storm in the ring…
Tommaso Ciampa and Cameron Grimes were shown heading to the ring from different parts of the WWE PC…[c]
Cameron Grimes made his entrance followed by Ciampa’s entrance…
3. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Cameron Grimes. Ciampa took Grimes to the mat with an armbar. Grimes reversed the move into an ankle lock. Timothy Thatcher showed up at ringside, putting a chair to watch the match. Joseph noted that this was the same thing Ciampa did to Thatcher a few weeks ago. Grimes and Ciampa continued to stay pretty even heading into picture-in-picture commercial break. [c]
Grimes dominated Ciampa after a spinning side slam. The camera continued to show Thatcher watching from his seat at ringside. Ciampa rallied back with a series of lariats. Ciampa hit Grimes with a running knee in the corner for a two count. Vic Joseph noted the stiches in Thatcher’s ear which stemmed form the match on Sunday. Grimes caught Ciampa with a prone boot. Ciampa tried to hit Grimes with a crossbody but Grimes reversed it into his signature Spanish Fly Power Slam. Wade Barrett continued to note that he still doesn’t understand how that move works (Good point!). Grimes went to the top rope and had a chop battle with Ciampa.
Ciampa shoved Grimes to ringside. Suddenly some random dude ran out to the ring. Joseph noted that it was a guy name Tyler, I couldn’t get the last name. Ciampa tried to hit the random guy with the Willow’s Bell, but the referee told him that Tyler wasn’t his opponent and to stop. Grimes tried to take advantage of the distraction, but he ended up getting planted by the Willow’s Bell DDT for the loss.
Tommaso Ciampa defeated Cameron Grimes via pinfall in 10:49.
Ciampa then confronted Thatcher at ringside. Ciampa implied that Thatcher sent out one of his students to attack and Thatcher said he hand nothing to do with it. Ciampa walked to the back. Grimes walked up to Thatcher and acted like a southern goofball. Thatcher grabbed Grimes’s leg and left him lying by twisting the leg…
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Raquel Gonzalez. Gonzalez noted that she pinned the NXT Women’s Champion. Gonzalez then noted that Ember Moon put Dakota Kai out of action and that she was going to teach Moon a lesson…[c]
John’s Thoughts: It’s interesting that they’re continuing the Ciampa vs. Thatcher feud. The weird thing here is Thatcher never seems to ever beat anybody that isn’t an enhancement wrestler. Let’s see where they go but can they at least put a little bit of heat on Thatcher for once? Grimes is another interesting case. He kinda reminded me of Cody F’n Deaner in that interaction with Thatcher, being a southern goofball. The ironic thing is, Cody F’n Deaner is becoming more entertaining these days because Deaner took a serious turn over the past few weeks on Impact Wrestling. I hope Grimes takes a serious turn one of these days because Grimes has main event potential, as seen through all his competitive and well-worked matches with main event talent.
[Hour Two] They cut to the random lair of Xia Li, Boa, Shi Fu, and mystery woman. Xia Li was shown attacking a Wing Chun training dummy. Boa was shown getting whipped with a Singapore Cane by the Shi Fu. The Shi Fu was yelling at both Boa and Li during their training. The mystery person’s eyes were shown. This mystery person had face paint.
Wade Barrett said he can’t tell if this is Shaolin Monk training or absolute torture (I had the same thought)…
NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, Austin Theory, and Indi Hartwell made their entrance. Johnny Gargano was doing pelvic thrusts all the way to the ring. Gargano bragged about his and LeRae’s successes on Sunday. Gargano said he, LeRae, Theory, and Hartwell are “The Way”. Theory said like “The Milky Way”. Gargano shut up Theory for sounding like a dork and said he understands that Theory is just excited. Gargano bragged about being 3 time NXT North American Champion. Gargano told the ringside fans to shut up for interrupting him.
Gargano then had Indi Hartwell hand a covered gift for Candice. Gargano said he had the gift shipped overnight from Italy and it was expensive. Gargano asked Theory to make a drumroll sound but he couldn’t. Gargano said he should have practiced with Theory and instead they can use a drum sound effect. Gargano then revealed a Trophy with a green haired doll head on it, to represent Shotzi Blackheart. Gargano said the only trophy he needs is the title belt which he got with the help of “his boy” Austin Theory.
Damian Priest made his entrance. Priest congratulated Gargano for becoming champion. Priest then said that Theory’s reveal was a good reveal. Priest then said he wants to shove that pipe from sunday up Theory’s ass. Before Priest could make it to the ring, he was attacked by Karrion Kross. Kross ended up power bombing Priest through the floor at the side of the stage. The camera then followed Kross to the parking lot, where he got in the driver’s seat of his car and drove away with a laughing Scarlett Bordeaux…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Johnny Gargano continues to be one of the best quirky pest heels in WWE with a good amount of credibility. His weird suburban dad comedy routine was a bit rough at first, but he’s refined it and made it really fun. He had some fun moments with Theory there, making Theory the butt of his jokes. Theory was ok in his role as designated dork too. I like Priest coming out in this segment too, as it would have been odd to just see him going after the main title after he was screwed over by Gargano. Kross’s basic but effective return was solid too. I hope Priest isn’t getting called up to the main roster. When Karrion Kross kicked Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic’s asses, they ended up going to the main roster. Lee’s all over the place and Dijak is being a T-Bar now, which aren’t the best situation to be in.
