NXT returned last night (Nov. 18) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.
The Boys are Back in Town
Undisputed ERA is back. Finn Bálor is back. (Probably.) And it looks like we have ourselves a WarGames match.
Finn Bálor closed the show, following the killer women’s title match. He cut a promo that put himself over for being the badass he is for fighting Kyle O’Reilly with a broken jaw. But soon he was cut off by Pat McAfee and his posse.
Pat Mac showed off his gift of gab again this week, information the champ what happened while he was out “sipping steak through a straw.” (Seriously, McAfee has such a way with words.) About how they took out Drake Maverick & Killian Dain. How they took out Breezango. How they took out Undisputed ERA.
But the champ didn’t care. These are mice who got to play while the cat was away. But now Finn is back, and he didn’t come alone.
That was the cue for Adam Cole and company to join the party and give the Kings of NXT what they have coming. It was a satisfying moment given the weeks we’ve endured Pat running his mouth and his boys injuring our faves.
The one mystery that’s left is the status of Finn Bálor. Sure he said “The cat is back” but he never said he’s ready to wrestler. Nor did he fight in the brawl. He very well could be back, but I’m going to need to see something a little more concrete before I’m convinced. I mean he said he has three plates in his face. Can he wrestle with that?
Even if he can’t wrestle just yet, just his presence on the show is important. And it’s great to have Undisputed back in a new role, as the babyfaces instead of the dickhead heels.
This Is Awesome (Clap, Clap, Clapclapclap)
The Women’s title match this week was friggin’ awesome.
That shouldn’t be too surprising given Io Shirai is one of the best in the world. And Rhea is really good in her own right. She was rough around the edges when she came into NXT, but she has grown very fast and consistently puts on great matches. (And not just with established talent. Her match with Raquel González at Halloween Havoc lived up to the hype.)
Even though we shouldn’t have been surprised, this still exceeded expectations. It was physical, but simple. There was a portion where Io was just working over the challenger’s left arm. But it was still wildly entertaining. It wasn’t a bunch of holds in the middle of the ring. It was using that arm to drop Ripley hard onto the apron. Io dished it out and Rhea sold it all.
These women did not hold back. Because there is no holding back in a title match. This was a war. Rhea even used her own blood as war paint at one point. (Very badass.) In the end, Shirai was able to powerbomb Ripley through the announce table. The Nightmare beat the count but the champ was waiting with her patented moonsault to get the job done.
The women shared a hug after the match. That could have just been because they’re both babyfaces and had themselves an excellent match. But I think that Ripley is destined for the main roster soon. That would explain why they kind of rushed getting to this match, ending with a very clean loss. If they had more plans for Rhea, I don’t think this would have been as cut and dry.
If that is the case and she is headed to Mondays or Fridays, she had herself quite the NXT career.
Leon has Entered the Feud
The Cinderella Story continues.
Johnny Gargano, absolutely besides himself after losing the North American title to Leon Ruff last week, demanded his rematch this week. And he was set on taking back his gold.
He attacked Ruff before the bell, showing his determination, and the fact he’s a jerk. But Leon was able to find his moment to land a flurry of offense and try to shock Johnny again. This time, it didn’t work. This time, Leon Ruff needed Damian Priest to retain the title.
Unlike last week, when Priest offered a slight distraction but Ruff really just caught Johnny sleeping, Damian handed the title to Leon this week. When Johnny Gargano delivered One Final Beat, Priest dragged Ruff out of the ring and hit him in the face, forcing referee Drake Wuertz to disqualify Johnny Gargano.
So not only did Gargano fail to win his title back, but it’s his second loss in as many weeks to Ruff.
That was all well and good, but it was actually the backstage segment involving William Regal, Damian Priest, and Leon Ruff where this really heat up. The General Manager wasn’t pleased with Priest, and Damian admitted that maybe he took the joke too far. That’s when Ruff interrupted, incensed that this is a joke to the Archer of Infamy. The champ claimed if he can’t defend the title, he shouldn’t be the champ. Priest apologized, but Ruff slapped him in the face and left.
That response from Leon was pretty much perfect. He knows last week may have been a fluke. But he respects the title too much to be a paper champ. If he’s going to lose, so be it. The slap showed passion and ensured Priest would get the message.
They picked this up later. Priest was headed to the ring for a match again... someone. But Johnny attacked him prior and those two fought. Then Leon inserted himself, again to prove this is as much about him as it is about the two of them. He may have pushed the other two a bit too far and needed to hightail when it looked like they were going to team up against him.
All of this ensures that Ruff isn’t just a tool to tell the story of Priest vs. Gargano. He’s part of this. He’s the champ and he’s getting a chance to show what he’s about. In fact, he told William Regal confidently that he’ll fight both of them. Suddenly, Leon Ruff a player in all this.
TakeOver: WarGames was officially announced for Dec. 6.
We know Shotzi Blackheart will lead a team against Candice LeRae. Given how pissed Blackheart was after LeRae ran over her tank, there’s plenty of bad blood between these two to warrant both anchoring a team.
Candice, who defeated Kayden Carter with a slight assist from Indie Hartwell earlier in the night, didn’t have a tough time filling the rest of her team.
Hartwell was always a given. Dakota Kai and Raquel González appear to have joined the cause as well.
After Dakota & Raquel lost to Toni Storm & Ember Moon in a fun tag bout, Kai and González joined in on a post-match beat down led by Candice LeRae and Indie Hartwell. That attack likely stems from Candice taking exception to Storm supporting Shotzi after the tank incident. Last week, LeRae cheated to beat Toni and then beat her up, so there’s bad blood in the other direction as well, even prior to this attack.
There are enough issues between the women involved to ensure the pairing doesn’t seem random. Shotzi will still need one more person. Perhaps Io Shirai, who has a long standing feud with Candice LeRae.
This will be a fun WarGames match.
Cameron Grimes faced Dexter Lumis in a blindfold match this week. During the bout, I realized I’m getting tired of this feud.
This had been a really fun comedy bit with the Haunted House of Terror and the subsequent weeks of Grimes trying to cope with all the zombie trauma. But it feels like this has run its course. This blindfold match didn’t hit and works to prolong something that probably should have ended already.
Grimes stumbled around, accidentally beat up the referee, then both men eventually unmasked and Lumis chased Cameron until the Carolina Caveman escaped through the crowd.
It wasn’t outwardly bad or anything, but this didn’t add anything to the what they’ve been doing and the antics are getting a bit tired. It may be time to transition these men into different feuds.
All The Rest:
- Kushida defeated former Raw Underground star Arturo Ruas in an exhibition. The Kushida push continues and it feels like this was just to keep him winning before the next big thing. Maybe an NXT title shot?
- It looks like rather sudden babyface Tommaso Ciampa’s issue with the conduct of the locker room has led him to Timothy Thatcher. Thatch defeated his ex-student August Grey and was about to beat him up more after the match when the Psycho Killer walked to the ring to stare down Tim. Thatcher retreated, telling the former NXT champ that he has no problem with him.
- Boa told William Regal, who went to his house looking for answers, that “She is coming.” Some more intrigue from this angle. Who is she?
This was a good show, with an incredible main event match followed by a strong closing angle.
Sound off below.