NXT review 12/11/19
This weeks NXT was a highly entertaining and hard hitting affair, bookended by 2 amazing matches that really brought the house down. Let’s get right into it shall we. We started off with Adam Cole hyping the main event and saying that none of the three men have done anything to earn a shot at his gold. Adam Cole is money.
The first match to open the show featured Angel Garza getting his shot at the NXT Cruiserweight Championship against defending champ Lio Rush. This match started off with a bang before the introductions were even done, as Lio immediately rushed Garza with a smash mouth series of punches more reminiscent of an MMA or hockey fight. Lio was obviously still upset about how Garza treated his wife at ringside weeks ago. Lio came out looking very aggressive until Garza managed to face plant Rush into the apron in a rather nasty looking spot. The sound alone made me fear for Lio’s health. It was a nasty looking drop. It wasn’t the only nasty looking spot either as Lio’s neck snapped hard on the top rope only a few minutes later. The back and forth in this one was crazy, with neither man getting too far ahead. All the while Garza was playing up his cocky persona. There were many memorable spots in this match, from Lio hitting a springboard moonsault to the outside from the INTERIOR second rope, to Angel Garza hitting a beautiful avalanche spanish fly from the top rope. This match also featured a lot of “anything you can do I can do better” as Garza especially went out of his way to hit Rush with his own signature moves. At one point Rush went for his Come Up springboard cutter only for Garza to sidestep it and hit his own version of the Come Up. At one point the match even devolved into a straight up slap fight, followed by dueling kicks which ended with both men face down on the mat. At this point the crowd was insane. Lio wound up hitting Garza with his own finisher the Wing Clipper, but it only amounted to a 2 count. The final match sequence involved Lio hitting the Final Hour, but as he was reaching for the cover, Garza managed to escape the ring by ditching his pants. Lio attempts a second Final Hour to Garza on the outside, only to get a couple knees to the chest for his efforts. Garza sends Lio back into the ring and hits the Wing Clipper, but Rush kicks out at 2 and 3 quarters. At this point Garza doubles down on the Wing Clipper but instead of hitting it again, transitions it into a submission move in which Lio Rush has no choice but to tap out. Your winner and new NXT Cruiserweight Champion: Angel Garza
Final Thoughts: This match was awesome from bell to bell. It really shows the faith that NXT has placed in both Lio Rush and Angel Garza. Since Lio has returned from his hiatus he has done nothing but demonstrate exactly what he can do. The talent he possesses is on another level and I’m so glad he was able to get through whatever demons were holdng him back. If this is what we can expect out of him going forward, I’m all in on Lio Rush. On the other hand, Garza also showcased why he is one of the fastest rising stars in NXT history. This match felt like it should have been on a Takeover. Also, Angel Garza even proposed to his girlfriend during the break after the match. She said yes!
Shayna Baszler cut a promo hyping up her match next week with Rhea Ripley and going down the long list of women that she has dominated since recapturing the gold from Kairi Sane. Also Shayna, like myself, is a fan of good old American muscle cars.
Next we had a revenge match between Raul Mendoza and Cameron Grimes stemming from Grimes’ attack on Mendoza last week. This was a pretty short match, with Mendoza actually getting in a flurry of offense as soon as the bell rang. Normally this is Grimes’ calling card but Mendoza beat him to the punch. Kushida eventually comes to ringside, causing a distraction with his mere presence. Raul Mendoza manages to hit a victory roll on Grimes and gets a rare win. Kushida then steals Grimes’ top hat and makes for the back.
Final Thoughts: This match wasn’t so much an upset win for Mendoza as it was a device to further the growing Kushida-Cameron Grimes feud. I think it’s fair to say that Raul Mendoza will be back to being mostly enhancement talent in the near future.
Next we have another quick match between Jaxson Ryker of the Forgotten Sons and NXT UK’s Travis Banks. Ryker showcased his power early but eventually Banks chopped him down with a series of strikes and kicks into the corner. Eventually he hits the Slice of Heaven and gets the win.
Final Thoughts: This match was mainly on the card to hype up the upcoming World’s Collide event pitting NXT vs NXT UK. It was a sample size of what both of these guys can do but ultimately they were both holding back for a bigger match potentially down the line. Travis Banks did suffer a nasty looking cut above his left eye during the match.
Next up we have Mia Yim vs Dakota Kai. Kai comes out still brandishing the knee brace of Tegan Nox. Yim immediately took control in this one with a dropkick and a flurry of offense. This was a pretty back and forth match in which both women looked decent enough. They hit many of their signature maneuvers to near falls, at one point Mia Yim hits Protect Ya Neck on Kai, only for Kai to roll out of the ring to avoid the pinfall. Dakota eventually grabs the aforementioned knee brace, intending to use it as a weapon. The referee intervenes and takes the brace. When his back is turned Kai removed the turnbuckle padding which led up to Mia Yim eating a face full of exposed buckle. Dakota Kai gets the win. Then the real fight started. Mia attacks Kai after the match, eventually leading them into an elevated production area, whereupon Mia Yim proceeds to back suplex Dakota from the elevated area, through a table on the floor.
