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With TakeOver: WarGames now firmly in the rearview mirror, the men and women of NXT are looking to make the last couple of shows in 2020 as memorable as possible.
This week’s show had a packed lineup with segments in and out of the ring, including a very special Gargano Christmas with Indi Hartwell and Austin Theory.
We also saw the odd couple of Killian Dain and Drake Maverick take on Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in a Street Fight for the NXT tag titles.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott looked to get some payback against Jake Atlas, Bronson Reed was in action and we got to see Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor relive their showdown for the NXT Championship.
Let’s take a look at everything that happened on this week’s episode of NXT.
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As Lorcan and Burch made their way to the ring, Maverick and Dain attacked them from behind to get an early advantage in this Street Fight for the NXT tag titles.
Dain set up some tables at ringside while Maverick wedged some chairs in the corner of the ring. Burch and Lorcan recovered and took control. They worked together against Dain after taking out Maverick at ringside.
Apparently, both teams decided to obey tags after a little while for some reason. Dain backdropped Lorcan onto two chairs before he brought in Maverick to hit a few double-team combos. Dain ended up putting himself through a table as he was trying to hit Lorcan before the commercial.
We returned to see Lorcan using Maverick’s own belt against him. Dain eventually tagged himself back in and took over. Lorcan and Burch tried to put him through two tables at ringside, but he ended up bouncing off and landing on the ground.
After Maverick tried to rally, Lorcan and Burch hit him with their finisher for the win.
Starting off with a few minutes of chaos before having both teams reset to using tags was a strange way to begin a Street Fight. Either team using tags at all was even weirder since there are no disqualifications. This type of bout should always have Tornado tag rules with it.
They accidentally broke a table before they were supposed to at one point, but they still had Dain go through it to break it into several pieces. A few minutes later, two tables Dain was supposed to go through refused to break and he landed on the floor in an awkward way.
The rest of the match was good, especially the moments when Maverick was fighting an uphill battle. He is the quintessential underdog, and it’s always fun to watch him make a comeback.
The odd-couple dynamic of Dain and Maverick is great, and they have grown into an entertaining duo in their short time together. This wasn’t their night, but they will find success down the road.
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They kept things clean as they locked up and wrestled for control on the mat. Atlas shoved Scott before they locked up again. Atlas slapped him, and Scott angrily backed him to the corner for several strikes.
Atlas popped up and hit a few kicks that didn’t do anything except make Swerve even angrier. Atlas took him down with a dragon screw before he hit a kick to knock Swerve off the apron.
Atlas hit an impressive pinning combination for a two-count right when we returned from a break. Scott was able to hit an impressive suplex for a near-fall. He put Atlas on the top turnbuckle, but it allowed Atlas to counter and hit a reverse hurricanrana.
Scott landed on his feet, and they started trading kicks to the head. Scott ended up getting the pin after hitting the Confidence Boost.
Both men appeared to be more aggressive than usual in this bout, but it was hard to tell if WWE actually wants to turn one of them heel or just build up a rivalry between two tweener characters.
Regardless, this was a fun and physical matchup that highlighted the skills of both competitors. Neither man stood out above the other because both looked impressive.
This is a feud that will likely end with one of them getting a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship in the future.
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Ripley wasted no time asserting her dominance by picking Dakota Kai up and swinging her around several times before dropping her on the mat. Kai countered her on the apron and stomped on her arm.
Ripley was shoved into the ring post as the show cut to a break. Kai had the former NXT women’s champion in an armbar when we returned. Ripley lifted her up and slammed her down to break the hold.
As she started to build up a head of steam, Ripley used her good arm to dish out some punishment. Captain Kota tripped her into the turnbuckle, but Ripley applied a standing cloverleaf. Ripley saw Raquel Gonzalez standing on the stage and dared her to come down. Kai grabbed the ropes to force a break.
Kai hit a rolling backstabber for a close two-count. She countered the Riptide, but Ripley hit it a moment later for the win. Gonzalez got in the ring and had a staredown with Ripley before they started swinging. It took a ring full of officials to break them up.
These two have been working together on and off for a couple of years, and they continue to get better with each encounter.
Their styles aren’t too similar, but they blended together well enough to make it feel competitive. Kai never really felt like an underdog despite being the smaller competitor.
