SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
MCLENDON’S NXT ON USA ALT-PERSPECTIVE REPORT
JANUARY 15, 2020
WINTER PARK, FLA. AT FUL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY JAMES MCLENDON, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix
-Highlights from last week’s NXT and Takeover Blackpool II. Specifically the Undisputed Era attacking Imperium.
-Keith Lee comes out to a great reaction. He has one of, if not the most consistent engaged crown reactions on the show. He acknowledges them having a great 2019, but that his may have been better. Saying they have reached their peak while, he is limitless.
-The UE music plays and all four members rush to the ring to jump Lee. Lee begins to get the upper hand, but strong takes out his leg from behind with a chair. The put Lee’s leg in the chair and Strong comes off the top rope onto it. Ciampa makes the save for Lee and UE retreats back up the ramp. Mauro and Beth really sell that Lee’s availability for his title match could be in jeopardy.
-Balor vs Gargano is officially announced for Takeover Portland.
-Tegan Nox interview from earlier in the day. She’s warmly greeted by Candace Larae just as she begins talking about Dakota Kai.
(1) PETE DUNNE & MATT RIDDLE vs. FLASH MORGAN WEBSTER & MARK ANDREWS
I instantly notice Riddle and Dunne in matching colored gear. Dunne and Andrews start the match off. It appears the Dunne and Riddle will assume role of the heels in this match. A lot of back and forth tagging from Riddle and Dunne early on. Great teamwork from Riddle and Dunne for it being their first match together. However, I loved the story being told of Webster and Andrews taking advantage of the holes in their chemistry. Mauro and Beth do a great job pointing this out on commentary. Riddle takes out Webster on the outside and Andrews misses a shooting star press. Dunne and Riddle hit a tandem knee strike for the win.
WINNER: Dunne & Riddle in 18:00.
(McLendon’s Analysis: This match moved at the pace a lot of the AEW tag matches do, but had the structure a lot of them lack. I loved Mauro pointing out that Andrews & Webster could have won this match if they weren’t in a four-way ladder match on Sunday. I appreciate the effort Riddle & Dunne are putting into their presentation as a team. I don’t care for random teams, but when they are making me believe they can be a unit.)
-They show the UE run – in on Imperium again and cut to a post-show promo from Walter. He speaks most of it in his language, but Mauro says that Imperium and UE will meet a Worlds Collide.
-Cathy Kelley reports from outside the training room that Keith Lee is being treated and his status for next week is in question.
-Ciampa comes out to the ring. Says it’s clear the UE has a hit list, and that Adam Cole is at the top of his. He says he “is taking back his life and wants Goldie back. UE comes out to attack Ciampa, but Johnny Wrestling makes the save and the two take out everyone but Cole. They hit their finisher on Fish as the crowd chants DIY. The two stare each other down.
(McLendon Analysis: The UE has been very prominent early on in this show, which I like. They have all of the titles, so if they aren’t in matches they should be making it clear they still run things and do what they want. It was a lot of action in a short amount of time and they got to the point.)
-Trent Seven tweeted a challenge to DIY for Worlds Collide.
(2) THE TIME SPLITTERS (Kushida & Alex Shelley) vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS – Dusty Rhodes Classis First Round Match
Mauro and Beth list off all the accomplishments of the Time Splitters as a team as well as their individual accolades. They are really setting the table and establishing credibility for those who don’t know them. Shelley and Gibson start the match. Shelley’s looks great physically. Shelley and Kushida tag in and out pretty frequently with blind tags. The pace definitely quickens while Kushida is in the ring. I really enjoyed the contrasting styles of the two. The Grizzled Young Veterans can go at that pace too, but slowed things down when they were in control.
The crowd was really behind Kushida in this match. I think NXT has done a great job making people care about him. He has done his part by maintaining his momentum even through his injury last fall. The Grizzled Young Veterans pick up the surprising win after pushing Kushida off the top rope and Shelley gets caught in the ring alone. Mauro and Beth do a great job selling the upset without discounting the Grizzled Young veterans.
WINNERS: Grizzled Young Veterans in 12:00.
-Gibson cuts a promo saying Shelley and Kushida are a great team of the past, but The Grizzled Young Veterans are the team of the future and winners of the Dusty Tag Team Classic.
-Robert Stone and Chelsea Green explain why Chelsea won’t be in the battle royal tonight.
(McLendon Analysis: I really enjoyed the tag team match. It was a lot of fun and very high-paced. The win is a shock for me, but with the bracket shaping up the way it was, this made sense. I’m curious to see what this means for the Time Splitters as a team and if they’ll use the loss to tell a larger story. I thought this was a good set up to keep Green out of the battle royal. She shouldn’t get lost in a match we know she wouldn’t be in line to win. I am excited to see what the Robert Stone Brand will look like as it develops. I am getting a Dangerous Alliance vibe early on.)
