Welcome to another WWE NXT Reaction column where I cover what happened on this week’s NXT show. As a reminder, this is not a play by play review of the show. Instead, it’s more of a reaction that will include my star ratings for the matches as well as my analysis. I’m going to try to do it every week, but some days it will be later on Thursdays or even Fridays. Part of that is because NXT isn’t shown on Canadian TV on Wednesday nights. That means I have to download it from somewhere or wait until it goes on WWE Network on Thursday night.
Should I call this “NXT Reaction” or “NXT Review” in the title? Let me know in the comments or social media or email. All that info is at the bottom.
It’s now Friday morning and I’m watching on WWE Network. You can check out our review by Jim Kress as well.
Live from Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s roll.
The opening video package showed highlights of last week’s show. The visual of Keith Lee shoving Adam Cole over the barricade and into the crowd was so great. Finn Balor ended the night standing tall with a jumping kick to the head of Cole.
The announcers are Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix and Nigel McGuinness. Welcome back Mauro after he missed last week.
Killian Dain started the show calling out somebody for a match since Damian Priest was injured and couldn’t compete. That led to Pete Dunne answering the challenge.
Killian Dain defeated Pete Dunne
This was a physical, hard-hitting match. Dunne’s excellent at selling while Dain works well as an athletic big man that can move around the ring well. He’s similar to Kevin Owens like that. They did a nice job of having Dunne hit high spots, but then Dain came back with big moves like slamming Dunne onto the apron and then hitting a cannonball into the steel steps. They had a cool spot where Dain went for a Vader Bomb, but Dunne countered into a submission and then the power of Dain came into effect again with a Powerbomb. The finish was interesting as Dain managed to get Dunne on his back while they were by the turnbuckle, Dain fell back to squash Dunne and that was enough for Dain to get the pinfall win after 15 minutes.
Match Analysis: ***1/2 It was a much-needed win for Dain since Dunne got the NXT Title shot at Survivor Series, so it makes Dain look good by beating a guy like him. I like the finish because it continued the story of Dain using his size advantage to get the best of Dunne. It was fluky a bit, but I thought it was effective based on the story of the whole match. Dain is one of the better heels in NXT that isn’t part of the Undisputed Era.
Dakota Kai did a heel promo saying Tegan Nox isn’t worth her time. Kai said she gave Rhea Ripley what he originally wanted and she claimed she would take out Ripley just like she did to Mia Yim.
A commercial reminded us that the next NXT Takeover is in Portland on Sunday, February 16. They have a lot of time to set up matches for that show.
The Undisputed Era Speaks
The Undisputed Era group did a promo. It was NXT Champion Adam Cole, North American Champion Roderick Strong and one half of the Tag Team Champions Kyle O’Reilly. There was no Bobby Fish because he was out with a neck injury. Cole complained about Keith Lee pouncing him into the crowd like he’s a ragdoll and said he deserves respect. Cole also complained about Finn Balor turning his back on him by kicking him in the face, so he wants answers.
Keith Lee showed up for the interruption and every week he’s out there, the fan reaction for Lee gets louder. O’Reilly asked Lee what he has to show for all of his big moments like after Takeover and Survivor Series while pointing out that Lee lost to Roman Reigns at Survivor Series because he’s a loser. Lee told them that he’s a moment maker and a game-changer. Lee wondered what championship he should take first. Cole trash-talked, so Lee hit him with a microphone to the head.
Lee hit a double clothesline on Strong/O’Reilly, he sent Cole out of the ring and Lee sent Strong into O’Reilly. Tommaso Ciampa showed up, he attacked Cole from behind, sent him back in the ring and O’Reilly/Strong saved Cole from an attack. The Undisputed Era left. Ciampa held up “Goldie” the NXT Title to end it.
Analysis: It was a good segment to continue the ascension of Lee. He gets more promo time every week in addition to the strong way was booked during Survivor Series weekend. I like seeing Lee in a more featured role. I like how Ciampa continually has his eyes on getting Goldie back.
