10/23 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’ review of Strong vs. Dijakovic vs. Lee, Ripley vs. Belair, Finn Balor returns?

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor


OCTOBER 23, 2019

Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Beth Phoenix


-Brief video recap of last week’s big moments and victories. A lot of quick shots and soundbytes, mostly not eclipsing two seconds.

-Mauro teed up the show on the platform, mentioning the triple threat match for the North American Championship as well as an appearance by Finn Balor, before finally setting the table for the opening match.


Rhea was out first. This should be interesting – Ripley is still looking to multiple threats in the future, so it should be something to see how long this goes.

Collar and elbow. Belair backs up Rhea. Dueling chant is close to 50-50. Collar and elbow again and the two were established as even in the power department. Rhea took Bianca down but she popped up. Bianca took down Rhea but she reversed. Back to their feet, Bianca hit a spear in the corner, then a few aftershocks. She did the spank taunt, then walked into Rhea’s feet in the corner.

Reset. Big waistlock takedown by Belair. Rhea got to her feet and powered out, then hit a thrustkick, but charged into the turnbuckle when Belair moved. Both went for suplexes, and finally Rhea hit a delayed suplex on try #4. Bianca tossed Rhea from the ring, but Rhea went up to the top and brought Bianca, who fought it off and slammed Ripley from the top. A few hard stomps and a one count by Belair. Full nelson by Belair, escaped, but Belair hit a suplex for one again. Bianca threw elbows to Rhea’s upper back, then took her down by the hair for two. Abdominal stretch, but Rhea reversed with a hip toss. Both missed follow-up moves and Belair threw Rhea to the mat to lead into the first commercial break. Split screen is in play this week. Bianca continued to dominate through the break.

Back to full screen, Bianca was hammering Rhea in the corner. Rhea ran the ropes and hit a big boot on a jumping Bianca’s chest to take her down. Both were slow to recover. Snap mare and basement dropkick by Rhea for two. Short clothesline by Rhea. Another. Dropkick. Ripley lifted Belair into the new standing scorpion death lock, but Belair reached the ropes. Action spilled out and Ripley hit a cannonball. Rhea threw Belair in the ring, but Io Shirai blindsided her, then tossed her into the ring where she ran into a spear for a long two. Candice LeRae evened the odds and took out Shirai, as Ripley hit Riptide for the win. WarGames is happeniiiiiiiing…

WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 12:37.

(Wells’s Analysis: Nearly every women’s segment continues to point to a WarGames match. Ripley looked good here and continues to get better, and Belair didn’t look weak in defeat as she dominated much of the match and her power was shown to match Ripley’s. Good opener.)

-Nigel threw to last week’s Undisputed Era attack on Velveteen Dream, as Beth segued into the hard sell for tonight’s triple threat main event.

-Earlier today, Cathy Kelley tracked down Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate outside. Bate started to say Dunne was alone against two, but Dunne said there were no excuses and there was a receipt coming. He said he didn’t care about Killian Dain, and he and Bate moved along. Commercial.

-Tommaso Ciampa vignette. He covered the frustrations and depression of being taken from his career via injury. He said it was up to him. It’s his legacy and he’s just getting started. Nigel said he was back for the title he never lost.

-Tyler Bate was shown sitting at ringside. Not much of a surprise for us at home who saw the Dunne segment just a minute ago.


Riddle was out first. He bumped a ton of fists, including that of Tyler Bate. Very surprised to see this match already – wondering if a screwjob finish is in the cards.

Refferee Jessika Carr had to keep Grimes from getting overeager before the bell. At the bell, both guys charged and missed big moves. Waistlock takedown by Riddle, and another slam. Grimes went for the hair several times to reverse. Okana roll, two count, reversal into a submission but Grimes rolled up Riddle for two to break.

Hard barefoot kicks by Riddle in the middle of the ring, then the corner. Flying forearm. Another. Exploder. Riddle missed a PK but hit the senton. Two count. Riddle threw a kick and a rough chop. Grimes used the hair to back Riddle into the corner but Riddle powered out and hit another kick for two. Beautiful jackhammer by Riddle for a long two. Another senton. The crowd was chanting “Riddle” in the style of the “Goldberg” chant, playing along with the twitter feud. Hard kick by Riddle for two. Keylock by Riddle but Grimes rolled him up for two. More kicks from Riddle, but Grimes hit a German suplex for two and an unwelcome commercial break (with no split screen) got up in our business.

