In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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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
-The show opened with highlights from NXT TakeOver: Portland. We get a good rundown of Velveteen Dream’s heelish actions, which got much uglier on twitter (which wasn’t shown…yet). Dream-Roddy was promoted as the main event, as was likely.
-Undisputed Era’s music played, bringing out the entire squad. Mauro called out that Adam Cole was the last one holding gold. Cole grabbed the mic. “I told you! Obsession will never defeat destiny.” He said everyone else would also learn the hard way that he’s the greatest NXT Champion there’s ever been. He said UE would continue to set an example, starting with tonight as Roderick Strong faces Velveteen Dream.
Dream’s music played. Dream’s voice played over the system and he said tonight, leave your boys at home, so what happens in the match is just for us. Roddy made one last threat and that was it. The announcers went to highlights from TakeOver that laid out Johnny Gargano’s heel turn on Tommaso Ciampa.
(1) LIO RUSH vs. JORDAN DEVLIN (c) – Cruiserweight Championship match
The challenger entered first to a good reaction. Devlin had some decent heat. Formal introductions in low light commenced.
Nigel pointed out that Devlin was pleased that NXT: UK’s next TakeOver would be in his home town of Dublin. Rope running to start. Devlin bailed after just avoiding a thrustkick. The match went to an early split-screen break.
Back to full screen, Devlin hit a moonsault and both guys were gassed. Devlin hit double knees and then a kick. He sat out on Lio’s back and dragged him up into a corner to throw some shots. Lio fired up and threw a couple of his own, but Devlin countered with a uranage. Rush got his knees up on a standing moonsault, but Devlin hit a release German and got a two count. It was announced that tonight, The Broserweights will face Burch and Lorcan – that should be good.
Devlin got a one count after a hard knee. Devlin hit a suplex and floated over for two, then put Rush in a camel clutch, sitting deep. He broke the hold to throw a couple shots. Devlin leaned on Rush on the second rope and threw some more shots. Chop in the corner. European uppercut by Devlin, who smiled as he held Lio with one hand and threw knees with the other. Rush went for the Come Up, but Devlin caught him and hit a backbreaker for two.
Lio threw chops to try to get back into it while evading chops from Devlin, but Devlin dropped Lio’s chin on his skull to cut it off heading to another commercial. It was rare to have an entire segment with the heel in control, when those heat segments are commonly saved for the commercial.
Back from commercial, the two competitors collided in the center of the ring, both going for a cross-body. Lio blocked a double stomp and dumped Devlin, then hit him with a tope. Rush hit a cross-body from the top for two. Devlin charged the corner and Lio threw him to the apron, but Devlin threw himself over to hit a cover. PK on the outside by Devlin. Devlin missed a moonsault and Rush hit one. Back in, spinning heel kick by Rush, then one by Rush. Rush rolled up Devlin in a matchbook cover for two. Devlin hit a standing Spanish Fly but Lio rolled into a Koji Clutch. Devlin got his foot on the bottom rope to break.
Lio went up for Final Hour, but Devlin crotched Rush on the turnbuckle and went up as well. He wanted Spanish Fly, but Lio fought him off and hit a poison rana from the top. Lio hit the Come Up for two, and Devlin got a leg on the rope. Lio missed Final Four, and Devlin hit a headbutt, then finished with DevlinSide.
WINNER: Jordan Devlin at 18:32.
(Wells’s Analysis: Good action shown, though the pace was pretty slow in the first long TV segment as Devlin controlled. There probably wasn’t a lot of doubt about who would win here, but the two had a strong match that should continue to build Devlin’s name here.)
Backstage, the new Cathy Kelley – who was male and didn’t have a name – was with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Raquel said Dakota is somehow the outcast after WarGames? Not anymore. Dakota said Raquel had her back, so now she’s got hers. William Regal butted in and said that in two weeks, Raquel wouldn’t be able to help Dakota as she faces Tegan Nox in a cage match.
(Wells’s Analysis: They’re getting a lot of mileage from the Kai-Nox feud in a small number of weeks, which fits the feud. I assume Gonzalez still helps Kai win somehow, since the act is just getting off the ground)
-Cathy Kelley is on the show after all, in a previously-filmed bit with Rhea Ripley after TakeOver: Portland. She was salty about Charlotte Flair’s interference, leading to Beth promoting the NXT Championship match at WrestleMania between the two.
