Welcome to the weekly TJRwrestling review of WWE NXT. Last week, they had a great show, with the main event 6 man tag team match sending the show out on a strong note. The conclusion of the match also saw the return of the Velveteen Dream, who took out all the members of the Undisputed Era as the show came to a close. Dream had been out for a while due to an injury, so it was nice to see him make his return. They also had a very solid opening match between Angel Garza and Isiah “Swerve” Scott as well as a confrontation between Johnny Gargano and Finn Balor to add fuel to the fire for their match at Takeover: Portland this Sunday. Both John and I cover NXT each week and you can read every detailed review of the show here. Time for the go-home show before NXT Takeover: Portland!
WWE NXT from Full Sail University 2/12/2020
The show opens with a package recapping what happened last week. It showcased the face-off between Rhea Ripley, Charlotte Flair, and Bianca Belair as well as the main event, which included the return of the Velveteen Dream.
They are inside the NXT Arena as Mauro Ranallo welcomes us to the show. He runs down the matches for tonight, but as he is talking he is interrupted by the music by Roderick Strong. Strong runs down to the ring and grabs a mic. He says that this isn’t about the Undisputed Era or the North American Title, this is about the disrespect he felt from Velveteen Dream last week. He said that he wants an apology, but just as he does, he is interrupted by the music of Bronson Reed. Reed says that Strong has more than Velveteen Dream to worry about and that they are having a match right now.
Roderick Strong vs. Bronson Reed
Reed flies into the ring and both men start the match by exchanging blows. Reed gets the advantage and tosses Strong into the corner. He follows that up with a splash, followed by a few headbutts. Strong falls down on the bottom rope and Reed drives his knee into the neck of Strong. He pulls him out to the middle of the ring and hits a scoop slam, followed by an elbow. Strong fights his way out and hits an elbow and a strong shot to the face of Reed. Strong starts to chop the chest, but Reed fights out and hits some shots of his own. Both men continue exchanging blows until Reed gets the upper hand and knocks Strong to the mat. He pulls off his shirt and follows that up with a stiff shot to the shoulder. Strong gets back to his feet and fights out with some more chops to the chest. He gets Reed into the corner and climbs up to do some more damage, but Reed tosses him off and starts to choke him on the mat. Reed tosses Strong into the corner and hits a big splash. He whips Strong hard into the other corner and covers for a two count. He locks on a body lock in the middle of the ring which has Strong in a world of hurt. Strong makes his way back to his feet and fights off the hold. Strong comes off the ropes but Reed hits him with an elbow. He picks Strong up in a Delayed Suplex. Strong rolls to the outside to try and recover but Reed follows him and hits a senton from the apron as they go to the split-screen commercial break.
*Commercial Break* Reed tosses Strong back in the ring but he rolls out the other side. Reed follows him out and hits some chops, followed by a big headbutt. Strong recovers and Spears Reed into the stairs. He rolls back in the ring and starts to stomp on Reed as he rolls in behind him. Strong continues to hit some offense, but Reed fights back and hits a headbutt. He continues to work on Strong and knocks him on the mat and sits down on him for a two count. Strong gets back to his feet and hits a boot and an Enziguri. Strong picks Reed up and hits the Angle Slam for a two count. He locks on a chinlock as Reed tries to get back to his feet. Reed reverses it into a Belly to Back suplex as they come back to full screen.
Both men are down on the mat and fight to get back to their feet. Reed is the first one up and hits some shots before he hits an atomic drop. Strong goes into the corner and Reed hits a clothesline for a two count. Reed stalks Strong and attempts another suplex, but Strong fights out. He isn’t free for long as Reed hits him with an elbow and a King Kong Lariat for a two count. Strong fights his way back to the feet and comes off the ropes, but Reed hits him with a powerslam and lands on him with a senton. Reed climbs to the top but Strong cuts him off. Strong goes for a superplex but Reed fights him off. Strong hits an Enziguri and hits a big-time superplex and gets a near fall. Reed goes to the outside, but Strong is right there and hits a baseball slide. He tosses Reed back in the ring but just as he does a purple light comes on the ramp. Strong is distracted and as he turns around Reed hits a senton off the apron. Reed climbs to the top rope and goes for a splash but Strong counters with a knee to the face and picks up the win in about 13 minutes.
