KELLER & MARTIN FLAGSHIP (11/28)
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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
NOVEMBER 20, 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
-I was a guest on the Paul Levesque conference call this morning, and among many other pieces of news, he promised big names appearing on tonight’s show, and sold it as one of the biggest NXT shows to date. He did also state that the final member of the babyface WarGames team would be a secret until the event itself, and would be “epic.”
-Becky Lynch arrived at Full Sail. She walked from backstage, escorted by security, and hit the ring to a crowd that was mostly positive but didn’t fully know how to react. Quite a few boos rained down when the music stopped, as well as a “Becky” chant and then an “NXT” chant. “It’s been a while,” she said. She said we won’t have to wait much longer to see her kick someone’s ass here again, and she ripped off her jacket. She said Triple H extended an invitation, but she was coming anyway. She dressed down Bayley for being held back by Sasha Banks. She went after Shayna and was greeted with a “Shayna’s gonna kill you” chant. She said she’d show Shayna just who the hell she is. “I’m on your show, in your ring, under your light. What in the hell are you gonna do about it?”
Rhea Ripley’s music hit. “Rhea” chant as she walked up the steps. “Rhea’s gonna kill you” chant as she walked in the ring. “So…you’re the man. Let’s see if you have a set of balls!” Rhea tossed down the mic and a ref hit the ring to make the match. “Ring the bell” chant. And there it was.
(1) RHEA RIPLEY vs. BECKY LYNCH
Rhea ran the ropes. Becky hit a shoulderblock, mostly to boos. Action went outside and the match went to split-screen commercial. The match was relatively even throughout the break, with Rhea slowing things down with a chinlock for a while.
Rhea was in control upon return to full screen, with Becky fighting to her feet. Rhea tried to toss Becky from the ring, but Becky fought back and got to the turnbuckle. Rhea slammed her into the ring. Both sold on the mat despite there not being a lot of big spots. They exchanged blows as they got up, with Rhea getting the bulk of the “yay.” Rhea hit a gorilla press on Becky and covered for two. Small package for two by Becky and Beth called it “almost an upset.” Huh. Becky hit a legdrop from the second rope for two. Dueling chant, leaning probably 60-40 in Rhea’s favor.
Rope run. Rollup by Rhea for two. Becky hit the Disarmer, but Rhea rolled into the ropes. Rhea went for a powerbomb but Becky rolled through. Becky went up the turnbuckle. Rhea followed and hit a few forearms, then hit a superplex but couldn’t cover. Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke hit the ring and attacked both women for the Double-DQ to boos. Becky and Rhea were able to fight back and clear the ring of the Horsewomen. Becky’s music played and they sort of petered out of the segment to show The Revival arriving with security escorts.
WINNER: Double disqualification at 9:28.
(Wells’s Analysis: It wasn’t a particularly memorable match, didn’t have a ton of build, and suffered from a shadow hanging over it as it just didn’t seem like either could afford to lose the match. The run-in was both predictable and disappointing, and the competitors didn’t interact after clearing the ring. This was the most shameless of the “stunt casting” moments leading up to Survivor Series, and though it had interesting players, it never really came together to any sort of climax.)
(2) MATT RIDDLE vs. KONA REEVES
…allegedly. Ricochet blindsided Kona as he reached the ring to a good reaction. Matt Riddle hit the ring for a match anyway.
(2) MATT RIDDLE vs. RICOCHET
Quick reversals to start. Headscissor takedown by Ricochet. Riddle bailed and Ricochet hit a tope. Huge “Ricochet” chant. Ricochet went for a shooting star press but jumped into a submission, which he escaped. Bro-ton by Riddle. Riddle hit a couple of flying forearms and then an exploder for two. Ricochet rolled through a powerbomb and hit a northern lights suplex, a spinning neckbreaker and a shooting star press for two. Phoenix splash missed. Final flash knee by Riddle, but Ricochet hit a step-up enzuigiri. German suplex by Riddle. Quite a few impact spots just over threee minutes into the match.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura hit the ring in their SmackDown colors, and were both cleared from the ring. In the chaos, Riddle rolled up Ricochet for the win. In the ring, Nakamura had Riddle prone for the Kinshasa, but Roderick Strong blindsided him and cleared him out. Finn Balor then made it to the ring and attacked Matt Riddle, but Riddle fought him off and still stood tall after all the chaos. His music played as Balor stared from the ramp.
WINNER: Matt Riddle at 3:44.
(Wells’s Analysis: The live crowd seemed to be into the large amount of surprise run-ins, but I can’t think of a time NXT felt more like Raw or SmackDown than tonight so far. The match was incredibly brief and the brawls were quick and perfunctory, and didn’t much lead anywhere.)
