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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
OCTOBER 9, 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
-The (multi?)-million dollar question, of course, is how well AEW holds their audience after a monster first week. I was finally able to see AEW on Saturday and I did like it, though at times I feel it’s obvious that Cody came up through WWE and old habits die hard (that awful theme music for the show, for instance). NXT had a fantastic show but a lot of mainstream viewers simply won’t look at a show in an intimate arena as a big deal. I much prefer smaller venues, but I know I’m in the minority there, so it’ll be interesting to see how long people talk about that particular part of the Wednesday night wars.
-Shots from last week. Three Championship matches. Highlights. Soundbytes. Heels retain everything. Finn Balor re-debuts. Tommaso Ciampa’s return headlines the segment, just as it headlined last week’s show.
-Mauro, on camera, tees up our opening match.
(1) LIO RUSH vs. DREW GULAK (c) – Cruiserweight Championship match
Rush earned this match with a win over Oney Lorcan on NXT TV three weeks ago. Challenger enters first. Formal introductions in the ring.
Gulak misses a charge. Spanish fly by Rush for two. Tope suicida. Asai moonsault by Lio to the outside. Lio jumps into the ring, caught and tossed by Gulak. Corner clothesline by Gulak for two. Chop by Gulak. Rollup by Rush reversed into a submission hold on the arm. Rush gets to his feet but eats a knee to the gut. Forearm by Gulak. La magistral for two. Armlock by Gulak into a wristlock, but Rush punces his way out. Chop by Rush. Gulak returns the favor and follows with a slam for two. Gulak torques a leg but Rush gets up. Gulak puts Lio on the top rope and follows, but Rush knocks him off to the floor, but Gulak dropkicks Rush off the turnbuckle where he takes out two – cameramen? Security guys? – as we go to commercial. Split screen again this week.
Back at 7:40 into the match, where Rush has just taken control and is hitting some Yes kicks, but Gulak hits a lariat that turns Rush inside out for two. Both guys sell on the mat. Gulak is up first and the two reverse until Gulak hits a charging Rush with the Gu-Lock, but Rush reverses into a pinning combination, then a dragon sleeper. Cyclone Crash by Gulak but Rush gets the leg on the ropes. Another cover for two. Crowd is hot for Lio Rush. “This is awesome” chant. Gulak sets Rush up top and follows, but Rush punches his way to control and hits a frog splash, then the Come Up. Another big Final Hour (frog splash) on what would have been Eddie Guerrero’s birthday, called out by Mauro Ranallo. No title changes last week, but we got our first one on USA out of the way quickly this week.
WINNER AND NEW CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION: Lio Rush at 11:41.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very good action shown; the commercial break was mostly a slower-paced heat sequence with Gulak in control. All in all, enjoyable, and it’s great to see Lio Rush in this position. I think putting the title on him before having him fail once or twice is the right call, given the response)
-William Regal enters the ring and starts to put the belt on Rush, but Gulak charges in and yanks it away. After a tense moment, he presents the belt to Rush, shakes his hand, and leaves. Regal puts the belt on Rush and exits as well. Rush poses on a turnbuckle with his championship.
-Backstage, Kushida spars with the help of Breezango. Elsewhere, Imperium cheers on Walter as he does push-ups.
-Mauro says one of last week’s huge stories was Finn Balor’s return, leading into a video package. Shots from lots of his huge NXT moments were shown. No new content yet. Commercial.
-Upon return, here’s a look at Tegan Nox’s injury in the Mae Young Classic, and Tegan talking about the road back. Learning. Working toward something. She’s done with being hurt and is ready to live her dream. She’s coming for everyone. She returns next week. Technically not a return, as I don’t think she was ever on NXT. Backstage, she hangs with Dakota Kai, who takes on Bianca Belair later. Sweet.
(2) RHEA RIPLEY vs. ALIYAH (w/Vanessa Borne)
Rhea throws Aliyah across the ring after a collar-and-elbow. Irish whip, but Aliyah jumps on Rhea’s back. Rhea flips her over the front. Aliyah rakes the back after reversing a powerslam, and Rhea hits a couple of lariats without letting go of the arm. Ripley lifts up Aliyah in a kind of scorpion death lock using her arms on Aliyah’s legs, which Aliyah sells with a great scream. Ripley slams Aliyah while holding on for a quick tap.
WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 1:22.
-Rhea grabs the stick and says Shayna is without a doubt the most dominant female in NXT history. She’s tapped or snapped everybody – but not her. She’s ready for Shayna Baszler.
