Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: January 25, 2020
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Nigel McGuinness
It’s a big night in Texas, and not just because I finally remembered that the show isn’t called When Worlds Collide. This is NXT vs. NXT UK and the card is actually stacked, with a bunch of matches that could be awesome. If they live up to the hype, it’s a show of the year contender. Let’s get to it.
Kickoff Show: Mia Yim vs. Kay Lee Ray
Non-title. Mia knocks her into the corner to start and hits a Cannonball for two. Ray gets chopped against the ropes but Mia takes her down by the leg and gets two off a kick to the head. A faceplant gives Ray her own two and the chinlock goes on. Mia fights up and chops her way out of the corner so Ray superkicks her for two. The Swanton misses though and Yim scores with her own superkick.
The springboard DDT gives Yim two more and Ray gets hit with a suicide dive. Ray is right back up with a top rope flip dive of her own and they’re both down on the floor. Back in and Code Blue gets two but Ray is right back with Eat Defeat for her own near fall. It’s Yim’s turn now and a Batista Bomb give her two more. A Canadian Destroyer is good for the same but they go to a series of rollups. Yim gets two more but gets reversed, with Ray grabbing the rope for the pin at 9:18.
Rating: C+. It was good action and a fine finish, though I still can’t bring myself to care about Yim. She just isn’t interesting and there is nothing that she can do to fix that. Maybe she’ll catch fire later on but so far it has been a lot of dull stuff from here where they push her well but nothing clicks. Ray is better, though I’m still waiting on her to step up to another level.
The opening video features narration by Winston Churchill, talking about how we will fight everywhere over video of Imperium and the Undisputed Era. The rest of the card gets some attention as well, but the eight man tag is the focal point, as it should be.
The announcers welcome us to the show.
Finn Balor vs. Ilja Dragunov
Dragunov comes out to some near silence. Balor grabs a headlock to start and takes Dragunov down, only to get reversed with a headscissors. Dragunov starts slugging away but gets sent outside for a baseball slide through the ropes. Back in and Dragunov knocks him down, setting up a backsplash for two. The armbar is broken up as Balor makes the rope but he misses his apron enziguri.
Balor bails to the floor so Dragunov hits a crossbody from the apron. A top rope ax handle misses though and Balor stomps away, setting up an elbow for two back inside. Balor stomps away in the corner and the fans are VERY pleased. A running chop gets two and we hit the chinlock to keep Dragunov down. 1916 is countered into a suplex though and Dragunov hits a running knee in the corner.
Dragunov hits a bunch of knees to the chest and a big one to the face gets two. Balor is one step ahead of him though and hits the jumping double stomp to the ribs. They slug it out until Dragunov hits an enziguri. The Pele is caught but Balor is back with a Nightmare on Helm Street.
The Sling Blade looks to set up the John Woo dropkick but Dragunov grabs a bridging German suplex for two more. Dragunov’s discus lariat puts Balor on the floor for another crossbody. Back in and Balor is draped over the ropes for a missile dropkick to the side of the head. Balor’s nose is busted but he’s fine enough to get his knees up to block a backsplash. The John Woo dropkick sets up the Coup de Grace into the 1916 for the pin at 13:50.
Rating: B. The best sign of the match is that they overcame an apathetic crowd to start. The fans did not care about Dragunov and were cheering Balor throughout, but the important part here is that they got the fans caring. Dragunov isn’t ready to defeat someone like Balor so the loss isn’t a bad thing, but what matters is that he was competitive and they had a heck of a match. Really good opener.
The Broserweights and the Grizzled Young Veterans are in the front row. They’re told that the winners will receive a Tag Team Title shot at Takeover: Portland and Gibson isn’t pleased. He’s seen the Broserweights’ resume and there’s nothing there. The Veterans should win the tournament because they’re the best team in the world.
Matt Riddle talks about how they should be happy over the new prize for the winners. Dunne is stone faced, but Riddle says that’s his happy face. Dunne: “I’ll be blunt.” That makes Riddle VERY happy and we even have to pause for his mini celebration. Dunne promises to smoke the Veterans next week because it’s their trophy to win. Riddle came off like a star here.