-Austin Theory was introduced for a match, but Tommaso Ciampa strode to the ring and grabbed the mic. Austin Theory tried to stop him, and he said “Listen man…not tonight. I’m telling you…not tonight.” He said he should have seen it all coming. He said he was so focused on getting Goldie back that he stopped paying attention to his surroundings and stopped listening to his instinctual voice inside. “Johnny sucks” chant.
Tommaso said he wasn’t asking why. He knows why. Johnny knows why. And if one thing is clear –
Austin Theory went for a sucker punch, but Ciampa caught it and brained him with the mic, then continued. He said to get his life back, there could be no Johnny Gargano in NXT. Ciampa went to the ramp, and Theory tried to blindside him again. Again, Ciampa caught it, and battered Theory around ringside and tossed him into the left and right barricades over and over. Beth begged Theory to stay down. Ciampa headed through the curtains as Mauro said Ciampa has eyes only for Johnny Gargano.
-Somewhere backstage, Robert Stone was directing a cameraman as he took promotional photos of Chelsea Green.
-Finn Balor vignette. He said NXT is his chessboard, and he proved it again in Portland. Next week, watch his next move.
(2) RAUL MENDOZA & JOAQUIN WILDE vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zack Gibson & James Drake)
Mendoza and Wilde faced each other this last Friday on 205 Live and will do so again this week, Mauro called out. GYV were a nice surprise here; after they were left out of the championship picture despite their victory over Undisputed Era, I was convinced they weren’t sticking around.
Gibson and Wilde started. Wristlock by Gibson. Wilde escaped and hit a dropkick. Standing switches and reversals until Gibson hit a knee. Drake tagged in and hit a shoulderblock. Rope run ended with Wilde hitting a rana. Rolling crucifix by Wilde got two. Blind tag by Gibson, and he cut off Wilde with a clothesline. Forearms by Gibson. Another heel tag, and Drake hit a hard left to Wilde. Pendulum backbreaker, and Wilde bailed, but Gibson got involved and they hit a tandem knee drop on Wilde. Zack tagged in, laid out Gibson with a slam, and tagged Drake. He slammed Drake onto Wilde for two. Wilde fought out of the GYC corner with a moonsault on Drake and both guys tagged. Mendoza hit clotheslines on each guy. Spinning back kick and an enzuigiri by Mendoza. Gibson double-chopped Mendoza’s throat to stop his flurry and tagged Drake. Chops and shots. Blind tag by Drake, Ticket to Mayhem, and that was it.
WINNERS: Grizzled Young Veterans at 4:34.
Gibson said this was the home of the neck-beards and the land of the unrefined Yanks. He reminded the crowd who they were.
(Wells’s Analysis: I genuinely thought GYV would join Broserweights and UE in a triple threat in Portland, but this works just as well, as the announcers stated they have their eye on the Broserweights. Good action, ending as usual with Raul Mendoza doing a job.)
-Nigel again promoted NXT UK TakeOver: Dublin on April 26th.
(3) THE BROSERWEIGHTS (Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle) vs. ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH
Non-title. Champions entered first and wandered through the crowd, slapping some hands and bumping some fists.
The Broserweights hit the ring and did their tandem pose, and Riddle grabbed the mic. “Broserweights” chant. “Bro. Where’s our golf cart?” Dunne said Riddle managed to get it impounded, but the only thing that matters is that the Broserweights are the new NXT tag team champions. “You deserve it” chant. Riddle said “Bro, the celebration continues.” He said Dunne partied too hard, and unfortunately failed the wellness policy and was suspended thirty days. Some laughs for that line. Burch and Lorcan were introduced to a nice reaction.
Burch and Dunne to start; these guys have had some singles matches worth seeking out. Dunne wrung Burch’s arm and Burch escaped. Dunne floated up and tied up Burch and leaned on his head with his boot. He threw down Burch’s knee on the mat and Burch kicked his way out and up. Reset, and Burch swept Dunne’s legs but Dunne hit an armbar. Escape, crossface, Dunne rolled up Burch for two and another reset. The crowd cheered the work and both guys tagged.
Lorcan went for Riddle’s legs, but Riddle caught him with a gut-wrench suplex. Burch charged in and the Broserweights hit tandem gut-wrenches. The match went to commercial.
