The January 8th episode of NXT was all about the build. Let’s take a look at the card, the results, what I thought, and where it could go.
– A 6-Woman Tag Match
– Imperium vs The Forgotten Sons
– Austin Theory vs Joaquin Wilde
– Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) vs Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang) – The WWE UK Tag Team Champions
– Gargano vs Balor in a promo-off
– Mia Yim vs Kayden Carter (local competitor)
– Damian Priest vs Cameron Grimes vs Keith Lee vs Dominic Dijakovic in a #1 contenders match for Roderick Strong’s North American Championship.
The Spoilerific TL;DR of Jan. 8th’s NXT:
- NXT begins with your stereotypical, “everyone wants a shot at the title promo,” which gets turned into a six-woman tag team match via a message by general Manager William Regal. The babyface trio of Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, and Candace LeRae take on Io Shirai, Bianca Belair, and Kay Lee Ray. Decent match controlled by the heels, which is lost due to dissent among the ranks. Belair eats the pin after trying to steal the finish from Shirai and ends with Shirai faking the tandem finisher and Missile Drop-Kicking Belair. Ripley hits the Riptide to finish it off.
- Imperium earns the win with a Fabian Aeichner Powerbomb assisted by a Marcel Barthel European Uppercut on Steve Cutler. Good match, your standard NXT tag team match. Some stiff looking offence and some good tandem offence.
- Austin Theory vs Joaquin Wilde was adequate. I haven’t seen much of Theory, but this did little to build his character since he had no time on the mic. The in-ring action was fine.
- In a result that will shock no one, the Undisputed Era tag team of Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish defeat UK Tag Champs Gallus. A good match, but not exceptional, with a finish that does nothing to boost the stock of the main show champs. A distracted ref and an Enziguri from a ringside Adam Cole leads to the 1-2-3.
- It is announced that Kushida will be reuniting with his former “Time Splitters” tag team partner Alex Shelley for the Dusty Rhodes Classic.
- Gargano and Balor with a great promos segment. Helps set up the the money match for NXT Takeover: Portland. The added vitriol helped the build only ensures that Gargano/Balor is another Takeover show stealer.
- Yim defeats Kayden Carter in the weakest match on the card. I just don’t see it with Yim, but it’s developmental for a reason.
- Chelsea Green makes her NXT TV debut, attacking local competitor Kayden Carter after her match with Mia Yim. Robert Stone came out after the attack and appears to be acting as her manager/caddy.
- Fantastic #1 contenders match, definitely the highlight of the show and worth a watch. Keith Lee picks up the win after Powerbombing Cameron Grimes to death. He was the star in a match where all four men shined.
- I love the seeds that were sowed for future women’s matches. Candace LeRae lingering before handing over the title to Ripley followed by a subtle glance at her as she raised it. Sharai vs Belair could be a good one, and a heel vs heel match would work with the NXT crowd.
- Mauro Ranallo saying Dusty Rhodes finger prints are all over NXT, which makes me wonder what other wrestling program he has his finger prints all over…
- Austin Theory, the hot new debut for the black and yellow brand, beat up a man in a silver bike helmet with pink goggles. If I did it, people wouldn’t think “that man has a future” so I don’t know why NXT would think it.
- I don’t like Cole getting involved in the Undisputed Era’s finish this early in the Classic. It does nothing to solidify Fish or O’Reilly as threats, despite them holding the titles.
- The promo between Balor and Gargano was great — re-igniting the feud that was put on hold after Balor’s heel turn left Gargano sidelined with a concussion. Gargano calling out Balor for taking that “phone call to move on” and adding the nugget that when he received the phone call to go to the main roster in August, he turned it down. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It’s a nice angle and who can blame Gargano? I mean, it would have been nice to see Gargano chasing R-Truth around on SmackDown or looking in Rowan’s cage on RAW.
- Chelsea Green will be working as a heel, so it will be interesting to see who her first feud is with. It could very likely be Yim who quickly left the ring after the attack.
- I still can’t get behind babyface Tommaso Ciampa. He was such a perfect bastard before and this new run has taken a bit of his edge away. Good video segment nonetheless.
- Keith Lee is so good. I can’t wait for him to be Sexual Chocolate II, or Big Daddy Keith on the main roster.
- That #1 contenders match really highlights the difference between NXT’s top guys and the rest of the roster. A healthy Gargano and Velveteen Dream will make a huge difference in making this a legitimate 3rd brand.