9/11 NXT TV Review: Gargano’s future, Ripley vs. Baszler, Dunne vs. Garza, Grimes, Priest, NXT on USA hype

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor


SEPTEMBER 11, 2019

-Here it is – the last episode of NXT TV before the show goes live on USA. Only the first hour will be on USA for the first two weeks, while the second hour is on WWE Network, because of the last two episodes of Suits. I assume this episode, though, will be treated as a farewell show of sorts.

-A Tahoe pulled up to Full Sail. The driver got out, walked around and opened the door to let out Rhea Ripley. She smirked and walked in the door. Nice production and cinematography, but kind of an odd scene for Ripley considering she’s a heavy metal killer and not some kind of diva.

-Opening credits. Mauro and Nigel hyped the Ripley-Baszler main event as well as Johnny Gargano’s announcement about his future.


Nigel promotes Damian Priest as “undefeated” so apparently we’re to forget his opening loss when he was Punishment Martinez.

Priest backed Boa into the corner. He took a swing but Boa ducked out. Priest challenged Boa, who kicked the leg and then got knocked down on a shoulderblock attempt. Boa challenged Priest to run the ropes but Priest punchedhim out and stomped a mudhole in the corner. Boa kicked Priest but Priest responded in kind. Big elbow in the corner. Falcon Arrow. Priest taunted Boa with kicks to the head and started lifting Boa by his ear. Boa used his speed to get back into it with high kicks. High dropkick in the corner and Boa was fired up, but he ran into a huge lariat. Priest did the arrow spot, a cyclone kick and hit The Reckoning for the pin.

WINNER: Priest at 2:33.

Kelly’s Analysis: This is what an enhancement match should be; NXT seems to be getting better at not giving the enhancer too much offense. Boa did look exciting in his hope spots and was a nice bump machine for Priest. Unfortunately, still no mission statement regarding Priest. Mauro proclaimed him to be on a roll, and that was that.

-Velveteen Dream spot. He warned that Roderick Strong would burn. This match will be next week, apparently in the first hour since they promoted it as being live on USA.

-NXT on USA spot.

-Johnny Gargano’s music played, and Gargano walked out slowly in street clothes. He slapped some hands and took some long looks at the crowd. It’s a somber start, so whether this is goodbye or not, he’s intentionally giving off that vibe. One single incel in the crowd couldn’t help himself from booing as sustained as possible. Oh well. Long “Johnny Wrestling” chant before he got started. Great for the crowd, but not gripping TV. As long as he doesn’t milk it for half an hour like Hulk Hogan on SmackDown did once, I guess it’s okay.

“Guys, I told them I wasn’t going to be long when I came out here…” He said he heard all the rumors, and read all the reports. What does the future hold for Johnny Gargano? “Please don’t go” chant. Gargano says the last time he was in the ring, he fell twenty feet from a cage and woke up to people chanting “Thank you, Johnny.” He says he appreciates it, but he’d like to thank the audience. He said they built this place together. He says he loves everything about NXT. “NXT” chant. He got fired up and said it was all about that locker room putting on the best professional wrestling show the world has to offer. (Yes, he said “professional wrestling!”) He said he’s seen a lot of people come and go. He said they have a choice. And Johnny has made his choice. He said the crowd has had his back since day one, so he is officially…

Shane Thorne’s music hit and he walked out to the crowd to interrupt. “Really, Johnny, is all this necessary?” The crowd pelted him with boos as he bemoaned the amount of Johnny Time. More time wasted. He says Johnny could have taken a selfie and tweeted something instead. He said he gets it – he’s a pillar of NXT. He’s Johnny TakeOver. He said this place would be just fine without Johnny. With the right person in the spotlight (he pointed to himself) it was going to be even better. So take a walk, Johnny.

Gargano walked away for just a second and said “You’re right, Shane. I am NXT…and I’m not going anywhere.” He superkicked Thorne, spelled out NXT with his finger, and posed for the crowd as the music played. Nigel proclaimed him “NXT for life.”

Kelly’s Analysis: this became a more and more likely outcome with the USA announcement. It’s probably a good thing for Johnny that the injury to Tommaso Ciampa delayed the Raw introduction, where #DIY would almost certainly be lost in the shuffle.

-Forgotten Sons spot. The three stood together and Blake and Cutler spoke over shots of them dishing out punishment. They said they will be forgotten…no more. Ryker said the last two words.

