Who will rise up to face the NXT Women’s Champion?
Rhea Ripley is back and wants HER title, but she’ll have to get through Io Shirai! Will either prove themselves worthy of the NXT Women’s Championship?
- Karrion Kross w/ Scarlet Bourdeaux VS Liam Gray; Kross wins.
- Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Group B: Akira Tozawa VS El Hijo del Fanstasma; Fantasma wins and advances to the finals.
- Mia Yim VS Santana Garrett; Yim wins.
- Roderick Strong VS Dexter Lumis; Strong wins.
- Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch VS Ever-Rise; Lorcan & Burch win.
- Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Group A: Kushida VS Drake Maverick; Maverick wins and forces a Triple Threat Group A Finals.
- Rhea Ripley VS Io Shirai; Shirai wins, by disqualification.
PLAY BY PLAY
WWE mourns the loss of Shad Gaspard.
Karrion Kross w/ Scarlet Bourdeaux VS Liam Gray!
Time is up on the doomsday clock! The one man Armageddon is here, and you can only FALL AND PRAY! Will this be the fate of yet another foe?
The bell rings, and Kross catches Liam for an EXPLODER! Liam writhes and flounders but Kross just grins. He picks Liam up for a NORTHERN LIGHTS, and then rolls through to a DOOMSDAY SAIDO! Kross looms over Liam and drags him up into the KROSS-JACKET!! Liam taps, Kross wins!!
Winner: Karrion Kross, by submission
Scarlet celebrates the slaughter of another lamb! Liam Gray is very black and blue, but will Kross continue to see red as he continues to hunt the NXT roster?
But wait! That heartbeat! Tommaso Ciampa returns! He stares at Kross from the stage then grabs a mic. “Allow me to officially introduce myself. My name is Tommaso Ciampa. This, that ring you’re standing in, all of this, is my home.” But Kross knew that, didn’t he? Of course he did. That’s why Kross went after the main attraction! And Ciampa gets it. Part of him respects that. Standing in Kross’ presence, feeling that aura, and seeing that 6’4″, 265 pound frame of special in a locker room full of the absolute best today. That entrance is special! It’s killer. Ciampa climbs onto the apron and Scarlet holds the ropes open for him. Ciampa enters and gets a closer look at Kross.
Does Kross know what else is special? Ciampa is special. That is why he had to come out, look Kross in the eyes, and let him know that on June 7th, at TakeOver, it will be Ciampa VS Kross. That’s special. “Welcome to the main event.” Ciampa drops the mic and backs away slowly. But will he be able to walk away when #TheEndIsNear #InYourHouse?
Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Group B: Akira Tozawa VS El Hijo del Fanstasma!
For this block, it all comes down to this! Jack Gallagher spoiled things for Swerve, so either the Stamina Monster or the second generation lucha libre icon moves on to the tournament finals! Who takes Group B by the reins on the way to a title reign?
The bell rings and Fantasma circles with Tozawa. They tie up and Fantasma waistlocks to roll, ONE! Tozawa gets the legs, floats to a headlock and grinds Fantasma, but Fantasma headscissors. Tozawa pops out and the two back off. They circle and tie up again, and Fantasma trips Tozawa to a double wristlock cover. ONE as Tozawa brings up a shoulder, but Fantasma mounts. ONE as Tozawa bridges! Fantasma brings Tozawa up to trip up again, but Tozawa bridges to resist covers. Tozawa fights up and bends Fantasma back, but Fantasma bridges now. Tozawa brings Fantasma down, TWO! The two roll, go shoulder to shoulder, and Fantasma shifts to a facelock and suplex! Float over but Tozawa bridges out right away. The two nod respect and circle again.
Fantasma sweeps, covers, ONE! Tozawa sweeps, covers, ONE! Fantasma arm-drags but Tozawa springs up and arm-drags right back! Tozawa dropkicks but Fantasma dodges, and the two stand off again. Things cool off as the two circle. Fantasma lunges in to waistlock and slams Tozawa down! He flips Tozawa over, but Tozawa kips up to CHOP! Fantasma CHOPS back, and now we have a CHOP fight! CHOP for CHOP, but then Tozawa fakes Fantasma out to JAB! Tozawa dodges, runs, Fantasma pops him up but Tozawa huricanranas! Fantasma bails out but Tozawa builds speed. Tozawa stops short when he sees Fantasma move, and he goes to the apron to FLYING HURICANRANA instead! Fantasma flounders at the ramp and Tozawa goes back to the apron. Tozawa aims and CANNONBALLS Fantasma into barriers! Both men crash down and a ring count begins as NXT goes to break.
NXT returns as Tozawa tries to get Fantasma in the Iron Octopus. Fantasma fights back but Tozawa clubs him down., Tozawa runs but Fantasma trips him up! Fantasma drags him to the apron and spins him around for a KICK! Fantasma adds on with an apron SPLASH! He puts Tozawa in the ring to then slingshot senton! Cover, TWO! Fantasma keeps on Tozawa with a facelock and drags him up. Fantasma clubs Tozawa then back suplexes. Tozawa lands on his feet and shoves to back kick, spin and slide under. Waistlock and GERMAN SUPLEX! Tozawa has Fantasma in a drop zone and heads to the top rope. Tozawa takes aim but Fantasma trips him up! Fantasma climbs up to join him, throws forearms on Tozawa, then goes for the suplex. Tozawa fights back and turns Fantasma around.
Fantasma elbows back and Tozawa hops down, only to springboard back up! But Fantasma blocks the steiner for a fireman’s carry! BUCKLE GUTBUSTER DROP! Fantasma drags Tozawa off the top for a cover, TWO!! Tozawa grits his teeth as he survives and Fantasma can’t believe it! Fantasma vows to end this and he CHOPS Tozawa. Fantasma whips but Tozawa dodges and wheelbarrows, for a BULLDOG! Tozawa has Fantasma in a drop zone again and heads up top. TOKYO TOWER SENTON!! But Fantasma flops out of the ring! Tozawa pursues, puts Fantasma back in and covers, TWO!! Fantasma survives but Tozawa keeps focus. Tozawa throws forearms over and over on Fantasma at the ropes, then runs, but into a dropkick! He’s sent out of the ring! Fantasma aims and builds speed, ARROW FROM HELL!! Direct hit at the ramp! Fantasma gets Tozawa back in and goes corner to corner, for a big back elbow! Then fireman’s carry, but Tozawa fights out!
Tozawa changes the fireman’s carry to the IRON OCTOPUS! Fantasma fights out again, gets the carry back, and hits the PHANTOM DRIVER!! Cover, Fantasma wins!!
Winner: El Hijo del Fantasma, by pinfall (moves up to 2-1; Tozawa drops to 2-1)
The Stamina Monster does NOT go undefeated! And despite the tied records, because he lost to Fantasma, Tozawa is OUT! Fantasma is the Group B Finalist! Will Fantasma skyrocket to the top of the Cruiserweight Division with just one more match?
NXT hears from Timothy Thatcher.
“Last week, I left the Matt Riddle circus.” He enjoyed wrenching Riddle’s arm and tearing at his leg. But he wants more. Pinfalls won’t be enough. No fluke pins! Riddle wins by knockout or tap out! Those are the rules Thatcher puts before The Bro. Riddle can choose the time and place, because Thatcher is ready. Will we see these battle tested warriors go all out at TakeOver?
NXT hears from Shotzi Blackheart.
The wild child from Oakland, California has a motto in life: #TCB, “Take Care o’ Business.” She is balls to the wall! Who’s your daddy? Shotzi is! Some people like cars, Shotzi loves TANKS! The 105 Howitzer is the “Dirty Blonde.” Like tanks, Shotzi don’t give an ISH! Tanks make their own path, so Shotzi will do that, too. Her dad was a motorcycle badass who introduced her to rock ‘n’ roll, punk rock, and wrestling. There’s a synergy of ballsy rebellion. Shotzi feels like she can do anything to anyone at any time. And do you want to see what she does to the NXT Women’s Division? Watch her demonstrate with the help of her Howitzer! Shotzi knows how Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez look at her. Shotzi makes no apologies for who she is. What you see is what you get, and what you get is something you can’t handle! Crunching cars is music to Shotzi’s ears. Dakota and Raquel are gonna feel that, too. Even Chelsea Green, Candice LeRae and anyone else who gets in her way! Get out the way or get crushed by the real-life Tank Girl!
Mia Yim VS Santana Garrett!
The Head Baddie in Charge and her Limitless lover are the new targets of #TheJohnnyGarganoWay. Will Mia show Candice LeRae why she ain’t nothin’ to mess with? Or will the Wonder Woman of Wrestling make big waves of her own in the ever intensifying Women’s Division?
The bell rings and Mia circles with Santana. The two tie up, Santana waistlocks and whips but Mia reverses. Santana goes up and over and arm-drags Mia down. Mia gets up fast and arm-drags back, and both women dropkick! Mia nods respect but Santana knees her low! Santana whips Mia to a corner then runs in, to handspring back elbow! Santana smiles as she drags Mia into a facelock and snap suplex! Roll back to a cover, TWO! Mia runs into a waistlock but elbows and switches. Mia full nelsons for a DRAGON SUPLEX! She drags Santana up for Kowata kicks then a step through, PROTECT YA NECK! Cover, Mia wins!
