The WWE NXT Reaction review is back. The best time for me to review it is on Friday morning after it gets uploaded to WWE Network on Thursday evening, so that’s what I’m doing.
As a reminder, this is not a play by play review of the show. Instead, it’s more of a reaction that will include my star ratings for the matches as well as my analysis. It’s a big episode with two title matches, so let’s get to it. You can check out the review by Lance Augustine as well.
Live from Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s roll.
The show began with a recap of last week’s show. They do a great job with those opening videos.
The announcers were Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness and Beth Phoenix as usual. Mauro made his first rap song references after about 20 seconds.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) vs. Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) w/Adam Cole and Roderick Strong
This is not for the NXT Tag Team Titles held by Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish.
They are both heel teams, but the fans were solidly behind Undisputed Era as regulars in NXT. O’Reilly did a good job of working over Drake’s leg for a few minutes, then Gibson tagged in and the Grizzled boys hit some nice double team moves. Fish got the hot tag and hit a belly to belly suplex on Drake, who landed on Gibson. Fish did an awesome counter of a move off the ropes by applying a knee bar submission, but Drake helped Gibson get out of it. McGuinness was rooting hard for Gibson and Drake and wanting them to make England proud. O’Reilly got back into it with a knee to Drake on the floor. Good two count for O’Reilly on Gibson after a double team kick/suplex. The match broke down with all four guys battling in the ring, then Drake and Fish exchanged strikes, UE hit popup kicks and kicks to the upper body, but that’s when Imperium’s music hit. Imperium’s four man group was standing on a perch in the arena, Gibson pulled O’Reilly out of the ring and then they hit their Ticket to Mayhem double team move for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Match Analysis: *** This was solid with a cheap finish, which isn’t that much of a surprise since UE is against Imperium at Worlds Collide on Sunday. I don't think heel vs. heel matches work that well especially when the match goes this long. In WWE, every wrestler gets distracted by other people’s entrance music. It almost never fails. I expected Undisputed Era to win to move on to the finals of the Dusty tournament, but if they’re going to lose then they might as well lose in a tournament without the titles on the line. The loss doesn't hurt Undisputed Era too much.
The win by the Grizzled Young Veterans meant that they were in the finals of the Dusty Classic.
After the match, the four Undisputed Era boys wanted Imperium to fight, but they left.
They did a video hyping up Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm for the NXT (no longer Women’s) Title at Worlds Collide on Saturday. I expect Ripley to retain in what should be a very good match.
A video aired featuring Shotzi Blackheart saying the world is talking about her. Really? I didn’t know that. Anyway, she talked about eliminating Shayna Baszler in the women’s battle royal last week and that she’s going to beat her tonight.
Toni Storm defeated Io Shirai by disqualification
They had a history together from when Storm beat Shirai in the Mae Young Classic finals during the second incarnation of that tournament. Storm is a regular in NXT UK, but she’s here to promote Worlds Collide against Ripley. Shirai continues to impress me as one of the best women’s wrestlers in WWE. I don’t think Shirai can have a bad match. Shirai took control with a running kick to the face while Storm was against the bottom rope. Shirai took control for a few minutes. After a break, Storm made a comeback with a boot to the face followed by a German Suplex and clothesline for two. Shirai did an excellent job of selling a clothesline with a flip bump. They did a cool spot with Storm blocking the 619 and then hitting a dropkick that knocked Shirai to the floor. That’s when Bianca Belair showed up to attack Toni Storm for the DQ finish after 11 minutes.
Match Analysis: **3/4 This was pretty good although it’s the second straight match with a cheap finish. That’s a bit of a turn off to the audience. I feel like Shirai needs to be booked stronger and in a more prominent position because she can do it all in the ring. Obviously, WWE didn’t want to have either woman lose by pinfall here, so that hurt the match a bit.
After the match, Belair slammed Storm down and celebrated while wearing some giant earrings. Rhea Ripley showed up with the NXT Women’s Championship as the fans gave her a big pop. Belair punched Ripley, then Ripley turned it around for some weak looking punches and Shirai hit a dropkick on Ripley. Shirai sent both women on the floor and hit an Asai Moonsault on both women on the floor and she does it a lot better than Charlotte Flair. I like Flair, but it’s true. Storm took out Shirai with a suicide dive. Storm held up the NXT (Women’s) Title to end it.
