Date: November 18, 2020
Location: Capitol Wrestling Center, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Beth Phoenix, Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett
We’re coming off a huge upset last week as Leon Ruff won the North American Title from Johnny Gargano, albeit with a big assist from Damian Priest. Tonight it’s time for a rematch so Gargano can set the world right, but we also have Women’s Champion Io Shirai defending against Rhea Ripley in a showdown. Let’s get to it.
We open with a look back at Ruff winning the North American Title, including Gargano trying to rig the whole thing. Priest laughing in shock at the win was a great touch.
North American Title: Leon Ruff vs. Johnny Gargano
Gargano is challenging but before the match he says he wants everyone to stop talking about last week. The fans chant JOHNNY FAILURE but he says that the real failure is holding his title. Gargano knocks Ruff down and we’re ready to go in a hurry. The shoulders in the corner have Ruff in early trouble and there’s a hard whip to make it worse. Gargano hammers away in the corner, even hurting his own hand in the process.
Ruff is back with a quick enziguri but the crucifix bomb is countered. Gargano hits a pair of Lawn Darts but as he loads up a superkick, here’s Damian Priest for a distraction. That lets Ruff grab a rollup for two but the Swanton misses. A superkick drops Ruff and there’s One Final Beat for two as Priest pulls Ruff to the floor. Priest apologizes in advance and hits Ruff in the face for the DQ to keep the title at 4:50.
Rating: C-. The wrestling wasn’t the point here and there’s nothing wrong with stretching this out for another week. It’s still not like Ruff is being presented as anything better than Gargano as this is little more than a prop in the Priest vs. Gargano feud. The match was a squash until the ending and Priest’s “I’m sorry” before knocking him out was a good idea. Fine little storyline advancing match here.
Post match Gargano grabs the title but Priest takes it away and hands it to the champ.
Cameron Grimes says that he showed that Dexter Lumis is just a man. Tonight, Grimes is going to prove that he’s a rocket ship.
Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis
Blindfold match. Grimes puts his hood on and misses an early dropkick before barely being able to stand up. The referee has to duck a wild swing from Grimes, as Lumis has been standing in the middle of the ring the entire time. Grimes knocks the referee down in the corner and stomps away, allowing him to take his mask off for some reason.
Lumis is still standing in the middle of the ring without moving, but he’s still able to avoid the Cave In. Now Lumis takes his own mask off and hammers away but Grimes elbows his way out of the Silence. They head outside with Grimes being sent into various things before he finally just jumps the barricade and runs off at about 4:15.
Rating: D. This was barely a match and the ending was just there to set up something else, likely at the next Takeover. As usual, Grimes came off like the star here as he’s a ball of energy and charisma, while Lumis literally just stood there for a few minutes. I’m not sure how that makes him worthy of this much screen time, but if it means more Grimes, I’m all for it.
William Regal asks Damian Priest what was up with that and Priest says Ruff is just a joke. Ruff comes up and sounds crushed, saying that if he’s a joke he shouldn’t be defending the title. He even tries to hand Priest the belt but Regal says no. Ruff says he’s sorry to Priest, just like Priest did to him, and then hits his own slap. He says he’s no one’s joke and Regal says it serves Priest right.
Takeover: WarGames is on December 6, with Shotzi Blackheart telling Candice LeRae to find an army because they’re going to war. So what is her new tank going to look like?
Candice LeRae/Indi Hartwell vs. Kayden Carder/Kacy Catanzaro
Carter goes for Hartwell’s leg to start and finally manages to take her down, even sitting on Hartwell’s back. It’s off to Catanzaro for a kick to the face and a slingshot hilo gets two. LeRae comes in and counters a backflip into a gutbuster to put Catanzaro down. Hartwell’s spinning side slam gets two but LeRae misses the step up backsplash. The hot tag brings in Carter to clean house as Catanzaro dives onto Hartwell. Back in and LeRae hits a neckbreaker into the Wicked Stepsister for the pin on Carter at 4:33.
Rating: C-. They didn’t have a ton of time here but is anyone going to want to see these four having a longer match? It’s the best thing that they can do for a tag match like this as we start getting ready for Takeover. Above all else, it’s nice to have the women’s division getting some matches to build things up like this, because some of them just need to be in the ring and establish themselves a bit more.
Video on Arturo Ruas.
