Reviews

A Collective Review of WWE NXT 3/25/2020 by Lance Augustine

Welcome back to the weekly TJRwrestling review of WWE NXT. There were no live matches last week due to the Corona Virus outbreak, and in its place, they had a highlight show that built some matches and had some packages for a few wrestlers. By the sounds of it now, there will be no NXT Takeover: Tampa which is a bummer because I was looking forward to the show. All is not lost though, because they have also announced that the matches that were set to take place on that show will now take place on future episodes of NXT in the coming weeks. This week’s episode will undoubtedly take place with no people in attendance as the last couple of weeks of television on the main roster have been, and it should be another interesting dynamic. Let’s get to it!

Before I start the review I wanted to let everyone know that this will be my last week of reviewing the weekly NXT shows. I will still write for the site, but it will be more infrequent and you’ll get more opinions from me (lucky you!). I have had a blast picking up the slack for John over the last couple of months and stepping in where he has needed me too. Unfortunately, like most people, I have other commitments that make it almost impossible for me to give these reviews the attention they deserve. You, the readers, deserve to have a good analysis of these shows since some of you don’t have cable and rely on us as the columnists to let you know what had happened on the shows you like. John does a fantastic job with the site and speaking as unbiased as I can, has the most in-depth wrestling reviews you could find anywhere. I am excited to see where the site can go. I am pleased to know John as a close friend, and not just a guy that busts me up because I have terrible grammar. I will be a wrestling fan for life and sites like this will always keep that going for me. Be well my friends, and I hope to talk to a lot of you soon. Hit the Coronavirus with a Diamond Cutter for me.

(Note from John Canton: Thanks to Lance for doing these NXT reviews for us for the last few months. He’s a good dude with a wife and young kids at home, so I know he’s a busy guy already. I’m proud of the work ethic he has. He got some great career news recently that has led to an awesome new job for him starting next week. That’s why he won’t have time to write these reviews anymore. I’m happy for him. We’ll figure something out in terms of getting him to write columns a few times per month. I don’t know what I’ll do for the NXT review. I can probably review it until I can find somebody else. For now, here’s Lance.)

WWE NXT from Full Sail University 3/25/2020

The show opens with a package showcasing Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. They say it’s time for both of them to answer to Triple H tonight.

Tom Philips is the play by play announcer tonight and is joined at the booth by Byron Saxton. They talk about the matches in the coming weeks of NXT before going down to the ring for the first match.

Collective Thoughts: It makes sense that they are using most the Raw crew as far as the announcing side goes since they are already there and there isn’t a need to put anyone else at risk.

Austin Theory vs. Tyler Breeze

This stems from an altercation the two had a few weeks ago with Theory calling Breeze a has-been and Breeze calling Theory a flash in the pan.

The bell rings and both men lock up. Theory takes control early and puts Breeze against the ropes tells him he is the future. Theory takes Breeze to the corner again and continues to mock him. Breeze puts Theory in a headlock but Theory reverses it into one of his own. Breeze comes back with a dropkick as Theory comes off the ropes and talks some trash of his own. Breeze hits a clothesline that takes Theory into the corner. Theory gets a boot up as Breeze charges in and hits a Blockbuster. Theory continues to stalk Breeze and talks about how young he is. Snap Suplex by Theory gets a near fall. He locks Breeze in a chin lock and continues to run him down. Theory hits some clubbing blows and locks in another chin lock. Theory wrenches it in and continues to talk about being the future. Breeze fights back and hits a jawbreaker but Theory comes back with a dropkick that sends Breeze to the outside as they go to a commercial break.

They come back from break and Breeze hits a kick to the midsection and follows that up with a kick to the head. Theory goes to the corner and Breeze charges in and hits a couple of elbows to the head. He goes for one more but Theory catches him and hits a Powerbomb to a two count. He kicks Breeze to the outside of the ring and hits an elbow. He hits another elbow before throwing Breeze into the guardrail. Theory rolls him back in the ring and hits a Powerbomb for another near fall. Theory continues to work Breeze over with some shots. He picks him up and slams him down and gets a two count. Theory grabs the phone and starts to showboat with Breeze on his shoulders but Breeze fights out and hits the Beauty Shot spin kick to pick up the win in about 14 minutes.

