Welcome back to the weekly TJRwrestling review of WWE NXT. Last week, we had a good show, although it was sloppy at times, with two matches that were above average. The NXT Cruiserweight Title match between Jordan Devlin and Lio Rush was a very good, fast-paced, back and forth affair, with Devlin picking up the win to retain the title. The main event between Roderick Strong and The Velveteen Dream was also a solid match, with The Undisputed Era laying the Dream out after the match. There was a good promo by Tommaso Ciampa calling for the end of Johnny Gargano in NXT, and we also had a few other matches that kind of fell by the wayside, but not enough to damage the show at all. You can read my complete thoughts on every NXT episode John and I have covered in the archives here. How will NXT follow up this week on the road to Takeover: Tampa Bay? Let’s find out.
WWE NXT from Full Sail University 2/26/2020
The show opens with a recap of what happened last week.
They are inside the NXT arena and we are welcomed to the show by the familiar voice of Mauro Ranallo. He is once again joined at the booth by Nigel McGuinness and Beth Phoenix.
Charlotte Flair is shown backstage arriving at the arena, with William Regal greeting her. They walk to the entrance, as they go down to the ring for the opening match.
Dominik Dijakovic vs. Cameron Grimes
The match starts with both men feeling each other out. Grimes shoots the leg, but Dijakovic fights out and locks in a headlock. Grimes gets to his feet but Dijakovic doesn’t release the grip. Grimes with a high knee but it snuffed out again with a shoulder block. Grimes jumps over and goes for the sunset flip but Dijakovic catches him and grabs him around the neck. Grimes recovers and hits a dropkick. He continues working Dijakovic over and hits a high knee to the head. Grimes showboats a little too much, and Dijakovic hits a Cyclone Kick for a two count. He continues pounding on Grimes and hits an elbow in the corner. He tosses Grimes into the ropes and hits a backbreaker. He follows that up with a splash from the second rope and gets a near fall. Dijakovic continues pounding on Grimes in the corner, but as he goes for a suplex, Grimes fights out and hits a kick to the head. He goes to take him down but Dijakovic catches him in mid-air and tosses him to the outside. He follows him out and rolls him back into the ring. Dijakovic climbs up but Grimes dropkicks him in the ankle and it takes him down. He follows that up by kicking Dijakovic in the head as they go picture in picture.
*Commercial Break* Grimes rolls him in the ring and gets a two count. He continues working him over with some shots to the head that has Dijakovic reeling. Dijakovic fights back and both men trade blows back and forth. Grimes hits a step up Enziguri that takes him out. Dijakovic charges in but Grimes uses the quickness to escape and hits another dropkick. Grimes locks on an armbar and Dijakovic is in a world of pain. Grimes lets go and kicks him in the back. Dijakovic tries to fight out but Grimes keeps the advantage. He stomps on the head of Dijakovic and gets him in the armbar again as they come back to full screen.
Dijakovic fights out and both men exchange rights and lefts. He puts Grimes in a front face lock and tosses him to the side. Grimes gets back to his feet but is met with a series of shots and both men exchange superkicks. Dijakovic covers for a two count. Both men get back to their feet with Grimes hitting some elbows and a Bridging German Suplex for a two count. He lays the knees into Dijakovic and it knocks him to the apron. Grimes slides under and Dijakovic hits a moonsault to the outside. As he tries to get back in, Damian Priest hits Dijakovic in the leg with a pipe out of nowhere. Dijakovic is slow to get up and the referee gets to a nine-count before he slides back in the ring at the very last moment. Grimes takes advantage and hits the double foot stomp to pick up the win. The match went for about 11 minutes.
Winner: Cameron Grimes
Match Rating: 3.25/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was a surprising ending to a pretty entertaining match. Priest interfering in the match obviously sets up with Dijakovic in the future, and Grimes has now thrown his hat, no pun intended, in the ring. Keith Lee now has a list of opponents he could be facing for the North American Title, and it wouldn’t shock me if there was a multi-man match for the title at Takeover: Tampa Bay.
After the match, Dijakovic is looked at by a group of referees and the medical staff.
William Regal is being interviewed backstage. Regal said starting next week there will be a series of qualifying matches to determine the number 1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship. That match at Takeover: Tampa Bay will be a ladder match.
They show Finn Balor who is making his return to the NXT arena before going to a commercial break.
We are back from the break as Dijakovic is being helped to the back following the attack by Damian Priest.
