SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
NOVEMBER 25, 2020, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph, Kevin Owens, Beth Phoenix
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me, Nate Lindberg & Tom Stoup to break down the episode:
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-Last week, Finn Balor tried to update us on his condition when he was rudely interrupted by hype for WarGames.
(1) EMBER MOON vs. CANDICE LERAE (w/Indi Hartwell)
Vic Joseph introduced Kevin Owens, who promptly mocked Vic for the amount of makeup he was wearing.
Ember shot in quickly and Candice slowed it down by backing up through the ropes. And again. Candice and Indi whispered to one another and Ember threw Candice into Indi to drop her from the apron. Candice got dumped and Ember followed. Ember slammed Candice on the table and Owens said “Hi Candice,” then turned to Vic and said “She’s busy.”
Back in the ring. Moon hit a fallaway slam and LeRae bolted up the ramp. Moon followed and beat LeRae back down the ramp. LeRae got to the ring first and hit her step-up senton as Moon entered. LeRae took a few shots and put on a chinlock. The two exchanged rollups for several two-counts. Moon wanted a suplex but LeRae turned it into an inside cradle for two. LeRae lariat for two. She got frustrated and threw some fists and covered for one. Candice yanked Ember down by her hair and covered for two. Vic promoted the main event, where Pete Dunne will face one member of Undisputed Era in a ladder match for the WarGames advantage.
Thrustkick by Moon for two. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez hit the ramp and joined LeRae as she bailed, heading into commercial. Upon return, LeRae had a chinlock going. Kai and Gonzalez had stayed at ringside. Moon escaped and rolled up LeRae for two. LeRae rolled through a backbreaker attempt to slam Moon and put on the GargaNo Escape. Moon escaped but LeRae transitioned into a sleeper. Moon slammed backward to break LeRae off of her. Moon hit a corner hip attack and a corner uppercut. Moon planted LeRae and went up for the Eclipse. Kai and Gonzalez distracted the ref and Indi Hartwell took the Eclipse instead. LeRae hit Wicked Stepsister for the win.
WINNER: Candice LeRae at 12:58.
Moon was thrown to the foot of the ramp, but she smiled as Toni Storm’s music played to bring her to the ring The two of them started to run for the ring, but Storm instead yanked Moon and threw her into the stairs. She rolled Moon into the ring and the assumed heel WarGames team beat down Moon; I figure Storm will replace Hartwell as an assumed member.
(Wells’s Analysis: Storm was working just fine as a heel before the pandemic, so this turn wasn’t overly shocking to happen eventually, but it was a bit of a surprise in this moment. The match worked just fine as WarGames hype)
-Undisputed Era arrived.
-Santos Escobar sat with Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde, and they put over the Cruiserweight championship and everything the group has done for it. They talked about the destruction they’ve left in their wake and wondered who might be next. Santos joked that he’d heard about this guy Curt Stallion and that he was sure to be a HUGE challenge.
(Wells’s Analysis: The screen showed Stallion for maybe two seconds as he made his entrance for a previous match. NXT has never mentioned him, so if he’s going to be the next Cruiserweight champion, this is a pretty strange way to introduce him)
-A clip of Pat McAfee doing his podcast was shown. McAfee claimed he wouldn’t be on NXT this week. Undisputed Era hit the ring, and Adam Cole said that McAfee claimed that the group had “killed” Undisputed Era, but here they are. He said McAfee was a coward and he wishes he could say to his face that he can’t wait until McAfee is trapped in WarGames. Kyle O’Reilly talked about how much fun it was to beat up those four guys last week. Cole said they had to focus on tonight, and the WarGames advantage match, in which UE is undefeated. O’Reilly said everyone saw Halloween Havoc, and he needs to fight Pete Dunne tonight. Cole said he had no problem with that, and he really likes angry Kyle O’Reilly. Cole put O’Reilly over and said in two weeks, they would be facing a different Undisputed Era. They were fighting to drag McAfee’s group through absolute hell and he’d make sure they were never, ever the same. That’s Undisputed.
-Backstage, McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Candice LeRae, Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai. Candice sent off McKenzie for just a second to confer with Kai and Gonzalez shortly. She turned back and confirmed her Wargames team: the three of them…and Toni Storm.
