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NXT recap & reactions (Nov. 11, 2020): Upset of the Century

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NXT returned last night (Nov. 11) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Upset City

NXT opened the show with a HUGE upset.

It was assumed when Johnny Gargano was going to choose someone to defend his title against that he’d pick someone who more of a jobber. Especially because he’s never successfully defended a singles title in NXT.

So surely, when he introduced his wheel of challengers, given he loves wheels now, it predictably landed on Leon Ruff. Ruff is a talented young man, but has only played the role of enhancement talent in WWE and NXT. In fact, he was so suited for this role that I predicted it’d be him in our weekly preview.

That also made him the perfect choice for the biggest upset in NXT history. Because no one saw Leon Ruff actually beating Johnny for the title. But he did.

Damian Priest was ringside to watch the match, but the Archer of Infamy didn’t really get involved. He didn’t jump on the apron or shout at the champ to distract him. Yes, his presence was a bit distracting, but Johnny was in control of his destiny. And he failed.

Ruff ducked a kick and nailed a crucifix bomb for a surprise 1-2-3.

This was quite the moment. Johnny Gargano is the perfect guy to endure this type of humiliating loss. His current heel character isn’t world title caliber. But it’s the most entertaining the man has ever been. He’s a delusional comedy heel and superb in the role. His backstage interviews and promo segments have been continually hilarious, from his hatred of wheels (and pumpkins) to his love of wheels to his renewed hatred of them. Even his post defeat tweet cracked me up.

This version of Johnny is entertaining enough that this won’t hurt him. He’s too delusional and bad things like this will continue to happen because he’s going to continue to deserve them.

I’m very curious to where it goes from here. Like someone like Santino Marella after the Milan Miracle, I don’t expect a long title reign. Leon will probably lose that title back to Johnny sooner than later. But he’ll always been a former North American champion and this serves as his official introduction to NXT. Despite being a fluke-ish (though clean) win, it gives him credibility moving forward.

This opening segment was a shot of espresso to give the show a jolt to start.

Great Bads

Pat McAfee and crew are great heels.

As the show closed this week and they were standing tall over fan favorites Breezango and Drake Maverick, I found myself really disliking them in the way you’re supposed to dislike bad guys in wrestling. I wanted to see them get theirs and was disappointed when they didn’t.

It all started with a promo from McAfee. It’s a sign of how good Pat is on the mic that they hand him the stick every week, and he delivers a minutes long promo. A promo that’s always good. It’s so easy to hate this guy just with the way he speaks. He’s a cocky dude bro you just want to hate.

This led into the scheduled tag team match between current champs Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch and former champs Breezango. It was a good tag team match, which tag matches in NXT usually are.

This week’s match featured some clever cheating, with Pete Dunne really doing the yeoman’s work to aid the Brit-Am Brawlers from outside the ring. Drake Maverick tried to get involved to even the score and deliver a measure of revenge for what the Kings of NXT did to his partner Killian Dain. But it wasn’t enough. The good guys were still out numbered three to four.

The champs retained their gold with help from Pat Mac and Pete Dunne. But that wasn’t it for the action. A good ol’ fashioned brawl broke out between the babyfaces and villains. It ended with Pat’s boys standing tall and to cap off their good night, McAfee delivered a punt to Breezango like he did Adam Cole months back.

It was a display that had me hoping that Undisputed would run out and give these men what they deserve. But it didn’t happen. It shouldn’t have happened. Leaving fans wanting it will just make it sweeter when it does.

Pat McAfee is a natural. He and his stable have helped shoulder the burden while the NXT champion is out injured. They have a date with Undisputed in their future. I for one can’t wait.

An Odd One

This whole story with Boa and Xia Li is very weird. But it kind of has me hooked.

For weeks, Xia Li has been getting letters delivered by Boa from her family back home (in China I assume). Those letters insist she fight in certain matches, and matches she’s constantly losing. Last week, the letter instructed her that she needed to face Raquel González. A tough task indeed.

But Li no showed her match. Instead Boa informed González that Xia would not be showing up. Raquel then shot the messenger, beating the tar out of poor Boa.

That’s when it got really weird. The lights went out, smoke started to rise, an imagine of a dragon ran across the CWC’s screens, and an older Asian man hobbled to the ring. He handed Boa a letter and marked the wrestler’s hand. He then left Boa staring at his hand like it was burned.

It’s weird. No doubt it’s weird. But I’m intrigued. It feels like a bit of a family mystery, maybe something playing off some Chinese mythology, though more likely movie tropes. But right now, there’s so much unknown that I’m very curious to find out the payoff.

A Program’s End

Jake Atlas failed to win the Cruiserweight championship, signaling what has to be the end of his program with Santos Escobar.

While Escobar is still champion, this feud helped solidify Atlas as an aggressive wrestler who isn’t going to take any crap. Tommaso Ciampa’s (who is now a babyface again) vicious attack on Atlas was the catalyst. But this feud with El Legado del Fantasma solidified it.

Now Jake will need to find something else to keep the momentum going. It’s tough after definitively losing a feud, but NXT is rather good at transitioning someone from one program to another. So there’s hope that he finds another strong story soon.

That also means Escobar needs another challenger, and NXT doesn’t have many options available with him beating both Atlas and Swerve Scott multiple times. There’s no one on the roster from the 205 brand that would make sense. Oney Lorcan is doing his thing with Pat McAfee. Drake Maverick is in his team with Dain. So NXT will need to do a little work to find the champ a new challenger.

All the Rest:

- Indi Hartwell finally revealed herself to be the person behind the Scream mask. That shouldn’t be surprising given their history. Hartwell aided Candice LeRae after LeRae used a leverage pin to cheat her way into a win against Toni Storm. Shotzi Blackheart, who did a great job explaining why her tank is so important to her, including mentioning how it’s an homage to military family, tried to even the score but she was left laying as well.

- Cameron Grimes cost Dexter Lumis a match against Timothy Thatcher. To add to that, he then put a burlap sack on Lumis’ head and attacked him, including a Cave In onto Dexter who was position sitting in a chair. I hope this leads to Lumis stalking Grimes wearing a sack on his head. Let’s go full horror movie with this.

While nothing beat the opening angle, this show had plenty of stories advancing. There were no wasted motions this week. They’ve done an impressive job putting on entertaining shows while missing their NXT champion.

Grade: A-

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