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
DECEMBER 11, 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 the hype for tonight’s matches.
(1) LIO RUSH (c) vs. ANGEL GARZA – Cruiserweight Championship match
Garza was out first to his usual unique pop. Lio sized up Garza before the match. Lio jumped Garza before the match, still obviously ticked off about Garza’s moves in front of Lio’s family.
Brawl to start. Action spilled outside and Rush took Garza to the steps. Lio wanted a moonsault off the apron but Garza yanked him down to drop his face into the apron – looked like a large amount of contact was made. Dueling chant favored Garza slightly. Back in, Garza covered for one. Garza teased the pants spot and Lio stopped it to boos. Action sped up and Lio missed the Come Up, and Garza followed with a basement dropkick for two.
Garza set up Lio in the corner and threw a superkick for two. Garza slapped a grounded Lio, who got to his feet and started exchanging fists and palm strikes. Lio ran the ropes and got leapfrogged into the top rope. Split screen commercial just under four minutes into action, and Garza dominated the slow-paced segment there.
Back to full screen, Garza had a waistlock on Rush, reversed into a rollup for two. Flying headscissors takeover by Rush. He wanted another but Garza put him in a powerbomb position, but Lio scissored him over and out. One loud guy in the crowd is being sure to register boos for every offensive move by Lio. Back in for two. Lio threw punches. Garza countered the Come Up with one of his own for two in a cool, smoothly-executed spot. Garza had Lio up for a suplex but Lio “shifted momentum” to land on top for two. Lio went up but Garza grabbed his feet and hit a step-up enzuigiri. Garza went up to meet Lio and wanted a – Spanish Fly? But was thrown off. Undeterred, Garza ran up and indeed hit Spanish Fly from the top for a long two and a “holy sh-t” chant.
Kneeling punch exchange. Slap exchange. Garza walked into a huge thrustkick. Superkick by Garza. Both guys leaned forward and fell side-to-side. “NXT” chant. Wing Clipper by Lio for two. Lio was setting up the Come Up but Garza grabbed Lio’s leg to stop him. Garza put Lio in the electric chair and leaned forward, but Lio finally hit the Come Up for two. Final Hour from Lio, but Garza crawled outside and Lio grabbed him by the pants, which of course fell off to a big pop. Lio jumped out to Garza and landed on his knees. Garza took him in and hit Wing Clipper for two. He put him in the move again and leaned back to force Lio to tap. Mauro calls out Angel as the first Mexican Crusierweight Champion and Nigel says Angel made Hector Garza proud.
WINNER: Angel Garza in 15:18.
(Wells’s Analysis: Naturally, these two had a smooth, excellent match. Lio was having strong match after strong match and it’s a shame he had such a short reign, but I don’t disagree with putting Garza over sooner than later. He’s just a huge star in the making and I can’t wait to see who steps up to challenge him next.)
-Shayna Baszler spot. She showed off her 1969 Ford Mustang. A lot of people are the Tesla and they do the fancy stuff, but there’s something about muscle cars you can’t get anywhere else. She’s not here for the fans, she’s here for the title. She hears the word “momentum” thrown about Rhea, and as a counterpoint, she lists off all the major challengers she’s beat (in a nice play on catchphrasing, she said “Bianca Belair? Defeated”). The shots of her victories were interspersed with shots of her working on, and then driving, the car. Effective spot to hype the championship match next week.
-Hype for the main event. Interestingly, Lee is front and center. I don’t disagree with the placement, but it’s heartening to see how well WWE has adapted to the organic love for Lee.
-Finn Balor vignette, hyping the main event. He was the first Universal Champion, and soon, his future will be his past – and he’ll be two-time NXT Champion. Nigel calls him out as the favorite.
-Angel Garza, moments ago (after his win), called out the things he loves, finishing with his girlfriend, who he walked into the ring. Garza knelt down and proposed. She and the crowd went crazy and it would appear she agreed to the whole marriage thing.
-Last night, Cameron Grimes jumped Kushida in the locker room and yelled that nobody embarrasses Cameron Grimes. All I wanted last week was a longer match. It would appear I’ll get my wish before long.