Cruiserweight Title: Isaiah Scott vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks vs. Angel Garza
One fall to a finish with Garza defending. The fans are behind Scott and all four grab hands to start. Garza asks for a pause so he can TAKE OFF HIS PANTS but it’s a triple suplex to cut him off. Devlin Rock Bottoms Scott and Banks and moonsaults onto both of them. Scott is back up with the rolling Downward Spiral on Banks, followed by the dropkick to Devlin. Devlin and Scott go outside so Garza hits the big flip dive, leaving Banks to hit a stomp from the apron.
Banks kicks at Scott’s chest back inside but Garza joins in, earning himself some Banks kicks as well. Scott kicks Garza into the corner but gets suplexed into a different corner as banks continues to dominate. Scott is sent into Garza in the corner and Banks hits a suicide dive on Devlin. Back in and Banks sends Devlin into the corner onto the other two. Devlin is back up with a crazy spinning tornado DDT on Scott and a Spanish Fly to Garza, only to have Banks dive in with a double stomp for the save.
They slug it out from their knees until Garza sends Banks into Devlin. That means GARZA CAN TAKE OFF HIS PANTS before catching Banks’ crossbody. Devlin can’t hit a hurricanrana on Garza, who holds them both up at once. Scott dives in with a double stomp to Devlin and everyone is down. The House Call to Garza is broken up by Devlin but Banks is back up with a Canadian Destroyer to plant Devlin and everyone is down.
Garza and Scott go up top but get pulled down with a double super Spanish Fly from Devlin. Banks is right back up with the Slice of Heaven into the Kiwi Crusher for two on Devlin to put everyone down again. Banks tries a headscissors out of the corner but Scott flips him forward into something like an Iconoclasm for two. Garza hits a reverse hurricanrana on Scott and the Wing Clipper connects, only to have Devlin headbutt him down. The Devlin Side finishes Scott for the pin and the title at 12:08. Devlin’s celebration is awesome as he looks like he just won the World Title in the main event of Wrestlemania.
Rating: B. I had this one wrong but I can go with this as the Cruiserweight Title doesn’t mean anything on NXT. Devlin has needed a big win for a long time now and that’s the right call here. He’s lost several big matches now so giving him a major win and a title is a good move, especially when there isn’t much for Garza to do with the title in NXT. If nothing else, this might put Devlin on 205 Live, though I’d get a chuckle out of him just never showing up there and having 205 Live pretend the show serves any purpose (like it does now).
Post match Devlin says he told you all and you should believe him. Never bet against the Ace.
Keith Lee, Mia Yim, Chelsea Green and Robert Stone are here.
We recap DIY vs. Moustache Mountain. There isn’t much of a story but they’re both the signature teams of their brands so it’s time to have a dream match.
DIY vs. Moustache Mountain
This could be good. Maybe. Possibly. Gargano and Bate start things off with Gargano taking him down for an armbar. A headlock keeps Bate down and he can’t power out of a front facelock. He can however flip out of a hurricanrana attempt and try the Tyler Driver 97, only to have Gargano slip out this time. Gargano misses the rolling kick to the head so Bate grabs his leg on an attempted kick to the ribs.
Bate is nice enough to put the foot down and it’s a double tag to Seven and Ciampa. They have a moustache off and then a pose down with Seven conceding the second round. Ciampa takes him t the mat but the flip over armbar is countered into a rollup for two. Bate comes back in and he’s willing to pose with Ciampa. We go old school with a test of strength and the taller Ciampa gets the better of things.
They flip over to the mat and bridge up at two each. Bate loads up Bop and Bang but gets hit in the face in a hurry. Ciampa knees Bate to the floor and Gargano superkicks Seven out with him. The Brits are sent over the announcers’ table and DIY have a seat on the apron. Back in and Gargano mocks Bate’s pose before kicking him in the back of the head for two. Ciampa elbows Bate down and we’re off to the chinlock.