Xia Li did a backstage promo talking about how this is her moment.
There was a video package about Kushida, who suffered a broken wrist during a great match with Walter. He’s out for two months. They showed Kushida spending time with his wife and daughter while saying he came to America for a better life for his wife and child. Kushida said two months later, he is back.
Analysis: I’m glad he’s back. Great talent. Cute kid too. He’s a guy to keep an eye on in NXT.
Shayna Baszler defeated Xia Li
This was not for Baszler’s NXT Women’s Title. Li is the first Chinese women’s wrestler in WWE history. Li got in a decent amount of offense and I like some of her kicks. This was all about Baszler looking dominant as the champion. Li got a good nearfall with a Powerbomb. It followed the usual formula of a Baszler match where she stomped on Li’s arm and eventually finished her off with the Kirifuda Clutch submission. It went about four minutes.
Match Analysis: *1/2 It was the usual Baszler match. Li had a few spots and I think she’ll continue to improve as she gets more chances. Baszler winning was never in doubt.
They showed Kassius Ohno arriving at the arena earlier today where he called himself the Wrestling Genius. Ohno said he’s been busy wrestling in England, called himself the greatest English wrestler and said there would be a Worlds Collide preview. Worlds Collide is the NXT vs. NXT UK show that takes place the night before Royal Rumble in January.
The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake) w/Jaxson Ryker defeated Leon Ruff and Adrian Alanis
Blake with a clothesline to the back of the head and Cutler with a double stomp to the back. Cutler hit a Buckle Bomb. Cutler hit an impressive running knee strike followed by a German Suplex. A double team stomp and reverse DDT won it for Forgotten Sons. It went just over one minute.
Post match, Ryker gave Ruff a Chokeslam on the side of the ring apron. That looked like a rough landing.
Match Analysis: * It was a dominant win by the Forgotten Sons. Their last NXT match was losing to the Viking Raiders, so I guess creative felt they needed a win. They could use a meaningful storyline.
Mia Yim Gets Revenge on Dakota Kai
Dakota Kai made her entrance with the knee brace of Tegan Nox. Rhea Ripley was supposed to be the opponent, but Ripley did a promo. Ripley told Kai that what she did at Wargames (attacking Tegan Nox) was clever and then she talked about a setup right now…it’s Mia Yim.
Yim went after Kai because Kai injured Yim at WarGames in a backstage attack. Yim with a running boot to the face of Kai. Ripley supported Yim from ringside. Yim kicked Kai in the jaw repeatedly. Kai came back by sending Yim back first into the apron followed by a boot to the face. Yim continued the attack by sending Kai into the barricade repeatedly. Yim and Kai went fighting to the back.
Analysis: It was payback for Kai that was deserved based on her heel turn at WarGames. The announcers did a good job of saying that Kai deserved this and should have expected this. I think they have set up a solid feud with Kai/Yim in the near future (they have a match next week) while Kai/Nox is more of the long term storyline when Nox comes back for revenge.
Baszler Attacks Ripley with Some Help
Shayna Baszler walked out with the NXT Women’s Title along with her friends Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. Ripley fought them off briefly, but Baszler kept going for chokeholds and the Kirifuda Clutch. Duke and Shafir held onto the arms of Ripley as Baszler locked in the Kirifuda Clutch. The fans were chanting for both women even though Baszler is the heel here and Ripley is the face. Three referees went out to the ring to break it up.
Baszler did a promo saying that Ripley talks big when there’s nothing on the line. Baszler told her they’ll have a title match on December 18, so that’s two weeks away on NXT TV.
Analysis: That was well done to have the heels dominate Ripley and no faces tried to save Rhea either. It also sets up a big match for the last NXT show of the year on December 18 since there’s no show on December 25, which is Christmas. Ripley deserves the title shot after beating Baszler at WarGames. I can see Ripley winning the NXT Women’s Title on December 18. It feels like the right time for a title change.