(2) RAUL MENDOZA vs. CAMERON GRIMES
Grimes was out second, and teased an attack before the bell. Mendoza attacked with a dropkick immediately upon the bell, then sent Grimes out with another. Corkscrew plancha by Mendoza. Mendoza wanted a cross-body but Grimes reversed. Kushida showed up at ringside for a distraction. Mendoza trapped Grimes and pinned him. “RAUL MENDOZA WINS!!” yelled Mauro. Kushida put on Grimes’s hat and walked out.
WINNER: Raul Mendoza at 1:12.
-Mia Yim is with Cathy Kelley. Mia said Dakota took her out of the match of her life. This is gonna be a fight, and Dakota will be the one in an ambulance tonight.
-Travis Banks spot. He’s up next as a preview of Worlds Collide.
(Wells’s Analysis: This accomplished a step forward in the Grimes-Kushida saga and also gave a huge moment to the very, very deserving Raul Mendoza. The only downside is that they weren’t all on screen longer. For those not familiar with Travis Banks, he’s a pretty decent technical wrestler, usually used as a babyface gatekeeper about halfway up the card)
-Vote Now for the NXT Year-End Awards on WWE.com!
(3) TRAVIS BANKS vs. JAXSON RYKER
Banks’s reaction suggested the crowd is fairly familiar with him. An okay pop followed by a brief “Kiwi Buzzsaw” chant. Both threw kicks early. Banks got dumped, Ryker followed and Banks hit a PK. Tope by Banks but Ryker cleared him out and action went back inside. Ryker threw big chops in the corner. Springboard brainbuster. Banks threw rights to try to get back into it, then tripped Ryker into the turnbuckle and hit him with a couple of running dropkicks and a cannonball. Banks went high and missed, then ran into a double axhandle. Running knee by Ryker. Something opened up a wound above Banks’s left eye. Banks hit his finisher from the corner, Slice of Heaven (a kick off of the second turnbuckle) for a quick pin. Ryker was kicking out just at three to maintain his heat. Banks bailed and ran off quickly. Nigel said it couldn’t be overstated how big a win this is for Banks.
WINNER: Travis Banks at 2:45.
(Wells’s Analysis: But CAN it be overstated, maybe? This was clearly going to be a quick match, given the breakneck speed from the outset. It’s a good thing a UK guy went over after last week’s odd decision to use Ohno and then to have him lose on top of it, although this was kind of a weak victory. The logistics of bringing Banks over for a match under three minutes are a bit strange; will he do some house shows?)
(4) MIA YIM vs. DAKOTA KAI
Dakota, out second, once again carried Tegan Nox’s knee brace.
Yim hit a dropkick just after the bell. Chop in the corner. Fists from Dakota. Hair mare by each, prompting a reprimand from the ref. Yim tripped Dakota and hit a basement dropkick for two. To the corner, Tarantula by Yim. Yim went up and hit a missile dropkick.
The screen went black and audio dropped. The same happened to Nate Lindberg, so I assume it happened to all of you. When it came back up fifteen seconds or later, we were in commercial.
Back to action, Yim hit a dragon screw. Cover for two. Elbows by Kai in the corner and then the face wash for two. Kai threw taunting feet at a grounded Yim’s head. Yim got up and hit some kicks of her own. She awkwardly rolled up Kai for two. Overhead belly to belly by Yim for two. Yim wanted Code Blue but Kai escaped out the back. Yim hit it from the other direction for two. Yim charged Kai in the corner, but Kai blocked and hit a sitout powerbomb for two. Mauro said it wasn’t a wrestling match – it was a fight. Meh, it really does look like a wrestling match and not a violent blow-off brawl.
German suplex by Yim for two. Yim dropped Kai’s face on her knee and Kai bailed. Yim tossed her back in, and Kai grabbed her brace. The ref took it from her and Kai took off the top turnbuckle, then shoved Yim’s face into it and rolled her up for three.
WINNER: Dakota Kai at 10:02.
Mia attacked Dakota after the match, and took her out to the concrete area and set up two tables side-by-side. Dakota escaped up to the tech area above, and Yim followed and suplexed her off the top through a table. They didn’t go super far out, and only the near table was broken, so I wouldn’t be shocked if either of them took a bad bump on the head (indeed, Yim held her head afterward). The camera lingered on Yim and her music played.
(Wells’s Analysis: I agree with all of that – Kai needs wins as she gets her heel act going, and Yim retaining her own heat with this beatdown makes sense. Not sure what we missed when the feed dropped, but it was decent action as shown. An official was checking on Kai in the aftermath; could be kayfabe but it looked like there was a real conversation there. Hopefully this isn’t a concussion for either of them. Update: WWE confirms laceration and staples for Kai)
-Keith Lee spot. They’ll have no choice but to bask in his glory.
