Reviews

WWE NXT Review 12/11/19 by Jim Kress

Adam Cole kicked off the show with yet another fantastic promo. This time he interrupted a replay recap of last week’s events from inside the camera control room. He believes his time has just begun as champion and that Keith Lee, Finn Balor and Tommaso Ciampa haven’t done anything to deserve a shot at the title.

NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Angel Garza vs Lio Rush (c)

The beginning of this match was sloppy. Both wrestlers came at each other like two high school kids who’ve never been in a fight before. They were wildly slapping and missing with open palms while also trying to throw fists. It wasn’t aesthetically appealing. The action cleaned up before the first PiP break. Both Garza and Rush started to focus their offense on big, clean spots. It paid off, as both competitors started to get the Full Sail Arena into the match.

Before the finale of this match, the action was so intense that the crowd reacted with a “Holy Shit!” chant. There were a few believable nearfalls and some amazing springboard work from Garza and Rush.

The match and finale were set up to be amazing, until it wasn’t. Garza and Rush had both kicked out of each other’s finishers, which led the viewer to believe something bigger was to come to finish the match. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. After Rush kicked out of Garza’s “wing clipper” (first wrestler to do so), Garza proceeded to grab Rush in the same hold, while sitting on the mat, and Rush tapped. It was hard to see and felt anticlimactic in comparison to the rest of the match. Garza did walk away as the victor to the match, and having a new champion is exciting.

Angel Garza has had good character work and his in-ring skills continue to impress. Rush and Garza should have a rematch soon, now that they’re 1-1 against each other.

Winner AND NEW NXT Cruiserweight Champion: Angel Garza

During the commercial break, Angel Garza proposed to his girlfriend and she said yes. Congratulations to them. I know we saw it on TV and in the ring, but can we please not make Angel Garza’s fiancee a part of an angle in an upcoming feud? We don’t need to be reminded of the awful Lana/Rusev/Bobby Lashley storyline anymore.

After the match, Shayna Baszler had a video promo. I guess she really likes Ford Mustangs? She did mention her record as champ and all the notable names she has dominated. The match between her and Rhea Ripley next week should be good.

Raul Mendoza vs Cameron Grimes

Before the match, we saw footage of Grimes attacking Kushida in the locker room from the night before. During Grimes’ entrance, we learned he is not liked by the fans at Full Sail Arena. He was greeted with some pretty heavy boos. The match didn’t last long. Kushida made a quick appearance ringside. Grimes was heavily distracted by his mere presence. Mendoza countered a pop-up powerbomb attempt and turned it into an impressive hurricanrana. He got the 1-2-3. Kushida left with Grimes’ precious hat. I don’t know if it was his original intention to take the hat, he may have been influenced by a hot crowd chanting for him to “Take the hat!”

Winner: Raul Mendoza

Mia Yim was interviewed after this match. She said she wants to put Dakota Kai into an ambulance. Knowing what happens later in the night, this was a poor choice of words.

Jaxson Ryker vs Travis Banks

Jaxson Ryker is a terrifying looking human being. He looks like an absolute monster at 6’1″ 245lbs. With that in mind, it’s a shame that he isn’t very polished in the ring. He’s not great at selling, and still botches quite a bit. At one point, he knocked Travis Banks in the face and it drew blood. It wasn’t bad enough to stop the match, but these things should be avoided. Banks looked good in the ring. A bit more polished than Ryker. The match itself didn’t go very long. A few minutes into the match, Banks gained some offensive momentum. He hit Ryker with a “slice of heaven” and got the 1-2-3.

I say Ryker doesn’t sell well, because of what happened at the end of the match. Banks hit his finisher and got the pin, but Ryker’s lack of selling made the move and himself look weak. It was Banks’ first bit of offense in the match, so seeing a move that didn’t appear to hit very hard on a behemoth like Ryker who had taken no prior damage was hard to wrap your head around.

Winner: Travis Banks

Mia Yim vs Dakota Kai

The action commenced quickly between Yim and Kai. Both looked impressive, delivering heavy blows on each other. They were locked in. This match went to an ad break early, and it wasn’t PiP. Unfortunate that it wasn’t because this entire match leading up to the ad break, was great.

Dakota Kai continues to explore her in-ring skills as a heel. She faked going after Yim with a knee brace, only to get the ref distracted long enough for her to untie the turnbuckle. She threw Yim into the exposed metal, and got the roll-up pin for the win.