(Wells’s Analysis: Aliyah may never win on TV again, but she’s still snotty enough to have some real value in matches like these. Rhea continues to look like a badass powerhouse. The match isn’t set for any date yet, and I’m thinking this may hold until TakeOver. Alternatively, if both end up in a WarGames match, maybe their championship match comes before)
-We return to a Bugenhagen chant, though we don’t see him. Loud construction sounds happen and two women in hard hats enter the ramp, followed by Breezango in construction uniforms and some new music. Fandango is really committed to the stripper dancing.
(3) BREEZANGO vs. EVER-RISE
As Ever-Rise’s music plays, Jaxson Ryker drags Ever-Rise to the ramp – one over his shoulder and one by an arm. Forgotten Sons music plays and apparently we have new opponents.
(3) BREEZANGO vs. STEVE CUTLER & WESLEY BLAKE (w/Jaxson Ryker)
Cutler and Breeze to start. Breee has control but Blake causes a distraction. Backbreaker by Cutler. Mudhole stomp. Charging elbow. Cutler drapes Breezango on the second rope and tags Blake, who then flips onto Breeze and rolls him up for two. Cutler and Blake make a couple more tags but Breeze flips Cutler over the top and tags Fandango. Fandago controls Blake. Falcon arrow for two. Tag to Breeze and they go for the Fashion Faux Pas, but corner antics ensue and Sons take control for a second until Fandango hits a sunset bomb. Bedlam everywhere, and Ryker is all over Breeze, but Fandango hits him with a tope con hilo, followed by a tope suicida by Blake. Back in, and the Sons hit The Memory Remains on Fandango for the win.
WINNERS: Cutler & Blake at 3:34.
(Wells’s Analysis: That was a lot of fanfare for Breezango to lead into a quick loss. On the other hand, it’s now or never for the Sons. The question is the ceiling, because unless Undisputed Era turns face, this isn’t a natural championship match. For anyone wondering, for the third week in a row, “suicida” is dropped from tope suicida. So we have the tope and the tope con hilo (which Mauro calls “hiro” for some reason). It’s so jarring when all other companies I watch still use suicida. It seems like an unnecessary cut. I wonder how the topic was broached, and by whom)
-Keith Lee segment. He’s got a battle of hunger. He’s got more willpower than Dominik Dijakovic, and he ensures Dijakovic will bask in his glory. Lee is shot from below, looking above the camera. Maybe another subtle hint of a heel turn? If I predict Lee goes heel every week for the rest of time, at some point I’ll be right.
-Back from commercial, Boa is already on the ramp, ready for action.
(4) BOA vs. CAMERON GRIMES
Grimes was only off TV for one week, but I’m already anxious for this match. Good reaction for Grimes, who’s heading up the card quickly. Grimes distracts Boa and the ref, and hits his double knee thing for the win.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 0:09.
-Killian Dain runs to the ring, even as Grimes is covering. Grimes clears out quickly and Dain hammers Boa all over the place and leaves him on the announce table before walking off.
(Wells’s Analysis: I wanted more Grimes, and now I still do, which I guess is the point. Dain gets his heat back here and we’ll see who he targets next)
-Damian Priest mission statement segment. He’s walking down the sidewalk with his sunglasses on at night, and he says he did it for the cameras and the headlines. Dunne was just there for the taking as Priest moves on his way up.
(Wells’s Analysis: Finally, we have a real character to sink into with Priest, and I like what we have as a starter. Priest is leaning away a bit from the darkness, and more into a hard-living badass in search of the spotlight.)
(5) ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT vs. RODERICK STRONG
Whoa, mama. Here we go. Non-title.
Headlock takeover by Strong into a front chancery by Swerve. They roll to the ropes and Strong offers Swerve a clean break. He yells “This is MY house!” Jumping kick by Swerve for two. Swerve hits a chop and a cartwheel splash for two. Strong suckers Swerve at the ropes and hits a chop and a forearm. Scoop slam reversed and Swerve hits a headscissor takeover. Two count. Hard forearm by Swerve in the corner. Chops and forearms traded. Backbreaker by Strong. Chops in the corner and Swerve hits some forearms. Front facelock by Strong, Irish whip reversed, northern lariat by Scott but there’s another Strong backbreaker. (Anyone else having feed blips here and there tonight?)
Chop by Swerve against the ropes. To the corner for the punch count-along. Hard palm strike returns from Swerve but there’s yet another backbreaker to slow Swerve down. Two count. Strong with the ground and pound and leverages into a two count as Mauro throws to commercial.
