NXT returned last night (Dec. 4) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.
Keith Lee is a star.
This is kind of amazing for me to say because before NXT went to two hours just a couple months ago, I would have classified his position in the promotion as “meandering.” But things can change quickly, and now he’s a top guy in NXT.
He went face to face with the three healthy members of the ERA. He stood toe to toe with them on the mic and when it came to haymakers.
The ERA opened their segment by talking up their year but lamenting Keith Lee’s viral pounce and then Finn Bálor’s kick to the champ’s face last week. Cole wanted an explanation from the Prince but got the Limitless One instead.
Lee oozes charisma and showed that in this segment. He had good dance partners, especially Kyle O’Reilly who plays a fantastic douchey heel with bad jokes.
When Undisputed tried to jump on the Limitless One, he fended them all off. It was only when Cole bailed that Tommaso Ciampa helped out. He tossed Coled back into the ring to allow Lee to tease a big Spirit Bomb before Roddy and Kyle made the save.
This segment led to a 6-man tag main event between Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, and Tommaso Ciampa against the ERA. And it was more of the same: The Keith Lee Show.
When Finn Bálor got involved, it was Keith Lee to took him down. It was Keith Lee who was the man who picked up the pinfall win on Adam Cole. Keith Lee was the only man left standing on his team.
There’s no doubt he’s suddenly on top of the card. In fact, next week he’ll face Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Bálor in a triple threat. The winner faces Adam Cole for the title in two weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Keith Lee wins next week but falls short to Cole on Dec. 18. But even that would be an incredible turn of events for the Limitless Lee.
The difference a couple months can make.
There were two stories represented in the big women’s segment this week.
First the scheduled Rhea Ripley/Dakota Kai match turned into Mia Yim beating up Dakota as revenge from WarGames.
That made sense. This is a program to run shortly prior to getting into the real Tegan Nox/Dakota program. And that’s surely the plan. Kai’s fantastic entrance video of her just beating up Nox is proof of that. (And proof that Kai’s heel run is off to a rockin’ start, coupling that with a very good heel promo backstage.)
It felt like Mia may have gotten a too much revenge on Dakota. If it ended with Kai standing tall due to a heel tactic or escaping and leaving Mia hanging, it would have made up for that. But Yim got many licks in on the villainous Kiwi. And if Mia gets a ton of retribution against Kai, it means less when Nox eventually does. Dakota needs to find a way to stay on top for that moment when Tegan finally gets her hands on her to feel really good.
That will surely come next week when Dakota faces Mia one on one. Kai will likely win and get her heat back.
This segment fed into Rhea Ripley getting beat down by Shayna Baszler and her goons. Rhea fought and fought, but the numbers game caught up to her.
That’s actually good. Not only because Keith Lee had just done his 3 on 1 survival and running that angle twice in one show would weaken both. But we need to see that Rhea is vulnerable. It wasn’t a clean way about it, but it happened. That’s what’s important. We need to believe Rhea can be beat to put some drama in that match on Dec. 18.
Pete Dunne slotted in for Damian Priest to face Killian Dain tonight, which is great. That’s the match we wanted anyway. This was the match it felt like they were setting up the entire time.
Dain won, taking advantage of the Bruiserweight’s prior injuries. It was a cannonball into the downed Dunne against the steel steps that really did him in. Pete could barely stand after that, though he did gingerly climb the ropes once to attempt a sleeper on the Beast of Belfast. Killian dropped him and that was all it took for the 1-2-3.
That sequence benefitted Dunne at TakeOver but was his downfall tonight. It was an entertaining open bout and the right guy won. Dunne isn’t hurt from a loss. But Dain really has potential to be a big bruiser. A dominant win over the Bruiserweight helps solidify that.
All the Rest:
- Xia Li had an opportunity to face Shayna Baszler, this match stemming from Baszler and co. beating down Xia last week. I always love when they give a match reason, even a showcase one like this. They must be high on Li to give her any match against the champ, even if it is non-title. The match was deliberate, and it’s obvious that Xia’s got a little ways to go. But it was a fine showing against the champ where she was able to get in a decent amount of offense.
- Matt Riddle defeated Kassius Ohno, making him 4-0 against the man. This was billed as a Worlds Collide preview as Ohno works at NXT UK now. And the announcers made the point this was more competitive than their other matches. But a loss is a loss and in the eyes of NXT fans who don’t pay attention to UK, KOhno remains a loser.
- Kushida’s first match back was against Cameron Grimes, who attacked Kushida’s original opponent Raul Mendoza. Unlike Mia Yim’s attack on Dakota, this was officially made a match. I don’t know why William Regal decided this one should become a match over the other. Kushida won with a reversal pin, maybe leaving this open for a rematch.
- The Forgotten Sons won a squash match.
There was nothing bad on this show and all the big angles were good. It felt there was a lot of less important stuff on this show though.
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