Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. It’s back to a regular review after a shortened version last week. That means the condensed review for most of the show and then play by play for the main event. Let’s get to it.
This is episode #430 of WWE NXT. It took place at NXT’s home called the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Check out my past WWE NXT reviews right here.
There was a Veterans Day tribute video to start the show with some of the crowd holding USA flags. The announce team was Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix as usual.
Johnny Gargano was in the ring wearing the NXT North American Title and he had a wheel that had names of wrestlers on it. Johnny: “Respect the wheel.” Johnny said that the first time he defended this title, he lost it and then with the NXT Title, he lost the title in his first defense. Johnny said the wheel will help him reverse the curse. Johnny spun the wheel that had his face in the middle of it, then it moved in an unrealistic way and landed on the name Leon Ruff with Johnny smiling about it.
Leon Ruff made his entrance. Ruff is a skinny guy that’s a great athlete that hasn’t been utilized much prior to this. He was signed by WWE officially last month after making appearances prior to that since he was a part of Evolve.
NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. Leon Ruff
Ruff tripped, then Gargano kicked him and stomped him against the turnbuckle. Phoenix said that the wheel was fixed with Wade questioning that. Ruff hit a forearm and an impressive dropkick. Gargano knocked Ruff off the apron and hit him into the steel steps. Gargano noted that former champion Damian Priest was watching in the crowd, so Priest stared at him and Ruff got a rollup. Gargano hit a clothesline to take control again and then he followed up a launch into the turnbuckle. Priest was watching at ringside, so Gargano stared at him. Ruff avoided a superkick and applied a crucifix pin for the one…two…and three! The application of the crucifix pin was perfect. Ruff wins the title in the match that went about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT North American Champion: Leon Ruff
Analysis: **1/4 Fun for a short match with a shocking result as Ruff cleanly won the title from the bigger star Gargano. I think it’s a clever thing to do once in a while, but you can’t do it that often. Ruff winning the title likely wasn’t something anybody could predict, so that tells the audience that anybody can lose any match at any time.
Ruff celebrated with the title while Priest was laughing about it. Gargano was freaking out in the ring. Joseph said it was the biggest upset in NXT history and that might be true. When Priest tried to put the title on Ruff, the title dropped to the floor. Gargano was freaking out about the loss.
Analysis: That was funny. Gargano’s reaction to the loss was great. Cool moment for Ruff with a bit of comedy as the belt hit the floor because Ruff is so skinny. Well played.
There was a backstage scene with Damian Priest telling Leon Ruff to take his black Challenger car and go. Gargano showed up saying it was Priest’s fault. Referees held Gargano back with Gargano complained to Regal about what happened. Priest said it was Johnny’s idea with Johnny saying that everybody knows he hates wheels.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar (w/Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde) vs. Jake Atlas
Escobar was in control for the early portion of the match with a barrage of chops, submission attempts and other moves to remain in control. Escobar hit a spinning slam that sent Atlas face first into the mat. Atlas came back with punches, a hard forearm to the face and Atlas kicked Mendoza and Wilde while he was on the apron. Atlas hit Mendoza and Wilde with a pipe that the heels brought into play. Atlas hit a springboard Blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count leading into a break.
The referee tossed Mendoza and Wilde from ringside because they tripped Atlas with the referee seeing it. Escobar was on offense with a double knee attack followed by a hurricanrana off the top. Escobar hit a Frog Splash off the top for a two count. Atlas with a dropkick, snap German Suplex and a roundhouse kick got a two count. When Atlas tried a move off the top, Escobar shoved him off the top to the floor by the announce table. Atlas sent Escobar out of the other side of the ring and hit a sloppy looking dive that wasn’t a perfect looking suicide dive as he intended. Escobar sent Atlas into the middle rope, then Santos avoided a move and he hit an awesome looking superkick for two. Atlas got another two count after a rolling senton and standing moonsault. Escobar blocked a DDT attempt and hit Legado (a double underhook into the knee) for the pinfall win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar
Analysis: ***1/2 A long match that was very good with Atlas having one of his best matches in NXT so far. Escobar has had several outstanding matches in the last few months, so I expect it to be great whenever his matches go this long. Atlas has a lot of cool-looking moves and he shows a lot of fire as a face. Escobar blocked the DDT off the ropes leading right into the finisher, so it showed that Atlas came close to winning until Escobar found a way to win again. Escobar is one of the best-booked champions in WWE. I think Atlas or Isaiah “Swerve” Scott would make a great Cruiserweight Champion although Escobar is so great at it and I’m certainly not bored of his title reign.
