Date: February 12, 2020
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix, Nigel McGuinness
It’s the go home show for Takeover: Portland and the card is bigger than usual. This time around there are six matches, but if NXT knows how to do one thing really well, it’s put on a solid go home show. Everything is going to get some attention tonight and that should make for a solid evening. Let’s get to it.
Mauro runs down the card.
Here’s a ticked off Roderick Strong to rant about Velveteen Dream having his wife and son’s faces on his tights. Strong is going to hurt him and won’t regret it so get out here and apologize RIGHT NOW. That’s not what Strong gets though.
Bronson Reed vs. Roderick Strong
Fallout from last week when Strong jumped Reed in the back so Reed charges the ring. Reed hammers away in the corner but Strong hits a knee to the ribs and chops away. That only gets him driven back into the corner for some bigger chops from Reed. A side slam plants Strong again and it’s time to take off Strong’s shirt, or at least tie it over his head. Reed headbutts the blinded Strong, which has to be against some kind of rule.
With his sight restored, Strong gets in some right hands in the corner, only to get whipped hard into the corner again. There’s another whip, with Reed throwing him so hard that he falls down. The waistlock goes on and a heck of a forearm drops Strong again. Reed hits a rather delayed vertical suplex and Strong bails to the floor so Reed can shoulder him off the apron. Back from a break with Reed suplexing his way out of a chinlock to put both of them down.
Reed splashes him in the corner and a running hip attack to the face gets two. Strong strikes away but gets blasted with a clothesline for two more. They head up top with Strong getting in a shot to the head and managing a superplex (with Reed landing with a thud) for two. A hard slingshot dropkick through the ropes knocks Reed silly but Velveteen Dream….’s lights come on. That lets Reed hit a heck of a suicide dive of his own and there’s still no Dream. Back in and Reed goes up but Strong knees him out of the air for the pin at 14:00.
Rating: B-. Good match, though it went from the angry start to just having a match. Reed got to showcase himself here though and that’s a good sign for his future. Strong beating him wasn’t exactly in doubt (barring a Dream interference) but it was great to see Reed getting to beat him up and show off a lot. The finish looked good, but I was hoping for some more intensity from both of them.
Post match Dream pops up on screen, with “call me up Marina” on the back of his tights. Dream talks about Strong trying to end his career and the Experience, so what if someone took something from Strong? It’s all well and fine that Strong has lost the North American Title but Strong still has a wife and a kid. What if something happened to Strong? Don’t worry about it because someone somewhere would fulfill all of Marina’s dreams. The camera pans down to show Marina, Strong’s son Troy and Dream on the leg. How in the world is this supposed to make me want to cheer for Dream??? That’s WAY over the top and not exactly the smartest idea in the world.
And now for your idea that needs to be turned into a movie: Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne take a road trip to Portland, with the Dusty Cup in the back. Dunne starts driving and Riddle yells at him for driving on the wrong side of the road. Cue the cops and the car is towed in a hurry because neither of them have a license. It’s cool though because they need to find a way to Portland. To be continued. Oh I’d certainly hope so.
Angel Garza is ready to beat Lio Rush so he can get his title back. Rush comes in to say he’s not the same guy Garza beat before. Garza just smiles.
Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai
LeRae misses a charge into the corner and gets kicked in the face for her efforts. Kai gets kicked right back to the floor though and LeRae hits a suicide dive to send her into the barricade. Another suicide dive drops Kai and LeRae hits another…and then a fourth in case you didn’t get the idea yet. Back in and a missile dropkick gives LeRae two but Kai is right back with a boot choke in the corner.
They go up top and tease a superplex to the floor until Kai is knocked to the apron. She kicks LeRae off the top as well though and there is some blood from the nose. They still can’t get back inside so LeRae pulls her shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Back from a break with Candice hitting Ms. LeRae’s Wild Ride but Kai is right back with a kick to the leg. The big one to the head misses though and LeRae slaps on the Gargano Escape. Kai can’t get to the rope but she can roll backwards into a cradle for the pin at 9:31.
Rating: C. I can go for Kai being all evil and she was extra vicious here to she off the bad side. I’m not wild on her winning clean but it’s not like LeRae is on Kai’s level at this point. The match was fine enough and Kai has momentum heading into Portland, which is what matters more than anything.
