Hey, kids, it’s the Botching one with another look into the Here & Now. Mauro wasn’t there this week. Corey Graves made some comments meant to stir the pot in light of the Survivor Series build and Mauro couldn’t handle them. He’s been quite upfront about his battle with Bipolar disorder so he can’t absorb things the rest of us can. It makes him highly sensitive and he even deleted his Twitter account over it. Graves apologized on his podcast and that’s really all he could do.
Anyway, Tom Phillips was in his spot and the show went on unencumbered. So let’s get on with it, shall we?
In-ring segment – Tommasso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijacovic, Matt Riddle, Finn Balor, & The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, & Roderick Strong)
Fun interaction there! Adam Cole, ever the heel, signifies the end of Survivor Series with the “we did everything and you did nothing” promo. Expertly done. Cole became an absolute star during this entire build and he is very much the top guy right now – no matter what brand he’s on. If you didn’t see his skit last night on “WWE Backstage”, you’ve GOT to catch it. It’s the funniest wrestling-related anything I’ve seen in decades – maybe ever.
Balor came out to get between Ciampa and Goldy. Just like that, we have ourselves a main event. Keith also set up some deliciousness too. We’ll now get a tag match between Keith/Dominik & The Undisputed Era.
The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish/Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Keith Lee & Dominik Dijacovic
Kyle is a personal favorite of mine because he’s not afraid to anything at all. He’s WWE’s crash test dummy and he does his job so well. He’s kind of like Wile E. Coyote. and anyone he faces is like the Road Runner. This was a really fun match. Sam & I talked a bit about whether or not Fish is really injured and it certainly seems he is. He didn’t traditionally “sell” like he was. He hit and just knew. Fish is 40 years-old and if he really is injured, there’s no telling how long it might take him to come back. He’s also had knee injuries in the past. In further discussion with Sam, he uncovered that it may very well just have been a precautionary measure. If it was more serious, I truly hope he recovers quick. Roderick came into and the match didn’t miss a beat. That speaks to Roderick’s proficiency in there. He just came in and the match kept going undeterred.
This team of Lee & Dijacovic is so completely money and I love that they’re being elevated somewhat together. The matches we’ve gotten from them in NXT have been classics and they’ve faced each other elsewhere too with much the same match quality. A lot of the reason those matches have been so good is how well they know each other. As such, that makes them a great TV. The story that was told here was just great. Keith’s pounce on Adam Cole into the audience was amazing!
Backstage segment – Candice LeRae
This was LIGHT YEARS better than I thought it would be. Nothing is scarier than a mic in front of Candice because of how historically bad she’s been. She’s shown zero acting ability but it finally changed tonight. She was convincing and committed to this. About time!
Shane Thorne vs. Mansoor
As soon as I saw Shane Thorne, I knew he’d been jobbing. That’s about all he does, really. Mansoor has been the “go-to” at that event we don’t cover and it’s apparent that they mean to give him a little something for real now. Good for him! Mansoor is the real deal for sure. To be fair, Shane was more “jobber to the stars here” but he did job as predicted.
Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai
Dakota’s theme is…ahem…darker. I LOVE it! The trophy she carried with her was just brilliant. Her whole thing is different now and I really like it. Dakota is a beautiful woman and she’s even more beautful now without the silly pigtails. As I said in the Afterglow for “TakeOver: War Games 2019”, her heel turn is quite simply one of the best I’ve ever seen. She nailed every aspect of it. I was hoping for a mic segment from her explaining why she did what she did but, in truth, it’s been done a million times before so it’s probably better that we go right for a vengeance match. Dakota is really good at the “vicious” thing and she remains good at it here in the confines of a one-on-one match. LeRae’s german suplex onto Dakota to the floor by way of the ring apron looked absolutely horrible and I’m just glad Dakota isn’t injured.
These two worked very hard and this was one heck of a match. Of course, there was no need for a clear winner so Dakota losing her mind with the knee brace attack and the rest of it made perfect sense. That story still needs telling. Rhea Ripley out for the save was a nice touch.
Backstage segment – Tommaso Ciampa
Short and sufficient. He doesn’t care who Finn shows up as, he wants to finish with him so he can get back to Goldie.
Akira Tozawa vs. Lio Rush
Interesting to see Akira playing mild heel here. He got a fair chorus of boos when he was announced. That’s new for him for sure. Fun watching him bring out a Raw t-shirt with him. Lio is, of course, such a complete and total star. As expected, this was a really fun match and they showed each other no mercy. The speed in this match made it nearly impossible to keep up with. What is it with people and dangerous German suplexes tonight? Geez! Incredible spot from both of them. By 3/4 of the way through this match, Akira had the crowd just like Lio did too. This was 205 Live brought to an appreciative audience. Since it appears 205 Live may really be on its way out, this is how matches like this should be showcased. Unlike the Smackdown audience, the NXT audience gives matches like this respect and they were given a standing ovation for this match. Richly deserved.
Backstage segment – Finn Bálor
This was decent – nothing to write home about but decent. Of course, Finn has been heel in other promotions so it’s not like he can’t do it; he’s just a bit rusty and it showed here. This wasn’t awful by any means, just not the fiery promo it needed to be.
Xia Li vs. Vanessa Borne
This was a simple job match and Vanessa jobbed hard. This wasn’t really about the match at all. They introduced a story with Vanessa coming out to avenge Aliyah’s broken nose but it wasn’t one they were particularly interested in telling, it seems. This was all about what was coming next and both performers were disposed of so it could happen.
In-ring segment – Shayna Bazsler & Rhea Ripley
She told no lies in that ring. She had one heck of a weekend. The crowd wasn’t willing to let her talk. All they wanted was Rhea Ripley and they got her. They are positioning Rhea to be the one to take Shayna’s title. It feels absolutely destined. Rhea reminded Shayna that she beat her and Shayna’s face was great. She really sells anger so well. She can also back up anything she says. Shayna really has heard it all before and each time someone runs their mouth, she taps them out. Still, Rhea feels like something else…and Shayna knows it can be different this time – hence the reason she walked away when Rhea challenged her. Great story.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Finn Bálor
I’m seriously starting to run out of superlatives. I mean…I’ve got a pretty decent thesaurus in my head but how else do you say “great”? This match was very much that. The match wasn’t long at all but what we got was great. It just makes me want a “TakeOver” match between them. The pseudo Air Raid Crash onto the ramp was just sadistic. Poor Balor. He’s get it again from the top rope later in the match. Cole interfered and 1916 came raining down on Ciampa. ‘Course, lest you think Cole & Balor are in this together in any way, Balor brought an end to those assumptions with that kick to Cole’s head.