10/7 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Kushida vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Ember Moon’s re-debut

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

NXT ON USA
OCTOBER 7, 2020, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentary: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix


Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me & Tom Stoup to break down the episode:

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[HOUR ONE]

-Recaps of Sunday’s TakeOver. All five finishes were shown, as well as the returns of Toni Storm and Ember Moon and the show-ending intrigue with Ridge Holland depositing a beaten-down Adam Cole at ringside.

(1) KUSHIDA vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA

Kushida’s return has been strong and he’s been protected, so this was a bit of surprise booking. Kushida wore jeans with his boots.

The match opened with Kushida controlling on the mat in the usual way. Quick reversals led to the hiptoss/dropkick Kushida combo. Kushida kicked Ciampa in the corner and slammed down on Ciampa’s left arm, softening it up for the Hoverboard Lock. Kushida ran the ropes into a Ciampa dropkick. Ciampa grinned at his handiwork as he tried to get the feeling back in his left arm. Ciampa worked a headlock on the mat and hit a backbreaker, then a legdrop. He covered. Kushida kicked out at one but the ref counted two anyway. Ciampa missed a chop in the corner and Kushida put the forearms to him. The ref separated them but Kushida went back to it. Ciampa reversed a hard Irish whip and pounded Kushida’s chest, then held a brief chinlock and released, then hit a neckbreaker. He jawed down at Kushida and then hit an axhandle.

Ciampa went back to a headlock on the mat, and put a knee to Kushida when he got up. Kushida briefly seemed to have the Hoverboard Lock in but Ciampa fought it off. Kushida blocked Willow’s Bell and put Ciampa outside on the mat with his springboard kick. The match went to commercial, but in a rare move during the opener, didn’t go to split-screen.

Ciampa was chopping Kushida in the corner upon return. Vic reported that this was the result of a locker room confrontation earlier today. Ciampa went up the buckle with Kushida, but both ended up off of it and Ciampa looked back at the announce table, eyeing it for a possible attack. Kushida wrenched Ciampa’s arm over the ropes as he was distracted. The two went inside and Ciampa teed up Fairytale Ending, but Kushida fought it off and hit a flatliner into the second turnbuckle and a snap suplex. Kushida worked an armbar and triangle and Ciampa picked him up and slammed him to break. Bot guys sold on the mat. Both hit their feet and exchanged forearms, then kicks. Ciampa fisherman suplexed Kushida and covered for two. Ciampa again tried to get into Fairytale Ending but Kushida slipped away again, using Ciampa’s weakened arm. A couple of quick reversals led to Kushida stomping a grounded Ciampa in the back. Hoverboard Lock in the center of the ring. Velveteen Dream appeared out of nowhere and came off the top rope but accidentally hit Ciampa when the two in the ring shifted. Kushida laid waste to Dream for a moment, running him off.

WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: Tommaso Ciampa at 14:31.

(Wells’s Analysis: I don’t love the official decision there, as the ref knows 100% that Dream is there to attack Kushida, so the fact that he hit Ciampa is incidental. I suppose the finish protects both either way, and at some point may result in a rematch. The rematch I didn’t expect was Kushida-Dream, as there really doesn’t seem to be any reason for it as Kushida won decisively at TakeOver. I half-expected Dream to take a few weeks off TV, but NXT seems determined to use him every week, even if only for a minute at a time)

-Ember Moon stood in the ring to a huge ovation upon return from commercial. She seemed genuinely moved at the reaction. She thanked the crowd and said she was a little shocked she was able to talk on the mic, because it had been a while. “Welcome back” chant. She said she’s been in isolation for 14 long months but she’s back and she sees things have changed here. She said she drove her bike around the country and found clarity, and found the real Ember Moon. She found Ember’s Law. She said nobody would walk over her and nobody would tell her what to do, because she’s Ember Moon, damn it. But one thing is staying the same: mama wants some gold, baby.

Io Shirai’s music played and Ember went on for a moment as if she didn’t hear it, which was a bit strange. Shirai walked down the ramp with her belt draped over her shoulder and she entered the ring. She called for a mic. “Io” chant. Before Io could speak, Rhea Ripley’s music played, and Rhea spoke from the ramp. She said she loved the new attitude and she probably deserves a title shot. From behind, Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai jumped Ripley. William Regal said if everyone wants to fight that much, then we have our main event tag match: Kai and Gonzalez vs. Shirai and Moon.

(Wells’s Analysis: At a time when some are worried NXT is becoming more like the main roster, a Teddy Long special isn’t going to quell those fears.)

