SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 12, 2020
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Beth Phoenix
-Highlights from last week played, ending with Velveteen Dream’s return.
-Mauro Ranallo teed up the show by announcing Adam Cole vs. Kushida (non-title) and Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes for later in the show. Nice.
-Roderick Strong ran to the ring. He said this isn’t about The Undisputed Era. It’s not even about a championship. It’s about Velveteen Dream putting his wife and son’s face on his gear last week. He knew it wouldn’t take long for Dream to make it personal. He says he’s going to hurt Dream. He demanded an apology.
Bronson Reed’s music played. He said he’s got a problem with him as well. He ran to the ring and Drake Wuertz called for the bell.
(1) BRONSON REED vs. RODERICK STRONG
Reed came out on fire with punches and elbows. Elbow drop in the center of the ring. Roddy threw a kick and some punches to fight Reed off. To the corner, big chop by Roddy. Reed took Roddy to the opposite corner and threw a chop, but Roddy’s chops, as always, were more effective as he returned fire. To another corner, Roddy ran right into a side slam by Reed. Reed pulled Roddy’s shirt up over his face and beat him around the ring.
Roddy got the shirt off, used it to distract Reed and threw some forearms. Reed fought out of the corner with a hard right and fish-hooked Roddy for a moment. Splash in the corner. Roddy fell and Reed hit an axhandle. Irish whip by Reed and another axhandle on the back. Irish whip to the opposite corner and Reed got a short two. Reed went for a waistlock to keep Roddy grounded. Roddy manipulated some digits to free himself and throw a chop, but he ran into a hard elbow. Delayed suplex by Reed. Uh, very delayed, and it was more of a brainbuster. Roddy bailed but Reed came off the apron with an elbow heading into split-screen commercial.
Back to full screen, Reed hit a suplex to get out of a heat sequence. Both guys sold a bit and then exchanged forearms. Reed’s power won out and he took down Strong. Elbows took down Strong repeatedly. Corner clothesline. Splash for two. Roddy blocked a suplex but got caught in a fireman’s carry. Reed draped Roddy on the ropes, then hit a hard lariat for two. Powerslam and senton by Reed. Reed pulled down the straps on his singlet, fired up, and went high. Roddy charged him and followed. Step-up enzuigiri by Roddy, followed by a second-rope suplex. Roddy covered for two.
Reed bailed and Roddy hit a wrecking ball dropkick. The lights went purple and Roddy looked up the ramp for Velveteen Dream, who wasn’t there. Reed hit a tope and rolled Roddy in. Reed went up for a frog splash, but Roddy recovered and hit a jumping knee on the flying Reed for the win.
WINNER: Roderick Strong at 14:02.
Velveteen Dream appeared on the screen. He was wearing the “CALL ME UP MARINA” pants again. He asked – what if someone took something from you? You lost the North American Championship, but you still have a family. What if something happened to you? “If anything ever happens to you, someone…somewhere…will fulfill all of Marina’s dreams.” The camera went down and showed Dream’s gear, with Dream, Marina and Roddy’s son all together. Roddy charged up the ramp.
-Earlier, Broserweights stood outside in front of their Dusty Classic cup. Riddle wanted to go on a road trip. They had the giant cup standing in the back seat. Pete Dunne was driving, and was on the European side of the road, so hey got pulled over. They had a conversation about how to get to Portland. To be continued…
(Wells’s Analysis: Interesting to see Bronson Reed in such a prime spot, opening the show. The match was okay, and I thought maybe NXT could have its cake and eat it too by having the distraction lead to a Reed win. He’ll have to wait for that, but the Dream-Roddy feud continues to sizzle. As I look at the Riddle-Dunne business on the page, I think it shouldn’t work as well as it does, but they still haven’t crossed the line into being too silly. I suspect we’ll see more of this act as NXT continues to attack the younger demographic)
-Cathy Kelley spoke with Angel Garza about his upcoming match with Lio Rush for top contendership of the Cruiserweight Championship. Angel said he never lost that championship. Rush showed up and said the guy Garza beat isn’t the same guy as a couple of months ago, so whether Garza likes it or not, he’s getting his championship back.
