COOL POINTS: Top nXt TV Matches of 2018-19
Welcome to the Cool Points.
nXt’s current format of 5 TakeOver special events, 4 of which occur during major WWE PPV weekends, kicked off in Brooklyn, in 2015. It was the first TakeOver to take place outside of the Full Sail campus and it far exceeded financial and creative expectations at the time.
With WWE staying in Brooklyn for SummerSlam the past 4 years, nXt’s annual visit there became a climax for the feuds and matches of the black and yellow brand. Consider these title matches: Bayley vs. Banks, Revival vs. #DIY, Nakamura vs. Samoa Joe, Asuka vs. Moon, and Ciampa vs. Gargano. These are just a sample of the kinds of feuds that were given the spotlight in Brooklyn from 2015-2018. As such, instead of the Mania to Mania chapters of the main roster, nXt has the August TakeOver as its pivot from year to year.
Those TakeOver matches are well-known and often discussed, peaks of WWE’s summer spectacular weekend. For the wrestling fans who aren’t able to devote time to the weekly product, I offer a selection of matches, many of which would have fit comfortably on a TakeOver card. They are the matches that captivate nXt fans in between TakeOvers and contribute more reasons as to why nXt is the most consistent, high-quality weekly wrestling show in the world.
This edition of the Cool Points tracks the top nXt TV matches from TakeOver: Brooklyn IV to TakeOver: Toronto II. Original highlights and cool points from the weekly results columns have been included.
August 22, 2018: Pete Dunne (c) ret. Zack Gibson for the UK Championship
This was the Post-TakeOver Brooklyn IV TV main event. Gibson won the 2018 UK Tourney to get this title shot.
Early on, they slap each other while upside down. Must-see moment. Dunne utilizes the step-up enziguri often in this one.
Gibson’s Ticket to Ride is a novel signature move. Dunne wins via digit snapping & the Bitter End after Gibson waits too long with Dunne’s mouthpiece.
Two cool points for both guys. This is the kind of match that achieves so many objectives: whets the appetite for an amazing Takeover card, acts as an appropriate post-Takeover TV main event, one that showcases the depth of the roster, and, finally, reminds everyone that Pete Dunne is, currently, the longest reigning champion in the company.
Lots to like about Gibson and the way he matched up against Dunne, especially with the digit manipulation and that signature move that can be executed from the turnbuckle or the mat. Versatility is a trait I really appreciate in a wrestler, as it pertains to the myriad of ways he or she can engage an opponent, hit a particular move, set up for a pinfall. Gibson’s got it, and he did himself a good service this week by almost beating Dunne.
September 19, 2018: Pete Dunne (UKc) & Ricochet (NAc) wrestle a No Contest in a Champion vs. Champion match
This was the first Champion vs Champion match in nXt history. It also set the stage for what would become the WarGames II main event. Amazing to think that was still two months away. Gotta appreciate long-term booking, which enhances the importance of TV matches to major feuds.
Starts out submission-heavy until Ricochet nails a series of kicks. Dunne returns to his digit manipulation strategy.
Amazing springboard frankensteiner by Ricochet, followed by axe kick and crossface DDT. Quite the combo.
Dunne holds on to Ricochet through a powerbomb and snaps a finger.
Undisputed Era disrupt the match around 24 minutes, preventing a winner from being named. War Raiders help Ricochet & Dunne fend them off.
Three cool points for both champions. That match had the makings of an all-time great nXt match until a silly run-in from a clever Adam Cole and company prevented a proper result. Yes, there was high-flying and high-impact, but there was significantly more ground-based submission work from both men than I expected. It worked, too. It made those big moments stand out more, and Dunne is so good at working over the fingers and hands. Such a natural way to hurt someone, but he’s one of the few who does it.
Whether we’re gearing up for a triple-threat match, or a War Games match, it would be disappointing NOT to see these two fight one
another again. Perhaps GM Regal resolves this in short order.
