NXT – March 11, 2020

NXT
Date: March 11, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix

It’s a special episode this week as we’re in the Performance Center instead of at Full Sail due to an event at the university. We’re getting ready for Takeover, assuming the show stays on the schedule given the Coronavirus. Either way, we’re in for some good stuff on the way to the show so let’s get to it.

Opening recap.

Opening sequence.

The arena looks great and other than the PERFORMANCE CENTER sign, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t Full Sail.

North American Title: Keith Lee vs. Cameron Grimes

Grimes is challenging and tries for a leg pick to start. That’s blocked with straight power and Lee isn’t all that impressed. An Irish whip doesn’t work for Grimes either so he hits Lee in the face, only to get knocked hard out to the floor. Lee follows him out but Grimes escapes the powerbomb by grabbing the ropes and stomps him in the face for a unique counter.

The suicide dive is pulled out of the air though and Lee nods at him before trying the powerbomb again. Grimes grabs the rope again so Lee knocks his leg out this time instead. Back in and Grimes’ hat is knocked off the post but a superplex is broken up. Grimes nails a high crossbody but can’t cover off the impact.

Back from a break with Lee powering out of a waistlock and crushing Lee with a crossbody. The Spirit Bomb is escaped and Grimes hits the Superman forearm. A superkick rocks Lee and Grimes kicks him in the head again. There’s a rather impressive bridging German suplex to give Grimes two and he slips out of the Spirit Bomb again. Not that it matters as the Pounce sets up the Big Bang Catastrophe to retain the title at 11:57.

Rating: B-. Grimes got to show off here and Lee was on his usual ridiculous level. It was nice to see Lee switching things up a bit and fighting a smaller opponent rather than the usual monsters. What we had here was good, though I’m still curious about what we’ll be seeing at Takeover. Maybe it means another Lee vs. Dijakovic match, but you never can tell.

Post match here’s Damian Priest to jump Lee with a pipe. Dominick Dijakovic runs him off and helps Lee up but Lee powerbombs him instead. It isn’t clear if Lee saw that it was Priest who jumped him.

The #1 contenders ladder match at Takeover will be a six way. I don’t think the number had been confirmed until now.

#1 Contenders Qualifying Match: Dakota Kai vs. Mia Yim

Kai has Raquel Gonzalez in her corner. Yim kicks her down to start and grabs some early near falls but Kai is back up with a slap to the face. That earns her a running basement dropkick and Yim hammers away for two. Gonzalez trips Yim down though and drops her onto the apron as we take a break.

Back with Yim getting in a shot to the knee, plus a superkick to the jaw. A running neckbreaker gives Yim two but Kai sends her throat first into the middle rope. The Kairopractor gets two so Kai goes with the Kawada kicks, only to get rolled up for two more. Kai’s running boot in the corner misses so Yim powerbombs her out of the corner. Gonzalez breaks up the pin so the referee yells at her, meaning there’s no count off Kai’s rollup. Yim Codebreakers Kai for the pin at 9:42.

Rating: C. Yim winning here was a surprise as Kai has been a much bigger deal as of late. That being said, there are still four spots to be filled in and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kai get one of them. Gonzalez is a good enforcer though I’m not sure what she is going to be able to do on her own. She’s fine at the moment though and doesn’t need to mix things up just yet.

Post match Gonzalez powerbombs Yim to leave her laying. Yim gets a big ovation as she gets up. Off a single powerbomb? Really?

Tommaso Ciampa arrives and doesn’t think much of doing things Johnny Gargano’s way tonight.

We get another creepy video of various signs of destruction, including the words “tick tock”.

Kushida vs. Raul Mendoza

They go straight to the forearm exchange to start until Mendoza dropkicks him into the corner. A springboard is knocked out of the air though and Kushida hits a springboard flip dive to the floor. Back in and Mendoza grabs a swinging suplex to put him down, setting up a Lionsault for two. Kushida scores with a Tajiri elbow but a rolling DDT is blocked. Instead Kushida hiptosses him down into a basement dropkick (ala Jay Lethal) before going up. Mendoza is right there to catch him so Kushida grabs the Hoverboard Lock up there. With that broken up, Kushida flips him down into a cross armbreaker for the win at 4:00.

Rating: C+. I’ve been a Kushida fan for a long time and while he’s nowhere near what he was in New Japan, at least he got to show up here and win a match for a change. Mendoza continues to be one of the best hands in the whole company as you can put him out there against anyone and get at least a watchable match. That’s a very valuable thing to have on your roster and why Mendoza appears on so many shows.

Tyler Breeze was at the Performance Center earlier today and talks about how the Performance Center built the wrestlers. Austin Theory comes in to say he used to watch Breeze on Breaking Ground when he was in high school. Breeze doesn’t seem impressed so he takes a picture of Theory. Breeze: “You look great, for a flash in the pan.”

Here’s Rhea Ripley for a chat. She isn’t going to be intimidated by Charlotte because she loves the idea of knocking the Queen down. Cue Charlotte (fans: “YOU DON’T GO HERE!”) to say that Rhea has guts….and there’s a GO BACK TO RAW chant. Charlotte doesn’t think the bright lights or 80,000 people in the stands are going to distract Ripley.

