November 19, 2020

NXT Review – 18/11/2020

Does NXT ever not have a busy week? We’ve got two title matches to look forward to tonight. Johnny Gargano tries to take the NXT North American Championship back from Leon Ruff, and in the main event, Io Shirai faces Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship. Also on the card is a visit from Finn Balor to talk about the future of the NXT Championship. Ember Moon teams with Toni Storm against Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. And Dexter Lumis takes on Cameron Grimes in a blindfold match.




Leon Ruff def. Johnny Gargano – DQ

Cameron Grimes vs Dexter Lumis – No Contest

Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell def. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter

Kushida def. Arturo Ruas

Toni Storm & Ember Moon def. Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez

Timothy Thatcher def. August Grey

Io Shirai def. Rhea Ripley




Leon Ruff (C) vs Johnny Gargano – NXT North American Championship match

Leon Ruff was so excited on his way to the ring. They did a little package for him, but Johnny Gargano came out and made them turn it off. Gargano called Ruff a joke and said the joke was over, then attacked Ruff before the bell.

Johnny Gargano and Leon Ruff
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Predictably, Damian Priest turned up. He stood on the stage and that was enough to almost cost Gargano the match. Ruff only got two though. He got more involved after Gargano delivered One Final Beat. He pulled Ruff out of the pin by his feet and apologised before he punched him in the face and handed him a win by disqualification. Not only does Ruff retain the title, but he’s 2:0 against Johnny Gargano.


Cameron Grimes vs Dexter Lumis – Blindfold Match

The reason for this match was that Cameron Grimes is scared of Dexter Lumis’ eyes. The blindfolds were bags over their heads and for the first couple of minutes, Dexter Lumis stood still while Cameron Grimes threw himself all over the ring then kicked the crap out of the referee. Grimes took his bag off and attacked Lumis, but even unsighted Lumis avoided him. Grimes second attack pulled the bag off Lumis’ head and it turned into Lumis beating Grimes up while Cameron Grimes tried to escape. The ref was still unconscious when Grimes climbed over the plexiglass barricade and ran away.

Cameron Grimes realises he's beaten the ref unconscious, with hooded Dexter Lumis behind him


William Regal told Damian Priest off for interfering in Leon Ruff’s match. Ruff heard him refer to him as a joke and offered to hand back the title and rip up his contract if he was just a joke. Priest apologised. Ruff slapped him and Regal said it served him right.


Shotzi Blackheart, in a video promo from some kind of workshop, said people like to tear you down and destroy everything. But in life, you rebuild and rise up. Candice LeRae better get herself an army because on December 6th they are going to war. And that was the official War Games announcement.


Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter

Carter and Catanzaro have turned into quite the team. I can see them holding the tag titles at some point if they carry on. But this was a test outing for Candice LeRae and her new mentee. As first outings go, it went pretty well. They struggled a bit in the early part, but it was a decent match and they turned it around with Indi Hartwell taking Catanzaro out at ringside so she couldn’t save Kayden Carter from the Wicked Stepsister.

Kayden Carter kicks Indi Hartwell in the face


Arturo Ruas vs Kushida

Ruas was last seen on RAW Underground. He got a little intro package before the match. Great match, fast, hard-hitting, technical, all the good stuff. Kushida got the win. Ruas was not impressed.

Kushida dropkicks Arturo Ruas


Interesting hype package for the NXT Women’s Championship match. They had superstars making their predictions. It skewed in Io Shirai’s favour.


Ember Moon said Dakota Kai is one of the best, but everyone is sick of her using Raquel Gonzalez. She was excited about teaming with Toni Storm, but Storm took the opportunity to remind her they both want the title. Moon said they should just get through tonight and then worry about the title. Storm agreed.

Toni Storm & Ember Moon vs Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez

Another good match. How great is the NXT women’s division? Ember Moon took a lot of punishment but Kai cheated to give her team the advantage, pulling Moon off a pin on Gonzalez from outside the ring. It was Toni Storm who picked up the win for her team, pinning Dakota Kai with an inside cradle after Moon had sent Gonzalez into the announce desk with a suicide dive.

Storm and Moon were attacked by Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell on their way out of the arena. They threw them back into the ring to be levelled by Kai and Gonzalez. I see War Games teams on the horizon.

Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell attack TOni Storm and Ember Moon


Pat McAfee and his little gang showed up to hear what Finn Balor has to say.


Timothy Thatcher vs August Grey

A good old-fashioned grudge match to add to the mix. To be fair, it’s mainly Grey who has the grudge. Thatcher just likes hurting people. That’s basically what he did. Grey had a moment or two, but no more than that. Thatcher submitted him then yelled at him that it was another lesson in Thatch as Thatch can, ‘Don’t pick a fight with someone you can’t beat’. He put the submission hold back on, and Tommaso Ciampa strolled down to the ring.

