9/18 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Wells’s review of Dream vs. Strong, Four-Way Women’s #1 Contender’s Match, First Live Episode on USA


SEPTEMBER 18, 2019

-Triple H said that NXT is not our kind, per the theme song. Otherwise he promoted NXT. Lots of shots of the talent as he spoke.

-Io Shirai was introduced first as NXT reached a new milestone, followed by Bianca Belair, Mia Yim and finally Candice LeRae.

(1) CANDICE LERAE vs. MIA YIM vs. BIANCA BELAIR vs. IO SHIRAI – Fatal Four-Way Match for #1 Contendership

Candice and Io jawed and then tore at one another as the bell rang. Shirai and Yim spilled out. Belair slammed and then gorilla press-slammed Candice. Handspring moonsault for the cover, broken by Mia Yim. Yim walked into a suplex and a cover, and Shirai saved. Shirai 619 and missile dropkick on Belair for two as the other two were out. Lots of movement in and out of the ring in the early going.

Yim reentered the ring. DDT on Belair. Cover broken by LeRae, who pounded at Yim in the corner. LeRae slammed Shirai’s head to the apron but Belair cleared her out. Tope suicida by Yim to everyone but Shirai. Moonsault by Shirai to the outside and, sadly but inevitably, NXT went to its first mid-match commercial a bit over three minutes into the action.

At 6:13, the match resumed. Tower of doom spot (by LeRae) was the first spot upon return, so I hope they took it easy between. Candice with an octopus submission on Shirai and Yim booted her to break it up. Shirai with a backbreaker on Belair. All four sold on the mat. Shirai walked into a snap German on LeRae. LeRae went for a poison rana on Yim but got slingshotted into the turnbuckle. Code Blue from Yim to Belair, broken up by Shirai. Belair speared Yim and Shirai at the same time. Belair with KOD on LeRae, broken up by Yim. Protect Ya Neck on Belair but Shirai dropkicked Yim from the ring. Shirai and LeRae reset.

Double knees from Shirai in the corner. She went high but Yim threw her off to the outside, onto Belair. Yim went up, but LeRae followed. Eventually Candice hit a poison rana. Poison rana to Yim and her finisher was good as the other two were selling on the floor.

WINNER: Candice LeRae at 10:01.

Kelly’s Analysis: Really fun TV match, and not so long that we couldn’t have seen it all, but I need to get used to commercials again. Surprising finish to some, perhaps, but this is a feud that can play out on TV. This show could have started with this match or the Roddy-Dream match, and both approaches would work given that the first match ever on the show is such a big deal. Given the ludicrous workrate of this match, I like this decision.

-As LeRae celebrated on the ramp, Shayna Baszler and the Horsewomen joined her on the ramp and taunted her with the belt.

-Adam Cole spot.

-Velveteen Dream preened in a mirror.

-NXT Merch spot. Buy one tee and get one for $1 tonight. For those on the fence, there’s never been a better time to buy me a Dakota Kai shirt.

-Dominik Dijakovic and Keith Lee spot. It’s simply a bit to get them over as workers to a new audience. Next week, they go at it again. No problems here.

-Matt Riddle and Killian Dain spot, again getting the workers over as well as their feud. Both of these spots were kept short (under a minute each). These guys are in a Street Fight tonight on the Network.


Once again, it’s been a minute since we’ve seen Maluta. He’s continuing with a kind of street, Usos approach. Grimes still has the awesome top hat and vest, and if fans ruin that for me I’ll be very disappointed.

Maluta walked into a high knee and stomp to the chest. And…oh.

WINNER: Cameron Grimes in 0:07.

Kelly’s Analysis: I love this decision for Grimes. Maluta seems like a guy with some upside, so I guess we can ask “Why not a local?”, but Grimes is the priority and the crowd ate this up. Grimes has been working heel but this approach and response is worth watching.

-Mauro teed up the main event and threw to a video package of the Velveteen Dream – Roderick Strong feud. Burning couches! It’s up next, as we go to a commercial at the half-hour mark.

-Damian Priest spot. Very quick, like the others. NXT used their precious extra time wisely to put over some talent. Surprising omission: Johnny Gargano.

(3) VELVETEEN DREAM (c) vs. RODERICK STRONG – NXT North American Championship match

Challenger enters first. Good pop for Dream. “Velveteen” chant to the beat of his theme music.

Formal introductions take place in the ring and the match starts at 37 past the hour.

Roddy back Dream into the corner. Dream hit a front chancery, but Strong grabbed a leg. Back to another corner. Break. A little taunting. Jockeying for position on the floor. Dream grabbed a wristlock into an armbar. Strong spun out into a wristlock. To a corner, running the ropes, and Dream clotheslined Strong to the floor. Strong jumped up and Dream hit the mat with his seductive taunt. Strong jumped down, slapped the mat and the show went to commercial about two minutes in.

