WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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NXT TV TAPING
JANUARY 3, 2019
WINTER PARK, FLA. AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
REPORT BY TOM STOUP, PWTORCH CORRESPONDENT
Kayla Braxton opened the show and announced Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair, Adam Cole vs. EC3, and Kassius Ohno vs. Keith Lee.
(A) Stacey Ervin pinned Shane Thorne in the first of multiple dark matches. Now solo following Nick Miller’s release, Thorne entered with his usual look, including a “The Mighty” jacket. Thorne skeptically mimed playing piano along with his new silent film score-sounding theme, and shrugged to the crowd. He was warmly received but quickly earned derision as he faced Ervin. Ervin won with a beautiful moonsault.
The crowd rose for a ten bell salute to honor “Mean” Gene Okerlund, and chanted “Mean Gene.”
Johnny Gargano hit the ring and vowed to win more and become “a champion” in 2019. He said his opinion of Tommaso Ciampa hasn’t changed, but he is interested in going after “Rick” for the North American title just like Ciampa suggested.
Ricochet entered to “That’s a champion” chants and said all Gargano had to do was ask. He asked if Gargano will try to take the title face-to-face or by ambushing from behind in a parking lot. Ricochet suggested the match take place at TakeOver: Phoenix.
Ciampa entered but Gargano shut him up before he could make a point, insisting this situation is not about the champ.
Aleister Black appeared on the tron after spooking Ciampa with the ominous opening tone of his music. He called Gargano a lap dog and hit his catch phrase toward Ciampa. The lights went down, and Black appeared behind Ciampa and attacked. He nearly put Ciampa through the announce desk but Ciampa wriggled away and escaped.
While distracted by the fray, Ricochet fell to a sudden superkick from Gargano. Gargano leered at the felled North American Champion then sauntered off to his music.
(1) Bianca Belair pinned Nikki Cross. Cross caught Belair in the ring skirt for some free strikes but Belair press-slammed her in retaliation and began to dominate with a standing moonsault and a backbreaker. Cross rallied and hit a bulldog. Belair began to get frustrated as Cross would not go down for three. Cross hit The Purge but Belair rolled out. The wrestlers simultaneously beat a ten count after Belair backdropped Cross on the ramp. Belair flattened Cross with a forearm but collapsed before she could make the cover. Cross whiffed on a top rope cross body, which allowed Belair to hit her latest finisher for the win.
Cross showed some emotion as she soaked in “Thank you, Nikki” chants. She took a young fan’s Nikki Cross sign and manically celebrated with it, then stood atop the commentary desk and, for lack of her usual jacket, removed her shirt and whipped it around in further celebration.
(2) Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel defeated Hector & Stanley via pinfall. To close what may or may not have been a dark match (for what it’s worth Aichner and Barthel have been teaming at house shows) Aichner hurled Hector at Barthel, and Barthel converted the assist in to a German Suplex pinning combination.
(3) Adam Cole (with Undisputed Era) pinned ECIII. As ECIII entered he excitedly shouted “One more time” to the fans. Not long in to the match Cole slammed ECIII in to the ring steps, and Bobby Fish shouted “Happy New Year!” ECIII impressively suplexed Cole back in to the ring while standing on the bottom rope, then hit the Name Drop. Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong tried to get involved but ECIII cleared them out. When ECIII turned around he ate a superkick and a Last Shot from Cole to put things away.
After the bell Undisputed Era swarmed ECIII, but War Raiders Hanson & Rowe returned and absolutely flattened the heels. At one point Rowe slammed two members of the Era simultaneously.
As the Raiders’ theme played, fans chanted “ECIII.” ECIII feigned unceremonious departure, but when he ran back to the ring he was shooed by an official so the ring crew could sweep the canvas. ECIII snuck over to hug Mauro Ranallo and give Percy Watson a Too Sweet, then as he humbly took in the NXT crowd’s adulation for a final time, he acted as if he’d been started startled when WWE’s “Best of Both Worlds” music video started playing.
(4) Street Profits defeated Metro via pinfall. Metro Brothers Chris and JC were simply introduced as “Metro” (though their tron still features their fraternal name) and they still dress like ‘50s greasers. Angelo Dawkins suddenly shoved Montez Ford to the mat at one point, but it was played as a comedy moment to fake out the opposition. The match ended quickly with a frog splash from Ford.