-Drake Maverick arrived earlier today and told an unseen interviewer that he looked forward to his tag match tonight where he would team with Killian Dain. Dain entered the frame and demanded to know what Drake was talking about. Drake reiterated that the two were a team, and Dain left in a huff. Drake yelled at him, “Wait until you hear our theme music! It’s great!”

-Halloween Havoc spot. October 28th!

-McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Io Shirai and asked her why she didn’t run to help Rhea Ripley like Ember Moon did. “Ember Moon? Not my problem. Rhea Ripley? Not my problem.” She slapped her belt. “THIS is my problem.”

-A quick recap of the end of TakeOver led to all four of UE addressing the camera. Kyle O’Reilly apologized for not getting it done against Finn Balor, but they said it was okay. Adam Cole warned Ridge Holland that he’d regret the attack.

(2) KILLIAN DAIN & DRAKE MAVERICK vs. EVER-RISE (Matt Martel & Chase Parker)

Dain and Maverick came out to happy music, and Drake was dancing to the ring. Dain demanded the music be shut down and the two went to the ring. Dain gave Drake a hard slap to tag him into the ring. Chase worked an arm and tagged Martel. Martel ran the ropes into a spinning heel kick that showed a lot of light. Drake looked to tag but Martel clotheslined him in the back to cut it off. Martel yelled at Drake that he Dain didn’t care about him. Martel swatted Dain and woke him up. Ever-Rise double-teamed Drake and Dain broke up a pin. He dragged Maverick to his corner, made the tag and clotheslined both of Ever-Rise repeatedly. Cross-body for Martel. Slam and Senton for Parker. Dain went up his corner for a Vader bomb and Drake tagged himself in. The two argued and Parker tried to capitalize. Dain hit a pump kick, then powerbombed Maverick on top of Parker. Maverick covered for the win. After the bell, the happy music started again and Drake tried to get Dain to do a simple dance. Dain, of course, knocked Maverick down with a punch. After Dain went a few steps up the ramp, he thought it over, went back to the ring and carried Maverick to the back. Maverick gave a thumbs up to the crowd.

WINNERS: Killian Dain & Drake Maverick at 4:02.

(Wells’s Analysis: The slow pairing of these two has been fun enough, but it could get really old and cloying in a rush. The match was really nothing here, which is a fair use of Ever-Rise as they’ve never won anyway, but it’ll be interesting to see the changing dynamics when the two face more important competition)

-Toni Storm vignette. She’s been on the longest break she’s been on in ten years. She ran down her accomplishments but said she was starting again. She needs new goals and opponents. She said this Toni Storm is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

-Earlier today, Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae walked their dog. Gargano said TakeOver was supposed to be the night of their lives, but it was embarrassing. Candice said they’d get rematches. As Johnny said they needed a plan, they arrived at their front door to see that Indi Hartwell had dropped off a gift: a 65″ TV (she had signed a note). Johnny didn’t know what to make of it but Candice seemed pleased.

(Wells’s Analysis: Triple H said on the pre-TakeOver media call that the Gargano story would be going to some unlikely places. Here we are)

(3) LEON RUFF vs. AUSTIN THEORY

Ruff rolled up Theory for a quick near-fall. Theory put some chops to Ruff and hit an Irish whip. Ruff made some incredible evasions in the corner and hit a clothesline on Theory for another two count. Theory caught Ruff with the ATL to finish.

WINNER: Austin Theory at 1:47.

(Wells’s Analysis: Ruff is really something special and unique, but someone with as slight a frame as his is unlikely to ever make a dent in WWE. I enjoy every second of him that we get)

Theory said this is what happens when he has the proper time to warm up. He said he’d prove to Adam Cole why he was the future of NXT. He said nobody in NXT could do anything about it. Dexter Lumis’s music played to bring him down the ramp, returning from injury. He slithered into the ring and did his dead-eyed stare out of the ring.

(4) DEXTER LUMIS vs. AUSTIN THEORY

Theory charged for a pump kick but Lumis caught it. A big right by Lumis put Theory down. To the corner, Lumis destroyed Theory with rights and a stomp. Theory fought back with a couple of shots. Rope run and a Lou Thesz press by Lumis. Theory bailed quickly and Lumis followed him out. He tossed Theory back in and hit a bulldog for a two count. The match went to split-screen commercial.

[HOUR TWO]

Back to full-screen, Theory was in control. He hit a belly-to-back suplex for two. Theory mimicked Lumis’s slither and put on an armbar/chinlock combo. Lumis hit some rights, and Theory hit a lariat and a standing moonsault for two. Theory put the boots to a grounded Lumis, then hit a few rights and worked a front chancery. Theory went for a suplex, blocked, and he took a shot at Lumis and hit the suplex for two. Theory jawed at Lumis and pulled up his face to do it some more, and Lumis took a quick shot at his face. Snap mare and a stomp by Theory, who covered again for two.

