WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
OCTOBER 2, 2019
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Beth Phoenix
-PWT Talks NXT listeners: we’ll be recording tonight after the show ends, so look for the podcast tomorrow. Let’s get these Wednesday night wars started.
-Corey Taylor of Slipknot is the voiceover as shots of NXT wrestlers play out. He says that if you’ve been looking for something more, come home. We are NXT.
(Wells’s Analysis: Is Corey Taylor the way to open against AEW? It was only a couple of minutes, but it’s a weird call)
-Mauro calls out that the first thirty minutes of NXT will be commercial-free.
(1) MATT RIDDLE vs. ADAM COLE (c) – NXT Championship Match
Challenger is out first. Highlights were shown of Riddle hitting the Fujiwara Armbar on Killian Dain, and then an invading Adam Cole. When Cole was introduced, Mauro ran down Cole’s dream come true of Undisputed Era holding all the gold. Formal introductions started in the ring at six minutes past the hour. Riddle got a few boos from the UE crowd, but other than yelling along “Bay-Bay!”, the crowd was at least somewhat playing along with traditional roles.
Riddle took down Cole three times to start, then went for the Fujiwara Armbar immediately but Cole got a foot on the rope to break. Cole backed Riddle into the corner and hit some kicks, but Riddle hit a gutwrench suplex. Two. Three gutwrenches. Cover for one. Riddle hit some kicks to the face, then one to the chest that tossed Cole from the ring. Riddle reached through the ropes but Cole hit a jumping roundhouse kick to yank Riddle from the ring. Mouthful of steps for Riddle, then back into the ring.
Cole took Riddle to the corner and choked him with his foot. Back elbow by Cole to a charging Riddle. Neckbreaker for two. Riddle attempted to fight to his feet, and hit some punches, but Cole ducked a kick, hit an Ushigoroshi and covered for two. Chinlock by Cole. Cole wrapped up Riddle with his legs and Riddle floated into a cover to break. Bicycle kick by Cole. Cole threw hard rights as Riddle got to his feet. Combination of punches. Overhead kick and flying forearm. Exploder by Riddle. PK misses but Riddle hits a senton and high knee for two. A long series of reversals led to a knee and fisherman buster by Riddle for two. Deadlift German for two.
“Let’s go bro/Cole” dueling chant. Riddle lifted Cole into a fireman’s carry but Cole hit a backstabber for two. The crowd is buying into these nearfalls completely and we’re under seven minutes in. The two got to their knees and hit palm strikes and elbows. Cole stomped on Riddle’s exposed foot to take control but Riddle hit a high knee. Cole and Riddle traded high-impact moves faster than I could type and Cole hit an Ushigoroshi for two. This is the counter for AEW, there’s no denying that. “This is awesome” chant.
Riddle kicked Cole to the apron and followed. Cole elbowed his way out of trouble and hit a bicycle kick to floor Riddle. Cole followed and jumped out right into a waiting knee. Riddle rolled Cole in, Floating Bro from the top hit knees. Cole went to the opposite corner and hit a Sunrise for a completely believable nearfall. The audience is out of control here. Cole set up Riddle for a knee but Riddle crumbled. Cole went for another Panama Sunrise, blocked, Bro to Sleep, powerbomb, knee, Floating Bro for a long two. This is absolutely bonkers. Still just over eleven minutes into the match.
Riddle went up and Cole crotched him on the top. Cole followed up and the two traded blows. Riddle threw off Cole with a chop but then ran into a superkick. Cole went up and hit a second Panama Sunrise. He missed a PK from behind and Riddle immediately slapped on Bromission. Cole countered into a cover for two. Riddle locked an arm and Cole hit a crucifix for two. Riddle grabbed the other arm in a Fujiwara. Cole escaped and hit an elbow from behind. Last Shot was good to finish.
WINNER: Adam Cole at 13:48.