October 10, 2018: Ricochet (c) ret. Dunne (UKc) and Adam Cole for the North American Championship
This match was booked by GM Regal as a direct result of the Undisputed Era’s interference on the Champion vs Champion match in September. Again, a TV main event that gathers together wrestlers who have specific issues to resolve, trying to win or retain a title, and all working towards a bigger match at WarGames.
Notable highlights include: single leg crab by Dunne on both Ricochet & Cole (this spot was later repeated by Strong in the match with he, Dream and Dunne at TakeOver: Toronto). Ricochet’s springboard moonsault attempt is superkicked by Dunne & Cole.
Double top-rope frankensteiner from Ricochet. Crowd loved it. Leaping flatliner follows but Dunne kicks out. Dunne hits Cole with the Bitter End, but Ricochet hits the 450 on Dunne to retain.
nXt has delivered some amazing TV main event action this year. Count this match amongst the cream of the crop. Each wrestler played to their strengths, made the most of their opportunities, and, for the most part, fought independently to win. There was very little teaming up, aside from Dunne and Ricochet on Cole at the beginning.
Two cool points for Adam Cole’s opportunistic offense. Two cool points for Pete Dunne’s digit manipulation, which is probably as iconic as his step-up enziguri at this point. Three cool points for Ricochet’s impressive ability to fly and flip, and LAND on both feet with ease. All of his springboard moves were great, but that single-leg crab on both guys was very cool, too. nXt must be so proud to call him champion right now. The NA Title is a better fit for him than the Championship, simply because he can focus on his craft in the ring and let that speak for him.
March 6, 2019: #DIY def. Undisputed Era in the First Round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
What easily could have been a Dusty Rhodes Classic Final gets slotted into the first round. It was the TV main event on a night where all four first round tournament matches were shown. In a neat story-telling moment, Gargano and Ciampa come out to their separate theme songs, until Ciampa waits on the ramp beside Gargano, telling him to wait. The #DIY theme song hits and the Full Sail fans love it.
Highlights include: a cool combo by Undisputed Era. O’Reilly sneaks behind Gargano on the mat. Fish kicks Gargano, and he trips over O’Reilly, who positions himself immediately for a kneebar on Gargano. They get a 2 count out of it. Jumping, swinging kick by Gargano on Fish, which he did by using O’Reilly as his fulcrum point. He discards O’Reilly afterward with a DDT. Slick combo, but he can’t tag in Ciampa. Fish interferes with that tag.
Later, top of the turnbuckle. Fish attempts to superplex Ciampa and he shifts it into an Avalanche Michinoku Driver. O’Reilly follows it up with a diving knee. He covers. Ciampa kicks out. Leg lock by O’Reilly immobilizes the champion so Fish can land a diving headbutt. All of that gets broken up by Gargano. Impressive stuff. The match ends after Ciampa and Gargano meet in the middle of the ring, with kicks to the head on O’Reilly.
2 cool points to each team and an additional one for #DIY winning their return match for what was a sensational main event tag team match. Some of the offense here was ridiculous. These guys keep upping the bar the way they do and it almost makes me sick to my stomach how much it takes to win. Certainly makes it difficult to believe when guys are enduring so many knees and kicks to the head, and yet they keep going.
June 26, 2019: Baszler (c) ret. Shirai in a Steel Cage match for the nXt Women’s Championship
Another first for nXt, this being the first ever Women’s Steel Cage match. nXt knows how to enhance the weekly show by providing moments like this one that would usually fit on a PPV. When you don’t have monthly PPVs, you can do special matches like this on TV. I like that flexibility and it was likely helpful in drawing WWE network viewers to check out nXt programming.
Some minutes into the match, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir run down the ramp and distract the referee on the outside. Shirai tries to seize that opportunity to leave through the door. Instead, she kicks the door and it slams into the 3 on the outside. Meanwhile, Baszler attempts a Coquina Clutch. Shirai rolls through for a double stomp on Baszler’s abdomen.
Candice LeRae runs down and knocks out Duke. She scales the cage, kicks at Shafir until she falls, and straddles the top.