(2) CANDICE LERAE vs. DAKOTA KAI
Kai had new gear that said “Cap Kota” with a jersey over it with Yankee pinstripes. Kai ran into a lungblower immediately, but backed up. Face wash by Kai in the corner. Action spilled outside and LeRae hit two topes. “One more time,” Full Sail asked, and Candice obliged. And there’s a fourth. Candice rolled Kai back in and went up. Missile dropkick for two. Kai suckered LeRae to the ropes and choked her on one. To the corner, Kai leaned on LeRae with a boot. Kai charged into an elbow in the corner. LeRae went up but Kai followed. They were on opposite sides of the turnbuckles at the top until Kai was dumped to the apron, but Kai hit a high kick to drop LeRae. Kai dragged Candice in for a short two count.
On the apron, Kai stomped LeRae. She went for a face wash but LeRae moved and Kai hit the post. Kai yanked Candice into the turnbuckle and Candice spilled to the ground leading to commercial. Candice was bleeding to a decent degree from the nose, seemingly as a result of the last spot.
Back to TV, Candice hit a bulldog from the top rope. The blood had been completely cleaned up. Pumphandle German suplex by Candice. She put on the Gargano Escape and Kai made her way to the ropes. LeRae rolled her back but Kai was able to roll up LeRae for the quick victory.
WINNER: Dakota Kai at 9:31.
Candice LeRae went out after Dakota, but Dakota grabbed the ring bell and beat down Candice with it until Tegan Nox flew in out of nowhere and went after Dakota until a gaggle of officials broke them up. “Let them fight” chant.
(Wells’s Analysis: There was so little time after return from commercial that it seemed like the commercial was only called because of the blood. The match was fine, but Kai doesn’t have any dominant victories since the turn. This was kind of a lucky roll-up, which is occasionally fine for a heel, but right now Kai seems like a badass who can’t win in a badass way)
-This Sunday at a live event, Johnny Gargano and Cameron Grimes had a tiff backstage. They’re up next.
(3) JOHNNY GARGANO vs. CAMERON GRIMES
Gargano was introduced first. He normally “enjoys” a split reaction at Full Sail, but it was very positive.
Wristlock by Gargano. Grimes escaped and hit a waistlock takedown, but Gargano reversed to a headlock. Gargano rolled into a leglock, and Grimes wriggled free. Reset and Grimes hit another waistlock takedown. Reverse and front chancery by Gargano. Grimes tried to roll out but Gargano rolled with him. Armdrag by Johnny. Another. Drop toe-hold and Johnny rolled into the Gargano Escape. Grimes tried to roll free but Gargano held on; Grimes finally got to his feet and hit a knee to the belly to take Gargano down. Armbar by Grimes. Standing switch and Gargano hit a huracanrana and a dropkick. He threw Grimes to the floor and hit a rolling cannonball from the apron.
Still outside, Gargano hit a chop on Grimes against the barricade. He broke the count and threw some more. Gargano attempted a float-over DDT from the apron but Grimes caught him and laid him out leading to commercial.
Grimes was in control upon return. German suplex with a bridge got a long two. Johnny went to the apron and rolled in and rolled up Grimes for two. Tornado DDT by Gargano. Inverted facelock and slam by Gargano. Big lariat by Gargano. Slingshot spear from the apron by Gargano for two.
Grimes caught Gargano with a rollup for two. Reverse and a twisting uranage for two by Grimes. Forearm exchange in the middle of the ring. They collided in the ring and Grimes rolled over for a long two and an “NXT” chant. Grimes mounted Johnny for some rights. Superkick by Gargano. Grimes hit one. Big DDT by Gargano, who set up for the DIY kick but Grimes cut it off. Gargano surprised Grimes off the ropes with Gargano Escape and a quick tap.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 13:23.
(Wells’s Analysis: Easily the match of the show so far, although like the others, it was marred by the obvious booking of having a person booked for TakeOver beat someone who isn’t (which will continue with the Cole-Kushida match, when it happens).)
-Cathy Kelley talked to Adam Cole. Cole said tonight he’d teach Kushida a lesson in the main event. He said he’ll teach another lesson to Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver. He said Ciampa will do a lot to win, but he’ll do anything to hold onto his championship.
-The Broserweights were on one of those duck paddle boats on a lake. Riddle said this is where he goes to think. “Light bulb!” Riddle has an idea. To be concluded…
-Robert Stone made a warning to Kayden Carter. Next week there will be not only a rematch, but a relaunch of the Robert Stone brand. Chelsea Green made a threat as well.
