Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. It’s the last NXT episode before Sunday’s NXT Takeover WarGames, which some people might call the “go home” show. As usual for my NXT reviews, I go with a summary style for most of it and then play by play for the main event.
This is episode #433 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.
The NXT roster and crew (including Triple H, William Regal, Shawn Michaels and others) stood on the stage for a moment of silence for the legendary WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, who passed away at the age of 79 as we learned on Wednesday morning.
A tribute video aired about Pat Patterson’s life and career in wrestling as a wrestler and then part of WWE in a number of different roles. The video was to the song “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, which was a Patterson favorite. When he died, a lot of people mentioned how much he loved karaoke, so during the video they aired footage of Pat singing “My Way” as well. It was really well done. There were chants of “Thank You Pat” when the video was done.
The show began with Damian Priest in the ring for a tag team match. The announce team was Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett in the arena with Beth Phoenix at home. Johnny Gargano was a guest announcer for this match.
Leon Ruff and Damian Priest vs. Santos Escobar and Raul Mendoza
Ruff showed his quickness and athleticism in avoiding Mendoza early in the match leading to a dropkick. Escobar tagged in with a running knee to the face of Ruff. Mendoza tried to use his speed against Priest, but Priest dropped him with a jumping elbow and Priest sent Mendoza into the barricade. Priest noticed somebody behind the barricade with a Ghostface outfit like he has dealt with in the past. Escobar took advantage with a suicide dive into the barricade.
The match continued with the heels still in control as Escobar hit a running dropkick on Priest followed by a suplex. Escobar and Mendoza took turns wrenching on the legs of Priest to keep the big man down. Priest hit a lifting flatliner leading to Ruff getting the tag. Ruff was on fire with dropkicks, a headscissors off the ropes and a neckbreaker while Mendoza tagged in with a dropkick on Ruff. Priest tagged back in with power moves on both opponents including a flatliner, a stiff forearm to the face and a corner splash with Gargano saying he hated Priest’s stupid arrow. Priest punched Mendoza to block an attack off the ropes. Ruff tagged himself in, Priest hit the Reckoning and Ruff hit a Superfly Splash for the pinfall win on Mendoza after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Leon Ruff and Damian Priest
Analysis: *** Good tag team match with the team of Ruff/Priest winning since they have a match at Takeover while Escobar/Mendoza do not. It was a bit of a surprise to see Priest as the face in peril for most of the match, but I think that was done to showcase Ruff a bit by having him get the hot tag to show off his offense. It was booked well. No surprise that Mendoza took the pin instead of Cruiserweight Champion Escobar, who rarely loses.
Post match, Priest and Ruff stared at Gargano on the floor with two Ghostface creatures in the crowd.
A video recap aired showing highlights from last week when Pete Dunne beat Kyle O’Reilly in a Ladder Match to give Team McAfee the advantage in the men’s WarGames match. Dunne won after a masked person shoved the ladder over when O’Reilly was on it.
There was a video with Rhea Ripley and Ember Moon getting Shotzi Blackheart a gift that we couldn’t see. They’re on the same WarGames team.
There was a video package about The Undisputed Era’s success in NXT over the last three years including their experience in being part of the WarGames match for the last three years. They talked about how they have been the top dogs in NXT since they got there. The group was shown at a restaurant with Adam Cole saying they’ve never been tested like this before, Roderick Strong said they never had to fight from underneath before, Kyle O’Reilly said it’s good to reflect on what get them there and Bobby Fish said it’s time to whip somebody’s ass. They did a toast to Pat McAfee for being incredibly smart and incredibly stupid.
The women’s WarGames team led by Candice LeRae were interviewed by McKenzie Mitchell. LeRae had Raquel Gonzalez, Dakota Kai and Toni Storm with Indi Hartwell in a neckbrace. Gonzalez talked trash about Shotzi since they have a match later in the show.
