Hey yo. My normal posts here on Rajah.com are reviews of Raw and Smackdown. I write about WWE NXT and AEW Dynamite every week as well, but I like to make those exclusive to my website TJRWrestling.net. It's nothing against Rajah. I just need to make some stuff exclusive to my site and there are others that I write on there that I don't post on here. Check out my archive on TJRWrestling right here for all of my writing, which includes last night's AEW Dynamite show as well. The reason I am posting NXT on here this week is because there was a big title change last night and it was a great show, so I figured I might as well post it here too.
Welcome to the WWE NXT review. As is the case for my NXT reviews, this will not be as detailed of a play by play format as I usually do, but I will do play by play for the main event. I’ll still cover everything as best as I can. This show was taped last Wednesday.
From Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s roll.
There was a video package that showed highlights of last week on NXT, which was part one of their Great American Bash theme shows. They also promoted what’s coming up this week.
They were at Full Sail University in Orlando with developmental wrestlers in the crowd. The announce team of Mauro Ranallo and Beth Phoenix were calling the action with Tom Phillips joining in as well. In case you don’t know, Mauro calls it from his home in California while Phoenix calls it from her home in North Carolina while Phillips was at the show.
Street Fight: Mia Yim vs. Candice LeRae
During Candice’s entrance, Yim attacked LeRae, who had a unique “bad girl” look for this match. Yim grabbed some weapons from under the ring and tossed them into the ring, which led to Yim beating LeRae with a kendo stick repeatedly. Yim took a long time to bring a table into the ring and they teased a table spot against the turnbuckle. LeRae was able to get control as she whipped Yim into the ring post. They took turns sending the other woman shoulder first into the ring post. They left the ringside area and brawled over by a table that had some food on it. Somebody yelled: “Hit her with the mandarins!” That was funny. LeRae used some fire extinguisher spray into Yim’s eyes. LeRae teased a superplex off a platform through a table that was below, but Yim fought it off and Yim hit a dropkick off a stage that put LeRae through a table.
There was action during a commercial break with Yim remaining in control as they battled in the ring. When Yim charged, LeRae gave her a drop toe hold into a chair and LeRae hit a dropkick for a two count. LeRae continued to work over Yim with a chair to the ribs. LeRae brought more chairs into the ring. LeRae placed the table across the top rope as a platform, but then Yim got some momentum back with a suplex and each woman hit a kick to the head leading to both women being down on the mat. Yim put a trash can on LeRae and hit a cannonball splash into the garbage can on Candice for a two count. Yim took out some brass knuckles, but LeRae managed to stop that attempt by hitting Yim with chairs. LeRae went up to the table platform and Yim stopped her as Yim set up a pile of chairs in the ring. LeRae took the brass knuckles off of Yim’s hands as they stood up on the table across the top rope and LeRae punched Yim with the brass knuckles. LeRae hit a swinging neckbreaker off the table onto the pile of chairs! Ouch. Great spot. LeRae covered Yim with one arm even though LeRae’ also had her shoulders down. Anyway, the referee counted the pin to give Candice the win after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Candice LeRae
Analysis: ***3/4 Really good Street Fight that was likely the end of this rivalry for now. This was a brawl from the moment it started and I liked the intensity of both women. I don’t want to see people grabbing headlocks. It should be a fight. That’s what this was. They had a lot of cool spots here by utilizing the other parts of Full Sail University like when they did that table spot. I think it was their best singles match in NXT so far. In the preview, I went with LeRae because I thought she needed the win more as a heel that’s on the rise. They need to build up heel women as future title contenders, so Candice winning is the right call.
There were comments from Mark Henry talking about the Cole vs. Lee main event and he chooses Lee.
After the Street Fight, both women were down selling injuries until Johnny Gargano helped wife Candice out of the ring first. Yim slowly got out of the ring as well.
Bronson Reed vs. Tony Nese
Nese used his speed advantage to avoid getting attacked, but then Reed came back with a military press slam and a senton splash. Nese got some offense after putting the apron onto Reed’s head and hitting a dropkick. Nese continued the aggressiveness, but Reed came back with forearms and an atomic drop. Reed with a corner splash, Neese with a boot to the face and punch to the throat. Nese got a nearfall followed by a neckbreaker against the ropes and a moonsault for two. Reed came back with a huge clothesline with Nese selling it great with a flip bump. Reed went up top and hit a Superfly Splash for the pinfall win after five minutes. That’s impressive by a super heavyweight like Reed.