-Next week, Velveteen Dream faces Roderick Strong. This morning on the NXT media call, Triple H said there were matches he wishes he could add to TakeOver; this certainly must be one of them.
(4) LIO RUSH vs. ANGEL GARZA – #1 Contender’s match for Cruiserweight Championship
Lio was introduced first, followed by Garza. Both got mostly-positive reactions.
Garza got serious by throwing his pants before contact. The usual quick exchange opened. Lio went for The Come Up but Garza put on the brakes. Garza hit a basement dropkick to take control early. Chop in the corner. Pop-up kick to the breadbasket by Angel. To the corner, Angel put up Rush in the tree of woe and hit a running kick. Rush rolled down and Garza covered for one. To the apron, Rush tried to push off Angel. Garza wanted a piledriver, but Rush kicked Garza to the floor. Angel caught Rush on the floor and bashed him into the post, then the stairs. Angel set up Lio on a barricade and hit a running knee leading to commercial.
Lio hit a tope upon return. Lio went to the apron and hit a corkscrew senton. Back into the ring and Rush kicked Garza and covered for two. Yes Kicks by Lio. Garza popped up and hit a big knee. Spinning heel kick by Rush. Superkick by Garza. Double-underhook…face slam?…by Garza for two. Mauro asked Nigel about it and Nigel joked “sure, I hit that a few times.”
Both guys went up. Angel wanted The Wing Clipper from the top, but Rush hit a stunner from the top. Garza rolled away and out of the ring. Rush went to the top and hit a frog splash. Back in, Rush wanted Final Hour but Garza put up the knees for two. Garza pulled up Lio into the Wing Clipper, but Lio hit a chancery and rolled through for the pin.
WINNER: Lio Rush at 10:23.
(Wells’s Analysis: Good action shown, with some new reversals that they haven’t done before. I assume this signifies that Angel isn’t long for NXT anymore and may be a more permanent fixture with Zelina Vega, but these things aren’t as obvious as they used to be)
-Jordan Devlin hit the ramp to meet Lio Rush. He said Rush is the next stop on the Jordan Devlin Cruiserweight Championship tour. He’ll show Lio next week that you never bet against an ace.
-Mark Henry hosted a video package promoting Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic, who redefine what a big man is supposed to be. He ran down the accomplishments and attributes of each to promote the North American Championship match at TakeOver. We know from past experience that these two have great matches together, but Henry’s straightforward but strong work to put over the match added some sizzle to a match without a whole lot of heat.
-NXT would like to thank Poppy for providing the song for TakeOver: Portland, where they’ll be performing live. Based on the Poppy/Io Shirai entrance a couple of months ago, that should be something worth seeing.
-The announcers ran down the card for TakeOver: Portland, which has a six-match card – a rarity.
(5) SANTANA GARRETT vs. BIANCA BELAIR
Belair entered first. She’s getting a hotter reaction again, as she has become a priority again and is doing awesome work. Garrett had a new EDM theme but the same gear.
Spear, kind of, by Belair to start. Standing moonsault by Belair. Double chicken wing and Belair slammed Santana on the top turnbuckle. KOD. Thanks for coming, Santana!
WINNER: Bianca Belair at 0:43.
Bianca grabbed the mic to cheers. Is she invisible or something? Hello? “You know what, Rhea? Keep playing with me, because Bianca Belair will walk out as your new…”
Rhea Ripley’s music played to interrupt. Rhea smiled humorlessly as she swaggered to the ring. She held out her hand for a mic and got one. She assured Bianca she isn’t looking past her…she’s looking right at her. And at TakeOver: Portland, she’ll go right through her.
The two went after one another, and Bianca hit a KOD to lay out Rhea. If she does that on Sunday, she’ll win the title!
(Wells’s Analysis: I understand the logic of giving Bianca a quick win here, but Bianca and Rhea have been one of the highlights of the past few weeks, and this left me wanting more. I suppose that’s the idea)
-The Broserweights loaded their cup into a plane, and then Riddle shoved Dunne into the plane quickly and followed. A camera revealed that it was Triple H’s private plane, and they were secretly hitching a ride to Portland. There was some good Broserweight interplay to open the scene that won’t read as well on the page. Right now the Broserweights are a huge highlight, as long as the show doesn’t beat the horse until it’s dead.