Back to action and Riddle was throwing kicks. Ripcord knee. Bro to Sleep. German for two. Grimes crawled to the ropes but Riddle chased him down and hit another senton. Grimes kicked up but got hit with a PK. Grimes took down Riddle with a rotating slam for a long two. Grimes went up top but Riddle charged with a flying forearm, then went up and hit a superplex for two. Riddle sold frustration, then went up. Floating Bro hit Grimes’s knees. Both guys reversed powerbombs. Final Flash knee by Riddle. Hard knee by Grimes. Two count. “NXT” chant. Final Flash. Bro Derek finished.

WINNER: Matt Riddle at 11:25.

(Wells’s Analysis: If this is a new ongoing feud in the vein of Dijakovic-Lee, that’s fine with me. Both guys hit high impact strikes and I loved this in the same way I love New Japan’s style. Grimes’s heel act is more and more refined and he doesn’t lose anything with a loss to Riddle, and he has the albatross of being undefeated off his back so we can see where he goes from here.)

-After the match, Riddle fist bumped Tyler Bate, and then Cameron Grimes shoved him back. Bate laid out Grimes to a big pop. Bate-Grimes? YES, PLEASE

-Rundown of Forgotten Sons-Breezango. Up next, the trio of the Sons take on Breezango and a surprise partner. Nigel reminded us that Kushida is still out with injury.

-Dominik Dijakovic, in an inset interview, told us why he’ll win the North American title tonight. Commercial.

-Earlier today, William Regal made the match of Duke and Shafir vs. Nox and Kai, and the winners will face Women’s tag team champions The Kabuki Warriors next week. Finally!


Air traffic controller entrance for Breezango. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott was introduced as the surprise partner to a good reaction.

“Breezango”/”Swerve!” chant. Tyler Breeze and Jaxson Ryker to start. Ryker tosses back Breeze, who tags Swerve. Waistlock by Swerve, but Ryker rotated to toss him aside. Fandango in, and he ripped off his shirt for a pop. Ryker controlled and tagged Steve Cutler. Cutler with a headlock, but he couldn’t finish a sunset flip, and Fandango hit a legdrop and Cutler bailed. Commercial. No split screen. I wonder what the rules are about that.

Back to action, Ryker was in control of Breeze. Ryker tagged Wesley Blake, and hit a slingshot suplex so Blake could cover for two. Headlock by Blake.


Breeze fought to his feet but Blake raked the eyes. Back to the Sons corner, and Ryker came back in. Head to the turnbuckle. Knife-edge chop by Ryker for two. Cutler tagged in, but Breeze tossed him from the ring. Cutler tried to cut him off but Breeze escaped and tagged Fandango. Clotheslines by Fandango. Tag to Cutler, who hit a suplex. Tag to Swerve, who flew in with a cross-body for two. Backbreaker by Cutler, who set up Swerve in the Sons corner and all three guys hit top rope moves but Breezango broke it up. A small “NXT” chant broke out. That’s a start for the Sons.

Scott and Blake traded blows. Inverted atomic drop by Blake, who tagged Cutler. Swerve threw them into one another. Flatliner for Cutler. All three Sons spilled out and Swerve went up, and the now-legal Ryker follwed. Ryker went for a superplex to the outside. Blocked. Swerve went up and used Ryker’s chest for a springboard off which to moonsault onto the othe Sons. Sick. Back in and Swerve made the tag to Fandango. Superkick. Cover broken up by the Sons. Fandango threw rights. Schmoz ensued and everyone was involved. Swerve and Blake were legal. Swerve with a kind of hook kick to finish.

WINNERS: Breezango and Swerve in about 9:00.

-After the match, Swerve danced as Breezango pointed at him.

(Wells’s Analysis: Not sure why Swerve didn’t occur to me in this spot, but it was a great spot for him. Good momentum-builder for Scott, and Breezango gets some heat back after the loss to the Sons)

-Roderick Strong inset. He said he knows Regal is trying to screw him, but when the bright lights are up, he shows out best.

-Lio Rush was introduced; he was in jeans and a hoodie. Stylish, of course. Mauro said cruiserweight action is up next, so I guess Rush is joining the announcers for this one?

-Killian Dain stood by a fire. “Pete Dunne – you tried to break my fingers. I AM…GONNA BREAK…YOU.”

-Rush was indeed sitting in with the announcers. He said he looked forward to seeing some competition.


Garza got two cheek kisses on the way to the ring this time. Good reaction for Gallagher, who likely wasn’t announced beforehand. Lio mentioned he’s never been in the ring with Gallagher, which is surprising.

