NXT – January 22, 2020

NXT
Date: January 22, 2020
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Beth Phoenix, Mauro Ranallo

It’s the go home show for When Worlds Collide but it’s also time to start building things up for Takeover: Portland. I’m not sure where everything is going for that show, but tonight we have more from the Dusty Classic and the North American Title on the line with Roderick Strong defending against the banged up Keith Lee. Let’s get to it.

Opening recap.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Undisputed Era

Non-title. O’Reilly takes Gibson down to start so Gibson takes him into the corner for a slap. That just earns him a string of forearms to the face and a kick to the ribs, only to have Gibson drag him over for the tag to Drake. Fish comes in as well and snaps Drake’s knee around the ropes, setting up the rapid fire strikes into the slingshot hilo for two.

A double snap suplex gets two on Drake but he fights up and makes the tag off to Gibson. This time it’s the Veterans getting in their own blind tag to knock the Era outside. We take a break and come back with Fish getting the hot tag to strike away, only to miss a good looking moonsault. Drake catches him with a running corner dropkick and Gibson muscles him up with Helter Skelter for two.

A low bridge puts Drake on the floor though and it’s O’Reilly hitting a running knee off the apron to take him down again. Back in and it’s time to pick Gibson apart but Drake comes back in for the save. Drake hits a step up enziguri on Fish and it’s a series of strikes to put Gibson and O’Reilly on the floor. That leaves Fish and Drake to strike it out until Fish comes back in for a bunch of kicks to drop Drake….but here’s Imperium. They’re up on the perch above the ring and the distraction lets the Veterans hit Ticket To Mayhem for the pin on O’Reilly at 13:00.

Rating: B. Good, solid match here with a not so great distraction finish. That’s understandable as you don’t want to have the Era lose clean, even if it’s to another awesome team. It’s one of the problems with tournaments involving bigger names but they did what they could here while also advancing When Worlds Collide for a bonus.

Post match the rest of the Era comes in to chase off the Veterans and are rather annoyed.

Video on Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm for When Worlds Collide.

Video on Shotzi Blackheart, who eliminated Shayna Baszler from the battle royal last night.

Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai

Shirai takes her down to start and works on the ankle until Toni can spin her way out. That’s turned into a standoff and Storm offers a handshake, only to pull it away in a move that will never go away. Storm kicks her in the chest for two but can’t hit a German suplex. Instead Shirai sends her throat first into the ropes and hits a running boot to the head for a bonus.

Back in and Shirai chokes in the corner before working on a reverse chinlock with a knee in the spine. A quick slugout goes to Shirai, who takes Storm down into a headlock to keep her in trouble. Shirai pulls her down by the hair and we take a break. Back with Shirai hitting a double stomp to the ribs but she charges into a boot in the corner.

Storm’s comeback starts with a reverse German suplex and a clothesline gets two. Storm Zero is blocked though, leaving Storm to hit an even harder clothesline for two more. Shirai kicks her into the ropes but the 619 is blocked. A dropkick sends Shirai outside and the dive is loaded up….so Bianca Belair can hit Storm for the DQ at 11:00.

Rating: B-. Another good match with a worse finish as Belair wants to weaken Storm before Saturday’s title match, presumably so that she can face Ripley at Takeover. That being said, wouldn’t she want to have Storm take as much of a beating as she could here and then run in for the beatdown? Either way, just don’t let her talk and we’ll be fine. The match was solid, with Storm getting to show why she’s as celebrated as she is and Shirai being allowed to show off a lot in her own right.

Post match Belair keeps up the beatdown but here’s Rhea Ripley to go after Belair. Shirai is back in with a springboard missile dropkick to Ripley though, setting up an Asai moonsault to take out Belair and Ripley. Storm gets to hit her dive, though the crowd REALLY does not like her picking up the Women’s Title.

Undisputed Era isn’t happy but they’re focusing on taking care of Keith Lee tonight. They’ll deal with Imperium later.

Ilja Dragunov is ready to take out Finn Balor at When Worlds Collide.

