Hey, kids. It’s the Botching One getting ready to dive into the “Here and Now” Why wait, right?
Backstage segment – Adam Cole
Absolutely fantastic promo. This had a lot more fire and passion than he usually does and I loved it. None of these guys have earned their shot, he feels, and he was really fiery here.
Angel Garza vs. Lio Rush
I salivated over the thought of this match when I heard we were getting it again. This has been a really fun feud and both of them have totally been here for it. Lio’s character has been slightly tweaked to be face-ier and it’s worked for the most part, though I do prefer him as a full-on heel. There was no way this wasn’t going to be exceptional and I wasn’t wrong.
Garza in Lio’s head and this match began far more furiously than just about any other Lio match. They were both just great here from the very beginning. Garza was about to remove his breakaway pants and the crowd got mad when Lio prevented it by going for more offense . Lio’s flying headscissor takeover is just a thing of beauty. So was his moonsault off the middle rope. Just wow. He never ceases to amaze. Love that Garza had a little fun with Lio’s finisher right in the same sequence Lio was attempting to hit it in. Lio would counter later with his own Wing Clipper in order to try to end it. Garza’s avalanche Spanish Fly on Lio from the top was just horrific. Great pacing throughout and this thing just wouldn’t quit. The crowd loved this match and I did too. This ended with a reverse full nelson that Lio just couldn’t get out of and Angel has his very first title in WWE. Fantastic match! I hope we see them fight again. Heck, I’d be happy if they never did anything but fight each other for the next ten years.
Cinéma de Mustang – Shayna Baszler
She drives a 1969 Ford Mustang. Cool! She really has gone through a dizzying array of superstars and it’s hard to imagine anyone beat her. They are doing a really good job of telling that story. Yeah, we’re all pretty sure that she can but can she really?
Cinéma de Bálor – Finn Bálor
He is utterly reborn in NXT. After first winning the Universal Championship and getting injured in that match, he did nothing of note on Raw or Smackdown so now he’s back and he matters again.
During the Break – Angel Garza
This was really cool. He proposed right there in the middle of the ring and she said yes. I smiled. You did too. Don’t lie. I wish them all the happiness in the world.
Raul Mendoza vs. Cameron Grimes
Grimes viciously attacked Mendoza to try to get a piece of Kushida and Raul wants his pound of flesh too. He has thus far shown very little character in NXT. He’s basically just angry guy in hat but he can absolutely work his face off. This was another match that got started very quickly. Even Kushida came out watch. Mendoza took the quick surprise victory and Kushida took the hat. This went awfully quickly and that was that.
Backstage segment – Mia Yim
She said all the right things and it felt good but it didn’t quite get there for me. Something was just slightly off. Maybe it’s that it was just so short and that it was paced a little bit too quickly.
Jaxson Ryker (w/ Wesley Blake & Steven Cutler) vs. Travis Banks
This was intended as a “Worlds Collide” PPV in January. I have zero reason to care about anyone in the Forgotten Sons which is a shame how hard WWE has tried to make me care about them. They’re just zeros for me. That said, Ryker was quite vicious here, so vicious, in fact, that he stiffed Banks hard in the right eye. Banks’ Slice of Heaven finisher looks incredibly weak and he needs to re-think that. It’s almost as bad as Bayley’s Bayley to Belly. Nigel tried to sell how hard it hit but it looked really soft and silly. This ended pretty quickly with Travis taking it just as was needed.
Mia Yim vs. Dakota Kai
Oh, the deliciousness of the idea of this match. It was certainly going to have a lot to live up to in order to make it worthwhile. I love that Kai brings Tegan’s knee brace with her to the ring each time. It makes her look so menacing. Yim promised a fight and we certainly got one here. I love how Kai’s style has changed and she’s really delivering here in a way she never has before. The removal of the turnbuckle cover which lead to the finisher was pretty corny, honestly, no matter how the commentators try to sell me on how hard she hit it. In truth, she hit it like a lamb and it was a real letdown. If it was that hard, how did Mia get right back up and go for more flesh from Kai? The Saito Suplex onto the waiting tables looked really merciless and they both hit their heads on other table that was waiting to catch them as they only destroyed one of them. Kai got legit injured during it too. On the whole, I was hoping for significantly more viciousness from Yim as it would have made perfect sense but we didn’t really get it. This wasn’t a bad match by any means; it just lacked the off-the-rails viciousness needed to tell the story better. They tried to make up for it at the end and it definitely helped but the whole thing just needed more.
Cinéma de Glory – Keith Lee
He’s very erudite on the mic and he did a fantastic job here. Loved his rhythm and tone here. If he wanted it, he could very easily have a career as a voiceover artist. I work with them quite often and he’s naturally got that voiceover tone that many really have to work to get. On that of that, he’s got a really good singing voice. Wonder if he can also cure the sick? Anyway, well done.
Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze) vs. The Singh Brothers (Samir & Sunil)
They came out dressed…as doctors. I cannot breathe. How Stephon (the ref) managed to keep a straight face is entirely beyond me. The man is stone. The Singh Bros saw their doctor jackets and raised them a 16mm film camera. Both teams are so much fun. Both teams are also good workers so the match was a blast. Fandango’s avalanche Falcon Arrow on Sunil was just breathtaking. There was some added nastiness and aggression from Breezango that’s not the normal fare. I liked it. I also like that Breezango won. I don’t see enough of them so this makes me happy.
Radio interview – Rhea Ripley
They gave us some nice background here. This will be really fun match. Never has a threat been against Shayna been so well articulated. Rhea may really be the one to do it.
Kayden Carter vs. Bianca Belair
Love seeing Carter again. They seem to really be giving her a chance. Belair is just so incredibly strong. This match played solely on that strength and Belair delivered. Loved the slingshot suplex a la Arn Anderson. Kayden really brought it too and this was competitive. Still, Bianca took it. I do wonder what’s next for her. Spot victories with no story will make her stale. I want her in a feud she can really sink her teeth into like she did with that feud with Shayna.
Cinéma – Tommaso Ciampa
He is so driven. He’s really the essence of the word. Really nice promo – exactly what we’ve come to expect from him.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Keith Lee vs. Finn Bálor
Now, this was really fun. Keith Lee really has had one heck of a year and 2020 should be all his if there’s any justice. Finn is positively reborn and I’m really enjoying him as a heel. Tommaso can do no wrong. He has had absolutely showstopping matches over and over again. Lee is all about power and he showed it over and over again during this match.
They all absolutely left it out there. Bálor’s coup de grace counter on Lee was a thing of beauty and then he proceeded to fly around everywhere. Ciampa even got in on the strength show in a fairly cringe-y way. He put all of Lee’s weight on his neck for the Air Raid Crash. Just scary looking. Bálor took this in rather unexpected fashion (that Coup De Grace came out of NOWHERE) but, for as much as I wanted Lee to win, I’m not mad at it. Bálor languished SO long that I can’t hate on this outcome. The match we’ll get from Bálor & Cole should be spectacular. Lee will get his chance.
Well, I’ve blogged both AEW and NXT this week (this is my second week doing it, actually) and NXT had the better show. There were really no lows here and there were on Dynamite. The main events were neck-and-neck though and both were so much fun to watch, though the Bucks shortened their careers in a way that Lee, Ciampa, and Bálor didn’t. In the end, the ratings were a wash which I suppose I understand. See you next week for another look into the “Here and Now”!