Cameron Grimes vs. August Grey
Grimes was dominant early, Grey came back with a kick and a dropkick. Grey hit a jawbreaker followed by a neckbreaker. Grey went up top leading to a cross body block for a two count. Grimes hit a spinning side slam followed by the Cave In double foot stomp for the pinfall win after about two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cameron Grimes
Analysis: * A dominant win by Grimes, who faces Dexter Lumis at Takeover while Grey hasn’t had any kind of push in NXT, so it makes sense for Grimes to get the win. I like Grimes a lot and the Cave In is a cool finisher.
Grimes brought a strap into the ring since he’s facing Lumis in a Strap Match at Takeover. Grimes hit a clothesline on Grey along with a strap attack to the back. When Grimes pulled the strap again, Dexter Lumis showed up on the other end of it. Lumis attacked Grimes with punches and two strap shots to the back.
Analysis: This rivalry has been going on for a few months, so they will settle it with the Strap Match. I think Lumis will win that.
Jake Atlas vs. Tony Nese
Atlas was on fire early with a dropkick to send Nese out of the ring and then a suicide dive. Pat McAfee’s team was shown arriving to the building. Nese was in control with a suplex. Atlas got some momentum going with a clothesline, back body drop, German Suplex and a forearm for two. Nese hit an impressive neckbreaker using the top rope along with a spinning kick for two. Nice nearfall there. Atlas avoided a Nese attack, then a neckbreaker and Atlas hit a cartwheel DDT off the top for the pinfall win after five minutes. Joseph called it the biggest win of Jake’s career at this point.
Winner by pinfall: Jake Atlas
Analysis: ** This was fine for a five-minute match with Atlas gaining some momentum with the win. Nese isn’t a regular in NXT, so it was obvious that Atlas was going over here. Atlas is a talented babyface wrestler that sells very well and has believable offense. I think he might be the next Cruiserweight Champion.
Jake Atlas was interviewed at ringside by McKenzie Mitchell. Atlas said that being at the top is no joke. Atlas said he’s not standing there as the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, but this is the beginning and he’ll keep the momentum going forward until he gets to Santos Escobar’s Cruiserweight Title.
There was a rundown of the rules for WarGames. It will be weird without a crowd, but that’s 2020 wrestling.
Let’s Hear from Team Pat McAfee
Pat McAfee (with his “for the brand” catchphrase on his shirt) made his entrance with Pete Dunne and NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Pat started by telling Vic Joseph to shut up, so Wade laughed. Pat said rest in peace to Pat Patterson while adding he respects and appreciates what he has done for this business.
Pat said he had no respect for every loser wrestling fan at home, in the CWC and most certainly The Undisputed Era. Pat complained about how we were forced to watch a night out with The Undisputed Era and it was the lamest night out on the town that he’s ever seen. Pat suggested some nostalgia while noting that they were put together by money and that’s what he did in forming this team. Pat bragged about how rich he was.
Pat said this Sunday at WarGames, it’s about Pete Dunne as the longest reigning UK Champion of all time. Pat made it clear he was not the masked man last week while noting that Dunne beat Kyle O’Reilly last week in a Ladder Match. Pat talked about the team of Lorcan and Burch getting a chance to be in the main event while noting they are the greatest tag team walking the planet.
Pat told the fans at home that he wants to feel every single part of the WarGames match. Pat said when you tune into the WWE Network, you want to see Pat ripped limb from limb, but he has three badasses with him that run this business. Dunne grabbed the microphone to make the statement that this Sunday, they will end The Undisputed Era. Pat said that’s not undisputed, it’s a promise and that was it.
Analysis: I really like McAfee’s promos. For a non-wrestler, he really gets it and knows how to get heat with his words. It was similar to a lot of the promos he does ripping on the fans while talking about how great his group is. I still enjoyed it. I’m probably picking Undisputed Era at WarGames, but I think it can go either way.
There was a mysterious video featuring Xia Li and Boa just like last week. They were being forced to put their heads under water for as long as they could and then they were told “again” repeatedly. When that ended, Li and Boa were told to stand up. They were hit in the back by kendo sticks and knocked down. That ended it.