(Wells’s Analysis: You can’t ask more of two guys to open this show on a critical week like this. It was clear from the opening pace that this wasn’t going to go thirty minutes – it simply couldn’t – but it’s hard to imagine a stronger 14-minute match. Nigel called Cole the greatest NXT Champion…)
-…which was to set up Finn Balor entering ringside. Mauro said that Finn Balor has “come home,” so this is more than a quickie appearance. Finn grabbed a mic and soaked it in for a second. “Welcome Back” chant. He kept it short: “As of now, Finn Balor is NXT.”
(Wells’s Analysis: Mauro kind of gave it away by saying Finn had come home. Just let it play out! Outside that little nitpick, what an awesome moment. It’s the kind of re-debut that I probably should have seen coming. Finn immediately sits at the top of the pile, superseding Riddle, probably Gargano and all others, and changes the landscape of NXT entirely.)
-Last Thursday at a live event in Des Moines, Shayna Baszler watched Candice LeRae win a match and said the fans would be crying on Wednesday. This was the beginning of a hype package with a lot of new content that made LeRae look like a genuine threat to the NXT Women’s Championship. Then LeRae was shown running in place while Shayna sparred with her Horsemates.
-Velveteen Dream was introduced. He appeared on his couch, flanked by women, at the top of the ramp. “What you are feeling, seeping into your soul, is the Velveteen Dream experience. And that feeling is known as the climax of life. Where the spotlight shines the brightest. Which is probably why Roderick Strong and his cronies tried to steal it.” He said the Dream has never, ever had problems with taking on more than one man at a time. Shriek pop for that line. He said he was looking forward to taking back the North American Championship, unless Strong was afraid to step out of the shadow of Undisputed Era. The next thing you know – Dream Over.
(Wells’s Analysis: We knew we’d get weekly Dream segments on USA after he was more of a special attraction on the network, and segments like this keep him feeling special while not blowing all of his money matches)
-Next week, Drew Gulak will defend the Cruiserweight Championship against Lio Rush.
(2) MIA YIM vs. IO SHIRAI
Mauro called Io the “Joshi Judas.” That’s good. If he said it before and I missed it, I shouldn’t have.
This match was set up as a result of the four-way. Armdrag by Yim. Another. Kick in the corner for two. Atomic drop by Yim sent Io flying from the ring. Baseball slide by Yim. Yim stayed outside and chopped Io to pieces, even complying when fans said “one more time.” She asked “Again?” to a fan. Nice touch. Io hit a kick and the action finally went back inside the ring. The picture minimized to the SmackDown split screen as the show went to its first commercial at 36 past the hour. The action, as often, was a little lighter and slower through the commercial.
Upon “return,” Shirai hit a dragon screw and a basement dropkick for two. Shirai threw down Tim by her hair and spit back at referee Drake Wuertz as he admonished her. Yim slapped Shirai but Shirai used the hair to take down Yim again. Shirai mounted Yim and struck her until Yim reached the ropes. Flapjack by Shirai. Knees to the chest for two after a cocky seated cover. Shirai taunted the crowd and missed a running knee to the corner. A couple of reversals led to a belly-to-belly throw by Yim. Both fought to their feet and Yim got the better of Shirai. Lariat. Thrustkick. Dropkick. Yim tripped Shirai. Basement dropkick for two. Yim threw hard kicks at Io but she hit a poison rana for two. 619 by Shirai. Springboard dropkick by Shirai for two.
Code Blue by Yim went for a long two. Shirai bailed. Yim hit a tope suicida (for the second week in a row, Mauro left out “suicida” so I wonder if this is a mandate). The match went to split-screen commercial for the second time at around 10:30.
Back from commercial, Yim was up top and Shirai followed. Shirai hit palm strikes and went to the top and hit a superplex but couldn’t make the cover. This match has now gone longer than Cole and Riddle did. Shirai finally made the cover for two. Shirai got to her feet but Yim grabbed a foot. Shirai hit a kick to the head and went up and hit a moonsault for three.
WINNER: Io Shirai at 14:46.
