NXT Hits and Misses 12.18.19 w/ The Chairman
2019 is coming to an end and what a way to go out than getting two major championship matches. Adam Cole defends his NXT Championship against Finn Balor and Shayna Baszler defends her NXT Women’s Championship against Rhea Ripley. Let’s find out if the champions were able to successfully retain and everything else that happened on NXT.
HIT: The Prince Leaves Empty Handed
Finn Balor won a fantastic triple threat match last week and now is rewarded with a NXT Championship match against Adam Cole. While we didn’t get much build considering the circumstances, you knew that this match was going to be an incredible one showcasing both men’s skills. Loved the fact that Mauro made reference that both Balor and Cole were part of a club at one time in Japan. Both men hit alot of this signature moves and at one point it looked like Balor was going to finish off Cole. However Johnny Gargano appeared on the stage distracting Balor which allowed Cole to sneak in a low blow and finish the Prince off with a Last Shot. Cole quietly sneaked away while Gargano went after Balor with a chair. Cole may have survived this time, but it’ll only be a matter of time before Keith Lee or Tommaso Ciampa get their opportunity. Meanwhile it looks like Balor and Gargano’s feud is about to start back up again and I’m okay with that.
HIT: Damien Priest Punishes Killian Dain
Rivals Priest and Dain picked up right where they left off at Takeover and without Pete Dunne this time, the two behemoths could figure out between the two who the dominant one was. The two big men went right at each other and while the match went a little long, it was good to see a definite winner. Dain was looking for the Vader Bomb, but was blocked and finished off with the Reckoning from Priest. I think Damien Priest could do big things in 2020 in NXT. As for Dain, I’m not sure what to think. I feel like ever since Sanity went to the wayside, he’s been unable to connect.
HOLD: Cameron Grimes Gets His Hat Back
This definitely has felt like a light Takeover tonight with another big rivalry match taking place here between Grimes and Kushida. After Kushida cost Grimes a match last week and stole his hat, Grimes was out for revenge. While the match was good and got Grimes back an important win. My personal bias doesn’t like Kushida losing here. I feel like since Kushida arrived in NXT that he hasn’t been treated as a big deal compared to how he was in New Japan. Kushida was amazing in New Japan and part of me is concerned about his long term prospects. I’m also concerned about fans perception of him if they aren’t familiar with his New Japan work causing some to write him off already. Guess we’ll see what happens in 2020 with Kushida.
MISS: Io Shirai in Action
I was excited to see Io Shirai wrestle, but then it was against Santana Garrett so I figured it was going to be a quick squash match. Garrett actually got more offense in then I would’ve expected, but in the end Shirai hit the Moonsault for the win. When you have two major championship matches and a few rivalry matches beforehand, an enhancement match may not have been the best choice for this show.
HIT: Dunne Collides with Banks
Travis Banks from NXT UK returns to Full Sail, but this time against a more worthy opponent in Pete Dunne. Unrelated note, but I wonder if Vince thinks Travis Banks is related to Sasha? Anyhow it definitely was good to see Travis Banks in the ring with someone that’s not a Forgotten Son. This was a pretty good match and as many know Pete Dunne was the top guy at NXT UK before moving over to NXT recently so it was good to see him against Banks who is one of the future stars over at NXT UK. Banks fell victim to the Bitter End when it was all said and done giving Pete Dunne another victory. Dunne is another NXT wrestler that I’m curious to see what he does in 2020.
HIT: Shayna Baszler Can’t Escape the Nightmare
One of the most anticipated matches gets the main event spot and rightfully so. Shayna Baszler has been one of the most dominant NXT Women’s Champions and she put her title on the line against Rhea Ripley. It didn’t take long before Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir came to ringside as expected to assist Baszler. With their involvement, Baszler got the upper hand on Ripley. The action was intense between the two rivals and of course you knew a referee was going to get knocked down in this one. Part of me was wondering if someone else would help Baszler, maybe Dakota Kai? That didn’t happen however. Ripley did hit the Riptide on Baszler, but with the referee out it didn’t matter. This allowed Baszler to introduce a chair into the match and Baszler hit a DDT onto it, but Ripley kicked out. At this moment, Baszler finally latched on her Kirifuda Clutch and Ripley fought for long as she could, but she started to fade. Just when it looked like the referee was going to call it, Ripley grabbed the ref’s shirt showing she was still in it. The two women battled into the corner and here it was Ripley delivering an Avalanche Riptide to put down the champion once in for all. Rhea Ripley becomes the NEW NXT Women’s Champion and the ring filled up with fans to celebrate. I thought for sure they would’ve gave Baszler a win here to keep the feud going, but once this match took place in the main event I’m not surprised. Ripley’s popularity has soared in recent months so she was definitely the right challenger to dethrone Baszler’s 415 day run as champion. A new era in the women’s division is set to take place in 2020 with Rhea Ripley at the helm. Meanwhile it’s all but certain now that Baszler will move to Raw or Smackdown in 2020 and could possibly be a Royal Rumble winner.
Great episode of NXT to finish the year. Next week is Christmas and we do have some big matches that evening. Roderick Strong will have a North American Championship open challenge and Keith Lee teams up with Lio Rush to face Damien Priest and Tony Nese. That should be a good one. The story of this event however was the 23 year old Rhea Ripley becoming the champion. What an awesome night!