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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
APRIL 1, 2020
TAPED IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Sam Roberts
Tonight after NXT, join me live with cohosts Nate Lindberg and Tom Stoup to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.
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-Recaps of last week lay out the final build to tonight’s main event triple threat for the North American Championship.
(1) VELVETEEN DREAM vs. BOBBY FISH
Tom Phillips announced that his broadcast partner tonight will be Sam Roberts. I wonder how long before he gets totally insufferable. Phillips recapped the Dream-UE feud to this point, which is likely to set up a main event of Dream vs. Cole next week.
Waistlock by Fish, escaped and reversed. Reset as both guys get silly and jaw at one another. Fish hits a stiff kick to the leg. Dream wrenches an arm but Fish throws a forearm. Rope run and an ax-handle by Dream. Knee drop by Dream. Fish recovered and hit a headlock, then released to throw a few kicks to take down Dream. Dream charged into a boot, then bailed to avoid another. Fish gave chase and Dream thew a right, then came off the top inside for an ax-handle. Back elbow by Dream, followed by shots in the corner. Superkick by Dream, who went up. Dream blew a kiss to the nonexistent crowd. Fish bailed and Dream hit an ax-handle to the outside. Fish drew Dream to the outside and drove him into the barricade leading to commercial.
Back from commercial, Dream was getting dumped by Fish, but he snuck in and tossed Fish, then followed out. Fish took Dream down on the apron, working the left leg. Dragon screw did more damage. To the corner, Fish drove a knee down on Dream. Back elbow by Fish to keep Dream grounded. Fish continued working the leg and struck the ribs with a fist and a knee. Fish wrenched the left leg and Dream was selling anguish. Fish rolled in off the apron with a senton for two, heading to another commercial after less than three minutes.
Back again and Fish was wrenching the left leg of a screaming Dream. Sleeper by Fish, and dream recovered and wanted a Dream Valley Driver, but Fish used the rope to block and jumped up into another sleeper. Dream tossed Fish overhead, then hit the Dream Valley Driver for the win.
WINNER: Velveteen Dream at 15:49, counting commercials. Likely shorter but edited to this.
(Wells’s Analysis: Weird pacing by the editing. Why take a second commercial break, and come back and finish after one minute? The match was a fine old school heat match, with the vast majority of the action being Fish working the leg. Nothing memorable, but it was the rare UE match that felt fresh)
After the match, Dream spoke into the camera and warned Adam Cole that if he could tear himself away from his video games, he’d be there.
-Malcolm Bivens stood, flanked by his two giants, Rinku and Saurav. both called only by their first names. Bivens said they’re a family – Bivens enterprises. Both men spoke in their native tongues, and Bivens said “Broserweights! We’re waiting.”
(2) JAKE ATLAS vs. DEXTER LUMIS
Last week, there was a Lumis video package, which I somehow missed live. He’s returning with the same creepy, cold gimmick he had during the Breakout Tournament. Atlas had a lively EDM theme. He has a cocky smirk but will no doubt work face tonight.
Lumis stared down at Atlas, who moved in. Lumis sidestepped him and threw fists. Kicks in the corner. Atlas ducked a clothesline and hit an armdrag and an enzuigiri, but ran into a spinebuster. Lumis straddled and clubbed Atlas, then dragged him up for a stiff uppercut as the announcers sold Lumis as a real threat. Cover for two. Lumis went at Atlas with a headlock, but Atlas got out of it and hit a sleeping neckbreaker, then hit a tope to the outside. Back in, uranage by Lumis, and he followed up by a front lock for the submission. He wiped Atlas’s face afterward, then shoved him away.
WINNER: Lumis at 3:25.
(Wells’s Analysis: Lumis might be lucky getting this gimmick restarted in front of an empty arena, since his creepiness incites silence by design anyway. Atlas looked good and might be the next one to fill the Raul Mendoza role)
-The Killer Kross hype vignette played again. The announcers called out the fact that it played last week during the main event non-wrestling segment between Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, and speculated as to why that timing happened.
-A few weeks ago, Ciampa and Gargano destroyed the Performance Center. A full few minutes of the brawl was shown, right up to Air Raid Crash off the perch and through the announce table. This match will happen next week and was promoted as “Black Heart vs. Rebel Heart: One Final Beat.”
(3) SIX-WOMAN GAUNTLET MATCH FOR A SPOT IN THE WOMEN’S LADDER MATCH
(a) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. DEONNA PURRAZZO
Shotzi nodded at Purrazzo during her entrance, not intimidated. Purrazzo backed Shotzi into a corner and stomped a mudhole. Deonna rolled up Shotzi for one. Rope run and Shotzi hit an enzuigiri. Shotzi with a senton to a leaning Purrazzo’s back, for a two-count. Pump kick by Purrazzo, who continued with kicks and a short-arm clothesline for two. More short-arms against the ropes, then a double stomp by Deonna for two. Snap mare into a headlock by Deonna, who leaned down on Shotzi. Shotzi tried to get out of it with a shot to the ribs, but Purrazzo took her down, then worked on her in the corner with some forearms. Purrazzo ran into a boot and Shotzi went up, but Purrazzo followed. The two exchanged shots on the second turnbuckle. Shotzi knocked off Purrazzo and hit a senton from the top for the pin at 3:45.
