KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
NOVEMBER 13, 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
-Recap of last week, when The O.C. “took over” NXT, as well as the episode’s other major happenings, as “We Are Not Your Kind” played. It finished with Adam Cole and Finn Balor sharing a look from the ring to the ramp.
(1) LIO RUSH (c) vs. ANGEL GARZA – Cruiserweight Championship Match
This week, Angel slapped a lot of hands on the way to the ring, so it seemed we were leaning more to the face side this week. He accepted this week’s cheek kiss from an elderly woman in the front row to a good reaction. The champ came out second with his usual swagger, and he slapped hands as well. He kissed his wife at ringside, and gave his two young children pecks on the forehead. Formal introductions took place in the ring; the crowd skewed slightly toward Garza, with the deep-voiced males mostly for Rush.
Garza offered a hand to start. Rush didn’t bite, and Garza swung and missed with a slap. Rapid fire near-exchanges. Garza bailed from the ring and went into the crowd to do his pants-toss spot right in front of Rush’s wife. Rush hit a tope, tossed Garza in the ring and covered for two. Hard kicks by a now-fired-up Rush. Rush tossed Garza outside, then hit a wrecking ball dropkick. He attempted a tope but Garza grabbed him for a powerslam. Split-screen commercial break, just two minutes into the match. Garza controlled much of this slower-paced heat segment.
Back at full screen, Rush was just getting back into it with some strikes and a back elbow for two. Garza hit a slap and a rising knee on Rush, but Rush returned with a slap and a bicycle, but his attempt at a stunner off the ropes was thwarted with a dropkick and the crowd totally bought into the near-fall. Rush hit a swinging neckbreaker for two. “NXT” chant. Both guys were slow to get up. Rush went up top and got crotched by Garza. Garza followed up, and hit a moonsault powerslam for a long two. “Holy sh*t” chant. These guys are so clean.
Garza stomped Rush in the ring, frustrated, fired up, and went off the ropes but got hit by Spanish Fly. Spinning heel kick by Rush, who yelled at Garza to get up; when he did, he hit The Come Up, then went for another, but it as blocked. Garza got Rush caught in The Wing Clipper for an extremely believable near-fall. The crowd was as loud as I’ve heard them. Garza went for it again, and started walking backwards up the ropes to attempt The Wing Clipper from the top. “Please don’t die” chant. Rush hit a couple of headbutts. Both guys threw them, and Rush managed a huracanrana. Rush went up and hit The Final Hour – his frog splash – for another near-fall. Dueling chant.
Rush went up and hit another Final Hour. Garza got a leg to hit the ropes, but ref Drake Wuertz was out of position, and counted the three.
WINNER: Lio Rush at 12:57.
-Lio posed with his belt as he walked back up the ramp.
(Wells’s Analysis: This is a loss that raises Garza’s stock, and sets him up either for a rematch or at least a reason why he didn’t win, if he goes on to something else. Excellent opener)
-Backstage, Tegan Nox and Rhea Ripley had been laid out by an unseen assailant or assailants.
-Back from break, Beth Phoenix laid out Shayna Baszler’s “path of destruction” leading to Survivor Series, segueing from the possibility Shayna attacked Nox and Ripley. Recaps played from the Baszler-Becky segment. Nigel promoted the ladder match later tonight.
(2) XIA LI vs. ALIYAH
Xia was out first. Mauro said both of these two would love to impress Shayna Baszler enough to be on her WarGames team. Come on, now. Vanessa Borne accompanied Aliyah to the ring, as usual.
“Aliyah”/”sucks” chant. Aliyah used the hair to toss down Li after a standing switch. Li hit rapid strikes and Aliyah tried to bail but Li wasn’t having it. Aliyah snapped Li’s neck over the top rope, then hit Northern Lights with a bridge for two. Aliyah hit a running boot – sort of. It was ugly. Li hit a forearm smash, then a double axhandle from the top. Aliyah ducked one roundhouse kick but couldn’t avoid the following one, and Li covered for the win. Someone jumped into the ring to check on Aliyah; she was bleeding from the mouth into a towel. It looked a little like an angle at first, but it went nowhere so it was likely hardway.