Analysis: The story here is that Belair doesn’t want Storm to beat Ripley for the NXT Title because Belair faces Ripley next month at NXT Takeover, so that’s why she attacked Storm to weaken her. I’m glad that Shirai got some offense in to show that she’s still part of the mix as well. The brawling by Ripley and Belair didn’t look good, but at least it was brief.
The Undisputed Era was interviewed backstage. They were mad about Imperium causing a distraction earlier. Cole said that they had to focus on Strong keeping his NXT North American Title against Keith Lee.
A commercial aired for Worlds Collide this Saturday on WWE Network. I will review it on TJRWrestling.
A brief video aired about Ilja Dragunov talking about how he’s driven to beat Finn Balor at Worlds Collide on Saturday.
Finn Balor defeated Joaquin Wilde
Balor will face Ilja Dragunov at Worlds Collide on Saturday and Johnny Gargano at NXT Takeover Portland next month. Wilde used to be DJZ in TNA/Impact for many years.
Balor was aggressive with strikes and stomps, Wilde got in a strike, but Balor came back with a dropkick. Balor hit the patented dropkick into the turnbuckle, then Balor went up top and hit the Coup de Grace double foot stomp. Balor hit the 1916 DDT for the pinfall win after about two minutes.
Match Analysis: * It was a dominant win to put over Balor in a big way. I like the aggressiveness of heel Balor. Wilde can put on some great matches if he gets the chance, but this was not it.
Shayna Baszler did an interview talking about Shotzi Blackheart. Baszler told Rhea Ripley that she’s not going anywhere and she’s going to be Shayna 3-time referring to her wanting to be a 3-time Women’s Champion.
Analysis: Baszler saying she is not going anywhere is interesting. There are rumors about her going to Raw or Smackdown now that she lost the title, but Baszler saying she isn’t going anywhere could mean she’s staying in NXT.
A video aired hyping up DIY’s Tommaso Ciampa vs. Moustache Mountain at Worlds Collide (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) on Saturday. That’s going to be incredible.
Shayna Baszler defeated Shotzi Blackheart by submission
Baszler controlled most of the match going for submissions, but Blackheart also showed good fire as a babyface. They did a sequence where they each sent the other woman over the top to the floor because of the battle royal spot last week. Blackheart had the support of the crowd as she hit a step up left knee followed by a DDT out of the corner. That was a cool spot. Blackheart had a flurry of offense after that with a senton to the back of Baszler against the ropes. Blackheart also hit an impressive Sliced Bread neckbreaker on the ring apron. Blackheart missed with a senton off the top, then Baszler grabbed the Kirifuda Clutch submission and that was it. This went about six minutes.
After the match, Baszler held onto her submission for an extra ten seconds to get some more heat on her.
Analysis: **1/4 The match was okay with Blackheart getting more offense than I expected. Baszler had an impressive showing as she kept going for submission moves while Blackheart kept fighting back. Even though Blackheart lost, the story was that she put up a fight in this match and she was impressive. Baszler has a lot of value in NXT as a two-time long term NXT Champion because if she loses or comes close to losing, it will put over that other person.
There was a Tegan Nox video talking about how Dakota Kai was her best friend, but then Kai did that memorable heel turn at Takeover WarGames in November and Kai attacked Nox last week on NXT. It was announced that next week on NXT TV, it’s Nox vs. Kai. That should be fun.
A video aired putting over the Moustache Mountain team.
Angel Garza, who is the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, was interviewed by Cathy Kelly. Garza said when you’re as good as him, you don’t feel pressure. Garza said he’ll prove how good he is at Worlds Collide on Saturday. Garza defends the title in a 4-Way match.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: The Broserweights (Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne) defeated Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel) w/Walter and Alexander Wolfe
Dunne started for his team, he did some good mat wrestling and then he hit a massive clothesline on Aichner, who sold it really well. Riddle got some offense, but was overmatched and Dunne was impressive with a kick to the back of Aichner followed by a Crucifix Bomb for a two count. Dunne also hit a moonsault off the apron on Barthel and suplexed Aichner on the apron. Walter got in Dunne’s face, which allowed the heels to take over as Barthel hit Dunne with a forearm and Aichner hit a running knee against the steps. That led to a break.