Finn Balor makes his way down to the ring. He grabs a mic and the fans are really cheering him. Balor says that he isn’t a moves guy, he isn’t an internet guy, he isn’t a politics guy, but when the bell rings he is the guy. He says that he builds brands and goes through everything he has been a success at. He says that it’s WrestleMania season and everyone is trying to be at their peak, but he has been there for 20 years. He asks what is next for the prince and just as he runs down the people he has run through in NXT, including Matt Riddle and Johnny Gargano before he is cut off by the music of Imperium. Fabian Aichner and Barthel said that Walter sends his regards and they go to attack Balor but Balor takes them both out. He goes to kick Barthel but he hits an uppercut to Balor in mid-air. Both men double team Balor and take him out with the steel ring steps. Their music hits as they leave the arena.
Collective Thoughts: If the plan for Takeover: Tampa Bay is Balor vs. Walter, then I am all in. Both of those guys can go, and that match has the potential to steal the show. Balor has some good promo work here and really put over being at the top of the mountain in NXT. Aichner and Barthel doing a number to Balor show how much of a threat Imperium are as a unit, and I can’t wait for that match.
They show a package for Austin Theory who will be taking on Tommaso Ciampa tonight. The two had a scuffle last week and it leads to the matchup this week. They go to a commercial.
They come back from commercial and show Bianca Belair getting to the arena earlier in the day. She says that Charlotte Flair is going to get what she wished for and that she will have her hands full. They go back to the ring for the next match.
Xia Li vs. Mia Yim
These two squared off in Li’s NXT debut match.
The bell rings and Li intimidates Yim with some martial arts moves but it doesn’t last long and Yim hits a dropkick. She hits a basement dropkick and gets a near fall. Li fights back and kicks Yim away, but she keeps the advantage and stomps on the head of Li. Yim goes for a senton in the corner but Li moves out of the way and hits some strikes on Yim. She continues to work her over but misses a dropkick and Yim hits a slam. Just as she does, she is cut off by the music Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Kai cuts a promo on Yim, which distracts her, and Li takes advantage
Winner: Xia Li
Match Rating: DUD
Collective Thoughts: That was a quick match that pushed the story between Yim and Kai. Kai interrupting the match was a bit of a surprise, but I guess after her match with Tegan Nox next week, feuding with Yim will be the direction they go with her. There wasn’t much to the match and was done to build an angle.
After the match, Raquel Gonzales gets in the ring and takes out Yim. Li gets in the ring to break it up but she gets taken out too. Gonzales continues to work over Yim and hits her with a powerbomb. Gonzales leaves both women laying, as she and Kai walk up the ramp.
Ciampa is shown backstage preparing for his match tonight against Austin Theory as they go to a break.
The Velveteen Dream is shown as they come from the break and he makes a challenge to Roderick Strong and wants it to be inside of a Steel Cage. He begs Regal to make it official because he would love nothing more than to finish Strong off once and for all.
It’s announced that Johnny Gargano will be the next gues on the After the Bell Podcast with Corey Graves. They show a graphic for that as Austin Theory makes his way down to the ring and it’s time for the next match. He has a chip on his shoulder stemming from the beatdown he received last week at the hands of Ciampa.
Austin Theory vs. Tommaso Ciampa
The match starts with both men locking up with Ciampa snagging a headlock. He is thrown into the ropes with both men exchanging blows. Theory takes him down with a dropkick and hits some strikes that has Ciampa reeling and falling into the ropes. Ciampa comes back with a clothesline. He stomps on Theory and slaps him in a chin lock. Theory makes his way to his feet and goes for a dropkick but Ciampa moves. He tosses Theory to the outside and follows him out. Ciampa goes to throw him into the guardrail but Theory reverses it and slams Ciampa into it. Both men get back in the ring and Theory hits a dropkick but Ciampa kicks out at one. Theory hits a chop and a splash in the corner. Ciampa recovers and bounces Theory’s neck off the top rope. He tosses him into the corner post as they go to commercial.