Back at 5:40 into the match. Dream bailed and punched a charging Strong. Back in, dropkick for a one count. Dream elbowed Strong and went high for an axhandle. Strong bailed. Axhandle again. Strong went in, and Dream went up but got thrown to the floor. Strong backdropped him on the barricade. Back in but Dream kept rolling out to another side. Wrecking Ball dropkick by a following Strong. Strong drove Dream’s back into the apron as he continued work on the back. Back in and Roddy covered for one.

Strong mounted Dream and hit a sleeper. Dream rolled into a cover to break the hold. The announcers and a graphic reminded viewers to switch to the WWE Network for the second hour. Chops from Roddy in the corner. Stomp to the back. Lots of reversals on the mat and Roddy ended up on top in a headlock. Dream dropped into a jawbreaker to stop it but Strong hit a backbreaker for two. Uranage backbreaker by Strong for a long two. Damn, that looked good.

Roddy went for the Stronghold, reversed into a Sharpshooter but Strong kicked Dream from the ring. Strong went for a Wrecking Ball dropkick but missed. Dream drove Strong into the stairs as the match went to another commercial at 11:50.

Back at 15:15. Strong was in control in the corner. He set up Dream on the turnbuckle and set up a superplex, but Dream fought back and they traded punches and elbows. Strong fell and Dream hit a double axhandle. Lariat. Thrustkick for a long two. Dream rolled up Strong for the DVD but Strong escaped. Dream rolled up Strong for two. Dream DT for a very long two, though perhaps not a believable nearfall now that we know when the show is ending. Dream went up top but Strong bailed. They traded blows over the ropes and both attempted suplexes. Dream ended up on the apron and they traded places. Big kick by Strong draped Dream over the second rope. “This is wrestling”chant.

Back in. Kneelift by strong, kind of a V-trigger. Strong tied up Dream in the top two ropes and ran the ropes to hit forearms. Pendulum backbreaker. Powerbomb for two. Strong rolled over Dream into Stronghold. The crowd was jacked for Dream as he fought successfully to get to the ropes at 20 minutes – plus. The crowd booed as the rest of Undisputed Era joined ringside.

Dream plastered Strong in the ring. Back-bodydrop. Ref (Drake Wuertz) bump. Dream Valley Driver. Fish and O’Reilly jumped to the apron and Dream cleared them out. Strong hit a backbreaker for a very believable nearfall.

Dream Valley Driver again. Dream went up, unseen by the distracted ref, and superkicked Dream. Strong hit his finisher to win the North American Title.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Roderick Strong at 22:29.

(Kelly’s Analysis: This was a very long match for NXT, but this may happen more and more in the commercial era. There are few workers you can trust more in this kind of spot than Strong, and Dream held up his end as well to provide a great main event. I thought a title change here was inevitable as UE’s domination seemed like the story, but all the same, the nearfalls had me guessing.


-For the benefit of those without USA Network, a recap of the USA hour was shown.

-The Women’s Championship between Candice LeRae and Shayna Baszler will be on the very familiar date of October 2nd, live in two weeks on USA.


Enhancement and all that, but this should be good.

Feeling-out process as Mauro sold the clash of styles. Front chancery by Dunne but many reversals resulted. To the ropes for a clean break. Flying scissors takedown by Ruas, reversed into an armbreaker. Trading strikes. Ruas runs the ropes and walks into a lariat. Dunne’s arm-stomping spot. He went for it again but Ruas moved and hit a capoeira kick and cover for one. Ruas worked some finger manipulation to “give Dunne a dose of his own medicine.” Dunne got up and fired back with chops, but Ruas took him down with kicks. Dragon screw by Dunne. Step-up enzuigiri. German. Cover for two. Release suplex for two.

Dunne grabbed the arms and stomped Ruas. Triangle, but Ruas rolled out. Kick to the head and a German for two. Mauro said Ruas has more kicks than “a baby in a womb.” Step-up enzuigiri by Dunne again into a triangle. He split the fingers while leaning into the submission.

WINNER: Pete Dunne at 6:43.

Kelly’s Analysis: Again, an up-and-comer looks really good against Dunne. While Dunne is winning his matches, he’s providing a chance for his opponents to look great in the process and make a name for when it’s their time. Ruas could go places.

-Coming up, Lio Rush vs. Oney Lorcan for the #1 Contendership of the Cruiserweight Championship. So, there’s an answer we’ve all been looking for.

-Dakota Kai spot (the same as last week)


Headlock by Li. Borne is at rinside, of course. Li hit some kicks in the corner and a dropkick. Standing switch and Aliyah booted Li. Li sweeps the leg and hits a forearm to take down Aliyah. Li with a shotgun dropkick. Spinning back kick. Li tripped up Aliyah and hit a tornado kick for three. Wow.

WINNER: Xia Li at 1:50.

Kelly’s Analysis: Li is apparently being moved up the card, as she wins an enhancement match over an NXT fixture. This was pretty good, short though it was, as a Li showcase. Borne didn’t figure in.

-Cruiserweight title hype.

-Connor’s Cure spot.

