NXT returned last night (Dec. 9) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.
All The Feuds
There’s many great possible feuds coming our way in NXT’s always impressive women’s scene. They teased many of those this week.
First it started with Io Shirai and Toni Storm, who had themselves a fun brawl, stemming from a brief backstage altercation.
It was a nice little tease for what is bound to be a future feud. It was only a couple minutes, but it already whet our appetites for what is likely the next major title program. (Raquel González will likely be the very next program, but that doesn’t yet feel like the blockbuster Io/Toni could be).
This also played into the more imminent Ember Moon/Toni Storm feud as Ember got a quick lick in on the woman who betrayed her.
Then in the main event, Ember faced Raquel González, the woman who pinned Io Shirai at WarGames.
I loved this match. It looks like Raquel is coming along very fast. Once again, she was in there with a true vet in Ember Moon, but this was a two segment match where both women did a decent amount. It certainly did not feel like Moon was carrying the less experienced González. Raquel isn’t as flashy, but she’s a powerhouse. She should leave her feet less her smeller opponents. She still sold the appropriate amount as the match wore on and they told the story of Moon figuring out how to make any headway against the imposing larger woman.
After NXT spent the episode putting over the Eclipse, Raquel straight up blocked it and defeated Moon with the same one-armed powerbomb that defeated the champ on Sunday. A very good main event the continued to elevate González.
Then they teased more feuds.
First Toni Storm came out to get some revenge on Ember from earlier. But before she could do any damage, Rhea Ripley’s music playing, scaring the bejeezus out of Toni. They stared each other down before Raquel gently pushed Storm aside for a big time face to face with Ripley.
Basically, tonight NXT just showed us all the cool feuds we will be getting in the Women’s division and they all ruled. “Here’s Io vs. Storm.” “Oh I like that.” “And here’s Storm vs. Rhea.” “Oh, I like that too.” “And here’s Ripley/González II.” “Awesome.” And over and over again.
I suspect González is going to pick up a win over Ripley prior to facing Io Shirai for the title. And I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Rhea on Raw or SmackDown within a few months. But there’s so many stories they can tell as this division continues to kill.
Get In Line
Everyone wants a piece of Finn Bálor.
The Prince opened the show to cut a promo that was quickly interrupted by numerous people who wanted a shot at the title. You know, the standard trope. But when done every once and awhile, and this is not something overdone in NXT, it’s fun.
Pete Dunne, Kyle O’Reilly, and Damian Priest were the three men who interrupted. And honestly, those three men would all have great programs with the champ.
Pete Dunne vs. Finn Bálor? I mean of course. No explanation needed.
KOR and Finn have the history of absolutely destroying each other in the main event of TakeOver: 31. Kyle made the point that sure Finn won, but then he spent the next two months drinking out of a straw.
A few months ago, I wouldn’t be excited for Priest vs. Bálor II but now, I’m changing my mind. I’m almost surprised how much babyface Damian Priest has grown on me. He’s seemed to find the right amount of cool that isn’t too try hard. And given it was his loss to Finn that put him on the path he’s currently on, this would be an interesting program to revisit.
While I may find them all interesting, Bálor was bored of it all and left while the three men were bickering over who would face the champ. But it wasn’t over. Karrion Kross’ music hit and Scarlett walked out. She said nothing, but she didn’t need to. Finn got the message and told her when Kross is ready, he’ll be waiting.
This was set up to make us believe that was it for Kross this week. Surely if Karrion was going to return, he’d do it right there to make his intentions known. But it didn’t work that way.
Before Scarlett left, Damian Priest talked a little trash about her man. He mocked Kross for allowing her to do all the work as he sat in the car. So later in the night when Priest interrupted the Gargano Family celebration (more about that shortly), Kross viciously attacked him.
He powerbombed Damian onto a table off the stage and then walked back to his car, where Scarlett was waiting for him. It was much appreciated that this time, she was waiting for him in the car as he did the dirty work.