Winner: Mia Yim, by pinfall
The HBIC redeems herself after that loss to Charlotte Flair, but then Johnny Gargano comes out mocking the theme song. He and Candice want everyone to give it up for “Mia! Mia!” But there’s no fans to cheer along. Candice “congratulates” Mia for winning, but what happened to that match with the NXT Women’s Championship? Mia was handed a chance on a silver platter, but dropped the ball because she was too busy pandering to “them.” Candice would’ve loved that same opportunity! Loved it! She would’ve thrived in that match! Thrived!! Too bad Mia took that from Candice. That’s a tragedy. Johnny knows Candice wouldn’t have blown her chance like you-know-who. But while they’re all out here, how about the Garganos show what happens to someone undeserving? Johnny gets on the apron but Mia BOOTS him down!
Candice attacks from behind with hammering fists, but Mia KNEES back! Mia runs but Candice and Gargano dump her out! Johnny and Candice laugh, but here comes Keith Lee! The NXT North American Champion scares Gargano off to regroup with Candice. Keith helps Mia up, and they both storm the ring! The Garganos run away, but are still cocky as before. Mia says the Garganos just messed with the wrong duo. Will #TheJohnnyGarganoWay have to protect their necks? Or will they #BaskInHisGlory?
NXT hears from Cameron Grimes.
The Carolina Caveman laughs it up as he notes last week’s “greatest moment in NXT history!” The greatest NXT Champion ever and original WWE Universal Champion, Finn Balor, lost to Cameron Grimes! Grimes used to look up to Balor. But after that Cave-In, Balor was looking up at Grimes for the 1-2-3. That may be an upset or a surprise, but Grimes doesn’t care what y’all think. All he knows is, it’s #GrimeTime! Of course, that win was given to him by Damian Priest. We will hear from Priest later tonight, but will there be a response from The Prince?
Backstage interview with Drake Maverick!
Tonight is his last match in the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament. He must defeat Kushida in order to even stay alive in the standings. Maverick says hope seems to be all anyone thinks he has. Not to mention all the cliches, like his back is against the wall, fighting from underneath in this underdog story. Maverick has heard them all in his life. The reality is, Maverick is up against perhaps the greatest Junior Heavyweight wrestler, best Lightweight wrestler, best Cruiserweight wrestler, whatever terminology you want to use. Kushida is just the best! So Maverick has two options: beat him by pinfall, or beat him by submission. But the last time Maverick checked, he’s NOT Bret Hart. So y’know what? Maverick admits he is tired. He is tired of second-guessing himself. He is tired of asking, “What if?” And he’s tired of feeling sorry for himself, having people give him pep talks, and people trying to give him advice. He has ONE thing to do tonight, and one thing only: WIN. Can Maverick do it?!
Roderick Strong VS Dexter Lumis!
The Undisputed Era dislike a lot of wrestlers in NXT, but they’re starting to dislike the lethal, lurking and outright loony Lumis most of all. Can the Savior of the Backbreaker break Lumis and get him out of their way? Or will Lumis be the one doing the breaking tonight?
As Strong makes his entrance with the Undisputed Era, Adam Cole makes sure we remember he is the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time. Maybe next week, he and the fellas celebrate the one year mark! One UNDISPUTED year! But Strong goes into the ring alone and the rest of the Era go back to the back. Will Roddy be okay being all alone with “the creepy dork”?
The bell rings and Strong is wary of Lumis. They tie up, Strong wrenches and clamps onto the shoulder as he spins Lumis around. Lumis wrenches back and brings Strong down to the mat. Strong gets up, wrenches and headlocks, but Lumis wrenches out. Lumis has the keylock but Strong gets the ropebreak. The ref counts and Lumis lets go. Lumis turns away but turns right back to catch Strong creeping up on him! Strong freaks and bails out of the ring. Lumis watches as Strong takes his time returning. The two circle and tie up again. Strong gets a leg but Lumis stays standing. Lumis facelocks and gut wrenches but Strong switches to a waistlock. Lumis reaches back to headlock and throw Strong down. Strong scrambles away again in frustration. Strong wants Lumis to stop staring but Lumis doesn’t. Strong rushes in but into a drop toehold! Strong gets up fast but Lumis throws uppercut after uppercut!
Lumis brings Strong up to scoop and slam! Then he drops a leg, brother! Strong gets up again but Lumis runs corner to corner for another uppercut! Strong knees back and throws haymakers! Strong CHOPS then brings Lumis around for forearms. He whips Lumis corner to corner but Lumis reverses and runs in. Strong BOOTS and ROCKS Lumis! He whips but Lumis reveres and runs to BULLDOG! Strong bails out again but Lumis pursues. Lumis kicks, Strong kicks back and runs away! Lumis grabs him and pulls him from the corner but Strong boots. Lumis uppercuts but is sent into the steel steps! Strong gives Lumis a back suplex to the apron! Lumis is down and NXT goes to break.
NXT returns as Strong fires off fists in the corner. Strong runs side to side to forearm smash, then again! He wrenches and reels Lumis in for a backbreaker! Cover, TWO! Strong clamps onto Lumis with a chinloick, then traps the arms for a seated cobra twist. Lumis endures and even glares at Strong in the eyes! Strong hammers and clubs Lumis, and tells him to stop with the staring. But again Lumis powers against the forearm in his face to stare in Strong’s soul! Strong pulls Lumis’ nose! The ref reprimands and Strong stops to put on a chinlock. But Lumis looks at him again and it creeps Strong out. Strong lets Lumis go to stomp him, but Lumis hits back. Strong clubs and knees Lumis, then drags Lumis up for forearms. Lumis forearms back! Strong hits back, but Lumis DECKS him! Lumis whips, Strong reverses and knees! Then OLYMPIC SLAMS Lumis down! Cover, TWO!! Lumis lives and Strong is frustrated.
Strong pushes Lumis around but Lumis doesn’t look away. Strong stomps Lumis then fish hooks the face to elbow him in the head. Strong grabs a leg and stomps Lumis in the stomach. He turns Lumis but Lumis grabs at Strong. Lumis kicks Strong away then gets up to ROCK him again! Strong clubs back, and again! Lumis finally falls to his knees, but he slips out of the second Olympic Slam to shove and THESZ PRESS! Lumis throws fast hands then DECKS Strong over and over! Uppercut! Lumis whips and back drops Strong! Lumis keeps throwing hands on Strong at the ropes, then drags him up for a rebound suplex! Cover, TWO! Lumis drags Strong up to look him in the eyes, but Strong elbows back! Strong leans on the ropes, but he BOOTS and ENZIGURIS! He CHOPS Lumis, but Lumis seems to welcome it. Strong CHOPS again, but Lumis silently eggs him on. Strong CHOPS and CHOPS and forearms and elbows and clubs away! Lumis wobbles, but he SPINE BUSTERS Strong down!
Lumis drags Strong up, but Strong elbows out of the slam! Strong grabs the legs, yanks Lumis up, and even anticipates the twisting body scissors! Strong sits on that for a cover, Strong wins!!
Winner: Roderick Strong, by pinfall
Lumis may be calculating, but he didn’t see Strong pulling that one out! Strong celebrates ringside, but Lumis slithers up to grab him! The Anaconda Vice in the ropes!! Strong flails but Lumis drags him down to the ground and puts him out! The ref shouts at Lumis but Lumis doesn’t care. The Undisputed Era return and kick away but Lumis doesn’t let go of Strong! Fish holds Lumis in place, but Velveteen Dream CLOBBERS Cole! Dream throws Fish into steel steps, and then SUPERKICKS Cole over the barriers! Dream climbs up to mock the UE hand signs-for that matter, he’s mocking the entire faction by wearing their merchandise-and then LEAPS! SUPER PURPLE RAIN MAKER onto Cole on the floor!! Dream just crushed Cole, and Lumis pets Strong while he sleeps. Are these two equally yet very different eccentrics the perfect combination to take down the Undisputed Era?
Fantasma finds Tozawa in the parking lot.
He pulls up alongside the Stamina Monster to thank him for that great match tonight. Tozawa is crazy, but he has Fantasma’s respect. Tozawa thanks Fantasma back, but then those mystery luchadors attack him!? Fantasma hurries to help but the golden masked men get away again! Just what is going on around Full Sail?!
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch VS Ever-Rise!
The One Two returns to NXT, hoping to punch their ticket to the tag team titles! But will they be able to get the 1-2-3 on the ever eager Matt Martel and Chase Parker?
The teams sort out and Parker starts with Burch. They circle, tie up, and Burch headlocks. Parker powers out but Burch runs him over! Burch speeds things up, and catches Parker out of the air! Parker ends up in the enemy corner and gets a clothesline and enziguri! Burch hops up and hits a missile dropkick! Parker tags Martel in but Martel gets ROCKED! Tag to Oney and the brawlers wrench and CHOP Martel down! Oney brings Martel up for EuroUppers and CHOPS! Martel headlocks, Parker tags in, but Oney fights them both off! He elbows Martel down and Dragon Screws Parker! Running EuroUpper! Running BLOCKBUSTER! Oney is fired up and drags Parker into a Half Crab! Burch catches Martel for a CROSSFACE! Ever-Rise taps, Burch & Lorcan win!
