Date: December 25, 2019
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida/Barclays Center, New York City, New York
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Mauro Ranallo, Tom Phillips, Beth Phoenix
Hosts: Pat McAfee, Cathy Kelly, Sam Roberts
It’s a Christmas night show because that’s something we needed this year. Last week’s show was a huge one with Rhea Ripley finally ending Shayna Baszler’s crazy long Women’s Title reign in a great moment. In addition to that, Johnny Gargano returned and annihilated Finn Balor to set up a huge match probably in the near future. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of last week’s big (and awesome) show.
The hosts welcome us to the show and do some bickering because that’s what WWE does.
From Full Sail.
Roderick Strong is issuing an open challenge for the North American Title.
North American Title: Roderick Strong vs. ???
Strong is defending against….Austin Theory, making his NXT TV debut. They go to the mat with Strong getting an early near fall and smiling a lot. Strong’s headlock doesn’t last long as Theory flips him over and even offers his cheek without much fear. The trash talk goes to Theory so Strong forearms him in the face and stomps away. Theory is back up with a nice dropkick for one and a hard whip puts Strong into the corner.
A standing moonsault connects for two and they head outside, with Strong hitting an Angle Slam into the post to start in on the back. That’s only good for nine so Strong stomps away again with the aggression starting to flow. Strong hits his own great dropkick and sends Theory outside, only to have Austin roll in….for a backbreaker to give Strong two.
Theory snaps off a snap suplex before rolling through the ropes for another dropkick. The fans are split as Theory kicks Strong away and hits a buckle bomb to rock Strong again. A fisherman’s buster onto the knee gets two on the champ but he’s right back with a superplex. Theory counters a backbreaker though and grabs a torture rack into a spinning powerbomb for his own two.
Strong takes him to the top for a backbreaker onto the buckle but Theory is out again. Theory is right back up with something like a fisherman’s buster onto the apron for a VERY close two and the shock is rather nice. They slug it out with Theory hitting a superkick (Mauro: “AUSTIN THEORY JUST JINGLED HIS BELLS!”) so Strong is right back with End of Heartache. The Stronghold finishes Theory at 16:46.
Rating: B. Theory looked like a potential star here and the fact that he is 22 years old puts him near the heights of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate who should not be that good at that age. Strong was the right choice of an opponent for him too as he has a style that works with everyone, including Theory, and we got a rather awesome match out of the two of them. This was about Theory doing everything he could and Strong focusing on the back because that’s what he does to set up his finisher. Theory will be back.
Theory gets a standing ovation and we get a lot of replays.
The hosts chat a bit with McAfee shouting a lot.
From Brooklyn, after a Smackdown taping.
Isaiah Scott vs. Jack Gallagher
Scott starts working on the arm but Gallagher grabs a leg to get out. Now it’s Gallagher cranking on the arm and fingers (Beth: “Taking those phalanges to a place they’re not supposed to go!”) and then a chinlock to mix it up a bit. Scott is right back on the arm with something like a short armscissors and Gallagher can’t spin out of things. He finally flips away so Scott dropkicks him in the side of the head.
Scott sends him over the top for a face first drop onto the apron. Back in and we hit the chinlock as they’re certainly keeping things slow and mat based early on. Gallagher slams him away though and we take a break. Back with Scott’s arm a bit banged up but he uses the good arm for a heck of a discus lariat. The middle rope elbow to the back has Gallagher in more trouble and it’s time for some kicks to the chest against the ropes.
A rolling Downward Spiral gives Scott two more and a backbreaker gets him away from Gallagher cranking on the arm. Gallagher headbutts the heck out of him for two of his own and they’re both down. It’s back to Scott’s arm but Scott reverses into an arm hold of his own, only to have Gallagher reverse into a cross armbreaker attempt. Scott reverses that into a Pentagon style arm snap, albeit with his foot instead of pulling back. The House Call is good for the pin on Gallagher at 13:48.
Rating: C+. Scott is someone who has more starts and stops to his run in NXT than I can even imagine. He keeps coming and going without being able to really get very far. That becomes an issue, but the talent is there and he can do all kinds of things in the ring. It helps that the fans are with him and Gallagher is the same way, with the ability to have a good match against anyone.
The hosts talk about how important the Barclays Center has been for NXT.
Next week: the NXT Awards.
From Full Sail.
Candice LeRae vs. Taynara Conti
Conti can’t sneak in a kick to the ribs as LeRae knocks it away and hits a neckbreaker across the middle rope. A suicide dive connects and Candice adds a springboard crossbody to the floor for two. The chinlock goes on but Conti fights out in a hurry and hits a running knee as we take a break.
Back with Conti getting two off a tilt-a-whirl Boss Man Slam and then covering again for a bonus. Candice is so annoyed that she ties her hair back and slaps away, setting up a missile dropkick for her own two. The step up backsplash sets up the Lionsault to finish Conti at 7:55.
Rating: C-. LeRae is someone who can wrestle a fine enough match but she doesn’t exactly break through to the other side. I could see her getting a Cinderella run towards the title but I’m not sure if she will ever win the thing. Conti is fine as a midcard dragon to slay, though she needs to win a few matches to get her back to that status.
Arturo Ruas is coming.
Back to Brooklyn.