Winner: Roderick Strong
Match Rating: 3/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: The match as a whole was solid, with Strong getting the most he could out of a bigger opponent. Strong has the ability to elevate whoever he is in the ring with, and this was no different here. Bronson Reed didn’t have a bad outing, but his movement his limited due to his size. He did have some spots that showed athleticism but most of the match was pretty slow-moving. The crowd was hot and cold on it and really wanted to see Velveteen Dream make an appearance. Reed looked like he might have won multiple times, but Strong did what he had to pick up the win.
After the match, the Velveteen Dream showed up on the big screen. He asks Strong if he remembers the first time he met his wife, Marina because the Dream remembers. He talks about how the Undisputed Era took him out of action for an extended period and that he will get his revenge. He says no matter what Strong has a family and asks what he would do if anything happened to them? He told Strong not to worry because if anything ever happened to Strong, he would make sure to fill all of Marina’s dreams. He shows the airbrushed tights again that had Marina and their son on them and Strong is irate in the ring.
Collective Thoughts: That was a cool promo from Dream that felt personal. Dream going after the family of Strong isn’t anything new but is very effective in building the story between the two. The airbrushed tights are a tribute to Rick Rude, who used those tactics to get in the mind of his opponents. Solid promo work here.
The BROserweights are shown outside the performance center with the Dusty Cup trophy. Dunne asks Riddle how they are supposed to get the Dusty Cup to Portland since they can’t fly with it. Riddle says he has two words for him, “road trip”. Dunne and Riddle are in a car driving down the road before they get pulled over by the police. Riddle tells Dunne not to panic and let him do the talking. The car is shown being towed away and Dunne says this is the last time he lets Riddle do all the talking. Dunne asks how they are going to get to Portland now and Riddle says they will find a way. To be continued is shown on the bottom of the screen.
Angel Garza is being interviewed backstage ahead of his match tonight against Lio Rush. He said that he wants to regain the Cruiserweight Title since he never lost it in the first place. Lio Rush interrupts Garza and said that the man he is facing tonight isn’t the same man Garza beat for the NXT Cruiserweight Title the first time. Rush says that since he lost the title, he has been hungrier, faster and stronger and will regain the title that belongs to him. He leaves and Garza taunts him a little bit as they go to the ring for the next match.
Candice LaRae vs. Dakota Kai
This match is ahead of Kai’s upcoming street fight against Tegan Nox on Sunday at Takeover: Portland.
Kai comes off quickly and tries to get the early advantage, but LaRae counters with a Codebreaker. Kai goes into the corner and LaRae comes firing in but Kai rolls out of the way hits a boot to the face. Kai attempts another corner strike but LaRae comes back with an Enziguri. Kai rolls to the outside to regroup but LaRae follows her out with a suicide dive. LaRae gets back in the ring and tries to hit the ropes but Kai pulls her down by the ankles. LaRae remains in control by hitting Kai with a kick to the back of the head. LeRae follows that up with three more suicide dives to the outside. She rolls Kai back in the ring and climbs to the top and hits a middle dropkick and gets a two count. LaRae tries to keep the advantage, but Kai fights back and hits a series of kicks to the face. LaRae goes to the corner, but Kai follows her and works her boot onto her throat. LaRae fights back up and both women climb to the top rope. LaRae kicks Kai off and she lands on the apron. Kai comes back and hits a kick to the head and starts to choke her on the bottom rope. She pulls her in the ring and gets a two count. Kai misses a kick but comes back and hits a rebound one. She slams the should of LaRae into the corner post as they go to commercial.