There was a shot of Dexter Lumis drawing a cartoon of Cameron Grimes running away from the zombie referee.
A video was shown of Shotzi Blackheart saying she was going to kick Candice LeRae’s ass after Candice crushed Shotzi’s tank with a monster truck last week. Shotzi said that the tank represented her family that was in the military, so it was personal to her.
Raquel Gonzalez entered for a match, but instead, we saw Boa go out to the ring to tell Raquel that Xia Li is not there. Raquel told him that Li called her out last week, so Raquel kicked Boa and threw Boa into the barricade. Gonzalez picked up Boa leading to a huge spinebuster. Gonzalez told Boa to tell Xia Li to keep her name out of her mouth and Gonzalez went to the back.
Analysis: It made Gonzalez look dominant after she lost to Rhea Ripley two weeks ago, but it also made Boa look like a loser. Since Boa isn’t featured on TV regularly, it won’t really hurt him that much.
After Gonzalez went to the back, there was an older man that walked out with a piece of paper for Boa and he put some symbol on the back of Boa’s hand. The older man walked to the back while there were red lights in the arena. Boa looked at the back of his hand.
Analysis: It’s some mystery angle where Boa and Xia Li are connected to some mystery Chinese group. I don’t know where it’s going.
August Grey was about to be interviewed, but then Timothy Thatcher attacked him from behind. They were brawling in the backstage area with Thatcher locking on a tight headlock until referees showed up. Thatcher threw Grey into the drawing that Lumis did earlier in the show as William Regal showed up to break it up. That match was set up for later in the show.
Candice LeRae vs. Toni Storm
Storm had LeRae grounded with an armbar for a few minutes early in the match. After some brief offense from LeRae, Storm hit a suplex, dropkick and a running kick to the chest. They left the ring with Storm going for an attack, LeRae moved and Storm went running into the steel steps with Storm taking the bump on her back. That led to a break.
The match returned with LeRae missing a moonsault and Storm connected with a headbutt. Storm hit a German Suplex along with a running hip attack and two running clotheslines. Storm with a Fisherman’s Suplex for two. They went to the turnbuckle, Storm missed a leg drop and LeRae hit a superkick for two. LeRae got the win after sending Storm to the turnbuckle and did a rollup with her feet on the ropes for the cheap pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Candice LeRae
Analysis: **3/4 It was a solid match that was lacking in terms of intensity and I thought the first few minutes were too slow. When the pace picked up towards the end, it was better, but going into it I thought they would have had a better match. They are talented women that both could be future NXT Women’s Champions. Storm got a lot of offense because that’s a typical way of booking a match where a face is going to lose in cheap fashion. Candice winning by being a heel is fitting for her character these days while Storm will likely get another shot at her to try to get the win back.
Post match, the masked figure showed up wearing a Scream mask. Shotzi Blackheart showed up to go after LeRae and Shotzi hit the masked person with a knee. The masked person with a boot to the face of Shotzi and then Candice/masked person stepped on Shotzi’s black. The masked figure was revealed to be Indi Hartwell, who had helped Candice in the past.
Analysis: That’s a logical way to set up a tag team match between Candice and Indi against Toni and Shotzi.
Breezango did a promo saying that they worked hard to become Tag Team Champions only to get it stolen by Pat McAfee. They said that they will become two-time NXT Tag Team Champions.
Dexter Lumis vs. Timothy Thatcher
Thatcher worked on the left ankle of Lumis. The crowd was quiet for a few minutes until they started a chance for Lumis, who did some staring after taking a belly to belly suplex. Thatcher continued to apply submissions as usual, but Lumis came back with a big spinebuster. The action spilled to the floor with Thatcher sending Lumis shoulder first into the ring post leading to a break.
Thatcher was focused on the right arm of Lumis and got a nearfall with a double underhook suplex for two. Thatcher continued to work over Lumis on the mat until Lumis hit a belly to back suplex, kip up and a leg drop. Lumis hit a bulldog. Lumis slowly went up top, they battled on the turnbuckle a bit and Lumis managed to hit a senton bomb although he barely connected with the landing. There were “NXT” chants that sounded fake. Cameron Grimes showed up, Lumis shoved Thatcher into him, but then Thatcher managed to slap on an armbar and turn it into a pinfall for the victory after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Timothy Thatcher
Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match. It went a bit too long for my liking. I don’t think this is the kind of match that appeals to most fans since they are both slow-paced wrestlers. It’s tough to get excited about their wrestling style. This was also the second straight match with a cheap finish with Thatcher benefitting by Grimes showing up while Dexter’s rivalry with Grimes continues. Lumis is booked as a strong character that isn’t going to lose clean very often, so that’s why it wasn’t a clean finish.