WINNER: Xia Li at 2:03.
-Recap of Dain-Dunne leading into their match tonight.
(Wells’s Analysis: If that was a hardway injury, then the match had at least two moments that didn’t go to plan during its short life. I’d have to see the spot again to see who was more at fault, but I suspect we’ll have something to say about it on the PWT Talks NXT podcast tonight.)
-Finn Balor’s music played. Again, he wasn’t dressed to wrestle, so I would expect a probable Balor-Gargano match at TakeOver to be the next televised match for both. More finger guns. He grabbed the stick. “This is it? This is NXT now? What happened to this place? To this business that I love? I used to be proud of this place, but now it’s a joke. That was the heart of NXT? Johnny Gargano? Still sore from something that happened three weeks ago? I built this place.” He went on about the roster and not being tough. Don’t get him started on Matt Riddle. So he’s begging for someone to –
Matt Riddle appeared behind Balor and hammered the crap out of him. The two brawled around the ring and Balor escaped. “Keep runnin’ bro! Ya can’t run forever! Ya little putz – I’m right here -”
Undisputed Era’s music played, and the four circled the ring, where Riddle stood. “Wrong place, wrong time,” said Adam Cole.
Tommaso Ciampa’s music played to bring him and Keith Lee to the ring. Cole jawed for a moment, and Lee said “We don’t give a damn! Get – your asses – in the ring. So you don’t wanna get in?” Lee went on to say yes, Cole beat Daniel Bryan, and didn’t back down from Seth Rollins. But right here, right now, are they gonna stand up to Lee?
Roderick Strong said this is Adam Cole. He’s had the most successful two-week stretch in NXT, and deserves a break. If he wants a match, it has to be with Strong himself. Lee said “I’m not that picky” and drew a line with his foot. A gaggle of referees checked things out. The extras all left as Lee threw Strong into the ring. Mauro said we’d find out after the break if the match was on. I started my timer in case the match returns in progress and I have to approximate.
(3) KEITH LEE vs. RODERICK STRONG
Back to TV, the match was in progress. Non-title. Lee was in control. He made a cover with his foot for two, then stomped his foot deep into Strong’s chest. Lee took Strong to the corner and threw a punch to the abdomen. He stalked him for another. The two exchanged strikes, and a big left from Lee sent Strong nearly out of the ring. Lee set up Strong for a huge chop that dropped him. He went in for another but Strong hit a thrustkick. Strong jumped down onto Lee but got caught. Lee weathered a bunch of elbows and still hit a full body slam for two. Lee wrenched Strong’s arm. Strong escaped and popped up and hit some strikes and kicks. He attempted to shoulderblock a kneeling Lee, who wouldn’t go down. On the fourth, he faltered a little but didn’t drop.
Lee got to his feet and picked up Strong, who escaped and hit a chop, then ran the ropes right into a big double palm strike from Lee. Lee went to the second turnbuckle and brought Strong with him. Strong threw punches and crotched Lee, then kicked under the armpit to take control heading into another break.
Back to action, Strong and Lee exchanged chops. Lee’s had more on them, but Strong hit more of them. Strong dropkicked Lee from the ring, then leaped from the apron, got caught, and fought out of it. Lee press-slammed Strong into the ring, but he hit two wrecking ball dropkicks and Lee fell to the floor and Strong lifted him up. Lee pushed Strong into the barricade and reentered the ring. Strong followed and threw clubs to Lee’s neck and then head. He came off the ropes with a kick for two, from which Lee threw Strong off of him. Strong hit a rear chinlock. Lee stood up with Strong on his back, but Strong wrenched Lee’s nose to stay in control. Strong threw forearms to a kneeling Lee once again. Lee started no-selling them to fire up, and he started chopping Strong and hit an avalanche, then slammed Strong across the ring. Cover for two.