The Profits celebrated in the crowd afterward, but were attacked by Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler of Forgotten Sons. Jaxson Ryker ran in to “We forgot you” and “you still suck” chants, and the heel trio stood over their prey. Notably, Ryker did not attempt his slingshot powerbomb.
Break. The ring crew repaired a damaged area in the center of the canvas.
Bianca Belair hit the ring to say she sent chaos packing in last week’s episode. She said she will win the women’s championship at TakeOver: Phoenix. Shayna Baszler interrupted, flanked by Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, and said Belair may be the “strongest” and “fastest” but she’s not the smartest. She said it won’t matter how strong Belair’s arms are after they’ve been torn off. Belair said, “Girl. The only thing these arms are going to be doing is holding that title over my head.” Baszler accused Belair of being all talk, and of being secretly afraid. She said she will change “Un-De-Feated” to “O-Ver-Rated,” which drew dueling chants of the phrases. Baszler turned to call off Duke and Shafir, claiming it would just be she and Belair at TakeOver. Belair took the opportunity to slap Baszler to the mat. She ducked Duke and Shafir before walking out tall.
(5) Dominik Dijakovic pinned Adrian Jaoude. Jaoude’s name is still spelled “Jauode”on his tron graphic. The wily Jaoude tried to mat wrestle to throw Dijakovic off, but the big man could play that game, too. Dojakovic clubbed Jaoude and said, “Time to fly” before chucking him across the ring. He stomped Jaoude, who tried for a leg lock. Dijakovic booted Jaoude and hit Feast Your Eyes for a convincing victory.
Kayla Braxton reminded the crowd of the upcoming Kassius Ohno vs. Keith Lee match, and said Johnny Gargano would be “in action” next.
(6) Johnny Gargano pinned Humberto Carillo. Gargano mouthed along with his theme on his way to the ring, just another touch he’s gradually working in as he goes more and more to the dark side. Carillo’s entrance got a quiet response but he quickly began to draw some crowd love with his inspired aerials as the match got underway. The confident Gargano had to keep on his toes with the resilient Carillo, but never looked the lesser competitor. He prowled for his opening, and won with his swinging DDT.
As he took in a decidedly mixed reaction, Gargano said something to the camera on the apron before leaving. One may imagine he was addressing Ricochet.
(7) Kassius Ohno pinned Keith Lee. One may imagine this match will be built with backstage segments en route to another Ohno/Riddle TakeOver encounter. Lee became vulnerable when he caught his foot charging at a dodging Ohno. Ohno began picking Lee apart. At a relatively slower pace, every move in this match meant something. Lee mounted a comeback, at one point tackling Ohno nearly out of his boots. The official pleaded with the frustrated Lee to get away from the ropes, but Lee shoved the official away. When Lee checked on the official, Ohno hit a low blow on him from behind. Ohno nailed the reeling Lee with a discus elbow for three.
A seething Matt Riddle ran in wearing business casual and a yellow tie with his signature sandals, but Ohno evaded and walked out as Riddle jawed at him and checked on Lee.
Velveteen Dream came out for a promo, and said he has Ricochet’s North American Title in his sights. Adam Cole interrupted with Bobby Fish and said Dream should pump the brakes because Undisputed Era is going for all the gold in 2019. Cole spoke as if this segment will take place the week of TakeOver, and mentioned that Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong are getting ready to defend their titles at the event (presumably against War Raiders, judging by their prior segment). Bobby Fish took the mic and was drowned out by “Shut up, Bobby” chants. He said 2019 will still be “our era.” Dream said he is ready to “dispute” that claim, but “only if it’s OK with Adam.” Incensed, Cole and Fish charged but Dream easily dumped them out of the ring and strutted away.
(8) Lacey Evans pinned Xia Li. Li received a nice reaction for her singles debut. At one point early on Li leapt all the way straight up to the taller Evans’ shoulders when each were in a standing position, and rolled Evans up for two. Li dove at Evans in the corner but hit the post with her shoulder. The official (who has a shaved head) instructed Evans to stay off the hair, and Evans snapped back, “What do you know about hair?” Li tried to maintain her discipline but became desperate, repeatedly kicking at Evans. She leapt from the second rope, and was knocked clean out in midair by a wild Woman’s Right. Evans fell in to a successful cover. The called-up Evans had no time for the appreciation of the nasties in the Full Sail crowd.
