11/4 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Ciampa vs. Dream, Moon vs. Kai, Kushida vs. Grimes, Storm vs. Blackheart

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor



Commentary: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix

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

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(1) EMBER MOON vs. DAKOTA KAI (w/Raquel Gonzalez)

The announcers talked about whether Kai might feel forgotten given the influx of talent in the division. Lots of truth there. Takedown and an armbar by Moon. Reverse and a headlock by Kai. A few more early reversals on the mat. Armdrag by Kai and a headscissors by Moon. Kai rolled up Moon in an attempt to break, but Moon rolled through. Kai reversed on her feet and worked a wristlock, and grounded Moon before another reverse. Kai wrenched Moon down by her hair and Moon fired up and slammed Kai. Moon ran the ropes and hit a senton. Kai rolled near the ropes. Both hit the apron and Kai yanked Moon across the corner into the post. She continued yanking the arm.

Back into the ring, Kai battered a grounded Moon. Kai put Moon into the corner buckle and Moon sold the agony of her arm. Snap mare by Kai, who worked Moon’s left arm. Moon tried to roll up Kai to break, but Kai kept repositioning to maintain control. Moon got Kai up for a slam to break. Kai missed a big kick and Moon sit several, then a step-up enzuigiri. Rope run and a back kick by Moon. Kai returned the favor. Action spilled out and Moon hit a running boot on Kai, who was draped over the apron. Moon went into the ring and hit a very strong tope to the outside. She went for another but Kai moved and Moon crashed into the barricade leading to commercial, which wasn’t split-screen as is usually the case during the opener.

The show returned to an “NXT” chant, as per the mandate. Kai kicked out of a quick impact move by Moon as Barrett acknowledged that Kai controlled the break. Kai rolled up Moon for a near-fall. Fireman’s carry, escape, but a back kick by Kai grounded Moon. To a corner, Moon jumped off the second turnbuckle and hit a lungblower for two. The two hit their knees in the center of the ring and exchanged shots. Moon suckered in Kai and said “I’ll give you a free one” and instead put on a crossface. Crucifix pin attempt by Kai to break. Moon rolled up Kai for two. Kai rolled backward and put on an armbar, looking for a submission, and Moon crawled over and got a foot on the rope to break. Kai wrenched the arm for as long as she could as the ref counted toward five.

Kai got in Moon’s face and said “You think you can come back here, huh?” and threw shots. Moon fired up and screamed in Kai’s face. Moon hit repeated shots and knees, then pounded down Kai on the mat. Corner splash by Moon. Beal by Moon. Moon went up and Gonzalez distracted the ref so Kai could put the boots to her. Kai used the opening and hit the Kai-ropractor from the corner to finish.

Kai mocked Moon via the camera as she and Gonzalez went up the ramp.

WINNER: Dakota Kai at 16:19.

(Wells’s Analysis: That one got a lot of time, especially considering the four-pack of singles matches already announced for this show. I was hoping Kai would get a win here and this issue would continue. The match was a strong mat-based affair with moments of impact and the next one should see them come out firing given the issue. I’m also a fan of humanizing Moon early so she doesn’t run into problems if she builds a huge winning streak and loses her first championship match)

-Backstage, McKenzie Mitchell snuck up to ask Cameron Grimes a question, and he freaked out. He said last week wasn’t a real match. He said “Whatever happened last week…that was weeks ago.” Referee Darryl Sharma tried to get Grimes’s attention to get him ready for the match and Grimes freaked out again and ran off.

-Mitchell spoke with Shotzi Blackheart. Shotzi said she got to hand-pick her opponent as thanks for hosting Halloween Havoc last week. She gave a decent interview until getting to her silly “Welcome to the ballpit” catchphrase.


These two had a mini-feud some months ago that I don’t think they’ll be referencing. Quick reversals to start; after about 1:20 Kushida took sustained control until Grimes wriggled free and stomped on Kushida’s head. Rope run and Kushida hit his hiptoss into an armbar. Grimes tried to roll up Kushida, who rolled through. Kushida was sure to keep Grimes from reaching the ropes as he hyper-extended Grimes’s arms. Basement dropkick by Kushida for a two count. Kushida worked the arm again but Grimes reached the ropes and threw a kick upward to take control.

Kushida reversed an armbar and slammed down on Grimes’s trapped arm in a spot similar to the one Pete Dunne uses. To their feet, Grimes hit a few shots to Kushida’s lower back. Kushida rolled through a belly-to-back for two. Grimes dropped Kushida on the top rope for two. The match went to split-screen commercial.