Winner: Tyler Breeze
Match Rating: 3/5 Stars

Collective Thoughts: It’s hard to rate matches with no crowd, and I won’t keep harping on that but these two worked their asses off. Theory came off looking good even in a loss. He tossed Breeze around for a lot of the match and really showed off his potential for the brand. He is a good mix of size and speed and he worked well with Breeze. Breeze held his own and showed that he still has something to give to the up and coming stars in NXT. I would have put Theory over in this match, but there are people better suited than me to book the show.

After the match, Tyler Breeze celebrates in the ring as Philips gets us ready for the celebration of the NXT Champion Adam Cole tonight. They go to commercial.

They come back from break and it’s time for the next match.

Killian Dain vs. Tehuti Miles

Dain starts the action off by working Miles into the corner. Miles comes out and both men exchange words in the ring. Dain charges in but Miles shows athleticism and escapes. Miles comes out to the apron and Dain knock him off with an elbow. Dain follows him out and throws him into the stairs and then into the guardrail. He rolls Miles back in the ring and kicks him in the head and stomps down on him in the corner. The ref pulls Dain away but he comes back with a belly to back suplex and covers for a two count. Dain grabs his neck and attempts a Suplex but Miles flips out. Miles goes to the corner and Dain tries to charge in but Miles gets the boots up. Miles follows that up with some shots and a dropkick. Dain recovers and hits a slam of his own. He follows that up with a running senton and a Vader Bomb to finish Miles off. The match went for about 3 minutes.

Winner: Killian Dain
Match Rating: 2/5 Stars

Collective Thoughts: Dain came out on top which doesn’t surprise me. This was my first time seeing Miles in action and he showed a lot of athleticism and fluid movement. Dain using the Vader Bomb as a finisher will always be cool. Overall, it was a decent showing for a hoss match. They have been getting Dain some more TV time as of late, which doesn’t hurt either.

Post-match they talk about the appearance of Triple H tonight before going to a commercial break.

Cameron Grimes vs. Tony Nese

Grimes coming off a good match with Keith Lee for the NXT North American Championship two weeks ago on NXT. Nese is a former NXT Cruiserweight Champion.

The match gets underway with Nese taking Grimes into the corner. The ref breaks them up and both men circle the ring. Nese gets a waist lock and takes Grimes down to the mat. Grimes fights out and puts Nese in a headlock. Grimes locks him in an armbar but Nese fights out and puts Grimes in an armbar if his own. Grimes fights out and hits a series of knees to the midsection. Nese comes off the ropes but Grimes bounces him off the top rope and covers him for a two count. Grimes puts Nese in another armbar and works his fingers over as well. Nese fights back to his feet and hits a couple of chops but is soon taken down by Grimes via a chop the chest. Grimes attempts to hit a Powerbomb but Nese resists and hits a kick to the face. Nese hits some shots to the head and hits a Spinning Heel Kick. Grimes goes over to the corner and Nese follows him and hits a splash. Nese hits a kick to the head and follows that up with a moonsault for a two count. He tries to pick Grimes up for a move but Grimes fights out and both men trade blows. Nese goes for a corner knee, but Grimes scouts it and reserves it into a slam. Nese gets to his feet and comes off the ropes but Grimes hits him with the Cave in and picks up the win in about 6 minutes.

Winner: Cameron Grimes
Match Rating: 2.25/5 Stars

Collective Thoughts: There was some back and forth action throughout, but the match wasn’t anything special. Nese looks good in the ring and stood toe to toe with Grimes for the most part. He hasn’t been seen much on NXT but has had strong showings when given the chance. Grimes seems to be getting a slight push after being in the championship match with Lee and avenging that loss with a win here. I could see him sticking around that title picture for the foreseeable future.

After the match, they tell us there will be two qualifying matches for the Number One Contender Ladder Match for the NXT Women’s Championship before going to a commercial break.

