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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
MARCH 11, 2020
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Beth Phoenix
-Recap of last week’s show, opening with Johnny Gargano’s testy interview with Mauro Ranallo and closing with Velveteen Dream sitting tall on the cage.
-Mauro teed up the show. The PC is a smaller venue, but looks fine on TV, and novel as well (which is something NXT could use on occasion).
(1) KEITH LEE (c) vs. CAMERON GRIMES – North American Championship match
Alicia Taylor handled formal introductions. Good heat for Grimes, who mocked Keith Lee’s conducting of the crowd. “Go bask in his glory” chant for Lee.
Grimes danced around as Lee stood firm. The crowd booed. Grimes charged but got tossed away, landing on his feet. Grimes went for an ankle but but Lee lifted him up and tossed him again. Grimes sat in a corner and thought it over, then danced around again. Waistlock by Grimes. German suplex was obviously blocked. A few reversals later, Lee hit a hard headbutt on Grimes to put him on the mat. Grimes threw a forearm but Lee casually tossed Grimes from the ring between the top two ropes and followed. He tossed Grimes back in but got pushed back out. PK by Grimes. Rolling thunder from the apron, but Lee caught Grimes. Lee wanted a powerbomb on the floor, but Grimes grabbed the rope and stomped on Lee’s face. Tope attempt and Lee caught Grimes. Grimes shook his head. Lee nodded. Lee put up Grimes on the apron and swept out his feet.
Lee put Grimes’s head into a corner. It’s where Grimes’s hat sat, and it fell to the floor to a big reaction. Lee took Grimes up the turnbuckle, but Grimes fought him off, threw him to the floor and hit a flying knee heading into split-screen commercial.
Back after the break, Lee had Grimes in a fireman’s carry. Grimes elbowed his way out and again went for a German suplex, which was again blocked. Rope run ended with Lee hitting a cross-body. Another few reversals led to a big forearm by Grimes. Grimes ducked and dodged a few shots, threw two superkicks and finally hit a German on Lee with a bridge for two. “NXT” chant. Lee caught Grimes in a moonsault but Grimes changed momentum and hit a DDT for two. Grimes wriggled out of the Spirit Bomb, but Lee hit a Pounce and then Big Bang Catastrophe to finish.
WINNER: Keith Lee at 11:56.
(Wells’s Analysis: Excellent psychology and action throughout. I think Grimes continues to gain something even in defeat, and likely isn’t done in the North American Championship picture for long.)
-As Lee celebrated, Damian Priest took out Lee from behind with a nightstick. Dominik Dijakovic hit the ring in street clothes to run off Priest. Dijakovic picked up Lee’s belt and had a long look at it afterward. Lee, who thought Dijakovic was the attacker, hit Dijakovic with a Spirit Bomb as he tried to give Lee back the belt. Seems like the triple threat is in play after all.
-Mauro welcomed back Beth Phoenix and the gang talked about who would fulfill the other five spots in the women’s ladder match at TakeOver (yes, the graphic confirmed that there will be five more). Tonight, Dakota Kai faces off with Mia Yim for a spot in the match.
(2) MIA YIM vs. DAKOTA KAI (w/Raquel Gonzalez) – Qualifier for #1 Contender ladder match
Decent pop for Mia. Great heat for Kai and Gonzalez.
Kai missed a dropkick. Oklahoma rolly by Yim for two. Kai blocked an Okana roll and slapped Yim, who returned with chops and forearms. Beal by Yim. Big knees and a chop from Yim. Rope run and Yim tripped Kai, then hit a basement dropkick for two. Ground and pound by Yim, who pushed Kai to the mat for two.
Yim hit a high boot in hte corner. Irish whip to the opposite corner, where Yim snuck out and took out Kai with a kick. With Kai hanging up the referee, Gonzalez tripped Yim onto the apron and slammed her to the floor to boos going into commercial.
Back to action, Kai put Yim in a corner and went for the face wash, but Yim slipped away. Yim hit a lariat and a big boot, then a running neckbreaker. Dropkick to the corner and a cannonball by Yim. Matchbook cover with a leg hook for two. A graphic promoted Johnny Gargano appearing live tonight.
