TJR: WWE NXT 09/08/20 Review (Balor vs. Cole for NXT Title)

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling for the second special “Super Tuesday” edition of NXT. Last week’s NXT episode ended with a tie in a 4-Way 60-Minute Iron Man Match, so this week the two men that tied will face off for the NXT Title. As usual for my NXT reviews, I will be doing a summary of matches and segments along with the analysis/star ratings for every match. I’ll go with a play by play format for the opening match for the NXT Title and the main event this week.

The show took place at Full Sail University as usual with development wrestlers in the crowd behind the plexiglass.

The announcers are the tall announce team of Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett at Full Sail University and Beth Phoenix calling the action from her home in North Carolina.

Finn Balor was up first for the match to determine the new NXT Champion with Balor looking as serious as ever. Adam Cole was next with a look of confidence on his face. Cole entered alone without his Undisputed Era buddies by his side. Cole had the longest NXT Championship reign ever at 403 days with Keith Lee ending that run two months ago. They stood in the ring for the championship introductions, which always helps to give it a big match feel. The NXT GM William Regal was there to hand the referee the NXT Title to begin the match.

Analysis: I think it was smart to put this on first and give the fans a resolution after last week’s draw. The winner of this match will be the third two-time NXT Champion joining Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe.

For the Vacant NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole

Balor with a tight headlock, then a shoulder tackle and he grabbed another headlock. Cole got out of it and slapped on a hammerlock leading to a two count. Cole grabbed a submission on the shoulder, then Balor turned it into an armbar and Balor told the referee that he doesn’t quit. Cole with a dropkick to the head with Barrett noting it was the first strike in the matchup. Cole put Balor on his shoulders leading to a slam where Cole hit Balor in the back of the head with the knee for a two count. That led to a picture in picture break.

Balor was in control with a headlock, Cole broke free with a jawbreaker. Balor with a body slam and an elbow to the ribs. Balor with a running low dropkick along with chops and driving his shoulder to the ribs. Balor charged in with a running chop. Cole with a comeback that included a back elbow and a pump kick to the face. Cole was down to a knee selling all of the moves he had taken up to that point. Cole with an enziguri kick and a backstabber for a good nearfall for two. Balor missed a double stomp, Cole went for superkick, Balor moved and hit a Slingblade neckbreaker. When Balor charged, Cole hit a Shining Wizard knee to the face for two as the crowd chanted “this is awesome” for them. A chant that was well deserved. Cole charged with the knee, Balor with a headbutt to the shoulder and a double foot stomp to the ribs. Balor with a running dropkick that sent Cole into the barricade, which led to repeated stomps by Balor. Finn sent Cole into the announce table, Balor charged and Cole popped up with a well-placed superkick to the face. That was great as they went to picture in picture again.

The match returned with Cole slapping on the Figure Four Leglock in the middle of the ring until Balor managed to get to the bottom rope. Cole charged again, but Balor hit a Slingblade and dropped Cole with the elbow drop to the chest. Balor with a running dropkick that sent Cole into the ropes. Cole rolled away from the ropes to get into position as Balor went up top and Balor jumped off with the Coup de Grace double foot stomp. Balor was grabbing his knee, so he was a bit slow to cover for one…two…and Cole kicked out. Great nearfall. Vic and Wade were yelling about how the Coup de Grace had beaten everybody, so Cole kicking out is a big deal. Cole countered a move into a Figure Four Leglock again. Balor nearly got to the ropes, so Cole let go and went for it again with Balor getting an inside cradle for two. Cole was back up first with a superkick for two. Cole hit the Last Shot knee to the back of the head for one…two…no because Balor kicked out. Amazing nearfall right there. Cole went to the middle rope, jumped off with Panama Sunrise attempt, Balor caught him and Cole drove him into the turnbuckle. Balor hit a reverse 1918 slam, but was too hurt to cover. Balor was selling the left knee injury as he went up top, Cole met him there and Balor did the front facelock into the 1916 DDT off the top for the pinfall win after 23 minutes.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT Champion: Finn Balor