Winner by pinfall: Bronson Reed
Analysis: ** It was fine for the time given with Reed using his power to get the win. Easy story to tell because there’s a huge size difference between these guys. Reed is one of the biggest guys in NXT while Nese is a very talented all-around wrestler that is hopefully used more in NXT going forward. Reed has a lot of potential as a bigger guy that can move, but he’s yet to have a meaningful storyline.
Robert Stone was with Aliyah and Mckenzie Mitchell for an interview. Stone went up to Shotzi Blackheart, who was on her tank that she rides to the ring, to try to recruit her for the brand, Shotzi said no Stone threw his coffee behind him. The camera panned over to see the coffee went on big man Killian Dain, who threw Stone into an equipment case. That led to Shotzi driving her “tank” over the left leg of Stone and Stone was freaking out about it.
Analysis: Some decent comedy. I like Stone as an over the top character. I think he could be successful as a more serious manager, but WWE seems content to make him look like a joke. I think Malcolm Bivens could be an outstanding manager if they utilized him more as well.
They showed NXT Champion Adam Cole arriving earlier in the day with Undisputed Era buddies Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly as well.
Johnny Gargano vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
There was some mat wrestling early on with Gargano in control. Scott had an impressive counter to a move where he landed on his feet instead of taking a bump. They did a sequence where they were going for moves, but they each managed to counter the other guy. Scott with a headscissors that sent Gargano out of the ring and then a Fosbury flop over the top onto Gargano on the floor.
The action during the break saw Gargano take control of the match until Scott managed a takedown and an elbow drop off the ropes onto the back of Gargano. Scott managed to get a two count after hitting the Paydirt move that Shelton Benjamin has used for many years. Gargano hit a nice slingshot Spear for a two count. There was a cool spot from Scott where he picked up Johnny from the mat leading to a suplex. They each hit kicks to the head and then sold fatigue after it. Gargano went for STF style submission, Scott countered to a two count and Scott hit a sitout slam off the shoulders for another two count. Scott kicked Gargano off the apron to the floor. Gargano avoided an attack on the floor, then Scott was selling a left knee injury and Gargano hit an impressive Poison Rana (reverse hurricanrana) on the floor. Back in the ring, Gargano hit the One Final Beat DDT for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Johnny Gargano
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a good technical wrestling match. They’re smaller guys that can really go at a fast pace in the ring and Johnny getting the win after Scott missed a big move was fitting for a veteran heel like Johnny. There was a lot of avoiding moves from each guy to show off how quick they are. There was also some sweet counter wrestling throughout the match. I thought Scott had a strong showing here, but it is tough to get that excited about a match when there’s not much a story. I want to see Scott featured in a meaningful feud because I think he can be a big star in NXT if he’s given more chances.
A video aired about Tegan Nox winning a Fatal 4-Way match last week. That means that Nox will challenge Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Title on next week’s NXT show. I’m a fan of both women and they both natural babyfaces that are easy to like when watching them in the ring. They should have a great match together.
El Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde) vs. Drake Maverick and Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango)
Escobar is the heel NXT Cruiserweight Champion. Wilde and Fandango started at a fast pace, then Breeze tagged in and hit a neckbreaker on Mendoza. Maverick wanted Escobar, who refused to go in so Maverick hit an enziguri kick on Mendoza. Breeze tagged in to become the face in peril as the heel trio slammed Wilde onto Breeze for a two count. Breeze managed to break free and Fandango got a hot tag with a Falcon Arrow slam. The heels retreated to the floor, so Fandango tossed Maverick onto the heels and Fandango hit a twisting splash onto the heels as well. Fandango was selling a left knee injury, so he was shoved into the steel steps and favored the knee as the face in peril. The Fantasma boys made quick tags with Escobar hitting a running shoulder tackle to the knee of Fandango. When Mendoza tried to splash the knee repeatedly, Fandango managed to kick him out of the ring. Maverick got the hot tag against Escobar with Drake hitting punches, a Thesz Press and a bulldog. It turned into a brawl with all six men brawling around the ring. Escobar kicked Maverick off the top rope and Escobar hit the Phantom Driver for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: El Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde)
Analysis: ***1/4 Good tag team match with six guys that moved at a fast pace. It’s typical for a WWE tag team match to have a face in peril and that was Fandango in this match. It was another smart finish on this show because the story was that Maverick was still injured with a tape up left shoulder and Escobar was clever in how he finished off Maverick. Going into the match, I thought Maverick would pin Mendoza or Wilde to set up a title match. I don’t mind how they booked this, though. Escobar has been booked very strong as a heel champion.