Kayla Braxton announced that Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish had been made official for later in the show.
(9) Oney Lorcan & Danny Butch defeated Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel via pinfall. Some very convincing late-match sequences highlighting Aichner in particular made it seem as though the heels were about to upset the favorites, but Lorcan and Burch fired up and stole the victory with a roll-up.
Hopefully not, but it seems probable this was also a dark match so to pad the relatively scant taping event with more action for the live crowd. Whether this presumption is correct or not, for an event using more than one dark match to deliver to the expected duration despite having a lighter than usual load of episodes to get in the can before TakeOver, at this point transitions between segments began to feel rushed as if something had run long. As far as can be discerned any rushing that may have occurred did not seem to cause problems with the end results.
(10) Kairi Sane & Io Shirai defeated Tanea Brooks & Amber Nova via pinfall. Brooks distracted Sane early to gain an advantage that Shirai quashed with her signature aerials. Mid-match Sane tagged back out and tossed a t-shirt to a young fan. Sane tagged back in for a team maneuver and collected the pin. The team looked like super adorable BFFs as they celebrated.
(11) Velveteen Dream pinned Bobby Fish (with Adam Cole). Dream put his own spin on Red Dead Redemption with a cowboy hat for his entrance, and one can only imagine how Mauro Ranallo will verbally frame the getup. Cole teased like he was going to sneak attack Dream from the very onset. Dream struggled to zero in on the slippery Fish, eventually landing a missile dropkick and pausing to pose for hard cam between attacks. He couldn’t keep his attention off Cole, even saying “That’s for you, Bay Bay,” as he struck at Fish. Fish took advantage of Dream’s lack of focus and went on a calculated offensive, honing in on Dream’s left leg. When the crowd chanted “Velveteen” Cole shot back, to which the crowd chanted “Shut up, Adam.” The official tried to get Dream out of the corner and Dream said, “Don’t touch me; I’m the Dream!” Fish worked a leg lock and Cole pulled the rope away from Dream. Dream slung Fish out of the ring and on to Cole. Fish flew back in but fell victim to the Purple Rainmaker for the win. Dream soaked in the crowd’s love from the ramp and blew kisses.
Ricochet hit the ring to address Johnny Gargano with a promo. He accused Gargano of being cowardly, and said Gargano hasn’t changed – he only showed his true colors. Ricochet said he has already shown his true colors and proven he is better than Gargano by winning the North American Championship. Gargano interrupted, walking with a purpose and saying he has a plan, but a fight broke out when he got in the ring. Tommaso Ciampa slipped in and knocked Ricochet to the floor from behind. As he admired the result of his deed, Aleister Black ran in and attacked Black from behind for a second time. Gargano pulled Black off of Ciampa. He looked at the North American championship on the mat, then contemplatively looked at Ciampa for a moment. The former DIY teammates simultaneously hit their finishers on their TakeOver opponents and pensively walked up the ramp together. The crowd chanted “hug it out.” As Ciampa and Gargano stared in to one another on the stage and Gargano looked as though he was about to stop Ciampa from backing off, Candice LeRae ran in and desperately led her husband away. Ciampa clutched his championship.
As Black and Ricochet recovered after the taping portion of the evening seemed to conclude, all four members of Undisputed Era walked out to no music. Though the crowd was vocally anticipating “War,” Heavy Machinery ran in and joined the faces to scare off the heels. Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight said the “afterparty” had begun and called for an official.
(B) Aleister Black, Ricochet, and Heavy Machinery defeated Undisputed Era via pinfall in a dark main event. The match featured all the house show hallmarks as the wrestlers engaged in verbal interplay with the crowd and the action was widely focused on feeding the faces and building to Dozovic’s hot tag. At one point Strong played jump rope with O’Reilly’s body as Knight delivered a big swing to the air guitarist, but Strong tripped and was struck by his own partner on a subsequent revolution. When Dozovic hit the Worm, he set it up just like NXT trainer Scotty 2 Hotty. Black and Ricochet hit simultaneous moonsaults to the outside on to Cole, Fish, and O’Reilly, and Dozovic pinned Strong after a Compactor.
Fans chanted “we will miss you” as Dozovic and Knight celebrated and took pictures with fans.