NXT – December 18, 2019

Date: December 18, 2019
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Beth Phoenix, Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness

It’s a double title night here with both the NXT Title and Women’s Title on the line. First up Adam Cole will defend against Finn Balor and odds are the main event will see Rhea Ripley challenging Shayna Baszler. NXT knows how to do these big shows so it should be interesting to see how things go. Let’s get to it.

The opening recap looks at last week’s show.

NXT Title: Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole

Cole is defending. They go to the mat to start with Balor getting the better of things off a headlock. Back up and Cole takes over on the arm, only to get caught with a basement dropkick for one. This time it’s Balor working on the arm instead before stomping away. Cole gets knocked outside but he’s fine enough to superkick the leg before Balor can kick him from the apron.

Back in and we hit the chinlock to keep Balor in trouble as the announcers talk about Cole’s mind games. Another kick to the leg takes Balor down again and a neckbreaker gets two. Balor bridges out of a Figure Four necklock and the Eye of the Hurricane gets two on the champ. Cole is right back with a Backstabber, only to have Balor grab a Sling Blade. The superkick cuts off a running Balor for two but Cole is slow to get up. He walks into a Pele kick but Balor falls down as well, allowing Cole to get his own two.

The Panama Sunrise and 1916 are both countered so Cole grabs the brainbuster onto the knee for two more. We get the dueling UNDISPUTED/LET’S GO FINN chants as Balor fights up, only to get knocked off the top. The Panama Sunrise to the floor is countered with a backdrop though and Balor hits the John Woo dropkick against the barricade.

Back in and the Coup de Grace misses, allowing Cole to hit the Last Shot….for two, giving us an outstanding ARE YOU SERIOUS face. Balor clotheslines him down though and now the Coup de Grace connects. 1916 is loaded up….but here’s Johnny Gargano for the first time in nearly two months. The distraction lets Cole hit a low blow and the Last Shot retains the title at 15:17.

Rating: A-. This was another great match for Cole and another instance of him beating a big name to further solidify himself as one of the best in the world today. Gargano vs. Balor is going to be a huge deal and I’m curious to see where they go with Cole now. It would seem that it’s time for either Tommaso Ciampa or Keith Lee, but dang they could go a lot of different ways.

Post match Cole leaves and Gargano grabs a chair. Balor tries to get out but Gargano is right there with some chair shots to the back to send him outside. More shots send Balor bailing through the crowd to escape.

Video on Pete Dunne vs. Damien Priest vs. Killian Dain from Takeover: WarGames.

Killian Dain vs. Damien Priest

Priest has taped up ribs coming in. Dain shoves him into the corner to start so Priest comes out slugging. That just earns Priest the running crossbody and Dain grabs a waistlock. Priest gets sent into the corner so Dain hits a baseball slide to the ribs to put him on the floor. Back in and we hit the second waistlock with Dain quickly switching into a reverse chinlock with a knee in the spine.

Dain adds a backsplash and the tape is pulled off to make the ribs even more vulnerable. There’s a fisherman’s suplex for two more and a running dropkick puts Priest on the floor as we take a break. Back with Priest managing to hit a Flatliner for a breather. A jumping back elbow and some rapid strikes make it even worse for Dain, with a clothesline putting him down.

Priest somehow manages a suplex and the fans bring him back to his feet. Dain tries to bail so Priest is right there with a step up flip dive. Back in and South of Heaven gives Priest two in a great near fall. Dain manages a kick to the ribs and a powerbomb though, plus a big elbow for two. The Ulster Plantation is countered so Priest hits the spinning kick to the head but a powerbomb is too much for the ribs. Dain’s Vader Bomb hits raised knees though and the Reckoning finishes Dain at 14:18.

Rating: B-. This was all about two big, strong men hitting each other very hard with Priest’s ribs being the focal point of the match. Dain tried once too often though and Priest used the opening to get the win. Priest is someone who could go a long way around here (Say after the NXT Title?) and I’m for it, provided I can stop calling him Punishment Martinez.

Vote for the Year End Awards!

The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is back, with things getting started on January 1.

Kushida vs. Cameron Grimes

Kushida still has Grimes’ hat. They go to the mat for some grappling and Kushida gets the better of it to a rather nice reaction. Kushida pulls him down into a cross armbreaker before twisting both arms around at the same time. Grimes bails to the floor so Kushida hits him with a baseball slide and throws him back inside.

The Octopus Hold has Grimes in more trouble until he flips out, only to get caught in the same thing again. Back from a break with Kushida in trouble after Grimes hit his running belly to belly. There’s a big throw and Kushida is in even more trouble. Grimes stays on the back with a backbreaker and even bends Kushida over the knee for a bonus.

The back is fine enough for a handspring elbow to drop Grimes and it’s a cartwheel into the basement dropkick. Kushida goes after the arm again with a dropkick but the attempted Hoverboard Lock is countered into a sitout Rock Bottom for two. Kushida snaps off a German suplex so Grimes one ups him with a bridging version for two more. Grimes heads to the apron and that means a handspring kick to the face to put him on the floor.

The big flip dive to the floor nearly misses Grimes but they’re both down. Back in and Kushida goes for the Hoverboard Lock in the corner but gets shoved down. That just means another handspring kick and a super victory roll gives Kushida his own two. Grimes hits the enziguri but misses the Cave In. Kushida misses a kick of his own though and the Cave In connects to give Grimes the pin at 13:58.

Rating: B. The matches on this shove have been awesome at this point and this was another great one. Grimes just got a heck of a win as Kushida is a much more established name at this (or likely any) point. It’s clear that they’re giving Grimes something and that is an a big treat as he has been a HUGE surprise for me and someone I’m liking more every time I see him.

