NXT – January 8, 2020

NXT
Date: January 8, 2020
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Beth Phoenix, Nigel McGuinness, Mauro Ranallo

It’s back to Full Sail for the first time this year after things went in a bit of a different direction last week. This time around it’s time to crown a new #1 contender to the North American Title. In addition to that, it’s time to start the annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which can be a bit hit and miss. Let’s get to it.

We get a quick preview, talking about Rhea Ripley’s first appearance as Women’s Champion and looking at the Dusty Classic.

Here’s Rhea Ripley to soak in the YOU DESERVE IT chants. She talks about memories, including being in this ring to become the new Women’s Champion. Cue Toni Storm to cut her off though and she has a question: “Remember that time when I beat you?” Toni promises to win the NXT UK Women’s Title at Sunday’s Takeover and she likes the idea of having two titles. The challenge is thrown out for When Worlds Collide and Rhea wastes no time in accepting.

Cue NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray to say Toni isn’t winning on Sunday but here’s Io Shirai to cut them all off. She points at the Women’s Title and says it’s hers but here’s Bianca Belair because it’s been too long since she choked in a title match. Belair says she has 2020 vision and knows she’s better than everyone. Now it’s Candice LeRae and the fight is on. William Regal sends in word to make a six woman tag. That’s a very main roster style booking and I really hope that’s not going to be the norm. At least it didn’t take long though.

Candice LeRae/Toni Storm/Rhea Ripley vs. Kay Lee Ray/Bianca Belair/Io Shirai

The bell rings and Storm hits a dive onto all three villains as we take an early break. We come back with LeRae hitting some running elbows in the corner, only to dive into a superkick for two. Shirai hits a flapjack and a running dropkick to the side of Candice’s head to set up a chinlock.

A seated abdominal stretch keeps LeRae in trouble and it’s off to another chinlock. Candice finally gets up and low bridges Belair to the floor but Belair dives around the side and cuts off the tag in a smart move. Storm breaks up a cover and everything breaks down and everyone is on the floor/mat as we take another break. Back again with Candice hitting her reverse hurricanrana on Ray, only to have Belair throw her back into the corner.

A missed charge knocks Shirai off the apron though, meaning it’s Storm coming in off the hot tag to clean house. Shirai sends her into the corner though and grabs a butterfly backbreaker to drop Storm. The moonsault is loaded up but Belair tags herself in, only to have Shirai springboard in with a missile dropkick to break up the KOD. Shirai walks out and Ripley comes in for a big boot to Belair. Riptide is good for the pin on Belair at 16:16.

Rating: B-. Good match here as they set up a bunch of people to come after Ripley while also giving Storm vs. Ray a needed boost. I’m curious to see where Ripley goes as you have to build up her challengers in the right way. She’s big and dominant, which makes it a little difficult to set up a challenger. It can be done, but it has to be done the right way. Storm is a good choice for the first one though, even if it’s at a special instead of Takeover.

Post match Toni and Rhea stare each other down but Candice picks up the title and looks at it as well. Everything winds up being ok though as Candice hands it over to Rhea and everyone poses.

Help victims of the Australian wildfires. Nothing wrong with that.

Tommaso Ciampa wants the NXT Title back because he was the best NXT Champion of all time. It was the best 238 days of his life but then it was stopped. He’s coming for Adam Cole, which is a match they have to do sooner or later.

Keith Lee is ready to become #1 contender tonight with a big Pounce.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round: Forgotten Sons vs. Imperium

Cutler/Blake vs. Aichner/Barthel. During their entrance, Imperium says this is the first step to dominating NXT. The Sons start fast and take Aichner, with a face mask on, down for an early two. Aichner takes Blake into the corner though and it’s Barthel hanging him upside down over the middle rope for a double running dropkick. A DDT gets Blake out of trouble and it’s off to Cutler and Aichner for the slugout. Cutler’s butterfly backbreaker gets two and it’s a very fast Boston crab as Cutler is showing some fire early on.