They come back to the action with Theory stomping Ciampa in the corner. Ciampa tries to come back but Theory takes him down and hits a moonsault to his back. He covers him for a two count. Ciampa makes a comeback and kicks Theory in the head. He follows that up with a series of clotheslines and a release German Suplex. Ciampa goes for the Fairy Tail Ending but Theory fights out but is quickly taken out by a Ciampa knee to the face. He puts theory on the top rope and picks him up for the Air Raid Crash but Theory fights out. Both men are exchanging blows in the middle of the ring with Theory hitting the Blockbuster followed by a Buckle Bomb. Theory hits the Ataxia and gets a two count. He pulls Ciampa to his feet but he fights out and hits Theory with a chop to the chest. He sets Theory up for another Fairy Tale Ending but Theory Fights out again and hits another Ataxia for another near fall. Both men go to the outside, and Theory tosses him into the guardrail again. He rolls Ciampa in the ring but as he goes to get in, he is met with a Willows Bell DDT. Ciampa finally hits the Fairy Tale Ending and picks up the win in about 12 minutes.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
Match Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: This was a surprisingly great match. Theory brought his A-game and hit Ciampa with all he had. Theory hit the Ataxia twice and Ciampa kicked out both times which I am not the biggest fan of, but it didn’t take anything away from the match. There were spots that were back and forth and the whole match was competitive throughout. Ciampa picks up the win to continue his momentum going into Takeover: Tampa Bay but Theory put up a hell of a fight.
After the match, they show replays, as Ciampa celebrates in the ring. Gargano jumps in from the crowd and both men go back and forth. Theory gets involved but is quickly taken out. Gargano takes advantage and hits two Superkicks that take Ciampa out. Gargano sits on the apron and leads the crowd in a slow clap as Ciampa is in a world of hurt. He throws Ciampa to the floor and circles him on the outside.
They show the graphic for Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair tonight before going to a commercial break.
They come back with Roderick Strong sitting with the rest of the guys in The Undisputed Era. Strong starts by saying that he agrees with The Velveteen Dream and they should be in a cage next week. He tells Dream to be careful what he wishes for because it might get ugly. Kyle O’Reilly starts talking about Riddle and Dunne and how they got lucky when they won the NXT Tag Team Titles at Takeover: Portland. Adam Cole chimes in and adds that they will continue their reign as the most dominant faction in NXT. Solid promo here.
Bronson Reed vs. Killian Dain
Both men lock up with Dain hitting some shoulders in the corner. Reed goes for a scoop slam but Dain fights out but Reed comes back with a dropkick that takes Dain to the outside. Reed hits a Suicide Dive to the outside. Both men get back in the ring with Dain taking the advantage and hits a Samoan Drop for a two count. He slams Reed down again and gets another near fall. He continues to pound on Reed and locks him in an armbar. Reed gets back to his feet and hits a series of elbows and a Manhattan Drop. Both men come off the rope and take each other out with a double crossbody. Both men exchange shots to the head and Dain hits a headbutt. Reed recovers and hits a clothesline and slams Dain to the mat. Reed hits a Suplex followed by a splash in the corner. Dain reveres course and hits a Samoan Drop. Dain goes for a Vader Bomb but Reed gets the knees up. He hits Dain with a big move and gets another near fall. Reed pulls him over and climbs to the top but is cut off by Dain. Dain follows him up and hits a Suplerplex. He follows that up with a senton and hits the Vader Bomb to pick up the win in about 5 minutes.
Winner: Killian Dain
Match Rating: 2.75/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was a hoss match with two guys that are very athletic for their size. Bronson Reed hitting that Suicide Dive to the outside was impressive and the big man Superplex was a solid way to set up the end of the match. Dain using The Vader Bomb as a finisher is cool because that move has always been devastating.
Post-match, they show the replays as Dain celebrates in the ring.
They show the response from the Forgotten Sons to The Grizzled Young Veterans that aired last week and they announce that the two teams will be in a match next as they go to commercial.
They come back with a package showcasing The Broserweights. After the package ends, we see The Grizzled Young Veterans make their way down to the ring, with Zack Gibson cutting a promo and calling Forgotten Sons typical Yanks sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. He says that Sons epitomize everything about America including being redneck, blue-collar losers. Just as Gibson starts to say something else, the Forgotten Sons music hits and they make their way down to the ring.
The Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) vs. Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler)(w/Jaxson Ryker)
Blake and Gibson start the match off for their teams. They lock up and exchange blows back and forth before Blake takes the advantage with a dropkick. He hits Drake with another dropkick and makes the tag into Cutler and they hit a double team Headbutt on Gibson. Cutler covers for a two count. He works on the arm of Gibson, but Gibson revived and works him into the corner. Cutler reverses and hits some strikes in the corner and he whips Gibson to the opposite side, but Drake softens the blow and Gibson comes back with a high knee. Gibson makes the tag into Drake and they hit a double team splash and Drake gets a near fall. He continues pounding on Cutler in the middle of the ring with some punches and a clothesline and gets another near fall. Drake locks in a chin lock and keeps grinding it in but he releases it and continues to stomp on Cutler. He works over to the corner and makes the tag back to Gibson. They hit some double team offense and Gibson covers for a near fall. He gets Cutler in a front face lock before working back to his corner for another tag. Drake is in and hits a knee to the back before getting Cutler in another chin lock. Cutler makes his way back to his feet and works Drake into his corner and makes the tag to Blake. He comes in and hits a power slam on Drake for a near fall. Drake rolls to the outside but he is confronted by Ryker on the outside. Blake catches up to him and hits a few chops before rolling him back in the ring. Blake locks him in a headlock but Drake works over to his corner and Gibson makes the blind tag. They have a brief exchange with Blake hitting a dropkick on Drake that sends him to the mat. Blake follows that up with a Hurricanrana on Gibson and makes the tag back to Cutler. They hit double team hip tosses on both men before they pick up Drake and send him crashing to the outside on top of Gibson and they go to a commercial break.
