Triple H offered an open invitation to both the Raw and Smackdown rosters on Monday night. Both rosters responded. The opening of the show had William Regal standing outside of an unmarked NXT door. The door opened and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch came out. She got a big pop from the crowd.
Becky has always spit fire on the mic. When she entered the ring, she called out both Bayley and Shayna Baszler. The NXT arena was split between cheering for their NXT roster, and cheering for The Man. Rhea Ripley entered with a mic in hand to challenge Becky Lynch. This is a tremendous opportunity for Rhea Ripley to be standing toe to toe with a Wrestlemania main eventer. All this because NXT went to USA and Triple H has been stuck providing the entire storyline for both Takeover and Survivor Series.
Becky Lynch vs. Rhea Ripley
The action in this match went quickly to a PiP style ad break. Rhea Ripley was in full control during the break, which led me to believe she would be getting the fall. Silly me for thinking this match would get a clean finish. Ripley and Lynch did have some solid back and forth during the second half of the contest. Despite the post match interruption, both Lynch and Ripley left me wanting to see more.
Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir eventually did interrupt the match. They tried to use their numbers against Ripley and Lynch in a blindside attack, but Lynch and Ripley would prevail. Lynch and Ripley stand tall after the scuffle. Does anyone else find it odd that Lynch and Ripley were fine standing next to each other after the match? They were both at each other’s throats seconds prior, but after Shayna was taken care of they could care less about each other.
Match Result: Double disqualification
Kona Reeves and Matt Riddle were scheduled to have a match, but while Reeves was entering the ring, Ricochet surprised Reeves with a dropkick. Ricochet was met with a huge pop from the crowd. Riddle still entered the ring, ready to fight anyone.
Matt Riddle vs. Ricochet
Riddle and Ricochet put on five of the most electrifying minutes a wrestling match can offer. Riddle’s background in MMA and Ricochet’s ability to do the unimaginable made for a solid pair.
The offense was relentless, hard-hitting and the crowd was really into it. It would be a huge mistake not to explore a future rivalry between Riddle and Ricochet. Despite both being over as babyfaces, the match (or matches) would provide enough entertainment that a story wouldn’t be necessary for an audience to receive it.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro interrupted the match wearing their blue Smackdown FOX t-shirts. I don’t think I can ever recall a time when Shinsuke wasn’t wearing leather from head to toe. Instead, he was dressed in dancer pants, while Cesaro looked like the last pick in the draft. The interruption from Smackdown led to a botched roll-up attempt by Riddle. Riddle did get the pin, but the action wasn’t over.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Ricochet launched himself off of the top rope, over the guard rail, into Cesaro. Ricochet is absolutely insane. Roderick Strong attacked Shinsuke Nakamura when he was going for his Kinshasa on Riddle. On paper, the A.J. Styles/Roderick Strong/Shinsuke Nakamura match sounds great, but this has been built up like a match they should cut to save 20 minutes off of the show. Riddle took care of Strong, but was immediately attacked again by Finn Balor.
Balor and Riddle threw some shots at each other, but when Balor went for his brainbuster, Riddle hit him with a ripcord knee strike. Riddle stood tall after the match. I’m excited for the match between Balor and Riddle. They both hit hard and put on impressive matches. Give them 12 minutes and no interruptions, please.
The Revival vs. The Undisputed Era
The Revival’s music hit and the NXT crowd responded with a huge pop. They were into this match as soon as Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder entered the arena. This entrance must’ve been therapeutic for the Revival. They recently lost their tag team belts and have had some less than stellar storylines in 2019. If this match is any indication of what type of tag team matches NXT could look like on a week to week basis, then NXT needs to create some tag teams quickly. This match from start to finish was completely entertaining. It’s nice to see The Revival get some time in the ring, because they, along with the Undisputed Era, know how to put on a good show.