Back to action, Swerve is kicking his way out of trouble. Forearm by Strong to clear out Strong. Lariats by Swerve. Uppercut in the corner. He dives with an elbow from the second rope, but here’s Undisputed Era on the ramp. Superkick and DDT by Swerve for a long two. Cole and the tag champs cheer on Strong from the ramp. Strong sets Serve to the outside but Swerve slides back in and hits a German and a flatliner. High kick for a long two. Crowd is hot. Swerve goes to the top and Strong rolls to the apron, on the ramp side. Swerve sweeps the leg and kicks Strong in the face. Slingshot double stomp over the ropes to a huge reaction. UE distracts Swerve just long enough for Strong to hit some quick offense before Stronghold for the quick tap.
WINNER: Roderick Strong at 10:27
(Wells’s Analysis: That was the perfect next step for Isaiah Scott. I’m not a fan of champions losing in non-title matches so this was a win-win. These guys could go twice this long on a TakeOver someday)
-Cole grabs the stick. Swerve is good, but he’s no Roderick Strong. Velveteen Dream appears on the TitanTron and then above the announce table at the landing. He says that SOME of Undisputed Era is great, but allow him to show Strong what his reality is. He points to the big screen and there’s a shot of Roddy on a couch with his championship on his otherwise-naked body. Dream says he will strip Roddy of the title and he’ll show everyone why Roddy just…doesn’t…measure…up. He points again, and the belt disappears from the shot and a tiny little bit of Roddy’s nethers are video-distorted to a huge pop. Just as UE is yelling up at Dream, Tommaso Ciampa shows up at ringside and the audience continues to lose their collective minds. Ciampa has a chair and a crutch, and UE clears out of the ring. He grabs the stick in the ring and sits on the chair. UE remains on the ramp. “Goldie…daddy’s home.” He drops the mic. “Daddy’s home” chant. UE points and whines at Ciampa as he stands tall in the ring.
-Kushida-Walter hype. Quick tale of the tape shots to show the difference in size.
(Wells’s Analysis: Lots to digest in this segment. It was hot all the way through, and the bit with Strong on the big screen was a surprising bit that goes as far as WWE TV has done in a little while. I’m not one to whine about PG, but a little of this can do a lot of good. The crowd is psyched for Ciampa and it’ll be interesting to see if he even gets in the ring before an eventual championship match)
-Backstage during commercial, Cathy Kelley was stopped by Angel Garza, who swarms in as she’s trying to interview Tommaso Ciampa. Garza goes off on Ciampa in Spanish, and Ciampa takes him out with a punch. “What did he say?” Kelley asks. “I have no idea.”
(6) DAKOTA KAI vs. BIANCA BELAIR
Surprising match. I don’t see either in a position to loser right now. It might be quick, as there’s only 35 minutes to go in the show.
Collar and elbow. Belair backs Kai into a corner, then slams her. Kai trips up Belair and tanuts her. Belair with a swift waistlock, and Kai escapes and hits a PK and a double stomp. To the outside, Kai hits another PK. Back in and Kai covers for one. Belair launches Kai into the turnbuckle and spears her in the corner. Hiptoss and Belair tackles Kai for two. Belair taunts Kai from above, then grabs the hair and slams Kai after do squats with her for a minute. Belair covers with a single foot for zero. Kai small packages for two. Belair with a gutbuster for two. Commercial.
No split-screen during this one for some reason. Back on at 6:40 in and Kai is in control. Back kick by Kai. Lariat by Kai, and another. Dropkick. Kai goes to the outside and kicks Belair’s head as she’s draped over the apron. Back in, axe kick by Kai. Face wash in the corner. Cover for two. Double knees to the chest for two. Belair gets to her feet and backs Kai to the turnbuckle, but Kai rolls her up for two. Double chicken wing and slam for Belair. Standing Shooting Star Press for two. Frustration follow-up cover for two. Both sell on the mat.
Belair slaps the mat and pulls up Kai. Powerbomb reversed into a roll up for two. Crucifix by Kai for two. Big kick by Kai, punch by Belair, kick by Kai, KOD by Belair for the win. Huh.
WINNER: Bianca Belair at 10:12.
-Belair gets on the stick. She says Rhea Ripley thinks she’ll be the one to beat Shayna Baszler? Girl, uh-uh. Belair says if somebody wants a piece of Shayna, they have to go through the EST.
(Wells’s Analysis: Surprised to see Kai lose so quickly upon return, but given the after-match comments, Belair was in need of a good win as she heads to a match with Rhea to give someone big for Rhea to step over on her way to Baszler. Kai is one of my favorites, but she still looks a bit off with her offense after her time off)
-Dominik Dijakovic segment. He’s ready for Keith Lee next week.
-Another Finn Balor segment, starting with his draft to Raw, then his Universal championship win over Seth Rollins, and a lot of crowd and fan interactions. Finally, his return to NXT is shown. Up next, Kushida vs. Walter.
-Draft commercial. Sigh…I’ll probably have to watch the main roster shows to see who this show is losing.
