December 27, 2019

NXT Review – 25/12/19

This was, unsurprisingly, a pre-recorded episode. A Roderick Strong open challenge and   Lio Rush & Keith Lee versus Tony Nese & Damian Priest were the pre-advertised matches. Ok, here’s the thing, it’s 3am and still part of the festive season so this is going to be brief and no-frills.


Roderick Strong def. Austin Theory

Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott def. Jack Gallagher

Candice LeRae def. Taynara

Dominik Dijakovic def. Bronson Reed

Bianca Belair def. Shotzi Blackheart

Keith Lee & Lio Rush def. Damian Priest & Tony Nese




The show was hosted by Cathy Kelley, Pat McAfee, and Sam Roberts. The action was from split locations, with Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness on commentary in Full Sail and Beth Phoenix and Tom Phillips at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.


Roderick Strong vs Austin Theory – North American Championship match

Roderick Strong’s Open Challenge opened the show, from Full Sail, and brought an NXT debut for former EVOLVE champion Austin Theory. Really good match and nice to see something different. It was a given twenty minutes and a clean finish. Roderick Strong retained the North American Championship with an End of Heartache followed up with a Stronghold to make Theory tap.

Austin Theory slams Roderick Strong on the apron


» The between match bits with the hosts had a bit of a TakeOver Preshow feel to it. Lots of talk, not much said.


Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs Jack Gallagher

This one was from the Barclays (they switched back and forth), in front of a restless sounding crowd. I enjoyed it, but it was quite methodical and technical in places and I think people’s attention drifted. Isaiah Scott finished it with a House Call after a lengthy and highly entertaining battle.

Isaiah 'Swerve' Scott with Jack Gallagher in a headlock


» Next week’s show will be the NXT Year End Awards show, so another nice short review for me. Voting is still open.


Candice LeRae vs Taynara

Next year needs to be Candice LeRae’s year, but there’s a lot of competition for that top spot in the women’s division. Taynara is, realistically, not yet among that competition, but she gave LeRae a much harder time than would have been expected. It was trash-talk that fired LeRae up and it was all very quick after that. She finished it with a springboard moonsault.

Taynara and Candice LeRae


» Arturo Ruas got an intro video as one of the superstars hoping to make an impact in 2020.


Dominik Dijakovic vs Bronson Reed

A proper big lads match. It was fun. There were ring shaking suplexes and rib shattering chops and all the other stuff that makes watching two talented big guys wrestling fun. Reed kicked out of Dijakovic’s moonsault, but couldn’t kick out after being choke-bombed off the second turnbuckle.

Bronson Reed suplexes Dominik Dijakovic


» Worlds Collide is happening before Royal Rumble instead of a TakeOver (Jan 25). The main event has been announced, Undisputed ERA vs Imperium.

» The next NXT TakeOver is Portland, Oregon, on February 16, which is a Sunday rather than the usual Saturday slot.


Bianca Belair vs Shotzi Blackheart

It was Shotzi Blackheart’s debut match and she got a lot of hype from commentary. Bianca Belair is another one who needs to have a big year next year. She’s been so close a few times and she’s now reached the point where she needs a title run or a brand switch. RAW could do with her and it would make sense for her to join the same brand as her husband. She still postures too much though and it nearly cost her the match. Shotzi Blackheart came extremely close to marking her debut with a win, but Bianca Belair delivered a K.O.D. and got the pin.

Shotzi Blackheart comes off the ropes onto Bianca Belair


Damian Priest & Tony Nese vs Keith Lee & Lio Rush

This was a weird combination of wrestlers in one ring, but it’s different and it was fun. Keith Lee was eating Christmas cookies on the way to the ring. He shared with his partner, of course. Damian Priest ripped off Keith Lee’s Santa hat. Tony Nese tried to sneak up on Lee, got cookies thrown at him by Rush, who he then chased until he was pounced over the announce desk by Lee.

Priest was setting Rush up for the finish when Keith Lee appeared in his peripheral vision, once more wearing his Santa hat, and tossed him out of the ring by his throat. Lee caught Priest out of the air and used him to batter Nese before powerbombing him on the apron. Keith Lee effectively finished Tony Nese with a jackhammer, but Lio Rush requested the pin and delivered a Final Hour from Keith Lee’s shoulders.

Lio Rush delivers the Final Hour to Tony Nese
All photo credits:



Final word

I was hoping for a Velveteen Dream return for the North American Championship Open Challenge, but the Austin Theory match was good so no complaints.

In addition to the Year End Awards results next week, the teams for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic will be announced.

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