Back from the break, LaRae is now on the offensive. She hits a big swinging neckbreaker and goes to follow it up with a moonsault but misses. LaRae isn’t down for long and hits Kai with a suplex. She follows that up by locking in the Gargano Escape. Kai fights to get to the ropes, but LaRae keeps pushing her away and gets her back to the middle of the ring. Kai tries again to no avail. Finally, Kai counters and gets LaRae in a pinning combination and pins her for the win in about 9 minutes.
Winner: Dakota Kai
Match Rating: 2.25/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: The match didn’t have much heat to it and was sloppy at times. LaRae hitting three consecutive suicide dives was a little bit much, and while they both tried hard, the match never got into second gear. A pretty underwhelming match overall, considering the talent of the women in it.
After the match, LaRae follows Kai to the outside. Kai falls down but gets back up and slams LaRae’s face into the ring bell. She picks the bell up and rams it into her midsection. Kai celebrates, but Tegan Nox jumps over the rail and attacks Kai as security breaks it up.
The announcers talk about a confrontation between Johnny Gargano and Cameron Grimes that has led to a match tonight.
Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes
This is Gargano’s first match back since the attack by Finn Balor that put him out of action for a couple of months.
The two men lock up with Gargano working the arm of Grimes, but he fights out and takes Gargano to the mat with a waistlock. Both men get to their feet and Gargano locks into a chinlock, but Grimes quickly gets to the ropes. Gargano takes Grimes down to the mat and locks in a submission hold, working on Grimes’s knees. Grimes tried to get the ropes and finally does forcing Gargano to break the hold. Both men are back to their feet and circle one another. Gargano hits a series of moves, eventually locking in the Gargano Escape. Grimes tries to fight out but Gargano keeps the pressure locked in. Grimes makes his way to his feet and as Gargano is coming off the ropes, Grimes hits a knee to the midsection. He follows that up with an armbar, while he is driving his fist into the temple of Gargano. Gargano fights his way out and hits a hurricanrana and follows that up with a dropkick and a clothesline that sends Grimes to the floor. He comes out on the apron and hits Grimes with a kick to the head and then a rolling senton to the floor. He sends Grimes into the guardrail and hits a series of chops to the chest. He rolls Grimes back in the ring and attempts a Slingshot DDT as he comes back in but Grimes catches him and tosses him aside. Gargano is in pain as they go to a commercial break.
Back from the break, both men are going back and forth with Grimes tossing Gargano hard into the corner. He follows that up with a bridging German Suplex for a near fall. Gargano slowly makes his way to the apron and goes for a slingshot spear, but Grimes catches him and tosses him down with a Gutwrench slam. He doesn’t have the advantage for long as Gargano hits a boot followed by a flatliner. Gargano takes the advantage and hits a suplex, and then hits a kick to the head. Gargano hits a huge clothesline. Grimes goes to the outside but comes back in and is met with a slingshot spear for a two count. Both men exchange maneuvers with Gargano coming out on top and rolling up Grimes for a two count. Gargano comes off the ropes but Grimes catches him and slams him down for a near fall. Grimes tosses Gargano into the ropes but Gargano comes back with a hard elbow. Grimes comes back with an elbow of his own but misses a kick as both men criss-cross in the ring with Grimes hitting the Collision Course for a two count. That was a cool looking spot. Both men trade a pair of superkicks and Gargano reverses another slam by Grimes into a DDT. Gargano sets up for a superkick but Grimes snuffs it out and hits one of his own. Grimes throws Gargano into the ropes but Gargano takes him down with a headscissors and locks in the Gargano Escape and Grimes immediately taps out. The match went for about 13 minutes.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Match Rating: 3.25/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: it was a hard-fought match between both men from start to finish. Gargano looked sharp in his first match back and was the right choice to go over before his match with Finn Balor on Sunday. Cameron Grimes hit a lot of offense in the match and didn’t look overmatched at all. Grimes‘ offense comes off slick and he hit a lot of big-time moves. Grimes tapping out almost immediately was a surprise, but it didn’t take away from the match.
