TJR: WWE NXT 09/30/20 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. It’s the last NXT episode before Sunday’s NXT Takeover 31 event. The full card for Takeover is at the bottom of this post. I’ll go play by play for the main event this week while the other matches will be more of a summary. We’ll have a NXT Takeover 31 preview on TJRWrestling on Saturday morning or earlier if possible.

This is episode #424 of WWE NXT. It took place at NXT’s home at Full Sail University in Orlando. Check out my past WWE NXT reviews right here.

There were replays of the main event of last week’s show with Kyle O’Reilly winning a five-man Gauntlet Eliminator match to earn an NXT Title shot. O’Reilly challenges NXT Champion Finn Balor at NXT Takeover 31 on Sunday.

The announcers are Raw’s regular play by play guy Tom Phillips and Beth Phoenix. No Vic Joseph or Wade Barrett like last week. They taped two episodes last week. There were some COVID-19 concerns, but it doesn’t mean people missing necessarily tested positive. It’s just a case of WWE being careful. There were also not wrestlers visible behind the plexiglass, so a lot of people were missing.

Shotzi Blackheart vs. Dakota Kai (w/Raquel Gonzalez)

There were several pinfall attempts by both women early on. Blackheart with an inverted atomic drop, a double leg drop and Blackheart hit double knees to the arm. Blackheart pulled back on both of Kai’s arms while on the mat. Kai took control by using her boot against the throat and then hit a suplex. Blackheart managed to trip up Kai by the ropes, Gonzalez distracted and Kai capitalized with a backbreaker for two leading to a break.

Blackheart was on fire with the running dropkick followed by a bulldog, a knee and a step up enziguri. Blackheart also hit a running senton against Kai’s back against the ropes. Kai hit a hiptoss into a pin attempt for two. Kai stunned Blackheart with a kick, then Blackheart with a kick and that led to an apron exchange of strikes with Blackheart jumping off the turnbuckle with a reverse bulldog onto the apron. There was a rough landing for both women, so the referee checked on both of them. Blackheart looked like she landed on the top of her head. Gonzalez tripped up Blackheart with the referee not seeing it, so Rhea Ripley showed up to shove Gonzalez into the steel steps. Kai went for a running kick, Blackheart moved and Blackheart got the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Shotzi Blackheart

Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good match that got a lot of time and I like the story they told. The finish isn’t my favorite, but NXT doesn’t do it as much as Raw/Smackdown do it. In this case, it was done to make it look like a sudden ending. Blackheart continues to impress as she gets more opportunities and Kai has really done well as a heel this year. Each woman came close to winning a few times, Gonzalez got involved a few times as she should and then Blackheart found a way to win. Both women are potential future NXT Women’s Champions and if they have more matches, they can build off this one.

The NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar and his Takeover 31 challenger Isiah “Swerve” Scott were shown split screen as Phillips interviewed them. Scott said he’s had opportunities at the Cruiserweight title, but he didn’t think they were fair opportunities. Scott noted that he is the only man in WWE that has pinned Escobar and he will again. Escobar said Swerve is a parasite that he can’t get rid of. Escobar promised Scott that their match will be fair and Scott wondered about that because every time they are in the ring with the title on the line, there’s always something going on. Escobar said that Scott is full of excuses. Scott said he’s going to prove that Escobar is a fraud. Escobar said that Scott has made all this about himself, which is why he’s failing. Escobar talked about how he’s given the Cruiserweight division the Lucha culture that has built cruiserweight wrestling. Escobar said he’ll bury Scott with a century of tradition and Scott said he wants to see him try.

Analysis: I like these guys a lot. I really think they might have the best match at Takeover 31 although there are a lot of great matches on the card. Escobar has been an incredible champion, but it might be time to get the title on Scott and maybe Escobar can move on to other things.