The crowd chanted for Kushida upon return and he took control. Action went outside and Kushida went to the top. Grimes snuck into the ring so Kushida hit a cross-body and got two. He held on and looked to stomp Grimes, who rolled him up for two. Backslide by Grimes into a powerbomb for two. Grimes sold frustration. The crowd stomped. Kushida went up in a corner and Grimes followed. Grimes wanted…a rana?…but Kushida crotched him on the top rope. Kushida came off the top with a slam on Grimes’s arm, setting up his finisher. He ran the ropes and kicked the same arm. Grimes went to the corner and the ref got bumped, and then got bumped again. Kushida got the visual tap with no official in the ring. Kushida yelled out at the ref and inside the ring, Grimes did his rope-running inverted slam and got two. Referee Darryl Sharma came to the ring to take over, and Grimes freaked out because Sharma was the zombie referee in last week’s match. Grimes immediately tapped to the Hoverboard Lock while staring at Sharma in terror.

WINNER: Kushida at 14:06.

(Wells’s Analysis: Even after the ref bump I felt strongly that Kushida wouldn’t lose to Grimes; I love the Grimes act but he isn’t there to win at this point. I don’t mind this finish as a one-week payoff of the House of Terrors match, but here’s hoping the Grimes-Sharma feud is over, because otherwise they’ll have to explain why he was a zombie for a week, which is awkward enough as it is)

-Toni Storm hype video. She said Shotzi made an error in picking her and she was on her way to the top of the division.

-Io Shirai video. She said everyone wants to know what’s next for her. She’s told that the one person she must face, one on one, is Rhea Ripley. She said she’s not afraid of nightmares.

(Wells’s Analysis: It seems like we were heading for that match eventually, though I wasn’t sure it would be right away. There wasn’t a lot of organic storytelling to get us there.)

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

Dain asserted him as the legal man and splashed Parker in the corner, then tagged. Tandem trip and Dain slammed Maverick onto Parker for two. Parker got suckered into the corner by Martel and Ever-Rise took control. They made a couple of quick tags and did some basic team moves and Parker covered for two. Parker worked a nerve hold on Maverick and Martel stood up on the second buckle and cheered from outside. Parker put Maverick in a corner and threw some shots. Maverick fought off Parker with a boot and then dumped a charging Parker by yanking down the rope. He had a chance to tag but didn’t, and he jumped outside to try to take control. He was soon double-teamed in the heel corner, and the story of the match was largely lost as the camera focused on the arrival of Pat McAfee and his new faction. Indeed, the four of them jumped the ring and attacked. Ever-Rise ran off so the heels could beat down Maverick and Dain.

NO CONTEST? at 3:54.

Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan continued their beating. McAfee commandeered one of the ringside cameras to get a good shot of his three mates beating down the two. McAfee took a selfie video of the four of them, and he and Burch both jawed into the camera as they laughed, leading to commercial.

(Wells’s Analysis: Now that they’re ruining matches and turning the focus on themselves, I guess this faction is using the early nWo blueprint. It’s a much different act for NXT)

-The foursome was still in the ring upon return to the ring. McAfee said they were the greatest four men ever to come together in the wrestling business. He said what made them different is that they’re not a bunch of scumbags. They’re men of class. He said tonight he’d hang the Undisputed Era banner in the rafters to commemorate a great run that they ended. On the tron, still shots appeared as McAfee narrated their rise and kept calling them stupid, and said the fans were stupid for loving them. Pete Dunne said Roderick Strong taught him a valuable lesson: you’ve got to trust the right people. He said he returned the favor and taught Kyle O’Reilly the same lesson last week. McAfee said UE had success after success. He said Undisputed Era were getting a “push” like never before. Ugh. Danny Burch took the mic said people said they’d never make it on the same level, but look at their tag team championships now. McAfee said all it took to end it all was a run-in with him. He said Cole didn’t show him any respect after their TakeOver match. He said putting together a team of guys who hate UE was the easiest thing he’s ever done.


McAfee said it was time to raise the UE sign to the rafters and never hear from them again. McAfee said they were a democracy and now they should reconsider whether they should raise the banner. He said if you’re in favor, say “I.” If you’d rather throw the banner into the trash can, say “I.” Oney yelled it loud and got a trash can. Pat McAfee said it would be in a trash can just like Vic Joseph’s face, because they’re trash just like Vic. That was…out of nowhere. Pete grabbed some lighter fluid. McAfee dropped the banner in the trash can and Pete poured lighter fluid, then lit a Zippo and dropped it in. The banner burned as the crowd continued to boo incessantly to an unbelievable level, as they did throughout the entire segment. The four of them walked to the back and the camera followed them. They went out to a vehicle and all four got in. Killian Dain charged out of nowhere and took some shots at McAfee, but the four beat him down. Pete slammed Dain’s head in the car door. McAfee said he liked it – it was a little aggressive and maybe they’d talk about it later. McAfee got into the camera’s face and said “Just a reminder – we’re the greatest. You suck. Good night.” They drove off and the camera panned to Dain, clutching his face in a pool of blood that was likely fake; the shot from the car door happened at an angle to give him a lot of protection.

