NXT Hits and Misses 1.8.20 w/ The Chairman
The holidays are finally over meaning no more taped episodes and awards shows. NXT is finally back and ready to kick off 2020. On this episode, we learn who is next to challenge Roderick Strong for the NXT North American Championship. Also on this episode the Dusty Rhodes Classic kicks off and a few new faces arrive in NXT. Keep reading to answer all these questions and see what else was a hit or a miss on this episode.
HIT: Rhea Ripley Officially Has a Target on Her Back
The new NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley kicked off 2020 talking about her moment winning the title, but it didn’t take long before she was interrupted. Toni Storm from NXT UK came to the ring and reminded Ripley she has beaten her before and she could do it again making the match between the two official at the upcoming Worlds Collide event. Toni 2 Belts chants started up because Toni is also challenging for the NXT UK Women’s Championship this Sunday at NXT Takeover Blackpool II which triggered the champion Kay Lee Ray to come out. Io Shirai didn’t waste any time coming out and confronted Ripley as well yelling at her in Japanese except the final part which she pointed at the NXT Women’s Championship and said “MINE!” Bianca Belair also joined in on the fun and cut a pretty funny promo when she told Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray that she was better than them and that Toni Storm doesn’t even go here. Finally Candice LeRae made her way out as well and Rhea knew exactly what her intentions were as well. This led to a brawl and Regal booked a six woman tag match.
The most exciting women’s division in wrestling was put on display and the team of Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, and Bianca Belair did a great job containing Candice LeRae from making a tag to her partners Rhea Ripley and Toni Storm for a good portion of the match. All six women were showcased in this one, however there was some tension towards the finish. Io Shirai was ready to hit a moonsault on Toni Storm, but Bianca Belair tagged herself in and she wanted to secure the win. As Belair set up the K.O.D., Shirai took out Belair with a missile dropkick. This eventually led to Rhea Ripley hitting the Riptide on Belair to score the victory. Candice LeRae grabbed the NXT Women’s Championship and looked it in a trance before it got back to Ripley.
The women’s division is kicking off 2020 on a high note. Big match this Sunday for the gals of NXT UK and next week it was announced there would be a battle royal to determine the number one contender. Look for Io Shirai and Bianca Belair to take their fallout to the next level. It’s also worth noting former champion Shayna Baszler was nowhere to be seen and she wasn’t on the graphic for the battle royal. Her run in NXT could very well be over and if I were to make a bet, the next time we see her in the ring will be the Royal Rumble.
HIT: Imperium Overthrow Last Dusty Classic’s Runner Ups
Imperium’s Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel were looking to make a statement in this first round match against the runners up from the last Dusty Rhodes Classic The Forgotten Sons. I forgot the Forgotten Sons were the runners up. This match was actually pretty decent and one of the better showings from Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake. However the Forgotten Sons were no match for Imperium after they successfully hit a flying European Uppercut Powerbomb combo on Blake to advance in the tournament.
HOLD: Wilde Tamed by Theory
Two newcomers to NXT faced off as Austin Theory took on Joaquin Wilde. Theory fell short in a open challenge a few weeks ago against Roderick Strong for the NXT North American Championship. Wilde of course used to be known as Zema Ion, DJZ, and probably other aliases as well in other promotions. Both men definitely want to stamp a W in the record books early in 2020. Clearly the agenda in this one was to make Theory out to be the next big star in NXT judging from the commentary. Theory was able to finish off Wilde with the Unproven Cutter. The match served its purpose, however I’m curious to see where Theory fits into the grand scheme of things going forward. Wilde from the looks of things is probably going to be a enhancement talent at best being NXT is very crowded with alot of star power right now.
HOLD: NXT and NXT UK Tag Team Champions Clash in the Classic
NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish took on NXT UK Tag Team Champions Wolfgang and Mark Coffey of Gallus. I’ve never seen Wolfgang and Coffey wrestle before, but something seemed off with this match. Wolfgang and Coffey didn’t really stand out to me in this one. Maybe I need to see them in action in the fatal four way ladder match at NXT Takeover UK Blackpool II this Sunday to get a better idea of them? In the end it was Undisputed Era who got the victory. Bobby Fish distracted the referee which allowed Adam Cole on the outside to kick Wolfgang in the head which then setup the High/Low from O’Reilly and Fish.
HIT: Gargano Addresses Balor
Johnny Gargano came out and spoke about Prince Finn Balor. Gargano touched on missing his first Takeover because of Balor and how Balor up and left NXT in 2016 while Gargano declined the same invitation this past August and how it was eating Balor up knowing NXT could continue to survive without him. This triggered Balor to come out and called Gargano Johnny Promo because that’s all he can get cleared for these days. Balor went off on Gargano for costing him the NXT Championship a few weeks ago and said he will finish him off at NXT Takeover Portland if he can make it that far. Sounds like the dream match is set for February and I’m sure many wrestling fans will be excited for this eventual clash of two of the best in the ring today.
HOLD: Some New Faces in NXT
Mia Yim took on Kayden Carter so you already knew this match was going to be basically an enhancement squash and it was when Yim beat Carter with Protect Ya Neck. The match however went surprisingly longer than I thought it would for this type of match. However it was what happened after the match that generated some interest. Someone ran into the ring and knocked Carter to the ground. It was none other than Chelsea Green. It appears she has aligned herself with Robert Stone. Stone said that Green is his first free agent signing to his group and that they’ll take over NXT. Robert Stone of course used to wrestle elsewhere as Robbie E and appears now to be taking on a manager role for Chelsea Green.
HIT: Bask in the Number One Contender’s Glory
A fatal four way was announced between Keith Lee, Dominic Dijakovic, Cameron Grimes, and Damian Priest where the winner would become the number one contender for the NXT North American Championship held by Roderick Strong. This was the main event of the evening and it was a fantastic match. All four men looked good and were featured in various points during the match. Keith Lee continued showing how awesome he is in the ring for a man his size and continued to demonstrate his power. It wasn’t until towards the end of the match where Grimes got his moment. He almost managed to steal the match by taking Lee down, but Lee kicked out. In the end though it was the Spirit Bomb that put Grimes away that gave Lee the victory. Lee now has a NXT North American championship match in two weeks against Roderick Strong. Raw and Smackdown really need to take notes from NXT and start having contender matches for their midcard titles. This match did a great job showcasing four of NXT’s up and coming superstars. This is what people want to see. Not stupid wedding romance angles and random jobbers getting squashed.
Solid episode to kick off 2020. The women’s division continues to impress, Keith Lee’s star continues to rise, and the tag division is making headway with the Dusty Rhodes Classic. Kushida revealed his mystery partner to be Alex Shelley so the Time Splitters will be wrestling in NXT next week. That is huge!!! NXT is looking to have a huge 2020 and I can’t wait to see it unfold.