Live from Full Sail University
February 12th, 2020
Commentators - Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix, & Nigel McGuinness
TONIGHT: Cameron Grimes faces Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole faces KUSHIDA
Roderick Strong hits the ring to start the show. He demands an apology from Velveteen Dream for putting his wife & kids photos on his ring gear. He gets Bronson Reed instead who wants payback for being attacked for no reason by UE last week.
1) Roderick Strong vs. Bronson Reed
Roddy is such a king. Despite being a heel, he literally shoved the ref out of the way to get to Bronson to start this impromptu match. So intense. Reed is the former Jonah Rock, this is my first time seeing him in NXT but he was good on the mic here. Match is fine, decent enough slugfest. Biggest pop was Roddy somehow suplexing Reed off the top rope. Velveteen's light and stage stuff comes on and distracts Roddy. Reed hits an insane dive and rolls Strong back in. He goes for a splash but catches a flying knee to the face. Roddy wins.
Match rating - **3/4
Velveteen comes up on the screen to taunt Roddy with more stuff about his family and dear god this shit is personal. I'm honestly scared to see how intense Roderick Strong is in this match at Takeover.
Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne are going on a road trip or.. a "bro trip" to Portland. They're in a convertible with the trophy sticking out and get pulled over by the cops lmao. Dunne doesn't have a license so the car gets towed and now they're trying to find a new way to Takeover Portland. What a segment.
POPPY - FILL THE CROWN is the theme song for Takeover Portland and she's performing LIVE at the event fUCK YEAH.
Angel Garza is backstage and he has a rematch with Lio Rush. They had a badass ****1/4 match late last year so I'm big stoked. Lio walks up and says he wasn't the same guy he was during that match and he's better, faster and stronger. Garza laughs him off.
2) Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai
Queen Candice is amazing as always. 4 tope's to get Kai down. And they go back and forth in a pretty high impact match before Kai gets the cheap victory with a roll up.
Match rating - **3/4
Tegan Knox attacks Dakota Kai after the match and they have a pull apart brawl. Kai put Knox on the injured list so they've got big beef.
3) Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes
It's still wild to me how popular of a Babyface Gargano became. He's still super over here in his return match. But I felt super jaded during this whole match. Grimes is nothing but moves in NXT, it seems like his charisma got lost and traded in for the hat they gave him as a gimmick. And Gargano can be hit or miss in that department. If you can get invested in this it's fun because they nail everything without a mis step but to me it's a lifeless exhibition. Gargano wins. Best thing about this was Gargano's message to Finn Balor to the camera afterwards.
Match rating - **1/2
Great backstage interview with Adam Cole on KUSHIDA and Ciampa.
Dunne & Riddle vignette part two airs and they're on a peddle boat and Riddle has a light bulb go off on how they're gonna get to Portland. Dunne is annoyed. This segment is to be continued.
Next week - Roderick Strong vs. Velveteen Dream
4) Angel Garza vs. Lio Rush - #1 Contenders Match for the Cruiserweight Title
These two had a gem last winter and this wasn't anywhere near that level but it was still good. Tables are flipped character wise in this incarnation of these two meeting, and Lio Rush gets his win back in a fast paced match via a cradle pin against the villainous Angel Garza.
Match rating - ***
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin comes out to intimidate Lio Rush. They face off next week. I like Devlin, but tbh they had a real nice set up with Garza, Rush, and Scott feuding over the title and it's felt a little weird just shifting Devlin into that but I'm sure it probably has something to do with Garza moving up to Raw. None the less, Devlin and Rush should be good, excited for that next week!
Mark Henry shows up on screen to put over Keith Lee and Dominick Dijakovic. This rules.
5) Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett
Squash for Bianca. She challenges Rhea Ripley on Sunday at Takeover Portland. Ripley comes out post match looking unphased only to get planted by Belair.
Riddle & Dunne find a plane to take to Portland. They sneak into the luggage area and it's apparently Triple H's plane that they just snuck into lmao.
6) Adam Cole vs. KUSHIDA
This stemmed from the same thing Strong/Reed did earlier. Last week's Undisputed Era attack on Reed and KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA actually pushes Cole into a decent match formula here and this ends up being my favorite match on the show. KUSHIDA even busted out the kawada kicks to the head. Good fun. Cole ends it with Last shot.
Match rating - ***1/4
Tommasso Ciampa comes out afterwards to tease the upcoming Takeover match with Cole. They do this staredown and out loud Ciampa says "at Takeover I take my life back" and Cole responds "over my dead body you do" - well.. that was something.
I concur with the general consensus I read online that this was a weird ep of NXT. Almost more hype for next week's tv show than Takeover itself here. None the less, I'll be watching and reviewing Takeover Portland and I expect a good show! It's hard to produce a *bad* episode of NXT so this was enjoyable even if it was a little dull at some points.