Post match, Grimes went after Lumis with punches and Grimes worked on the right arm. Grimes had some sack that was like a potato sack and he put it on Dexter’s head. Grimes sent Lumis out of the ring and kicked him in the head. Lumis grabbed a chair, he swung it as if he couldn’t see anything and Grimes hit the Cave In double foot stomp on Lumis on the floor.
Analysis: I like Grimes a lot. He is one of my favorite characters in NXT. Since Lumis has had the advantage in this rivalry a lot, it made sense for Grimes to get the upper hand. There will probably be a regular match between them soon.
Johnny Gargano was shown at the door of NXT General Manager William Regal. Johnny said he’s calm down while adding that his match with Leon should be thrown out. Regal said it was Johnny’s idea, so there’s no reason to reverse the decision. Johnny said that he rigged the wheel, it was a joke and Regal let him know that the decision stands. Johnny said it’s a joke.
Tommaso Ciampa did a promo saying he is approaching 16 years in this industry. Ciampa talked about training with tough guys like Killer Kowalski and Harley Race. Ciampa said that they never took liberties or told you how tough they were because you just knew how tough they were. Ciampa said in NXT, apparently everybody is tough. Ciampa said in today’s world if you complain you might get rewarded. Ciampa said maybe he’s a bit old school, he never thought he’d be the last of a dying breed and he said this 2020 locker room culture is going to change. Ciampa said he is that change.
Analysis: Ciampa is in a spot right now where he’s a bit of a tweener. He was clearly a heel earlier in the year, then in his feud with Velveteen Dream it was Ciampa as more of the face. I think Ciampa has value in either role, so I’m not sure what’s next. I just hope he has a meaningful rivalry because Ciampa is an outstanding performer.
There was a Prime Target video about NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai and former champion Rhea Ripley. It featured Rhea talking about how WrestleMania 36 was supposed to be an amazing night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, but instead she lost the NXT Title to Charlotte Flair in front of no crowd. Two months later at Takeover, Io Shirai won the NXT Women’s Title. Ripley spoke about beating Mercedes, Dakota and Raquel, so now Rhea is next. Shirai said that Ripley will go into the same emotional low when Shirai defeats her. Ripley said she’ll take her championship back.
Next week on NXT: Io Shirai defends the NXT Women’s Champion against Rhea Ripley.
Analysis: That’s going to be awesome. It’s a big match to put on NXT next week in what will likely be the main event of the show. I think it’s very possible that Ripley wins.
Let’s Hear from Pat McAfee and Friends
The Kings of NXT group led by Pat McAfee with Pete Dunne, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan made their entrance. Images were shown from last week when they attacked Killian Dain when Dunne kicked a car door into Dain.
McAfee talked about how for the past two weeks, Pete Dunne has been an absolute terror to this brand while talking about his attacks on Kyle O’Reilly and Killian Dain. McAfee claimed they were the best four-man group in professional wrestling. McAfee spoke about getting on his private plane to get there, getting tweets from Tom Brady and finding out his business is worth $150 million. McAfee said that the internet wrestling community doesn’t deserve to get to watch the greatest tag team beat Breezango. McAfee said that he will be on commentary with the “Slim Reaper” Vic Joseph and Bad News Barrett. McAfee said it’s the greatest night in NXT history because they are there. Barrett was excited about McAfee joining them.
Analysis: McAfee’s gimmick is to be over the top and claim that everything he does is the greatest, so that’s all this was. I don’t know about the $150 million line, but his brand in the sports world is very big. Dunne taking out O’Reilly and Dain in back to back weeks sets up big matches for Dunne, who I like a lot.
Cameron Grimes was interviewed in a hallway backstage. Grimes celebrated how he caved in Dexter Lumis and he was off to the moon.
Next week on NXT: Finn Balor will be on NXT to address the NXT Title situation. Welcome back. He has been missed.