-SmackDown commercial replayed the bit with the dog food, just in case you needed a reminder why you may not have loved the show.
(5) BREEZANGO vs. THE SINGH BROTHERS
Breezango were out as hot doctors. First time they’ve been on TV in some time.
Tyler Breeze and Sunil Singh to start. Breeze with a forearm in the corner. Back-cracker for one. Fandango tagged in. Sunil took him to the corner and hit some chops. Tag to Samir, who ran into a legdrop for two. Breeze tagged in, but Samir ran him to his own corner and tagged Sunil. Sunil threw fists to Breeze’s head and dumped him. He distracted Breeze and the ref so Samir could get some licks in. Back in and Samir tagged in. Bollywood Blast got two. Samir grabbed a headlock, quickly broken by Breeze, who hit a step-up enzuigiri.
Tags for both. Fandango with a boot and a missile dropkick (that showed a lot of light). Back bodydrop. Fandango hit an avalanche Falcon Arrow on Samir, then hit a Falcon Arrow on the legal Sunil for two, broken up by Samir. Action spilled outside, where Fandango hit a powerbomb on Samir on the apron, and then Breezango hit their own Bollywood Blast on Sunil on the outside. Back in, flying legdrop by Fandango for the win.
WINNERS: Breezango at 4:18.
(Wells’s Analysis: After a few losses, it made sense for Breezango to get off of TV for a minute, and to come back to a winnable match. Good action by two teams who could probably have a very good match given the minutes)
-A special preview for next week’s Women’s Championship match is up next.
-Rhea Ripley spot. It’s kind of a mini-doc for Rhea, running down her lifelong dream of working as a professional wrestler. If there was any doubt left whether this is where they finally pull the trigger on a Shayna title loss, this should make the inevitable clear.
(6) KAYDEN CARTER vs. BIANCA BELAIR
Bianca hit a running shoulder tackle to open. Kicks and fists in the corner until the ref broke it up. Carter hit a kick on Belair after a couple of escapes, then escaped a waistlock and hit an Okana roll for two. Springboard cross-body for two. Kayden wanted an Irish whip but Bianca wasn’t having it. Pendulum backbreaker by Bianca, who held on and flipped Kayden for a stomachbreaker. Bianca gut-wrenched Belair up into a Canadian backbreaker but Carter escaped. She charged but missed in the corner, where Belair leaned in with her shoulder. Belair deadlifted Carter and spiked her on her face for two. Bianca looked annoyed that it didn’t get the three. Bianca taunted Kayden, who hit a slap and a chop. Slingshot suplex by Belair; Belair wanted a standing moonsault but hit knees. Kayden dumped Belair and hit a kick to Belair and tossed her back to the ring. Belair speared Kayden and lifted her up to the KOD for the win.
WINNER: Bianca Belair at 4:51.
(Wells’s Analysis: Bianca is a rebuild project at this point, as she’s been mostly a non-entity on TV for some reason and had to lose twice on Survivor Series weekend. Good aggressive match and win for her. Kayden continues to look good in defeat; I suspect she’ll start winning matches in a handful of months, provided some of the talent moves on to other brands)
-Adam Cole’s music played to bring him out to ringside to see who was going to win tonight’s #1 Contender’s match. I assume he’ll be in the booth, but we went to commercial with him at the “boom” moment.
-Tommaso Ciampa spot for the final hype for our main event. Tonight after he beats Balor and Lee, he wants Cole to take a long, hard look and realize his days are numbered.
(7) TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. KEITH LEE vs. FINN BALOR – Triple Threat #1 Contender’s Match for the NXT Championship
Ciampa was out first, seamlessly after his hype package. He said “Goldie, this is for you!” at Gorilla Position before heading to the ring. Keith Lee followed. Balor was last. Formal introductions took place, a rarity for non-championship matches. “Go bask in his glory” chant.
Schmoz to start, sending Lee and Balor out. The faces teamed up to toss Balor on the apron. Ciampa wanted Air Raid Crash, but Lee broke it up. Balor rolled up Ciampa for two. Lee rushed back in and laid out both guys to send the match to a very early commercial. There was no split screen, which almost never happens in the main event, so this may not be the last commercial break.