Winners: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, by submission
Fast and furious! The BritAm Brawlers get it down with technical holds! But will they step up to Imperium’s Barthel & Aichner and finally take over the tag team division?
NXT Superstars react to this new Candice and Johnny.
Tegan Nox asks Candice, “Who are you lately?” Dakota says Candice is someone who doesn’t need to explain herself to anyone. Then Dakota mocks Tegan by saying she should go make another comeback story. One that’s “Emotional. Gripping. Repetitive.”
Backstage interview with Keith Lee.
The Limitless One asked for this time to speak. And before anyone asks, yes, Keith saw the Gargano “dinner party” last week. Who in the bluest of blue hell records themselves eating dinner? But moreover, Keith doesn’t care what the Garganos think about him. What he has a problem with are the antics from tonight. This “Gargano way” is what he has a problem with. #TheJohnnyGarganoWay reaches its limit at TakeOver. Go tell the world. Will Keith and Mia show Johnny and Candice how things are really done in NXT?
Matt Riddle speaks.
“Trashy Tim, I bet you think you’re pretty cool taking a walk on me, Pete and the tag team titles.” And then he attacks Riddle from behind with a TV monitor. But then Riddle came back and beat him. But then Thatcher tried to clip The Bro’s wings. Thatcher isn’t a stallion, he’s a putz. And then Thatcher challenges Riddle to a knockout, tap out fight. Riddle’s down for that, bro. But any location? Riddle has an idea. It’ll be somewhere they’re both familiar: a steel cage! NXT might have some true MMA on their hands with this one!
Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Group A: Kushida VS Drake Maverick!
We’ve heard and seen the emotional roller coaster Rockstar Spud has been riding lately. This match could be his very last chance not just at this title, but being a wrestler in the WWE at all. Can Maverick force a huge tie in the group and really turn this tournament upside down? Or is it only a matter of time for the Time Splitter to add another title to his resume?
The bell rings and Maverick circles with Kushida. They tie up, Kushida puts Maverick in the corner, but lets up at the ref’s count. They go again, Kushida headlocks, but Maverick powers him to ropes. Kushida lets go and Maverick gives a push as they break. The two circle again, Kushida waistlocks to a headlock and grinds Maverick down. Maverick endures, fights up and powers out. Kushida reels Maverick in, but Maverick tilt-o-whirls to sunset flip! TWO, Kushida avoids Mavericks lunge and wags his finger, “No, no, no.” The two go around again, knuckle lock but Kushida drags Maverick into an armlock. Maverick rolls, Kushida pushes him away, and then Kushida runs Maverick over. Things speed up, Maverick drops down but Kushida basement dropkicks him! Maverick gets up to throw haymakers on Kushida! Kushida KICKS back, but Maverick kicks, too! Maverick CHOPS and has Kushida on the ropes. Maverick whips, Kushida back handspring elbows Maverick down! Kushida drop toeholds and goes after the arm!
Maverick resists but Kushida pushes him down. Kushida hammerlocks the arm around a leg, then pulls the other arm! Kushida steps through to have both legs, for a snap deathlock on them both! Maverick clutches his elbows but Kushida looms over him. Wait, Jake Atlas appears ringside? He’s cheering Maverick on as Maverick throws body shots. Kushida wrenches and hits a shoulder breaker! Kushida stalks Maverick to the corner and dropkicks him down! Maverick hits back with clubbing forearms, but Kushida wrenches and wrings Maverick to the mat. Kushida digs a knee into the shoulder but Maverick resists. Kushida stays on top of Maverick as he wrenches and SLAMS the arm! Then he cartwheel dropkicks Maverick down! Cover, TWO! Maverick is still in this as NXT goes to break!
NXT returns and Maverick brawls with Kushida! They go forearm for forearm but Kushida KICKS the arm! But Maverick fires off more forearms! He whips Kushida but Kushida reverses. Maverick goes up and over and Kushida crashes into buckles. Maverick baits Kushida into a drop toehold and he crashes into more buckles! Atlas cheers Maverick on as Maverick KNEES Kushida out of the corner! Maverick hops up, leaps, and missile dropkicks Kushida down! Then he hops on, for a SUNSET BOMB! Cover, TWO!! Maverick grows desperate but Kushida PENALTY KICKS the bad arm! Kushida dodges Maverick’s clothesline to hit the FAST BALL! Maverick grits his teeth but he gets a SHOTEI! Maverick flounders to a corner, Kushida runs in, SHOTEI!! Kushida drags Maverick out, wrenches the arm, and drops a knee on it! Maverick clutches the elbow but gets to his feet. Kushida throws Maverick out of the ring and gives him a breather.
The ring count begins and Maverick drags himself up. Maverick stands at 5 and gets in at 6. He refuses to quit, and he throws hands on Kushida! Kushida scoop SLAMS Maverick down, then backs off. Maverick sits up but Kushida stands on the arm. He hammerlock STOMPS it! Then wrenches with the double wristlock! Maverick refuses to give up and he gets to the ropes! Kushida lets go and the ref asks Maverick if he wants to stop. Maverick will NOT stop, and he throws haymakers on Kushida. Kushida uppercuts Maverick back down, then goes after the arm again. Kushida cranks on the wrist and elbow but Maverick screams “NO!!” Maverick is taking the Hoverboard Lock, but he doesn’t say die! Atlas cheers Maverick’s determination, but Kushida hits another SHOTEI! Maverick eggs Kushida on, and Kushida gets the arm again. Kushida starts the tornado but Maverick sits him up top! Maverick ROCKS Kushida with a right, and Atlas is encouraging Maverick to finish this.
Maverick climbs up top, but Kushida has the bad arm again! Top rope Hoverboard! The ref counts, Kushida lets go at 4, but again Maverick ROCKS him! Maverick climbs with one good arm, brings Kushida up, and wheelbarrows, only to be blocked! Kushida hits a SUPER TAKEDOWN into the CROSS ARMBREAKER!! Maverick fights but Kushida pulls on the arm! Maverick makes it a cover, MAVERICK WINS?!?
Winner: Drake Maverick, by pinfall (moves up to 2-1; Kushida drops to 2-1)
Incredible!! Was this the #MiracleontheMat? Maverick brings about the unbelievable THREE WAY TIE in Group A!! Maverick beat Kushida, Kushida beat Atlas, but Atlas beat Maverick! Atlas joins both Maverick and Kushida in the ring as Byron Saxton tells them the news. NXT GM, William Regal, says that this three-way tie brings about one more match in Group A! Next week, it is a TRIPLE THREAT to determine Group A’s finalist!! Maverick’s win keeps himself and Atlas alive in the tournament, but will there be one more miracle in store for Rockstar Spud?
NXT hears from Damian Priest.
“The key to infamy: multiple targets.” The Archer of Infamy clearly wants to be champion, and championships will come. But Finn Balor returning to NXT was a possible target that turned into an opportunity. Balor put NXT on the map. For that reason alone, Priest is coming for Balor. And not just on any stage. He will do it on the stage Balor made a name for himself: TakeOver. This TakeOver, Balor’s name will turn to ash, while Priest’s name will #LiveForever. Is Priest going to end the reign of The Prince In Your House?
Rhea Ripley VS Io Shirai!
The Queen took the NXT Women’s Championship from the Mosh Pit Kid at WrestleMania, then cheated the Evil Genius out of it in their first-ever showdown. However, the two contenders ended up turning on each other because they both want Charlotte Flair all to themselves. Will one clear their path of the other and go after Charlotte’s throne soon enough? Or is this benefiting Charlotte most of all?
The bell rings and Shirai dropkicks Rhea right away! Shirai and Rhea brawl, then Rhea knees low. Rhea whips, Shirai hols ropes and kicks back! Shirai grins at Rhea and things speed up. Rhea catches Shirai but Shirai slips out and CLAWS the back! Rhea is mad, blocks Shirai’s punches and CLOBBERS her! And again! And again! Shirai dodges but Rhea dropkicks her out! Shirai gets to the apron and tells Rhea to back off. Rhea does, only to come right after her with stomps! Rhea drags Shirai up to slam her down! Then again! Rhea eggs Shirai on before dragging her up again. Shirai fights free but Rhea reels her in for a waistlock. Shirai wheelbarrows, rolls and STOMPS! Cover, ONE!! Shirai can’t believe Rhea got out so quickly, but NXT goes to one last break.