-Quick recap of the triple threat TakeOver match that will determine Adam Cole’s opponent at Survivor Series.
-The Undisputed Era got ready for their match with The Revival.
-The Survivor Series triple threats were promoted.
(3) THE UNDISPUTED ERA (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. THE REVIVAL (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
Non-title. Mauro mentioned that The Revival were the first two-time tag champions in NXT. All three announcers mentioned how excited they were for the match.
Dawson and O’Reilly started. O’Reilly tried to bait Dawson to the mat, but he didn’t bit. Collar and elbow to a corner. O’Reilly slapped Dawson’s chest and Dawson chopped. Fish made the tag and both of UE chased Dawson outside the ring. Dash got into it and all four guys jawed in the ring. UE headed out to regroup before returning to the ring. Dash tagged into the ring to face off with Fish.
Both guys threw feet and Fish backed Dash into the UE corner. O’Reilly tagged in a double team helped them take control, but Dawson hit the ring to break down a double suplex and all four guys brawled. The action spilled outside and an “NXT” chant rang out as the show went to commercial.
Back to action, Bobby Fish was in control of Dash in the UE corner. Fish drove a boot into Dash. O’Reilly tagged in and threw kicks and forearms. “Undisputed”/”FTR” dueling chant was very even. Fish back in. He threw knee strikes and hit a snap mare, then a senton atomico. O’Reilly tagged in again and viciously hit knee strikes and forearms on a grounded Dash. The Revival are definitely playing the faces for the purposes of the match, just as Becky Lynch was in the opener. Interesting.
Fish tagged back in and hit a chinlock. Guillotine but Dash reached the ropes and slipped to the floor. O’Reilly tagged in, jumped off the apron and went at Dash on the outside with some kicks and rolled him in for a two count. Dash hit a small package for two and O’Reilly hit a jumping knee right after. Fish tagged in again but Dash hit a belly-to-back. He crawled slowly for the tag and Fish grabbed his feet. O’Reilly tagged in and he dropkicked Dawson off the apron. UE hit a tandem roundhouse kick and a back cracker for two. Basement dropkick by O’Reilly sent Dash out of the ring, and O’Reilly hit a knee from the apron as the match went to commercial again.
UE was still in control upon return. O’Reilly was hitting knees on Dash, but Dash hit a powerslam on a charging O’Reilly. Fish tagged in, and after a huracanrana by Dash, he finally made the hot tag. Dawson threw rights at Fish, then a dropkick. Very weird to see The Revival embrace the babyface role. Swinging neckbreaker by Dawson. Up the turnbuckle, diving headbutt by Dawson for two. “Tag team wrestling” chant.
Okana roll by Fish for two. Fish got hit with a European uppercut by Dash at the ropes, then ran into a brainbuster for two. Dawson called for their tandem knee, but O’Reilly protected Fish and took the blow. Dash and O’Reilly cleared out, but as Fish and Dawson went up the turnbuckle, O’Reilly blocked a superplex. After Dash got involved, he tagged, Dawson hit a superplex and Dash followed with a splash for two. (“Here’s the power…here’s the glory” Nigel said for those who remember)
Reset to Dawson and Fish. Samoan Drop by Fish, who called for O’Reilly. Dawson hit the blind side and the two hit Shatter Machine. Two count, but O’Reilly yanked Dawson from the ring. O’Reilly hit the flying double knees on Wilder on the outside to essentially take him from the match. O’Reilly and Dawson were legal; O’Reilly hit a flying knee to Dawson’s back for two. “Fight forever” chant.
Both guys sold the effects of the match. Referee Drake Wuertz put on his gloves, though I don’t see the blood yet. Dawson hit a DDT on O’Reilly as Fish tagged in (and there’s the blood on Fish’s nose). Rollup by Dawson for two. UE hit high-low on Dawson as Dash tried unsuccessfully to return to the ring.
WINNERS: The Undisputed Era at 24:46.
The UE ran around the ring with their belts after the match, occasionally yelling down at Dawson.
-Outside the arena, The Viking Raiders were in the faces of The Forgotten Sons.
(Wells’s Analysis: After the chaotic mess of the first 40 minutes, these two teams predictably put on a great tag team match to make the show about wrestling for a while. It was jarring to see The Revival as the babyfaces, and also disappointing that they lost their tag team championships to rob them of a spot in Survivor Series, though I understand New Day weren’t going to be left off the show. Though this match was excellent, it was a heel-heel affair after two face-face encounters to start, and this show is Exhibit A in why Survivor Series is the least consistent time on WWE TV)
-Women’s WarGames hype, accompanied by a Poppy song. Awesome hype segment for the best-built match of the weekend.
