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NXT recap & reactions (Oct. 30, 2019): Go to war

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NXT returned last night (Oct. 30) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results from the episode here.

Women’s Chaos

Maybe the biggest moment of the night was the Women’s tag team title match leading into the announcement of a WarGames match.

It started with the Kabuki Warriors successfully defending their belts against Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox.

This was a solid bout, but the long period of working over Dakota Kai didn’t work as well as it could have. The issue was the fans in the building weren’t going to boo Asuka and Kairi Sane. Both women were fan favorites for a long while in NXT. They were just happy to see them.

On the other side, while fans like Dakota Kai & Tegan Nox, neither have been back from injury long enough to be established as current fan favorites. They can surely get there, but they’re not there right now to make the format of this match work to its full potential.

The final segment - the hot tag and the higher octane portion of the match - was very enjoyable. Asuka misted Dakota and then Kairi tagged in to pick up the win. She made sure to keep Kai’s misted face covered so not to risk disqualification. It was a detail I quite appreciated.

Shayna Baszler and her horsewomen came out to beat up the losers, but this turned into a brawl featuring the major players in the Women’s division including Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Bianca Belair, and Io Shirai. That’s William Regal appeared on his perch to announced “WARGAMES!”

NXT did a very good job setting this up. They spent the last month showing us how all these women have issues with each other. So this wasn’t random and doesn’t feel forced, which booking the planned stipulation matches often do.

This probably means we’re not getting a Women’s title defense at TakeOver, but they can use the match to book a stipulation to set one up on live TV down the line.

NXT’s strength continues to be its women’s division right now.

The Explanation

Finn Balor gave us a bit of an explanation to why he attacked Johnny Gargano. And while the explanation itself wasn’t much (basically he’s tired of wrestlers acting like fans), it was very well delivered.

He walked out with a spotlight on him the entire time and made his point in a fairly brief promo. Bálor is a natural in this persona. He was a decent promo as a babyface, but it always felt to be missing something. But he’s found it with this character. You can tell this is a character he feels completely comfortable with.

The most interesting part was when he took a dig at Bray Wyatt, saying month’s back he was “laying down” for the hottest act (Wyatt) just because he got a new mask. It was an intriguing “shoot” aspect to the promo, but unclear the intent.

Maybe it was just to make him seem edgier. Maybe it was to acknowledge where we last saw him. Or maybe he thinks he’ll eventually be facing Wyatt again and wants to plant a seed. It doesn’t matter. It was a great promo and this didn’t take away at all.

It’s only been a week, but it’s clear that this version of Bálor can take him higher than he had been before.

Main Event

They closed the show with a tag match between Matt Riddle and Keith Lee (who’s relationship was established way back when Riddle was feuding with Kassius Ohno) against Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish.

I’ve said it before, but it’s hard to find a bad match on NXT, and this was another worthy of the main event spot. (Could also have ended with the Women’s tag match into the WarGames announcement as well, which may have been the hotter closing angle.)

All these men are great. Fish & O’Reilly are one of the best tag teams today if you ask me. Matt Riddle is something special. And NXT did a really great job building up Keith Lee, even just in the last month. Showcasing him in a big hoss feud and then turning that into a program with Undisputed has done wonders for him finding his place in NXT.

Four talented men delivered in the main event, but it was Lee who may have had my favorite spot when Adam Cole and Roderick Strong got involved. On the outside of the ring, Lee shoulder checked Cole five feet into Strong. Lee has some fantastic “oh wow” moments.

Unfortunately, Lee and Riddle didn’t pick up the win. (Nor should they have. Established teams like Undisputed should win against a team that hasn’t been together in awhile.) But the heroes did get the last laugh.

With the help of Tommaso Ciampa, they were able to avoid a post match beatdown. Lee even pressed Kyle out of the ring onto the rest of Undisputed. That’s when Ciampa grabbed a mic and told Goldie (the NXT title for those unaware) that she’ll have to wait because “Daddy’s going to war.”

This man makes talking to an inanimate object work. In fact, I don’t think he’s talked to anyone else besides a championship belt on TV. (He may have had words with Angel Garza backstage at one point during a YouTube exclusive.) That’s commitment to a bit.

This probably means another WarGames match. Honestly, I’m apprehensive of the idea of two WarGames matches on one show. I’d just let the Women tear it up and tell the Undisputed story another way. (And maybe they are, but when Ciampa used “War,” it was pretty obvious.)

We’ll cross that bridge when we get there though. For tonight, the main event and the post match angle was very entertaining.

All the Rest:

- The show opened with Io Shirai and Candice LeRae locking up, pretty much leading off with a match they knew would be good. A moonsault onto a chair that Io introduced was Candice’s downfall. When Shirai tried to get some more shots in after the match, Rhea Ripley ran out to chase Io away. That match looked like it was a lock, and probably still is, though it’s possible the WarGames announcement complicates that.

- Bronson Reed picked up a W over Shane Thorne in a competitive, enjoyable match. It was surprising to see Thorne pick up his second loss in a row. Does that mean his push is slowing down or is this just part of a bigger story? Thorne has a lot of potential as a singles act so I’d be surprised if they backed off on him too much.

- A Killian Dain distraction cost Tyler Bate a match against Cameron Grimes. It was a smart finish. It allowed a reason for Bate to get caught by Grimes’ double stomp, a move they’re really working on building up. Meanwhile, it was a surprise spot for Dain, targeting Pete Dunne’s friend (he attacked him Tyler match too). They had already announced Dunne/Damien Priest for next week, and I had assumed that’s where Dain would make his move. Instead he targets Dunne’s friend, which makes this more personal.

NXT... still very good.

Grade: A-

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