They come back with Drake having Blake in a chin lock. They show that during the commercial break, The Grizzled Young Veterans hit some double team offense on Blake on the outside of the ring to give them the advantage. Blake tried to fight his way out of the corner hitting both men with shots and tries to get a Sunset Flip on Drake who makes the tag to Gibson before going over. Gibson comes in with a stomp to the back of the head of Blake. Gibson slaps on a chin lock for an extended period of time. Blake fights his way to his feet and hits a neck breaker and both men struggle to make tags to their corners. Gibson makes the tag and Drake comes in but Blake hits him with a back body drop and he makes the tag to Cutler. He is a house of fire and takes out both members of the Grizzled Young Veterans. He hits a pair of belly to belly suplexes and hits a huge clothesline on Drake in the ring. Cutler hits a Double Underhook Backbreaker, followed by a Boston Crab but releases it to knock Gibson to the outside. He goes to hit Drake with the backbreaker again, but Drake lifts him up and over his head. Drake goes for an Enziguri but misses and Cutler hits a Buckle Bomb followed by a Fisherman Buster and gets a near fall after Gibson puts Drake’s foot on the bottom rope. Ryker has seen enough and heads over to Gibson on the other side of the ring. He stalks him around the ring but is hit by a Suicide Dive compliments of James Drake. They throw Ryker into the stairs but are taken out by Blake and Cutler who hit splashes to the outside. All four men get back in the ring and Forgotten Sons set up Drake for a double team move but Gibson kicks Cutler in the head and they hit a springboard dropkick that knocks Cutler to the outside. Drake rolls Blake up in the ring but Blake recovers and hits a chop and a dropkick but Gibson makes a blind tag making him the legal man. Blake misses a dropkick and The Grizzled Young Veterans hit him with a Ticket to Mayhem and pick up the win in about 13 minutes.
Winner(s): The Grizzled Young Veterans
Match Rating: 3.25/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was an above-average tag team match with The Grizzled Young Veterans picking up another win. They work well as a team and their double team offense looks crisp. The Forgotten Sons also had a nice showing here, with Wesley Blake standing out the most for his team but Cutler held his own as well. It’s nice to see NXT putting an emphasis on tag team wrestling.
Post-match, the Forgotten Sons are down in the ring as The Grizzled Young Veterans make their way up the ramp.
Tegan Nox is being interviewed backstage and says that she thought she had Dakota Kai perfectly scouted but didn’t think that Raquel Gonzales would be getting involved. She says that she is still feeling the effects of the match from Takeover: Portland but that next week, Raquel won’t play a factor. She says that Dakota started this in a cage and next week she is going to end it in a cage.
Charlotte Flair is shown getting ready for her match that is up next as they go to a commercial break.
They come back with a graphic of the Steel Cage match next week between Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai. They also announce that The Velveteen Dream and Roderick Strong is official for next week and will also be inside of a Steel Cage.
They catch up with Damian Priest who was leaving the building. He said what he did to Dijakovic wasn’t personal but he was in the way of what he wanted. He says that Keith Lee knows exactly what he wants now.
Bianca Belair makes her entrance and it’s time for the main event.
Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair
The bell rings and Flair is hit with “you don’t go here” chants from the NXT faithful. They lock up and Flair uses her power to work Belair into the corner and powers her down to the mat. She lets off and draws a line on the mat. Both women exchange headlocks and are countered with head scissors and kip-ups. Flair grabs a waist lock but Belair reverses it and they go back and forth before Flair takes Belair down to the mat. Belair fights her way back to her feet and hits a dropkick that knocks Flair to the mat. She taunts Flair and runs in and hits a shoulder block in the corner. She tosses Flair to the mat and picks her up for a scoop slam but Flair reverses and hits a series of chops. Flair knocks Belair to the mat and hits a kick to the face as Belair was sitting up. Flair showboats in the ring as they go to the split-screen commercial.