They go backstage where Adam Cole is talking to Roderick Strong. He tells Strong not to worry about the Velveteen Dream because they will take care of him together. Cole says he is going to teach Kushida a lesson tonight, and that he is tired of people talking about Tommaso Ciampa and how he never lost the title. Cole promises to do anything he can to retain the title on Sunday.
The Broserweights are back and they are on a swan love boat and they are still contemplating how they are going to get the Dusty Cup to Takeover since their first plan of driving failed. Riddle then gets a bight idea and says he know how they are going to do it. Another “To Be Continued” is shown at the bottom of the screen.
Robert Stone Brand is shown in his office and he says that Kayden Carter got lucky last week when she beat Chelsea Green. He says that there will be a rematch next week and it’ll be a relaunch of their brand.
There is an announcement that next week will be the showdown between Roderick Strong and Velveteen Dream. I thought they might have added it to Takeover on Sunday, but I am alright with the match being held off until next Wednesday too.
Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza
The winner of this match will get a shot at Jordan Devlin and the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
The bell rings and Garza is already taking his pants off. Both men exchange blows quickly before Garza finishes it off by hitting a dropkick that knocks Rush to the mat. He pushes Rush into the corner and hits a chop. He toses Rush into the opposite rope and hits a big knee strike. He lifts him up the top rope and starts pummeling him with some shots to the head. He puts Rush in the Tree of Woe and hits a running knee strike and covers for a two count. Both men go out to the apron, with Garza hitting him with some boots and goes to powerbomb him, but Rush fights out. Rush kicks out the knee of Garza and goes for a moonsault but misses. Garza picks him up and slams him against the ring post and against the guard rail before hitting another knee strike as they go to a commercial break.
When they come back from commercial, Rush is on the offensive and hits a suicide dive under the second rope and follows that up with a corkscrew senton to the outside. He rolls Garza back in the ring and hits a kick to the back of the head for a two count. Rush continues to lay the kicks in but Garza catches the last one and the two exchange a series of reversals. Garza hits a knee strike, and Rush comes back with a kick of his own. They go back and forth before Garza hits a dropkick to the back of Rush. He follows that up with an inverted powerbomb and gets a two count. Garza is back to his feet and starts pulling Rush up to the top rope with him. Rush fights out with multiple headbutts that find their mark. Rush hits a top rope Ace Crusher, but Garza rolls out of the ring before he can make the cover. Rush climbs to the top and hits the Final Hour frog splash to the outside on Garza. That was a hell of a move. He rolls Garza back in the ring and climbs back to the top and goes for the Final Hour again but Garza gets the knees up and he rolls Rush up for a two count. Garza gets to his feet and hits a superkick that knocks Rush to the mat. He picks him up and goes to hit the Wing Clipper but Rush counters into a small package and picks up the win in about 10 minutes.
Winner: Lio Rush
Match Rating: 3/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: Both men put their work in this match. It was fast-paced from the get-go, and there was a lot of athleticism on display. These are the last two men to hold the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, so we shouldn’t have expected anything less. Lio Rush has been on fire ever since he took a hiatus from the company and has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with within the division. That frog splash to the outside was the spot of the match and showed how badly he wants another shot at the Cruiserweight Title. Garza is a good mix of athleticism and power, with both being on display in this match. Rush taking on Devlin for the title should be one to watch in the coming weeks.
After the match, Devlin comes out to congratulate Rush on his win but says that he is the next stop on his Cruiserweight tour. He tells Rush that he will show him why you never bet against the Ace.
We get a package showcasing the upcoming match at Takeover: Portland between Dominik Dijakovic and Keith Lee, which is narrated by Mark Henry. He hypes up the match and talks about how it is revolutionizing the battle of the big man.
Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett
Belair starts the match off quickly with a spear. She pounds and stomps on Garrett and hits a springboard moonsault. She picks her up in a chicken wing-type move and slams her into the corner. She brings her back and finishes her off with the KOD to pick up the win in about 45 seconds.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Match Rating: Squash
Collective Thoughts: A quick win for Belair ahead of her match for the NXT Women’s Title against Rhea Ripley this Sunday.
Post-match, Belair grabs the mic and talks about Ripley overlooking her. She dares Rhea to keep going it though because it’ll make it easier to take her title on Sunday. Rhea comes out and the two have a faceoff. Rhea said she isn’t overlooking her and that she sees her standing right in front of her and this Sunday she will go right through her. Belair takes a swing, but Rhea fights back. The two scuffle, with Belair hitting the KOD to end the segment.
Collective Thoughts: That was a good segment to build the final heat going into their showdown on Sunday. Belair has really grown on me as of late, so that match should be entertaining.
They are back with Riddle and Dunne who have found a private jet and are wheeling the trophy up to it to board. Dunne asks why they are taking a private jet, and Riddle replies that they can take better care of the Dusty Cup this way. Riddle and Dunne push the trophy into the luggage compartment and both climb in as well and pull the door shut. Triple H is shown getting into the plane and it takes off.
Ciampa is at the Performance Center watching footage of himself giving away the NXT Title and hugging Triple H right before he had neck surgery. He said that was the day he gave his life away. He said that he has come back faster and stronger than ever and that he isn’t scared of his match on Sunday for the NXT Championship. He said as he looks into his eyes on the video though, he sees a man with a lot of whats-ifs. What if he never for the chance to regain the title he never lost? What if he never had the chance to step foot back in the ring again? Ciampa says that now we have come full circle. He says that we are four days away from Takeover: Portland and that it is his shot at redemption. Ciampa says the only what-ifs now are what if Adam Cole walks out of Takeover as champion. Or what if he doesn’t? What if Tomasso Ciampa walks into Wrestlemania weekend carrying the gold with all the eyes watching? Ciampa says that the most dangerous men are those who have nothing to lose. He says that when you look into his eyes, that’s exactly what you’ll see he has as he walks off.
Collective Thoughts: That was an excellent promo. Ciampa talked about his struggle to get back to the top and the self-doubt that he always had that he never be able to come back. The intensity in his voice and the way he looked into the camera made you believe he was ready for a war on Sunday, and that’s exactly what I think we are going to get.
Adam Cole vs. Kushida
This match is not for the NXT Championship.
The two men lock up to start with Cole trying to work the arm of Kushida. Kushida comes back with a waistlock and hits some knee strikes to the head. He floats on Cole’s back, but Cole escapes and goes to the outside, where he is met with a baseball slide that knocks him to the floor. Kushida follows him out and continues pounding on Cole. He goes to throw Cole into the stairs but he reverses and tosses Kushida into them. Cole gets up on the apron and goes for a Panama Sunrise off the apron, but Kushida scouts it and counters it with an armbar. He rolls Cole back in the ring and hits a smash off the top. He hits Cole with an elbow, followed by another shot to the head. Cole gets back to his feet, but Kushida hits an armbreaker. Another kick to the side of Cole. Cole gets knocked to the apron and Kushida hits him with a headstand kick to the head. He bounces off the ropes and goes for another baseball slide, but Cole counters with a kick to the head as they go to a split-screen
*Commerical Break* Cole rolls him in the ring and hits a neckbreaker. He hits a couple of knees to the back and continues to punish Kushida. Cole picks him up and hits another neckbreaker and sits on the top rope. He jumps down and locks Kushida in a chinlock. Kushida tries to fight out and does, but Cole snuffs him out with a knee. Cole goes for a suplex but Kushida fights his way out and both men bounce off the ropes and hit a double crossbody that knocks both men to the mat. Kushida makes his way back to his feet as they go back to full screen.