Tommaso Ciampa and Keith Lee were interviewed. Dominik Dijakovic joined them because that trio is facing off against Undisputed Era in a six-man tag team main event match.
There was a Finn Balor video package with Balor talking about how they all want a piece of “The Prince” referring to himself. Balor said they’re playing checkers while he is playing chess. Balor said his future will be his past meaning he’ll be NXT Champion again. Balor: “Adam Cole: Checkmate.” Balor is gunning for the NXT Title. Good video.
A video was shown about Isiah “Swerve” Scott showing highlights of him in action while he talked about himself. I think he’s a guy to keep an eye on in the future. He’s going to be a big star in NXT.
Matt Riddle defeated Kassius Ohno
These two had a rivalry in the past when Riddle was starting in NXT and Ohno was a veteran that put him over a few times. Ohno was wrestling in a black tank top after wearing a “Wrestling Genius” shirt for his entrance.
It was the second match of the night where the phrase “hard-hitting” fits because they are two great strikers that work well together. It seemed like every time Riddle got momentum with kicks, Ohno was there to stop the momentum with a more powerful kick. After Ohno dominated for a few minutes, Riddle came back with a rising knee, a Bro to Sleep, Powerbomb and knee strike. Riddle went up top and a Floating Bro splash off the top got a two count. Ohno had a headlock into a suplex across the ring. Riddle came back with a ripcord knee and then the Bro Derek slam finished it off for Riddle in a match that went 13 minutes.
Match Analysis: ***1/4 Good work with Ohno controlling most of it, Riddle making the big comeback and finding a way to win as the babyface and younger guy with a bright future. Riddle could use a new rivalry after he lost to Finn Balor at the last Takeover. I think Riddle going for the NXT North American Title held by Roderick Strong makes a lot of sense.
The NXT Year End Awards 2019 were promoted with more info on WWE.com now.
A replay aired of Baszler beating up Ripley earlier with Ranallo noting it took three women to keep Ripley down. That led to a NXT Women’s Title match being announced for NXT on December 18th.
Raul Mendoza made his entrance to face Kushida, but Cameron Grimes showed up with a double foot stomp to the chest of Mendoza on the ramp. Grimes said Kushida is fighting him now.
Kushida defeated Cameron Grimes
What I really like about Kushida is he makes everything look easy. Early in the match, he hit a dive off the top with his back landing on Grimes and it looked perfect. Kushida worked over the arm of Grimes and pulled back on it so much that it looked like he may have hurt him, but Grimes was okay as he hit a German Suplex shortly after. Kushida came back with an impressive dropkick and he countered a Grimes suplex attempt into a cradle where he used his legs to keep Grimes down for the three count. It went just over four minutes.
Match Analysis: **1/4 They made the most of the time given and had a good match in under five minutes. I thought the finish could have been more decisive for Kushida. A cradle pin win is fine occasionally, but a more dominant showing from Kushida would have been better. That’s not a knock on Grimes, who I like. I just think this match could have put over Kushida in a bigger way. I’d like to see Kushida vs. Lio Rush for the NXT Cruiserweight Title.
Next week on NXT: Lio Rush defending the Cruiserweight Title against Angel Garza. Also, Mia Yim faces Dakota Kai.
Analysis: I think Rush is going to keep his title. I mentioned I want Rush vs. Kushida as a feud down the road. I think Kai should beat Yim because Yim got the advantage on this show, so Kai should win the match to give her momentum as a new heel.
Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic defeated The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly)
There was a spot early where O’Reilly tried a Dragon sleeper, but Dijakovic used his power to suplex O’Reilly across the ring. O’Reilly’s selling is so great and it made Dijakovic look impressive as a big man. Dijakovic cleaned house by taking out all three Undisputed Era guys leading to a break.