NXT returns once again and Shirai tries to whip Rhea. Rhea blocks with power to whip Shirai the other way. Shirai dodges, handsprings but Rhea gets clear. They both run, Shirai huricanranas but Rhea blocks! Rhea brings her up but Shirai sunset flips and covers, TWO! Shirai headlocks and gets a crossface! Rhea endures as Shirai cranks on her neck, and she fights her way up to her feet. Rhea drags Shirai up and RAMS her into buckles! Shirai lets go and Rhea sits her up. Shirai boots back and then goes up top! Rhea staggers over and SWATS Shirai! Rhea throws more haymakers then climbs up top. She clubs away on Shirai’s back then brings her up. Shirai resists the superplex and fights back. Rhea headbutts over and over and over to sit Shirai down! Then Rhea drags Shirai to the very top, for a SUPERPLEX! Cover, TWO!! Shirai survives and Rhea is furious! Rhea gets up and looms over Shirai. She drags Shirai up by her hair, but Shirai UPPERCUTS! And again! And SHOTEI! But Rhea DECKS her!!
Rhea drags Shirai up again, back suplexes, but Shirai lands on her feet. Shirai baits Rhea into a takedown! CROSSFACE! Rhea crawls and claws over, reaches for the ropes, and gets the ROPEBREAK! Shirai lets go fast, but she is growing frustrated. Shirai runs, and TIGER FEINT! She springboards and missile dropkicks Rhea out! Then DIVES! Tope suicida at the ramp! And here comes Charlotte! The hardest working woman in the WWE mocks her contenders as they throw hands on each other. Rhea clubs away on Shirai, then glares at Charlotte before throwing Shirai to the ring. But Shirai tiger feints again, and tilt-o-whirl headscissors Rhea into Charlotte! Down goes the Queen! Shirai drags Rhea up and into the ring, then aims from across the way. Shirai runs in, to METEORA! Cover, TWO! Rhea survives and Shirai is shocked!
Shirai clubs Rhea on the back but Rhea pushes her away. Rhea pops Shirai up but Shirai hits a DDT! Cover, TWO! And Charlotte BOOTS Shirai down!!
Winner: Io Shirai, by disqualification
Once again, Charlotte gives Shirai a win, but not the way Shirai would want it! But Charlotte isn’t done, she watches Rhea stand up, and SPEARS her back down! The Mad Queen laughs as she leaves her contenders down for the count. She holds the NXT Women’s Championship up as she stands over them. Will the Queen have to face the consequences of her actions soon enough?
A great episode for NXT with some great progress towards TakeOver: In Your House. First, the opening segment was pretty good. Kross wrecks another jobber, but then Ciampa returning was a good surprise. That match is going to be great for TakeOver. Mia gets a quick win off Santana Garrett, but the main thing was the quick little brawl with Candice. Since TakeOvers are usually concise with its match card, I would think Keith VS Gargano for the NXT North American Championship is the TakeOver match, but the go-home to it really should be the Mixed Tag of Johnny & Candice VS Keith & Mia. Also I like that Tegan and Dakota were able to get their feud in through the Candice Heel Turn. Shotzi had a somewhat corny but fairly good promo, keeping all of her feud options fresh on the table. We got a filler tag of Oney & Burch winning, but I’m sure they’ll be contending for the NXT Tag Team Championship again during Empty Arena Era.
The Cruiserweight story is going great, but I do understand the controversy of Maverick being in this position. I said before that in a vacuum, this is actually great writing. In the context of the “Black Wednesday” releases, it’s poor taste and bad timing. But either way, Maverick is nailing every part of this, and I am impressed that NXT pulled off the three way tie. I can’t be sure which is the better move: Maverick uses the Triple Threat to sneak a win, only to lose to Fantasma; or the inevitable happens, and Kushida wins. I feel like there’s a lot for Maverick to still do either way, I’m just not sure which the fans would go crazy for since they aren’t live to react. Meanwhile, I have a feeling those gold mask luchadors might screw Fantasma out of the title, regardless of who his finals opponent is. Thatcher and Riddle in a Cage Match is going to be awesome next week! And it’s not a Steel Cage match, in that you can win by escaping. The cage is there simply to give the match that MMA feel. Riddle won last week but Thatcher stood tall, so it’s anyone’s guess who wins the rematch.
Grimes has a good promo, as does Priest. Balor VS Priest is going to be really good, but I would think Balor wins. Lumis and Strong had an incredible match, and Lumis’ character work is so strong right now! Dream making the save and that epic (though most certainly edited) Purple Rain Maker was all great stuff. Lumis and Dream make quite the combo and I would think we get another tag match of them against the Undisputed Era. There is still a chance one or even both of them challenge Cole for the title at TakeOver to see if that one-year-plus reign continues or stops. But I swear we better get a Triple Threat for the women’s title. Rhea and Shirai had an amazing match, even with Charlotte busting it apart. But I felt that was coming, so it’s all fine. And I believe I also said before that a Triple Threat is the perfect way for Shirai to get the title, especially if she pins Rhea and not Charlotte.
My Score: 9.2/10
Mitchell’s WWE 205 Live Results & Report! (1/22/21)
And you thought last week was big!
205 Live doubles down on historic matches!
Not only are two 205 Live OG taking on a BRUTAL combination in Thatcher & Ciampa, but the WOMEN’S Dusty Cup comes to the purple ‘n’ orange!
- Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: The Way’s Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell VS Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade; The Way wins and advances.
- Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari VS Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa; Thatcher & Ciampa win and advance.
PLAY BY PLAY
205 Live explains how a certain Dusty Cup match came to be.
It was on NXT that Ashante “Thee” Adonis was in a match with the cruel Karrion Kross. Kross showed no mercy to Adonis as he hit him with TWO Doomsday Saido Suplexes and the blindside forearm smash. Then he would show no mercy to Adonis’ tag partner, Desmond Troy, by wrapping him up in the Krossjacket submission! The damage done was too severe for either man to compete tonight, and now they’re OUT of the Dusty Rhodes Classic! However, there is a new team that has been formed.
The Professor of Pain and the Psycho Killer put each other through torture inside the Fight Pit, and in the end, they found respect for each other. They’re now a killer combination and having their tag team debut TONIGHT, in the tag team tournament! Will they put the Premier Athlete and Persian Lion through similar suffering, all for a shot at history and the NXT Tag Team Championships?
Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: The Way’s Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell VS Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade!
How is this for history? 205 Live has its first-ever women’s match, and it is for this historic women’s tag team tournament! But will it be even more historic for the two debuting superstars? Or will Candice & Indi Wrestling dominate where the boys, Johnny & Austin, failed?
The teams sort out, Indi starts against Jade and the two circle. They tie up, go around, and Indi throws Jade down. Indi says Jade is NOT #Impressive, but Jade hits back with body shots! Indi knees low, whips Jade to a corner but Jade dodges! Jade tags Gigi and Gigi dodges Indi for a BOOT! Jade BOOTS Indi, then Gigi runs in to spin and ROCK Indi with a forearm! Indi hits back, drags Gigi over and tags in Candice. Candice stomps Gigi down, brings her up and through the ropes to choke her. The ref counts, Candice lets off at 4 to then CLUB Gigi down. Candice stomps Gigi, taunts Jade, but misses the leg drop!
Gigi rams Candice to the corner, tags in Jade, and Jade runs corner to corner to SHINING WIZARD! Jade brings Candice around but Indi is in the way of her run. Candice CLOBBERS Jade then covers, ONE! Candice hammers away on Jade, dribbles her off the mat, and fans boo as Candice drags Jade up with a chinlock. Candice has a neck wrench, fans chant “You Still Suck!” but Jade fights her way up. Candice CLUBS Jade, whips her to the Way’s corner, then runs in for a back body block! Indi tags in and she taunts Gigi before hitting Jade with a forearm! Indi throws Jade down to cover, TWO!
Indi keeps on Jade with a cravat for the neck crank. Jade fights up, fans rally and Jade throws body shots. Jade whips, Indi reverses and scoops for a sidewalk slam! Cover, TWO! Indi keeps her cool, tags Candice, and Candice wrenches Jade to snapmare and chinlock. Candice digs her knee in but Jade endures. Fans rally, Jade fights up, throws more body shots, then breaks free to uppercut! Jade runs but wobbles, but she elbows Candice again! Jade baits Candice into her own corner, dodges, but Candice gets Jade’s leg! Jade kicks Candice away, hot tags to Indi and Gigi! Gigi didges, fires off on Indi, KICKS away on the leg, then kicks that leg out! BUZZSAW!
Gigi DECKS Candice for good measure before she BOOTS Indi down! Cover, TWO! Gigi snarls as she drags Indi up and clubs her on the back. Tag to Jade, they bring Indi around together to double suplex but Indi fights it off! Indi BOOTS Jade, kicks Gigi and reels Gigi in for a suplex of her own! Indi holds Gigi up for a count of 10 before the SLAM! Gigi bails out so Indi tags Candice. Candice runs into Jade’s roll up, TWO! Jade Oklahoma Rolls, TWO! Ghost pin, TWO!! Candice flounders up but gets around Jade to roll her up, TWO!! Indi tags in and kicks Jade to then back suplex SLAM! Cover, The Way wins!
Winners: The Way, by pinfall (advance to the next round)
Candice and Indi are making their way into the semifinals! But will Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter be in the way of The Way making history?
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari VS Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa!
The Premier Athlete and Persian Lion have been here since day one of 205 Live, and were looking strong going into this match when it was against Adonis & Troy. But again, it has only been a couple days since NXT, are the Professor of Pain and Psycho Killer in any shape to face them on their home turf?