(Wells’s Analysis: A good decision not to have Undisputed Era on hand tonight to slow the progress of the segment here; there will be time for that soon. The faction still doesn’t have a name, which I think is fine for now. McAfee is so good at being relentlessly detestable. The crowd’s unending and unchanging boos were a little distracting and silly, but otherwise this was strong. Dain looks like he’ll be the first fall guy for McAfee when he gets back in the ring)

-Johnny Gargano, from home, said he didn’t hate wheels as much as everyone said. He rolled the wheel on the board game Life. He said even more than that, he likes making history. He showed off his North American Championship. He got a call on the phone from Ghostface, who said “I’m in the house.” Gargano said he knows, because he’s right next to him. The camera panned out and Ghostface was playing Life with Gargano. Gargano finished the game and won. He said “Good game” as Ghostface looked dejected. Uhhh. Like last week, it was ridiculous that the announcers didn’t ask the question of who was under the mask.


Shotzi quickly got into Toni’s face and took issue with the fact that her mini-tank was missing. The two exchanged some quick shots. To the corner, Shotzi put Storm in the buckle with a headscissors. Shotzi missed a running senton and Storm hit her with a hip attack for two. Suplex by Storm got a one count. The two hit their feet and exchanged shots. Shotzi hit an inside cradle for two and Storm put her down with a boot. European uppercut by Storm, followed by some kicks in the corner. Storm covered for two. Storm hit a chinlock and slammed Shotzi backward and covered for two. Hip toss by Toni into a headlock, then a front chancery. Another rollup by Storm for two. Snap suplex for two. Storm sold a little frustration as the match went to commercial.

We were told Storm controlled the break. Vic said Killian Dain was taken to a hospital tonight. Shotzi caught Toni with a kick and then hit her with a running senton against the ropes for two. Shotzi missed an enzuigiri and Toni hit a German suplex with no release. Shotzi wanted Sliced Bread to break but Toni hit a German suplex with a bridge for two. Toni wanted her finisher but Shotzi fought it off and took down Storm for two. Headbutt by Storm for a long two. Storm went up but Shotzi knocked her from the top. The two fought across the ropes with Storm on the apron. Blackheart floated over the top and hit a DDT on the apron that didn’t connect, but happened quickly enough that some might not have noticed. The ref counted seven and Shotzi got back into the ring, apparently breaking the count for both. On the tron, Candice LeRae appeared with Shotzi’s tank. She said don’t worry; someone left it in the middle of the road but she’ll watch it for her. Storm rolled up Shotzi to finish.

On the tron, LeRae stopped a monster truck and then got in and ran over the tank as Shotzi wailed. In the back seat of the truck, Ghostface sat. In the ring, Toni Storm checked on Shotzi as she sold the horror of losing her tank.

WINNER: Toni Storm at 13:48.

(Wells’s Analysis: LeRae interference was my pick there, but what a strange way to get there. The match didn’t have a great flow before the video interference, and from there, Toni got her win but played a distant second fiddle to the storyline. On a show filled with sports entertainment hallmarks, this was the biggest…offender, if you can dig the term. The pacing of recent weeks has already been go-go-go with no change, but the show is going further down that road now and getting into some weird areas.)

-Earlier today, Santos Escobar was asked about his match with Jake Atlas. Atlas himself showed up in an SUV and stopped long enough to smack Raul Mendoza with a…tire iron? It was quick. He drove off and Escobar looked on with a bit of a smirk.

-Thatch as Thatch Can live! His ring partner was Akeem (notes: real name Akeem Young. He was signed at the same time as Mercedes Martinez and is a former Cirque du Soleil performer. Thanks Tom Stoup for the legwork there). He showed the right way to apply, and fight off, a headlock. He put Akeem on the mat and applied a top wristlock. He jawed into the camera about needing to be sure it was a real tap and not just to lull him into a false sense of security. Akeem got into Thatcher’s face and Thatcher diffused the situation. Thatcher put on the hold again and then moved from the hold into an anklelock and Akeem furiously tapped as Thatcher said he had to be ready for anything. Anthony Greene from last week – though I think they called him Austin Gray – hit the ring and knocked Thatcher to the outside.