Kai screamed her intentions to go to TakeOver to Yim, then hit a back cracker for two. Kai sold big frustration. Kai hit repeated kicks to Yim’s head, but got rolled up for two. Face wash, missed again, and Yim wanted a powerbomb. Kai held on for a moment but Yim hit it for two, broken up when Raquel Gonzalez yanked Yim’s leg away. Kai rolled up Yim and tried to get the ref’s attention, but couldn’t. Kai let Yim free and Yim hit Code Blue to finish.
WINNER: Mia Yim at 9:41.
Immediately following the match, Raquel Gonzalez hit the ring and chokeslammed Yim and beat her down, then helped Dakota Kai to the back.
(Wells’s Analysis: This match made sense from a storyline standpoint, although both seem like they should be in the ladder match. Kai losing here after her recent run seems like it cools her off, especially when Yim’s been somewhat cold herself. I still wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Kai get into the match somehow, and barring that, Gonzalez will and Kai could help her win at TakeOver)
-Tommaso Ciampa stormed to the building as a reporter tried in vain to get his thoughts on Johnny Gargano being in the building tonight.
-The apocalyptic hype video from the last couple of weeks played. There was a subliminal message that may have said “in one week” but I couldn’t pinpoint it in a couple of tries.
(3) KUSHIDA vs. RAUL MENDOZA
Kushida was introduced first and Nigel said “his opponent has a huge opportunity ahead of him,” and I knew immediately it was Mendoza. Very strong reaction for Kushida.
Forearm exchange to start. Headscissor takeover by Mendoza but Kushida rolled to his feet. Dropkick by Mendoza. Mendoza walked the ropes Old School but ran into a dropkick by Kushida. Tope con giro by Kushida after Mendoza bailed. Back in, snap mare and a quebrada by Mendoza and a cover for one.
Mendoza took hold of a headlock, then wanted a suplex but Kushida hit his feet. Chops by Kushida. Back elbow, superkick, hiptoss, cartwheel, basement dropkick by Kushida. Kushida went up but Mendoza hit a step-up enzuigiri. Forearm by Mendoza, who followed Kushida up the turnbuckle. Mendoza wanted maybe a Death Valley Driver, but Kushida fought it off, and hit a sort of Spanish Fly right into the Hoverboard Lock for a near-immediate tap.
WINNER: Kushida at 3:58.
(Wells’s Analysis: Fantastic action here leading to the expected ending. Once again, Kushida is getting built up, but for what? The crowd chanted his name again after the win)
-Beth Phoenix promotes Rhea Ripley live, next.
-NXT TakeOver: Tampa spot. Will anyone be in the audience, as large gatherings are being tweaked or cancelled all over the country?
-Earlier today, an announcer caught up with Tyler Breeze, who was putting over the Performance Center when Austin Theory walked in and said the Performance Center is great, but not every superstar…pans out. Unperturbed, Breeze calmly raised his phone and took a picture of Theory. “Did you just take a picture of me?” “Yeah…looks pretty good, for a flash in the pan.”
-Rhea Ripley hit the ring. She said Charlotte Flair isn’t going to intimidate her ahead of WrestleMania. She says yeah, she feels the pressure, but she’s going to knock the queen on her royal ass. Flair’s music played to bring her in street clothes to the ramp holding her own mic. “You don’t go here” chant. “You guys, I made here,” she said. She told Rhea to shut up and sit down. “Go back to Raw” chant. Charlotte said this is WrestleMania. It’s too much, too fast and too soon. It’s going to be too much for Rhea to handle.
Charlotte made her way to the ring, still talking. She said she’d take Rhea to deep waters and drown the fastest rising star in the WWE, and she wasn’t going to do a daaaaamn –
Rhea charged and the two brawled. Flair hit a big boot to take Rhea down, mostly to boos. Figure Eight was blocked, but Flair baited Rhea near the corner and wrapped her leg around the post a few times. Figure four around the post. Flair finally released Rhea and stood above her and soaked in the boos and another “You don’t go here” chant.
-Mauro teed up a Walter video. He was shown destroying pretty much everyone as Finn Balor did a voice over. He put over Walter, then held up a passport, suggesting the match will be at TakeOver: Dublin as most have guessed.
-Moments ago, Mia Yim said at TakeOver Tampa, she would be in her own element. Right next to her, a van drove by her quickly and two guys with suits and conquistador masks ran out and grabbed the nearby Raul Mendoza, kidnapped him, threw him in the van and drove away. Uh, wow.