There was going to be a tag team match with Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) facing Ever-Rise (Matt Martel and Chase Parker), but then Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel) attacked Ever-Rise. Aichner tossed Martel and Parker over the barricade, so that led to a change in this tag team match.
Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) vs. Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel)
They are both from NXT UK brand originally, but now they are on NXT. They are also heel tag teams. Gibson and Drake were in control of Barthel early on with Drake getting a sunset flip for two, but then Barthel stopped him with an uppercut. Aichner hit a belly to back suplex on Drake. There was a bit of a slip by Drake when he tried to land to counter a suplex, but then he slipped. They re-did the spot, Gibson tagged in and decked Aichner with a clothesline. Aichner hit a fireman’s carry into a slam on Gibson and then they did a double arm drag spot where they landed over the top to the floor. That led to a break.
The Grizzled boys were in control with Gibson whipping Aichner into a spinning heel kick from Drake. Aichner suplexed Drake ribs first onto the top rope. Barthel and Aichner hit a double team dropkick along with Barthel hitting a running side slam for two. Gibson and Barthel did a spot where they chopped eachother in the throat. After a spinning slam from Barthel, Aichner got a two count. Aichner went for a moonsault, but Gibson got the knees up to block. Drake tagged in with a step up enziguri. Drake was seated on the top rope, Barthel shoved him right into a suplex (or maybe a brainbuster) from Aichner for a two count. Gibson got a hold of Aichner, Drake hit running dropkicks on both opponents and Barthel pulled Gibson out of the ring. Aichner got a rollup for two on Drake and then Aichner hit an impressive cross body block onto the three guys on the floor. Ever Rise showed up with Martel and Parker attacking both teams, so that led to a DQ. The match went 14 minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: *** It was a hard-hitting tag team match by two teams that know eachother well. The DQ finish makes sense because Ever-Rise was attacked earlier in the show, so they came back out for some payback. Grizzled Young Veterans are one of my favorite teams in NXT while Imperium always has good matches. It was weird a bit considering it was heel vs. heel, but they got through it fine.
After the match, Ever-Rise beat up both teams some more and then they left.
Analysis: I think it’s fair to say that the tag team division has been a weak point in NXT this year, so it’s good to see that there are at least three teams here that will be feuding. Add in Drake Maverick and Killian Dain and that’s another team. There is talent there. It’s just a matter of featuring the tag team division more.
Ever-Rise was shown leaving the building with McKenzie Mitchell trying to get an interview. Parker and Martel drove off with Parker saying that “Ever-Rise rules” and that was it.
Timothy Thatcher was in the ring for one of his Thatch As Thatch Can wrestling lesson. There was a wrestler named Russ Taylor in the ring with him. Tommaso Ciampa showed up in the ring with Thatcher telling Ciampa that he doesn’t have a problem with him. Ciampa called Thatcher a disappointment. Thatcher tried a takedown, Ciampa fought him off, the student hit Ciampa from behind and then Thatcher sent Ciampa back first into the barricade. Back in the ring, Thatcher slapped on a headlock choke type submission and Ciampa sold it like he was knocked out. Thatcher left making faces as usual.
Analysis: It’s a story that has been slowly building for a few weeks. This is the first time where Thatcher showed his aggressiveness in attacking Ciampa, but in this case, Ciampa was the one that provoked Thatcher. They will have a match at Takeover on Sunday.
The announcers did a rundown of the WWE NXT Takeover card. The lineup is at the bottom of this post.
Timothy Thatcher was interviewed backstage. Malcolm Bivens was shown in the background talking to Russ Taylor, who is Thatcher’s student. Thatcher said he would teach Ciampa a lesson at Takeover on Sunday.
It was time for the main event women’s Ladder Match. The WarGames teammates of Raquel Gonzalez were watching on a stage (Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and Toni Storm). Shotzi Blackheart made her entrance with her WarGames teammates Rhea Ripley and Ember Moon watching on a stage.