Garza teased a handshake, then pulled it away. “Let’s go Garza” chant. He soaked it up with a cocky grin. Quick reversals to start. Side headlock by Gallagher, reverse, sweep the leg, rolling crucixis, again, and he repeatedly couldn’t get a one count. Garza ran the ropes and Gallagher held his pants to do the rip-off spot to a big mostly-female pop. Garza went for a suplex, blocked. Rush said he was making mental notes and was impressed by Garza. Gallagher lifted Garza into a long delayed suplex for two. Cross-armbreaker, and Garza rolled through, then reached the ropes.

Gallagher ran at Garza but Garza flipped him over the ropes and outside. He then teased a tope and then slipped out and slapped Gallagher instead. Ha. Back in and Garza hit a quebrada for the surprisingly quick win.

WINNER: Angel Garza at 4:01.

-After the match, Garza pointed out at Rush and his belt. Rush stood up and the two jawed at one another, from the announce table to the turnbuckle. Commercial.

(Wells’s Analysis: Surprising to truck Gallagher down to Full Sail for a loss that quick. I know he wasn’t ever used to his full potential on 205, but enhancing in a quick affair like this is a bit of a surprise. On the other hand, it would be a total waste to do anything with Garza but push him hard in the cruiserweight division. He absolutely should not be defined as an enhancement guy, and this is a great step up for him)

(5) DAKOTA KAI and TEGAN NOX vs. JESSAMYN DUKE and MARINA SHAFIR – Winners get a shot at WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Duke and Kai. Duke charged in with a high kick for two. Tag to Shafir, and the heels mud-stomped Kai. Knee to the midsection by Shafir. Hip attack. Judo throw for two. Tag to Duke; tandem offense to a gutbuster by Shafir and running knee by Duke for two. Kick to the back by Duke. Tag to Shafir. Armbar. Kai threw forearms but couldn’t reach Nox for a tag. Scorpion kick and Duke tagged in while Nox reached for the hot tag. Nox was on fire. Senton to the corner. Diving cross-body, broken up by Shafir, but Kai hit a bicycle kick on Shafir to clear her out. Shiniest Wizard by Nox to finish.

WINNERS: Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai at 3:19.

-Nox and Kai celebrated, and then The Kabuki Warriors showed up on the TitanTron (or whatever) and taunted them, mostly in Japanese, until Kairi Sane said “Next week…you have no chance.”

-Inset interview with Keith Lee. Lee can be so good on the mic, and sometimes he sounds so stiff and rehearsed. This was the latter. I think this is a man who wants to cut his own promos.

(Wells’s Analysis: That was a lot of action packed into that short tag match. Duke and Shafir have improved and are smoother than we last saw them, and held up their end against the more experienced Kai and Nox just fine. Team Kick vs. Kabuki Warriors should be fun, though I think I’d like a little more hype for the match before it happens. I’m sure I won’t be complaining a week from now, though)

-Cathy Kelley was up on the platform. She promoted Kabuki Warriors. Nox/Kai as well as Tyler Bate vs. Cameron Grimes and Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai. Excellent.

(6) KEITH LEE vs. DOMINIK DIJAKOVIC vs. RODERICK STRONG (c) – Triple Threat for the North American Championship

Lee entered first, at 38 past the hour. Either there’s no overrun or this match is going to go extra long. Dijakovic followed. He and Lee stared each other down. Champ entered last, and Nigel went through the usual difficulties for a champ retaining in a triple threat. Formal introductions took place in low light. Lee and Dijakovic stared at one another and essentially ignored Strong, probably foreshadowing our finish. They didn’t turn to Strong until he was introduced. Both stared daggers at him as he smiled and held up his belt.

Strong bailed to start, but both other guys gave chase – one on each side. Strong back in. Dijakovic in, then Lee. Dijakovic bailed and Lee charged Strong across the ring. Strong bailed. Dijakovic in for more one-on-one with Lee. Elbows by Dijakovic in the corner, but Lee lifted him with one arm for a slam. Commercial just 1:15 in. Split screen is back for the main event. It was a lot of Dijakovic-Lee during the break.

Back to action and Lee was tossing Strong from the ring. “Go bask in his glory” chant. Lee set up Dijakovic in the corner, and followed, but Strong charged and pushed him out of the ring and hit a superplex on Dijakovic for two. Strong hit a knee on Lee – who was on the apron – to keep him out and fish-hooked Dijakovic’s nose. He cleared Lee again, but then walked into some strikes and a back elbow by Dijakovic. Lee came in again, got superkicked, and Strong hit a knee strike on him. Dijakovic took over again and suplexed Lee onto Strong, and covered Strong for two. Lots of fun in that sequence, although Lee mostly didn’t land on Strong.