There was a video by a mysterious person saying that they have heard them say you can’t go home. There was a poster of NXT Takeover 31 shown and somebody on a motorcycle. The date 10.04.20 was shown, which is when Takeover 31 is.

Analysis: I still maintain my prediction that it is the NXT return of Bo Dallas, but there are other options too because if it’s anybody from NXT’s past then there are many people it could be.

Kyle O’Reilly – Prime Target Feature

There was a Prime Target feature video about Kyle O’Reilly talking about his history in the wrestling business and he fell in love with it. Kyle said that Undisputed Era are his best friends and the best thing he’s ever done in the business. Adam Cole talked about how he’s known Kyle for 12 years as we saw a pic of both of them early in their careers. Kyle said that the Undisputed Era’s friendship is real. Kyle noted he’s had his sights set on Finn Balor for a long time and that’s what the last 15 years of his career have been building up to this NXT Title match for him. They showed clips of Kyle training, mountain biking and highlights from his career. Kyle said that Undisputed Era will stick together and it’s the second wave of the golden prophecy…that’s undisputed.

Analysis: That was really well done as usual. O’Reilly has been a tag team wrestler for most of his WWE run, but he has done more elsewhere and now it’s time for him to be a singles guy in WWE. I think if fans were at shows, they would strongly behind an O’Reilly push right now.

There was an update on Tegan Nox suffering a torn ACL knee injury for the third time in her career. We covered it in a news post here. I will miss watching Tegan in action for the next eight months or so. She’s still only 26 this year, so she has a bright future as long as she can stay healthy. Three major knee injuries within four years is brutal, though.

Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano were interviewed by Sarah Schreiber with the story being that Candice injured Nox. Gargano talked about how they were NXT’s Power Couple. Gargano said that destiny is on its way for Johnny and Candice to be champions at the same time, so on Sunday, destiny is there. Candice said it starts tonight and Sunday it’s finished.

Cameron Grimes went into the ring to do a promo to complain about the Gauntlet Eliminator match last week. Grimes claimed he was doing his own tournament. There was a guy that entered who Grimes called “Joey Pistachio.” When the guy got into the ring, Grimes hit the Cave In double foot stomp to the chest for two. Grimes called out for a guy named Joey Strong, but Ridge Holland beat the guy op and tossed him aside. Ridge Holland made his entrance with Grimes saying he was a fan of his work, but he’s not a part of the invitational. Holland with a headbutt as the bell rang.

Ridge Holland vs. Cameron Grimes

Holland with an overhead belly to belly suplex and then some forearms to the face. Holland stomped on Grimes repeatedly, then he wouldn’t stop and the referee called for the bell, so it appeared to be a DQ in under one minute.

Winner by disqualification: Cameron Grimes

Analysis: I’m not going to rate it because it was so short. It was more of an angle than a match to start a new rivalry with a cocky heel like Grimes dealing with a powerful face like Holland. That’s fine with me because they need something to do. Grimes is one of my favorite heels in NXT. I want to see him doing more.

Austin Theory was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber. Theory claimed that Kyle O’Reilly’s video was inspiring while adding that 15 years to get a title shot is more than half of Theory’s lifetime. Theory bragged about wrestling at WrestleMania and said that Kyle has to try catching up to him.

A video aired about Kushida speaking in Japanese as the translation appeared on the screen. Kushida said now he can concentrate in the ring and show the real him. Kushida spoke about injuries caused a setback, but now he can focus and at Takeover you will see him explode. Kushida spoke to Velvet Dream about how the new Kushida is vicious.

Analysis: I am all for a significant Kushida push. He is one of my favorites in NXT.

Kushida vs. Tony Nese

Kushida was aggressive with kicks to the arm and the body. Nese with a shot to the throat along with slingshot across the top rope. Kushida sent Nese left shoulder first into the ring post. Nese tried a slam, but Kushida grabbed the left arm and drove it to the mat. Kushida did it again as he drove the left arm of Nese into the mat. Kushida stomped on Nese’s upper body repeatedly. Kushida slapped on the Hoverboard Lock arm submission with Nese tapping out to give Kushida the win in about two minutes.