Coles charges into the corner, but Kushida leaps over the top and hits a kick to the midsection. He follows that up with an armdrag and a dropkick to the head. Cole rolls to the apron, but Kushida is hot on his tail and goes to smash his head into the turnbuckle, but cole gets the foot up and both men go up to the top rope. Cole kicks Kushida off the top, but he comes back up and hits a huge DDT off the top rope. That was a hell of a spot. Kushida locks in an armbar but Cole quickly gets to the ropes. He hits Cole with a dropkick, and the two men exchange moves before Kushida kicks him in the head. Cole counters an armdrag by Kushida and hits a Shining Wizard for a two count. Both men make this way back to their feet and exchange blows in the middle of the ring. Cole hits the ropes but is met with a spinning elbow, but Cole comes back with a high knee strike followed bt a superkick. Cole comes off the ropes again but is met with another elbow. He picks Cole up for a suplex, but Cole reverses course and hits a shoulder breaker for a two count. Cole pulls the knee pad down and goes for the Last Shot, but Kushida ducks under. Cole comes back and hits a superkick for a two count. Cole climbs up the ropes and goes for the Panama Sunrise, But Kushida fights out and locks in an armbar. Cole reaches for the ropes, but Kushida rolls thru and has him back in the middle fo the ring. Cole gets out and both men exchange pin attempts but only get near falls. Kushida pulls Cole back to his feet and hits some kicks to the head. Kushida goes for a handstand elbow, but Cole catches him with a superkick to the back of the head for a two count. Cole comes back and hits the Last Shot and picks up the win in about 14 minutes.
Winner: Adam Cole
Match Rating: 3.25/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was an evenly fought match with Kushida getting a slew of offense in and looked good going against the NXT Champion. It wasn’t an incredible match, but it had a lot of cool spots and good fast-paced action. The DDT spot off the top rope was a really cool visual. Cole went for the Panama Sunrise multiple times but never connected with it but still came away with the win. Kushida used a lot of submission holds that really had Cole on the ropes. It was a competitive match to close the show. The question will be how much did this match take out of Cole ahead of his match with Ciampa on Sunday.
After the match, Cole is posing with the title in the ring, but soon after Ciampa’s music hits and he makes his way down to the ring. He stalks Cole around the ring and the two lock eyes. Ciampa gets into the ring, and both men have a staredown as the show goes off the air.
Overall Show Rating: 7 out of 10
It was another solid show from start to finish. This week seems to be more focused on the in-ring work, but there were a good bit of promos and packages as well. This was the go-home show for NXT Takeover: Portland so the idea was to build all of the hype for that show here. We had the interaction between Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley, which stirred the pot some more for their match, as well as Adam Cole and Tomasso Ciampa facing off to end the show. The opening match between Roderick Strong and Bronson Reed was solid with the focus being on Strong and Velveteen Dream which will take place next week on NXT. The cruiserweight match was a fast-paced back and forth affair, and Lio Rush really impressed me, but Garza wasn’t a slouch in his own right. Gargano’s first match back was smooth and it didn’t look like he missed a step since he has been out. Cameron Grimes put up a good fight, but Gargano going over was the right move. Overall, the show was very good and it got me that much more excited for NXT Takeover: Portland this Sunday.
We will have a TJRWrestling NXT Takeover Portland preview on Friday. This is the lineup.
* NXT Championship: Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa
* NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair
* Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano
* NXT North American Championship: Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic
* NXT Tag Team Championships: The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. The Broserweights (Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne)
* Street Fight: Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai
What did you think of NXT this week? Loved it? Hated it? You watch Dynamite instead? Either way, keep the conversation going over @collectiveheel on twitter and let me know your thoughts. Support the site. Support each other. I’ll be back soon enough with some more Collective Thoughts.