(3) TYLER BREEZE vs. LIO RUSH vs, ISIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT – #1 contender for Cruiserweight Championship
Angel Garza on commentary for this match. It was the first time we’ve heard him speak somewhat extensively. He spoke quite a bit of Spanish and is putting on the charm for Beth a little bit. He spent time making fun of his opponents but is quiet for the most part. Scott took charge early on with a number of kicks on both Breeze and Rush. The pace was very fast in this one, as expected. Scott went to suplex Rush from the apron, but Breeze came from behind with a German suplex bringing both men back into the ring.
The crowd was really behind Breeze and Scott in this match. Rush hit Scott with a reverse hurricanrana, nailed Breeze with a toupe, and then hit Scott with a frog splash in an amazing sequence. But, Breeze broke it up for a two count. Lio missed Scott with a step – up enziguri, but nails Breeze. Scott missed Rush with a spin kick, and hits Breeze. Breeze took out Lio, but was caught by Scott with a JML driver for the win.
WINNER: Scott in 14:00.
-Rhea Ripley is interviewed by Cathy Kelley and said she doesn’t care who she faces at Takeover
-Ciampa and Gargano accepted Mustache Mountain’s challenge for Worlds Collide. The UE then comes to confront them but security gets in between them. Keith Lee hits the pounce on one of the security guards through a bush and attacked the others who try to calm him down.
-They announce both Dusty Challenge semifinal matches will be next week.
(McLendon Analysis: Mauro sort of gave away that Scott was going to win this match during his entrance with the deep analysis he provided. I think any combination of these four being the face of the Cruiserweight Division is good business for NXT. Personally, for me this makes up for Scott’s early exit from the Rising Stars Tournament. Although this probably won’t result in a championship win, this is a great showcase for Scott. I was hoping that Keith Lee’s Survivor Series appearance is setting up for a splash in the Royal Rumble. However, him winning the title would maybe put the brakes on that. The set-up for strong to win is set up in the leg injury. However, I worry what a loss does to the momentum he is riding currently.)
(4) WOMEN’S BATTLE ROYAL – #1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship
Kacey Catanzaro, Mercedes Martinez, and Shayna Basler are surprise entrants. No Dakota Kai.
All the women appear to turn their attention to Shayna, but start attacking one another. Basler made quite a bit of the eliminations early on. This battle royal made me realize how much NXT highlights their top women and how far ahead those women are compared to the rest of the division. Xia Li took a lot of the women out in the middle of the match, but then was eliminated by Bianca. Io Shirai eliminates Kacey Catanzaro. Bianca eliminates Candace Larae by pushing her off the top rope. Martinez suplexes Mia Yim to the outside of the ring for an elimination. Bazler and Martinez stare each other down. They went back and forth with forearms. Bazler flipped Martinez over the rope for an elimination.
The final four were Io, Bianca, Bazler, and Nox. Nox hit Bianca and Shayna with a flurry of running uppercuts and sentons. Bel air speared Basler aiming for Nox. Dakota Kai pulled Nox off the top rope for an elimination. Chelsea Blackhart wasn’t actually eliminated earlier and she came back in to the ring to eliminate Basler. She is then eliminated by Bianca. Bianca and Io were the last two. Io gets the upper hand on Bianca several times by using her hair. Bianca gets Io on her shoulders and throws her over the top rope for the win to become the number one contender.
WINNER: Belair in 23:00.
(McLendon’s Analysis: I don’t get the same feeling I did when Bel Air challenged Bazler at this same time last year. Bianca has come a long way and this should be an interesting battle of strength when she faces Ripley. This match helped answer the question of what’s next for Shayna in the short term, which I wasn’t expecting to get this soon.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Not as much wrestling on this episode, but they are a victim of having a show in between their next big Takeover. Like always, I felt they did a great job of doing that without sacrificing too much. I do appreciate the intertwining of several storylines. It provides opportunities to save match-ups for the shows that matter. I would have liked a little more build up to Imperium and UE, so that feels like it’s being hotshot. But, all in all a solid show overall that progressed stories and provided reasons for an average viewer to tune back in if they wanted to.
CHECK OUT OUR OTHER REPORT ON THIS SAME EPISODE: 1/15 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Women’s no. 1 Contender Battle Royal, Time Splitters vs. Grizzled Young Veterans, Riddle & Dunne vs. Andrews & Webster