Venue: Full Sail Live (Winter Park, FL)
Cruiswerweight Championship Match
Angel Garza vs. Lio Rush
(8:06:02 – 8:18:58)
There were dueling Garza and Lio chants from the crowd as the opening bell rang. Garza opened things up with a nod to last week’s episode, offering up a handshake before quickly going for a slap which Lio ducked under. The two ran around and bounced off the ropes, missing each other with strikes, before Gaza stepped outside the ring and into the first row to show the ultimate sign of disrespect: ripping off his pants right in front of Rush’s wife and two children.
“You don’t spit in the wind. You don’t pull on Superman’s cape. And you don’t mess with Lio Rush’s family” – Mauro Ranallo
Lio came diving through the ropes to nail Garza and toss him back into the ring. It was there where Lio hit a kick strike before whiffing on a second attempt. He then went for springboard stunner off the ropes but Angel had him scouted. Garza then charged at him but Lio moved out of the way and tossed him underneath the bottom rope to the outside.
After a wrecking ball dropkick, Rush attempted a topé suicida but Garza caught him and slammed him on the outside.
Commercial Break No. 1 (Picture In Picture)
Garza hit Lio with a knee and Rush responded with a slap. Once again, Lio went for a springboard stunner but Garza nailed him in the back with a drop kick, which led to a near fall. Angel then went for a moonsault off the second rope but missed.
After a swinging neckbreaker, which Beth Phoenix referred to as beautiful, the champion got a near fall of his own.
As the split crowd once again dueled it out with chants for both competitors, Rush made his way to the top rope but was crotched. Garza then made his way to the top and hit a moonsault powerslam but Rush got his shoulder up just in time as the crowd chanted “Holy Shit!”
“This is Awesome!” chants rained down on the ring as Rush hit a charging Garza with a desperation Spanish Fly. He then hit a spinning heel kick and followed it up by finally landing the springboard stunner off the ropes. He held on to his head so he could get a retribution slap to the face. Getting a bit greedy, Lio went for another stunner but Garza caught him and hit him with his Wing Clipper finisher but Rush refused to stay down.
Looking to add some extra impact on his next Wing Clipper attempt, Angel climbed to the second rope but the “Please Don’t Die!” chants from the crowd awoke the woozy champion and they proceeded to trade headbutts before Rush flung the challenger back down to the canvas. A Final Hour frog splash wasn’t enough to put Garza away, so using the same attitude he did with the stunners a short time before, Lio went with the ‘let’s try it again’ game plan and headed back up top to hit another one on Angel who by that time had rolled to the ropes. It proved enough to get a three count but it was clear to everyone in the building except the referee that Garza had his foot under the ropes.
Result: Rush pinned Garza following a Final Hour (12:56)
That was an incredibly disappointing and unfulfilling finish to such an exciting match. It killed a crowd that had been absolutely invested in every single move and ebb and flow of the match until then. This one seemed like it was possibly trending to an ending shot of both guys finally giving a mutual respect handshake in the middle of the ring after a tremendous battle and having the crowd give a standing ovation to each performer and maybe giving Garza a nice push towards being a cocky but likable face. Instead, it was a cop out finish that the crowd hated and booed. Not only did the disputed ending not do any favors to either, it actually hurt both and diminished what was otherwise a great performance by the two of them. That was a sour taste leaver for sure.
The show then cut to a shot outside where an injured Tegan Nox writhed in pain and an unconscious Rhea Ripley laid sprawled out in a gated area of stones.
Commercial Break No. 2
A video package for the Becky Lynch/Bayley/Shayna Baszler Survivor Series triple-threat match was shown.
Xia Li vs. Aliyah
(8:28:00 – 8:30:05)
The two traded offensive attacks before Xia hit Aliyah with a springboard double axe handle and finished her off with spinning back kick.
Result: Li pinned Aliyah following a spinning back kick (2:05)
This was the ‘let the fans catch their breath’ match after an exciting opener.
Finn Balor came down to the ring to cut a promo.
He called out and criticized both Johnny Gargano and Matt Riddle.
“I used to be proud of this place but now it’s a joke. I built this place but since I’ve been gone a bunch of little boys moved in.”
Riddle emerged from the darkness and attacked Balor and the two brawled outside the ring before Finn made an exit through the crowd and Matt called him a putz.
The Undisputed Era’s theme hit and all four of the gold holders surrounded him.