Grimes gets his hat back.

Video on Io Shirai.

Io Shirai vs. Santana Garrett

Shirai backflips to start and runs her over, only to get wristdragged out of the corner. That doesn’t sit well with Shirai so Garrett superkicks her instead. A flapjack works a bit better for Shirai but she misses some running knees in the corner. Garrett’s Russian legsweep gets two and a forearm rocks her again. There’s the handspring elbow in the corner and a floatover suplex gets two more on Shirai. The Last Chancery has Shirai in more trouble but she sends Garrett throat first into the top rope. Running knees in the corner set up the moonsault to finish Garrett at 4:01.

Rating: C. This was a step above a squash for Shirai as Garrett is someone who can have a good match with just about anyone but she hasn’t had the strongest career in NXT so far. She seems like someone who is biding her time though as she is too talented to be left on the sidelines for long. It’s Shirai’s town though and she should be moving higher up the card soon.

When Worlds Collide is coming.

Pete Dunne vs. Travis Banks

Dunne starts on the arm to start, as is his custom. Some rollups give Dunne two and it’s a standoff. Dunne tries to drop down but Banks is right there with a dropkick to the side of the head. They strike it out next to the rope and Dunne easily gets the better of things to put Banks down. A double stomp to the hands sets up the X Plex onto the apron and we take a break.

Back with Banks hitting a pair of running dropkicks in the corner to set up the Cannonball. Dunne bails to the floor and it’s the suicide dive to send him into the barricade. A missile dropkick sends Dunne back into the corner and there’s a middle rope double stomp for two. Dunne flips over him out of the corner and just sidesteps Slice of Heaven for a crash. Another X Plex gets two but Banks is right back with an enziguri.

Banks goes up top for a super sunset flip but Dunne lands on his feet. The Bitter End is countered so Banks tries the Slice of Heaven, which is countered into a leg tied stomp. Banks counters the Bitter End again and hits the Kiwi Crusher for two more. Dunne powerbombs him out of the corner and busts out a super X Plex. Now the Bitter End is good for the pin on Banks at 10:54.

Rating: B. This was the hard hitting, back and forth style that you expect from the NXT UK wrestlers. They beat each other up here and Dunne gets a win to get himself back on track. Banks is someone who looks good every time he’s out there and if he wants it, I’m sure he could be a big star in the regular NXT as well.

Post match Dunne shows some respect.

Dakota Kai isn’t worried about Mia Yim and wants the Women’s Title.

Next week: Lio Rush/Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest/Tony Nese and Roderick Strong issues an open challenge.

Women’s Title: Rhea Ripley vs. Shayna Baszler

Ripley is challenging and we get the Big Match Intros again. They go with the grappling to start and Baszler takes her to the mat by the arm. The stomp to the arm is blocked though and Ripley gets back up. The threat of Ripley’s big right hands sends Baszler running into the corner and there’s a hard whip into the corner to send Baszler to the floor. Back from a break with Ripley hitting some clotheslines and knees to the head to put Baszler down.

A running dropkick sends Baszler into the corner again, meaning it’s the top rope superplex to make Baszler bounce off the mat. Rhea sends her outside so here are the Horsewomen, only to have them taken down by a Cannonball off the apron. Baszler uses the distraction to stomp the arm into the steps and it’s time to twist the arm around back inside. The arm gets twisted around again and we take another break.

Back again with Baszler stomping on the arm again, though this time with the Horsewomen having been ejected for working on Ripley’s arm again. She even had to get checked by the doctor during the break but was ruled able to continue. Baszler starts kicking at the ribs but Ripley hits the running dropkick to send her into the referee in the corner. Riptide connects for no count so Baszler rolls outside again.

This time the Cannonball off the apron misses but Rhea is able to slip out of a Kirifuda Clutch. Baszler throws in a chair and a DDT onto said chair gets two more. The fans believe all over again and Rhea flips out of another Kirifuda Clutch. The standing Cloverleaf is broken up and now the Clutch goes on for a VERY long time with Ripley not being able to get out.

We go old school with the referee checking the arm but she grabs the referee’s shirt to say she’s not done. She flips out again and stomps Baszler in the head, setting up the standing Cloverleaf (now dubbed the Prism Trap). Baszler kicks that away too and hits a running knee in the corner. They go up top but Baszler talks too much trash, allowing Ripley to get in a headbutt. The super Riptide gives Rhea the pin and the title at 20:50. Ripley nearly loses it on the celebration for a great moment.

Rating: A-. Above all else, this felt like a big changing of the guard. Baszler has been champion for the better part of a year and a half (save for Kairi Sane’s short reign) and she had beaten so many people that it was going to take a monumental effort to finally stop her. That’s what Ripley had and you could feel the energy in the whole thing. I had a great time watching this and they gave some awesome false finishes where I wasn’t sure they were going to pull the trigger. This should have been Ripley’s win and it feels like she had to earn every bit of it. Awesome main event and a better moment.

After all the replays, we come back to the locker room filling the ring (and I mean completely filling the ring) to celebrate with Ripley to end the show.

Overall Rating: A. Dang that was an awesome show with two great bookends and some very good stuff in the middle. The worst part of the show was Shirai vs. Garrett and even that was perfectly watchable. This show felt just shy of Takeover levels and they even have stuff to look forward to later. It’s one of the better weeks of TV they’ve ever done and it nailed just about everything. Great show and worth checking out in full.


Adam Cole b. Finn Balor – Last Shot

Damien Priest – Killian Dain – Reckoning

Cameron Grimes b. Kushida – Cave In

Io Shirai b. Santana Garrett – Moonsault

Pete Dunne b. Travis Banks – Bitter End

Rhea Ripley b. Shayna Baszler – Super Riptide

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