The match itself went over 20 minutes. There were great spots from both teams as well. The Revival paid tribute to their match against DIY by performing their version of ‘meeting in the middle’ to Kyle O’Reilly. Bobby Fish took most of the beating for his team. He was hit with the Revival’s Shatter Machine, and later drew blood on a botched throw. Full Sail Arena chanted “Tag Team Wrestling” throughout this match, as almost a middle figure to the lack of attention given to the tag teams on Raw and Smackdown. NXT has produced some great tag teams over the years, but has recently lost touch with the tag team division. Can you remember the last time Fish and O’Reilly had a challenger for their belts?
The finale of this match had Scott Dawson alone in the ring screaming “kiss my ass” as Fish and O’Reilly performed their ‘total elimination’ on him. The Undisputed Era got the 1-2-3 and everyone watching this match got a treat.
Winners: Undisputed Era
There was a video promo for the women’s WarGames with the band Poppy singing the song “I Disagree.” The setup for the women’s WarGames has been a bit sloppy since the first announcement. Why would Shayna Baszler pick two women who have all recently gone after her belt, to be on her team? I understand getting bigger names involved to sell the PPV, but every competitor dropping their quest for the belt to be buddies with half the roster for one match seems extremely short-sided. The match will surely be visually entertaining, but it is becoming more of a match for match’s sake, rather than having a deeper meaning behind it.
Dakota Kai vs. Kay Lee Ray
Kay Lee Ray entered action tonight, fresh off of breaking Mia Yim in half last week. Dakota Kai has been an impressive babyface since making her debut. I’ve enjoyed what she is capable of in the ring, her kicks look like they land well, and she makes some of her evasive maneuvers look so smooth. Kai has performed a move in the corner, where she escapes an attack and turns it into a roll-up the last two weeks. She needs to get a pin with that one day, because it looks too good not to be taken advantage of.
This was the first time I had seen Kay Lee Ray in ring. Despite her size, she does a great job at performing some throws you would expect would be more difficult. She must be incredibly resilient because it was Dakota Kai who was in charge on offense for the majority of this match. Kai tried to pin Ray after multiple attempts, but couldn’t succeed. Kay Lee Ray raked Kai’s face, then performed her gory bomb on Kai to get the victory.
This match needed more time, as I was left thinking Kay Lee Ray stole a victory from Dakota Kai. Although it was a clean finish, Ray didn’t get much offense in and now I’m curious as to what makes her special enough to hold a belt. A bit of an underwhelming debut match for Kay Lee Ray on NXT.
Winner: Kay Lee Ray
After the match, essentially every female roster currently employed by WWE found their way to the ring. If you were unaware, Survivor Series is this weekend.
There was a cool moment that left Io Shirai and Kairi Sane staring each other down. Both wrestlers have made large heel turns since they were last seen together. This was the only moment I liked from this particular segment because what followed was bizarre.
Nikki Cross started running around ringside with a garbage lid knocking out every woman in sight. Visually it looked horrible as most women just stood around waiting for Nikki to run over and hit them in the head with the lid. Also; who taught Nikki Cross how to hold a garbage can lid? Yikes.
Viking Raiders vs. Forgotten Sons
It’s nice to hear an entire arena chant “war” again. It’s also nice to hear an entire arena finally show their true colors. The Viking Raiders, the Raw tag team champs, entered as the invaders and that still doesn’t stop Full Sail from booing the Forgotten Sons.
The match started with a pretty clear botch. The Viking Raiders went for an early cover (like they do against the loads of jobbers they face) and there was a late save from the Forgotten Sons that let the ref clearly get the 1-2-3. The ref didn’t acknowledge the 3rd slap and let the match continue on. I don’t want to be the one that calls every botch, but the Forgotten Sons started to put their competitors into more danger than necessary with a few of their spots. There were a few too many missed spots to let me fully enjoy the match.