Dominick Dijakovic vs. Bronson Reed
They do the power lockup to start with Dijakovic getting the better of things off a headlock. Reed reverses into one of his own as he gets his turn to grind Dijakovic down for a change. An exchange of shoulders goes nowhere so Dijakovic tries and fails at a suplex attempt instead. Reed runs him over and sits on Dijakovic’s back as we take a break.
Back with Reed forearming him in the face and snapping off a German suplex. A running hip attack in the corner gives Reed two and there’s a suplex for the same. Dijakovic still can’t suplex him so he kicks and strikes away instead. Now the toss suplex connects for two on Reed and the Cyclone boot gets the same.
Just to show off, Dijakovic busts out a moonsault for another near fall and the fans are getting into these kickouts. The chokeslam is broken up with headbutts to the hand (that’s a new one) and Reed busts out a middle rope Thesz press for two more. Some headbutts to the head look to set up the splash but Dijakovic catches him on the middle rope with a chokebomb for the pin at 12:16.
Rating: C+. I can go for a good hoss fight like this and that’s what they did here. Reed has gotten to show off multiple times now and I’ve been having a good time watching him look so good. At the same time, Dijakovic is a monster and someone who should be pushed towards the main event in a hurry. He’s that good and NXT knows it.
Video on When Worlds Collide.
Video on Bianca Belair.
Bianca Belair vs. Shotzi Blackheart
Shotzi, recently signed, takes her into the corner to start and snapmares Belair down for blowing bubbles. Belair spins out though and drops a seated senton to take over. A sunset flip doesn’t work for Shotzi and Belair blows more bubbles. This one is broken up with a slap to the face and a springboard hurricanrana sends Belair into the ropes. A running reverse Cannonball against the ropes puts Belair on the floor but she counters a dive and drops Shotzi onto the apron.
Back from a break with Belair clotheslining her down and posing a lot on the cover. Shotzi gets caught with a running dropkick and we hit the cravate. That’s broken up and Shotzi hits a running faceplant to get a breather. There’s a kick to Belair’s head and a rolling faceplant gets two. Shotzi gets creative with a running tornado DDT onto the apron and Belair is rocked. Back in and a big boot misses though, allowing Belair to send her into the corner. The KOD finishes Blackheart at 10:15.
Rating: C. This was a way to showcase Shotzi and that worked out well enough. You knew she wasn’t going to beat a bigger star like Belair but at least she hit a bunch of nice stuff. It was designed as a get to know you match and for what it was, that worked out well enough. Shotzi is going to need some more work but she had a good first outing here so at least her first foot came off well.
The hosts discuss Shotzi and the women’s division.
Keith Lee/Lio Rush vs. Tony Nese/Damian Priest
What an odd pair of teams. Nese and Rush start things off but it’s off to Priest for the ridiculous visual on the staredown instead. Rush slaps him in the face for some reason but he gets in a kick to the chest as well. A blocked kick allows the tag to Lee though and now let’s have a staredown.
Priest makes it personal by pulling off Lee’s Santa hat and it’s time for them both to miss a lot of shots to the face in a far more fast paced exchange than should be legal for people their size. Lee hits a crossbody and smiles at Nese for trying to interfere. The chase is on outside with Nese being Pounced over the announcers’ table for a .6 Cole. Back from a break with Priest punching Rush out of the air to take over.
Nese comes in to kick Rush in the face and we hit the bodyscissors. A big kick to the head misses and Rush flips out of a belly to back suplex. The bottom rope springboard Stunner puts them both down though and it’s back to Lee to clean house. Lee’s running clothesline gets two on Priest but the Spirit Bomb doesn’t work. Nese knocks Lee down and gets two off a Lionsault but Rush comes back in for a springboard hurricanrana.
Rush strikes away and kicks Nese in the head but Priest chokeslams him onto the apron. Back in and….Lee, in the Santa hat, rises up next to Priest and throws him to the floor. Lee catches a diving Nese in the air so Priest tries a running flip dive….and Lee catches THAT, holds him up, and powerbombs him onto the apron. You know, because HE CAN DO THAT. The Limit Breaker into the Final Hour off of Lee’s shoulders finishes Nese at 13:25.
Rating: C+. The more I watch Lee, the more I’m convinced that he was built in a lab somewhere. The guy is a complete athletic freak with the power and athleticism being as impressive of a combination as you’re going to see. Throw in another rise into the camera and how can you not be impressed? Much like Dijakovic, he needs to be pushed up the card in a hurry, just because it’s hard to leave him out of the main event if he keeps this up.
Overall Rating: B. This was a show that you may not have needed to see but it was entertaining and flew by with no stories and little more than a bunch of showcase matches. There’s nothing here you really need to see, though Theory and Shotzi both had some valuable performances. We’ll be back to normal soon enough but for a one off special, this worked very well.
Roderick Strong b. Austin Theory – Stronghold
Isaiah Scott b. Jack Gallagher – House Call
Candice LeRae b. Taynara Conti – Lionsault
Dominick Dijakovic b. Bronson Reed – Chokebomb
Bianca Belair b. Shotzi Blackheart – KOD
Keith Lee/Lio Rush b. Tony Nese/Damian Priest – Final Hour to Nese
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