(Wells’s Analysis: In an uncommon twist, there was a very small amount of match left after return from commercial. I’m not against that kind of surprise, but in a longer match this is rare. The match was strong. Shirai continues to shine as a heel)
-Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were at ringside.
-Outside, earlier today, Street Profits arrived with Bianca Belair. Ford and Belair shared a quick kiss as Nigel called them out as husband and wife, offhandedly, after months of the company being careful not to promote this fact.
(Wells’s Analysis: Why?! Once you tie two wrestlers together romantically, you neuter their storylines more than you help them. And there was no purpose here at all)
-Tegan Nox spot. Obviously, her injury in the Mae Young Classic was shown. She’s ready to show NXT what she can do.
(3) JOHNNY GARGANO vs. SHANE THORNE
Inauspicious debut for Gargano on USA. No mic work or anything beforehand.
Thorne hit a wristlock, reversed by Gargano. Thorne hit a snap mare but then had to duck a kick from Gargano. Front chancery by Gargano who went off the ropes and hit a rolling crucifix for two. Gargano Escape attempt but Thorne reached the ropes. Side suplex by Thorne. Split screen less than ninety seconds in. I couldn’t do justice to all the pretty reversals in the opening sequence. Some of the action on the small screen spilled to the outside and Thorne controlled most of it.
Back from commercial, Gargano was getting to his feet but got hit by a European uppercut. He fought out of a waistlock with a knee. Chop to the corner by Gargano. Gargano clotheslined Thorne to the outside and Thorne blocked a tope suicida and got hit by another (also just called a tope by Mauro, so there you go). Back in, Gargano hopped into a fireman’s carry but got tossed. Thorne hit double knees and a cannonball on Gargano. Giant powerbomb for a long, semi-believable nearfall. Thorne is crushing it right now.
Thorne set up Gargano for some Yes Kicks. PK to the back of Gargano’s arm. Thorne charged into a forearm. Gargano threw a few more, took a kick, then hit a hard lariat. Roundhouse by Thorne. Poison rana by Gargano. Superkick by Gargano was good to finish.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 8:56.
(Wells’s Analysis: It’s stunning how good Shane Thorne is looking in this singles role, and how well his snotty character is translating to TV. I don’t know if he’s going to be in a position to win a lot of matches, but this outing certainly proves he could be a valuable piece of the North American Championship picture.)
-Gargano soaked it in a little, but no mic work or anything.
-The announcers hyped Rock returning to SmackDown this Friday on Fox, plus the Owens-Shane Ladder Match and the Lesnar-Kofi Championship Match. It’s Brock’s first SmackDown match in fifteen years.
(4) CANDICE LERAE vs. SHAYNA BASZLER (c) – NXT Women’s Championship Match
Looks like the tag match will be the main event. Or, perhaps more likely, an unforeseeable non-wrestling segment will finish. Formal in-ring introductions commenced. Decent pop for LeRae and the usual strong heel heat for Shayna.
Drake Wuertz handled this as well. Baszler grabbed hold of Candice’s leg and slapped at her but LeRae hit a step-up enzuigiri. Dropkick sent Baszler from the ring. Flying cross-body by LeRae. Split screen. Not all commercials shared the screen with the match, so I guess some sponsors spent more than others?
Back to the match, LeRae went high but Shayna threw her all the way to the floor. Shayna followed out and tossed LeRae into the stairs. Mauro gave the Championship some weight by listing all the former champions. Baszler stomped LeRae’s arm into the steps. Back in. High knee in the corner by Baszler for two. Armlock by Baszler, who then snapped it and released. Baszler manipulated the arm and the LeRae’s limber nature made it look sick. To the apron, Baszler missed a lariat and LeRae tried to suplex her to the floor but settled for a DDT. Topeeeeeee, said Mauro, and he was clearly fighting the urge to call it correctly. A second tope suicida. A third. This crowd is going to have nothing left in 45 minutes.
Back into the ring. Both went high. Baszler slipped, more or less, to her back. “New champ/old champ” dueling chant. Baszler went up again and looked for, and hit, a gutwrench from the top. Split screen at nine-plus. Both women took a breather and sold the match’s brutality for much of the break.