Lee picked up Strong in a fireman’s carry, broken up, but Lee hit a knee for two. Lee brought Strong to a turnbuckle and took him up with him. Jockeying for position. Step-up enzuigiri by Strong, who wanted a superplex and finally hit it on the third attempt. Strong rolled up Lee for two. Strong attempted to turn over Lee for the Stronghold, but Lee launched him away. Both guys got to their feet. Forearms exchanged. Enzuigiri by Strong. Running forearms, but Lee stopped it with a lariat and both guys sold on the mat 19 minutes in and the rest of Undisputed Era came to ringside, but Matt Riddle and Tommaso Ciampa made the save. Finn Balor showedup and hit a sling blade and double stomp on Riddle, then dropkicked him into the steps.
Strong hit a jumping knee to Lee then a slam for two. Senton by Strong, but Lee no-sold and hit a jackhammer for three.
WINNER: Keith Lee at 20:57 (or less, depending on when the bell sounded offscreen)
-UE all attacked Ciampa and Lee in the ring as Riddle was wrecked on the outside. “Feast Your Eyes” chant and Dominik Dijakovic hit the ring andcleared it of Undisputed Era. Double chokeslam for the tag champs. Feast Your Eyes for Adam Cole.
Dijakovic said “I’m in” to Tommaso Ciampa. Keith Lee showed up on the other side of Dijakovic, and Dijakovic walked up to him for a tense staredown. Lee offered the hand, which Dijakovic took.
(Wells’s Analysis: Dijakovic was the likely fourth man here. It wasn’t spelled out on TV, exactly, but a look at the roster and the storyline possibilities made it seem a sure thing. I’m still not sure the Undisputed Era needs a third WarGames match, but hopefully their opposition has some new spots to show us. Meanwhile, Finn Balor will likely face Johnny Gargano at WarGames, unless they surprise us with a five-on-five. The remaining question is about when Matt Riddle and Finn Balor get their singles match. Riddle needs a high profile win to keep him near the top, but early losses for Balor don’t seem likely)
-Back from break, outside, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke and…Candice LeRae…were laid out, like Rhea and Tegan earlier. This hook is working on me. Pretty sure I saw Scarlett Bordeaux as an extra in the scene briefly when I looked up from typing.
(4) ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT vs. BRONSON REED
Swerve was out first. This seems like a match where both guys should be winning, so something’s got to give. Swerve is winning on 205 Live, so maybe he’s still enhancing here. Reed had “Thicc” on his singlet, which will amuse my kids.
Wristlock by Reed. Swerve flipped out and hit a waistlock, but Reed came off the ropes with a shoulderblock. Swerve kipped up and hit a wristlock, reversed. Swerve went up and hit a missile dropkick, but Reed used the momentum off the ropes to tackle Swerve to the mat. Headbutt by Reed. Another. Swerve hit some chops, staggering Reed, but he ran the ropes right into a headlock. Swerve dropped as he thought Reed would run over his body, but Reed sat on his back instead. Reed picked up Swerve for a German suplex right over the top rope and out, then went out after Swerve. Chop by Reed. Swerve backed out of a slam and drove Reed into the turnbuckle. The show went to a break.
Back to the ring, seven minutes in. Swerve landed on his feet after a German, then went up and hit a forearm from the top on the back of Reed’s head. Flatliner by Swerve for two. Reed got to his feet. Swerve threw lariats but couldn’t take down Reed. Reed threw one that took Swerve down, then hit a senton. Reed went to the top but Swerve caught him. Swerve went up the turnbuckle as well and hit a hammerlock. Reed maneuvered Swerve upside-down and wanted a piledriver, but Swerve wriggled out and hit a DDT for two. Both guys were selling on the mat.