Analysis: ****1/4 An awesome match as you would expect from two talented wrestlers that were given a lot of time to have a quality championship match. It was worthy of a Takeover main event, but not like a Match of the Year quality match. They did a nice job of having Cole getting some nearfalls and Balor did too, which led to the exciting finish. They aren’t big guys necessarily, but there were a lot of strikes that made it seem like a fight to go along with all of the cool moves that both guys down. I like how the announcers treated it as a big deal that Cole kicked out of the Coup de Grace because that puts over Cole even though he would lose the match. Balor kicking out of the Last Shot was also something that doesn’t happen often. Balor winning is what I wanted to see because it makes his return to NXT feel complete since he was able to regain the title he held five years earlier. The last five minutes were outstanding with Balor hitting his version of the DDT off the top. Check this match out if you missed it.

Post match, Finn Balor celebrated with the NXT Title while the announcers put over that Balor came back to NXT and this is what he worked for. Balor posed on the stage with the NXT Title around his waist as Balor pointed into the camera.

Rhea Ripley did a promo backstage by a cage talking about her main event cage match against Mercedes Martinez later.

There was a shot of Finn Balor walking backstage getting handshakes by Triple H and William Regal. Adam Cole was there to shake his hand and do the “Too Sweet” hand gesture. Balor spoke to the camera saying that the reason he returned to NXT is because of the NXT Title.

Robert Stone got McKenzie Mitchell to interview him as they walked up to Shotzi Blackheart’s tank. Blackheart showed up, she punched Stone and then Aliyah did a cheap shot on Blackheart, but then Aliyah bumped into NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai. That led to the three women in the ring with Aliyah getting beat up by Shirai and Blackheart. Stone jumped off the top, Blackheart punched him in the ribs and Stone did a comedic flip bump. That led to Shirai hitting a moonsault on Stone at the same time as Blackheart hitting a Senton Bomb on Aliyah. The heels were out of the ring. Shotzi gave Shirai the title back, but it was after taking the title back. Shirai said: “Don’t make me hurt you.” Shirai left.

Analysis: It was an effective segment in terms of setting up Shirai possibly facing Blackheart down the road. They are both faces, but it would be a fresh matchup and Blackheart is gaining popularity week after week.

Candice LeRae was shown at home with husband Johnny Gargano, then there was a camera cut to the door and Tegan Nox entered because she was there to have dinner with her friend Candice. It led to Candice saying “let’s talk” and that led to a commercial.

Timothy Thatcher was leading his class to a lesson where he talked about Damian Priest’s weaknesses since he was going after him with Priest as the NXT North American Title. Thatcher said that life’s not a party, it grinds you down until you quit just like being in a match with him.

Analysis: I like Thatcher’s gimmick because he’s an old school pro wrestler that feels different than others on the show.

Velveteen Dream vs. Ashante Adonis

Dream dove Adonis into the turnbuckle, but then Adonis hit two clotheslines and a dropkick for a nearfall. Adonis hit a DDT as well. Dream avoided a superkick, thumb to the eyes and the Dream Valley Driver got the win after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Velveteen Dream

Analysis: * A quick match to put over Dream with Adonis getting more offense than I would have expected going into it. Dream was definitely more heelish here in terms of how he acted.

Velveteen Dream was about to do a promo, but then Kushida showed up to attack Dream with punches. Kushida was attacked by Dream several weeks earlier. Dream got a hold of Kushida, but then Kushida drove him shoulder first into the ring post. Kushida drove Dream into the ring post again and pulled on Dream’s shoulder against the turnbuckle.

Analysis: This should set up a big match between them, possibly at the next Takeover on October 4. A push for Kushida would be great to see.

The Breezango duo of Tyler Breeze and Fandango were featured in a video showing their recent NXT Tag Team Title win. Breeze said that they’re at the top of the division. Imperium said that Breezango is nothing but a joke. Fandango said that they don’t like Imperium either. They talked trash to eachother about a title rematch next week.

Next week on NXT: Breezango defends the NXT Tag Team Titles against Imperium.

It was back to the Gargano house with Johnny saying he’ll leave to let the women talk, so Candice and Tegan were left alone. Candice wanted her to fess up to mistakes, Tegan said that Candice turned on her and Candice told her she doesn’t understand this Gargano Way. Candice told her this is the right way and Nox said she didn’t agree with the Gargano Way. Candice said that she always had Tegan’s back, so why would this be any different? Candice said she wouldn’t do her wrong. Nox nodded without saying anything.

Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory

Last week on NXT, Theory cost Reed a match after slapping Reed in the face one week earlier and now Reed gets a chance for payback.

There was a lot of cockiness shown by Theory, who is just 22 years old and the announcers talking about his bright future. Reed hit Theory with a shoulder tackle across the ring along with an elbow drop off the bottom rope. After a few minutes, Theory tried a sunset flip that didn’t work since Reed sat on him for a two count. Reed with another huge shoulder tackle on the floor with Theory bumping all around the floor leading to a break.

Theory had control with a headlock, but then Reed broke free by dropping to his back to send Theory hard to the mat. Reed was on fire with elbows and an atomic drop. Reed with a corner splash along with a Jagged Edge slam off the shoulders for two. Theory with a belly to back slam for a two count with Theory selling a back injury after doing the move. Theory hit an impressive Blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count. Theory tried lifting up Reed, but Reed landed on him and hit a senton to the back. Reed went up top and hit a Tsunami Splash for the pinfall win after about 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bronson Reed

Analysis: **3/4 This was slow at times with Theory barely getting offense, but he did get one good nearfall and they managed to make it competitive. It was all about Reed getting some payback by beating Theory clean. Reed has been getting a push, which is not a surprise since he’s a talented big guy.

Adam Cole was interviewed backstage saying that the better man won tonight. Cole said he had a lot of respect for Finn Balor and he proved he was better than Cole on this night. Cole said that if he gets another shot at the NXT Title, the outcome will be a lot different and that is undisputed.

Analysis: It seems like Cole has turned face after the Pat McAfee feud, but it’s not like it is clearly defined at this point.

Mercedes Martinez did a promo talking trash to Rhea Ripley about their steel cage match later in the show.

Roderick Strong (w/Bobby Fish) vs. Killian Dain

They did a spot early where Strong hid behind Fish with Dain going after Fish and then Strong beat on him with punches. Dain managed to come back with a stiff clothesline. Strong knocked Dain out of the ring with a jumping kick, but then Dain hit a uranage slam while on the apron. Fish kicked Dain down (the referee missed it) and that led to a break.

Dain was on offense with a running corner splash and a running cross body block. Strong came back with boots, Dain avoided a knee and hit a senton splash. Fish pulled Strong to the apron, Dain punched Fish and Strong hit a jumping knee to the jaw for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Roderick Strong

Analysis: **1/4 It was just an average match where the crafty Strong found a way to win. Dain was on offense for the majority of it, the distraction was the key and the jumping knee won. That was a weak ending to the match. I thought Dain could have used a win here, but I guess they can do a rematch and have him get the win in the future.

Post match, Strong and Fish attacked Dain with stomps and then Drake Maverick made the save with a steel pipe or something like that. Fish and Strong managed to knock Maverick down. Dain got the steel pipe, so Fish and Strong ran away. Maverick wanted a handshake, but Dain decked him with a punch to the throat instead.

Analysis: It should lead to Maverick and Dain as a team, but for now Dain has turned down that idea.

It was back to Candice and Tegan and the Gargano house. Candice said that she would be the next NXT Women’s Champion. Candice said that Nox had her chance, she tried hard and it didn’t work out for her. Candice said that she’s going to beat Io for the title with Nox pointing out that Candice didn’t beat Io either. Candice threw some salad onto Tegan and Tegan threw some water on her. Johnny showed up to break up the argument with Johnny calling Tegan a horrible person and Tegan tossed some pasta onto Johnny. Candice threw something, Tegan moved and Candice hit her TV with it. Tegan ran away.

Analysis: They were on the same page for bit, but it didn’t last. This should set up a more serious rivalry between Candice and Tegan soon.

Damian Priest was interviewed backstage with Mckenzie Mitchell telling him that he has to defend the North American Title against Timothy Thatcher. Priest trashed Thatcher’s looks and said there is no chance he is losing this championship in his first title defense. Priest said he would party after the win while inviting Mitchell to the party since he likes hanging out with the ladies.