-In a room somewhere at the CWC, Timothy Thatcher’s students, including August Grey, sat waiting for his match with Kushida.
-Johnny Gargano, in a Santa hat and beard, promoted Black Friday on WWE.com with Candice LeRae.
-Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is your official theme for WarGames. Amusingly, Vic promoted the fifty-year-old album as “available now on Spotify.”
(2) KUSHIDA vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER
The announcers made some picks on who would win this match. Owens and Phoenix agreed that this is a different Kushida, which gives him the edge. Tommaso Ciampa appeared on the ramp with a chair; he took it to the foot of the ramp and sat there to watch.
Thatcher got the better of a quick mat exchange and he rolled Kushida into a one count. Kushida reached a rope at his feet to reset. Thatcher blocked a strike into an armbar but Kushida rolled through. Belly-to-belly by Thatcher for a one count. Thatcher went for a single-leg crab and when Kushida fought it off, he worked an ankle lock instead. Kushida worked it into an interesting leg lock with a bridge, but Thatcher rolled out and countered to a front chancery briefly. Both guys got to their feet. Uppercuts by Thatcher. A kick by Kushida. Hiptoss/dropkick by Kushida. Kushida ran the ropes to attempt his headscissors, but Thatcher caught Kushida’s leg and wrenched it over the top rope as the match went to commercial.
The match returned with Kushida throwing a bevy of kicks and palm strikes. Thatcher hit an uppercut and went for a butterfly lock, but Kushida reversed and worked an armbar. Thatcher transitioned to a head and armlock, but Kushida flipped over to escape. The two hittheir feet and Kushida caught Thatcher in a backslide for two. Kushida held Thatcher’s arms and stomped him. He went for the Hoverboard Lock and Thatcher fought desperately to avoid it. Thatcher rolled over and worked an arm submission and Kushida transitioned into his own. The two continued to jockey for position on the mat and Thatcher hit an ankle lock, but Kushida transitioned into one instead. Owens said “Hey! I can do an ankle lock. That one’s pretty simple.”
Thatcher worked into a sleeper with a bodyscissors. Kushida tossed Thatcher over him to escape. Thatcher went for a sleeper and Kushida ran for the ropes and dumped Thatcher over the top. Thatcher took a look at Ciampa and it left him open to get tossed into the post. Kushida slammed on Thatcher’s arm on the foot of the ramp near Ciampa. Thatcher was bleeding hardway from the mouth. The two went back into the ring and Ciampa slammed his chair away, distracting Thatcher. Kushida snapped on the Hoverboard Lock for the tap. Ciampa looked into the camera and said “Maybe he has a problem with me now.”
WINNER: Kushida at 12:32.
(Wells’s Analysis: There’s no doubt that the Ciampa-Thatcher match will be good, but Thatcher rarely wins important matches so I’m not sure what Ciampa gains from beating him. Meanwhile Kushida continues to win matches that don’t seem to obviously be leading anywhere, which is what happened during his last two pushes. The match itself was exactly the mat affair you’d expect and want from these two)
-Recap of the Women’s Championship match from last week. A PC trainer said it was amazing they even woke up feeling okay afterward. Rhea Ripley wondered aloud where she goes from here and said “Honestly…I don’t know” as the segment ended. We were told we’d hear from Ripley later tonight.
-Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch said Dunne would take care of business in tonight’s main event.
-The Kevin Owens Show. His guest was Leon Ruff. Ruff wore a button-up shirt and dress pants as he smiled broadly on his way to the ring. He shook Owens’s hand. They sat in office chairs in the ring and Owens opened up the floor for Ruff. Ruff said he wanted to be a WWE star his whole life, and he signed his contract just seven weeks ago. The tron showed Ruff’s moment at the top of the ramp where the belt fell down. Owens said the same thing happened to him when he won the NXT Championship because he was so svelte. Ruff marked out and said “This is Kevin Owens, man!”