(4) DAKOTA KAI vs. KAY LEE RAY
Ray’s NXT UK Women’s Championship wasn’t on the line. Kai in this spot feels like yet another tease that her part in this story still isn’t over.
Upon the bell, Kai attacked. Headbutt by Kai. Destroyer for two. Kai draped Ray over the apron and hit a kick, then went in for a two. Ray came back with some kicks of her own, then stomped a mudhole in the corner to boos. Snap suplex for two. Ray clapped at the ref for a faster count. Kai rolled up Ray for two, but Ray planted Kai on her face for two.
Ray leaned on Kai’s repaired knee to boos. She threw fists in the corner, then took the boots to Kai in the middle of the ring. Ray chopped Kai in the corner, and Kai chopped back. Ray threw rights and then wrapped Kai’s bad leg over the ropes. Kai escaped the corner and then hit a double stomp in the corner. Lariat by Kai. Dropkick. Kai kicked Ray’s head repeatedly, but got dumped to the outside. Ray tried to toss Kai into the steps but Kai reversed, and then hit a boot to the face. Kai rolled Ray into the ring for a two count.
Bicycle Kick by Kai. Ray escaped from a fireman’s carry and hit her Gory Bomb finisher.
WINNER: Kay Lee Ray at 5:35.
-Too many of WWE’s women to name hit the ring to promote Survivor Series. Kairi Sane and Io Shirai shared a look at one another before it was broken up by others. Nikki Cross got a good reaction from Full Sail as she cleared the ring with a trash can lid. Her music played as the show went to commercial.
(Wells’s Analysis: That match was as good as it gets inside six minutes. Good story, good action. Kai should be in WarGames. As for the brawl, is was another slightly fun, but largely bland and shiftless brawl to promote Survivor Series, when this time is better spent on WarGames given that Raw and SmackDown are promoting Survivor Series for five hours each week, but don’t have a built-in reason to promote WarGames)
-Dominik Dijakovic shadow-boxed as Keith Lee and Tommaso Ciampa hung out.
(5) THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. THE FORGOTTEN SONS (w/Jaxson Ryker)
Non-title, of course. I’ll be honest – I don’t watch Raw enough to know which of Hanson and Rowe is Erik, and which is Ivar. Full Sail gave them a great ovation.
Rowe (Mauro called him Erik after calling him Ivar. I guess he doesn’t know either) hit a shoulderblock on Wesley Blake. Big splash by Ivar for two, broken up by Cutler to boos. Erik tagged back in, and Blake made the tag. Steve Cutler took control and leaned on Erik, but Erik fought out of trouble and rolled to his corner to tag. Ivar took out both guys, but Jaxson Ryker yanked him to the outside and Cutler hit a running knee to send the match to commercial.
And we’re back, with Blake and Ivar tagging in. Ivar destroyed both guys with splashes and a bronco buster. Quick tags for some tandem offense by the Raiders. Ryker set up Blake’s leg on the bottom rope to break up a count, and then baited Erik to the outside so he and Cutler could double-team him. Blind tag by the Sons, and Cutler hit a back cracker. Another tag to Blake and they hit a tandem move in the corner for two. Ivar rolled out of trouble to tag Erik, who cleared the Sons, but ran into an axhandle by Ryker as he went for a tope. Cutler hit a Death Valley Driver that was supposed to hit the apron but mostly missed and went to the floor. Into the ring for a two count, and the ref threw Ryker from ringside thanks to his continued interference.
Knee strike by Erik to Cutler in the ring. All four got involved and wrecked in the ring. Very little attention has been paid to keeping the ring down to two men in this one. Erik hit both Sons with a handspring double back elbow. Ivar tagged in and the Raiders hit their finisher to win.
WINNERS: The Viking Raiders at 12:13.
(Wells’s Analysis: A chaotic mess with a few nice spots peppered in. It probably went too long given their relative spots on the card, but it allowed the Raiders to hit a lot of crowd-pleasing spots leading into their triple threat match at Survivor Series)
-Cathy Kelley promoted the Priest-Dunne-Dain match from the platform, leading into a hype package. Adam Cole assured us he’d successfully defend against whichever was victorious at TakeOver.
-47 minutes into the second hour, the show carved out a moment to promote the WarGames match concept. The two WarGames matches as well as Balor-Riddle were promoted. The only other match announced is Dunne-Dain-Priest, so it’ll be interesting to see if another match is wedged onto the show.