Back to full screen, Candice hit a German suplex. Hard forearms, Kirafuda Clutch missed, LeRae rolled through into her own Kirafuda Clutch and Baszler escapes. Nigel said if anyone knows how to escape it, it’s Shayna (why? She’s the least likely person to be locked in it!). Candice hit a suplex for two. Kirafuda-reversal to cover-LeRae missed a quebrada and this time got herself stuck in the Kirafuda Clutch with no break in sight, but LeRae got to her feet. Shayna leaned back but LeRae neaaaaarly reached the ropes. But not near enough, and she had to tap.
WINNER: Shayna Baszler at 14:42.
Beth Phoenix said the women’s championship was fought and defended with honor tonight. C’mon, Beth, Shayna is one of the last people getting real heel heat.
(Wells’s Analysis: Good stuff, and this one got more time than the Cole-Riddle match as well. Every Shayna match has this weird feeling of being both a foregone conclusion that she’ll retain but also the possible moment it finally falls apart. I didn’t think it would be here, but if not here, when?)
-Hell in a Cell spot. The Rollins and Becky matches were hyped.
-Last week’s Kushida-Imperium business was recapped. Kushida and Walter will go next week.
(5) DANNY BURCH vs. PETE DUNNE
Well, this should be good and disgusting. Dunne hits a wristlock, reversed into one from Burch. Drop toehold by Dunne. The two wrench each other’s arms to hell and Burch reverses into a submission but Dunne rolls him up to escape. Burch gives the symbol for “I was that close.” Split screen.
Back to action, Burch had control. European uppercuts. Palm strikes and forearms. Dunne ducked a lariat and hit an overhead kick, then stomped the hands. Powerbomb by Dunne for two. Burch rolled up Dunne for two. Headbutt to the back by Burch. Pop-up powerbomb. Knee strike, rope DDT for two. Nigel was getting amped like Burch was about to win this match. “This is awesome” chant, and it is, so it’s too bad that most of it has been offscreen or split screen to this point. Hard right by Burch. Shots were traded. Bitter End by Dunne was good to finish.
WINNER: Pete Dunne at 7:10.
As Dunne posed, the lights went out. They came up on Damian Priest, who hit Dunne from behind and laid him out. He did the archer thing to the TitanTron(?) and it helpfully played the video with his name on fire.
(Wells’s Analysis: Hey, Damian Priest is in a feud! We don’t know anything about why, but it’s a start. Good action in this match, of course. Danny Burch is one of my favorite workers who never wins.)
-Backstage, Cathy Kelley finally got to interview someone on USA. It was Adam Cole, who was talking up his earlier win. The rest of Undisputed Era crashed the party and wanted to know who Finn Balor thinks he is. Cole said “Screw Finn Balor!” and the lot of them walked off.
-Recap of Street Profits winning – then losing – the tag team championships.
-Backstage, Wale was with Street Profits at the Gorilla Position. Wale rapped the Profits to the ring – it was fun, but he got pretty repetitive. Everyone threw their Solo cups in the air (all identical red Solos, obviously handed out earlier, but it was a fun visual). Mauro pimped Wale’s next album. “You’ll have to fill me in, Mauro, on those pop culture colloquialisms,” was Nigel’s beautifully square reaction to Wale’s “We want the smoke.” Fish and O’Reilly entered last. No title changes yet, so normally I’d predict one in a show of this gravity, but I’m really not seeing this UE thing end yet.
(6) STREET PROFITS vs. UNDISPUTED ERA – NXT Tag Team Championships
Formal introductions happened at 14 to the hour. Not sure if overruns are going to be a thing in the Wednesday night war era.
O’Reilly and Dawkins to start. Dawkins with a waistlock, reversed, but he hit a tackle for one. O’Reilly bailed and tagged Fish, who said they’d do it on their time. “We want the smoke” chant. Fish and Dawkins rolled into the Profits corner and Ford entered. Ford and Fish traded punches and knees. Fish bailed. Split screen.