Duke wakes up Baszler and throws her towards the door. LeRae flies from the top and takes out Duke. Baszler with a high knee to LeRae’s face. She stands up and…Shirai flies from the top of the cage. Moonsault! She didn’t go for the victory! She should’ve jumped down to the outside! Both women are barely moving after that decision.
Eventually, Shirai crawls towards the open cage door. Baszler traps her in a submission attempt. Shirai breaks it and gets a hand on the mat. Baszler latches on with a Kirifuda Clutch. Shirai’s barely conscious, but she grabs the cage door and slams it on Baszler 3 times. This leads to the champion flopping over Shirai to fall on the floor! Unfortunate!
Post-match, LeRae helps Shirai up to her feet, and Shirai takes her frustrations out on her. She clocks her a few times before stopping and shaking her hand. She gets a chair from under the ring and begins whacking LeRae across the back with it. Yikes. That escalated quickly.
Three cool points for Shirai: two for the match and one for the shocking turn post-match. Shirai really didn’t need to do that moonsault from the top of the cage. It was well-executed but ridiculous because she could have won the match from there. It’s her own fault and then she brought LeRae into this by beating her senseless. Huge heat from the crowd and that’s a game-changer for the Women’s Division.
Two cool points for Baszler who gets the fortunate circumstance of falling through the door to win. Her Horsewomen friends took a beating to help her get there, but she continues to dominate with her submission-based offense.
All that said, this should be the end of that feud. Baszler/LeRae could be next, but we’re gonna see LeRae have to overcome Shirai first. Sensible plotline for the summer months.
July 17, 2019: Kushida def. Apollo Crews
Sometimes, it’s just fun to see two wrestlers fight in a stipulation-free, storyline-free match. Kushida was able to really shine against Crews, the latter of whom hadn’t had an opportunity to showcase his craft in a long time.
Crews got a huge welcome back from the Full Sail crowd. He’s got a brand new baby at home, but he’s here, continuing to support the family, because he loves what he does, says Phoenix. Commentary’s hyped for this clash of styles as well.
Highlights include: Beauty sequence of kip ups, backflips and a dynamic dropkick on Kushida by Crews. Kushida draws Crews to the outside apron and hits him with a handspring double heel strike. Crews lands near the barricade where Kushida retrieves him.
Stall vertical suplex where Crews holds Kushida up for 15-20 seconds, even with one arm for a few seconds. It leads to a 2 count.
STANDING SHOOTING STAR PRESS by Crews! Perfectly executed but Kushida still kicks out!
Near the end, Kushida meets Crews on the turnbuckle, following a springboard double heel strike. Kushida twists and falls right into an armbar on Crews. Crews’ left arm is trapped between Kushida’s legs. Crews tries to escape, but Kushida shifts to a Kimura, then a double wristlock. Crews is forced to tap.
3 cool points for each. This could have easily been a TakeOver or PPV match. Plenty of exciting spots and counters. Innovative moments because of how agile and creative both men are, especially Crews given his size. Nice to see Crews show off his stuff again after not getting much opportunity on the main roster.
Dec. 26, 2018: Undisputed Era (c) ret. Heavy Machinery in an nXt Tag Team Championship match
Jan. 23, 2019: Lorcan & Burch def. Aichner & Barthel
Feb. 6, 2019: Matt Riddle def. Drew Gulak
Apr 17, 2019: Velveteen Dream (c) ret. Buddy Murphy in a North American Championship match
This week, nXt will begin its transition to a 2 hour LIVE show, broadcast on the USA Network. We’ll have one hour on USA and the second hour on the WWE Network.
So… for those who have enjoyed the Cool Points nXt results that I’ve done for the past 4 years on Lords Of Pain, I will continue writing about nXt in a weekly column format. Less match description, more feud analysis and a fresh, sports-journalist approach, which will recap basic statistics of wrestlers and storylines.
The format should make it easier for folks who don’t have time to watch the show to follow the product, and, hopefully, it will provide nXt fans with an enjoyable way to reflect on and discuss the BEST brand in WWE today.
That column will start October 2, 2019, the beginning of the “Wednesday Night Wars”. We’re in for a fun fall TV season of wrestling, folks. Enjoy!