Swerve worked the arm, but Reed hip-tossed Swerve. Back elbow by Swerve, but he ran into a spinebuster, and Reed hit an Omori Driver for two. Reed lifted Swerve for a…jackhammer?…but Swerve got free and went for a triangle choke. Reed escaped. Reed missed a Banzai Drop and Swerve kicked the back of his head and covered for three.
WINNER: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott at 11:56.
(Wells’s Analysis: NXT tends to throw at least one match at us that we can’t predict here. I prefer Scott going over here, I guess, but I see good things down the road for both if the main event scene needs depth or if guys get shuffled to other brands)
-Respect handshake in the ring after the match.
-Up on the platform, Cathy Kelley had no leads on who was behind the attacks, but she was able to say that Matt Riddle vs. Finn Balor was officially added to WarGames, with Riddle exiting the WarGames match and Dominik Dijakovic taking his place – so there’s still an open spot.
-Somewhere, Pete Dunne did push-ups.
(Wells’s Analysis: So the men’s WarGames match isn’t set after all. Meanwhile, Cathy Kelley’s report on the women reminded me that these attacks are probably related to Survivor Series, and not WarGames. I’m just not even trying to think about Survivor Series, and was trying to fit the attacks into WarGames)
-The Forgotten Sons. If you don’t wanna give them an opportunity, they’re gonna take it. We’ll never forget them.
(5) PETE DUNNE vs. KILLIAN DAIN
Dunne entered first, at 35 after the hour. Even with an overrun, either this or the ladder match is going shorter than you’d otherwise expect.
Damian Priest attacked Killian Dain as he hit the ramp, and laid him out. Dunne and Priest went at one another and Killian Dain got into it. The usual gang of pretend security tried to break it up to boos, and then overacted and took bumps as the three brawled. Dunne and Dain exchanged punches outside and Priest did his rope-step-and-flip-over spot to wipe out both.
NO CONTEST at 0:00, obviously.
-Priest’s music played. No official triple threat made yet.
-Cathy Kelley interviewed Mia Yim. She said she had to look over her shoulder all the time. There was a knock on the door. It was Dakota Kai, who wanted to let Mia know there were no hard feelings. She said if anything goes down, she has Mia’s back.
(Wells’s Analysis: Even the relatively straightforward NXT usually isn’t this transparent, but oh well. It’s fun to see it play out)
-Leading into the ladder match was the announcement that Adam Cole and Dominik Dijakovic would battle in a ladder match next week for the advantage in the men’s WarGames match. That should be great, though a different match stipulation from this week’s main event might have been interesting.
(6) MIA YIM vs. IO SHIRAI – Ladder match to determine which team gets the WarGames one-woman advantage
The ladder was set up on the ramp outside. Io threw Yim with her hair to start, then dropkicked her from the ring. Flying cross-body to the outside by Shirai, but Yim recovered and kicked Shirai into the steps. Yim grabbed the ladder and shoved it into the ring, but Shirai recovered as well and kicked the ladder into Yim’s face. Yim dragged Shirai out and face-planted her into another ladder on the outside.
Shirai got back into the ring and cleared out Yim. The two fought over the ladder, which Yim set up from the barricade the apron. Shirai ran under it and dropkicked Yim underneath it. Yim wrenched Shirai’s hand into the ladder and Beth praised her for taking out an appendage in a ladder match. Yim tossed Io from the ring, but Io dragged her out as well. Shirai tried to ram the outside ladder into Yim, who ducked it, and hit some knife-edge chops on Shirai. Shirai threw Yim into the barricade and both sold on the outside for a moment. Shirai chopped Yim, then stomped her back. Shirai tried to get into the ring, but Yim stopped her and planted her into the ring steps. Yim entered the ring and went for the ladder, but Shirai rolled in and the two had opposite ends of the ladder. Yim twisted the ladder to flip Shirai.