The heels were in control of Dunne, who was the face in peril. Dunne hit an impressive forearm to the face of Barthel, but then Dunne collapsed after selling a left knee injury. When Riddle got the hot tag, the pacing of the match picked up with Riddle hitting a Pele kick, exploder suplexes for both guys, Brotons for both guys, a running kick and a suplex followed by Dunne getting back in for a double team kick for a nearfall. Imperium did a creative spot with a double dropkick on Riddle against the ropes for a two count. Imperium did a nice double team move with Aichner hitting a DDT into a pin for Barthel, but Riddle saved his partner. Dunne countered a suplex attempt into a wrist lock submission while Riddle slapped on an Ankle Lock. Imperium fought out of those holds, Riddle with a knee to Barthel, Dunne with an enziguri on Aichner and then Broserweights hit a double Spear. Riddle hit a Jackhammer slam on Aichner for a two count. The fans chanted “this is awesome” and I agree with that. Cool spot with Barthel shoving Riddle into a brainbuster by Aichner. Riddle came back with a flurry of offense on both guys, including a step up knee followed by Dunne tagging in for a double team knee/kick to the face and Dunne pinned Aichner for the pinfall victory after 15 minutes.
Match Analysis: ***1/2 This was a great tag team match. I’m not that surprised that Riddle and Dunne are so entertaining as a team since they are awesome as individuals. The result made sense because The Broserweights are a face team, Imperium are heels and since the Grizzled Young Veterans are heels in the finals, it’s the right move to have Dunne/Riddle in the finals. The last five minutes were incredible with so many believable nearfalls for both sides, there was a nice flurry of offense from Riddle to make the comeback and Dunne finished off Aichner for the win. I enjoyed this match a lot.
The win meant that Riddle and Dunne are in the finals of the Dusty Classic against the Grizzled Young Veterans as you can see in the graphic below. That final match is next week.
Dunne and Riddle were on the stage beside the Dusty Classic trophy. The Grizzled Young Veterans team of Zack Gibson and James Drake. Gibson called them jokers. Gibson trashed the “Full Sail neckbeards” fans while adding they think Dunne is the best thing from NXT UK, but they are the best and they will take the trophy back to Liverpool. Riddle joked about how he didn’t know what he said, then heard “manipulate a joint” (Riddle is a stoner) and the fans chanted “Riddle’s gonna smoke you.” Dunne said that every time those two have stepped in the ring with him, they have lost and next week they will lose. Dunne said that The Broserweights will walk out with that trophy…bro.
Analysis: Good promos from both sides. Dunne and Riddle are two of my favorites in NXT. That’s going to be an awesome match. I'm picking Dunne and Riddle to win.
Keith Lee was shown getting ready for the main event up next.
Keith Lee made his entrance for the NXT North American Title match. Nice ovation from the crowd, who sang along with the “Bask In My Glory” theme song. Lee had his left ankle taped up after the attack last week. Roderick Strong made his entrance with the NXT North American Title with his Undisputed Era buddies joining him. The fans chanted “oh bask in his glory” for Lee as the match began.
Keith Lee defeated Roderick Strong (w/Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) to win the NXT North American Title
This match will get the play by play treatment since it’s a title match in the main event. Strong started with a hard slap to the face, so Lee decked him with a hard punch along with a chop. Lee launched Strong across the ring leading to a break.
Lee hit a running cross body block to send Strong out of the ring. Lee was on the floor briefly, then he got distracted by the UE guys on the floor, so Strong worked on the left ankle by whipping it into the steel steps. Strong put Lee’s ankle against the side of the ring and kicked the steps into it. Strong was relentless as he worked over the left ankle of Lee by twisting it and slamming it into the mat. Lee was able to kick Strong out of the ring, but then Strong came back in the ring. Strong hit three straight forearms to the face followed by a forearm to the back leading to another break.