Ruff said he wanted to be an inspiration to people like him. Owens said it wasn’t easy for him, and he couldn’t imagine it was easy for Ruff, but he should be proud of what he’s done. Owens said Ruff needs a little more conviction, because if the guys in the back will see weakness so he needs to really get into it. He fired up and said “I DID do that! I beat Johnny Gargano twice!” Owens said when you call out someone, they always show up. He counted down from 3 and Gargano showed up. Gargano hit the ramp and asked if it was a prank show, and if Ashton Kutcher was around. Kevin joked about the “timely” reference. Owens offered Gargano a third chair and Gargano threw it out of the ring. Owens got a fourth chair and said the chair wasn’t for Gargano – it was just a hunch. Gargano mentioned Damian Priest and counted down from 3. Soon after, Damian Priest walked down the ramp and he had a mic. He called Gargano “Johnny Wheel of Fortune.” He said Gargano has to deal with the fact that Leon Ruff is better than him. Gargano got in Ruff’s face and said he wasn’t just a fluke, he was a joke. Ruff got in his face and Priest told him to hold on. Priest said he too hadn’t gotten a match for the NXT North American Championship. Owens said it was too bad they didn’t have Teddy Long to announce a triple threat match. William Regal’s music played and he announced that at WarGames, it would be Leon Ruff vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano…in a triple threat match…playa. When he said “playa,” Owens busted up.
(Wells’s Analysis: Great hype segment. Owens was absolute gold throughout the segment, and all three NXT wrestlers brought it as well. A case could be made for any of the three winning at WarGames)
-Finn Balor, in a backstage segment, said that someone will win WarGames, but they better not play checkers on his chess board. He warned them not to play in his kitty litter, because the cat is back.
-The Shotzi Blackheart WarGames segment from last week played, and Vic wondered who Shotzi would find for her WarGames team.
(3) JAKE ATLAS vs. CAMERON GRIMES
Rope run. Shoulder block by Grimes. Another rope run and an armdrag by Atlas. The two went to a corner and Atlas hit another armdrag. German suplex by Grimes for two. Grimes threw a couple of knees and kicks. Atlas evaded a backdrop and kicked Grimes’s head. Atlas rolled up Grimes for two. German suplex by Atlas and a cover for two. Grimes did his twisting cross-body and hit the Cave In.
Grimes tried to celebrate, and Dexter Lumis popped up behind him in a corner of the ring. Lumis pointed to the tron, where he’d made drawings of Grimes running along with actual video of Grimes running. Lumis put on a strap and offered Grimes the other end. Grimes tossed it aside and the camera went in close on Lumis’s crazy eyes.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 2:48.
(Wells’s Analysis: Oh my. Atlas gained so much in his match and feud with Santos Escobar only to completely lose it here. Grimes needed a win badly, though, so there’s that. A strap match at TakeOver is likely to finally blow off the Lumis-Grimes feud)
-Backstage, Cameron Grimes and William Regal ran into one another. Grimes said he had places he’s gotta be. Regal said he’s gotta be there right now. Regal announced a strap match for TakeOver between Grimes and Lumis. Grimes said “Mr. Regal, why do you hate me so much?” and Regal replied “Well, I think it’s your personality.”
-Rhea Ripley was in the ring with a mic. She said people were asking her about the hug afterward and if she was on her way out. She said the hug was just about respect, and she’s here to stay. Candice LeRae’s music played and Rhea got pissed. Candice said Io Shirai stole two victories from her, but Shirai beat Ripley on her own. LeRae said Ripley talks a lot but can’t seem to back it up. Meanwhile, she can talk the talk and walk the walk. Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai showed up and Gonzalez was carrying a knocked-out Io Shirai. The heels jumped Ripley and she fought all four of them off as long as she could. The four got the better of Ripley and Gonzalez beat down Ripley in a corner. The heels went up the ramp and stood over Shirai as Rhea sold the pain in the ring.
(Wells’s Analysis: So it’s Shotzi, Ember, Rhea and Io; all that’s left is to announce it officially. This entire show has been a very strong hype show for TakeOver)
-Boa and Xia Li were being taken in the back of a car to a secret area. They were brought in front of a woman in a cloak who never showed her face. They begged for mercy and said they would do better. Marks were made on their hands and Xia wailed. A very brief close-up of the cloaked woman ended the segment.
-Ever-Rise was in the ring for a match, but they were immediately jumped by Grizzled Young Veterans, who seemed in line for a tag team championship match before the pandemic kept them away. Zack Gibson reintroduced the team and that was that.
-McKenzie caught up with Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell outside. Hartwell had a neck brace on. Johnny Gargano appeared as well and he said WarGames was going to be all Gargano. The three got into a car, where Ghostface was shown sitting in the backseat. Vic played dumb and acted surprised that there were two Ghostfaces, and Owens mocked him.