Number One Contender Qualifying Match
Xia Li vs. Aliyah

They show the footage from a few months ago where these two squared off and Li broke the nose of Aliyah.

Aliyah waits in the ring but Li isn’t coming out. They go to the back and Li is crying and favoring her knee. The referees check on her and Greg Hamilton makes the announcement that Li isn’t medically cleared to wrestle but they do have someone who is cleared and Io Shirai makes her way to the ring.

Shirai starts the match off quickly with a dropkick and hits double knees in the corner. Aliyah comes back with a slam and kicks Shirai in the corner. They fight out and Shirai hits a chop to the chest. Shirai hits a backbreaker and follows that up with a moonsault to win the match. It went about a minute.

Winner: Io Shirai
Match Rating: DUD

Collective Thoughts: Shirai making a return here is cool because she is a solid performer all around. Li being taken out before the match was a different way to book it and Aliyah thought she was going to get a pass before Shirai came out. The match wasn’t that long and it seemed a little sloppy despite its length.

After the match, they show the updated roster for the Number One Contender Ladder Match which now includes Shirai. They say that Keith Lee will be coming out right after the break.

Keith Lee Promo

Lee is asked about what happened a couple of weeks ago between Lee and Dijakovic. Lee says that he had a hard-fought match with Cameron Grimes but afterward was struck from behind. He said that when he recovered he thought Dijakovic was the one who attacked him but he knows now that it was Damian Priest. He said he owes Dijakovic an apology. Dijakovic comes down to the ring and says that he doesn’t give a damn about an apology and he only wants the title. Dijakovic says that Lee took good off of his table. Damian Priest comes out and says that he wants the title as well and it will give him everything he wants. He says that his name will live forever but he still needs the championship. Lee says that Priest won’t live forever and that he is the champ and is standing right here. Priest says maybe he shouldn’t be standing anymore and comes in the ring. Dijakovic pushes Lee out of the way and takes Priest on himself. They brawl back and forth and go to the outside. Priest and Lee continue working on each other on the outside but Dijakovic comes off the rope and takes both men out before his music starts and the three share a staredown.

Collective Thoughts: That was a decent segment but nothing groundbreaking. The promos came off a little weird with no fan heat but the brawling at the end was a nice touch. Lee came off as the typical babyface trying to apologize to Dijakovic and this will probably lead to a triple threat match for the NXT North American Championship.

Adam Cole is up next after the commercial break.

Adam Cole is shown poolside while on vacation. He talks about the altercation he had with The Velveteen Dream. He said Dream had him a little flustered but got over that quickly when he realized that he has been the winner in a lot of big matches in NXT. He says that the rest of The Undisputed Era wants a piece of the Dream too and puts a challenge out on behalf of Bobby Fish. He says wants he loses he will truly prove he is in the best in NXT.

Collective Thoughts: Let me start by saying that I understand what is going on in the world right now and that it may be unsafe to travel. With that being said, this was WEAK. Adam Cole is one of the most decorated NXT Champions in the history of the brand, and this is what they come up with as a celebration? No cake or anything? I don’t know how I felt about this especially because they have been hyping it up for a few weeks, but with the situation what can you do I suppose. Hopefully, he gets a formal celebration when the show is back to its normal rhythm.

Oney Lorcan and Danny Birch vs. Shane Thorne and Brenden Fink

Thornes and Fink had a match against The Street Profits on Raw and our on NXT tonight.

Birch and Fink start the match off with Fink taking him down and talking some trash. He pushes Birch into the corner but he fights out and puts Fink in a headlock. Fink fights out and takes him down with a shoulder block. He tags Thorne in and he puts Birch in an armbar. Birch regains the advantage and starts to work on the hand of Thorne before making a tag to Lorcan. He comes in and hits Thorne with some chops but Thorne recovers and runs to his corner to make a tag. Fink comes in and slams Lorcan down to the mat and covers for a two count. He tags Thorne back in and both men exchange elbows before both making tags to their partners. Fink and Birch are in and Birch hits him with a cutter for a two count. All four men get in the ring and Lorcan and Birch take them down before locking them in a crossface and a single leg crab and pick up the win in about 4 minutes.

