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NXT recap & reactions (Nov. 20, 2019): All the brawls

NXT returned to us last night (Nov. 20) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

More of the Same

Becky Lynch returned to NXT, and that itself was a big moment.

Becky didn’t reach the pinnacle in NXT. She never won the Women’s title. The closest thing was taking Sasha Banks to the limit and earning the love of the crowd in the process. It was something The Man remembered as she brought it up in her promo.

Lynch is a great promo. The crowd challenged her a couple times but she leaned into it, such as when they chanted “Shayna’s gonna kill you” and she got them back on her side. It’s not news, but I’m reminded every time she pulls me into her promo, and that’s almost always.

Her challenge to Baszler was actually accepted by Rhea Ripley and the two had a pretty good match. Unfortunately, it was interrupted by the very predictable Baszler & Co. run in. This Survivor Series build has been a slew of matches interrupted. We lost out on finishes in a great New Day vs. Revival on SmackDown because of it. On Raw, both Andrade vs. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens vs. Drew McIntyre suffered the same fate. It’s creatively lazy and it’s seeping into NXT.

Seeing Lynch was great. She is arguably one of the most successful NXT grads in a slew of very successful NXT grads. With her ascension the last year, it was very cool seeing her come back to where she started. We’re a long way from Irish jigs.

But the booking of this Survivor Series build has been very lazy. That’s not usually an issue with NXT, but it was a theme throughout the night with brawls.

Lost Control

Following the non-finish of the Becky/Rhea match, we got a Ricochet and Matt Riddle match that featured... you guess it!... interference!

Because it was right after the opener, seeing the same thing happen elicited an eye roll from me. Riddle picked a win amidst the chaos so they wouldn’t have two non-finishes in a row. But it was otherwise the same.

Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura got involved and the brawl itself wasn’t bad. Ricochet dove from the top rope onto the floor which was impressive as hell. And it did lead into a moment between Finn Bálor and Riddle that helped tease what these guys can do at TakeOver on Saturday.

In a vacuum, this all was fine with some cool moments. But it was the second of two segments with interference taking away from what could be a great match, leading to the feel that NXT was losing the control their chaos.

Tag Team Classic

The Revival vs. the Undisputed ERA was undoubtedly the biggest draw for this episode tonight for many people.

These are two of the best teams in NXT history and two of the best tag teams in all wrestling today. To see them face for the first time ever is huge. And thankfully, they delivered.

There’s always the risk a match won’t live up to the expectation, but these two teams clicked. It was odd to see Dash Wilder play a face in peril when he’s normally on the other end of that role. But someone had to and it allowed the ERA to do their thing.

(One of the great things about both these teams and they make the extended face in peril section entertaining because their offense is believable, whether it be the jui-jitsu background of Kyle O’Reilly or the smash mouth offense of the Revival.)

Scott Dawson was eventually the hot tag, which itself isn’t common. He played it cerebral, never deviating from his style. Dawson didn’t fly around the ring, throwing his body at the opponent. He’d avoid a move and deliver a big hit. His extensive knowledge of tag team wrestling is his biggest strength and he used it.

The end of this match felt like extra innings, with both team feeling the fatigue from their battle. In end, Fish and O’Reilly were able to position themselves to block Dash Wilder from saving Dawson from the ERA’s high low. Dawson went out on his own terms by saying “screw you” after knowing he’d lost.

I really appreciated that the ERA won because they read the situation and were able to get in a position where they had the positional advantage guaranteeing them the win. It was like two great generals trying to out maneuver each other until one put themself in a position of guaranteed victory. And a student of the game like Dawson knew it was over.

Hopefully these guys do it again someday. Doesn’t have to be soon. Probably better if it weren’t. But another chapter down the line would be welcome.

Main Event

The main event was the men’s ladder match between Adam Cole (bay bay) and Dominik Dijakovic to decide who gets the WarGames advantage.

It was obvious that Adam Cole was going to win, which he did. Heels always get the WarGames advantage. The match wasn’t slotted as much time as the women’s ladder match last week. And it wasn’t as good (though that match last week was awesome). But it was still enjoyable.

These two guys put on a fun bout with the time that they had. And there was no interference during the match, which was nice.

Of course, after the match was a Pier 6 brawl.

That’s right, another show ending with a big brawl. Happened on Monday. Probably will happen on Friday. We’re heavy into reruns here.

However, it still had its moments. Keith Lee staring down Drew McIntyre. Lee and Ivar of the Viking Raiders diving on to a sea of the bodies onto the floor. But it was the ending that was the moment.

Seth Rollins showed up and stood tall in the NXT ring. Everyone else was down on the outside. That’s with Daddy Ciampa came out. He strolled through the sea of bodies (a great image) and was about to get into the ring before he detoured to kick Adam Cole in the head. Remembering he still hates Adam Cole throughout this brand war was good stuff. Then he and the first ever NXT champion stood face to face before throwing haymakers as the show faded to black.

They’re brawls tonight all had their moments, but they went to that well too often.

More Chaos

Kay Lee Ray defeated Dakota Kai in a one on one bout after Kay Lee bulldozed Kai last week and aided Io Shirai in the ladder match win.

It was a good match, but I’m still disappointed we don’t have an explanation why Kay Lee, who’s never been on NXT prime, joined Shayna’s team. Either Shayna or Kay Lee should have told us. They didn’t and her addition plays as random.

This also ended in a Raw & SmackDown style brawl. There was a great moment where Raw’s Kairi Sane and NXT’s Io Shirai, once fast friends when they were both true blue babyfaces, started each other down. But outside that, this was a standard brawl.

Other Happenings:

- The only other match not mentioned was a surprisingly good Viking Raiders vs. Forgotten Sons match. The Raiders won, which shouldn’t be surprising, but the Sons had a very good showing.

NXT faltered in trying to balance their own WarGames stories with the Survivor Series build this week. It was too much about random attacks and interference, and too much like Raw this week in that sense.

NXT had done a good job on focusing on their own stories with a splash of interbrand war up to this week, but it got out of hand here. It felt too much like they were building to Survivor Series with a little WarGames stuff here and there. It should be the opposite as WarGames is their big show this week.

There was still very good stuff in this show. Undisputed vs. Revival (seriously, watch it if you haven’t). The ladder match. The closing showdown. But I look forward to when this invasion stuff is over and they’re back to doing their own thing.

Grade: C+

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