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae were interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell. Gargano said that they were a great American power couple, a power couple in the world and in the universe. Gargano wondered what would have happened if Finn Balor didn’t get in his way and he’ll deal with him when the time comes. LeRae said that they both had a few wrongs to make right.
Analysis: That likely means a return of the Gargano feud with Balor although this time, Gargano will be in the heel role.
There was a highlight video showing the Imperium tag team that are the NXT Tag Team Champions.
A video aired with WWE Champion Drew McIntyre talking about the Cole vs. Lee match and Drew thought Adam Cole was going to win that main event match.
Mercedes Martinez vs. Santana Garrett
The crowd booed Martinez heavily, so that told the audience at home that she was clearly in the heel role. Martinez was dominant early on with punches and chops. Martinez missed a corner, Garrett with a handspring back elbow and Martinez came back with a running boot to the face. Garrett came back with forearms to the face and then Martinez came back with a clothesline. Martinez hit a Fisherman’s Buster for the pinfall win in a match that went under three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mercedes Martinez
Analysis: *1/4 A quick match to put over Martinez as a veteran wrestler that’s very focused. It was a lot of basic stuff by Martinez here. Martinez might be getting a push considering how they have been building her up.
There was a video package with Damian Priest letting Cameron Grimes that they will have a match next week on NXT to continue that rivalry.
There were more videos of wrestlers prediction Adam Cole vs. Keith Lee with Mick Foley picking Cole and Shawn Michaels picked Cole even though a part of him thought maybe Lee will win.
They showed Keith Lee walking backstage with the NXT North American Title. Ranallo noted that Lee dedicated the match to his trainer “Killer” Tim Brooks, who passed away last week. Keith also dedicated the match to his grandmother since she helped him become a wrestling fan. She died when Keith was 12. Lee got a very nice ovation from his fellow wrestlers that have a lot of love for the “Limitless” big man.
Adam Cole was shown walking backstage with the NXT Championship around his waist. Cole turned 31 years old recently and he was on day 402 as NXT Champion. Cole made his entrance alone. I don’t think Ranallo was wrong in saying it was arguably the biggest match in NXT history since they had both titles on the line. The wrestlers stood in the ring for the championship introductions.
I’ll go the play by play route for this match. There was a lot of time left for the match. This “uninterrupted main event” was brought to us by Mountain Dew. Ewww, I’ll have some crab juice. That’s a Simpsons reference. You’re welcome.
Champion vs. Champion Winner Takes All for the NXT Championship and NXT North American Championship: Adam Cole vs. Keith Lee
Cole started with a headlock, then Lee grabbed onto the wrist and controlled Cole by lifting him up in the air. Lee blocked a kick followed by a shoulder tackle that sent Cole out of the ring. Lee left the ring and went for a charge on Cole, but Cole missed and Lee punched a piece of plexiglass knocked the plexiglass down. Ranallo tried to say that Lee went face first into it, but it was more like Lee punched the plexiglass. Cole did a nice job of breaking the referee’s count multiple times and sent Lee into the steel steps. They replayed the plexiglass spot where Lee used his forearm to knock it down. Anyway, they went back into the ring with Cole hitting a pump kick followed by a neckbreaker by two. Cole hit another neckbreaker while telling Lee that he can’t win the big one. Lee blocked a knee attempt, then followed up with left-handed punches to the face and Lee hit a spinning powerslam for a two count. Lee smashed Cole with a hard chop to the chest. Lee took way too long going to the ropes, Cole gave him a superkick and Cole hit a backstabber of the turnbuckle for a two count as Lee did a power kickout that sent Cole to the apron. Lee with a running forearm smash to Cole on the apron. Lee stood on the middle ropes and hoisted Cole from the apron leading to a superplex called the struggleplex (thanks Mauro) because of how unique of a spot that is. Cesaro does a similar move sometimes. Cole with a kick to the head, kick the leg and a knee strike was blocked by Lee, who hit a Spirit Bomb and Cole kicked out at two with one finger on the bottom rope to break the count. Lee with a shoulder tackle followed by a one armed spinebuster for a two count. Lee hit a moonsault off the middle ropes for a two count.