The teams sort out and Nese and Daivari seem to laugh at the two former enemies trying to be a team now. Daivari starts with Thatcher, they tie up and Daivari goes after an arm. Thatcher pries him off of that with a chinlock and then grinds into a headlock. Thatcher throws Daivari down, pulls on his head, but Daivari tries to pull hair. Thatcher just smiles that jagged tooth grin as he gets back up and goes after Daivari’s arm! Thatcher wrangles Daivari with a hammerlock, traps it with his legs then gets Daivari’s legs. Thatcher pulls Daivari into a Bow ‘n’ Arrow! Daivari endures, it becomes a cover, TWO!
Thatcher grabs at Daivari right away and has a facelock. Daivari endures, gets around, waistlocks, but Thatcher pries at the arm. Daivari tags Nese in, Nese rolls Thatcher up, TWO! Thatcher trips Nese and has the foot for a toe ‘n’ ankle. He shifts to a heel hook, then gets the arm but Nese scrambles around. Ciampa wants in, so Thatcher tags him in! Fans cheer as Ciampa wrenches Nese’s arm and drags him down. Nese resists the Fujiwara but Ciampa wrenches through again to a wristlock. Nese chinbars to get the arm, but Ciampa slips through to headlock. Nese throws Ciampa off but Ciampa headlocks and throws Nese down! Fans cheer as Ciampa grinds Nese into the mat.
Nese fights up, gets free to waistlock but Ciampa switches. Nese bucks Ciampa off, runs in and trips Ciampa up to go after the leg! Ciampa kicks Nese away, facelocks Nese in return and grinds him down. Fans rally, Nese moves around, and Nese powers Ciampa to the corner. Nese puts the leg on the rope, tags in Daivari, but Ciampa fights out with forearms and elbows! Ciampa DECKS Daivari but Nese trips him up! The ref reprimands but Daivari drags Nese to the corner to SLAM the leg into the post! And then he SLAMS the other leg! Thatcher storms over as Daivari keeps on the legs but the ref shouts at everyone to get back to their corners.
Daivari puts Ciampa in, drops elbows on the leg then stomps it, then drags Ciampa from Thatcher. Daivari drops more elbows, stomps the leg more, then clamps onto the leg to step through, for a Figure Four! Ciampa endures, Thatcher coaches him and the fans rally up! Ciampa drags himself and Daivari over but Nese gets in to hit Thatcher! The ref has to keep Thatcher back but Nese drags Daivari and Ciampa away! Nese tags in to stomp away on Ciampa, and Daivari finally lets Ciampa out of the hold. Fans boo and jeer while Nese flexes. Nese drags Ciampa over, tags in Daivari, and they split the wishbone on Ciampa!
Nese runs at Thatcher but Thatcher DECKS him first! Daivari has Ciampa’s leg but Ciampa enziguris back! Tag to Thatcher! Thatcher clinches Daivari for a BELLY2BELLY! Then a BELLYBELLY for Nese! EuroUppers for both Cruiserweights back and forth! Nese runs back in but Thatcher has the arm! Thatcher clamps on but has to stop Daivari first. HEEL HOOK! Nese pulls Thatcher’s ears and HOTSHOT BULLDOGS! Thatcher is down, Nese tags in, and Nese hurries to PREMIER TRIANGLE MOONSAULT! Tag back to Daivari and Daivari climbs up, LION SPLASH! Cover, but Ciampa breaks it!
Fans fire up as Ciampa returns to his corner. Daivari and Thatcher crawl, Nese tags in first! Thatcher kicks Nese away, and tags Ciampa back in! Ciampa rallies on Nese and Daivari with forearms and CHOPS! Ciampa CHOPS Daivari again but Nese dropkicks the bad leg out! Nese and Daivari both go up, DOUBLE- DECKED! Nese gets a knee, Daivari gets a forearm! Thatcher and Ciampa glare at each other, Ciampa gives Nese WILLOW’S BELL! Cover, Ciampa & Thatcher win!!
Winners: Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher, by pinfall (advance to the next round)
These two were tearing each other apart on NXT, but they’re standing together on 205 Live! Will Ciampa and Thatcher tear their way through the tournament to put their names on the Dusty Cup?
A good episode, though with some obvious results. While Gigi Dolin (Priscilla Kelly) and Cora Jade (Elayna Black) are very good wrestlers, they weren’t going to beat The Way, and it says a lot that Indi got the pin for this one. Candice & Indi are among the favorites to win the tournament, and I’m betting on a stellar match between them and KC Squared, Catanzaro & Carter. Gigi & Jade still made a good combination, and their aesthetics match up well, I hope they stick together.
Ciampa & Thatcher becoming a team after their Fight Pit match is a pretty cool way to follow up, and naturally they were going to beat the first team they faced. The OG had good combinations, but Nese and Daivari have been perennial jobbers to the stars even before this. Thatcher & Ciampa take on Undisputed Era next and that is going to be a great match that could go either way. Given the history between Undisputed Era and the current tag team champions, Lorcan & Burch, I give it 51-49, UE wins so that they can get a shot at the champions.
My Score: 8/10
Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Results & Report! (1/22/21)
Will Apollo be able to #ThinkBig and be a champion?
Big time challenges go down on SmackDown!
SmackDown goes big as Big E takes on Apollo Crews’ rematch challenge, and Bayley takes on Bianca Belair in the ULTIMATE obstacle course challenge!
- Charlotte Flair & Asuka VS The Riott Squad w/ Billie Kay; Charlotte & Asuka win.
- Cesaro VS Dolph Ziggler; Cesaro wins.
- Sasha Banks VS Reginald w/ Carmella; Sasha wins.
- WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E VS Apollo Crews; Crews wins by disqualification, Big E retains the title.
- Ultimate Athletic Obstacle Course Challenge: Bayley VS Bianca Belair; Bianca wins.
- Dominik Mysterio VS King Corbin; Corbin wins.
- Adam Pearce VS Paul Heyman w/ Roman Reigns; No Contest.
PLAY BY PLAY
Roman Reigns heads to the ring!
The Head of the Table, with Special Counsel, Paul Heyman, is back to open SmackDown, but no Jey Uso? Roman and Heyman are not in a good mood after the bait ‘n’ switch Adam Pearce pulled over on them with Kevin Owens. Heyman hands Roman a mic as fans boo and give thumbs down on their screens. “So KO said he was going to deliver a message today, huh?” Or is he not? No, we’re not going to see Kevin Owens tonight because Roman said so. Now let’s talk about last week and “card subject to change.” Real clever. A lot of people made comments about Pearce getting one past them, outsmarted them.
But let’s make this clear: “That way of thinking is beneath me.” Card subject to change is how losers think. It’s how people who are scared to come to work think. Roman doesn’t miss appearances, he puts in work! Legitimately! It took Roman’ sown health being at risk during a pandemic to keep him away. So he never wants to hear anyone say anything about him missing appearances. But what if Roma started thinking like “a puss” like Pearce, talking about his elbow and shoulder hurting. No one would doubt it because of the work Roman puts in! Roman’s knees hurt, and so does his neck. But what else? His ankles have been bad since college. And his back… Heyman says just the weight of it all is making Roman’s back hurt, because Roman’s been carrying the WWE for YEARS!
But what if Roman’s back continues to hurt until the Royal Rumble? What if he can’t make it because of that? Pearce walks out and says this is going too far. Heyman says Pearce is being rude not even addressing Roman. Pearce says this is spiraling out of control, and Roman can’t believe he wants to talk about control. We know who is in control. But what’s out of control is that Pearce is going against Roman. That Pearce is doing a favor and putting Kevin back into the Universal title picture. And the fact that Pearce is favoring Kevin! This isn’t even really a favor. Pearce is Kevin’s BITCH! And he’s also Roman’s bitch.
But what Roman really can’t stand right now, is Pearce having the audacity coming out here and complaining about how his body feels. Pearce hasn’t been in a match for six YEARS, but he’s talking about how his body hurts. Pearce is next to the thoroughbred of the WWE, a man who does 52 weeks a year, multiple days a week! Roman never complained, never stopped and busts his ass for this place, and that is why Roman is who Roman is! And Pearce is going to complain, whine, MOAN about stuff? “No wonder you never made it to the WWE.” Heyman chuckles at that one.
Pearce asks if this is funny to Heyman. It is. Pearce can take it from Roman but he won’t take it from Heyman. Oh? Well that’s disrespectful. Disrespecting Heyman is disrespecting Roman. Heyman, straighten Pearce out. Heyman is given the mic to speak. Pearce disrespected the Tribal Chief and his family. Heyman’s known his family 15 years. Roman’s family would not be friends with someone who isn’t tough! Do you know what it is like to be a friend of the Anoa’i family? Everyone buys into Heyman’s persona, that he’s “impotent as a man.” Heyman’s from New York, he whoop yo’ ASS for disrespecting the chief. Wanna stare Heyman down?
Heyman may not be a lawyer but he’s from a synagogue full of them. In Florida, a verbal contract is BINDING. So if you want something big for the main event, how about this? Pearce VS PAUL HEYMAN! What?! Heyman offers a handshake, and Pearce TAKES IT! The challenge is accepted!! Pearce will have his first match in six years, against Paul E. Dangerously! Roman says at the end of the night, Pearce gets his ass kicked. #BelieveThat.