(4) TEGAN NOX vs. DEONNA PURRAZZO – Qualifier for #1 Contender ladder match
Collar and elbow. Deonna wrenched ther arm a few times and Tegan used forearms to escape. Deonna whipped Tegan to the mat with her arm, then went to the corner. Nox escaped but Deonna hit a suplex for two. Deonna worked the injured arm of Nox, attacking the kinesiotape area with a boot in the corner. Chops. Irish whip, reversed, uppercut by Nox. She wanted a cannonball, blocked. Bicycle kick by Purrazzo for two. Fujiwara armbar from Purrazzo, but Nox rolled over into a crucifix to break it up. Shiniest Wizard kinda hits, and that’s that.
WINNER: Tegan Nox at 2:26.
A graphic showed Chelsea Green, Mia Yim, Tegan Nox and three question marks for the TakeOver ladder match.
(Wells’s Analysis: Deonna is so good, but she’s still waiting. I figured Dakota Kai or Raquel Gonzalez to get involved, but it was a straightforward squash and it would seem the coming Nox-Gonzalez feud will start to burn at TakeOver)
-Undisputed Era’s music brought all four out to the ring. Before they could speak, Velveteen Dream’s music played and he stood out on the platform. He ran down Roderick Strong for being dumber than he looks. He stares down at Adam Cole and says he’s the next NXT Champion. Cole wants Roddy to settle it with Dream right now, but Dream snapped his fingers and Broserweights’ music played to bring them to the ring, still just half past the hour, for the assumed main event.
(5) BROSERWEIGHTS (Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne) (c) vs. UNDISPUTED ERA (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Pete and Kyle to start. Wristlock by Kyle, reversed. Standoff led to both men tagging. “Riddle’s gonna smoke you” chant. Triangle takedown by Riddle, and both guys reversed until Riddle tossed Fish to the mat. Reset. Fish hit a kick but Riddle hit a gut-wrench suplex. Kyle looked to interfere, but Pete cut him off and the two hit stereo gut-wrench suplexes. The show went to commercial, with no split-screen, so it’s either a long match or there are some extracurricular activities afterward.
Back to TV, Riddle covered O’Reilly for two. Bro kicks. Kyle made it to his feet but Riddle kicked him to the floor. UE double-teamed and Riddle was knocked to the mat. Fish tagged and went after Riddle on the outside, then rolled him into the ring. Knees and forearms by Fish. Kyle tagged back in and hit some kicks and body shots. He grounded Riddle and threw a few knees. Ground and pound, cover for two. Tag to Fish. Fish threw a shot and taunted Pete, who teased running in. Riddle got back in it with a few palm strikes but Fish returned with forearms and cut off Riddle from the tag. Snap mare and a senton atomico by Fish for two.
Fish dragged Riddle to the UE corner and tagged. Tandem snap suplex and O’Reilly covered for two. O’Reilly threw a knee to Riddle’s back, cut off the tag again, and tagged Fish. Riddle once again got into it with forearms, but Fish gave as good as he took. Pele kick by Riddle, heel tag, but O’Reilly couldn’t stop the hot tag. Dunne destroyed both UE guys with slams and knees. Juji gatame by Dunne, escaped. Things broke down with UE attempting to quadruple-team, and Pete played dead and the Broserweights convinced the ref to toss Cole and Strong. The Bros smiled and shrugged as the match went to split-screen commercial.
Back once again, O’Reilly took down Dunne with a swath of kicks and strikes. Nigel harped on the underhanded tactics of the Broserweights getting Cole and Strong sent off. O’Reilly cut off a tag for a moment, but Riddle made it to the ring and got his own chance to destroy both guys. Exploders and running forearms. Bro-tons for both. PK for Fish. Fisherman Buster on O’Reilly for two. Tag to Dunne, but O’Reilly threw him into Riddle. Both faces flipped through suplexes and took down UE. Dunne held Kyle’s arms and stomped on him. O’Reilly hit knees and Dunne hit forearms, and O’Reilly hit a huge lariat with a weird landing by Dunne and both sold, then tagged.