Winner(s): Oney Lorcan and Danny Birch
Match Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

Collective Thoughts: Thorne and Fink have had a hell of a week being on multiple shows this week, but picked up losses in both. Losing to the Raw Tag Team Champions isn’t anything to gloss over though. Fink showed a lot of power here with Thorne getting some offense in as well but Lorcan and Birch were too much in the end. The match never picked up much and was fairly short which hurt it a little bit.

Lorcan and Birch celebrate in the ring as they go to a commercial break.

Number One Contender Qualifying Match
Candice LaRae vs. Kayden Carter

They lock up with LaRae taking the early advantage with a headlock. Carter reserves course and takes LaRae down with a waist lock. LaRae gets back to her feet and takes Carter down with a slam and a near fall. Carter gets back to her feet and takes LaRae down with a leg sweep and covers for two. Both women are back to their feet and Carter takes her down with a single leg but LaRae kicks out after one. Both women exchange pinfall attempts before Carter kicks LaRae in the face. They go into the corner and LaRae fights out and hits a snap neck breaker and covers for a two count. LaRae puts her in a front face lock and hits some clubbing blows to the back. Carter takes her down with another leg sweep and covers her for a two count. Carter slams her down and covers her again for two. LaRae comes back with some chops of her own and takes Carter down. She goes for the Gargano escape but Carter rolls her up for two. Both women exchange pinfalls again before LaRae gets her in the Gargano escape and Carter taps out. The match went for about 6 minutes.

Winner: Candice LaRae
Match Rating: 1.75/5 Stars

Collective Thoughts: The match was solid but repetitive with both women trying to get pinfall attempts over the course of the whole thing. They did get some stuff in but the match was mostly underwhelming. LaRae getting into the ladder match makes her one of the favorites to win it, in my eyes anyway. They are really putting some unknown women stars in the match, which is a good thing when you are trying to find some new challengers for the NXT Women’s Championship.

Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong

Both men feel each other out with Strong taking Riddle down to the mat and both men start mat wrestling with each other. Riddle goes for a double leg takedown and covers Strong but only gets a one count. Riddle rolls him over and both men continue to try and gain the advantage. They get back to their feet and Strong wrestled him down once again. Riddle gets back to his feet and gets Strong in the ropes but the ref breaks them up. Riddle hits a Gutwrench Suplex and Strong rolls out of the ring. They have a test of strength back in the ring with Riddle hitting some shots to the head. Strong fights out and works on the hand of Riddle and hits some chops to the chest. Strong goes for the Olympic Slam but Riddle fights out. He works Riddle over with some punches before dropping Riddle neck first on the top rope. Riddle is in a world of pain as they go to the commercial break.

They come back from break with Strong working on the neck and back of Riddle. He locks Riddle in a Camel Clutch and tells him to give up. Riddle fights out, gets to his feet, and kicks Strong in the chest a few times. Riddle hits a Peele Kick and an elbow in the corner. Strong comes out and hits some chops and locks Riddle in the Strong Hold. He lets go but Riddle gets back to his feet and hits the Bro to Sleep and gets a two count. Both men exchange blows before Strong finally hits the Olympic Slam but only gets a two count. Riddle comes back to his feet and he hits Strong with some stiff shots. Strong comes back with some of his own and goes to the top but Riddle catches him with the Bro Derek and wins the match in about 10 minutes.

Winner: Matt Riddle
Match Rating: 3/5 Stars

Collective Thoughts: The match was very well-paced and featured a lot of mat wrestling which is both men’s strong suits. They probably would have had a better match in a normal setting but this wasn’t terrible or anything. Obviously, the showdown they had at Takeover a while back was superior to this match, but like I mentioned they did well with what they had. There were a lot of reversals and both men have great chemistry together but I would like to see both of them move on from each other. Not just in singles, but their teams as well.