Lee was cleared from the ring again and Dijakovic went up. Strong rolled away and Dijakovic went at Lee again, who caught him, but Strong charged out at both. Dijakovic hit a hard right on Strong and rolled him into the ring, then followed. To the top, Dijakovic went for a superplex. Lee entered and powerbombed Dijakovic, who hit the superplex as a result after all. It was even slightly delayed. “NXT” chant as the match went to commercial again at about the 8:40 mark. No split screen this time.

Back to action at 12:10 into the match. All three guys on the floor. The crowd is nuts. The Tower of Doom spot was replayed. Strong, presently, was throwing hands at both his opponents. Backbreaker for Dijakovic. Running forearms for Lee. Olympic Slam by Strong on Lee, who threw him off at two. Strong cleared out Dijakovic and Lee hit Strong with a hard shot, but got dumped. Strong missed a wrecking ball dropkick, and got caught by both. Feast Your Eyes, Strong. Running big boot by Lee. They stared at each other, nodded, and entered the ring. This tag team is happening, dudes.

Lee and Dijakovic entered while Strong was still out. To the top turnbuckle. Dijakovic with a superkick from the floor, then he set up Lee again (with one arm). Choke bomb by Dijakovic for two. The crowd is boiling at this point. Lee went out. Dijakovic went for a plancha – Lee rolled in, and it hit Strong instead. Lee hit a tope con giro on Dijakovic with serious air. GOOD. GOD. Back into the ring (still minus Strong) and to the corner. Powerbomb by Lee to Dijakovic off the top, but Strong charged quick with a running knee on Lee for a quick three.


-Undisputed Era entered the ring to celebrate, and then they all went at Lee to boos. All four guys posed with their titles, but Tommaso Ciampa’s music played and he entered to the top of the ramp with his crutch. All four UE guys entreated him to enter the ring. “Daddy’s home” chant in response to Ciampa’s comment a couple weeks back. Johnny Gargano’s music played to introduce him as well. He went to Ciampa’s side and they shared a tense look. They faced UE. Finn Balor’s music played, and he went to join the faces. I was convinced the men weren’t having a WarGames match this year, but it sure is looking like it now.

Finn charged – and hit Johnny Gargano with a soccer kick. He backed up into the corner as UE took out Ciampa. Balor rolled out of the ring and hit a huge dropkick on Gargano, through a barricade held up by NXT plants. UE was selling surprise, mostly, at Finn’s actions. Finn with a suplex on Gargano on the ramp. UE were holding the UE pose in the ring as Finn looked back. Finn didn’t return the pose, but he did a slight nod, then went up the ramp. His music played to fade us out.

(Wells’s Analysis: Lee and Dijakovic can’t keep getting better, but all the same, they do. Their segments were fire, and if this turns out to be a five-on-five WarGames match, I assume Lee and Dijakovic will be teaming with one another. The triple threat was a very good one, with the tried-and-true storyline of the heel champion avoiding contact for the most part until it was time to win.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Well…wow. A Finn Balor heel turn is not what I thought was coming – particularly with a heel champion – but it opens up a world of new possibilities for the roster. Finn has spent very little time playing heel on the WWE roster, but from this New Japan guy to you, if you haven’t seen it, I promise he’s probably even better on that side of things. I haven’t been truly shocked by a turn in a long time, but this one definitely qualifies. Right up until the moment it happened, I didn’t see it coming. Still, we have no announcements for WarGames, but I feel we got way closer with both the men and the women this week, and announcements have to be coming soon.

Tonight I’ll be recording PWT Talks NXT with Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg; check us out tomorrow! Follow me all over social media @spookymilk and, if you’re a board game nerd, check out my board game release – Fundead: The Gravest Show on Earth – at thegamecrafter.com.

5 Comments on 10/23 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’ review of Strong vs. Dijakovic vs. Lee, Ripley vs. Belair, Finn Balor returns?

  1. I can’t recall a better NXT episode that wasn’t a takeover. Cameron Grimes came out to face Riddle and I was like “ugh this guy. who cares.” Completely turned me around with his match. Keith Lee and Dijakovic are fun as hell to watch. Wish it was a Best of 7.

    • We talked on the podcast about a best of 7 with those guys just a week ago or two. They’re fire together. And just like the Sheamus-Cesaro best of 7, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ended up with them as allies.

      • I can only remember a couple Best of 7s, Sheamus vs. Cesaro and Booker T vs. He Who Shall Not Be Named and both were outstanding and obviously very memorable.

  2. Left out in this report is how Balor made a brief gesture of two guns pointed at the downed Gargano on the ramp shortly after Undisputed Era posed. I know this is a stretch, but I’m hopeful for a crossover between the main shows and NXT now, with the OC and UE essentially branches of the “formerly known as the Bullet” Club.

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