NXT Tag Team Championships: Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango)
Pat McAfee was on commentary with Pete Dunne standing beside him. The match started as a fight as the four guys paired off and they were brawling outside the ring. Breeze did a catapult while on the floor to send Burch into the barricade. McAfee said that Burch’s tan was incredible while claiming it was only second to Pete Dunne’s tan. That’s funny, but also true. Breeze with a suplex on Burch, who managed to bring Breeze to Lorcan, who tagged in. Fandango tagged back in with a forearm along with an elbow smash. Breeze tagged in leading to a double kick to the head of Burch to knock him out of the ring. Lorcan went after Breeze on the floor, but Breeze hit him with a superkick. Breeze threw Burch towards Dunne and McAfee, but not enough to knock them down.
The match returned with a few minutes left in the show with Breeze hitting a catapult that sent Burch into the turnbuckle. McAfee was off commentary because he was rooting on his team. Fandango with a hiptoss, then he drove the head of Lorcan into the knee and Fandango hit a Falcon Arrow slam for a two count. Breeze with a superkick on Burch to send him out of the ring, but Dunne saved Burch from an attack. Fandango hit a somersault dive over the top to take out Burch and Dunne on the floor. Some obviously fake “NXT” chants were piped in at this point. Fandango went up top, but Lorcan hit the ropes to knock him down. Fandango went for a Sunset Flip off the ropes, Burch held on, McAfee on the apron and Drake Maverick showed up with a kick to Burch as revenge for the heels attacking Killian Dain last week. McAfee went over to Maverick, who hit a flipping dive off the apron onto McAfee on the floor. Fandango off the top with a leg drop on Burch for one…two…and no! Great nearfall there. I really liked that setup. Dunne knocked down Maverick with a forearm to the back. McAfee distracted the referee, so Dunne knocked Breeze off the apron. Burch got the tag, he hit a headbutt and the champs did an assisted elevated DDT with Burch pinning Fandango to retain the titles.
Winners by pinfall: Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match that was intense from the beginning since Breezango wanted revenge after losing the titles. I liked the pacing of it. I think this match could have used a few more minutes, but they did make the most of their time. That nearfall with Fandango nearly getting the win after the leg drop was awesome. Dunne was a major factor in the match by helping Lorcan and Burch pick up the win. I like how Drake Maverick was also involved as well.
Post match, Drake Maverick jumped off the top with an attack, but he was beaten up by Dunne, Burch and Lorcan. Dunne slammed Maverick onto the announce table. Fandango tried another attack, but the heels beat him up too. When Breeze tried to get back into it, he was overwhelmed by the heels as well. Breeze was tossed onto the announce table with McAfee telling his guys that’s what they do. Breeze was held over the announce table with McAfee punting him in the chest and Breeze selling it like it was a big deal. McAfee said that this is the best four man group in wrestling history and they can do this for as long as they want to. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: Nice angle to end the show as the Kings of NXT group continues their dominance. McAfee was a punter in the NFL, so that’s why it’s a big move when he kicks a guy like that. By having McAfee continually say they are the best four-man group, it’s setting up for the return of Undisputed Era most likely next week since the next Takeover is on December 8, so they have to set up a big tag team match.
Three Stars of the Show
- Leon Ruff/Johnny Gargano
- Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch/Pat McAfee/Pete Dunne
- Santos Escobar
I give this show a 7 out of 10.
It was a good episode as usual. The North American Title change was a big surprise with Leon Ruff beating Johnny Gargano in what was one of the biggest upsets in NXT history. While I don’t expect a long title reign for Ruff, the fact that it happened was pretty clever. I’m glad that they did it. I’m sure that everybody knows Johnny Gargano hates wheels now. The matches with Santos Escobar beating Jake Atlas and Candice LeRae’s cheap win over Toni Storm were solid too.
I’m glad that Finn Balor is back next week for a promo because the absence of the NXT Title hurts a bit. I like the way McAfee’s “Kings of NXT” group continued their dominance with Pete Dunne helping Burch/Lorcan to beat Fandango to retain the titles. They are obviously building up to Undisputed Era coming back, perhaps next week. There’s also a big women’s match with Io Shirai facing Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Title, which could be a title change.
The next Takeover is on December 6 and nothing is official yet, so they have to start setting up some matches for that. Hopefully it leads to the return of the Undisputed Era guys against McAfee’s “Kings of NXT” group. I’m not sure if it’s going to be WarGames, but it’s possible if they can set it up at the CWC building. They have a few options for sure.
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