That’s broken up and Cutler is sent outside with Blake making a blind tag. Blake raises his knees to block a moonsault but his moonsault gets the same fate to put them both down. It’s Blake going to the middle rope and getting tossed into a delayed vertical suplex from Aichner (awesome) for two. Cutler dives back in and it’s a knockdown to put everyone down at once. Blake dropkicks Barthel into the corner and then dropkicks Aichner out of the air. The reverse DDT/middle rope stomp is broken up though and it’s the European Bomb for the pin on Blake at 5:11.

Rating: B. This was a heck of a match as they only went five minutes but never stopped the entire time. The Sons got to showcase themselves rather well here, even though it isn’t likely going to go anywhere for them. They just went out there and had an exciting match and that’s a great use of five minutes.

Matt Riddle talks about how he and Pete Dunne don’t know each other very well, which makes them perfect for the Dusty Classic. They posed at each other and the team was born.

Gallus is ready to win the Dusty Classic.

Austin Theory vs. Joaquin Wilde

Wilde slugs away to start and anklescissors him out of the corner, only to get dropped throat first across the top rope. A slingshot stomp and a fisherman’s suplex give Theory one and it’s off to a cobra clutch. Wilde fights up and hits a hurricanrana to put Theory on the floor, only to have Theory roll back in with a rolling dropkick. A TKO finishes Wilde at 2:59. Theory looked good again and Wilde was working hard as usual.

Damian Priest is ready to make his name live forever.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round: Undisputed Era vs. Gallus

Non-title and it’s Kyle O’Reilly/Bobby Fish vs. Wolfgang/Mark Coffey. The rest of the Era is at ringside as well. Wolfgang runs O’Reilly over to start so it’s off to Coffey for a slugout. Fish comes in as well and gets powered into the corner, setting up a big toss right back out of it for a crash. It’s already back to Wolfgang and it’s something like a double monkey flip into the corner to keep Fish in trouble.

With Fish having been destroyed thoroughly so far, it’s O’Reilly coming in so he can get whipped around as well. Wolfgang’s running backsplash gets two and a clothesline puts the Era on the floor. All four members get on the apron for a staredown and we take a break. Back with the Era double kicking Wolfgang down for two. Fish’s chinlock doesn’t work either as Wolfgang flips him forward for the escape. Fish pulls Coffey off the apron to break up a tag so, of course, the tag goes through about five seconds later.

Coffey gets to come in and start cleaning house with backdrops but more kicks take him down for two. Running knees in the corner have Mark in more trouble until he ducks a running big boot, causing O’Reilly to kick Fish by mistake. Everything breaks down again and some shots to the face put the Era on the floor. Wolfgang throws Mark onto the Era but Cole gets in a cheap shot onto Wolfgang. That’s enough to set up High/Low to finish Wolfgang at 12:25.

Rating: B-. Another entertaining match here with the Era using the numbers game to win as there was no Joe Coffey to even things up a bit. I’m curious to see how the Era is going to do in the tournament as you don’t want your champions losing but there are ways around it, which should be interesting to see. Good match though and that’s always nice to see in the tournament or not.

We look back at Finn Balor turning on Johnny Gargano and laying him out. Gargano then returned and cost Balor the NXT Title, plus gave him a beating with a chair.

Video on Flash Morgan Webster/Mark Andrews.

Here’s Johnny Gargano for a chat. He isn’t wasting time this week and talks about everything Finn Balor did to build this place. Then Balor put him out for three months, which made Johnny Takeover miss a Takeover. Yeah Balor did a lot of things around here, but then he bailed as soon as he got that phone call. Gargano got his in August but he turned it down because he wanted to stay here.

When Balor left, Gargano took up the NXT mantle, threw out Balor’s game plan, and took NXT to new heights without him. That must eat Balor up, but here’s Balor to interrupt. Balor says maybe we should call him Johnny Promo because that’s all Johnny can be cleared to do. That being said, if Johnny wants his Takeover moment, go talk to Regal and Balor will see him in Portland. If Johnny can make it that far. Another match where you had to go there and going with the logic is the right call.

Cameron Grimes is ready to cave people in.

Video on the Grizzled Young Veterans.

We’ve covered most of the Dusty Classic teams but there is one left. Kushida needs a partner and he’s got…..ALEX SHELLEY as the Time Splitters are reunited next week.