Winner: Dakota Kai

Yim retaliated after the match. What happened next was horrific. Yim went for a spot where she was going to suplex Kai off an elevated production area into two tables. Unfortunately, the spot missed a bit and Kai’s head went into the 2nd table, instead of breaking through. In a 2nd camera shot of her laying on the ground, there was clearly blood coming from Kai’s head. I sincerely hope she is okay after that. This is an unfortunate accident that can happen in this business. After returning from a lengthy knee injury, it would be incredibly sad to see Kai’s future in jeopardy because of this spot.

Breezango vs Singh Brothers

Breezango came out with yet another creative intro. This time they were dressed as doctors, and had the nurses rush them in as the video board was showing a heartbeat flat-lining. The Singh Brothers’ intro wasn’t quite as creative. They came out with their fake Bollywood props and danced around a bit. The match didn’t last too long, but had some solid action. The Singh Brothers fought mostly like heels throughout the match. They worked well as a team to distract the ref and get some cheap shots in on Tyler Breeze.

Fandango had some pretty nice bumps on the Singh Brothers when he was finally tagged in. He performed a powerslam/European uppercut combo outside of the ring, with the help of Tyler Breeze, that landed really well. Breezango has been a solid NXT mid-card tag team on Wednesday nights. If NXT wants to bolster their tag division and rival AEW, they’ll need to start pushing teams like Breezango. Losing the Viking Raiders and the Street Profits to Raw were big holes to fill for NXT. Breezango is a team that could excite people if booked correctly.

Winners: Breezango

After the tag match, we saw Rhea Ripley’s video promo leading to her match with Shayna Baszler. She showed off her accomplishments, like Baszler, but Ripley’s was geared more towards her own career highlights. As a recent fan of Ripley, it was nice to see what her wrestling career leading up to this match was like. It was easy babyface points for her going into next week’s match.

Kayden Carter vs Bianca Belair

Bianca Belair might be the most jacked person on the NXT roster. Kayden Carter was the first to enter, so as soon as Belair’s music followed, I thought Carter would be making a quick exit. Belair started the match by throwing her jacket into Carter’s face, distracting and beating her up. Carter made a quick counter and stabilized before Belair could fully unload on her.

I was surprised at the length this match got. If it was intended to be a squash match, Belair had to work too hard to get the victory. But if it was intended to be a showcase for Kayden Carter, it failed to do that. Carter didn’t come off as overly impressive with her offense as she has in the past. Belair did eventually get the pin after throwing Carter around like a rag doll. There are so many talented women on this roster. I’m very curious to see what direction NXT goes to help continue the women’s division’s momentum.

Winner: Bianca Belair

#1 Contender Triple Threat Match: Tommaso Ciampa vs Keith Lee vs Finn Balor

This match was so much fun to watch. The crowd was really into it, and the wrestlers involved did a great job selling for each other, while still making their own moves look solid. The talent that these three competitors have is off the charts.

Adam Cole watched the match from the elevated stage area. I thought his presence was going to lead to an interruption at some point in the match, but was shocked to see he was only a spectator. He had words with the winner of the match afterward, but nothing during the actual match.

There were so many big spots that I decided to start listing them instead of constructing a story of the match. Here were my favorite spots from this match (in no order):

  • Ciampa with double “willow’s bell” on Lee and Balor.
  • Keith Lee electric chair Ciampa while Ciampa held Balor in a suspended suplex.
  • Balor countering a pop up powerbomb with a “coup de grace” mid-air.
  • Ciampa with an “LA crash” on Keith Lee.

My favorite spot of the match was the finale. Keith Lee had Ciampa set up and ready for a popup powerbomb. The slam would’ve been enough to get the victory for Lee, but Balor timed out a top rope Coup de Grace to land on Lee as soon as he was slamming Ciampa to the mat. Balor hooked Lee’s leg and got the pin. They got nearly 20 minutes for this match.

Winner: Finn Balor

 

Closing Thoughts

The NXT Title chase has narrowed down to Finn Balor challenging Adam Cole on next week’s episode. This is the fantasy booking you would’ve never thought you would’ve seen a year ago. Adam Cole has been unbeatable since he became the NXT champion. I’m not sure Finn will dethrone Cole, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise, given how Balor has been booked since his return.

For the NXT Women’s Title, I’m not so confident for the current champion. It looks like Baszler’s days are numbered. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her make a jump to Raw or Smackdown soon. Who better to lead the NXT women’s division than Rhea Ripley? She’s been red hot since becoming a regular on Wednesday nights.

NXT posts their injury report on Thursdays when this review will post. After Kai took her bump, it was hard not to think about her health for the rest of the episode. I hope whatever damage was done doesn’t last and she makes a quick recovery both physically and mentally.