Sami Zayn heads to the ring!
He has a sign with #JusticeForSami on it, and he brings out cuffs?! Sami is going to cuff himself to the ringside barriers as a form of protest because he is not part of tonight’s Intercontinental Championship! How will WWE officials respond to Sami’s sudden SmackDown sit-in?
SmackDown returns and Sami claims he is being victimized, but he will enter the Royal Rumble to counter it! Sami says he had Apollo Crews beat, though with hands somehow on Apollo’s tights. But then Apollo does the same thing back to him and Apollo wins?! That is not fair! But then the Empress of Tomorrow interrupts Sami with her entrance, followed by The Queen’s! The WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions are here!
Charlotte Flair & Asuka VS The Riott Squad w/ Billie Kay!
The Queens of Tomorrow have a lot going on as individuals on Raw, but they return to SmackDown to focus on their teamwork! Meanwhile, Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott haven’t been able to focus with the Femme Fatale frantically interfering. Will Billie be a burden as the Squad has a chance at earning a championship opportunity?
As the teams sort out, Natalya and Tamina are watching from backstage. The bell rings as Charlotte and Ruby start. They tie up, are in a deadlock, but Charlotte pushes Ruby to ropes. Ruby pushes back but Charlotte headlocks and throws Ruby down. Ruby keeps her shoulders up, fights to her feet, but Asuka tags in. Charlotte snapmares Ruby, Asuka runs Ruby over with a shoulder! Asuka headlocks Ruby, Ruby fights up but Charlotte tags back in. The Queens of Tomorrow hand Ruby off and Charlotte bumps Ruby off buckles! Charlotte digs her boot into Ruby’s head but lets off at 4. Ruby flounders, Charlotte taunts her to reach for Liv, then CLUBS her down.
Charlotte looms over Ruby, drags her up and whips her to a corner hard! Ruby falls over, Billie protests on the apron but Charlotte runs her off. Ruby rushes at Charlotte but into an elbow! Liv tags in as Billie shouts at Charlotte! Ruby rushes Charlotte but is thrown out, and Charlotte grabs at Billie! Liv apron dropkicks Charlotte back in! Liv hurries up top and leaps to crossbody! Cover, TWO! Billie can’t believe she’s being helpful as SmackDown goes to break!
SmackDown returns again and Charlotte blocks a buckle bump to give a buckle bump! Charlotte stomps away on Liv, backs off as the ref counts, and lets out a “WOO~!” Fans clap on their screens, Charlotte scoops Liv but Liv slips out. Liv runs, Ruby tags in, Liv huricanranas and Ruby runs in to tilt-o-whirl! Charlotte blocks the headscissors but Ruby fires off forearms! Ruby goes up and gives Charlotte DEADLY NIGHTSHADE! Cover, TWO! Tag to Liv, Sami is still filming his protest, and the Squad double SLAMS Charlotte down! Cover, ONE! Liv tags Ruby back in, they stomp away on Charlotte in a corner, and then tag again.
Ruby and Liv bring Charlotte out, double whip but charlotte stops herself to kick and forearm and CHOP! Charlotte CHOPS away, throws Ruby into buckles then kicks Liv low! EXPLODER! And kip up! Charlotte fires up but misses Liv in the corner. Liv runs into the backbreaker and BUCKLE SHOT! Tag to Asuka, SLIDING WIZARD! Cover, Ruby breaks it! Ruby runs but into Charlotte’s BOOT! Liv dropkicks Charlotte and enziguris Asuka! But Asuka has the leg for an ANKLE LOCK! Liv tries to roll through but gets caught to a trapped-leg GERMAN SUPLEX! Asuka kicks but misses, Liv rolls her to swing. Asuka blocks, reels Liv in, but Ruby tags!
Asuka lets Liv go to get Ruby, but Billie distracts! The O’Conner roll is rolled over but Billie argues too long! That costs Ruby, she has to kick Asuka! Liv saves Ruby from the hip attack but falls on Billie! Ruby SUPERKICKS but Asuka counters the Riott Kick to the pop-up KNEE! Asuka runs, tags Charlotte, CODE BREAKER to NATURAL SELECTION! Cover, the champions win!
Winners: Charlotte Flair & Asuka, by pinfall
Billie went from helping to hindering the Squad again! Will this partnership fall apart before Billie’s very eyes?
Billie finds the Squad backstage.
She apologizes for, for… For what, Billie? Stopping Ruby from pinning Asuka? Messing this opportunity up for them?! Yeah… Well for someone who doesn’t mean to, she’s pretty good at it. Maybe that should be put on the resume. Well, all the great teams have overcome obstacles! Billie has good news, though. She talked to Sonya Deville and the Squad is in the Women’s Rumble match! They can practice throwing Billie out over the ropes! Billie can pretend to be Bianca or Mella! No, there is no “us” anymore. The Squad works better when it’s just Ruby and Liv. Sorry. Will Billie ever catch a break?
Daniel Bryan is here!
And he goes past Sami’s new sign, where SAMI is an acronym: Stand Against Moral Injustice. Clever. Bryan goes to the ring and fans join in the “YES!” fingers on their screens. Bryan says a week from this Sunday is one of the most unique and historic traditions in the WWE, the Royal Rumble match. And even saying that, this time of year, a chill goes down Bryan’s spine. It’s a little hard to explain why but Bryan will give it his best shot. “It’s the uncertainty of what number you’re going to. It’s watching the countdown for every superstar that comes out. It’s waiting for that buzzer to hit, for that music to play, for you to run down, nobody knows that you’re coming, and you don’t know who’s coming out next!
“It’s the exhilaration of competing against 29 other superstars that could go over an hour, and it’s every man for themselves.” One of the most challenging, grueling things you can do in the WWE, and that makes Bryan feel alive. Despite all the pain, all the uncertainty, it is absolutely worth it because the winner gets to face the champion of their choosing in the main event of WrestleMania! Bryan is very proud of his career, he’s accomplished a lot. But the one thing he has never done is win a Royal Rumble! Experts, commentary, Michael Cole even, will say- Cesaro interrupts!
Cesaro thought he beat some sense into Bryan last week, but here Bryan is again talking about how he’ll win the Rumble. Cesaro appreciates Bryan explaining the rules, but Cesaro could’ve done it better and in five languages. But that’s besides the point. Bryan is NOT winning this year’s Rumble, Cesaro is. As the first-ever Andre the Giant Battle Royal winner, Cesaro is an expert on this. Bryan didn’t forget about the loss, but instead of talking, how about putting the mics down, and they can fight it out again? Cesaro says no. Cesaro is sick and tired of proving himself week after week doing the same thing over and over! He beat Bryan, and Bryan isn’t dressed for the occasion, Cesaro issues an open challenge! Anyone who has already declared for the Rumble, come on down!
The one to answer the open challenge is… Dolph Ziggler! One half of the SmackDown Tag Team Champions is here asking about the conversation. Ziggler has been in the second most Rumbles ever. Ziggler can go all night long, ask anyone. And aside from himself and his colleague, Robert Roode, there is no one that can go toe-to-toe with Ziggler except maybe Cesaro. No offense to Bryan but it ain’t 2014 anymore. But if we’re talking about a Rumble challenge, Ziggler wants to win to go to Mania and get paid! So Bryan, scoot over, and Cesaro, consider your challenge accepted. Will the Show-Off show up the Swiss Cyborg?
Cesaro VS Dolph Ziggler!
SmackDown returns and Bryan has joined commentary for this great match-up already underway. Ziggler has Cesaro down and has a leg, gets a cover, TWO! Cesaro gets a lateral press but Ziggler keeps his shoulder up. Cesaro pushes him around, gut wrenches and lifts but Ziggler resists by grabbing Cesaro’s leg again. Ziggler shifts, rolls, has a cover, ONE! Cesaro tries a cover, ONE! Cesaro waistlocks but Ziggler gets the ropes. Ziggler elbows Cesaro away then jumps on for a sleeper hold! Cesaro stays up, RAMS Ziggler into buckles and is free. Cesaro runs in to BLAST Ziggler with that EuroUpper! Ziggler flounders into a trip and then a SWISS SWING!
Cesaro brings Ziggler around and around for a count of 10, then maybe 15 even, or 20! Cesaro throws Ziggler, covers, TWO! Ziggler survives the swing, Cesaro stalks him to a corner, then runs in, only to get POST! Ziggler rolls Cesaro up, TWO! Cesaro back drops, Ziggler sunset flips, TWO! Cesaro sits on the cover, TWO! Ziggler sunsets, TWO! Cesaro, TWO! Ziggler, TOW! Cesaro high stacks, TWO! Ziggler pops him to a cover, TWO! SUPER- No, Cesaro blocks but uppercuts into a backslide,. Cesaro slips out, but into a ZIGZAG! Cover, TWO!! And yes, Sami is still protesting. He’s even memeing! “Sami was robbed, change my mind.”