Just as Adam Cole told him it was the wrong place, wrong time, Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit and he and Keith Lee made their way down to the ring to help out their War Games teammate. Lee picked up the mic and commended Cole for his performance on Raw and SmackDown before laying down a challenge to the NXT Champion to fight him as the crowd chanted “Oh, Bask In His Glory.” Roderick Strong intervened and said Cole deserved the night off and volunteered to fight Keith instead.
Commercial Break No. 3
Roderick Strong vs. Keith Lee
(? – 9:04:52)
The opening bell occurred during the commercial break. Lee made the most of his size and strength advantage in the first few minutes, tossing Roderick around and showing off his power. Eventually the North American Champion caught Keith with a few kicks and shoulder blocks.
The two traded chest slaps with Lee hitting the final and hardest of the exchange with a double slap that sent the sweat flying off Strong’s chest. Roderick recovered, though, and managed to crotch Keith on the second turnbuckle before nailing him with a kick to the head.
Commercial Break No. 4
The two ended up on the outside. Strong was able to hit him with multiple wrecking ball dropkicks before tossing him back into the ring.
As Roderick put Lee in a rear chin lock, this commentary exchange happened.
“Keith Lee, a huge Star Wars fan, possibly channeling the force, Nigel.” – Beth
“That’s not going to help him much.” – Nigel McGuinness
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Beth
Lee powered up and threw Strong around the ring with a belly to belly suplex but Roderick showed his feistiness, hitting some counter punches. Eventually, the two ended up on the top rope where Strong managed to hit a Superplex for a near fall.
Roddy hit a slew of forearms before Keith nailed him with a clothesline as both men collapsed to the canvas to catch their breath. The pause in action provided the other three members of the Undisputed Era a chance to come down to the ring but they were soon met by Ciampa and Riddle. Balor emerged to take out Riddle with a double foot stomp into the stairs outside. The fracas on the outside distracted a reawakened Lee for long enough so that Strong could hit him with a jumping knee and a Roddy Slam. A pinfall attempt could not keep him down for three, though.
“It’s unbelievable, Lee kicked out again” – Mauro Ranallo
Eh, it’s not that unbelievable. Trends show to always bet the over for total number of kick outs in a Keith Lee match. The Limitless One, a nickname which apparently references Keith’s kick out abilities, then hit Strong with a Jackhammer and picked up the victory.
Result: Lee pinned Strong following a Jackhammer (Match time unknown)
Following the match a brawl between Ciampa, Lee and the Undisputed Era ensued before Donovan Dijakovic came out to make the save and let Tommaso know by way of a handshake extension that he’d like to join his War Games team. Ciampa accepted but Keith needed some more convincing. After a quick stare down and a standoff, the two heard the crowd chanting “Hug It Out!” and opted for a simpler but still satisfactory handshake agreement instead.
Commercial Break No. 5
Back from commercial, Mauro got some breaking news in his headset that there was some more pandemonium going on backstage. The cameras then cut to the outside area where a bunch of concerned backstage personnel were seen tending to the unconscious bodies of Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke and Candice LeRae. HHH consulted with a scantily clad Scarlett Bordeaux about how this could have happened but both just shot bewildered looks and gestures back at one another.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Bronson Reed
(9:14:43 – 9:26:39)
Swerve hit a dropkick off the top rope early but Reed responded with a shoulder block that knocked him down to the mat. The “thicc” 300-pound Australian native sat on Scott’s back for a bit while Beth and Mauro referenced John Tenta and Yokozuna.
Bronson tossed Isaiah over the top rope with ease and then headed out to do some more damage. Scott managed to reverse a slam attempt and sent Reed face first into the ring post.
Commercial Break No. 6
Scott hit a Flatliner for a two count. After Isaiah delivered a few strikes to the chest of Reed, the Aus-zilla returned the favor with a thunderous clothesline and a senton bomb. He then made his way up to the top rope but Scott recovered in time and met him up there. After teasing a a tombstone piledriver, Scott flipped out of it and hit Bronson with a DDT.
Scott attempted a sunset flip but failed. Luckily, though, he moved out of the way of a dropping Reed just in time and was able to nail him with a House Call strike to the back of the head to pick up the win.
Result: Scott pinned Reed following a House Call (11:36)
Another good showing from Scott and another good showing from Reed. Nothing spectacular here but it was solid nonetheless. They’re bringing these two along slowly but surely which seems like the way to go.
Cathy Kelley made the announcement that William Regal had added Finn Balor vs. Matt Riddle to the War Games card, thus Riddle relinquished his spot in the men’s War Games match to Dominic Dijakovic.