When the match returned, they showed a clip from during the break where Cole hit a Shining Wizard knee to Dijakovic leading to the heels getting control of the match. That meant Dijakovic was the face in peril. O’Reilly kicked Lee off the apron, so Ciampa got the tag from Dijakovic. Ciampa was on fire with a double clothesline, a clothesline over the top, a belly to belly suplex, two running knees and a draping DDT. Ciampa with a knee to the back of the head of O’Reilly followed by the double knee Project Ciampa move got a two count. Strong made a blind tag leading to a double knee and a double team Double Elimination combo got a two count because Dijakovic made the save. Strong got knees to the ribs, but Ciampa hit a jumping knee. Lee got the hot tag against Cole with a huge clothesline leading to a flip bump. Lee wanted a dive, but AEW guys moved and Lee hit a double shoulder tackle. Dijakovic hit a twisting dive off the top onto three guys on the floor! That was impressive and led to “NXT” chants. There was a spot where O’Reilly and Dijakovic battled by the apron, Cole and Ciampa were there, so Finn Balor showed up with a dropkick to Cole that knocked the referees down. Ranallo was right on point saying Balor picked his spot again while mentioning he had no alliances. Balor hit his 1916 DDT on Ciampa to take him out. Lee stared at Balor in a great camera shot and Lee hit a Spirit Bomb on Balor. Cole with a superkick on Lee, but Lee came back with a Jackhammer slam for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Match Analysis: ***3/4 This was great as expected by six awesome wrestlers. The pace really picked up, the crowd was into it and Lee had another impressive showing by getting the win for his team. I really like the way Balor found a way to be part of the match even though he wasn’t in the match. Balor is alone in NXT with no alliances and they continued to remind us of that by having him attack the faces and the heels in this match. A critical point would be that in the last few minutes, even before the ref bump, the match broke down without counting anybody out of the ring or anything of that sort, but that happens sometimes when there’s so much chaotic action. This was much better than the average six-man tag team match where the guys go through the motions. Lee pinned the NXT Champion Cole and they furthered the storyline with Balor’s involvement too.
After the match was over, NXT GM William Regal showed up for an announcement. The announcement is that next week on NXT (December 11), there will be a triple threat match between Finn Balor, Tommaso Ciampa and Keith Lee. The winner of that match will challenge Adam Cole for the NXT Title on December. The show ended with shots of Lee, Ciampa, Balor and Cole reacting to the news.
Analysis: Huge main event match set for next week. It also gives us another match to look forward to on December 18 on the last NXT show of the year.
I’m picking Lee to win next week, but I think Cole will retain on December 18. I feel like Lee is going to be on Raw or Smackdown after the Royal Rumble, where I expect him to have an impressive showing. I can see Lee being featured in a WrestleMania match. If he stays on NXT that’s fine too, but I just think WWE has other plans for Lee. Find out in the months ahead, I guess.
- Keith Lee
- Adam Cole
- Killian Dain/Pete Dunne
I would give this show a 7.75 out of 10.
This was a very good show with some quality matches all night and they continue to build stories in an exciting way. I think NXT is doing the best job of any wrestling show right now in terms of setting up matches for the future.
The matches on this week’s show were very good as usual with the six-man tag as the best while Dain/Dunne was fun and Riddle/Ohno always have quality matches together. It was another big night for Keith Lee, Adam Cole continues his consistently great work and I like how Finn Balor is in the mix as a loner that has no alliances. There are several women’s storylines going on at the same time. They did a great job of setting up the Baszler/Ripley title match in two weeks. The tag team division wasn’t focused on much at all, but they can do that on another show.
I think NXT is rolling right now. The way the NXT brand was booked during Survivor Series helped them a lot. Coming out of that weekend, Lee and Ripley were the two people that obviously became bigger stars. Their momentum continues and so does NXT as a brand.
I enjoy writing in this format for the NXT reviews. The word count was just over 3,000 words. If I went full play by play recap then it would be over 5,000 words. I’m going to keep doing my NXT reviews this way.
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