(4) KYLE O’REILLY vs. PETE DUNNE – Ladder Match for the man advantage in WarGames\
There was no bell, so I’ll be guessing on the time. They came to blows and the match went to an immediate commercial. Upon return, the two fought and spilled out of the ring. One ladder was in the ring set up in a corner and O’Reilly went for another. Dunne laid out O’Reilly and made a platform with the ladder from barricade to ring. O’Reilly sent Dunne into the Plexiglass and then went in and set up the ladder in the middle of the ring. Dunne rushed into the ring and pushed over the ladder, which kind of rotated and then fell on O’Reilly as he fell to the mat. Dunne wrapped up O’Reilly in the ladder and wrenched his arm, then stomped on it against a rung of the ladder. He set up the ladder on top of O’Reilly’s hand to trap him and started up the ladder. O’Reilly broke free and hit a dragon screw to take Dunne down. Pete hit an enzuigiri and hit a powerbomb on the ladder in the corner, and smiled at his handiwork.
Dunne took O’Reilly to the rope where the ladder was set up as a platform and he stomped him against it. Kyle hit a dragon screw with Pete against the ropes. O’Reilly threw some kicks and the two exchanged shots over the top rope. Dunne hit a suplex and the two crashed through the platform ladder, which split in half. The match went to split-screen commercial as the two sold on the floor.
The two were back in the ring fighting, and O’Reilly put Dunne in a guillotine. He had to break because of the work done on his arm, but he hit a brainbuster on Dunne on a laying ladder. Damn. O’Reilly went to the top and he jumped off the top with a knee, but Dunne moved and O’Reilly hit the ladder. O’Reilly spilled to the floor and Dunne set up the ladder and climbed near the top before O’Reilly was able to grab him for an ankle lock. The two took big shots and fell to the floor as all their teammates (other than Pat McAfee) watched from platforms. Dunne and O’Reilly took shots at one another through the standing ladder, and yanked each other’s arms through to wrench the other’s arm against the support of the ladder. Eventually they both fell to the mat and the ladder fell away. O’Reilly set up the ladder and both guys went to the top and came to blows. Dunne crawled over the top and put the boots to O’Reilly. O’Reilly wrenched Dunne’s arm over his shoulder. O’Reilly got a hand on the briefcase but Dunne manipulated his digits and put him on the floor. The ladder fell away as O’Reilly yanked Dunne from it. O’Reilly laid out Dunne with a lariat and climbed. Dunne grabbed a steel chair and took it to O’Reilly a few times, then took O’Reilly outside and hit The Bitter End against the guardrail. Dunne went up the ladder and O’Reilly recovered and tipped the ladder to force Dunne to fall into the leaning ladder. O’Reilly went up the ladder and got attacked by a masked man, who dumped him. Dunne went up the ladder and won the man advantage. The masked man had the same black hoodie and mask that Pat McAfee wore when he was first revealed.
WINNER: Pete Dunne in about 19:40 (no opening bell).
After the decision, Dunne and the tag team champions fired up on the ramp as UE jawed from near the announce table.
(Wells’s Analysis: A very strong ladder match that was awfully stiff and raw for free TV. It’s too bad to see O’Reilly have to take another loss with the way he’s been promoted as a singles wrestler, but the heels have to win the WarGames advantage, and he was most capable of having a great match and absorbing a loss as I’m sure Cole was never considered to return to the ring just to lose here; he’s also more of a babyface than Roderick Strong or Bobby Fish, so that helped. The run-in was almost certainly McAfee, so I’m not sure why that was played as a secret unless there really is a fifth man planned for the group)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was probably the best NXT weekly show in a good while. The show remained in go-go-go mode with little in the way of slowing down the pace, but also told coherent stories that are leading up to a strong card for WarGames, currently a five-match show that will likely stay that way. The show was also very atypical in that only four matches were presented, while all other segments were to build to TakeOver in other ways. Kevin Owens also added a heavy dose of wit and sarcasm with some earnest points sprinkled in, and his presence gave a fresh feel to the show (even though he was subbing for an announcer who’s still fresh to the team himself). A big thumbs up from me tonight. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight using the link at the top of the page or stream tomorrow. Cheers.