Theory went for a suplex, and the two both blocked suplex. Theory ran the ropes into a spinebuster. Lumis sprung forward and hit a monkey flip that got some good air. Slingshot suplex by Lumis got two. Theory hit the apron, then rolled in with a dropkick and got cocky. Lumis hit his feet first and Theory tried to bail. Lumis grabbed Theory and hit a big uranage into his sleeper finisher. The ref checked on Theory and called for the bell.

Almost immediately after the finish, Cameron Grimes popped in out of nowhere and hit the Cave In on Lumis. He got in Lumis’s face and said “When I ask you a question, you answer me,” referring to their brief meeting last week.

(Wells’s Analysis: Theory is in such a weird place. He gets a ton of minutes week after week, but even on a show where he finally won a match, he lost one, too. Not only that, but he was a stepping stone for Dexter Lumis to get to a bigger feud with Cameron Grimes. The match was pedestrian other than Theory’s usual great bumping, and the muted crowd didn’t help any)

-McKenzie was with Kai and Gonzalez. Gonzalez said she’d take care of Ripley once and for all. Kai said Ember Moon better get in line behind her, because she’s going to take the championship from Io Shirai.

-Backstage, an unseen interviewer asked Cameron Grimes why he attacked Dexter Lumis. He said Lumis, Ridge Holland, whoever else…they don’t mess with Cameron Grimes. Now if you’ll excuse him, he’s going to the moon.

-Prime Target: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Finn Balor.

On the Bump, Kayla Braxton asked O’Reilly about the match. He said it was the opportunity of a lifetime. There were soundbytes of Balor putting over O’Reilly, then some shots of the match, particularly the story of Balor throttling O’Reilly’s midsection, which became the major psychology of the match. They also closed in on Finn Balor’s broken(?) jaw, then showed the endorsement by Balor afterward and briefly showed a number of tweets by wrestlers putting over the match. O’Reilly won’t be here this week, and Balor’s jaw was fractured in two places, and even a week or two from now, he’ll be talking sparingly. He’ll be out for “some time,” but nothing was stated about the championship situation, so they must be optimistic it won’t be too long.

-Outside, Ridge Holland was asked about his attack on Adam Cole and he said you’ll have to thank Adam Cole for that. He’s up next.

-For some reason, Damian Priest is brought to you by Burger King. McKenzie Mitchell asked Priest about his post-match party. He laughed and said it was great. He said the things he says aren’t just phrases. On Sunday he burned Johnny Gargano into that championship. If they want a match, they can get it, and if they want the championship, they can get a Reckoning.

(5) DANNY BURCH vs. RIDGE HOLLAND

Collar and elbow. Ridge took quick control and put Burch into a brief vise, then clubbed him. Burch reversed a hold and worked the wrist. Ridge broke it and the two exchanged shots. Burch used his speed to take a few shots, and then backed Holland to a corner for some shots. Both guys hit forearms. Burch hit a shotgun dropkick from a turnbuckle, then went for a waistlock, and Holland elbowed out. Burch caught him for a German suplex, then a clothesline, and covered for two. Ridge hit a big clothesline and Northern Grit to finish. Holland disrespected Burch after the match, and Burch slapped him. Holland destroyed Burch in a corner, and Oney Lorcan stormed the ring. Ridge eventually got the better of Lorcan as well, and refs broke it up. Lorcan hit a tope, but Ridge hit his feet quickly and entered the ring and turned Lorcan inside-out with a lariat. Barrett marveled at Holland’s toughness. Lorcan and Holland continued to go at it and refs finally split them up for good; Lorcan hit a plancha and it looked like Holland was supposed to catch him, but he collapsed after losing footing or something. Lorcan checked on Burch, still selling the beating in the corner.

WINNER: Ridge Holland at 2:05.

(Wells’s Analysis: Holland recently showed up to give Cameron Grimes a beating, which was an effective red herring as far as suggesting he’d be working face. Holland obviously will be facing Adam Cole down the road, but in the meantime, 5-7 minutes with Oney Lorcan should be beautifully violent)

-At home, Johnny Gargano watched his new TV, and Candice LeRae joined him shortly after. Indi Hartwell had also included a USB with some moments from the battle royal; Hartwell saved LeRae several times. Gargano said he always liked that girl. Candice said she was starting to like her too.

-Thatch as Thatch Can is apparently still a thing. He told his students that life will grind you down and make you want to quit. He said you have to strike first when the opportunity presents itself. He quickly put a student in a submission and kept yelling as he ignored the student tapping. He told the student to deal with it because this is life. He said he won’t let life do this to him.