This all means that Kross vs. Bálor is not going to happen immediately. Kross will face Priest, probably at New Year’s Evil. And surely, Kross will win. But Priest is at the spot where I hope they protect him in that bout. Meanwhile, Finn will face either Kyle O’Reilly or Pete Dunne. (Or maybe both.) Then, the two powerhouses can collide at the next TakeOver.
Johnny Gargano is so good at this role.
There was a time I never thought I’d be looking forward to a Johnny Gargano promo segment. But he’s wildly entertaining in this role. We’re at a point I seek out his YouTube Exclusive backstage videos because he’s so hilarious.
He’s got a little more freedom in those backstages so they’re probably slightly more entertaining than his on television character, but his on TV persona is really good too. This week, he officially unveiled the latest incarnation of the Gargano family, with Candice LeRae to one side and Austin Theory & Indi Hartwell on the other.
Johnny said this was the present and the future, immediately instilling hope that this will slowly morph into a goofy Gargano version of Evolution. One where he’s just more and more like Triple H every week, wearing the sports jacket and the dress shirt with the first two buttons undone. Yes, that’d mean 30 minute Gargano promos every week, but I could think of a worse 30 minutes.
Austin Theory is a curious fit in this group. Indi Hartwell has seemed to take to their style of humor and personality really quickly. But Theory, who’s a physical specimen but overall quite dull, doesn’t seem to fit.
They actually played into that tonight when he’d try to make a joke and Johnny would have to back him off and then explain to the crowd that they didn’t fully rehearse it. I’m not sold on Theory in general, but I’m curious to see what a little time under the Gargano umbrella will do.
Next week was originally supposed to be a tag match between Gargano & Theory against Damian Priest & Leon Ruff. However, with Priest taken out by Karrion Kross, that left Ruff searching for a partner. Well, he really didn’t have to search. Kushida just rolled in and offered his services.
I love Kushida but in a way, this is a bit disappointing. Because this puts Kushy in the North American title scene and, the way he was rolling, it almost seems beneath him. Honestly, it should really be Kushida vs. Bálor as the New Year’s Evil match. And maybe that’s still an option but putting him in a match opposite the North American champion doesn’t get my hopes up.
Tommaso Ciampa’s program with Timothy Thatcher is far from over.
Despite taking the L last Sunday, Thatcher brought a chair ringside and watched Ciampa’s match with Cameron Grimes. Tyler Rust, who has been helping Tim, tried to interfere to hinder Tommaso, but it wasn’t enough to allow Grimey to steal a win.
Cameron wasn’t happy with Thatcher’s interference and tried to step to him but Thatch took out Grimes’ leg for his effort.
Their match on Sunday was very good so I’m definitely not opposed them going for a little longer with Tom vs. Tim. However, I’m not sure how into this version of Tommaso Ciampa I am. The grumpy locker room leader doesn’t seem very inspired. We’ll see if it evolves in this feud.
All the Rest
– Jake Atlas picked up another a big win this week. This time, it was over the always impressive Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. Scott isn’t a former champion like Tony Nese, who Atlas beat last week, but it’s a bigger win since Scott has been more legit more recent. I appreciate Swerve being pissed after the loss as opposed to showing the standard respect. It puts over the fact the match was important and it makes it feel bigger that Jake won it.
– Pete Dunne defeated Killian Dain, who was looking for revenge for when Dunne smashed a car door against Dain’s face. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch attempted to interfere, but Drake Maverick was there to meet them, brandishing a chair. However, Maverick turned his back on the NXT tag team champs too soon, took a beating anyway, causing Dain to turn his focus on them and lost the match. We should get a tag title match eventually.
– The Grizzled Young Veterans defeated Imperious and Ever-Rise in a triple threat, with Chase Parker taking the pin. But don’t worry EVER-RISE STILL RULES!
– Xia Li and Boa’s grueling punishment, or shall we say torture, continued this week. No reveal for the mystery woman yet, but she is rocking some killer face paint.
While at times it felt like they weren’t back in full swing post WarGames, we still had a Karrion Kross return and some fantastic stuff in the Women’s division.
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