Welcome back to another WWE NXT Review. Mauro Ranallo kicked off the show (welcome back!), but was interrupted by Killian Dain. Dain stormed the ring looking for an opponent, and Pete Dunne answered the call.
Pete Dunne vs Killian Dain
The contest between Dain and Dunne started off with Dunne attacking before the bell rang. Dunne doesn’t often attack like that, as he’s usually the competitor to keep his cool throughout the match. Dain was in charge for most of PiP ad break, but his momentum would slow down. The break ended with perfect timing when Pete Dunne superplexed Dunne off the top rope as the action returned to full screen. The finale of this match had Dunne set up on Dain’s back in a chokehold. Dain was perched on the top rope and began to lose consciousness. Dain fell backward, landing on Dunne, pinning him for the 1-2-3.
The match itself was fine, but I wasn’t a fan of the finish. I felt that Dunne took an easy pin, compared to what his history has dictated. After his WarGames Takeover triple threat victory, taking a pin here was surprising. Dain might be calling for Roderick Strong’s North American Championship.
Winner: Killian Dain
After a commercial break, The Undisputed Era came out on the mic. Adam Cole was fantastic on the mic. He knows how to transition a conversation without fumbling over his words and still communicate with the crowd to its full effect. Whenever there is a group of wrestlers on the mic, Cole should always be the last to speak. It’s no one else’s fault, he’s just on another level right now. Adam Cole called for Finn Balor to answer some questions about his loyalty, but Keith Lee interrupted instead.
Certainly, don’t follow Cole on the mic with Kyle O’Reilly, he tried a joke on Keith Lee that didn’t land. The arena chanted for Keith Lee instead. Lee is calling for all of the belts right now, he just doesn’t know which one he wants first. The UE didn’t take kindly to that and action commenced.
Lee took out the 3 members of the UE and had Cole running before Tomasso Ciampa came in to attack Cole. Ciampa set up Keith Lee to powerslam Adam Cole, but Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly saved Cole before he could be taken out.
There was a moment after the UE fled that had Ciampa holding “Goldie” in the ring to a good reaction from the crowd. A foreshadow of something soon to come?
Xia Li had a promo calling out Shayna Baszler. It was a little cheesy when she kicked at the camera, but overall she delivered it pretty well. The women’s division in NXT is overflowing with champion-caliber talent. Li isn’t quite there yet, but her kicks do look amazing when they land.
Xia Li vs Shayna Baszler
I don’t think this match was ever intended to be long, but Li and Baszler did a decent job with the time they had. Baszler let Li beat her up and showcase some of her offense, helping build her legitimacy as an opponent before ultimately getting the best of Li. There was a great moment that had Li power-slamming Baszler in an electric chair hold. Despite Li’s size, she can still throw some weight around. Li went for her roundhouse kick (assuming her finisher) before getting caught by Shayna Baszler in the Kirifuda Clutch. She tapped quickly and Baszler won.
Li has been given a bit of a push leading up to this match. A few victories in a row, new entrance with lights and video and a run-in with the reigning NXT Women’s Champion. I’m curious where Li moves on from here, especially with the ever-expanding talent in NXT’s women’s division.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Kassius Ohno had a pre-recorded video from earlier in the day. He was ramping up the World’s Collide PPV that is coming up in January 2020. It was honestly a really odd promo set up. Ohno was seemingly talking to himself as he walked towards Full Sail Arena. There was no one else in the shot and he never addressed the camera directly. Then again, Ohno is the “Wrestling Genius”.
Forgotten Sons vs Jobbers
The Forgotten Sons beat up on some jobbers. After they won, Jaxson Ryker chokeslammed one of the jobbers onto the apron from inside the ring. The chokeslam looked awesome, but I don’t understand the squash match with jobbers when the NXT tag division needs more legitimate teams. Build multiple teams at once instead of showcasing a singular team the gets a poor reaction from the crowd every single time.
Winner: Forgotten Sons
Dakota Kai had an interview promo after the first match earlier in the night. I was excited for her heel turn at WarGames, but I think this promo could have been a little better. I would’ve liked to see her dig into her heel turn against Tegan Nox a bit more in this interview.
Despite the interview, Dakota Kai does have her attack on Tegan Nox on loop as part of her video introduction. That’s amazing. She was set to have a match with Rhea Ripley, but Ripley had other plans. Ripley sent Mia Yim after Dakota Kai.
The attack showed Yim in control most of the time and Kai with little retaliation. They made their way out of the ring leaving Ripley alone in the arena. It’s a little frustrating to see Kai look a bit weak since her heel turn. Hopefully Kai can regain the momentum she built up from WarGames soon.
Shayna Baszler, entered with Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke, and attacked Rhea Ripley. Ripley tried to fight off the three other women, but eventually was taken down. It took Duke and Shafir holding Ripley’s arms off the mid rope, while Baszler was on her back holding Ripley in the Kirifuda Clutch to take Ripley down. That’s how you make someone look strong.
Baszler got on the mic and told Ripley she’s got her title match on December 18th. This should be a great match. I think Ripley might be the one to finally take down Baszler.
Ciampa and Lee were being interviewed backstage where it was announced they would be taking on the UE for the main event. Ciampa said the third partner would be Dominik Dijakovic. These 3 have been together for over a month now. If they started a faction, what would you name it?