Pete Dunne was shown doing push ups backstage.
Commercial Break No. 7
A Forgotten Sons video package was shown in which they said, “We are the savages of NXT and you will never forget us.”
Pete Dunne and Killian Dain were set to do battle but Damian Priest took the opportunity to get revenge on each of them by beating down both Daine and Dunne as well as the stage crew to likely set up a triple-threat that was already to be expected judging from what happened on last week’s episode.
Backstage, Cathy interviewed Mia Yim, asking her how she was able to concentrate with all the chaos unfolding around her.
As Yim talked about how she was trying to keep her focus, Dakota Kai knocked on the door and came in to let Mia know that she had her back.
Commercial Break No. 8
Mia Yim vs. Io Shirai
9:46:00 – 10:05:58
It didn’t take long for the two to end up on the outside. Less than a minute in, both were looking to get to the ladder first. With a ladder bridged between the guard rail and the apron, Shirai managed to kick the ladder into Mia’s face. Yim answered by slamming Io’s hand in the ladder.
The two struggled on the outside for a bit before rolling back in.
Commercial Break No. 9 (PIP)
Shirai hit a 619 on Yim. Then Mia countered with a belly to belly onto a ladder perched in the corner. That gave Mia enough time to set up the ladder for the first attempt of a climb but Io grabbed her foot and yanked her down before she could get too far. Shirai then sandwiched Yim in between the ladder and drove the rungs into her back.
Sensing that ladder had become too weak to stand on and climb, Io went looking for another one beneath the ring. She found it and tossed it in. Mia was able to counter with a kick to the head, sending Shirai rolling to the apron. Yim, in the center of the ring, then picked the ladder up with both hands and spun around only to find the soles of Shirai’s feet flying at her, knocking the steel into her face and cutting her open with a loud thud.
A concerned hush spread throughout crowd as Nigel and Beth traded worried “No’s” while Mauro didn’t beat around the bush, saying “Yim’s leaking like a faucet.”
Forced replays, avoiding camera angles, a lot of plastic glove clad officials and some stalling by Io let the viewers at home know that Mia was in an unexpected bad way. A credit goes to Yim for finding a way to persevere and continue. With the crowd transitioning from the earlier “Io” chants to the newfound “Mia” mantra, a bloodied Yim began to climb before finding herself being suplexed back down to the mat.
A running double knee strike from Io followed by a subsequent headbutt did their intended damage, sending a wounded Mia crashing down to the floor outside. As promised, Dakota Kai came down to check on Mia. Eating a moonsault off the top rope was the reward she got for her concern.
Kai managed to regain the strength to interfere and powerbomb Io off the ladder, which bought Yim enough time to recover and begin an ascent of her own. NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray showed up looking to counteract Kai’s act of charity with some interference of her own. She tilted the ladder and sent Mia flying over the ropes and crashing down into the bridged ladder below. Io then climbed up and snatched the briefcase to earn Team Baszler the advantage at War Games.
Result: Shirai won by unhooking the briefcase (19:58)
Following the match Bianca Belair came down to pose with Shirai and Lee and Baszler came out to show her approval but a chair-wielding Bayley interrupted the celebration by taking out Shayna before the rest of the team chased her off as the show went off the air.
It’s tough to judge the home stretch of this match considering the dynamic obviously shifted once Mia drew some hardway blood and the crowd rallied behind her. Regardless of that, the ending seemed like it was setting up to be a little too convoluted, just like last week’s episode. The whole NXT blending in with the main roster, War Games, Survivor Series, all the teams, all the feuds, it’s getting to be a bit overwhelming and hard to keep track of at this point.
It’s…well, it’s a lot. Hopefully, someone makes a good flowchart and simplifies it.
The crowd never seemed to fully recover from the ending to the opening Cruiserweight Championship match. Instead of a crescendo, they got a fizzle, and there was a definite sense that the fans weren’t happy that they got so emotionally invested only to be rewarded with such a meaningless payoff.
A credit to the folks in attendance, they did organically get behind Mia in the main event following the events that unfolded only to have their hopes dashed. It’s hard to rate that main event match. It was slow to start, then Yim got cut, and then things got thrown out of whack for a minute, then the fans got behind Mia, and then a whole bunch of interference happened and ultimately no one really seemed happy at the end. The ‘who attacked everybody?’ angle does set up some good intrigue for next week’s episode. Hopefully, there’s a good payoff.