Finn Balor vs. Joaquin Wilde

Balor wastes no time in taking him down and stomping away, though he does ask if this hurts. More kicking sets up the John Woo dropkick in the corner and it’s the Coup de Grace (with Wilde halfway across the ring) into 1916 for the pin at 2:03. Total squash.

Shayna Baszler isn’t worried about Shotzi Blackheart because she’s going to be Shayna Three Times.

Video on DIY.

Shayna Baszler vs. Shotzi Blackheart

Shayna knocks her down to start but doesn’t follow up to get in Shotzi’s head a bit. A kick to the leg puts Shotzi down and that means a pat on the head. Shotzi takes her down by the leg but Shayna shows her how it’s really done and goes to an armbar. Back up and Shayna cranks on the arm even more, only to get low bridged out to the floor in a nice callback to last week.

Back in and Shotzi misses a springboard so Shayna dumps her over the top as we continue the anything you can do theme. They get back inside with Shayna hammering her down into a front facelock. A DDT out of the corner gives Shotzi a breather so Shayna forearms her hard in the head.

Blackheart doesn’t seem to mind and hits a few kicks to the head, followed by a faceplant for good measure. The reverse Cannonball hits Baszler in the ropes and a not incredibly looking Sliced Bread sends Shayna into the apron. Back in and Shotzi tries a top rope backsplash but gets caught in the Kirifuda Clutch. A lot of fighting doesn’t work for Shotzi and she taps at 6;23.

Rating: C+. There was some good storytelling here with Shotzi as the newcomer who was taught that Shayna was still a boss around here. There isn’t much of a reason to keep Shayna around NXT anymore, but that has been the case for months now. Shotzi has potential though and the green hair is more than enough to keep her noticed.

Shayna takes her time letting go to teach Shotzi a lesson.

Tegan Nox wants revenge on Dakota Kai. They were best friends and then turned on her so it’s time to fight. Kai saying that Nox is due for another injury is a great heel line. They fight next week.

Video on Moustache Mountain.

Angel Garza isn’t worried about his four way title defense at When Worlds Collide. This is his house and he doesn’t care who he is facing.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Broserweights vs. Imperium

The winners get the Grizzled Young Veterans in the finals. Aichner charges straight at Dunne and takes him to the mat but it’s back up for an early standoff. Barthel comes in and takes Dunne down as well, leaving Dunne to drive him into the ropes for a blind tag from Aichner. A headlock doesn’t work that well on Dunne, who is right back with a hard clothesline to put Aichner halfway back to Italy.

Riddle comes in for an assisted spinning senton and a gutwrench suplex puts Aichner into the corner for the tag to Barthel. Another gutwrench suplex sets up a Broton but Barthel gets the knees up and kicks away in the corner. That doesn’t last long either as Riddle knocks him back and gets over to Dunne, who dropkicks Aichner’s knee out. Dunne gets in some kicks to the head and a crucifix bomb gets two on Aichner.

An X Plex on the apron plants Aichner again but here’s Walter to distract Dunne, allowing Barthel to get in a cheap shot from behind. Back from a break with Barthel going up but diving into a hard forearm to knock him out of the air. It’s still not enough for the hot tag so Dunne loads up a moonsault out of the corner, only to have his knee give out (might have been a smart way of covering for a botch). Dunne knocks the two of them down though and now it’s the hot tag to Riddle so house can be cleaned.

Riddle stomps on Aichner’s hand and a double kick to the chest gets two. Aichner shoves Riddle into Dunne though and then sends Riddle shoulder first into the post. The double running dropkicks in the corner get two on Riddle and it’s a wheelbarrow/diving DDT combination for the same. Dunne is loaded into Aichner’s delayed suplex but it’s reversed into a keylock.

Riddle locks Barthel’s ankle at the same time before going with a jumping knee to the face. Dunne lets go of the hold and kicks Aichner in the head, setting up a double spear to Aichner. The Jackhammer gets two but Aichner is right back up to catch Riddle on top. Barthel shoves Riddle into a brainbuster but Riddle hurricanranas his way out of the European Bomb. The Final Flash into a powerbomb into another knee sets up the BTS/enziguri combination to finish Aichner at 14:43.