(6) DOMINIK DIJAKOVIC vs. ADAM COLE – Ladder match to determine which team gets the one-man advantage in WarGames
As in all but one match on the show, this was a non-title match featuring a champion. Dijakovic was out first. Cole’s entrance was at 9 minutes to the hour. In the Cathy Kelley segment before this, she wondered aloud if any other Raw or SmackDown superstars were here tonight, so the nonsense likely isn’t over yet.
Cole exploded on Dijakovic upon the bell with kicks, but Dijakovic took control quickly with strikes and a lariat. Dijakovic grabbed a ladder from under the ring, apparently unsatisfied with the one that was set up on the ramp. Cole dropkicked the ladder into Dijakovic’s face, but when Cole picked up the ladder in the ring, Dijakovic charged with a dropkick to return the favor. Dijakovic splashed Cole into the ladder, which fell on Cole’s legs on the way down. Dijakovic climbed the ladder but Cole superkicked him down. Cole wrapped Dijakovic’s legs around the ring post and wrenched each leg, leading into split-screen commercial.
Back to action, Dijakovic won a tug-of-war with Cole. Three ladders were in the ring: one set up underneath the briefcase, one leaning on a turnbuckle and one set up from standing ladder to second turnbuckle, waiting for a big spot. Dijakovic attempted a suplex on Cole, but Cole reversed to an ushigoroshi instead, managing to safely keep it free of any of the three ladders. Cole started up the ladder, but Dijakovic forcefully chokeslammed him into the leaning ladder for a “Mamma Mia” chant. Cole is going to be completely broken by the time this weekend is over.
Dijakovic slowly went up the ladder. Cole grabbed a leg, and Dijakovic wanted Feast Your Eyes but he accidentally set up Cole on the ladder in a contrived spot; he pulled Cole down but Cole hit Panama Sunrise. Cole checked out Dijakovic on the outside to make sure he was out, then charged for the ladder. Dijakovic popped up and managed a torture rack into a big rising knee; it was Dijakovic’s repaired knee so he sold the pain. Dijakovic went up the ladder slowly, using the bad knee as an excuse for why he couldn’t go faster. Cole sped up the other side and knocked Dijakovic backwards by bashing the briefcase in his head; Dijakovic fell on the propped-up ladder and cracked it in half. He lay motionless as Cole grabbed the briefcase to win.
WINNER: Adam Cole at 10:21.
Undisputed Era tried to join the fun on the ramp, and SmackDown and Raw both hit the ramp leading to another story-free brawl. In the ring, Drew McIntyre hit a big boot on Dominik Dijakovic. Keith Lee hit the ring and hit a Spirit Bomb on McIntyre, who cleared out of the ring. Ivar hit the ring and he and Lee stared down one another, and then the two both ran to the outside and hit a tope on everyone on the outside. Adam Cole, the only guy not destroyed on the outside of the ring, gloated until Seth Rollins showed up and hit him with a superkick, to mostly boos. Rollins teased a Stomp until Tommaso Ciampa’s music played. Before he hit the ring, Ciampa hit a running knee on Adam Cole, because why not? Ciampa and Rollins stalked one another, then started throwing fists and knees as the show just faded out at the beginning of one of the only engaging Survivor Series brawls of the show.
(Wells’s Analysis: The match was a refreshingly rare ladder match without outside interference, made all the more rare by the fact that outside interference was to be expected tonight. It had to be on the short end of ladder matches, ever, in the WWE, though it had a few nice spots and a memorable one to finish. The brawl afterward was one last eye-roller, as nobody buys into the brand loyalty thing enough for this to be the story of Survivor Series. This show was probably quite the spectacle for the live crowd, many of whom go to the show week after week but tonight got to see a lot of surprise faces for perhaps the first time. As a TV show, it was less exciting, as the many brawls didn’t have any direction or heat. This show is likely to pop a bit of a rating, but was probably the weakest episode in the USA era given the constraints of Survivor Series)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This should have been a great go-home show for WarGames, but instead largely played as a mediocre one for Survivor Series. After a few years of Raw vs. SmackDown, it should be clear enough that the brand vs. brand concept isn’t hot enough to capture the imagination of fans, so just like every year, we wait out November so we can wake up from the fever dream and get back to cogent storylines and feuds. The Undisputed-Revival match was the clinic we all hoped for, the ladder match worked and didn’t rely on overbooking, and Kay Lee Ray and Dakota Kai had a spirited but short match surrounded by all the Raw and SmackDown nonsense around them. I suspect this episode will polarize, but at least for me, it was a bit of a trudge and I look forward to TakeOver to wash this one off. You can follow me all over social media @spookymilk and listen to PWT Talks NXT tonight or tomorrow morning as I try to make sense of this one with Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg. Cheers!