Arturo Ruas vs. Kushida
Ruas takes him to the mat and goes for the neck before slipping out of Kushida’s attempt at the same. Back up and Kushida kicks out of an armbar attempt, only to have Ruas snap him down by the arm. The armbar has Kushida in trouble as we get a voice over saying that Finn Balor isn’t here yet but once he is, he’ll have all the time he needs. At least they didn’t put a camera on the announcement.
Ruas keeps cranking on the arm before taking him down into a Kimura. That doesn’t last long either as Kushida fights up for some kicks, including the basement dropkick for two. An elbow to the face gets Ruas out of a German suplex attempt. Ruas goes for the leg but Kushida ties him up in a leglock and bridges backwards for the pin at 4:24.
Rating: C. I liked this one rather well as it was cool to see Kushida having someone who either matched or even surpassed his submission skills so he had to switch things up a bit. I could see Kushida going towards the North American Title, or I could also see myself saying that for even longer than I have been, which is getting a little frustrating already.
Ember Moon and Toni Storm are ready to take out Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez tonight because they’re tired of being shoved around. Storm wants the Women’s Title though and there can only be one. Moon says we can worry about that later.
Various wrestlers make their picks for Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai.
Dakota Kai/Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon/Toni Storm
Gonzalez throws Storm around to start and sends her into the corner for a running boot from Kai. It’s off to another corner for a facewash but Storm is right back with a basement dropkick. A snap suplex gets two and it’ Moon coming in for a double clothesline to put Gonzalez on the floor.
Back from a break with Storm snapping off a headscissors to put Gonzalez in the corner and Moon coming back in to clean house again. The middle rope Codebreaker gives Moon two with Kai having to make a save. Moon is pulled outside for a boot to the face and a drop onto the apron gives Gonzalez two. It’s off to a Gory Stretch to put Moon in more trouble and something like a Pounce cuts off the tag attempt.
Moon is right back up with a headscissors to Kai though and now the hot tag brings in Storm for some release German suplexes to Kai. Everything breaks down and Moon hits a tornado DDT on Gonzalez, only to walk into a superkick from Kai. Storm and Kai forearm it out until a double clothesline puts both of them down as well. They get back up for another slugout until Gonzalez sends Storm into the post. Moon suicide dives onto Gonzalez but Storm small packages Kai for the pin at 12:07.
Rating: B-. They went with the formula here but the people involved had the skills to make the whole thing work out well. You can see some of the setup for Takeover coming from here and that makes these matches a little more interesting than usual. Good stuff, and it’s nice to see Storm getting a win.
Post match Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell run in to attack Moon and Storm, allowing Gonzalez and Kai to leave them laying. Sounds like a WarGames team.
Pat McAfee and company are here. McAfee has heard Finn Balor is back and there are four guys interested in what he has to say.
Timothy Thatcher vs. August Grey
They go right to the slugout to start with Grey managing to pull him down for two off a backslide. That’s just dumb to do against Thatcher, who snaps off a belly to belly into a chinlock. A front facelock suplex drops Grey again and it’s time to crank on the arm for a bit. The comeback is cut off with a single uppercut and it’s time for another armbar on Grey. A leglock is broken up with some kicks to the leg and Grey hammers away before being sent to the apron. Grey hits a superkick from the apron but dives into an uppercut. Thatcher hits a butterfly suplex and guillotines him for the win at 4:26.
Rating: C-. Just a quick squash for Thatcher here and that’s the kind of match that he needed. Grey got destroyed in short order here and that makes him look like a monster all over again. Thatcher beat up someone he shouldn’t have had trouble with and now he’s ready for someone else, which is the right idea.
Post match Thatcher says there is one more lesson so he slaps on the guillotine again, drawing out Tommaso Ciampa for a pretty interesting staredown. Thatcher says he has no problem here and backs off.
Post break, Ciampa says he came out there because he wants to fight Thatcher. Well that’s to the point.
Damian Priest comes out for a match but Johnny Gargano jumps him during the entrance. The brawl is on with Priest hitting a big forearm to put Gargano outside. Priest follows him outside and throws Gargano onto the announcers’ table for the forearms to the head. Gargano kicks him away though and hits an elbow off of said table. It’s time for a chair but here’s Leon Ruff to go after both of them. Ruff avoids a big boot to put Priest into the ropes and then sends Gargano into him, sending both guys outside in a heap. The two of them get inside and scare Ruff off, leaving Priest to stare down at Gargano. Cool segment and fight.
Next week, Wade Barrett is going to be out for some reason but Kevin Owens is going to be replacing him.
We look at the older man giving Boa a message last week.