Rating: B+. Riddle and Dunne work very well together and the best thing is that it gives them something important to do. There are so many people in NXT at the moment and they need something to fill in their time. Aichner and Barthel have become one of the most dependable tag teams around WWE today and I was completely wrong about them to start. Heck of a match here and the finals sound awesome.

Post match the Veterans come out and insult the Full Sail fans for thinking the Broserweights have a chance. They’re taking the trophy back to Liverpool, but Riddle says he didn’t understand what Gibson just said. Dunne points out that the Veterans always lose to him so it’s time to do it again. Good little hype segment for next week’s finals.

North American Title: Keith Lee vs. Roderick Strong

Lee is challenging, the rest of the Era is at ringside and we get Big Match Intros. Lee starts fast and knocks Strong into the corner for a forearm to the face. Another forearm knocks Strong down and there’s a big toss to send him outside as we need an early break. Back with Lee hitting a crossbody but stopping to glare at the rest of the Era. The distraction lets Strong hit a dropkick to Lee’s injured knee (from last week).

The leg gets sent into the steps as Strong has an easy target. Strong sends the knee hard into the steps and they go back inside with Strong kicking away at the knee and ankle. A half crab goes on but Lee powers up to kick Strong away. Some cannonballing down onto the leg keeps Lee down, so he uses the good leg to kick Strong over the top and out to the floor. It doesn’t seem to do much though as Strong comes back in for the ankle lock.

That’s broken up with more power so Strong hits an enziguri and the running forearms as Lee is against the rope. A big one to the back of the head drops Lee and sends us to a break. Back with Lee getting two off a powerslam and something between a one armed gorilla press/a spinebuster connects for the same. Strong needs a breather on the floor but Lee throws him right back in, only to glare the Era away. You don’t glare at that many people though as Fish gets in a shot to the knee so Strong can hit a DDT for two.

Lee hits a headbutt to the chest but falls down as well for a double knockdown. It’s Lee up first but he gets caught on the ropes, meaning it’s a shot to the knee to set up a super Angle Slam. Somehow that only gets two with Lee sitting up for the kickout. Lee gets fired up and Pounces Strong over the top and onto the rest of the Era in a nasty looking crash. Back in and a big running clothesline puts Strong down for two more but the middle rope moonsault misses.

The ankle lock, with a grapevine this time, goes on so Lee does a big crawl over to the rope. A slugout goes very badly for Strong so the Era gets on the apron, only to get knocked back down. The Sick Kick gets two on Lee but he’s right back up with the Big Bang Catastrophe (new name for the fireman’s carry Jackhammer) for the pin and the title at 20:28.

Rating: B+. These guys beat the heck out of each other with Lee looking like the unstoppable monster that he should be. At some point you need to just let him run loose and win something like this and NXT got the timing right. After his success at Survivor Series, you can’t wait another three weeks from now to give him something so this is the right call and it came in a great match. Lee crushing challengers for a bit should be awesome and this was exactly what they should have done.

Post match here’s Imperium and it’s time for the revenge. The fight is on to end the show with Walter hitting one of those great chops on Cole, who sells it at a near Mr. Perfect level.

Overall Rating: B+. It’s a very good show with some awesome stuff up and down the card. Some of the finishes at the beginning weren’t great though and they brought down some of the other good stuff that they had going on. What mattered here though was they made me want to see When Worlds Collide. The problem with that though is they were trying to build that show up but they were also trying to do their regular stories and it didn’t mesh all that well. In other words, it’s a solid show that could have been a great one if they had one goal in mind.

Results

Grizzled Young Veterans b. Undisputed Era – Ticket To Mayhem to O’Reilly

Toni Storm b. Io Shirai via DQ when Bianca Belair interfered

Finn Balor b. Joaquin Wilde – 1916

Shayna Baszler b. Shotzi Blackheart – Kirifuda Clutch

Broserweights b. Imperium – Bro To Sleep/enziguri combination to Aichner

Keith Lee b. Roderick Strong – Big Bang Catastrophe

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