The match returned with Lee hitting a powerslam for a two count. Lee was selling the left ankle injury, Strong ran the ropes and Lee hit a one handed spinebuster as Ranallo called it great by saying it looked like Lee was spiking a football. Strong was out on the floor with his UE buddies, then Lee left the ring and brought Strong back in the ring. Cole distracted the referee, so Fish kicked the left ankle of Lee and Strong hit a DDT for two. They did a spot where Lee hit a headbutt that knocked down both guys. Lee did a slow climb to the turnbuckle, Strong hit the back of the left ankle and Lee hit a back elbow to knock Strong down. Strong hit the back of the left leg again and Strong hit an Olympic Slam off the ropes for a one count as Lee sat up with Strong in his arms. Lee ran the ropes followed by a Pounce that sent Strong over the top onto Fish and O’Reilly on the floor. That was an impressive spot. Lee ran the ropes and hit a clothesline followed by a flip bump for Strong. Lee went to the ropes, he was distracted by UE on the floor and then Lee missed a moonsault off the middle ropes. Strong capitalized with an Ankle Lock followed by a heel hook on the mat. Lee managed to crawl to the bottom rope to break the hold. Nice drama there. Strong yelled at him to stay down. Lee knocked Cole, O’Reilly and Fish off the apron, which led to Strong hitting a rising knee and a running kick to the face for two. That was a great nearfall. Strong ran the ropes, Lee caught him into a turning powerslam called Big Bang Catastrophe by Ranallo and Lee covered for the one…two…and three! Lee wins the NXT North American Title! The whole match went about 20 minutes.
Match Analysis: **** This was an excellent title match that was worthy of a title change. Great job by Lee selling the left ankle injury while Strong showed how talented he is by continuing to work over the left foot repeatedly. Lee sold it well and it was the main story of the match, so when a guy does that properly, it helps the match become better. They involved the UE guys enough to where they helped Strong get control, which is how you want to book the guys outside the ring. I also like how Lee didn’t get that many nearfalls. When Lee hit his finisher, that was it and it put over Lee in a big way. It was treated like a big deal when Lee got the win and I liked to see that. It’s the second men’s title in NXT, but when you make it feel special, the fans are going to care more. Lee has been on a roll for several months now, so it made sense to put a title on him.
Lee was given the NXT North American Title as the fans popped big for him while singing along with his theme song. They showed replays of the finish. Lee celebrated with his title by the entrance while Undisputed Era was angry in the ring.
Analysis: There are a lot of rumors of Lee being in the men’s Royal Rumble match on Sunday after he was booked strongly at Survivor Series in a final sequence spot with Roman Reigns. I don’t know if he’ll be in the Rumble, but winning the NXT North American Title likely means Lee will continue on NXT at least for a few more months. I think Lee is a candidate to be on Raw or Smackdown after WrestleMania.
The Imperium foursome appeared at ringside. They went into the ring with Undisputed Era and that led to a brawl between the eight men. Cole hit a rising knee on Walter, but then Walter crushed him with a huge chop to the chest. There was a brawl between the eight men with security going in to try to stop them and that was the end of the show as the fans were chanting “let them fight.” That was it.
Analysis: Good action to end the night. That’s the main event of Worlds Collide on Saturday night, so it made sense to have them brawl to end the show. That Walter chop on Cole was massive and I love how Cole sold it. It’s going to be a fun match to watch.
Three Stars of the Show
- Keith Lee
- Roderick Strong
- Pete Dunne/Matt Riddle
I give this show a 7.5 out of 10.
This was a very good show. The second hour was a lot better than the first hour due to the quality of the last two matches. The Lee/Strong match was excellent, so please check it out if you’re a fan of old school storytelling with Lee selling the left ankle injury and then finding a way to win. I liked The Broserweights/Imperium tag team match a lot as well. The other matches were pretty good, but there were also some short matches. I think they could have used some more non-wrestling segments that advanced storylines because there wasn’t a lot of that this week.
If you’re into comparing my NXT and AEW Dynamite reviews, I gave Dynamite a 7.75 out of 10 this week, so that means it was very slightly better. Both shows were great, though.
The word count was about 3600 words, which is probably 1500 words less than if I did full play by play. I like that.
The matches announced for Worlds Collide on January 25 are:
* Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong) vs. Imperium (Walter, Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner & Alexander Wolfe)
* DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
* Finn Balor vs. Ilja Dragunov
* NXT Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Toni Storm
* NXT Cruiserweight Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: Angel Garza (c) vs. Isaiah "Swerve" Scott vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks
* Mia Yim vs. Kay Lee Ray (Kickoff Show)
The first two matches announced for NXT Takeover Portland on February 16 are:
* Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor
* NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair
There will likely be at least five matches on the card because that’s what most Takeover events have.