-A video recapped the Lorcan-Holland brawl. Vic had a serious voice and Ridge Holland was shown being loaded to go to an ambulance. The injury appeared legit, and Holland put up a thumb to cheers from the crowd. Barrett said it was the nature of the game and it was hard to watch it happen to anyone.

(6) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. XIA LI

Quick dropkick by Shotzi. Bulldog and a rising knee by Shotzi. Li fought off a discus punch and hit a few chops. Knees by Li. Li hit a few shoulderblocks in the corner, then pulled up Shotzi for a few more. She set up Shotzi on the top rope, but Shotzi fought off a superplex attempt and planted Li. Senton by Shotzi was good to finish.

WINNER: Shotzi Blackheart at 1:45.

After the match, Boa, who was last seen prominently in the breakout tournament, showed up in a suit and presented some papers to Li. She looked over them, and then walked up the ramp with Boa.

(Wells’s Analysis: I was starting to write that I wasn’t sure why effort was put into this Xia Li heel turn if it was just a way for her to lose to everyone again, but it was genuinely interesting to see Boa here. He has a lot of raw talent and it’ll be interesting to see how he’s progressed. Of course, the suit might be suggesting he’ll be in a non-wrestling role for a while)

(6) EMBER MOON & RHEA RIPLEY vs. DAKOTA KAI & RAQUEL GONZALEZ

Kai and Moon epoened. Moon took down Kai and charged with a boot. Basement clothesline for two. Moon hit a suplex. Kai made a tag and Moon went for a sunset flip that went all kinds of wrong. Raquel put Moon in the heel corner and tagged. Kai tripped Moon and got a two count. Moon hit her feet and Kai slapped her. Moon battered Kai, who bailed, then hit a nice tope. Raquel Gonzalez looked to interfere and Rhea took her out. Rhea made the tag and booted Kai, who made a blind tag. Gonzalez hit a big boot to lay out Rhea heading to split-screen commercial.

Raquel Gonzalez had Rhea dominated upon return. She tossed Ripley away from the babyface corner and mocked Moon. Raquel caught and clotheslined Rhea to stop a tag, and covered for two. Kai tagged in and hit a double stomp for two. Rhea fought out of a hold and tried to tag, but Kai put on a guillotine. Ripley fought to her corner, but Kai pushed her back. Press slam by Rhea, and Kai tried to hang on but Moon made the hot tag and hit a dropkick and a couple of kicks. Gonzalez tried to interfere and Moon darted Kai into her. Flatliner by Moon was bizarrely called a uranage by Barrett. Cover for two. Gonzalez tagged in and hit a powerslam for two. Moon fought out with a roundhouse kick and both made tags. Huge electric chair drop by Ripley got a near-fall.

Ripley went for the Prism Trap and Raquel broke it up. Kai hit a kick and a Kai-ropractor for two. Kai sold frustration. Ripley made the tag and Moon hit a big lariat on Moon, and Raquel broke up the count. Moon and Ripley teamed up for a DDT on Raquel and Moon hit an ugly powerbomb on Kai. Moon went up for the Eclipse, but Raquel broke that up. Ripley and Gonzalez ended up spilling over the announce table and Moon hit the Eclipse on Kai to finish.

WINNERS: Ember Moon & Rhea Ripley at 11:48.

After the match, Moon and Ripley celebrated in the ring and there was a quick handshake to end the show; Vic put them both over as potential future opponents for Io Shirai.

(Wells’s Analysis: Vic made a point to say Moon showed “no sign of ring rust” as he was supposed to, but she showed a couple clear signs of it, making the comment sound silly. There was a big difference between Moon’s best and worst-looking moves of the match, but after 14 months out with a torn Achilles, it’s understandable that she’ll have to take some reps before she’s completely comfortable again. The match was an intended mess, which worked at times, but it was very bizarre to have the dominant Ripley play face-in-peril and have Kai actively try to keep Ripley in the ring to avoid Ember Moon. It’s a lot of little things for Ripley that are adding up to her not being viewed as the destroyer she was not long ago)


FINAL THOUGHTS: Between the booking of the main event, the execution of some of those moves, the comedy tag match, and Ridge Holland’s seemingly bad injury (there are some stills making the rounds on twitter and anything from ankle break to ACL tear seems possible), this wasn’t exactly a night to remember. The UE-Holland match seemed to be going somewhere interesting but now we’ll potentially never know the plan as Holland could be out for a while. Kushida-Ciampa and the long Theory segment both delivered, though both also had a healthy helping of sports entertainment, and this was probably the most…Raw…episode of NXT to date. I guess next week we’ll see if that trend continues.

Tonight, Tom Stoup and I cover the show on PWT Talks NXT. See you next week.

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