(b) XIA LI vs. SHOTZI BLACKHEART
Quick dropkick by Li. Rope run and Li missed a couple of shots, as did Shotzi, before Li put Shotzi down with a boot. Sam Roberts invoked a very deep quote from The Sopranos (“‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation”) heading into commercial.
Back from commercial, Li was dominating with boots and a flying forearm in the corner. Li missed a spinning kick to a grounded Shotzi, and Shotzi worked a submission and Li tapped at 9:35.
(c) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. ALIYAH
Quick leverage pin by Blackheart for two. Small package by Aliyah for two, reversed, and the two rolled and reversed before separating. Snap mare takedown by Shotzi, who rolled into another submission move, but Aliyah rolled into a pin to break. Hair mare by Aliyah for two. Aliyah put Blackheart in the corner and hit a running boot and covered for two. Aliyah shrieked that she was more deserving, and Shotzi hit a thrustkick. Waistlock by Shotzi, German suplex with a release. She hit the submission that took out Li for the win at 13:18.
(d) KAYDEN CARTER vs. SHOTZI BLACKHEART
This is the precursor to Dakota Kai killing the Shotzi vibes. Carter it a slam for two, and Blackheart hit Carter with a fireman’s carry into her knee. Shotzi went up but Carter hit her with a dropkick heading into another commercial.
Back again, Shotzi hit a senton from the top for three at 18:23. Good thing they broke that up with a commercial.
(e) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. DAKOTA KAI (w/Reina Gonzalez)
Kai charged immediately and stomped Shotzi. Pump kick to a grounded Shotzi for two. Kai leaned on Shotzi’s neck and taunted the referee until the break. She did the same in the corner until the count of three. Kai set up Shotzi against the ropes, then slidout and planted her. Back in for two. Kai leaned on Shotzi for a four count, then distracted the ref while Reina got some time in as well. Cover for two and Kai looked annoyed that it wasn’t over. Snap mare by Kai into a seated abdominal stretch. Kai jawed at Shotzi, who rolled over for a two count. Pump kick by Kai for two. Kai put a boot to the throat yet again, then hit the face wash. Snap mare and a cover for two. Kai put the boots to a grounded Blackheart, then taunted the ref as she backed off again. Shotzi was looking for her submission, but Kai blocked. Shotzi hit a few clotheslines and a nice-looking belly-to-back suplex. Kai bailed to Reina, who made the “time out” symbol. Shotzi hit a tope, mostly getting Reina, and howled like a wolf.
Kai went back in, and Reina wanted a slam on Shotzi, but Shotzi slipped out back and put her into the steps. Shotzi went to the apron right into a big boot. Kai hit her Kota Kick to finish.
WINNER: Dakota Kai at 24:07, including commercials
Reina held up Dakota’s hand in the ring after the victory. Next week, Kai will indeed be part of the six-woman ladder match for #1 contendership, along with Chelsea Green, Mia Yim, Tegan Nox, Io Shirai and Candice LeRae. Bianca Belair is very conspicuous by her absence from qualifying.
(Wells’s Analysis: After getting Shotzi off to a very hot start in NXT, she was jobbed to Chelsea Green of all people in under three minutes to get into the ladder match. It seems like Shotzi would be a great addition to the ladder match, but given where she is right now, I agree to give her this big focus and have something to come back from. No surprise as Dakota Kai wins, and I think she or Io Shirai are most likely to win the ladder match, particularly if Rhea Ripley defends successfully against Charlotte)
-Hype video for Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair. It’s been shown before, but NXT is doing everything possible to stretch their filmed content into as much TV time as possible.
(4) KUSHIDA vs. JOAQUIN WILDE
Kushida’s match with Raul Mendoza was mentioned. Phillips asked offhand what happened to Mendoza when he was kidnapped, and Roberts said “I don’t know, but I use a different parking lot right now.” Funny, but a kidnapping maybe should be less so…?
Kushida grounded Wilde and spun around, as usual in the early going. Snap takeover and a cover for a quick kickout. Kushida rolled Wilde into the Hoverboard Lock, but Wilde wriggled to the ropes. Roberts says Kushida isn’t living up to the hype, which is a little weird since Kushida has lost twice in all his time on TV (though, truth be told, Phillips and Roberts are making a very good team, and Roberts isn’t laying on the heel act overly thick, as he does in pre-shows). Wilde took down Kushida with an armdrag. A series of reversals later, Kushida hit a dropkick going into commercial.
Wilde was in control after the break and hit a neckbreaker for two. He rolled Kushida forward with a snap mare onto his knee for another two. Wilde hit some shoulderblocks in the corner. Inset ad said WrestleMania is “tomorrow and Sunday,” so apparently they used the graphic meant for SmackDown. Handspring back elbow by Kushida, and Kushida rushed into the Hoverboard Lock to finish.
WINNER: Kushida at 9:41, including commercials
Up next: the triple threat main event!
