An interesting show ahead, with the return of Kushida, and the reappearance of Kassius Ohno who’s been off not featuring much on NXT UK. There’s a lot going on in the women’s division. Xia Li is set to face Shayna Baszler, after Baszler and fired attacked her last week
Killian Dain def. Pete Dunne
Shayna Baszler def. Xia Li
Forgotten Sons def. Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff
Matt Riddle def. Kassius Ohno
Kushida def. Cameron Grimes
Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, & Dominik Dijakovic def. Undisputed ERA
Mauro Ranallo was back this week. His opening housekeeping spiel was interrupted by Killian Dain demanding an opponent because he was supposed to face Damian Priest and Priest isn’t cleared. He got Pete Dunne.
Killian Dain vs Pete Dunne
Another fun opener for NXT this week, and an attempt to tidy up some unfinished business from TakeOver WarGames and before. Control switched often as they struggled to keep each other down. Dunne has the upper hand technically, but he can’t compete in terms of power and he got regularly stretched, flattened and thrown around. Dain, in turn, got bits of him stomped on and twisted into positions they’re really not supposed to bend into. A suicide dive from Dain wiped them both out so badly it was a good job they had an ad break to recover.
I can see this being a long-running feud that rumbles on and occasionally flares. Some of the offence Dunne took on the outside should have kept him down for as many as the ref felt like counting but he kept going, even after getting powerbombed out of a triangle, and followed Dain up the turnbuckle.
Pete Dunne climbed on Killian Dain’s back and locked in a sleeper. It worked and they feel backwards from the turnbuckle. Dain landed on top of Dunne and got the pin.
Dakota Kai had an interview backstage interview to talk about her upcoming match with Rhea Ripley. She thinks Ripley wanted to be the almighty hero and saviour and she just gave her the opportunity. But Kai doesn’t care and she’s going to take her out the way she did with Mia Yim.
The next NXT TakeOver will be on February 16.
Undisputed ERA appeared and Adam Cole said they’d had a November to remember. They took over RAW and SmackDown then embarrassed them at Survivor Series. November is over but the year of the prophecy has just begun. They are the iron men of NXT and how are they repaid, Bobby Fish got injured last week (neck, according to Cole) and he got Pounced into the second row like a ragdoll by Keith Lee (still the funniest moment of wrestling 2019).
When he talked about Keith Lee Pouncing him into the crowd, a couple of Keith Lee chants broke out. But Cole hadn’t finished complaining. He also wants answers from Finn Balor.
Keith Lee came out. He stood there while Kyle O’Reilly derided him and asked him what being a ‘moment maker’ had got him, as they’re stood there with all the gold.
Keith Lee said they’re right, he is a moment maker, but he’s also a game-changer. And if they’re asking what he’s got to show for it, he turned their champion into one of the most viral gifs on the internet. But it gets better than that, he also holds a victory over them at WarGames and now he’s deciding which of their titles he should take first.
Adam Cole offered to make a moment right here, where the Undisputed ERA beat him down and end his career. That did not work in Undisputed ERA’s favour as Lee knocked them all down. Adam Cole tried to escape and was beaten back to the ring by Tommaso Ciampa. Strong and O’Reilly saved him from a spirit bomb.
Tommaso Ciampa got in the ring when Undisputed ERA had retreated and picked up Goldie.
Xia Li had a shouty promo, directed at Shayna Baszler. She said that last week Shayna tried to bully her but this week she’ll show Baszler how she fights. She’ll show the world she can compete with the best and this is her moment.
Kushida had a getting to know you video because he’s back later tonight after two months out with a broken wrist. It positioned him as a family man, fighting to try to make a better life for his wife and child.
Xia Li vs Shayna Baszler
Don’t get me wrong, Xia Li has been improving steadily each time we’ve seen her (if you overlook breaking Aliyah’s nose… accidents happen), but this was clearly an error of judgement on her part. To her credit, she got some offence in and even had the champ rocked, briefly. She took a stomp on her arm but kicked out of the subsequent pin. And she wasn’t done. She got in a spirited but largely ineffective flurry of offence and followed it up with a sunset flip powerbomb. Unfortunately for her, she got caught in the Kirifuda Clutch and tapped.
» Kassius Ohno is coming back to NXT to promote the Worlds Collide tournament where NXT and NXT UK fight it out for brand supremacy. He’s the wrestling genius now as well as the knock out artist, and he wants to see if anyone wants a Worlds Collide preview. Weren’t 205 Live involved last year as well?
Forgotten Sons vs Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff
A squash. Forgettable. The other team were apparently from Evolve. Jaxson Ryker choke-slammed Ruff on the apron so he fell to the floor after the match. Still forgettable.
Dakota Kai vs Rhea Ripley never happened. Dakota Kai came to the ring first, her entrance video is her attacking Tegan Nox at WarGames. She’s still carrying Nox’s knee brace as a trophy. Ripley came as far as the stage and said the way Kai set them up at WarGames was very clever, but the funny thing about setups is… right now. Then Mia Yim’s music started up.