Back to the match, FOrd and Fish were in and Ford was clearing UE out with dropkicks until he took a punch and hard kick by Fish. Tag to O’Reilly. Exchange of fists in the ring. O’Reilly took Ford down but he schoolboyed for two. Fish tagged in as UE kept the heat coming on Ford. Senton from the outside by Fish for two. Tag to O’Reilly. Tandem suplex for two. The crowd deserves a medal for having any breath left to give.
O’Reilly stomped Ford to the mat. He threw a low knee on Ford and made the tag. Ford started fighting off both but the numbers caught up to him and Fish hit a snap suplex. Another. A third for two. Tag to O’Reilly. Stereo kicks for two. Split screen at five to the hour. An overrun seems inevitable. Ford played face in peril the entire time.
Back to action, Fish had Ford in a waistlock. Mauro says the match will continue until we have a resolution, as if this should be an rare occurrence. O’Reilly tagged in but Ford hit him with a uranage. Ford got near a tag but Fish yanked Dawkins to cut it off. O’Reilly took control and tagged Fish for some tandem suplex offense for two. Fish attacked the legs of Ford in the UE corner. O’Reilly tagged in and struck with fists and knees. Fish in again. Abdominal stretch by Fish, who used O’Reilly on the outside for more leverage. Tag again and Ford finally avoided both UE guys to make the hot tag. Fists, clotheslines and a bulldog by Dawkins to a big pop. 360 splashes for everybody. Pounce to O’Reilly. Spear for Fish. O’Reilly gut him off with a punch, hit a pendulum clothesline but Dawkins suplexed O’Reilly for two.
Dawkins missed a charge in the corner and UE teamed up on him, but Dawkins flipped Fish over the ropes to land on O’Reilly. Dawkins crawled to the corner but O’Reilly hit a diving knee from the top and hooked a leg to go for a submission. Ford slammed Fish into O’Reilly to break the hold. O’Reilly attacked the legs but Dawkins hit an enzuigiri. Fish missed a splash as O’Reilly tagged Ford, who hit a DDT for two. Dawkins put up Fish in the electric chair but O’Reilly made the save. The action spilled outside and Ford flipped over the corner on all three. Roderick Strong interfered but Dawkins fought him off, but an isolated Ford was hit with High-Low for three. Match ended at seven past the hour.
WINNERS: Undisputed Era at 20:09.
Adam Cole joined his brothers. He held up his championship on the ramp as the others held up theirs in the ring. Cole was the focus as Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit. Cole’s face dropped. Ciampa sauntered in and circled Cole, staring at “Goldie” the whole time. He finally locked eyes with Cole as Mauro Ranallo said that Adam Cole and his championship are under siege.
(Wells’s Analysis: I love it. Not one, but two challengers for the biggest title on the brand. That’s the way it should be. This show has been good for a long while but it’s hitting another gear in terms of storytelling and in-ring action. Again, we aren’t on a sustainable pace, but this was the TakeOver-worthy card that it was hyped to be, and perhaps even more fun than that, as it had a level of surprise that TakeOver usually doesn’t attempt to deliver (Ciampa heel turn on Gargano notwithstanding).
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s really hard to know what to say here now that there’s a show up against this directly. I very much look forward to seeing AEW tomorrow to gauge what’s happening there and make a bit of a comparison. This show delivered on a ton of fronts, and now requires some follow-up. Damian Priest has a mission now, but why is Pete Dunne his mission? And why did Dunne hop the pond to get into essentially enhancement matches rather than attempt to shoot to the top where he was in the UK for two years? All the champions retained tonight, which can’t be considered a surprise, and now the slate is clear to set up championship matches for TakeOver. If the Balor and Ciampa segments are any indication, it’ll be an interesting road indeed. Follow me on social media @spookymilk and don’t forget to email email@example.com so we can field your questions on PWT Talks NXT, now recording on Wednesday nights again for the foreseeable future.