Cole avoided a Big Bang Catastrophe attempt, Cole with a superkick and then another superkick. Cole with kicks to the body and then the Last Shot running knee to the back of the head for a two count. Cole ran the ropes, which led to Lee hitting a huge clothesline and Cole did a flip bump to sell that. Cole nearly landed on the top of his head – it was more of a bump on the head/neck that looked painful. Cole came back with a kick followed by Cole jumping off the ropes leading to the Panama Sunrise (the Canadian Destroyer) for a two count. That is a finisher that Cole has used a lot and Lee managed to get his shoulder up at the last moment. Cole hit three superkicks on Lee, who was on his knees and that got a two count with Cole looking shocked by Lee kicking out. Cole exposed the knee with a Last Shot running knee to the back of the head. Cole didn’t go for a cover because he wanted to do more damage. Cole to the middle ropes, he jumped off, but Lee caught him and hit a Spirit Bomb. Lee followed up by putting Cole on his shoulders and Lee hit the Big Bang Catastrophe slam on Cole for the pinfall win after 20 minutes of action. Keith Lee is the NEW NXT Champion!
Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT Champion (Still NXT North American Champion): Keith Lee
Analysis: **** This was an excellent match that I was hoping would be even better, but I still enjoyed it for what it was. It just wasn’t an epic main event that some of us may have hoped it would be. Believe me, it’s not a complaint because this was still a four-star match out of five. The result was what I wanted to see with Lee winning in clean fashion over the best NXT Champion in the history of the company. Cole does all the little things right. It’s not easy for a smaller heel to work with a much bigger face, but Cole looked competitive the whole way and there were several moments where it looked like Cole might win. It would have been nice if they had a few spots where Cole tried to cheat to win more since he’s the heel champion that should try anything to retain the title. Do something like an exposed turnbuckle spot leading to a two count or a low blow. I get wanting to put on a great match, but I like it when heels try to cheat and there wasn’t any of that in this match. I wanted Lee to win this match. I liked Adam Cole as champion, but after 400+ days, it was time for a new champion and Lee was the perfect guy for this spot.
Keith lee was emotional as he got back to his feet and was handed the two titles, which Lee raised above his head. The fans at Full Sail were cheering for Lee and banging on the plexiglass to make a lot of noise.
Lee continued the celebration as confetti and some pyro was also part of the celebration. They showed Karrion Kross and the lovely Scarlett standing atop of Full Sail and laughing at Lee holding the titles. Scarlett left, then Kross stared at Lee some more. Lee continued the celebration with Mauro ending the show saying that NXT is now “N-X-Lee.” Good line there.
Analysis: That was a cool celebration. I’m genuinely happy for a hard worker that has been built up the right way like Keith Lee. Sadly, this title win was spoiled last week by a developmental wrestler that posted an image of Lee celebrating with the title on his Instagram story. I doubt they filmed two versions of the finish, but I’m sure some fans want to believe that. I think Cole and Lee are both going to be very successful on Raw or Smackdown in the future. Lee probably has a better chance since he’s a bigger guy, but I still think Cole is going to do well like Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, who are similar in size.
I wonder what happens to the NXT North American Title. They could have Lee defend it just like he will defend the NXT Title, but I think it would be better if they made Lee give up the North American Title and then do a tournament to crown a new champion. They could have Balor and Gargano in the tournament finals with Finn winning that title.
Three Stars of the Show
- Keith Lee
- Adam Cole
- Candice LeRae and Mia Yim
I give this show an 8 out of 10.
It was another great episode of NXT with the GAB theme. Keith Lee winning the NXT Championship to go along with his North American Title was a happy way to end it and I like that it felt like a big moment. It was the end of Adam Cole’s incredible run as the NXT Champion with a clean win for Lee making Keith look like a dominant new champion. I think the match was great, but not necessarily an epic match like some of Cole’s previous NXT Title matches. It’s still worth checking out if you missed it because I liked the match a lot.
The women’s Street Fight with LeRae beating Yim was an awesome opening match. It came across as a fight from the start and I liked the finish a lot. There were a few more above average matches as well. It would be nice to see the tag team division featured more because they haven’t been utilized much in the last few weeks. The women’s division is deep right now with a lot of talent that have very bright futures in WWE. I want to see a strong tag team division in NXT again.
NXT is rolling right now and I wish there were fans there to react to some of this stuff. Credit the talent for continuing to work hard week after week.