Next Wednesday on NXT:

* Damian Priest defends the NXT North American Title against Timothy Thatcher.

* Breezango defends the NXT Tag Team Titles against Imperium.

* Io Shirai faces Shotzi Blackheart in a match that is not for Shirai’s NXT Women’s Title.

Those are three solid matches for next week. I don’t expect either title match to lead to a title change.

It was main event time for what they were calling the Battle of the Badasses because that’s what both women were. Mercedes Martinez entered with a kendo stick and manager Robert Stone. Martinez brought a kendo stick into the ring along with other weapons like steel chairs and she was going for a table. Rhea Ripley showed up and kicked the cage door into the face of Martinez. Ripley brought the table into the ring.

Steel Cage Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez (w/Robert Stone)

Martinez was aggressive early on with strikes, Ripley broke free and sent Martinez into the steel cage. Ripley kicked Martinez in the back while Mercedes was up against the cage. Ripley with a boot to the face. Ripley went for the Riptide, but Martinez countered with a Fisherman’s suplex. Martinez grabbed a chair, Ripley kicked her and Martinez got a hold of Ripley on the turnbuckle. Martinez with a running powerslam onto a chair for a two count leading to a picture in picture break.

The women were on the top rope after Ripley tried to climb out, but Martinez stopped her and hit a German Suplex with Martinez hanging up against the ropes, so Martinez didn’t take the bump – it was only Ripley hitting hard. Ripley threw a chair at Martinez, who was sitting on the top turnbuckle. Ripley with a running dropkick that sent Martinez into the cage while Martinez was on the top rope. Ripley hit a superplex that Vic called a suplex off the top even though he should have just superplex. That got a two count for Ripley. Both women were down selling for a bit, then Martinez back up and she hit a spinebuster. Ripley was back up as she put Martinez on her shoulders and slammed her face first into the mat. Ripley with a reverse Cloverleaf submission, but then Martinez broke free with kendo stick shots to the right leg. Ripley hit Martinez with a kendo stick, Stone was climbing up the cage, so Ripley went after him with a headbutt. Martinez hit Ripley in the leg and back with a kendo stick. Martinez hit a neckbreaker off the top on Ripley. That was a cool spot with both women taking a big bump off of that. There were only a few minutes left as Martinez set up the table in the corner of the ring. Martinez teased a superplex through the table, but Ripley fought her off and Ripley hit two headbutts. Ripley hit the Riptide off the ropes and through the table for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winner: Rhea Ripley

Analysis: ***3/4 A great match that delivered in terms of being a personal match between two rivals with an ending that put over Ripley as the face in the rivalry. It was the biggest match that Martinez has had in NXT and her best match. Ripley is really good at working this kind of style of match since she’s a bigger, power wrestler and Martinez has a similar style, so they worked very well together. I liked some of the spots they did utilizing the cage, the weapons and even Stone getting involved. Martinez kept on coming close to winning, but in the end it was Ripley finding a way to get the victory. I thought Martinez would win to give her a big victory, but I have no problem with Ripley getting revenge by winning this match.

Ripley celebrated the win by climbing near the top of the cage and smiling. The announcers put her over in a big way. That was the end of the show.

After the show, Robert Stone kicked Mercedes Martinez out of the Robert Stone Brand group and then Martinez ripped up a restraining order against her.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Finn Balor
  2. Adam Cole
  3. Rhea Ripley/Mercedes Martinez


Final Thoughts

I give this show an 8 out of 10.

I think when you have two great matches as entertaining as the opening match and the main event, it’s a huge thumbs up show. I thought it was an awesome episode overall with Finn Balor becoming NXT Champion after winning a competitive match with Adam Cole. Nice work by Rhea Ripley and Mercedes Martinez in the Steel Cage Match main event as well.

Everything else on the show was good enough in terms of having some shorter matches, advancing storylines and giving some different people a chance to have some matches on NXT. I think sometimes they could do a better job of defining the heels/faces in some of the stories, but that matters less when there’s no crowd there. It’s still an easy show to watch week after week and I enjoy it.

The next NXT Takeover event is scheduled for October 4 although nothing has been announced for it.


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John Canton


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