-Denzel Dejournette was introduced for a match with Kushida, but NXT:UK super faction Imperium showed up at ringside. Well, three of them, anyway: Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner and Alexander Wolfe. The three laid waste to Dejournette. “Where is Walter?” chant. The three of them did their stand-at-attention thing in the ring as Walter’s music played, and Walter himself entered. This is cool, but I’m really annoyed that Kushida was used this week as a guy who had a match that never happened.

Walter grabbed the mic. “We are Imperium! And to us, this mat is sacred. We are here to restore the honor and tradition of our sport. And from this day forth, those who disrespect the tradition, their time will be spent answering to…” he went into German, and Kushida’s music played to bring him to the ramp.

“This is my time,” Kushida said. “Now, your time belongs to me.” Kushida cleared out the henchmen as Walter went after Kushida. Kushida got in a kick and he challenged Walter to a match as he evaded more trouble.

Kelly’s Analysis: of all the feuds I expected to get going tonight, this was near the bottom of the list. It should be an incredible styles clash, the type where both wrestlers in question excel. With NXT:UK taping several episodes at a time, mini-feuds like this can still happen pretty easily in the US.

(6) LIO RUSH vs. ONEY LORCAN – #1 Contender’s Match for Cruiserweight Championship

Mauro said that Lio Rush has straightened out his life after having more issues than a magazine. Mauro applauds Lio as a mental health advocate for not suffering in silence. “Welcome back” chant.

Oney charges at the bell. Running elbows in the corner. Blockbuster. Cover for two. Lio hit an armdrag to take out Oney. Tope suicida. Another hard one and a third. Rush is so fearless.

Back in after a “Lio” chant. Forearms in the corner. Rana off the ropes for Lio. Rewind kick for two. Mauro calls out the awesome clash of styles just as I was thinking the same. Dragon Screw by Lorcan as he blocks a kick. Chops in the corner by Lorcan. He charges Lio into a turnbuckle. Uppercut over the ropes and Lio drops back in. Oney hangs up Lio and hits another uppercut. Lio gets counted out to five before getting back in.

Deadlift by Lorcan into a gutwrench powerbomb for two. Rush fought to his feet but Oney hit a half-crab. Lio rolls over and kicks his way out. Vicious chop by Lorcan. Hard bodyslam for two. The crowd dueled chants for both guys. Knife-edge chop by Lorcan. Another chop. Lio sprung from the bottom rope, in a seated position, into a stunner for two. Very cool. Lio went high and missed. Oney went for a powerbomb but Lio fought out. Lorcan with a big boot and powerbomb into a half-crab again. Rush pushed Oney off but walked right back into a half-crab. Oney turned it into a modified STF and Lio teased passing out before fighting to the ropes again. “Fight Lio Fight” chant.

Reset as Lio got to his feet and the much larger Lorcan stlked him. Lightning chops from Rush, but Lorcan fired up into some truly disgusting (in a good way) chops. He charged Rush but ran into Spanish Fly. Rush with a frog splash, called the Dragon’s Call (I think I heard that correctly?) and it was good for the win.


Kelly’s Analysis: This was just awesome. On a night full of better-promoted matches, I’m not sure this isn’t my favorite of the lot. This was a great clash of styles, and the two found a rhythm with one another that totally worked. This match played to a hot and appreciative crowd and should answer a lot of questions about both 205 Live and the decision to run NXT live in front of Full Sail – an extremely appreciative and wrestling-hungry crowd – every week.

(7) MATT RIDDLE vs. KILLIAN DAIN – Street Fight

Introductions are at 13 to the hour, so week one might go long.

Dain charged with a boot before the bell. German by Riddle. Exploder by Riddle. Senton blocked. The action spilled outside and I’m already expecting a commercial break thanks to the first hour.

Senton by Dain outside on the floor. They fought to the back and past the Forgotten Sons, all in their gear for some reason. Dain threw Riddle into the side of an NXT semi. Walter was outside at a table and when it got upended, he attacked Riddle. It became Imperium vs. Riddle, but Street Profits joined in, followed by The Forgotten Sons.

The action spilled back out to the ring, involving everyone. Pete Dunne was involved now as well. More names than I can mention are involved. Refs broke it up in the ring. This is very, very Attitude Era in its chaos. Cezar Bononi sighting! Danny Burch is out there. Bronson Reed. Dain hit a tope suicida on a ton of people. What a night on NXT, Mauro said. What the?! It’s a Street Fight!

NO CONTEST in, I don’t know, maybe five minutes. No bell.

Kelly’s Analysis: Since they weren’t going to give a satisfactory ending, what they did give was an acceptable brawl. Now Dain-Riddle gets saved for USA as it was always meant to be, but we still feel we got something worth seeing here.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a well-paced, exciting first week of live NXT. Stories started and continued, and a lot of talent got some face time as a lot of new fans potentially showed up. We got a couple of very good matches – perhaps TakeOver worthy – and I should think that new viewers would be interested in this show. Tonight I’m on a conference call with Triple H and will report any interesting tidbits from there. Follow me all over social media @spookymilk and tune into this week’s PWT Talks NXT to hear us break this episode down.

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