The post-match confrontation with Gonzalez and Ripley was a great next step toward their eventual grudge match. These two powerhouses are going to tear each other apart in glorious fashion.
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The Thicc Boi returned for the first time in weeks for a match against a young man known as Ashante “Thee” Adonis.
Reed immediately took control and hit a big splash from the top rope for the win. After the match, Io Shirai marched to the ring, sat in a chair and called out Toni Storm. Mercedes Martinez ended up attacking the NXT women’s champion from behind when Storm didn’t show up.
It’s not really fair to offer a traditional grade for this kind of squash match because there isn’t enough from bell to bell to form any kind of judgment.
Reed looked dominant, so the goal was accomplished. In that sense, this bout was a success, but nobody will be talking about it as a standout performance.
The attack by Martinez was surprising, but she looked good dishing out some pain to the champ. It will be interesting to see if she is aligned with Storm or if this sets up a Triple Threat situation.
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Timothy Thatcher was looking to take out his anger on Leon Ruff in the next match. The submission specialist was quick to ground the former North American champion and applied a seated chinlock.
Ruff put him in a headlock, but Thatcher drilled him with a huge elbow before throwing him across the ring. At this point, Thatcher started playing with his opponent. He put out a chair and called for Tommaso Ciampa to watch the match.
The underdog tried to mount some offense but ended up on the receiving end of some painful strikes. Ruff rolled him up with an inside cradle for the upset victory. Ciampa ran down and spiked Thatcher with a DDT and told him he would see him in the fight pit.
This match was kind of short and didn’t have any memorable moments outside of the finish, but the post-match attack from Ciampa set up a rematch, so there was an upside.
If they had five more minutes, Ruff and Thatcher probably could have stolen the show, but since they had to rush to get to the spot with Ciampa, they didn’t have time to work their usual styles.
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Malcolm Bivens accompanied Tyler Rust to the ring for his match against Ariya Daivari. The manager gave a promo earlier in the night explaining why he and Rust formed an alliance.
Rust took control of the match, but Daivari didn’t let him lock in an abdominal stretch. Bivens bugged the announcers to talk about his client as Rust swung Daivari around on his back.
Daivari broke an armbar by getting his foot on the bottom rope. The 205 Live regular made a comeback and hit some punches to the face before Rust put him in a triangle choke. Daivari had to use the ropes to break the hold again. The newcomer hit a series of kicks before he tied Daivari up in a submission for the win.
This was a great second showing for Rust after his match against Ciampa last week. He showed off his striking and technical ability with only a short time to work.
Daivari did a good job making Rust look good, too. He is an underrated talent from the cruiserweight division who could also use someone like Bivens as his mouthpiece.
The future looks bright for Rust if he can continue impressing the WWE Universe with his arsenal of submissions.
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This main event came about after a confrontation earlier in the show between Adam Cole and Velveteen Dream. They were slow to lock up, but once they did, Cole applied a deep headlock and took Dream to the mat.
Dream nailed a stiff punch to the face, but Cole kept the upper hand and hit a pump kick that sent his opponent to the floor. Pete Dunne ran down and took out Roderick Strong at ringside. The distraction allowed Dream to use his belt as a weapon behind the ref’s back.
We returned from a break to see Cole avoid a flying elbow drop. He hit a flurry of strikes and a slam for a near-fall on Dream. The former NXT champion hit him with a kick and a German suplex but still couldn’t keep him down for the count.
Cole drilled him with a superkick at ringside and sat in the ring until Dream got back in. He hit a second superkick before applying the Figure-Four. Dream fought hard to get to the rope to force a break. Dream used the ref as a distraction to hit a DDT. He climbed to the top rope and hit the Purple Rainmaker for a close two-count. Cole came back and hit a running knee for the pin.
This is a feud nobody needed to see brought back, but these are two skilled performers who have always worked together like a well-oiled machine, so the match was still entertaining.
Cole has transitioned perfectly to working as a babyface who has the exact same attitude he had as a heel. He doesn’t cheat much and goes after villains now, so his gimmick didn’t need to change.
It was a little surprising to see WWE go past the scheduled end time for the show for this bout. It didn’t end with a big moment like one would expect from the rare overrun.