Winner by submission: Kushida

Analysis: *1/4 A dominant win by Kushida as he focused on the left arm immediately leading to the clean victory. It was booked well in terms of showing how focused Kushida is now.

The stadium lights went purple as Velveteen Dream appeared on the video screen. Dream said that Kushida won’t be ready for the spotlight. Dream said that he always puts on his performances under the brightest spotlight.

Analysis: That’s the only Takeover 31 match without a title on the line. I hope it’s a win for Kushida.

Cameron Grimes was shown walking backstage with some ice on his face. Grimes was complaining, then he walked right up to a returning Dexter Lumis, who said nothing. Grimes called Lumis a “freak” and left.

Adam Cole did a promo talking about how Undisputed Era has dominated for the last three years. More important than that, people know that if you crossed them, you would pay. Cole talked about the prophecy of holding all the NXT Titles, which they did and now they don’t have any titles. Cole said that nothing has changed because they’re the same Undisputed Era that won the first WarGames match in WWE history and dominated this brand unlike anybody has or anybody ever will.

Analysis: Great promo from Cole getting fired up. There is a report from PWInsider saying that Cole and O’Reilly will be faces while Strong and Fish will be heels in Undisputed Era. I don’t see that lasting very long. The group will likely fall apart, then I can see Cole/O’Reilly winning a tag team match and I think Cole will be moved to Raw or Smackdown early next year. There’s not much more for Cole to do in NXT. I guess there’s a chance that Cole could turn on O’Reilly out of jealousy, but I think Cole has been a heel for long enough and there should be a face run for him.

Cole called out Austin Theory for talking trash about the Undisputed Era earlier. Theory showed up. Cole told him he can go in the ring to have a match with Cole or stay on the ramp with Undisputed Era kicking his ass, so Cole agreed to the match.

Adam Cole vs. Austin Theory

Cole was in control early with some kicks and a neckbreaker. Theory bailed to the floor, so Cole hit him with a pump kick to the face while they were outside the ring. Cole also whipped Theory into the steel steps. When they went back into the ring, Cole hit a neckbreaker and suplex. After a few minutes of more Cole offense, Theory hit a neckbreaker and a rolling dropkick for a two count. That led to a break.

Theory was in control with an armbar and Theory hit a standing moonsault for a two count. Cole got going again with a back elbow along with a running back elbow. Cole also hit a jumping kick and a backstabber double knees to the back for two. Cole hit the Ushigoroshi slam off the shoulders into his knee for another two count. Theory blocked a Panama Sunrise attempt, then a kick to the back and a Blue Thunder Bomb got him a two count. Theory with a forearm, then he ran the ropes and Cole crushed him with a superkick. Great sell by Theory. Cole hit another superkick, then a suplex into the knee and Cole hit the Last Shot knee to the back of the head for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Adam Cole

Analysis: *** This was good with Cole beating on the younger Theory in the first half, then Theory got some offense of his own and Cole managed to finish him off. Theory’s a talented young guy in his early 20s with a bright future, so it’s good for him to be in there with an established NXT top guy. Maybe it makes Cole look bad for taking so long to beat Theory, but I think it’s a case of NXT’s bosses wanting to see Theory in a longer match.

Post match, Cole spoke into the camera saying Kyle O’Reilly deserves his NXT Title match. Cole said that Kyle will shock the world, but it won’t shock Cole.

Analysis: It’s nice to see Cole supporting O’Reilly so much. It is weird that there is a Takeover without an Adam Cole match, but that’s what is happening on Sunday.

The NXT North American Champion Damian Priest and NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai were interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber. Priest said that they will take care of business. Shirai spoke in Japanese, then she said “Rockstar” at him. Shirai: “He’s not bad.” That was it.