Timothy Thatcher hurts August Grey

Ciampa was expressionless but Thatcher looked unhappy. He told Ciampa he had no problem with him and got out of the ring. Ciampa didn’t say a word, but he stared at Thatcher as he walked around the outside of the ring and left.

Backstage McKenzie Mitchell asked Ciampa what that was about. Ciampa said he thought it was obvious, he wants to fight Timothy Thatcher.


Johnny Gargano attacked Damian Priest as Priest did his entrance for his scheduled match. No idea who Priest’s opponent was supposed to be, but they beat each other up at ringside until Leon Ruff turned up and tried to take them both out. With some measure of success, it has to be said. Ruff ended up in the ring alone, having thoroughly outpaced and outplayed Priest and Gargano. They rushed the ring but he was out of it and up the ramp before they were halfway in. Priest turned back to Gargano after Ruff left, and Gargano scarpered as well.

Damian Priest, Johnny Gargano and Leon Ruff


Wade Barrett is not on commentary next week. Kevin Owens is stepping in for him, which should be a lot of fun.


William Regal is trying to figure out what is going on with Boa and Xia Li. He went to Boa’s house to ask why he hasn’t been training for a week and Li hasn’t been for two weeks. Boa said, ‘No training’ and ‘She’s coming’, and kept apologising.


Leon Ruff got told off by William Regal and asked what he was doing. It’s been a bit of a night for that. Ruff said everyone thinks he’s a joke but the punchline is, he’ll face both of them.


Io Shirai (C) vs Rhea Ripley – NXT Women’s Championship match

This was the main event of the show, but the closing slot was reserved for Finn Balor. Doesn’t matter where it’s placed, Io Shirai versus Rhea Ripley is the main event of any show it’s on. There was arrogance in the early offence from both of them. Shirai had to be checked by medics (during an ad break) after Ripley dropped her on her face on the apron. She continued but wasn’t at full strength for a good while. She gave herself some breathing space and equalled the playing field somewhat by suplexing Ripley off the turnbuckle.

Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley

Ripley’s ear got ripped and there was blood everywhere. She used some of it as war paint. Not sure the photo people will be thrilled. It wasn’t her ear that was bothering her though, she took some damage to her left shoulder and Shirai worked it over hard.

Frustration set in for both of them at the closing stages because there was nothing in it. They’re too well matched. Ripley had Shirai in a Prism Drop submission for a long time. She tried twirling her around and sitting it out, but Shirai got to the ropes. Shirai countered a Riptide attempt into an armbar, which lasted at least as long as the Prism Drop and lasted through Ripley dumping Shirai on her back. But eventually, Ripley got a tow on the ropes.

It took two attempts for Shirai to land the tiger feint kick, but Ripley kicked out of the follow-up missile dropkick. Double knees in the corner put Ripley in place for the moonsault, but she avoided it and tried to take Shirai out with a clothesline. That didn’t work and Shirai countered the Riptide into a DDT.

When it looked like neither of them had anything left, Io Shirai powerbombed Rhea Ripley through the announce desk. Ripley barely beat the count and got hit with a moonsault and pinned before she could even get to her feet.

Io Shirai powerbombs Rhea Ripley onto the announce desk
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They shook hands after the match then Shirai pulled Ripley into a hug.


Finn Balor got in the ring before Shirai finished celebrating, but at least he had the grace to congratulate her before he got to business. He said the last time we saw him he defended the title with his jaw broken in two places.  He’s got three plates in his jaw now.

Pat McAfee and friends turned up then and McAfee said words which amounted to him telling Balor they run NXT now. Pete Dunne made me laugh by stopping McAfee doing the Breezango dance as he was running through all the people they’ve taken out. They got up on three sides of the ring and demanded Balor just hand

Balor said, ‘It’s easy for the mice to play when the cat’s away, but the cat is back. And look what I just dragged in,’ which was the cue for Undisputed ERA to arrive. All four members of Undisputed ERA rushed the ring. Balor left them to the brawl. They were still fighting, with Adam Cole kicking the hell out of Adam Cole, when the show went off air.

Undisputed ERA brawl with Pat McAfee and friends




Final word

The Leon Ruff, Johnny Gargano, and Damian Priest storyline is silly, but 2020 is awful and there’s nothing wrong with silly from time to time. Speaking of silly, Dexter Lumis versus Cameron Grimes was ridiculous, but I didn’t hate it. I still don’t know what the plan is for Lumis, but I’m happy to let it play out in the background. There’s enough good stuff going on in NXT to accommodate the silly bits. Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai were awesome, and the rest of the women’s division is looking interesting as well. I’m honestly not sure what to make of Undisputed ERA versus Pat McAfee and friends. It seems inevitable that will be the men’s WarGames match.

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