Back from commercial, Lorcan had a single-leg crab on Riddle. added a headlock, and Riddle powered up and hit Bro to Sleep. Burch tagged and tried to cut off the hot tag, but Riddle kicked Burch away and tagged. Dunne hit a roundhouse kick and worked the digits. Dunne tagged Riddle and the Bros hit tandem kicks. Tandem slam and Oney broke it up at two. Chyron on the screen said “Keith Lee up next.” He’s a big enough deal that they don’t even have to mention what he’s doing now.
Lariat by Burch and he covered Riddle for two. He had a crossface on Riddle, but Dunne fought off Lorcan and then broke Burch’s crossface with a kick. Burch threw Euro uppercuts on Riddle. Step-up knee by Riddle. The two exchanged shots until Riddle hit a powerbomb. Big right by Burch, who fell into a tag. Burch also tagged. Running European uppercut by Oney. Blockbuster and Lorcan fired up. He wanted to snap mare Dunne from the corner, but Dunne snapped the fingers. Tandem spot with Dunne slamming Lorcan into a flash knee by Riddle finished.
WINNERS: The Broserweights at 11:03.
Nigel called out that the Broserweights remain undefeated. The champs went through the audience and celebrated again.
-Backstage, Roderick Strong stressed to the rest of UE that he had to do this for himself.
-The Forgotten Sons got all flag-wavey to cut a quick backstage promo on Grizzled Young Veterans. This is the land of the free because of the brave, and it’s time we beat that into you, Jaxson Ryker said.
-Keith Lee’s music played and he walked down the ramp, proudly displaying his North American Championship. His appearance on last night’s WWE Backstage was shown. On that appearance, he talked about how overwhelming it was to share the ring in big moments with those he’s admired and studied.
“Go bask in his glory” chant. As Lee was about to speak, Kona Reeves’s music played. Lee smiled out at him, amused. Reeves grabbed a mic but Lee laid him out with one punch. “You can ring the bell,” he said.
(4) KEITH LEE vs. KONA REEVES
Non-title. Reeves ran right into a knee. Big Bang Catastrophe.
WINNER: Keith Lee at 0:13.
(Wells’s Analysis: Always nice to see Kona!)
-Dominik Dijakovic showed up with a mic. “Keith, I’m sorry. I’m not ready to move on yet. You and I both know I had you beat at TakeOver. He said he only lost because he couldn’t hit Spanish Fly from the top, or Feast Your Eyes, because of his lower back. Keith Lee said Dijakovic had plenty of excuses, but he hears the same thing every time they step in the ring –
The audience knew where it was going and said “Fight forever.” Lee said the audience was with it, and so was he, so if he can talk William Regal into it – the two can fight forever.
(5) KAYDEN CARTER vs. CHELSEA GREEN (w/Robert Stone)
Carter was introduced first. Robert Stone cut off the music and asked for the audience’s attention. He said that representing the Robert Stone brand was the face of the women’s division, Chelsea Green. Chelsea hit the ramp and did her “shhh” bit. Nigel laid on her importance thick, which is pretty funny considering she hasn’t won on TV.
Kick by Green. She went for a slam but Carter rolled her up for two. Green grabbed the hair but Carter fought her off with some shots and a lariat. Carter fired up and ripped off her overshirt. Back kick to the jaw got two. Carter slipped on an attempt of – Sliced Bread? – and Green improvised by draping Carter over the second rope. Green hit a camel clutch, released, and slammed Carter for two.
In a corner, Green stepped on Carter’s hair and –
Bianca Belair hit the ring to a huge ovation. She waved off Chelsea and said “I’m gonna let y’all finish.” She said if Charlotte wants to put hands on her, she’s going to get hands back, and when she gets a chance she’s gonna whup…that…ass.
Bianca left, and Green rolled up Carter for two. Backslide for two. La Magistral Cradle for two. Carter went outside, Stone got involved and Carter got hit with the Unprettier.
WINNER: Chelsea Green at 4:38.
(Wells’s Analysis: I was getting worried we wouldn’t get any follow-up from Belair, but she’s going to at least tangle with Charlotte before Charlotte and Rhea get to their WrestleMania feud. The big question is whether Bianca is destined to get herself into the WrestleMania match as well. I doubt it’s the plan, but I don’t think it’s beyond her talent level to change that. The match here had some sloppy moments, and I don’t think Chelsea’s push-up top did any favors to her mobility. So Green finally got a win, but it was largely undercut by Belair’s appearance. Not sure what the Robert Stone brand does next, but I’m guessing Green gets a couple of wins over low-carders who aren’t ready for a spotlight)
-Next week, Tommaso Ciampa faces Austin Theory. Finn Balor’s next move will be revealed. In two weeks, Kai-Nox in a cage.