Bate finally fights up and flips out so he can tag Seven in for the chops. A DDT drops Gargano and the powerbomb into the Seven Star Lariat gets two on Ciampa. Another lariat is blocked with a jumping knee to the face, which may have knocked out Seven’s tooth. Gargano is back in with a Downward Spiral/DDT combination, followed by the slingshot spear for two on Bate.
Willow’s Bell hits Seven and Gargano’s slingshot DDT gets two on Bate. Gargano and Seven fight to the floor and Ciampa knees Bate in the head. Project Ciampa and the Tyler Driver 97 are countered so Bate hits the rebound lariat instead. Now the Tyler Driver 97 can connect for two with Gargano making the save and kicking Ciampa into a rollup for another two on Bate. Everyone is down until Bate muscles Gargano up into a suplex.
The standing shooting star press gets two and it’s off to the airplane spin. That’s reversed into the Gargano Escape and it’s Ciampa coming in with the flip over armbar to Seven at the same time. Both are reversed into stereo airplane spins, setting up a belly to back suplex/clothesline combination for two on Gargano. Bate is knocked down in the middle so Seven has to save him from Meet In The Middle.
DIY tries it anyway but walk into Bop and Bang, setting up the Birminghammer for two on Ciampa. A double Birminghammer hits Ciampa so Bate goes up for Spiral Tap, with Ciampa pulling Seven into the path to steal his own near fall in a great spot. They slug it out with DIY getting the better of it and superkicking Bate out of the air. That leaves Seven to take Meet In The Middle for the pin at 22:54.
Rating: A-. The beginning felt like it was going to be a comedy match but then things got serious and they beat the fire out of each other for the next fifteen or so minutes. Moustache Mountain can hang with anyone, including DIY, but it only makes sense to have DIY go over here when they’re likely going after the Tag Team Titles over Wrestlemania weekend. Either way, incredible stuff here with no clear winner almost the entire way through.
Post match, respect is shown.
Mercedes Martinez and Dakota Kai are here….and Tegan Nox jumps Kai from behind. They fight to ringside until security breaks them up, much to the fans’ annoyance.
We recap Toni Storm. They’re old rivals with Storm having beaten her twice and now wanting a shot at the new champ. Storm leads the series 2-1 so Ripley wants to even things up and keep her title.
#1 contender Bianca Belair is here.
NXT Women’s Title: Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm
Ripley is defending. They fight over a lockup to start and the fans are split. That goes nowhere so Storm forearms away, only to get blasted with a chop. A staredown sets up some clotheslines from Ripley but she walks into a superkick in the corner. Storm suplexes her into the corner and Ripley needs a breather on the floor. With her neck seemingly ok, Storm grabs a suplex for two and it’s off to an STF variation. That’s broken up so Storm hits a DDT for two more.
The chinlock doesn’t last long but some shots to the back have Rhea in more trouble. They slug it out with Ripley getting the better of it and kicking her into the corner. The standing Cloverleaf goes on but Ripley can’t get it on in full because of her neck. Riptide is countered into a crossbody to give Storm two. Storm’s German suplex drops Ripley on her head for two more but they hit heads for a double knockdown. It’s Storm up first but she misses a frog splash, setting up Riptide for the pin to retain Rhea’s title at 10:09.
Rating: C. Well that was….short. I’m not sure if Ripley was actually banged up in there or not because that’s a pretty fast ending to what could have been a much longer match. What we got was nice enough and Ripley winning is the best way to go, but that was very short for what could have been a longer match. The fans weren’t exactly into it though and that disappoints me a good bit.
During the previous match, Johnny Gargano was doing an interview when Finn Balor jumped him. Tommaso Ciampa and Moustache Mountain made the save.
We recap Imperium vs. Undisputed Era. The Era jumped them at the end of Takeover: Blackpool II and then Imperium cost them their Dusty Classic match. They’re the big faction in both companies and it’s time for a showdown.