Mia Yim vs. Kayden Carter

Yim blocks an early armdrag attempt and runs Carter over to start. A springboard dropkick works better for Carter but she can’t hit a running hurricanrana. Instead Yim counters it into a sitout powerbomb for two and a basement dropkick gets the same. We hit the bow and arrow hold to make it worse for Carter but she’s back up with some right hands against the ropes. A running boot to the face gets two and a low superkick gives Carter the same. Carter goes up but dives into Protect Yo Neck to give Yim the pin at 3:46.

Rating: C-. Just a match here as Yim gets some momentum back. She’s fine in a place like this but going up any higher than this doesn’t quite work for her. Maybe it’s her promos and backstory that don’t work for me but Yim has a pretty firm ceiling. I still like Carter though and she could be something if she is given a push.

Post match Yim helps her up but Chelsea Green debuts and jumps Mia. Robert Stone (Robbie E.) appears on the ramp and says 2020 will be the year of the Robert Stone Brand, starting with Green as his first signing. Green does her Tessa Blanchard pose.

Dominik Dijakovic is used to getting past obstacles and this match is nothing but a formality.

Video on Ciampa vs. Cole.

Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Cameron Grimes

One fall to a finish and the winner gets a North American Title shot in two weeks. Lee invites us to bask in his glory as everyone stares at each other to start. Grimes goes after Lee and gets tossed into the corner. Dijakovic does the same to Priest and it’s time for Lee and Dijakovic to start beating people up. We get the huge staredown with Lee leapfrogging him so Dijakovic grabs the rope before things go too fast.

Lee misses a spinwheel kick and it’s another staredown until Grimes and Priest jump them both. Priest BLASTS Grimes with a right hand but Dijakovic tries his toss suplex on Priest…..so Lee catches him. He’s not done though as Lee SWINGS PRIEST AROUND LIKE A WEAPON, including a powerbomb onto Dijakovic’s back for two. Every time I think these two can’t do more things to impress me, they surprise me again.

Everyone winds up on the floor but Priest goes back inside, leaving Lee to get double teamed. He fights that off and tells Priest to dive on him, but Priest is too smart this time. Lee gets distracted though and now Priest dives onto all three of them to send us to a break. Back with Priest heading back inside for the showdown with Lee….who deadlift superplexes him off the apron.

Dijakovic moonsaults onto Lee’s back but Grimes grabs a bridging German suplex for two. Grimes goes up so Priest hurricanranas him into Lee’s arms, so Lee hands him off to Dijakovic for Feast Your Eyes. The Pounce puts Dijakovic on the floor but Priest grabs the Reckoning, only to have Dijakovic break it up with a big boot through the ropes. Back in and Priest kicks it out with Dijakovic until a double big boot puts them both down.

They both grab the other by the throat…and Lee rises up to chokeslam them both. Grimes hits his flipping belly to belly suplex and moonsaults onto Priest on the floor. Back in again and Grimes gets knocked out of the air, setting up the Spirit Bomb to give Lee the pin and the title at 14:02.

Rating: B. This was a well put together match and the right choice. Dijakovic and Priest are good and Grimes has a different style but Lee has been the star for a long time now. He needs to actually win something though and the North American Title should work just fine. As long as they actually pull the trigger for once though, and there is good reason to believe they will.

Lee celebrates to end the show.

Overall Rating: B. This was one of those shows where they built up some obvious stuff and didn’t have anything bad, making it a rather awesome two hours. I’m not as big of a tournament fan as some are but the action was good enough to make it work. Couple that with Lee’s coronation (or as close as he’s going to get to one at the moment) being set up and some major matches being scheduled and we should be in for a nice future to go with a good present here.

Results

Rhea Ripley/Toni Storm/Candice LeRae b. Kay Lee Ray/Bianca Belair/Io Shirai – Riptide to Belair

Imperium b. Forgotten Sons – European Bomb to Blake

Austin Theory b. Joaquin Wilde – TKO

Undisputed Era b. Gallus – High/Low to Wolfgang

Mia Yim b. Kayden Carter – Protect Yo Neck

Keith Lee b. Cameron Grimes, Dominik Dijakovic and Damian Priest – Spirit Bomb to Grimes

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