Mia Yim ran to the ring, avoided Kai’s swing with Nox’ knee brace, and started taking her revenge. Kai fell out of the ring at one point, but Ripley threw her back in. The next time they left the ring it looked for a moment like Kai might gain the upper hand, but it was only for a moment, then Yim and Kai fought their way out the back.
Ripley was left at ringside on her own. Shayna Baszler’s music hit and out came the champion with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir at her side. Ripley got into the ring before they arrive, Duke and Shafir first, to try to overpower Ripley, then Baszler once she’d fought them off.
Rhea Ripley kept fighting them off, with Baszler trying to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch the whole time. It took Duke and Shafir holding Ripley’s arms over the ropes while Baszler had her neck, to weaken her enough for Baszler to put her to sleep.
Baszler grabbed a mic and said, over Ripley’s unconscious body, ‘Not so tough are you, nightmare. You talk big talk when there’s nothing on the line and ow you want a title match. You don’t know what you’re asking for. Because I want a title match too and December 18th, you get it.’
So it’s Baszler vs Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship in two weeks.
» Tonight’s main event will be a six-man WarGames redo, minus Bobby Fish and Kevin Owens. Tommaso Ciampa announced Dominik Dijakovic as their third man in a backstage interview segment.
» Finn Balor said everyone else is playing checkers and he’s playing chess. There would be no flag to carry for NXT is it wasn’t for him… essentially, he wants the title.
» Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott got a little hype package. It feels like there are big plans for him. I hope that’s the case.
Kassius Ohno vs Matt Riddle
Kassius Ohno has every reason to want to equalise the scorecard against Riddle. Matt Riddle humiliated him more than once and Ohno is 0-3 in their encounters.
A much longer match than their previous encounters, especially the TakeOver one and entertaining enough. A few years ago, Chris Hero was one of my favourites. I’m not sure how WWE have managed to make me not care about Kassius Ohno. Anyway, the match was good, but it didn’t give Ohno the retribution he desired. Matt Riddle delivered his Bro Derek and Ohno is now 0-4.
» The NXT Year End Awards are now open for voting. It’s twitter voting again and you can find the nominees and rules here.
Kushida vs Cameron Grimes
This was supposed to be Kushida vs Raul Mendoza, but Cameron Grimes attacked Mendoza from behind on the ramp and took his place.
It was a really good match, Kushida is clearly happy to be back and making the most of it. Cameron Grimes is still looking to really make his mark. Stealing the spot in the match didn’t turn out to be the inspired career move Cameron Grimes had been hoping for. Kushida didn’t get the victory with a big submission or anything intricate or flashy. He just managed to fold Grimes up and got the pin. Cameron Grimes looked shocked and dismayed. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a rematch in the next few weeks.
» A recap of the ongoing feud between Lio Rush and Angel Garza led to the announcement of another Lio Rush title defence against Garza next week. Dakota Kai and Mia Yim also go one on one next week.
Undisputed ERA vs Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, & Dominik Dijakovic
Another good main event match with plenty going on, but now WarGames is over you have to question how long the alliances between Ciampa, Lee, and Dijakovic can last when they are presumably all looking to dethrone Adam Cole. They were on the same page for this one though.
Dominik Dijakovic used Kyle O’Reilly as a weapon to beat his teammates with before dropping O’Reilly over the top rope to the floor.
Tommaso Ciampa took out all three of Undisputed ERA, and almost pinned O’Reilly with Project Ciampa before taking a knee to the face from Strong. Adam Cole was holding Keith Lee’s leg to keep him out of the ring when O’Reilly and Strong delivered the high low to Ciampa, but Dijakovic made it in time to break things up.
Dijakovic took down Lee as well as Strong and Cole, with his moonsault, but missed O’Reilly who started a tussle on the turnbuckle with Dijakovic, Cole, and Ciampa.
The match fell apart a bit when Fin Balor entered the ring and dropkicked Adam Cole into Dijakovic, O’Reilly and the ref. Ciampa took a 1916 and Balor was measuring him up for more when Keith Lee appeared in his peripheral vision. Balor took a spirit bomb from Lee. Lee took a superkick from Adam Cole but avoided the Last Shot and delivered a jackhammer.
Of course, the ref was out for the entire Balor involvement but woke just in time to count Keith Lee’s pin.
Following the match, William Regal took to the stage and said Adam Cole will also be defending his title on December 18. So next week his challenger will be decided in a triple threat – Finn Balor vs Tommaso Ciampa vs Keith Lee.
NXT is possibly the most consistent wrestling show on tv. When it comes to summing up in these final paragraphs there might be a segment or two that didn’t work for me, but there is invariably something to get excited about. The women’s division is great at the moment. I like seeing Shayna Baszler fighting outside the title picture, it makes her a much bigger presence. Baszler versus Rhea Ripley has no choice but to be incredible. And the storyline with Dakota Kai is going to be messy for months, keeping several of the women on tv.
The men’s title picture is also beautifully messy. It’s Balor vs Ciampa vs Lee next week, but how will Dijakovic react to being the only one of the team not offered the opportunity? And what happens when Gargano comes back, or Velveteen Dream?
The tag division has lost some momentum since they lost Street Profits, but I’m sure it’ll pick up.