-Tommaso Ciampa sat in a theater room, likely one of the film classrooms at Full Sail, watching film of him handing over “Goldie” to Triple H when he got injured. He said there were a lot of what-ifs. What if he gave away his biggest shot? Now we’re full circle, four days away from TakeOver: Portland. Adam Cole and Tommaso Ciampa for the championship he never lost. What if there’s one guy who wants it more than Adam Cole? What if that guy is Tommaso Ciampa (big pop). He’d go into TakeOver: Tampa on Wrestlemania weekend and all eyes would be on him. They say a man is most dangerous when he has nothing to lose. “When you look into my eyes…you will know exactly how true that is.”
(Wells’s Analysis: Very good work from Ciampa. That’s nothing new, but this was a new location to look at, a fiery promo and did more for the upcoming Ciampa-Cole match than any other segment so far. I felt this match was missing something for a while, but this segment went a long way toward fixing that)
(6) KUSHIDA vs. ADAM COLE
Non-title. Champion entered first for whatever reason. Beth ran down Kushida’s MMA accomplishments (he was undefeated). The bell sounded less than ten minutes to the hour.
Dueling wristlocks to start. The audience was all about both guys. Kushida grounded Cole with a front chancery, then let him up. Cole bailed and Kushida hit a dropkick through the ropes and followed. Cole reversed Kushida into the steps and rolled in, then jumped down but Kushida trapped Cole in an armbar on the outside as he floated in.
Back into the ring, Kushida hit an overhead chop from the top. Kushida worked the left arm with a wringer and a kick. Another wringer. Another kick. Kushida took Cole to the outside and went for a basement dropkick. Cole swerved out of the way and took control heading into split-screen commercial.
Action returned to full screen after a very short break. Kushida was getting back into it and put Cole out on the apron. To the corner, Cole went up but Kushida hit a handspring kick to Cole, then followed him up. Cole fought off Kushida, but Kushida hopped to the top and hit a quick DDT and seamlessly transitioned into a submission. Cole frantically reached for the rope and got it. Great sequence there. Kushida went for Sliced Bread into the Hoverboard Lock, but Cole rolled through and hit a shining wizard for two.
Kushida and Cole exchanged punches in the middle of the ring. Kushida had 80%+ of the “yay” from the crowd, which is rare for an Undisputed Era opponent. Cole hit Ushigoroshi – higher and more impressive than usual – for two. Mauro mentioned that he picked up the move in Japan during his time with “The Club.” Cole hit a superkick for a long two.
Cole went up for Panama Sunrise, but Kushida blocked and held on for the Hoverboard Lock. Kushida rolled Cole further into the center of the ring, but Cole was able to roll over Kushida to break. Sunset flip/matchbook cover reversals got two.
Pele kick by Kushida. Kawada kicks by Kushida. Cole cut off a charging Kushida with a superkick for two. Last Shot by Cole finished.
WINNER: Adam Cole at 12:52.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very good action in this one, though the crowd seemed to cool down throughout the night tonight. I know it’s easy to say someone should be higher up the card with so much talent on the roster, but seriously, Kushida should be higher up this card, and soon)
-Tommaso Ciampa’s music played to bring him slowly to the ring. Adam Cole held his championship belt and stood his ground in the ring. Ciampa’s music stopped. “Psycho Killer” chant. They met in the middle of the ring, face to face, and exchanged not-so-pleasantries as the show went out.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was the very definition of a go-home show; there were some good matches here, but there was very little surprise on the road to where we’re headed. Wrestlers booked in TakeOver beat wrestlers who aren’t, and it seems like there might be some room for the occasional surprise upset – whether through shenanigans or clean – to add intrigue to upcoming feuds and future feuds. One of the arguments you’ll see pop up regularly for why AEW continues to win by a similar margin every week is that NXT seems eminently skippable, kind of the opposite of “anything can happen” TV. It’s almost always a good show, but surprise is hard to come by.
With that out of the way, it was nice to finally see some more of Kushida, Cameron Grimes and Bronson Reed, even if their heads are up against a glass ceiling for a few more minutes. TakeOver: Portland looks stacked, as TakeOver always does, and we’ll see you on Sunday for that. Tonight, guest Kevin Cattani joins Nate Lindberg and me for PWT Talks NXT, and Tom Stoup will rejoin the usual gang of idiots on Sunday night. Follow me all over social media @spookymilk. Cheers!