Back to action, Keith Lee was dominating. He had the other guys in opposite corners, and he splashed both. As he splashed Ciampa a second time, Balor rushed him with an elbow. Ciampa clotheslined Lee to take both outside. Ciampa went back in and elbowed Balor to take him down. Head to the turnbuckle. Mudhole stomp followed by a running knee. Another running knee, but Lee was trying to get back in the ring so Ciampa redirected and hit him. Ciampa set up both guys for draping DDTs – they were on draped over the ropes on opposite sides of the turnbuckle in a unique spot. Ciampa made covers on both guys for two.
Ciampa shoved Balor out and the faces exchanged shots. Mauro pointed out they were the last two men to pin the champion (who was not, after all, on commentary but rather up on the platform). Ciampa wanted a suplex on Lee but it wasn’t happening. Lee took down Ciampa with palm strikes but a splash hit knees. Lee got up Ciampa for a slam of some kind but Balor rushed in and took both faces out. He backed into the corner and put up his finger guns, but Keith Lee was ready and put both guys in opposite corners again and they repeated the splash spots, surprisingly. Lee threw Balor into Ciampa. He stacked the two others up and climbed the turnbuckle, but Ciampa went up and so did Balor; they hit a tandem Russian leg sweep but the commercial popped up and the impact happened on the split screen. The match was about 11 minutes old leading into this final break.
Back to action. Ciampa had Balor up for Air Raid Crash. Lee went over and lifted Ciampa while he was lifting Balor for Air Raid Crash. The power is one thing; the balance is another. He completed the move on both guys and got two. Lee wanted a moonsault but missed on Ciampa; Ciampa wanted Fairytale Ending but Lee hit a jackhammer instead. Lee went for a jackhammer on Balor but he rolled through for two. Coup de Grace by Balor on Lee. “NXT” chant. Balor took out Ciampa and hit a tope con giro on Lee. “This is awesome” chant. Balor and Ciampa barreled into a barricade and took out some PC plants. Balor missed Coup de Grace on Ciampa and Lee shoved Balor from the ring. Lee wanted a powerbomb on Ciampa, who rolled through and hit a chop block. Ciampa got Lee up for Air Raid Crash for a believable near-fall; I expected Balor but it was a kickout.
Ciampa charged into Lee, who hit a spinebuster. Moonsault by Lee for two. Lee had Ciampa up for a powerbomb. It was successful, but immediately following the powerbomb, Balor flew off the top turnbuckle and hit Coup de Grace and quickly covered Lee for three.
WINNER: Finn Balor at 18:10.
Balor made some finger guns and a graphic hyped the Cole vs. Balor match for next week. The Baszler-Ripley match got one more graphic as well. Balor stood on the second turnbuckle and jawed at Adam Cole, who was on the ramp, to send the show off. The other UE guys joined Cole on the ramp just before the fade out.
(Wells’s Analysis: I’m sure we all had high hopes, and I’d say the spots in this match exceeded them to a large degree. The final spot was a perfect heel-picks-the-bones spot that probably sounds contrived on paper but was so smooth in practice. The title picture remains beautifully muddy, with heel Balor facing heel Cole next week since the Women’s Championship match is the huge selling point for the show, which saves the faces for future shots. I predicted Lee after his pinfall on Cole last week, though I hoped he would be saved for a TakeOver. It appears this may be the case)
FINAL THOUGHTS: An eclectic mix of long, engaging matches and very brief enhancement matches. The use of Travis Banks is strange both because of the choice of a gatekeeper, and the choice to have him win (and also the choice to give it such a small amount of time). Bianca Belair thankfully got a win on TV, which will likely come in handy before long as Rhea Ripley will need challengers after next week. Angel Garza got his first huge moment, and as always, had a weird production where he worked somewhat heelish in the match and then had a sweet victory party and proposed to his girlfriend after the match. This is a nice win for him, but I expect him to go much higher in the years to come.
All in all, a decent-to-better show. I’ll deconstruct it further with Nate Lindberg and Tom Stoup tonight on PWT Talks NXT. Also, if you’re into the whole NWA thing, note that I hosted the first episode of “Ten Pounds of Talk” with JR Harris and Mike Taylor, and that episode – a preview for Into the Fire – will go up on the VIP site soon as well. Follow me on social media @spookymilk. Cheers!