After the match, Riddle is destroyed by two huge men. They take him out and Malcolm Bivens makes his way to the ring and says that since Riddle’s partner is halfway across the world, this was the perfect time to introduce him to the future of the NXT Tag Team Division. The men celebrate in the ring as they go to a commercial break.

They come back from break and confirm that Bobby Fish and The Velveteen Dream will go one on one next week. They also let us know that there will be a second chance qualifying match for those women who lost their initial matches and the winner will be inserted into the Number One Contender Ladder Match. The triple threat match for the NXT North American Title is also signed and will see Keith Lee defending the title against Damian Priest and Dominik Dijakovic. Those are some good matches coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Triple H Addresses Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano

Triple H is in the ring. He says that in NXT there has never been a bigger rivalry than the one between Ciampa and Gargano. He continues to talk but is interrupted by Ciampa. Ciampa says that this has been almost 5 years in the making. He says they both know that Gargano is here tonight and that he should make him come out here and they can finish it tonight. Triple H says that there won’t be any physicality tonight between the two. Gargano comes out and says that he isn’t getting in the ring with Ciampa because he knows what Ciampa is capable of. He says that he has no fault for what happened at the performance center and that Ciampa was a coward and tried to escape through the medical room window. Classic Heenan line. Triple H says they are both there because of him and if it was up to Regal they would be fired. Triple H says that this rivalry has to come to an end. He mentions the showdown between him and Shawn Michaels so he knows where they are coming from. Triple H says that this should end on the biggest stage possible. Gargano cuts him off and says that this should have ended last year but Ciampa broke his neck. Ciampa says that he fought his way back and now it’s time for them to end this. Gargano says they don’t need a big stage and that they will do it anywhere with a ref and a camera. They go back and forth about being the heart and soul of NXT. Triple H says that if they don’t need anybody but each other then he will make that happen. He asks when they want to do it. Gargano says he will be ready in 2 weeks. Triple H says that in 2 weeks he will find an empty building and put a ring in it and they will finish it there. He says it will end there and if it doesn’t, both of them will be out of a job. Ciampa says that NXT will carry on without Johnny Gargano. Gargano says that’s where your wrong and that he will prove just how black his heart is.

They are interrupted by a video package and it shows the face of Killer Kross as the show goes off the air.

Collective Thoughts: That was an intense segment by all three men and it seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel as far as this rivalry goes. I really like both men involved but I also think it’s time to move on and give both of these guys a fresh matchup. Triple H getting involved made this feel like a big deal because he is even higher than Regal in the NXT hierarchy and he means business. Finding an empty building and putting a ring in it shouldn’t that hard currently and that was the one thing I felt would have had more impact if everyone hasn’t been running shows like that already. Killer Kross coming on the screen to end the show adds a little bit on intrigue because we have no idea where this is going. Either man would match up with him well and we will have to wait and see if he gets involved in their match or not to start something new. Cool way to end the show.

Overall Show Rating: 6.5 out of 10

I know John Canton has been saying for a couple of weeks that these shows are hard to be critical of and I agree. This show definitely didn’t feature a lot of promos and was all in-ring work, which was a stark contrast from last week that didn’t have any matches at all. I think they did a really good job working with what they had and the matches didn’t suffer much from the lack of a crowd. The opener was good with Austin Theory looking good in defeat. The two qualifying matches were alright, although never one of them really kicked it into second gear. The tag team match pushed Lorcan and Birch a little in the tag team division and the main event between Riddle and Strong was solid from start to finish. I would say that the promo to end the show was the highlight of the night though, with all three men being very intense and setting up a big-time match in the next couple of weeks. Plus, they had the pseudo-debut of Killer Kross which leaves us all wondering where he fits into all of this. That’s the way you want to end a show because he has people tuning back in to see where they go next.

What did you think of WWE NXT this week? Loved it? Hated it? You’re still following Vanguard 1? Either way, follow me over @collectiveheel and let me know your thoughts. Support the site, support each other, and for the love of Pete wash your hands. I’ll be back soon enough with some more Collective Thoughts.