(6) VELVETEEN DREAM vs. RODERICK STRONG
Dream entered first in new powder-blue gear with the third-eye sunglasses on them in repeating white silhouette, probably meant to evoke thoughts of Prince’s powder blue suit with clouds on it. Strong entered, full of piss and vinegar. Dream taunted Strong, who wanted to hit his pose but watched Dream closely.
Mauro mentioned it was Dream’s first match on TV in five months. Roddy grabbed a leg and Dream escaped by throwing a punch that Roddy barely ducked. Roddy bailed. Dream took off his weight belt and swung it at Roddy, who dropped off the apron to safety. Referee Darryl Sharma took the belt and action got started again. Neither guy could take control. Dream bailed again and Roddy chased him outside the ring. Back in the ring, Dream hit a dropkick. He slapped a grounded Roddy hard and threw chops in the corner, then another. He wanted a suplex but Roddy reached back to the ropes to break. Roddy gave Dream a thumb to the eye and then followed up with chops and boots.
Pendulum backbreaker by Roddy. Sharma went out to check on Dream as Mauro said it was a back injury that took him out. Lariat by Dream. They exchanged shots until Dream put Roddy into the steps, leading to split-screen commercial.
Roddy had Dream in a headlock upon return to full-screen. Dream got to his feet and threw elbows, and back body-dropped Strong. The two exchanged blows. Dream had Strong up in a fireman’s carry, but Strong escaped and the two went at each other and bonked heads, seemingly hard, in the corner. They got up and threw rights. Dream took control with a few shots and a lariat. The crowd, it should be noted, is pretty out of this right now.
Pendulum backbreaker by Dream. Ugly spot as Roddy wanted a back bodydrop and Dream tried to float over, but there was some miscommunication on the spot. Dream went up top and hit an axhandle. Rope run and Dream hit a knee in another kind of awkward-looking spot. Roddy tossed Dream up to an exposed post beyond a turnbuckle, then followed. Strong hit Dream with a backbreaker on the top turnbuckle, then covered for two.
Strong wanted a suplex, and Dream blocked one, and another. Strong hit a powerbomb with a matchbook cover for two. Strong put on the Stronghold and sat back. Dream fought toward the bottom rope and made it. Roddy held on for three seconds before breaking. Dream blocked a – sharpshooter? – and sent Strong out of the ring to catch a breather. Strong got to the apron and rolled over with a sunset flip, but Dream popped up with hit a shot and a kick on Roddy. The two exchanged punches on the mat. They got up and Roddy hit a boot, then a few more shots, but Dream timed a superkick perfectly on a leaping Strong. Dream Valley Driver. Dream removed the blue suit to show Marina on both the front and back of his gear. He went up for a splash but UE was at ringside – he laid them all out with a splash. Strong tried to use the distraction, but Dream hit Dream Valley Driver again.
WINNER: Velveteen Dream at 15:37.
After the match, Undisputed Era laid out Dream, and Mauro said Dream won, but UE got the last word.
(Wells’s Analysis: Normally one would complain about no faces helping another face, but given that Dream acted the heel in this feud, it makes sense to have nobody save him. He kind of is an island to himself, as he’s a fan favorite, but his actions honestly make UE look sympathetic. The match seemed to display either rustiness on Dream’s part or a few badly communicated spots, and it never really came together. Dream’s feud with the UE looks like it’s going to continue, so he’ll have plenty of time to work with some top-flight talent to get back to where he was)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Dream’s reactions didn’t seem all that loud beyond his entrance, and it’s hard to say whether that’s because the match didn’t kick into a high gear or because Dream hasn’t acted like someone worth cheering, although it’s clear they’re going for mind games and not Dream being a legitimate homewrecker. Much like last week, and much like the NXT brand on TV in general, the matches delivered with very little surprise in who was going over. Thankfully, the show had surprise in other ways, with Tommaso Ciampa, Kona Reeves and Bianca Belair all interrupting matches or segments to make points, effectively or not. Finn Balor’s next move should be interesting, as he’s more or less at a #1 contender’s level, and we also got no Johnny Gargano this week, so I’d expect an appearance from him as well. Bianca Belair’s feud with Charlotte should carry NXT TV for the next month or more.