Buy or Sell Second Half Performances
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NXT has aired live on the USA Network now for close to three months, and Wednesday night’s episode of the black and gold brand arguably held the distinction as the most anticipated yet as the holidays approach. This week’s edition of NXT delivered us two incredible championship contests that were truly can’t-miss matchups as a landmark year for WWE’s third brand comes to a close, both of which lived up to the hype. One of those titles not only changed hands, but it also gave us one of the more dramatic visuals to close out a pro wrestling show that we have seen in quite some time.
Let’s have a look now at all the action that took place on the final live edition of NXT from Full Sail Live as the brand gets set for what should be an eventful 2020.
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NXT Championship — Adam Cole (c) def. Finn Balor via pinfall to retain the title: The much-anticipated, commercial-free NXT title match kicked off this week festivities. Some fast-paced mat wrestling was the theme early on, with Balor eventually gaining the upper hand on the champion. On the outside, however, Cole was able to turn the tables for a bit by taking out Balor’s knee on the apron with a superkick. Balor sold the knee injury the rest of the way, including after a missed Coup de Grace attempt. The challenger would eventually connect with a Coup de Grace onto Cole before setting him up for 1916 with the NXT championship in his sights … before he was left stunned by an unexpected surprise. The crowd roared and Balor stared toward the top of the ramp to see Johnny Gargano entering the arena. Cole would land a low blow to a distracted Balor prior to connecting with his second Last Shot of the match to retain the NXT title. Post-match, Gargano made his way into the ring, picking up a steel chair along his journey. Johnny Wrestling began brutally belting Balor with chair shots until the “Prince” was eventually able to flee to the backstage area through the crowd.
Gargano returning to cost his nemesis the title was the expected turn of events from the moment this match was made official one week ago, but it was also very much necessary. Balor’s issue from the get-go upon his return was with Gargano failing to carry the NXT flag properly, but their program was unfortunately brought to a screeching halt due to an injury Gargano suffered. Now, heading into 2020, Gargano and Balor can pick up right where they left off prior to the former’s injury as Cole continues his title reign on the heels of this great outing with Balor while having to continually look over his shoulder for a few challengers gunning for him — namely one Tommaso Ciampa. Grade: B+
His past is back.
This time… in the form of a FURIOUS @JohnnyGargano!!!#WWENXT pic.twitter.com/gwgoySpLqr
NXT Women’s Championship — Rhea Ripley def. Shayna Baszler (c) via pinfall to win the title: Ripley started off strong in this one, which of course meant it wasn’t long until Horsewomen Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir made their presence felt. The challenger took them both out on the outside with a somersault off the apron, which left the door open for Baszler to stomp Ripley’s arm into the steel steps and go on the offensive. Baszler continued to target and brutalize the injured left arm of Ripley while maniacally taunting her in the process. Ripley eventually gained momentum, but unfortunately shotgun dropkicked Baszler right into the referee in the corner; she executed the Riptide from there, but a pinfall was impossible at that point. The two women battled on the outside, and Baszler introduced a chair into the ring. Shortly after, she planted Ripley with a DDT onto the weapon but was only able to get a two-count. The champ was then able to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch, but as Ripley was fading, the challenger grabbed the referee by the shirt and opened her eyes wide to show the official that she was still alive and well in this one. Ripley escaped, and the two women battled to the top rope where Ripley put the finishing touches on Baszler with an Avalanche Riptide. 1-2-3, and the 415-day NXT women’s championship reign of Baszler came to an end. NXT went off the air to an amazing visual of the 23-year-old Ripley celebrating her title-winning victory with the fans who had stormed the ring.
There’s not much to say for this other than … wow! Incredible match that told a great story along the way, and honestly, this was the perfect way for Baszler’s historic reign to come to an end. As time wore on and Baszler would continuously retain her championship be it on a TakeOver card or television, many wondered who could possibly be the ideal candidate to take the title from the two-time titleholder; we were running out of options. Well, the stars aligned over the course of the past month as Ripley experienced a massive jolt to her popularity while she made waves on both Raw and SmackDown during the build to Survivor Series — not to mention he incredible performance at NXT TakeOver: WarGames. At just 23 years of age, it’s insane to think that Ripley only has room to improve from here as she sits atop the NXT women’s mountain. Baszler, meanwhile, has a bright future on her new home of either Raw or SmackDown, which is definitely what her direction should entail from this point. Grade: A
ALL risks are worth taking when the #NXTWomensTitle is on the line. ♠️👹@QoSBaszler @RheaRipley_WWE #WWENXT pic.twitter.com/gfb3WdRpQq
MOSH PIT K̶I̶D̶ CHAMP.@RheaRipley_WWE is your NEW NXT #WomensChampion!!!!#WWENXT #NXTWomensTitle pic.twitter.com/tcDIRGMtP4
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