-Backstage, Xia Li was in the middle of a basic interview with McKenzie Mitchell and William Regal showed up with a message – written in Chinese characters – for Li. Li read it and said next week she had to challenge Raquel Gonzalez, who dishonored her last week.

-Brief hype for the main event, which is up next.

-Rhea Ripley said 2020 has been horrible, but she’s going to leave the year just as she left last year – as NXT Women’s Champion.

-Next week, Breezango gets a rematch for the Tag Team Championship, and Johnny Gargano takes on an unknown opponent.


Ciampa’s gear was even more Mortal Kombat/Masters of the Universe than in recent weeks. Quick start by Dream, who tried to get in a quick shot. Ciampa grounded him by wrenching his injured wrist. Dream went to the outside and slammed his hands on the announce table in frustration, then sold the pain of the bad wrist. Ciampa draped Dream over an exposed barricade on the outside, then ran at him and hit a knee. Ciampa rolled Dream inside and Dream rolled back out. Ciampa follwed and hit a big chop, then planted Dream on the announce table. He feigned another running knee but then hammered on the wrist instead. The crowd is lit for Ciampa so I guess his brief heel turn is forgotten.

Dream started to walk up the ramp to leave while selling the pain. The show was censored for a moment so I guess Dream said something he shouldn’t have. Back to the ring, suplex by Ciampa who then stomped down on the bad wrist yet again. Dream tried to go up in a corner and Ciampa yanked his arm through his legs, sending Dream’s face into the top buckle. He hung up Dream and stomped on him as Vic promoted picture-in-picture for the break.

Full-screen returned with Dream up in the corner and Ciampa throwing chops. Ciampa looked to slam Dream to the mat but Dream raked Ciampa’s eyes. Rope run and a spinebuster by Dream. The crowd booed and he egged them on. Dream worked a headlock while “driving the cast into the injured eye,” though his wrist should be so tender that it isn’t an option. Atomic drop by Dream but Ciampa hit a lariat, then several more. Corner lariat by Ciampa. Ciampa went up for a superplex and hit it for two. “This is awesome” chant. It’s been fine.

Ciampa wanted Fairytale Ending but Dream rolled him up for two. Dream wanted DVD but Ciampa grabbed a rope to fight it off. Ciampa got dumped and Dream floated over the top and hit a cross-body. Back inside, Dream hit a suplex to the outside and flipped over the ropes himself and fell to the floor. “NXT” chant. They’re laying it on a little thick tonight. Dream rolled Ciampa into the ring and added a chair. As the ref dealt with the chair, Ciampa hit Willow’s Bell and then Fairytale Ending to finish. So…why introduce the chair? No extracurriculars after the match; Ciampa stood above Dream as the announce team put him over.

WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 13:32.

(Wells’s Analysis: In a show full of sports entertainment silliness, the main event really didn’t have any; I think the match was more to establish that they’re correcting course and Ciampa is a babyface once again. The match was fine, though certainly not the classic that the sweetened crowd would have you believe it to be.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Oh boy. Last week during Halloween Havoc we all expected and even wanted a wild show, but getting back to “normal” only to find that this is the new normal is a pretty big adjustment. In terms of pacing, heavy-handed storylines and the pandemic crowd begging us to look at this as the show we always wanted, this week’s effort was almost indistinguishable from Raw or SmackDown after years of being a reasonably big alternative from the style. While I understand it’s imperative for NXT to try new things in order to be competitive, I’ll echo what I said on last week’s PWT Talks NXT: why would they want the show to become more like Raw or SmackDown during a time of historically bad ratings? Surely there are countless other ways to attack a wrestling show that could be attempted.

We’ll likely get a strong match from LeRae-Blackheart down the road, though I’m not a fan of the heel waiting until a match is 8-10 minutes old to interfere when the match could theoretically happen anytime. Ghostface is still probably Austin Theory, but it’s beyond strange that Ghostface was so important in two finishes last week and yet announcers didn’t ask (this week or last) about the identity of the masked man or woman, even when we saw him playing Life against Johnny Gargano in this week’s most bizarre visual.

Meanwhile, Kai-Moon was a strong opener and I’m glad we’ll get another match out of it, and for all that’s strange about the show right now, I think we’ve got a strong central story brewing with Pat McAfee and his faction. It’ll be interesting to see if NXT can or even wants to continue their breakneck pace over the next few weeks. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight with the link at the top of the page, and we’ll all try to make sense of this bold new direction together.


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