(Wells’s Analysis: Roberts and Phillips are really getting silly, but not over the line. The match was fine enough, though it was another Kushida win that keeps him seemingly in the upper midcard, but not getting into any new feuds. Roberts hacked on EDM culture a little bit, which was probably the most memorable part of the segment)
-An announcer caught up with Joaquin Wilde, who said he was hoping to make an impact, but it didn’t…
…and then, a vehicle pulled up and the luchadors kidnapped him, like they kidnapped Raul Mendoza. A stable is coming…
(5) KEITH LEE (c) vs. DOMINIK DIJAKOVIC vs. DAMIAN PRIEST – triple threat match for the North American Championship
Priest, then Dijakovic, then Lee were introduced. Formal intros commenced with the usual ring announcer, as Alicia Taylor isn’t at the taping. There was a small “tale of the tape” bit in the corner with height, weight, reach, and wrestling style listed. That’s always a great touch.
Priest hopped right into a carry from Lee and got beaten by both guys for a second. All three threw boots in a circle to ground everyone in a fun spot leading into a commercial.
Back to action, Lee was out of the ring. Priest hit a flatliner on Dijakovic in the ring and kept at it in the corner with some body shots. Priest went up for some fists, and Priest hit a high DDT and covered, but Lee broke it up. Lee took Priest up in the corner, and Dijakovic got involved and put up Lee in the electric chair. Spinning heel kick from the top by Priest and all three guys sold on the mat.
All three guys got to their feet at around the same time, and Dijakovic and Priest teamed up on Lee for some kicks, and then a double chokeslam. Lee bailed and Dijakovic wanted Feast Your Eyes, but Priest slipped out. Priest put up Dijakovic in Razor’s Edge and threw him out to Lee, who caught him. Priest did his step-over tope to both guys and the show took a (last?) commercial at ten to the hour.
Upon return, Dijakovic missed a moonsault on Priest, who then hit a chokeslam for two. Lee again was on the outside. Priest stalked Dijakovic, who went for the choke bomb. Priest blocked and went for the Reckoning, block. Dijakovic hit Time to Fly on Priest, but Lee caught Priest and used him as a battering ram on Dijakovic. Powerslams using Priest onto Dominik. Spirit Bomb for a long two, broken up by Dijakovic. All three guys sold for a moment again.
Lee was up first. A WrestleMania graphic showed again, this time correctly saying Saturday and Sunday. Lee hit a spinebuster on Dijakovic, clearing him from the ring. He charged and hit Priest in the corner, then went up, but Priest hit a couple of rising kicks and went up with Lee. It’s worth mentioning that a NXT TakeOver graphic is on the tron for this match. Priest hit a huracanrana from the top, and Dijakovic hit a flying elbow on Lee from the opposite corner. Both guys went for and hit big boots, then crumbled and co-covered Lee for two.
Another moment of selling. Dijakovic and Priest met on the apron, both looking to go up, and Lee hit both guys with Grizzly Magnum. Lee went up with the other two guys to the second rope, likely looking for Spanish Fly, and the other two slammed him down instead. Dijakovic cleared Priest to the outside, then hit a corkscrew moonsault on Lee for a very long two. Lee rolled to the apron, and Damian Priest, elsewhere on the outside, had his retractable nightstick. Dijakovic hit Feast Your Eyes on Priest, but Priest was holding the nightstick and Dijakovic sold agony. Priest was cleared out and Lee hit Big Bang Catastrophe on Dijakovic to finish.
WINNER: Lee at 19:31, including commercials.
Tom Phillips talked up Lee’s big win as the show ended.
(Wells’s Analysis: With Dijakovic eating the pin, it would seem he’ll lean out of the North American Championship picture for a while and we can finally get a Lee-Priest singles feud, which still feels a little bit fresh. Dijakovic may have a beef here, though, so maybe it’ll continue with all three, and Dijakovic may yet again lean heel for a while. The match was good enough with some nice spots, but with no crowd present they can’t just get by with 2.99999 counts over and over, and the roar of the crowd was never missed more on NXT than in this match. The two commercial breaks, too, broke up the flow of the match in a way they wouldn’t have on an actual TakeOver)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was an okay show, though the limitations of a show without a crowd are starting to be a little more in our faces as the Coronavirus digs in its heels for a while. Nothing stood out as actively bad, although I can’t imagine anyone was surprised by Dakota Kai, Velveteen Dream and Keith Lee all winning their respective matches. Oddly, the segment that may have worked best thanks to the lack of a crowd was the Dexter Lumis reset, which seems to be off to a good start, but we’ll see if plans play along or heckle it once they’re back around. And, of course, another wrestler was kidnapped to a mild reaction by the announce team. Raul Mendoza has been missing for four weeks! Doesn’t anyone care?!
Finally, of course, it goes without staying that Shotzi Blackheart got back on track in a big way tonight after her enhancement-style loss to Chelsea Green a few weeks ago. Her submission finisher is fun, and she can likely transition into it from a lot of angles, a la the Hoverboard Lock.
Join Nate Lindberg, Tom Stoup and I tonight live as we banter about tonight’s matches and kidnappings. Follow me on social media @spookymilk.