Kayden Carter (w/Kacy Catanzaro) vs. Xia Li

There were some pinfall exchanges from both women that looked like things they practiced at the WWE PC many times. Carter got some offense going with a springboard dropkick. Li came back with a forearm and pulled Carter off the apron for a hard slam to the floor. Li worked over Carter with strikes to the ribs. Carter came back with strikes of her own, then rolled through and a hit a superkick for two. Li with a sunset flip, then Carter turned it into a flipping pin and got the win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Kayden Carter

Analysis: *3/4 The growth of Carter (and Catanzaro) continues. It’s a slow build to something more for them as likable babyfaces. Li was more aggressive with a style that was a bit more heelish than we have seen from her in the past. The finish was a bit flat.

Post match, Carter picked up Li and Li shoved her down. When Catanzaro grabbed Li’s hand, Li walked away angrily.

Analysis: It looks like that heel turn is coming for Li based on how she was acting in the match and the post match actions.

Balor and O’Reilly Face to Face Hosted By Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels was seated in the darkened ring for an interview segment. Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly walked into the scene and they shook hands. Balor said he respected Kyle as a competitor and everything he has done. Kyle said the feeling is mutual with nothing by respect for Balor. Shawn brought up that Finn said that he thought we were seeing the best of Balor in NXT right now, but now Balor is facing maybe the best kept secret in Kyle O’Reilly. Balor said that Kyle is not a secret because he knows how good Kyle is as a tag team wrestler in NXT and all over the world as a singles wrestler. Kyle said he was a fan of Balor while noting that Balor is so good at stroking his own ego because he thinks he can beat Kyle. Kyle said that this will be an absolute certain defeat for Balor. Finn wondered if Kyle will show up with Undisputed Era or like a man by himself. Kyle said that this Sunday is about Kyle O’Reilly, not the Undisputed Era.

Michaels mentioned that there might be a conflict in UE with Adam Cole if Kyle wins the NXT Championship. Kyle said it’s a non-existent power struggle that is laughable. Kyle said he is nothing like Adam Cole, his ears don’t match, he has freckles all over and Balor said he’ll slap his freckles off his face. Kyle said he didn’t want excuses when Finn beats him. Balor said that there will be no room for jokes and luck. Balor said that he’s been proving himself for 20 years, Kyle said he has been doing it for 15 years, so what’s the difference of five years. Kyle talked about how Balor always talks about how every match is the biggest match of his career while Kyle added that this was the biggest moment of Kyle’s life. Balor said that you had to understand a main event that lasts one night and is life-altering, not just for you, but for everybody that sees it. Kyle said that it is Balor’s first big title defense and nobody loses their first title defense. Kyle said it’s bullshit (it got bleeped) that people think he is the underdog because Finn has never stepped in the ring with him or anybody like him. Kyle said that this Sunday, a so-called tag team specialist does it again. Balor got the final word said that Kyle is witty and has charisma and he’s really good in the ring. Balor said that he believes Kyle has what it takes to be NXT Champion and he would be if this belt was on anybody other than Finn Balor. Michaels thanked them to end it.

Analysis: This was awesome. Kyle got to show off his humor and personality a bit with some of the things he said. Both guys are very confident going into the match, which is what you want to see. There isn’t a rivalry or a story for these guys. It’s just about the title with Balor fighting to hold it while O’Reilly wants to show he can win it. I liked Kyle’s line about how Balor isn’t going to lose his first title defense, but what if he does? It would really shock people. Balor is in that tweener zone where he’s heelish at times, but also very likable because of how confident he is.

There was a rundown of the NXT Takeover 31 card.

NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly

NXT North American Championship: Damian Priest (c) vs. Johnny Gargano

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Candice LeRae

Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream

NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar (c) vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott

There are five singles matches and four titles on the line. It’s a very good lineup in terms of match quality, but the storylines aren’t that strong in every match. We will have a preview up on TJRWrestling on Saturday morning.

Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae vs. Damian Priest and Io Shirai

Gargano and LeRae tried to attack, but Priest and Shirai fought them off, so the Gargano husband/wife duo bailed to the floor. Gargano started with Priest with Gargano avoided strikes, but then he ran the ropes and Priest decked him with a boot to the face. Priest with a sidewalk slam, Shirai tagged in and that meant LeRae had to tag in. LeRae sent Shirai to the corner, Shirai with two boots to the face and LeRae avoided a top rope attack. LeRae got a rollup for two. Shirai hit a flapjack into the mat along with a low dropkick. Gargano stepped in front of Shirai in the ring, so Priest kicked Gargano in the head. Shirai with a double knee attack on LeRae in the corner. Shirai went up on Priest’s shoulders and she jumped over the top to the floor onto Johnny and Candice! Great spot there. That led to a break.

The women were in the ring with LeRae in control of Shirai with a forearm to the back. LeRae with a shot to the face, but then Shirai came back with a German Suplex. Priest tagged in with a boot to Gargano, a clothesline and a running back elbow. Priest with a suplex into a slam called the Broken Arrow for a two count. Gargano with a spinning flatliner, then an enziguri kick and Shirai tagged in, so LeRae had to tag in. Shirai with a missile dropkick on Gargano that looked awesome. Shirai ducked an enziguri and slapped on a Crossface submission with Gargano grabbing Shirai’s leg to break the hold. Priest went over to Gargano, Johnny kicked him and Shirai slapped Gargano in the face. LeRae hit a sitout front slam and a senton to the back. LeRae went for a moonsault off the ropes, Shirai moved and LeRae hit the mat. Shirai hit a double underhook backbreaker. Gargano saved LeRae from a top rope move from Shirai, so Priest did the bell clap to Gargano and Shirai hit the moonsault off the top on Gargano. Priest tagged back in, the referee made Shirai leave the ring and LeRae kicked Priest in the groin for a low blow that the referee never saw. Gargano jumped over the top and hit the One Final Beat DDT for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae

Analysis: ***1/2 I liked that match a lot. Mixed tags aren’t easy to book because the hot tag sequence is different due to men being unable to attack the women, but this match made sense. That was booked well with a lot of action and a fast pace where they didn’t go too long or too short. It felt just right. The heel Garganos got the win, which shows that the champions are beatable as we head into Takeover. The final moments were great with the heels finding a cheap way to get the win after Candice hit the low blow and Johnny finished off Damian. Shirai got a lot of offense in the match as well, so as I said all of it was booked well.

Post match, Shirai yelled at Gargano about it, so LeRae dropped Shirai with a Backstabber to put her down. The replays were shown of the finishing sequence. Gargano posed with the North American Title over Priest while LeRae posed with the NXT Women’s Title over Shirai. That’s how the show ended.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Johnny Gargano/Candice LeRae
  2. Damian Priest/Io Shirai
  3. Adam Cole


Final Thoughts

I give this show a 7.25 out of 10.

A good show in terms of in-ring action and building up to Takeover on Sunday night. I liked the mixed tag main event a lot with Gargano/LeRae being the crafty heels that won over Priest/Shirai. All four of them got plenty of offense and worked well together. The sitdown interview with Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly was very effective. I really like seeing how strong they are booking Kushida of late. Nice opener with Blackheart and Kai, but the apron bump by Blackheart was scary. I’m glad she’s okay. Adam Cole’s match with Austin Theory was fine too. Easy show to watch as usual.

The next NXT Takeover event is NXT Takeover 31 on Sunday, October 4. Here’s the lineup.

NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly

NXT North American Championship: Damian Priest (c) vs. Johnny Gargano

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Candice LeRae

Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream

NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar (c) vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott

We will have a preview up on Saturday morning on TJRWrestling.


Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton


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