*Commerical Break* Flair picks her up as Belair was trying to roll away and tosses her into the ropes. Belair catches herself on the top and Flair goes for a back body drop, but Belair kicks her in the head. That looked a little sloppy. Belair charges in but Flair takes her out with a clothesline. She tosses Belair into the corner and as she comes in, Belair hits her with an elbow. Belair tries to kick Flair away but she catches her feet and hits her with a backbreaker. Flair puts her in a chin lock and thrashes her around. Belair makes her way back to her feet but Flair throws her back down by the hair. She throws Belair into the corner, but she reverses and Flair goes up and over the top turnbuckle. Flair catches her with a kick from the apron and locks her in an armbar. Belair tries to fight out but Flair intercepts her and hits her with a shot to the back. She tosses Belair to the outside and stands tall in the ring as they go back to full screen.
Flair waits for Belair to get back in the ring. Flair goes in for a Baseball Slide but Belair moves and throws Flair into the post. Belair gets in the ring and Flair makes her way back in as well. Flair stands by the head of Belair but Belair rolls her up in a small package and gets a two count. Flair gets back to her feet and hits a chop. She hits a couple more chops and follows that up with a neck breaker. Flair attempts to put her in a Dragon Sleeper but Belair fights out and throws her into the corner. Belair hits a facebuster and then hits a chicken wing facebuster and covers for a two count. Belair goes to hit the ropes, but Flair grabs the ankle. Belair stomps on her and goes for a springboard move but Flair kicks her in the midsection. Flair hits some high knees and locks Belair in the Abdominal Stretch. Belair fights out and locks Flair in a Stretch of her own. Flair lifts her up and slams her down but she misses a follow-up Senton. Belair hits a handstand moonsault and gets a near fall. Belair picks her up for a Powerbomb but Flair gets out and hits her with an elbow. Flair hits another elbow and slams her face into the second rope. Flair steps over Belair and goes for a moonsault but Belair gets the legs up, only to have Flair turn it into a Boston Crab. Flair lets it go and goes for a roll-up and gets a two count. She continues working on the leg of Belair and locks her in a leg lock that has Belair in a bad spot. She powers Belair up and hits a Sitout Powerbomb but she only gets a two count. Flair comes in and goes for a kick but Belair moves and she dropkicks Flair out of the ring. Belair tosses her into the post and rolls her back in the ring and hits a Spear. Flair gets back to her feet and hits a Spear of her own, followed by the Natural Selection and picks up the win in about 14 minutes.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Match Rating: 3/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was a good match that had parts that seemed like they weren’t on the same page. Charlotte Flair is an outstanding worker and can have a good match with anyone, but this one just felt a little off at times. Bianca Belair has been growing on me the last couple of weeks and there are rumors floating around that she will be involved in the WrestleMania buildup between Flair and Ripley and might actually be inserted into the match. Either way, the match was fine but didn’t do much for me in terms of blowing me away.
After the match, Flair grabs a chair but as she gets in the ring Rhea Ripley’s music starts to play. Flair puts Belair’s ankle inside the chair and stomps down on it as Ripley stands on the ramp. She puts Belair in the Figure Eight, as Ripley finally gets to the ring and Flair slides out and they share a staredown as the show goes off the air.
Collective Thoughts: That was a clunky way to end the show. Flair continued to beatdown Belair in the ring as Ripley made her full entrance. I understand that there is no love loss between Ripley and Belair but it was just weird to see Belair getting pummeled in the ring and Ripley is standing on the top of the ramp. It just seemed like they were trying to focus on two things at the same time. Ripley and Flair will be a good match at Mania, and I’m sure the buildup will have better moments between the two.
Overall Show Rating: 7.25 out of 10
This show was full of solid matches and was entertaining for the most part. The opening match was surprisingly above average with Cameron Grimes picking up a big win over Dominik Dijakovic. They set up Walter vs. Balor at Takeover: Tampa and that is one I am very much looking forward too. The Grizzled Young Veterans picked up another impressive win and continue to work their way up the ladder in the NXT tag team division. The main event was fun but didn’t seem to get into second gear as much as I thought it would. Overall, I feel like the show was better than last week, not by much though, but I feel like the shows will get stronger as they creep closer to Takeover: Tampa Bay.
What did you think of WWE NXT this week? Loved it? Hated it? Are you still hooked on AEW Dynamite every week? Either way, follow me over @collectiveheel on Twitter and let me know your thoughts. Support the site. Support each other. I’ll be back soon enough with some more Collective Thoughts.