Cesaro and Ziggler slowly rise and Ziggler sleeper holds again! Cesaro gets up, shifts Ziggler from backpack to a front facelock, for a suplex! Ziggler knees free, kicks low then runs, into a pop-up! Ziggler tries to huricanrana, but Cesaro makes it a NEUTRALIZER! Cover, Cesaro wins!
Winner: Cesaro, by pinfall
Michael Cole points out this is two times in a row that Cesaro has beaten a former world champion! Will Cesaro take the Rumble and be a WrestleMania contender?
Sasha Banks VS Reginald w/ Carmella!
It is very rare for WWE to do co-ed matches like this, and certain against a champion like The Boss against the sommelier in employment of The Untouchable Princess of Staten Island. Will Reginald ruin Sasha’s momentum towards the rematch with Mella?
SmackDown returns and Mella makes her entrance to accompany Reginald to the ring, two other assistants bringing the champagne and drinking glasses to the ring for them. Mella and the champagne join commentary as the bell rings. Sasha tells Reggie it’s time to put up or shut up, but Reggie presents her with an orange rose. Sasha accepts the rose but goes to slap Reggie! He blocks, only for Sasha to SLAP him with the other hand! Sasha knuckle locks, goes up and uses the ropes to arm-drag, but Reggie handsprings through! Mella says that’s her Reggie! Reggie waistlocks but Sasha resists the lift and slips out the back to switch. Reggie does the same and rolls right out of the ring!
Reggie plays some cat ‘n’ mouse and does a back flip off the apron! But Sasha wrecks him with a baseball slide dropkick! Sasha whips Reggie at the steel steps but Reggie leaps up and over! Mella applauds the bit of flair, Sasha gives chase, they go in the ring and speed things up with hurdle for hurdle. Reggie shows off with that flip, Sasha goes up and springboards, but Reggie blocks the sunset flip! Reggie wheelbarrows Sasha but she turns that into a BULLDOG! Sasha wants Mella to see why she’s the boss, but Sasha misses the meteora to hit buckles! Sasha avoids Reggie’s elbow drop, Oklahoma roll but Reggie slips out!
Reggie avoids Sasha’s dropkick to bomb lift, but Sasha arm-drags free! Sasha runs in but is put on the apron, but she knees Reggie away! Sasha goes up, leaps, crossbody but Reggie holds her up! Reggie pops Sasha up but into another arm-drag! Reggie is sent out, Sasha hurries to the apron, METEORA! Sasha slaps the champagne out of Mella’s hand! Sasha goes back into the ring with Reggie, brings him in for a backstabber but he rolls through! Sasha kicks him, and knuckle locks to flip up and into another METEORA! Mella sneers but Sasha tilt-o-whirls and drags Reggie down by his arm! BANK STATEMENT!! Reggie taps, Sasha wins!
Winner: Sasha Banks, by submission
Sasha got her revenge on Reggie, and throws him out to Mella! Will Sasha do the same to the Princess at the Royal Rumble?
Roman Reigns sits in his private room.
Heyman says Roman was brilliant. They got Pearce! “We? What’re you talking about?” Heyman knew what Roman was up to, he fed right into it. Roman simply passed Heyman the mic to do what he does better than anyone, and that is verbally rip someone to shreds. Roman didn’t say Heyman should challenge Pearce to a match. But Heyman has stepped into it, so he has to do this. Roman didn’t hire some punk to be Special Counsel, he hired a man. So Heyman needs to go out there and represent Roman as a man and handle business. “Paul, be a man. Handle your business.” The Special Counsel has no words, will he have no defense against Pearce?
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E VS Apollo Crews!
Sami Zayn is irate as Big E taunts him with the belt. But Sami is not the champion’s concern, he’s taking on the man in the ring! Big E and Apollo have been in friendly competition, but after what Heyman told both of them over these last few weeks on Talking Smack, will all of that go out the window?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and it’s time to #ThinkBig or go home!
Apollo rushes Big E but right into an OVERHEAD SUPLEX! Apollo goes to the apron, Big E follows and stomps him, to then run and APRON SPLASH! Big E is fired up and gets back in to run at Apollo. Apollo elbows back, BOOTS back, then runs, into a scoop! Apollo slips off, and ENZIGURIS! Big E wobbles into a BOOT! Standing moonsault! Cover, TWO! Apollo keeps focus as he stalks Big E. Apollo waistlocks and GERMAN SUPLEXES Big E! Apollo holds on to GERMAN again! Big E elbows over and over until he’s free, and he gets Apollo with the Urenag-E! Cover, TWO! Big E keeps his cool as he goes out after Apollo.
Big E and Apollo end up by the announce desk. Big E tells Apollo he’ll never make the mistake of disrespecting him again. Apollo pushes Big E away, then dodges him to go up the apron and MOONSAULT! Direct hit and down goes Big E! Apollo gets Big E back in at the ring count of 8 then climbs up top! Big E hits Apollo first then climbs up to join him. Big E throws forearms, stands Apollo up, but Apollo resists the superplex! Apollo throws headbutts as fans clap on their screens! Big E falls back, Apollo adjusts, but Sami uncuffs himself! Sami’s strike is over as Apollo leaps to missile dropkick Big E!
Apollo resets but Sami HELLUVA KICKS him!! SAMI SCREWS APOLLO!
Winner: Apollo Crews by disqualification (Big E is still WWE Intercontinental Championship)
And then Sami HELLUVA KICKS Big E! And Sami has the nerve to talk about injustice! Sami says HE is the champion, but that this is what Big E and Apollo deserve! Will Sami get what he deserves soon enough?
Kevin Owens speaks.
“I showed up to work today, and I was told I couldn’t get into the building because Roman Reigns pulled some strings to make sure I wouldn’t be there. Roman, dude… It’s fine. But just know this: at the Royal Rumble, there’s no more strings for you to pull.” At the Rumble, they will settle this once and for all. And Roman calls Kevin “a cockroach that won’t die,” and tells him to just stop fighting, but Kevin can’t do that. Roman has yet to beat Kevin like the champion he claims to be. Roman did not earn those victories. The family did that for him.
And the other reason Kevin keeps fighting is this. Kevin has a lot of tattoos, and they all have a story behind them. He has his wife’s name on his wrist, his kids’ names on the other side, then one to remind him of his parents. Kevin fights for all of them, but he has tattoos on his knuckles. These are his grandfathers’ initials: M for Melvin, his dad’s dad, and P is for Pierre, his mom’s dad. Those men had Kevin’s back all the way. They were his biggest fans, and nothing made them happier than seeing Kevin in the ring. The biggest regret Kevin will have is that he didn’t make it to the WWE in time for them to see, because they both passed away just before.
But they will always be with Kevin. The mark they left on Kevin will always be there, because both men battled illnesses that should’ve made their lives a lot shorter. Those two men refused to quit, and because of that, Kevin was lucky to have many, many great years with them. So how can Kevin stop fighting? That is why Kevin will not stay away and why he will #JustKeepFighting. That is why come Royal Rumble, Kevin will be the Last Man Standing.
The Street Profits have a basket.
Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins see Ziggler talking with Sonya, and have a quick question: Are you ready~, ready~? This is a celebratory basket for congratulating Sonya on her new job and office! But don’t jump the gun! They’re not just congratulating her on the new gig. She sits next to Pearce, looking pretty, but they have business. It has been two, two weeks, since the Profits lost the SmackDown Tag Team Championships against Ziggler & Roode, Entertainment Dysfunction. Put that on a t-shirt, it’ll make millions! But that aside, the Profits- Sonya knows they want their rematch. She’s so smart!
Sonya knows they were champions for 312 days, won two Slammy Awards, so yes they deserve a rematch. But Ford is still recovering from the leg injury. If he gets in that ring too soon, gets hurt and is out of action, that hurts SmackDown as a whole. So hear her out: For now, hang out, keep doing your segments to hype the show, and let another team get the opportunity. Then when Ford is 100%, he and Dawkins get back in the game and back in the title picture. Cool with t hat, fam? yeah, that’s cool. Golly, Sonya, thanks for your concern. Enjoy the basket! It’s expensive. But will the long wait really work out in the Profits’ favor?
Ultimate Athletic Obstacle Course Challenge: Bayley VS Bianca Belair!
The Role Model wants The EST to prove she’s still got it when it comes to being the strongest, the fastest, the roughest, the toughest, etc. Therefore, SmackDown is setting up a truly challenging obstacle course for them both to run! Who backs up their words, after the break?
SmackDown returns and Michael Cole presides over this special competition, and gives the introductions for Bianca, then for Bayley. Bayley takes over and says DING DONG, BYE Cole. This is her show now! And look, Bianca, this is what Bayley has for her. America Ninja Warrior ain’t got nothing on UAOCC! This is of course timed, starting right here with the “big ol’ 400 pound tractor tire,” which you only need to flip once. Go down the ramp, take on the short hurdles, climb the trio of military walls. And then Bayley even got advice from Chad Gable and Alpha Academy, he will put you through the full body test, the fireman’s carry!