Kelly’s Analysis: Just yesterday, I wrote up an NXT depth chart as the cover story for the PWTorch Newsletter, and I wondered if the Sons were going to be given any more chances to move up. Looks like they are.


Oh, this sounds fun. Beth says the ladies in the audience notice the dimples on Garza. Garza poses while sitting on a turnbuckle as Dunne stared at him in disgust.

Dunne reached for Garza’s fingers but Garza ducked away. Garza teased taking off his long trunks and Dunne grabbed a leg. Garza spun out and grabbed a waistlock. Dunne reversed and manipulated the arm to take Garza down. He split the fingers and leaned into a pin attempt for two. Garza spun into a reversal and Dunne escaped. Applause.

Garza ran the ropes for a couple leapfrogs from both and Dunne hit a lariat. Dunne kicked the back of Garza’s tricep. He went for the arm stomp but Garza moved. Garza baited Dunne with the hand and tossed him out of the ring. Garza ripped off his long trunks to a bit of a mostly-female pop. Dunne charged with a lariat and the two went out to the other side, where Garza set up Dunne upside-down for a superkick. Back in and Garza draped Dunne in between turnbuckles for a kick to the midsection as Nigel said “more offense from the most beautiful man in the world.” Dunne hit some chops and a step-up enzuigiri. Release German suplex. Dunne double stomped a hand, kicked Garza’s head and covered for two. Pumphandle slam attempt is reversed. Dropkick by Garza. Double-underhook was blocked into a powerbomb by Dunne for a long two. Rollup by Garza for two.

Dunne went up, but Garza dropkicked him down for two. Garza sold frustration. Garza set up Dunne for a chop that took him down. Dunne tried to kick his way up but Dunne thrustkicked the face for two. Garza taunted Dunne from above but Dunne rolled through and stomped the face. Hard kick to the side of Garza’s head. Kick to the midsection. Chop. Garza booted Dunne as he carged the corner. Moonsault from the second rope, but Dunne got his knees up, locked in his submission and it was good for the finish.

WINNER: Dunne at 8:02.

Kelly’s Analysis: That was a lot of fun, unsurprisingly. Garza is an absolute star in the making and he was given a lot of offense here as he isn’t just another enhancement wrestler, as Boa is for the moment. Nigel wondered what was next for Pete Dunne.

-Rhea Ripley shadowboxed in the back.

-Connor’s Cure spot.

-Street Profits spot from this past Monday in Central Park. The camera panned around as Montez Ford talked about being on Raw at MSG for the first time. But there’s only one thing they’re missing – the tag team championships. So what better way to make a live statement than by showing up and taking back the NXT Tag Team Championships? Ford asked a “bystander” how to get to MSG. They walk out of the shot.

Kelly’s Analysis: To this point it’s been easy for wrestlers to pull double duty, but it could be a logistical nightmare with NXT live at Full Sail every week. I expect this match to be it for the Profits in NXT.


Grimes had a black left eye. He wore the top hat and vest to the ring. He sneered at the crowd and moved around like a madman.

Mendoza rolled up Grimes with La Magistral, which Grimes rolled through. The two rolled for a bit and Mendoza got a two. Headscissor takedown by Mendoza. Mendoza went up but Grimes dropkicked him to the floor. Grimes rolled Mendoza back in and hit a lariat for two. Armbar by Grimes as Nigel promoted next week’s Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong match. Mendoza pushed Grimes to the corner, but Grimes held on. Mendoza escaped and punched Grimes, then dropkicked him to the corner. Step-up kick in the corner. Mendoza went up, walked the ropes and dropkicked Grimes. Running Shooting Star Press for two. Mendoza tried to grab Grimes but Grimes snapped the ropes into Mendoza’s face. Enzuigiri by Mendoza. Mendoza went up again. He missed a Phoenix Splash. Grimes hit a double stomp with the knees for the win; the finisher doesn’t seem to have a name yet. Beth says Grimes’ offense is “gnarly, but it is effective.”

WINNER: Grimes at 3:48.

Kelly’s Analysis: It’s hard to say what’s the right amount of offense for Raul Mendoza to get. He’s been a great gatekeeper, but he’s so good. I just don’t see how he can be defined upward without a ton of work. Grimes was solid here, though the match was nothing to remember.

-Candice LeRae stormed into William Regal’s office and asked why Io Shirai keeps getting opportunities. Regal makes next week’s triple threat into a four-way instead. Regal said it could even become a five-way (I assume he’s hinting at Rhea Ripley). Candice thanked Regal for the opportunity.