-Pete Dunne, at the PC, has words for Damian Priest. He made a name for himself, and he says Priest isn’t going to do the same at his expense. How is he gonna shoot an arrow with broken fingers? He says he’s going to live forever, but he might not live through their match next week.
(7) KUSHIDA vs. WALTER
Loser has to stop capitalizing his full name. Kushida enters first. Walter enters alone. Apparently only one four-person heel faction can do shenanigans per night. Intros are wrapping up at 10 to the hour, so we’re probably going to another overrun.
“Walter” chant to start. That kind of ruins the David vs. Goliath thing. Walter tosses Kushida. Walter lifts Kushida over to the apron but Kushida sneaks in, but walks into a front chancery. Mauro says Kushida is no stranger to large opponents, as he took on Giant Bernard in Japan (Giant Bernard = A-Train/Matt Bloom). Kushida outwrestles Walter on the mat, then clears him from the ring as we go to the final(?) commercial two minutes in.
Back at 5:14. Kushida botches a top rope hop and Walter has to capitalize with a lariat. I assume a dropkick was in order. Beth says the ropes can get slippery with sweat. The wrestlers definitely made the best of the situation (to the point that a replay was shown to sell the high-risk nature of the move). Walter keeps control and wraps up Kushida in the ropes for the rear chops to the chest. Kushida throws some forearms but Walter hits a couple of hard knees, then chops Kushida to the mat. “Walter’s gonna kill you” chant, as Kushida reverses a slam into a DDT. Chants have actually been close to 50-50 as the match moves along.
Kushida goes high and hits a tomahawk chop, leapfrog, basement dropkick. Walter bails to the apron and Walter attempts to tie up Kushida, but Kushida reverses and goes for a sunset powerbomb to the floor but Walter hangs on and stomps Kushida down. Now they’re on the apron exchanging chops and kicks. Walter charges into the ringpost as Kushida moves. Kushida DDTs Walter from the apron to the floor. “NXT” chant. Kushida goes for the Hoverboard Lock, but can’t get Walter to the mat. Walter reverses into a sleeper and Kusida is fading, but he reaches the ropes. Okana roll by Kushida gets two, sleeper by Walter reversed into a cross-armbreaker. Walter leans forward into a pinning combination for two, but a small package by Kushida also gets two. Hook kick by Kushida, but Walter hits a big boot and a German. Half-nelson pumphandle slam for two.
Walter goes up, and Kushida rushes to his feet and kicks him. Kushida goes up as well. Kushida goes for a Hoverboard Lock at the top and flips Walter over to the floor while holding on. Wow. Walter rolled around and finally reached the ropes at about fifteen minutes after a pretty convincing near-finish. Kushida dropkicked Walter, chop by Walter, kicks by Kushida, Kushida went for the Hoverboard Lock again but Walter hit a shotgun dropkick and a powerbomb for a very long and also convincing two. “This is awesome” chant.
Walter slapped Kushida and hit a hard ripcord lariat to finally finish.
WINNER: Walter at 16:49.
-Mauro mentions that Walter remains undefeated and Kushida tasted defeat for the first time, but he proved he’s as good as it gets. Imperium hit the top of the ramp to cheer on Walter.
-The announcers pimped next week’s Rubber Match (called out as such) between Dijakovic and Lee, as well as Dunne vs. Priest. Mauro throws to Cathy Kelley, up on the platform. She announces that next week, Angel Garza faces Tommaso Ciampa, and two weeks from now, Velveteen Dream challenges Roderick Strong for the North American Championship. Imperium’s music continues to play and Walter holds up his belt, flanked by his stablemates, as the show fades out.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very good match after some sloppy early moments as the two felt each other out. The waning minutes effectively left the result in question despite a Walter win being inevitable in this spot; now the question is where both of these wrestlers go from here. Kushida doesn’t lose much in a loss to a giant at the top of his brand, so he should be fine. Walter’s mission in NXT:US is still unclear.
FINAL THOUGHTS: While it wasn’t last week, there was a lot of good coming out of this show. We’re starting to see a little more backstage and around the arena, while still grounding the show mostly inside the ring. Velveteen Dream continues to seem to exist in his own reality, and against convention, it continues to work. What’s next for the Cruiserweight Championship, and for 205 Live? More to come on NXT? A few steps were taken toward singles championship matches for both genders, and the only question is whether these are TakeOver matches, or stops along the way. I continue to expect a women’s WarGames match in November, and a swath of matches pitting Undisputed Era matches against their main challengers, until I see differently.
Follow me all over social media @spookymilk and listen to PWT Talks NXT on the Torch Dailycast tomorrow as I break this all down with Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg. Cheers!