Undisputed Era vs. Imperium
Aichner throws O’Reilly around a bit to start so O’Reilly goes for the arm. That’s broken up so it’s a kneebar instead, with Aichner making the rope in a hurry. Back up and O’Reilly hammers away in the corner, only to walk into a powerslam. Barthel comes in for two off a pop up uppercut, only to have O’Reilly knee him in the chest. It’s off to Strong, who gets chopped into the corner for a bit. That’s broken up so Fish comes in for half of a double gordbuster on Wolfe. Fish and O’Reilly hit stereo kicks…and Wolfe is down.
The medics come in and take him to the floor so it’s Walter vs. Cole instead. Walter throws him down so Cole decides to slap him for some reason. The threat of the big chop sends Cole bailing into the corner but Walter gets knocked into the Era’s corner. Walter is right back up with a leapfrog over Strong into a big boot, meaning Aichner can come in to stand at attention. Cole saves Strong from a powerbomb and takes over on Barthel with some elbows to the head.
It’s O’Reilly unleashing the strikes in the corner and Strong blasts Barthel so hard in the jaw that it brings Walter in for a few seconds. There’s the slingshot hilo from Fish and Cole slaps on the chinlock. O’Reilly kicks Walter on the apron and Walter just glares at him. The distraction lets Barthel get in a Russian legsweep though and it’s Walter coming in, meaning O’Reilly hits the panic button. The strikes are countered into a German suplex but O’Reilly reverses the powerbomb into a guillotine.
Just to show off, Walter suplexes Strong and O’Reilly at the same time. Barthel elbows O’Reilly in the face for two and it’s Aichner putting on a chinlock. It’s back to Walter for a running seated senton and the LOUD chop takes the spirit out of O’Reilly’s eyes for two. The running double dropkick in the corner rocks O’Reilly again but he dives around Walter for the tag off to Strong. He chops it out with Walter and actually knocks him into the ropes for the running elbows.
That’s broken up with a single clothesline so Aichner comes in. A heck of a tiger bomb sets up the Strong Hold but Aichner is out in a hurry. White Noise gives Barthel two but Fish gets away and brings in Cole to pick up the pace. The Panama Sunrise is blocked so it’s a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two on Barthel instead. Walter comes back in so everyone but Cole pounds him down at the same time.
The announcers’ table is loaded up but Walter fights them off and loads up another table. O’Reilly and Strong have to break up a powerbomb and it’s the Angle Slam to put Walter through the table in a huge crash. Back in and it’s an exchange of strikes to the face, including Cole superkicking Aichner out of the air. Cole hits the brainbuster onto the knee to Barthel for two and the running knee to the face gets the same. Aichner comes back in and gets kicked down in a hurry.
O’Reilly gets Barthel in a kneebar but a crawl makes the rope. The hold is still on so Aichner moonsaults in to break it up. Aichner gets beaten down on the floor but Walter is back on the apron. An enziguri allows the hot tag to Walter to wreck everything in sight. Cole hits a superkick but the Last Shot is broken up with the huge chop.
The powerbomb hits Strong and the frog splash crushes him but Cole breaks it up with the Last Shot. Aichner and Barthel break that up at two and everyone is down again. Everyone gets up for the staredown and the fight is on. Walter gets taken down by High/Low and Strong flip dives over the top onto Cole, O’Reilly and Barthel. Aichner follows that with a dive of his own but Fish’s moonsault misses Walter. The powerbomb finishes Fish at 29:53.
Rating: A. Even with one of the eight people out of the match, these guys put on a clinic with great drama throughout with the Era using a strategy of divide and conquer. The problem with that is they had no answer for Walter, who came back up and wrecked the place, which is how you should have presented him here. It’s going to take a monster to take the title from Walter and I’m not sure who that is right now. This was a showcase for everyone involved though and the match was great up and down. Hopefully Wolfe is ok though because that’s the most important thing.
A highlight package wraps us up.
Overall Rating: A. The women’s match is the only thing on here that isn’t great and even that was completely watchable. This is one that actually lived up to the hype and that is hard to do given how good the show was looking on paper. It even added something to the future because NXT is smart enough to do something like that. This show flew by at about three hours total, making it an easy sit with some amazing matches. Check this one out for sure.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!