McKenzie Mitchell asked Tyler Rust if he is working with Timothy Thatcher now. Before Thatcher could answer, Malcolm Bivens showed up and said he saw potential in Rust. Bivens then pulled Rust aside for a meeting…
4. Killian Dain vs. Pete Dunne. Dain dominated the beginning of the match with tackles in the corner. Dain caught Dunne with a pump kick in the ring and at ringside. Dain kept mentioning to Dunne that Dunne tried to end his career. Dain no-sold some punches but Dain grabbed Dunne by the neck. Dunne tossed Dain into the ringpost to push the momentum towards his side. Dunne curb stomped Dain’s face into the mat. Dain no-sold some shortarm boots from Dunne. Dain hit Dunne with an overhead Belly To Belly. Dain went back to gut punches on Dunne. Dunne did a backflip away from the corner and hit Dain with an Enzuigiri. Dunne hit Dain with a snap German Suplex and a hand stomp. The show cut to regular commercial.[c]
Dunne had Dain in a side headlock back from break. Dain suplexed Dunne to escape the hold. Dunne pulled the rope to send Dain to ringside. Dain got on the apron and hit Dunne with a Uranage. Dain hit Dunne with a Power Bomb and elbow drop for a two count. Dunne reversed the One Winged Angel into an armbar. Dain reversed the armbar into a deadlift power bomb. Dain hit Dunne with a shotgun dropkick. Dunne avoided a cannonball in the corner from Dain. Dain hit Dunne with a SuperFisherman Suplex for a two count. Dunne hit Dain with an enzuigiri but Dain came right back at Dunne with a lariat. Dain hit Dunne with a running senton.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch ran out to ringside, but they were chased off by Drake Maverick and a steel chair. Maverick was cheering on Dain, but was blindsided by Lorcan and Burch. Dain beat up and chased away Lorcan and Burch. Dain reentered the ring, right into a punt kick by Dunne. Dunne hit Dain with the Bitter End for the win.
Pete Dunne defeated Killian Dain via pinfall.
Burch and Lorcan celebrated with Dunne at the top of the ramp…
McKenzie Mitchell asked Leon Ruff if Ruff was worried about next week’s tag team match between Ruff and Priest vs. Theory and Gargano because of what happened to Priest earlier in the night. Theory and Gargano showed up with Gargano making fun of Priest getting injured and it potentially being a handicap match next week. Gargano and Theory left. Kushida then showed up and offered to be Ruff’s partner next week, which Ruff accepted. They shared a fist bump…
John’s Thoughts: A fun match. This was the first time in a long while where we saw Dain have a long and competitive match against on of the top wrestlers in NXT. Dain really shined here and I hope he’s allowed to wrestle in more competitive matches down the road. It’s just been a while because he’s been the heel gatekeeper who loses most of the time to anyone who means something in NXT. It’ll be interesting to see where Lorcan, Burch, and Dunne go now if Pat McAfee is going to be off television?
Raquel Gonzalez made her entrance followed by Ember Moon’s entrance. Ember Moon still has a stupid fluffy white tail before her matches…
5. Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon. Gonzalez no-sold a low kick early on by Moon. Moon went for a Codebreaker, but Gonzalez caught moon and tossed her aside. Gonzalez womanhandled Moon around the ring. Gonzalez tossed Moon across the ring several times. The second toss had Moon doing a corkscrew spin in the air. Moon went for an armdrag, but Gonzalez held strong. Gonzalez slammed Moon to the mat and hit Moon with a series of elbows. Moon got a breather after dropkicking Gonzalez at ringside. Moon tackled Gonazlez off the apron, heading into picture-in-picture. [c]
Gonzalez had Moon in a Gory Special. Moon escaped, but she was lifted by Gonzalez. Moon hit Gonzalez with a jawbreaker. Moon ran right into a big boot by Gonzalez. Moon got a bit of momentum after an STO into the buckle followed by a Tornado DDT. Moon dodged a few big boots. Moon hit Gonzalez with a jump kick and got Gonzalez to a knee. Moon hit Gonzalez with a backflip into an elbow. Moon hit Gonzalez with a pendulum DDT for a two count. Moon shoved Gonzalez into the announce table. Moon was trying to scale the pillars next to the announce table. Gonzalez yanked Moon down and lawn darted her into the ringpost. Gonzalez got a nice nearfall on Moon. Moon sidestepped Gonzalez, sending Gonzalez into the ringpost. Moon got a nearfall on Gonzalez.
Moon went for an Eclipse, but Gonzalez caught her mid-move. Gonzalez gave Moon a clothesline. Moon reversed a Uranage into a victory roll. Gonzalez went back to and hit Moon with the Uranage for the win.
Raquel Gonzalez defeated Ember Moon via pinfall in 13:07.
Rhea Ripley ran out to clear Raquel Gonzalez from the ring. Gonzalez stared at Ripley from the ramp to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A well-worked match with the right person going over. They had Raquel Gonzalez go over clean at War Games to presumably move her up to the main event, so this is exactly the way to do it. Moon looked very credible and plucky, but Gonzalez was just too powerful. It’s always refreshing to see heels go over clean. I don’t mind Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez continuing to mix things up because at least it means Rhea Ripley isn’t going to end up on the main roster and be underutilized like Mia Yim, Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, and others. Seriously when poor Dijak gets stuck with a lame ass name/gimmick that sounds like TeaBag, you want to stay the hell away from the main roster.
NXT continues to put on strong shows, but at the same time they aren’t really giving viewers any huge hooks and surprises. AEW has that going over the past few weeks with Sting, Kenny Omega, Don Callis, in addition to their strong matches that they put out weekly. NXT is building towards the big show on January. They’re doing the usual good job with their story development, they have a handful of wrestlers coming back from injury, and we know they can deliver on big show; but at the same time I think NXT really needs to throw out some big surprises and big names in order to swing some momentum on their end in the wednesday ratings battle. I’ll have more thoughts on NXT in my member’s exclusive audio review which should be available to dot net member tomorrow.