-Dakota Kai spot! She’s the captain of Team Kick! She can’t wait to show NXT what she can do! The screen said “Dakota Kai Returns” but didn’t hint at when this would actually happen.

Kelly’s Analysis: Shayna Baszler needs challengers of all types. While I like this Rhea Ripley feud that’s burning, I think the proper end of this story is for an underdog to get the better of Baszler. For me, that person is Dakota Kai.

-Once again, next week’s Strong-Dream match was promoted for USA. Also, Matt Riddle will face Killian Dain in a Street Fight during the second hour on the WWE Network. That’s a pair of strong matches to lead off the (sort of) live debut of the show. I don’t love Street Fights for the sake of them, but I’m a big fan when the story makes one feel necessary, as this one has done.


Non-title. Challenger entered first to a nice pop. Only nine minutes left in the show as Shayna steps into the ring. Rhea looked on unimpressed as Shayna did her poses.

“Rhea Ripley”/”Shayna Baszler” 70-30 dueling chant. Shayna kicked Rhea’s leg, which Rhea no-sold. Shayna crept away from Ripley, selling a bit of fear. Ripley got Shayna up but Shayna reversed to a near-Kirafuda clutch, blocked and Ripley slammed Shayna. Beth Phoenix said Shayna couldn’t get a grip on Ripley.

Ripley battered Baszler in the corner, then set up a suplex but got rolled up for two. Dropkick by Ripley. Big Boot missed and Baszler tied up Ripley in the ropes and kicked her down. Baszler covered for one. Front chancery by Baszler. Ripley fought to her feet and back-bodydropped Baszler. Dropkick missed and Baszler hit a sleeper, broken as Ripley went to the corner. Kirafuda Clutch as Baszler was backed into the turnbuckle, and she had to break as Ripley was in the ropes. Ripley sent Baszler to the floor and sold neck pain.

Ripley went out after Baszler and Electric Chair dropped her into the stairs. Ripley rolled Baszler into the ring but Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir attacked. No DQ there for some reason. Duke handed Baszler a chair and referee Jessika Carr said she’d disqualify her if she used it. Ripley wrested away the chair, slammed Baszler on the back with it, and got disqualified.

WINNER: Baszler by disqualification at 5:25.

Kelly’s Analysis: That was a weird set of circumstances. Why didn’t Ripley win by DQ when she was jumped? I know both have to be protected as they head into a longer story – perhaps all the way to TakeOver in November – but it looked a little inconsistent with the rules. That said, these two were telling an interesting story about Ripley’s power overmatching Baszler and Baszler having to find new and different ways to slap on her signature moves when facing a monster. I look forward to the rematch.

-Undisputed Era spot after the main event. Strong and Cole did the heavy lifting. Strong vowed to win the North American Championship as Adam Cole said it wouldn’t be long before they were all draped in gold.

FINAL THOUGHTS: No long matches this week, but a lot of development heading into the live show. I suppose it makes sense not to burn anything important here now that there’s going to be more time to fill. Rhea Ripley looks to be hanging around for the time being, which I had thought might not be the case, and Johnny Gargano is staying as well, which I definitely did predict, though it isn’t obvious what he’s going to do next; he’s the face of NXT, but he’s also accomplished everything there is to accomplish, so he’s going to need a hook. VIP Subscribers, check out my exhaustive NXT Roster Depth Chart as this week’s newsletter cover story, assessing the roster as they head into the live show (though even tonight may have caused me to shift some people around). Follow me all over social media @spookymilk if you want to talk wrestling, buy my board game Fundead: The Gravest Show on Earth, or send me Dakota Kai merchandise.

RECOMMENDED: 9/4 NXT TV Review: Cole defends against Myles, Dream vs. Kona, Breezango, Women’s #1 Contender’s Match Announced

1 Comment on 9/11 NXT TV Review: Gargano’s future, Ripley vs. Baszler, Dunne vs. Garza, Grimes, Priest, NXT on USA hype

  1. “One single incel in the crowd couldn’t help himself from booing as sustained as possible.”

    I always thought progressives prided themselves on being anti-bullies. Yet here they are constantly throwing around the “involuntary celibate” mark as some sort of insult against anyone that doesn’t behave like they want them to. It’s like mocking someone for being a virgin coming from people always claiming to be against abuse.
    The sad thing is the “incel” insult has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to someone heckling a man like in this case. It’s just pathetic at this point, especially if it comes from a “professional” reporter on a wrestling website that prides itself for being half-way decent.

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