Earlier today, William Regal came to Boa’s home, saying he has missed a week of training. Boa says she is coming so he isn’t leaving. It’s not Xia (who Regal says hasn’t been at training in two weeks), because she’s in hiding too.
Regal caught Ruff leaving and asked what he was doing. Ruff said he’ll fight both of them at once. That takes Regal a bit off guard.
Women’s Title: Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai
Shirai is defending and gets shoved down with raw power to start. Back up and Shirai says bring it before snapping off a headscissors. That just earns her a shot to the face but Shirai is back with a dropkick to put Ripley on the floor. The big dive is cut off with a forearm though and Shirai is dropped face first onto the apron. We take a break and come back with Shirai missing some double knees in the corner and being dropped face first onto the mat.
Shirai’s small package is blocked with more muscle and a suplex gives Ripley two. The seated abdominal stretch is broken up so Ripley takes her up top, only to have Shirai slip out of a suplex. Ripley punches the buckle by mistake and gets German superplexed down in a big crash. A basement dropkick gives Shirai two as Ripley’s ear is bleeding. Shirai’s Crossface doesn’t last long so Ripley is back up with a big boot to kick her head off. Shirai grabs the arm for a flying armbar though and there’s a dropkick to the arm to make Ripley scream some more.
The arm is snapped across the top rope and Shirai slams the arm into the apron. Ripley gets sent into the steps and we take a break. Back with both of them down as the fans declare this awesome. Ripley knocks her down again and grabs the Prism Trap. It’s spun around and they go to the mat with Ripley cranking on the leg even more. The rope is grabbed so Shirai is right back with a Cross armbreaker, which Ripley can’t muscle her way out of.
She can however rope grab her way out of it and avoid a pair of 619s from the champ. Instead Shirai knocks her into the ropes and hits the third attempt, followed by the missile dropkick for two. Shirai nails the running knees in the corner and steps over Ripley to set up the moonsault. Well in theory at least as Ripley is up in time and nails a running clothesline for two.
Riptide is countered into a snappy DDT and there’s the NXT chant (haven’t heard that in a bit). Ripley goes to the apron so Shirai hits a running sunset bomb through the announcers’ table for the massive crash. Ripley staggers back in so Shirai immediately moonsaults her (legs) for the pin to retain at 22:04.
Rating: A-. The chants were right as these two destroyed each other and had an awesome match doing so. This had the big fight atmosphere and Shirai popping up for the moonsault because she knew it was the only chance she had was a brilliant finish. Beating Ripley clean is the crowning jewel of her reign, which has gone on for quite a long time now. The good thing is the division is deep enough for Shirai to have a bunch of challengers, but she needed the classic to really solidify an already good reign. Ripley was awesome too and she’s going to be awesome for a long time to come. Check this out if you get the chance.
Post match hugs abound and here’s Finn Balor (not through the entrance because he doesn’t steal the spotlight) to praise Shirai for the win. After talking about how he defended his title with a broken jaw in two places, here are Pat McAfee and company to interrupt. McAfee calls Balor the Princess of NXT and talks about how he must have seen what the four of them were doing while Balor has been gone.
They got rid of Killian Dain, took the Tag Team Titles, and then killed all four members of the Undisputed Era. Now they want to know what Balor is going to do and get on the apron to find out all the faster. Balor needs to hand over the title before it gets even worse for him. That’s not happening because it’s easy for the mice to play while the cat’s away….and look what the cat dragged in.
Cue the Undisputed Era and the big fight is on, with Cole kicking McAfee’s head off on the floor. Chaos reigns to end the show (notice that the brawling wasn’t finished, which you don’t see at the end of the night too often). This is the first time in a VERY long time that something felt hot around here and it was a heck of a way to finish the show.
Overall Rating: B. That last half hour was excellent stuff and felt like the NXT of old, which is a great feeling to have again. It felt like they were building stories up and now we are getting ready for the payoffs. That is the kind of thing that you get around here and it feels so nice. There were some outstanding parts to this show and while not everything is perfect, it’s the first time that I’ve been actually excited about what they’re doing in far too long. Do this more often and be NXT again.
Leon Ruff b. Johnny Gargano via DQ when Damian Priest interfered
Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes went to a no contest
Candice LeRae/Indi Hartwell b. Kayden Carter/Kacy Catanzaro – Wicked Stepsister to Carter
Kushida b. Arturo Ruas – Bridging rollup
Toni Storm/Ember Moon b. Raquel Gonzalez/Dakota Kai – Small package to Kai
Timothy Thatcher b.
Io Shirai b. Rhea Ripley – Moonsault
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