Riddle wanted Bro to Sleep, blocked. Snap mare and a ripcord knee by Riddle. O’Reilly stopped a German by holding Fish, then tagged and dropped a top rope knee on Riddle for two, broken up by Dunne. UE hit the collapse on Riddle for a long two. Riddle fought off both guys and was able to hit spears on both at once. The Grizzled Young Veterans came out to the ring, and started getting involved. Zack Gibson struck Riddle, who got rolled up for two. Riddle hit Final Flash on O’Reilly. Riddle backdropped Fish into GYV, tagged, and the Bros hit their tandem finisher on O’Reilly to win.
WINNERS: The Broserweights at 20:01.
(Wells’s Analysis: both teams should have some issue with Grizzled Young Veterans, so don’t be surprised if this is another triple threat at TakeOver. It was the fun action you’d expect, though the crowd was a little gassed)
-Next week, Candice LeRae faces Mercedes Martinez in a qualifying match for the ladder match. With Candice off TV as she has been, I assume Mercedes advances, but maybe it’ll be step one in figuring out what to do with LeRae when her acknowledged husband is such a despicable heel.
-Tommaso Ciampa went to the ring and the show went to commercial, hyping whatever he was going to do upon return.
-Ciampa said Johnny Gargano promised this week he’d say why. He said time was almost up. Gargano showed up on the tron, sitting in a conference room in the PC. He said he didn’t forget what Tommaso Ciampa had done to him, to the fans…Ciampa is the worst person in NXT history. Did he miss an apology? Why is this man redeemed?
While Gargano was talking, Ciampa was heading to the room where Gargano spoke. The two started fighting all over the PC. Ciampa hit Johnny with a framed WrestleMania poster. The two fought to the medical bay, where Ciampa started beating down Gargano and clearing out “security.” Now to the gym area, so if you ever wanted a step-by-step tour, you’re getting one here. More chaos and destruction. Gargano put Ciampa through a plate-glass window on a door. A few words were bleeped, but a couple of instances of “shit” by Ciampa snuck through. Referees Darryl Sharma and Drake Wuertz continued to try to break it up as Gargano beat down Ciampa with weights. Gargano went for a big weight and tried to brain Ciampa with it, but Ciampa blocked, grabbed it, and took it to Johnny’s stomach. Ciampa threw a weight at Gargano, who ducked, and the weight broke a huge mirror on the back wall. The battle went past some lockers and back to the ring.
Right inside the barricade, the two exchanged strikes and Mauro said after all this, we still don’t know “why.” What?! Gargano laid it out pretty bare. They did the barricade spot and destroyed a bunch more “security” guys. Ciampa dragged Johnny to the announce table, but Johnny fought him off and headed up to the perch. Ciampa followed and the two exchanged shots. Ciampa tried to throw Johnny over. Johnny removed part of the barricade. He picked up Ciampa in a fireman’s carry but Ciampa fought out, while removing another segment of the barricade. Gargano Escape. Drake went up to the perch and pleaded with Johnny to stop, but Johnny laid him out with a punch. Johnny hit a superkick on Ciampa, now draped over the edge of the perch. Johnny said he wanted everyone to watch and see this moment. He got in Ciampa’s face, but Ciampa recovered and hit Air Raid Crash off the perch and through the announce table. “Holy shit” chant. Both guys laid in the carnage and sold the brawl. The show faded out.
(Wells’s Analysis: Been a while since the show didn’t end on a match. Given that this was the very rare trip inside the Performance Center, the show did a great job of using the new environment to show us a brawl with a lot of new areas. Mauro’s comment about not knowing why Johnny did what he did is baffling. This story is very straightforward: Ciampa was total garbage for a long time, and he never really apologized and was accepted as a hero while Johnny never really got his revenge. I’m hoping the show isn’t continuing to play dumb next week)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It seems Keith Lee will meet Damian Priest and Dominik Dijakovic in another triple threat match, though at this point I’d prefer the fresher-sounding singles match with Priest, or an extended feud with Cameron Grimes, especially after the fire of the opener tonight. The women’s ladder match continued to take shape and head in unexpected places. TakeOver: Tampa is looking pretty hot just as large crowds are starting to be problematic and events are cancelled or postponed around the country.
I like the idea of the PC as an occasional venue for NXT on a night when something else is booked at Full Sail; a different view – even in such a small space – added a lot to the feel of the show.
Let’s also not forget that the Conquistadors kidnapped Raul Mendoza. I’ll probably think about it all week.
Follow me all over social media @spookymilk, and be sure to call in to PWT Talks NXT tonight if you want to talk with us on the show, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.