Jaxson Ryker intervened twice in the match before he was eventually tossed by the ref. His presence is another reason the Forgotten Sons don’t respond well to the crowd. His presence is a clear indication that at some point in the match, he will intervene. A clean finish is what fans generally like to see in this age of wrestling. So knowing someone will interrupt the match every time makes it predictable and boring.
Winner: The Viking Raiders
NXT announced that the triple threat match between Killian Dain, Damien Priest and Pete Dunne would earn an opportunity for a shot at the NXT title on Survivor Series. That triple threat match will be at Takeover: WarGames on Saturday. Whether or not any of these matches are entertaining or not, I just can’t help but wonder about the stamina and safety of these wrestlers. Most of the NXT main roster participates in matches regularly week to week, then having back to back nights for PPV’s. If they can handle it then they deserve all the gratitude, but it’s hard not to worry about the performer’s safety.
Ladder Match for WarGames Advantage: Adam Cole vs. Dominik Dijakovic
Adam Cole had an early dinner to catch. He came out swinging against Dijakovic. It’s fascinating to see Cole take on larger opponents. Dijakovic stands at 6’7″, while Cole is at 6’0″ or so. Before too long both men had three different ladders set up in the ring. Cole took a nasty choke slam into one of the ladders. There are a lot of moments watching wrestling when you can tell someone is faking pain. Adam Cole was not faking the pain. That ladder shot looked rough. The match went by quickly. Both of these competitors are in matches that tend to go a bit longer, but this match reached it’s finale quick after the commercial break. Despite both Dijakovic and Cole hitting their finishers on each other, both men stood atop the ladder in the center of the ring, fighting for the hanging briefcase. Cole used the briefcase to knock Dijakovic off the ladder, smashing him through a ladder that was set up horizontally earlier in the match. It was a good sell by Dijakovic. Adam Cole unhooked the briefcase and he won for the Undisputed Era. This match went for about 10 minutes.
Winner: Adam Cole
After the match, the Undisputed Era came out to celebrate with Adam Cole, but they were interrupted by members of Smackdown and Raw. It was pretty sloppy and didn’t transfer well. However, there were some bright spots.
Drew McIntyre made a surprise appearance, hitting Dijakovic with a massive Claymore Kick. Dijakovic sold it well, doing a full backflip. Keith Lee made the save for Dijakovic. He performed an electric chair power-slam on 6’5″ Drew McIntyre into the center of the ring. Keith Lee looks better and better with each appearance.
Keith Lee and Ivar (Viking Raiders) performed suicide dives on the rest of each roster, leaving Adam Cole standing alone in the ring. Cole was surprised too, thinking he made it out untouched. Cole was mistaken as Seth Rollins surprised Full Sail. He superkicked Cole and was getting ready to give Cole a Curb Stomp before he too was interrupted. This time it was Tommaso Ciampa.
Ciampa attacked Cole before getting in the ring with Rollins. Rollins and Ciampa began to trade blows as the camera went off the air. Bad ending.
We all know the build-up to the double PPV (Takeover and Survivor Series) has been sloppy. Trying to make two separate and majorly different storylines come together for one weekend wasn’t going to be easy. Storylines aside, the matches we got to see during this build-up have been the type of fantasy booking you could only do in a video game. From these fantasy bookings, it also built the idea of matchups or rivalries I’d like to see pursued in the future as well.
Full Sail Arena getting treated with surprise visits from their former favorite wrestlers has to be great for those die-hard fans. Seeing Matt Riddle vs Kona Reeves on the card going to tonight’s event sounded decent, but seeing it get changed to Ricochet in front of your own eyes must’ve been a delight. The nostalgia ran rampant for the crowd tonight.
I’m looking forward to next week’s NXT. It will be nice to see what storylines unfold. Who will chase after which belts? What direction will the women’s division be headed in? Will the tag division grow? NXT taking the attention they’ve garnered over the last few weeks and putting it on themselves will be refreshing. It should make for an exciting episode.