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NXT recap & reactions (Nov. 27, 2019): The Rogue

NXT returned last night (Nov. 27) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

No Alliance

The opening segment this week ended up servicing two different big segments later on.

It opened with the NXT talent pretty much playing cheerleader for NXT while Josiah Williams delivered a black and gold rap. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but it makes sense to celebrate such a big win on Sunday given wins and loss should matter so it was fine.

Plus, it gave us Undisputed ERA interrupting the crowd and telling them they are not NXT, which is very good heeling. Triple H and NXT have done a very thorough job in getting the fans to buy into the idea that we are as part of NXT as they are. Telling the crowd otherwise is good heeling because it hurts, and it’s kinda true.

When this turned into a promo between Ciampa and Cole, Tommaso said nothing is standing between him and Goldie any more. That’s when Finn walked out and said “I’m standing here.”

That set up a blockbuster main event. Finn Bálor vs. Tommaso Ciampa.

I don’t think I need to tell you the match was very good. It was. But it was the intrigue between Cole, who came down to assist, and Finn that was the most interesting.

The Prince had no issue allowing Adam Cole to help him. And why should he? They’ve been at least inadvertently aiding each other for weeks now. It was a Cole kick to Ciampa’s head when the referee wasn’t looking that led right into Finn’s 1916.

However, Cole let his guard down. Finn convinced the champ that they were allies. So as they posed together in the ring, Bálor Pelė kicked him in the face.

They teased their relationship for awhile and tonight delivered an answer. Finn is a lone wolf in NXT. He’s not allied with anyone. He’s looking out for #1 and only #1. And that’s the best way to go. Finn has been a force in NXT since his return, and it would only lessen him to put him in any group.

Finn figured out a way to beat the man who was likely #1 contender, get the actual champion to assist him, and then make his intentions known as the new #1 contender. That’s some evil genius right there.

A Hoss Tag Team

The other thing the opening segment did was feed right into the tag title match between Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish and Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic. Well, it was Fish until a bad bump to the outside took him out and Roddy Strong took his place.

Roderick Strong has filled in for Fish before. He held the tag gold with Kool Kyle. And they had great matches too. That chemistry is there.

They did a great job believably cutting down the much larger men with offense we can believe would work. Consistently chop blocking the legs is a strategy we can buy would find success. It’s something the ERA is great at - finding ways to cut down larger opponents believable. Plus, they can bump like hell for these massive dudes.

The ending of the match was a bit silly. Keith Lee body checking Adam Cole into the crowd was a fantastic moment. Just another way they’re making Keith look like a stud. But Dijakovic standing there slack jawed so the ERA can take advantage is a bit corny. It makes him look like he lacks focus.

It’s not the biggest deal. The Adam Cole spot was the finish of the match and it’s kinda funny that Dominik was so stunned by it. But it is ending the match with a comedy spot, which is always an odd choice for a title match.

Heel Dakota

Dakota Kai had her first match as a heel this week against Candice LeRae. Candice cut a backstage promo prior calling Tegan Nox her “little sister” to add more heat to the match.

The new look Kai worked very very well. She had new music that fit her new persona as she sauntered down the ring holding Tegan’s knee brace. I’m always a sucker for someone claiming a prize from their victims.

She worked more aggressive, already having a strong handle on a heel character. We still need to see what a Dakota heel promo is like, but so far, so good for this change.

The end of the match was a DQ when Kai resorted to using Nox’s knee brace as a weapon. This was absolutely the way to go. Candice shouldn’t be losing clean after being part of the handicap WarGames victory. But Dakota cannot lose her first match as a villain. And the way they played it allowed Dakota to unless her viciousness post-match.

Rhea Ripley made the save to a huge pop. They’re holding off on Tegan getting a measure of revenge for a bit longer. That’s a smart move. That’s what the fans invested in this story want to see the most. Waiting a bit will make it mean more when it finally does happen.


Speaking of Ripley, that wasn’t her only moment. She had a bigger showdown with Shayna Baszler later in the evening.

Shayna and her lady goons attacked Xia Li after Xia defeated Vanessa Borne. Then the champ cut a promo about how she was the one who led NXT to victory on Sunday. She was interrupted by Ripley, who got a massive pop.

Ripley reminded the champ that Shayna’s never beaten her. Baszler said if they fight, it’ll end like they all end - tap or nap. But when Rhea suggested they do it now, Shayna bailed. That’s when Ripley dropped the line that Baszler knows the next they step in the ring together, “I’ll drop ya.”

Ripley is so hot right now. She’s got the look, attitude, she can cut a promo, and her ring work stands up. Both she and Keith Lee have had huge stock rises the last couple months. NXT is developing a couple stars right here.

I would argue this segment didn’t do any favors for the talent lower in the card. Vanessa Borne especially had to lie in the ring for awhile after taking a powerbomb from the smaller Li as Xia stared at Shayna and gang before winning with a kick to the head. Then the victor of this lowercard angle was immediately beaten down. The segment with the top stars was great, but Xia and especially Borne didn’t look great. It’s not a big deal. But I like it when lower card angles get a bit more love.

All the rest:

- Lio Rush successfully retained his NXT Cruiserweight championship against Akira Tozawa. It was awesome. Lio is fantastic. So is Tozawa. I dunno the status of the cruiserweight’s show (205 was canceled again last night). I doubt it’s long for this world. But we still get very good cruiserweight title matches all the time on Wednesdays.

- Mansoor went over Shane Thorne this week. That’s great for Mansoor. The dude is incredible and deserves more time on TV. It doesn’t bode well for Thorne’s single’s push though. I thought he had a good look and potential but he’s been losing more than winning.

Brand warfare is over and NXT is back to delivering the goods.

Grade: A

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