Ladder Match for WarGames Advantage: Shotzi Blackheart vs. Raquel Gonzalez
There’s a briefcase above the ring. The winner of this match is the first woman to climb a ladder to retrieve. The first woman to get the briefcase will give their team the advantage in the Women’s WarGames Match this Sunday at Takeover.
Gonzalez used her power early to block Blackheart moves and trip her up. Gonzalez sent Blackheart to the apron and then punched her down. Blackheart sent Gonzalez into a ladder that was on the floor. Blackheart dropkicked the ladder into Gonzalez on the floor. Gonzalez caught Blackheart in her arms and drove her into the ladder. They were back in the ring briefly with Blackheart jumping on the back, but then they went to the apron with Gonzalez sending Blackheart back first into the ring post. Gonzalez went for a kick on the floor, Blackheart moved, sent Raquel’s foot into the steps and then she hit a dropkick. Blackheart jumped off the barricade with a Coffin Drop onto a standing Gonzalez on the floor. Both women were down on the floor as they went to a picture in picture break.
The show returned with the women battling on the apron with Blackheart hitting a DDT on the apron although they may have messed that up a bit. Blackheart went for a bulldog on the floor, but Gonzalez drove her face first into the apron. Gonzalez with steel steps to the face. Gonzalez climbed the ladder, but Blackheart was there and then they knocked eachother down with Shotzi grabbing her right ankle. Gonzalez tried to climb again, Blackheart shoved the ladder again. Blackheart with a headscissors into the ropes leading to a cannonball splash against the ropes. Blackheart jumped off the top with a Thesz Press style attack onto Gonzalez on the floor. I’m not sure what she was going for there, but I think it was just a dive onto a standing Gonzalez and the landing looked a bit rough. Indi Hartwell put a ladder beside the stage where Team Candice was on, so the three women and went down to the floor. They ran over to ringside to help Gonzalez. Rhea Ripley and Ember Moon also made their way ringside. Hartwell set up a ladder in the ring, but Blackheart took her out with a kick. Gonzalez was back in with a clothesline. Gonzalez did a slow climb up the ladder, but there was NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai with a leap onto the back of Gonzalez! That was cool. Shirai went to the apron and sent Gonzalez to the floor. Shirai went up top and jumped off with a moonsault onto a bunch of the women along with the security guys on the floor as “NXT” chants filled the arena. Shotzi Blackheart climbed the ladder and she puled down the briefcase to give her team the advantage at WarGames on Sunday. The match went 15 minutes.
Winner: Shotzi Blackheart
Analysis: ***1/4 This was good, but not at the level of the O’Reilly/Dunne ladder match last week. They did a nice job of setting up the big spots in this match. That’s not that much of a surprise due to the talent level. It’s not a shot at the ladies because they worked hard. It was just a different type of match without the usual amount of climbing attempts that you might see in a ladder match. Gonzalez used her power well and Blackheart is very likable as a face that keeps on fighting. The presence of Io Shirai made sense since she was attacked by Raquel and friends recently, so it was some revenge for Shirai.
After the match, Blackheart was joined by Ripley, Moon and Shirai on the ladder. That meant that Shirai was officially part of the team. That was expected.
Three Stars of the Show
- Shotzi Blackheart
- Raquel Gonzalez
- Leon Ruff/Damian Priest
I give this show a 6.75 out of 10. Last week was a 7.5 out of 10.
It was a solid episode of NXT, but I think there have been better episodes recently. A lack of standout matches hurt a bit although I thought the Blackheart/Gonzalez Ladder Match was solid and the two tag team matches were good even with the one match ending without a clean finish. They did a nice job of building to the Takeover matches on Sunday.
We’ll have a preview of NXT Takeover on TJRWrestling on Saturday morning.
The last NXT Takeover event of the year is NXT Takeover WarGames on Sunday, December 6 on WWE Network. Here’s what we know so far.
Men’s WarGames Match (Advantage to Team McAfee): The Undisputed Era – Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish vs. Team McAfee – Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
Women’s WarGames Match (Advantage to Team Shotzi): Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley and NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez
NXT North American Championship: Leon Ruff (c) vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest
Strap Match: Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher
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