Post match Kai isn’t done and hits her with the bell. That doesn’t seem to be it either but here’s Tegan Nox to run out for the save, sending Kai bailing.
Earlier today, Cameron Grimes and Johnny Gargano got in an argument last weekend so a match was set for tonight. Well done on making this about ten seconds long instead of showing us the whole thing.
Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes
This could be good. They go to the mat to start with Gargano getting perhaps the most quickly broken chinlock of all time. This time it’s Gargano working on a leglock and Grimes pulling at the ear doesn’t break it up. Instead he goes for the rope which works a bit better. A front facelock keeps Grimes down as he can’t get much going so far. An armdrag into a sunset flip gives Gargano two as the dominance continues.
Gargano slaps on a Crossface but switches into something like an inverted chickenwing (weird but cool looking hold). That’s broken up and Grimes finally gets something going with a knee to the ribs. Grimes’ armbar doesn’t last very long so Gargano kicks him to the floor and hits a superkick off the apron. The running Cannonball off the apron drops Grimes again but he’s able to block the slingshot DDT. A hard clothesline sends us to a break with Gargano in trouble.
Back with Grimes hitting a bridging German suplex for two. Gargano scores with a springboard spinning Downward Spiral out of the corner before a hard clothesline puts Grimes on the floor again. The slingshot spear gets two but Grimes reverses the tornado DDT with something like a Side Effect for his own two.
They miss a few running shots and Grimes hits his flipping belly to belly suplex for another near fall. They’re both down for a bit until it’s an exchange of superkicks with neither getting the better of it. Now the tornado DDT can connect but Grimes kicks him in the head to cut that off. The Cave-In misses though and it’s the Gargano Escape to make Grimes tap at 13:38.
Rating: B. They were going back and forth and that’s what you need for the two of them. Just like earlier, I’m not sure how much drama there was because Gargano has the big showdown coming on Sunday but Grimes is the kind of guy you could see pulling off a win. This was a heck of a match though and I like both guys so it’s nice to see two talented people working hard and going fast out there.
Post match, Gargano promises to come for Balor on Sunday.
Adam Cole is ready to teach Kushida a lesson tonight and to teach Tommaso Ciampa his own lesson on Sunday. The NXT Title is Cole’s life and he wants to be the greatest NXT Champion of all time.
Riddle and Dunne have a pedal boat (it’s a swan) as Riddle needs to think about how they’re getting to Portland. Riddle: “LIGHTBULB!” To be continued.
Chelsea Green and Robert Stone promise to relaunch their brand next week.
Next week: Strong vs. Dream.
Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza
The winner gets a Cruiserweight Title shot. It’s a serious match so Garza TAKES OFF HIS PANTS at the bell instead of waiting for later. Rush starts with his running dodges but Garza runs as well, setting up a dropkick to put Rush down early on. Garza kicks him down again and then ties Rush into the Tree of Woe for another running kick. They fight on the apron with Garza not being able to hit a powerbomb. Instead Rush flips to the floor and gets driven back first into various steel objects.
That lets Garza pose a bit and we take a break. Back with Rush hitting a suicide dive, followed by a big running flip dive. Rush kicks him in the head for two and it’s time to exchange kicks to the head. Rush’s springboard Stunner is dropkicked out of the air and Garza flips him into a faceplant for two more. A super cutter sends Garza to the floor, leaving a frustrated Rush inside when he can’t cover. The Final Hour to the floor connects but the second version hits raised knees back inside. Garza hits a HARD superkick but the Wing Clipper is reversed into a small package for the pin at 10:23.
Rating: B-. You can add this to the Dream thing earlier where the finish wasn’t the most logical idea. Garza is becoming a big deal on Raw and he loses here? Rush beating him is hardly some big upset but Garza is doing more important stuff on the main show. Why have him lose here? Anyway, at least the match was good and it was a quick ending instead of a more decisive one.
Post match Jordan Devlin comes out to say that Rush shouldn’t be so excited. You never bet against an ace.
Video on Dominick Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee, with Mark Henry narrating about how important big men are to the history of wrestling. These two are taking big man wrestling to a different level though and they’ll fight again at Takeover. We get a bunch of clips of how awesome they both are and it does make me want to see them both again on Sunday. Henry was a really good addition here because he’s become a legend in retirement and it feels appropriate to have him here.
Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett
Belair runs her over, hits a Glam Slam into the corner and finishes with the KOD at 42 seconds. Yeah that works.
Post match Belair wants to know why she is being ignored while Rhea Ripley goes to Raw to challenge Charlotte. Ripley can forget about her all she wants because she’s losing the title on Sunday. Cue Rhea to say that she isn’t losing the title as the fight is on in a hurry. Belair actually lays her out with the KOD.
Riddle and Dunne find a jet to get to Portland. Riddle’s British accent as he tells Dunne to get their boots into the boot doesn’t sit well with Dunne, who wants to know why they’re loading the cup themselves. They load it up…and then get into the cargo hold as well. Apparently it’s HHH’s plane and Riddle might have snuck them onboard. I really did completely undersell these two at first as the wacky pairing is great. NXT doesn’t do this kind of thing very often but I laughed more than once. The segments going from night to day to night again made it even better, but now I need that swan boat.
Tommaso Ciampa watches a clip of himself forfeiting the NXT Title in this very room and promising to be back bigger and stronger. He wasn’t sure if he would ever be back and wants to know what happened if he gave away his only shot at his life. Now everything has come full circle and in four days, he can take his title back.
But what if he loses and Adam Cole becomes the longest reigning champion in NXT history? But what if Ciampa wants it that much more and has been through that much more? What if he goes to Wrestlemania weekend as champion like he was supposed to last year? Ciampa has nothing left to lose and Cole will find that out on Sunday. As usual, promos are made that much better when they are taken out of the standard places and that was the case here. Awesome stuff and Ciampa sold every bit of it.
Adam Cole vs. Kushida
Non-title and oh yeah Kushida is a thing around here. He was my favorite guy in New Japan and now he just….exists. Kushida takes him down into a front facelock to start and Cole can’t roll out of it. The kick to the head misses and Cole bails to the floor, allowing Kushida to hit a dropkick through the ropes. Strong does a bit better with a whip into the steps but the Panama Sunrise off the apron is countered into a cross armbreaker. Cole is back with a kick to the face and we take a break.
Back with Kushida hitting a basement dropkick to put Cole on the apron. The cross armbreaker sends Cole straight to the ropes so Kushida kicks him in the arm a few more times. Cole is right back with a Shining Wizard and they strike it out with Kushida eventually getting the better of things. That just earns him the brainbuster onto the knee and Cole does it again for two. The Last Shot misses so Cole settles for a superkick for two more.
The Panama Sunrise is countered into the Hoverboard Lock and Cole takes his sweet time kicking out of it. A pinfall reversal sequence gives them two each and Kushida is right back with the Kawada kicks. Cole superkicks the handspring elbow away and the Last Shot finishes Kushida at 12:52.
Rating: B-. They followed the same pattern from earlier in the show here and that’s not a bad thing. Kushida is someone who can get a solid match from anyone and Cole doesn’t need much to take him to another level. That being said, the lack of drama didn’t help things as it wasn’t would Cole win, but when would he win. Still though, good way to make Cole look sharp going into Sunday.
Post match here’s Ciampa to slowly get into the ring as the fans aren’t sure who they like more. Ciampa says he’s taking his life back in Portland but Cole says it’s over his dead body.
Overall Rating: B. I never thought I’d reach this point but I was wanting this show to end more than once. The show is still very good and one of the best weekly shows but it doesn’t feel special anymore. Instead of the tight show that made me want to watch every week, this is a bunch of stuff that feels like it’s there because they need to fill in two hours a week. The talent and storytelling is there and the wrestling is good, but it’s like the show has lost its magic. Maybe it’s watching this after Dynamite and not finishing it until late at night, but this isn’t the same NXT that became the best show in the world.
Now all that being said, this was a rather good show and gave the final push to everything that is coming up on Sunday. Even Riddle and Dunne not taking things very seriously fits them perfectly and gave me a good bit of entertainment. Takeover is looking awesome and until they find a way to make those not as amazing, NXT is going to be very strong for years to come.
Roderick Strong b. Bronson Reed – Jumping knee
Dakota Kai b. Candice LeRae – Cradle
Johnny Gargano b. Cameron Grimes – Gargano Escape
Lio Rush b. Angel Garza – Small package
Bianca Belair b. Santana Garrett – KOD
Adam Cole b. Kushida – Last Shot
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