Finn Balor had a video promo calling for the title. He said that the NXT roster is playing checkers while he is playing chess. I’d like to see Balor take the belt from Cole soon, but not have to resort to going with the demon quite yet. He’s been doing well in his current persona without needing to resort to the supernatural gimmick.
Isiah “Swerve” Scott had a video promo too. He’s been great to watch in the ring over the last few months. His in-ring ability is eye candy. It’s nice to see him get some time on the mic as well.
Kassius Ohno vs Matt Riddle
Last time these two squared off was in Takeover Phoenix back in January. Matt Riddle won that match and went on a tear afterward. Ohno has since been in the UK making a decent run of his own. Riddle has had some frequent L’s, so I thought this was going to be a squash match for Riddle. I underestimated Riddle’s ability to sell for his opponent.
The match started with Ohno heavy on offense, until Riddle countered to send the match to its first commercial break. Riddle was still clearly in control when the ad break ended. Full Sail does a great job of staying engaged in the matches. If it is timed correctly, I think their Goldberg inspired “Riddle” chant along with Riddle’s response could lead to fun moments in matches. Doing it at the start of every one of Riddle’s matches can lead to it getting stale or ill-timed. There was an awkward exchange to finish the match. Riddle and Ohno kept reversing each other’s standing holds for a bit too long. It felt like they were unsure where to set up the finisher until finally, they remembered. That is when Riddle hit Ohno with a combination high knee strike into the Bro Derek.
It was a pretty solid match, showing both competitors as a legitimate competitor. I hope their “rivalry” is over now, but would like to see who Ohno might be paired with next.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Kushida had a video promo earlier in the night that was heartwarming. He spoke about his time off due to his injury in his match with Walter. He said he discovered what love really is and that he fights for his family now.
Kushida vs Cameron Grimes
Raul Mendoza was originally meant to fight Kushida, but Grimes interrupted his entrance with a double boot stomp to the face. Grimes said, “Kushida, you’re fightin’ me now, boy” in full southern dialect. Yikes. The match itself was pretty good for the time they had. At one point, Kushida had a ringside dive off the top rope onto Grimes that landed really well. He looked pumped after landing it and it got a big pop from the crowd. Eventually, Grimes was outsmarted by Kushida. He used his in-ring expertise to roll up Grimes for a 3 count. Grimes was shocked, but Kushida was victorious.
6 Man Tag Match: Undisputed Era vs Tomasso Ciampa, Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic
Dominik Dijakovic was standing tall and looking strong early in this match. He had laid waste to all three members of the UE as the match went to its first PiP commercial break. During the same commercial break, Dijakovic had a double stunner/chokeslam on O’Reilly and Strong that looked really good. Adam Cole eventually got the UE on track, but Dijakovic impressed more late in the match too. He hit a springboard corkscrew dive on to Strong and O’Reilly standing ringside.
The climax of the match had Dijakovic holding O’Reilly on the top rope with Adam Cole and the ref trying to pull O’Reilly down. Finn Balor made a surprise entrance and dropkicked Adam Cole into the ref, O’Reilly and Dijakovic. This knocked the ref out cold too. Balor then hit Ciampa with a 1916 slam. Balor went to finish off Adam Cole but forgot about Keith Lee. Keith Lee took care of Finn Balor, then hit Adam Cole with a Ground Zero. The ref regained his strength in time to count the 1-2-3. Lee pinned Cole.
The action in this contest did not disappoint. It was filled with big spots and surprise interruptions. Keith Lee stood on top of a mountain to finish this match. He pinned the current NXT Champ and hit Finn Balor with a Spirit Bomb. He’s a huge pop right now and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Triple H pull the trigger early on him.
Winner: Keith Lee, Tomasso Ciampa and Dominik Dijakovic
After the match, William Regal announced that Balor, Ciampa and Lee would compete in a triple threat match next week to determine who would take on Adam Cole for the NXT Championship. Balor had a great reaction as the camera was on him when Regal announced all three competitors’ names.
I am excited for the Dakota Kai and Mia Yim match next week. It will be nice to see a clear winner in their early, but hopefully short-lived feud. It seems like it will be a match to show what Kai can really do as a heel before she’s given a push against Ripley or Baszler again.
It’s nice to see Kushida back. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a shot at the Cruiserweight belt in the near future. Lio Rush has been untouched ever since he came back to in ring competition. He’s been a babyface since he returned, but Rush has always been a better heel. Heel Rush against babyface Kushida could be plausible for a future belt storyline.
The woman’s division continues to grow with legitimate contenders. There are more than a handful of women that could easily be wearing the belt. I wonder what this division will start to shape into as its talent pool gets deeper. It’s going to be tricky to try and juggle that much talent with only one belt up for grabs.
Ciampa, Balor and Lee all have the star power capable of beating Adam Cole and winning the belt. With how ‘over’ Lee is right now, it looks like it would take some unforeseen circumstances to derail his momentum. Do you think Lee will be the #1 contender for the NXT Championship? Or will NXT throw in a new surprise?
Since its debut on USA, NXT has been a very enjoyable show to tune-in to every week. The matches have been put together with solid quality and the story quality has been consistent. There looks to be a shift in power as the calendar year winds down. The Undisputed Era’s reign may be coming to an end.