Final Thoughts: This match did everything it was supposed to do in building a good rivalry. Heel gets the cheap win, then the babyface follows up with a devastating sequence. I especially am loving this newly minted heel Dakota Kai. Even down to her moves, which have largely stayed unchanged, but are now delivered with a more vicious authenticity. When Kai hit her version of the Helluva Kick in the match, it honestly looked like she was going to kick Yim’s head straight off her body. This match made both women look strong and I look forward to this rivalry continuing, at least until Tegan Nox returns for some well deserved revenge.
Next up there was a short, but entertaining tag match betweeen Breezango and The Singh Brothers (Bolly Bolly Bolly!). Breezango came out dreesed like tv doctors. Both teams showcased what makes them both entertaining, with Fandango eventually hitting the Last Dance for the win.
Final Thoughts: The crowd was chanting for a dance off before the bell, and I’m sad that it didn’t happen. Fandango had to be the MVP of this match though. At one point hitting falcon arrows on both Bollywood Boys and almost killing Sunil Singh with an apron powerbomb. Kudos to Sunil for always doing his best to make moves like that look as brutal as possible.
Next up we had the Rhea Ripley side of things hyping up the title match next week. This was a great package showing how far Rhea has come in a short amount of time. Also they are doing a great job of actually building Rhea Ripley to be the most credible threat to Shayna in a long time. I honestly think that Rhea may win next week. Either way it should be a great match.
Next up we had the one time Lacey Lane, now dubbed Kayden Carter, taking on the EST of NXT, Bianca Belair. There were a few memorable spots in this one, mainly where Belair deadlifts Carter from the mat and drives her back down face first, but in the end after a few minutes Bianca hits the KOD for the 1-2-3.
Final Thoughts: Despite the commentary really trying to play on Carter’s strengths, and bringing an air of hype to her, this match was clearly an exhibition of Bianca Belair’s skills. Carter has a lot of potential, but if they want to build her up naturally you can’t have her getting squashed by Bianca so early on.
Finally we get to the main event. Adam Cole takes postion on the elevated balcony to observe the triple threat match. Of course the winner of this match will be named the new number one contender. I’d also like to point out that all three competitors had really good hype packages throughout the night going into this match giving it a real big fight feel. Like the opening match, this one felt like it could’ve been a Takeover match.
So onto the match itself. We have Finn Balor vs Keith Lee, vs Tommasso Ciampa for the right to challenge Adam Cole (Bay Bay!) for the NXT Championship. This match was crazy. Featuring the best stuff from all three of these guys. Ciampa went for his draping DDT, aka Willow’s Bell, early on both opponents but missed. Keith Lee also hit a springboard crossbody on both men going into commercial, and continued to dominate throughout the break. Ciampa at one point hit Lee with a blatant thumb to the eye, which was odd because he has been working straight babyface since his return from injury. Everyone seemed to get their shots in, all the while Finn played the opportunist. Finn used a lot of hit and run tactics, mainly using his double stomps to capitalize whenever he could. Ciampa eventually hits Willow’s Bell on both men at the same time, but couldn’t manage to pin either man. Keith Lee also hits his Limit Breaker jackhammer on Ciampa, and attempts one on Balor but it ends up in a reversal. The craziest spot of the match involved Ciampa setting Balor up for an Air Raid Crash from the top rope, only for Lee to come up from under putting Ciampa into the Electric Chair drop, sending all three men down to the canvas. Ciampa also displays a crazy amount of strength in managing to hit an Air Raid Crash on all 350 pounds of Keith Lee. In the end, Lee hits Ciampa with the Spirit Bomb, but Finn Balor from out of nowhere hits Lee with the Coup de Grace’ for the win. Finn Balor will face Adam Cole for the NXT title next Wednesday in what is sure to be a match of the year contender (on paper that is).
Final Thoughts: All three men brought their A games and showed why NXT is the brand to watch. Keith Lee is talented on an otherworldly level. A big man that can move like a cruiserweight. Also, Keith Lee is perfect on the mic cutting promos as well with way that he overenunciates every word to perfection. Give that man the mic more often. Ciampa excelled at doing exactly what he has been doing for years, and that is proving why he belongs in the title picture. Ciampa is sports entertainment. As for Finn Balor… what can I say? This is the Finn that I’ve been waiting for since he debuted. I never wanted smiling, happy Finn. As cool as the Demon is, I can live without it for a while. This is the true face of Finn, or Prince Devitt if you’re nasty. If you have ever watched New Japan, then you know that this is one of the best heels in the business. You may love the demon king, but this is the Finn Balor we deserve. Expect amazing things from him in the coming year.
So that is my review and opinions. All in all, this was a great edition of NXT and it sets up a lot of great matches to come. Let’s all look forward to next week with those two big title matches.