Yim let go of the ladder and went for a suplex on Io, who blocked. Both went for suplexes, and finally Yim hit one squarely on the ladder. The spot woke up the match, which was worked fairly slowly to this point, and led into a split-screen commercial break.
Back to full screen at almost nine minutes into the match (and about three minutes to the hour). Both were selling the effects of the match. Shirai set up Yim on the second rope and went over with a headscissors and rocked back and forth. 619 by Shirai. The two threw strikes as they got to their feet. Flapjack by Shirai, who couldn’t capitalize. Shirai got near the ladder – set up leaning on a turnbuckle, and Yim hit a belly-to-belly that was supposed to mostly hit ladder, but it was awkwardly hit mostly on the arm. The refs checked on her.
Yim set up the ladder under the NXT briefcase above, but Shirai got to Yim. Yim threw hard kicks at a kneeling Shirai’s face, but Shirai hit a drop toehold on Yim to send her into the ladder. Shirai knocked over the ladder, set up Yim between the two sides and slammed one side down on her a few times. She left Yim in a heap and went under the ring for another ladder given that the other was damaged and looked likely to be unsafe. Shirai even checked the new one quickly to make sure it was good to go. Yim kicked Shirai down and got to the new ladder, but as she lifted it up, Shirai hit a missile dropkick off the top rope and the ladder hit her face. Yim was bleeding profusely from the face afterward – not to Joey Mercury levels, but not pretty.
Shirai very slowly worked on the ladder – using her injured hand as an excuse for her slowness – as Yim received medical attention offscreen (but still in the ring). Shirai went up and Yim finally popped into the frame and pulled her down. Yim went up but Shirai hit a German. Shirai kicked down the ladder and just went after Yim (the blood seems to be coming from the bridge of Yim’s nose) and the two fought on the top turnbuckle. Shirai tossed Yim from the ring, and Dakota Kai came to the ring to check on Mia Yim on the outside. As Kai helped Yim to her feet, Shirai hit a moonsault from the top to the outside on both.
Shirai went inside the ring and worked to set up the ladder. She slowly climbed up, still selling the hand injury. Dakota Kai grabbed her down and gave her a spinebuster. Mia Yim went up the ladder, and NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray hit the ring and tossed Yim from the ring, where she broke the table set up there. Ray held the ladder in the ring as Shirai climbed it to victory.
WINNER: Io Shirai at 19:59.
-Kay Lee Ray preened with her belt at the bottom of the ladder as Io Shirai posed on top of it. Replays were shown of the main spots in the match. Back from replay, Bianca Belair had also joined the fun at the foot of the ladder. Shayna Baszler came out to the ramp to applaud, symbolically adding Kay Lee Ray to the WarGames match. As she applauded, Bayley appeared and blindsided her with a chairshot. And that was Bayley’s only appearance onscreen all night, as a heel-heel confrontation to set up Survivor Series took precedence in the final moments to break up a much more interesting development for WarGames.
(Wells’s Analysis: Given how obvious everything was, I guess I should have expected a swerve. Kai is obviously born to be a babyface, but the lack of an obvious heel to slide into the WarGames match made it seem like a lock. The match itself was fine, though slow and not marked by any particular innovation – which is probably okay since it was mostly to serve a storyline purpose and not to finish a feud.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: The NXT involvement in Survivor Series absolutely makes sense, but what a disappointment that the build has to happen at the same time as the build for WarGames. The amount of time spent on WarGames in comparison to Survivor Series definitely makes this feel tacked on, and not the plan from the beginning. The WarGames setup tonight was strong and had a genuine surprise, with the women and with Riddle sliding out, as well as a fairly obvious development with Dijakovic moving in. The odd person out – again – is Dakota Kai, and as a huge fan I’m disappointed that she really was no more than a red herring as this match came together. Tonight on PWT Talks NXT, guest Frank Peteani joins Tom Stoup and me to banter about this, and we have another guest filling in for Tom next week on the go-home show. Follow me all over social media @spookymilk and we’ll see you next week.