It’s going to be Charlotte that takes Ripley out of her game because she’s going to take Ripley into deep waters. Charlotte gets in the ring and the fight is on in a hurry, with Charlotte kicking her in the face (painful considering those heels are tall enough to ride the scrambler at the fair) and putting on the Hartbreaker around the post. That’s probably your story of the match.

Video on Walter vs. Finn Balor. Finn holds up a passport, suggesting that he’s coming to NXT UK.

Mia Yim is in the parking lot when a car drives up. Two masked men jump out and kidnap Raul Mendoza. Probably the same guys who kidnapped Samoa Joe in TNA about ten years ago.

#1 Contenders Qualifying Match: Tegan Nox vs. Deonna Purrazzo

Nox has a bad shoulder coming in so Purrazzo goes right after it. A takedown by the arm gets two but Nox sends her into the corner for the Cannonboar. Purrazzo is right back with a bicycle kick into the Fujiwara armbar but Nox reverses into a crucifix for two. The Shiniest Wizard finishes Purrazzo at 2:27.

The Undisputed Era comes out for a match but hold on though as here’s Velveteen Dream in the crow’s nest. Dream holds up the tights with Strong’s family on the, saying they’re just tights and Strong is just dumber than he looks. He wants a title shot at Takeover but Cole says he hasn’t earned anything. Didn’t Dream lose last week inside that cage? Next week, Cole is officially the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time so they can end this tonight. Dream snaps his fingers though and it’s time for a match.

Tag Team Titles: Broserweights vs. Undisputed Era

Kyle O’Reilly/Bobby Fish are challenging for the Era and the rest of the team is at ringside. Riddle and Fish start things off and I try to keep the song out of my head. Fish gets slammed down in a hurry and Riddle does a bit of a dance. Everything breaks down in a hurry and the champs hit stereo gutwrench suplexes to send us to a break. Back with Riddle kicking at O’Reilly’s chest and forearming at his head, only to get sent to the apron.

A Fish distraction lets O’Reilly get in a kick to the face to knock Riddle outside. We settle down to Riddle in trouble and not being able to strike his way to freedom. Fish’s slingshot hilo gets two and it’s a double suplex to start on the back. Riddle shrugs off some kicks though and it’s off to Dunne to clean house. That includes taking out O’Reilly’s leg and X Plexing him into a failed Cross armbreaker attempt.

Instead it’s a triangle choke to send Fish straight into the ropes and outside, allowing Riddle to nail a big running flip dive onto the Era. Strong and Cole try to interfere again but get ejected, with Riddle miming all the cheating that they did. We take a break and come back with Dunne blocking another hilo and making the second hot tag to Riddle. More striking abounds, plus a pair of Brotons for two.

Everything breaks down and the champs flip out of stereo German suplexes so they can kick the Era in the heads. We settle down to Fish escaping the Bro to Sleep but walking into the Final Flash. A blind tag lets O’Reilly come in with a top rope knee to the ribs for two with Dunne making his own save. Cue the Grizzled Young Veterans as Riddle knees Fish again. The referee is with the Veterans though, meaning it’s a backdrop to send Fish onto the two of them. That leaves O’Reilly to get kneed in the head, setting up the Bro To Sleep/enziguri combination to retain the titles at 20:01.

Rating: B. Another good match between these four, which isn’t all that surprising. All four can do the striking and the champs have that weird chemistry that you just stumble upon from time to time. That’s the kind of thing you can’t build up and NXT is capitalizing on it as they should. Solid back and forth match here, with the Veterans waiting in the wings for the Broserweights.

Here’s Tommaso Ciampa, who wants to know why Johnny Gargano did everything he did. Gargano pops up on screen to talk about how horrible of a person Johnny is, but since Ciampa knows the building well, he storms to the back and the fight is on. They fight down the hallway with Ciampa hitting him with a framed poster. It heads into the medical area with both guys beating up other people to keep the fight going.

Gargano throws him through the window of the gym door and they fight into the exercise equipment, with Gargano throwing him over a big tire. Gargano grabs a weight but Ciampa kicks it away and grabs some smaller ones. He THROWS them at Gargano but destroys a mirror instead, sending Gargano down another hall. They finally make it into the arena and Ciampa hits a running chair shot to the side of the head.

Gargano is back up though and they go up to the crow’s nest with Ciampa following him. They slug it out up there with Gargano pulling him into the Gargano Escape. The referee gets knocked down and Gargano superkicks Ciampa, who pops right back up with the Air Raid Crash off the balcony and through the announcers’ table to end the show. This was a lot of fun as they used their environment, which isn’t something you get to see them do very often. I know the two of them have done this to death, but sweet goodness they can take it to another level at times.

Overall Rating: B. I liked this one rather well as, aside from the big main event angle, there was nothing that would suggest that this was anything more than a regular Full Sail show. It was another solid episode as the focus shifts towards Takeover, though right now everything seems up in the air. The good thing is they might just be able to do the show at the Performance Center or Full Sail if necessary, but dang things are all over the place at the moment. Anyway, rather awesome show this week as NXT gets going towards Tampa.

Results

Keith Lee b. Cameron Grimes – Big Bang Catastrophe

Mia Yim b. Dakota Kai – Codebreaker

Kushida b. Raul Mendoza – Cross armbreaker

Tegan Nox b. Deonna Purrazzo – Shiniest Wizard

Broserweights b. Undisputed Era – Bro to Sleep/enziguri combination to O’Reilly

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