But that’s not all! The very last challenge is grab the basketball, put it through the net, and time stops at the exact moment the ball exits the bottom of the net! The competitor with the shortest time is of course the winner! Let’s get the clock going, and Bayley wants to go first. Bianca says that’s fine, and we begin… NOW! Bayley flips the tire, hurries down the ramp, though not quite that quickly, and takes on the hop hurdles to go right at the military walls. The short one seems to throw her off, and she just weaves around them?! Is that allowed?
Bayley fireman’s carries Gable, and he seems to be heavier than he looks. Bianca “cheers” Bayley on as she goes from one end to another, then she gets the ball to DUNK- no, wait, there! Bayley finishes at 1:12. But she says she did Bianca a favor. “Let’s EST up this course,” all for Bianca. Oh, the hurdles are now full hurdles, and Bianca wraps her braid. GO! Bianca easily flips the tire, runs down the ramp., leaps the hurdles, leaps the walls, but she isn’t carrying Gable, but OTIS! Bianca has 40 seconds, she carries the 330 pound Otis with ease, then gets the ball and even dares Bayley to play D! She breaks ankles and DUNKS! She had 17 seconds to spare!
Winner: Bianca Belair
Sorry, Bayley, but that’s the power of the EST! Bayley is a sore loser and throws the ball at Bianca! And then hammers away with forearms and stomps! The ref reprimands but Bayley doesn’t care, as she POSTS Bianca and knocks down the basketball hoop! Bayley storms off, perhaps having proven she’s the meanest on the roster.
Rey Mysterio coaches Dominik backstage.
Rey reviews with Dom that Baron Corbin is a former boxer, so he has to watch out for the hands. Dom says Rey can trust him to have this. Dom is comfortable with his skills and has prepared. Okay, then we’ll do it his way. But if something goes wrong, they do it Rey’s way. That’s fair. Dom heads out, will he be able to trump the Wolf King?
Dominik Mysterio VS King Corbin!
SmackDown returns as Corbin is already in the ring. Dominik makes his entrance, leaving Rey backstage so he can handle things. The bell rings and Dom circles with Corbin. They tie up, Corbin powers Dom to a corner but Dom dodges the hands to throw hands of his own! Dom rams his shoulder in but Corbin shoves him away. Dom dropkicks but Corbin stays up. Dom whips, Corbin reverses but Dom wheelbarrows and throws Corbin out of the ring! The ring count climbs but Dom slingshots, only for Corbin to get clear and CLOBBER him! Corbin drags Dom up and into the ring, covers, TWO! Corbin already glares at the ref as he grows annoyed.
Corbin stalks Dom, drags him to ropes and stands on him! The ref counts, Corbin hops off at 4, then drags Dom up to throw body shots! The ref counts, Corbin lets off at 4 again, then stands Dom up. Corbin whips Dom corner to corner hard! Dom bounces off buckles to hit the mat, and Corbin takes his time bringing Dom back up. Corbin brings Dom around, reel shim in but Dom slips out to dropkick a leg! Corbin ends up on ropes, Dom dials it up but the call is blocked! Corbin drags Dom from ropes, yanks but Dom lands on his feet, only for Corbin to DECK him! Corbin reels Dom in and hits END OF DAYS! Cover, Corbin wins!
Winner: Baron Corbin, by pinfall
The Wolf King wins because he did this his way! Will the Mysterios regroup and draw up a winning game plan?
Adam Pearce VS Paul Heyman w/ Roman Reigns!
Scrap Daddy’s switcheroo not only got the better of the Special Counsel last week, it might be why he stuck his foot in his mouth this week! Will Pearce’s return to the ring also get the better of Paul E. Dangerously? Has the Head of the Table truly left Heyman hanging?
Heyman is taping his hands on his way to the ring, but stumbles off the steps? The ref checks on Heyman but he says he’s fine. Give him a minute to walk it off. Heyman fumbles on the steps again and Pearce smells a plot. After all, he let his “bum leg” be why Kevin Owens is back in the title match. And just as he knew, Heyman cites “card subject to change.” This was the trump card Heyman had up his sleeve! Roman did NOT leave the building, he’s heading to the ring! Now that the bait ‘n’ switch is on the other foot, will Scrap Daddy be scrap metal?
Adam Pearce VS Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman!
Roman SUPERMAN PUNCHES Pearce the second he’s in the ring! This isn’t even a match because the bell hasn’t rung! Heyman says he has obviously found a suitable replacement, and Roman is pulling steps apart. Pearce throws a haymaker! Roman glares at Pearce, and LOW BLOW KICKS him! And then throws Pearce OVER the barriers! Roman is snarling as he goes around the way to drag Pearce up and throw him INTO ThunderDome screens! And then he drags Pearce up to throw heavy forearms! And then throws him into stage wall! Fans give thumbs down but that’s not going to save Pearce from Roman’s wrath!
Roman fireman’s carries Pearce and puts him on the upper level, the same place he threw Kevin off of. But speaking of, Kevin runs in and attacks Roman! Kevin saves Pearce as he throws haymakers and bumps Roman off barriers! Roman throws Kevin into screens, throws haymakers of his own, then they brawl to ringside! It’s Royal Rumble come early! Roman puts Kevin in the ring, storms in but into a USUPERKICK! Roman SUPERMAN PUNCH- NO! STUNNER from Kevin!! Kevin dares Roman to get back up! Roman sputters as he gets out of the ring but Kevin whips him into barriers! And clubs away on his back!
Referees rush out to try and stop this, and Kevin backs off to cool off. But then Kevin comes back to STOMP Roman into barriers! Roman flounders back up, referees try to talk Kevin down, and even Pat Buck, Pearce’s coworker. But Kevin gets past them to give Roman another STUNNER! Kevin wants Heyman to say something but Heyman has nothing to say! So Kevin brings Roman over, pops him up, POWERBOMB through the announce desk!! Kevin is pulling steel steps apart! The refs keep him from bringing that over to Roman! Kevin says Roman’s lucky the officials are here to stop him, but it won’t happen at the Royal Rumble! Will Kevin truly #StunTheWorld when he is THE Last Man Standing?
A great SmackDown that honestly could’ve been a go-home to the Royal Rumble in some cases. Charlotte & Asuka VS Riott Squad was good, but naturally the champions win, mostly because Billie was too involved. She has been kicked out of the Riott Squad, though she wasn’t really a member to begin with, but I feel like they could’ve gone another week, though. Natty & Tamina were watching backstage, I wouldn’t mind seeing them get a match with Charlotte & Asuka, even if they were to lose. The match of Sasha Banks VS Reginald was pretty good, mostly because Reggie is insanely athletic. Depending on how the story goes of him being Mella’s sommelier, maybe he can split off and get into like 205 Live and the Cruiserweight Division to freshen things up a bit.
But of course Sasha wins, she’s the champion. I have a feeling this means the go-home sees Mella standing tall so that Sasha is still the favored to win. The “Ultimate” obstacle course challenge was very clearly going to be won by Bianca, but I commend Bayley for trying to rig it in her favor. Though, shouldn’t she have been penalized or even disqualified for outright skipping those military style walls? Pretty sure we’re getting a match between the two, and Bianca can sell the bad arm to “overcome” it and win, for big momentum going into the Women’s Rumble.
The Profits had a good segment with Sonya, and I like that, at least on the surface, Sonya is being a responsible official and having the Profits wait so they can be healed up. But I wonder if there will even be defenses in that time, as there aren’t many tag teams on SmackDown. It’s mostly the champs, the Profits, Cesaro-Nakamura, and maybe Alpha Academy, aka Gable & Otis. Dom VS Corbin felt like filler just to get things to what Rey was talking about last week, which should’ve just been what we got this week. Unless it was because the person they have in mind (Cain Velasquez) isn’t available right now because of some COVID concerns. That I’d understand.
Sami Zayn “protesting” this episode just so he’d be ringside for the Intercontinental Championship was a pretty good long game for the episode. Sami’s signs were clever, but it does seem a shame for what should’ve been a huge match. Maybe we get another Triple Threat for this title, and that is the way Big E loses. Though, I think it’d work well if Big E won, making his reign feel even bigger from having dealt with two contenders. After that, Big E can face just about anyone else on the roster, such as Nakamura, Cesaro or even Otis. And speaking of, Cesaro had a good promo with Bryan and a really good match with Ziggler, but I feel like all these wins are setting Cesaro up to not win the Rumble. But I said the same thing about Bryan making it his mission to win the reason he won’t, so maybe as far as SmackDown goes, it’s between the two of them as Rumble finalists.
And again, we got a lot of great stuff out of the Roman Reigns story. The opening promo segment was really good, it helped set up the main event, and gave a great tease of Pearce VS Heyman. But Heyman using the fake injury and “card subject to change” back on Pearce was also very clever, and naturally it was Roman who would beat Pearce up to get back at him for everything so far. Kevin had a really good promo, made a great save, and got to stand tall tonight with the table bomb. I’m curious as to Kevin’s part in the go-home next week. I can’t see him standing tall two weeks in a row just to keep the math in Roman’s favor, so maybe Roman turns this around to then defy the math and still retain the title. I’m pretty sure Roman does retain, and we leave it up to the Rumble to decide the rest.
My Score: 8.5/10
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