WWE NXT Recap: November 18, 2020

We are live in the Capitol Wrestling Center, Leon Ruff comes on down to the ring with his new North American Championship and how he beat Gargano to do it all while Gargano is literally screaming on a mic to turn it off over the package. Cutting to him coming out to the ring, Gargano launches into how last week was a fluke. He says that tonight that belt is coming home and he attacks Ruff to start the title match.

NXT North American Championship – Leon Ruff (c) vs. Johnny Gargano (1 ¼ stars)

Johnny Gargano wants this more than life itself at this point. He’s consumed by the glory that comes with a belt and he wants it so bad, he’s willing to destroy Leon Ruff to do it. After a series of strikes, takedowns and general control from Gargano, Ruff fights back and showcases even more of his already impressive agility on the ropes and in the ring, giving a lot of reasons why he deserves to be on the show not only as a champion but as a general performer. Ruff, however, is far away from the level of resiliency and talent that Gargano can open up over longer periods of time and after a few more minutes of Ruff trying his best, Gargano gets ready to end things when Damian Priest shows up. Ruff almost gets a roll-up win, but Gargano kicks out long enough to land a massive springboard DDT. But Priest pulls out Ruff. Tells him he’s sorry and knocks him out cold.

Via DQ, the winner and still North American champion, Leon Ruff. Priest puts the belt on Ruff’s head and we cut to the most underrated wrestler in WWE right now, Caaaameron Grimes!

“Last week, I showed that Cameron Grimes isn’t afraid of Dexter Lumis,” Grimes says as he recalls beating Lumis last week and says he’s a rocketship going TOOOOOOOO THEEEEEE MOOOOOOOON. Cutting back from break, Rhea Ripley has arrived.

Blindfold Match – Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis (“14 stars”)

You’re reading that right. Cameron Grimes believes that if Lumis’ eyes are covered, then Grimes can beat him. So, he was granted a blindfold match. But it didn’t seem like he understood that he wasn’t fighting a blindfolded Lumis, they both had to be blindfolded. “I can’t see!” Grimes shrieks at the ref who looks like the zombie ref from Halloween Havoc. After he puts on his mask, comedy gold occurs. Grimes doesn’t know where he is and Lumis hasn’t moved.

The fans start screaming where Lumis is at him and Grimes actually punches the ref and keeps attacking him because he doesn’t know where he is. He takes his mask off and then literally shushes the audience. Lumis finally moves out of the way of Grimes and now Lumis’ mask is off. And he takes down Grimes over and over and over. Stalking him as Grimes leaves, Lumis throws him all over the ringside area. No finish here, folks.

In the middle of Lumis staring into a void (read: camera), we cut to the back. Damian Priest is defending his actions in punching Ruff to keep the belt on him and he says he understands his actions were too far, even if he did it because Johnny Wrestling acts like he owns the place. Leon Ruff gets offended at this and offers to give up the belt and leave, but Priest and Regal talk him down. Priest didn’t want Gargano to have the belt. Ruff slaps Priest. Regal says “serves you right.”

After Ruff lets Priest know metaphorically his services will be no longer needed, we get a video package of epic proportions and even some Black Sabbath. “People like to tear you down. They want to destroy everything. But in life, you rebuild. You rebuild and you rise up.” Shotzi Blackheart announces to Candice LeRae and the world that on December 6th, it’s WAR GAMES TIME. Time to get geared up and rally the troops.

Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter (1 ¾ stars)

A nice Hartwell tune-up and featuring good time for Catanzaro and Carter. But this match isn’t meant to really do a lot more than that. LeRae is still great as ever, and that’s not going away anytime soon. Hartwell got to show off some power with a nice spinning side slam at one point. LeRae gets the pin on Carter.

Arturo Ruas gets a quick debut promo and Io Shirai arrives. Ruas is in the ring, plugged with his recent Raw work.

Arturo Ruas vs. Kushida (2 ¼ stars)

Tons of MMA transitions from the start, things start to pick up as striking lands by Ruas, and he really takes to Kushida’s left arm, holding it for a few minutes, keeping at it until Kushida launches with a flurry of kicks landing finally with a sitting dropkick and a near fall. This match isn’t so much start and stop as it is slow and fast, being able to keep the energy high. Kushida gets a bridging pin in the center of the ring in a challenging sequence and Ruas is upset. Kushida gets another win to keep his streak going and Ruas gets introduced to the black-and-gold.

Ember Moon and Toni Storm are backstage talking up Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Saying they have plenty to work with tonight, they both remind each other to focus on tonight and then WWE plugs a ton of random guys including most of DX and a ton of NXT regulars on who will win tonight for the women’s belt – Shirai or Ripley. Kai and Gonzalez are in the ring, and Ember gets a great entrance, much like her partner, Toni Storm. I don’t remember them having these entrances before, but I could also be wrong.

Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon & Toni Storm (3 stars)

Kai and Gonzalez come out ferociously and come at Toni Storm with everything from the get-go. When Storm finally gets things going for her, she makes the smart move of not getting gassed and tags in Moon. They clear the ring and we break for commercial. Coming back, Gonzalez and Storm are in the ring, Gonzalez striking Storm down and controlling her. Storm finally gets a huge, athletic head scissors in and tags Moon for a huge comeback culminating in a huge superkick to a sitting Gonzalez and a massive facecrusher off the middle rope for a near fall. Kai pulls her off and distracts her to leave the ring and as she’s running around, Gonzalez lands a huge boot on Moon, laying her out in front of commentary.

A near fall later, Gonzalez puts Ember Moon in a massive standing stretch over her shoulder but when Moon finally breaks out, Gonzalez gets tossed outside and runs around the ring to stop Moon from getting the tag to Storm. Kai gets in and Moon tags Storm while she’s distracted trying to stop Storm from getting in. Big series of German suplexes and a fisherman’s suplex, but broken up by Gonzalez. All four spill into the ring, landing big strikes and Storm and Kai land clotheslines on each other. All four down and out. Moon tries to get involved, distracting the ref from Storm and Gonzalez fighting on the outside, Moon gets a massive dive and Kai goes to take the advantage on a laid out Storm, but she gets a pin out of nowhere and gets the 3.

Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell come down to attack Kai and Storm and they get them back in the ring. Kai and Gonzalez finish them off and we cut to the “Kings of NXT” arriving at the CWC. After a commercial break, we get a quick recap of the main event of TakeOver 31. Finn Balor is set to arrive tonight, but he’s not here yet. Until then…

Timothy Thatcher vs. August Grey (2 stars)

A match that has been built for a few weeks, Thatch as Thatch Can has brewed into a full match now.

A somewhat decent affair, the style of this match felt off and at no point during this match did I feel compelled to say this was a good moment that built into a good match. Thatch got his licks in, Grey fought valiantly back and forth with him, but it was all too predictable as to what would really happen here. Thatch gets a front guillotine in and ends this weird exhibition.

Thatch sits over him and tells him he’s learned a lesson. “Don’t pick a fight with someone you can’t beat.” He applies the guillotine again. And then the Blackheart comes out. Tommaso Ciampa slowly steps his way into the ring as his music plays and he stares down Thatch. “I got no problem with you,” Thatch yells as he gets out of the ring and walks slowly around with these two men not looking away from each other. We’re told before the break that Damian Priest has his own match tonight, and then as we come back, Ciampa is stating he wants to fight Thatcher. That’s it.

Damian Priest vs. ???

Priest comes down to the ring, but Johnny Gargano starts beating the tar out of him before his opponent makes his way down. Once Priest gets his bearings back and has control, he makes his way outside to the commentary area, throwing Gargano on the table and eventually grabbing a chair, but as they get back in the ring Leon Ruff shows up and they all brawl and have a couple of spots. Ruff stands in the ring alone with the belt in hand and holds up the North American championship. Gargano and Priest finally have something in common. They head in and Ruff escapes. Priest still hasn’t forgotten and scares Gargano out of the ring. And amongst other promotions, NXT mentions that Kevin Owens will guest as a commentator next week.

We get a quick update on the Xia Li situation. Regal checks on Li and can’t find her, but some guy who keeps mentioning someone else is coming. Cut to Rhea Ripley getting ready in the locker room. A Tale of the Tape showcases these two women as commentary puts over these two and their journey so far. When we come back, War Games is mentioned again. And Leon Ruff is ready to face both of them at War Games, too.

NXT Women’s Championship – Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai (c) (4 ½ stars)

By far poised to be the biggest match of tonight, this was already destined to be a fantastic experience. And these two did not disappoint. Ripley used her strength and size right away while Shirai went all over the ring with speed and striking. Ripley gets knocked on the outside and stays in control by stopping Io’s dive and then nailing her with a massive slam on the apron. A solid spot after the opening salvo is when Ripley gets a suplex ready but Shirai pops back down for a small package, but Ripley rolls out and then picks her back up and lands it.

After trying to suplex Shirai off the top rope, Shirai countered with a massive German suplex. The champ kept things going with a joshi double stomp and a big sitting dropkick for a near fall. Ripley rolls over and there is blood gushing out of Ripley’s ear (later found out to be five earrings ripped out). Ripley actually rubs some of that blood on her face, looking into the camera. Shirai keeps her advantage and starts working on Ripley’s arm to keep the Riptide from coming at any point in this match, slamming her arm all over the ring and ropes. On the outside, Shirai throws Ripley into the steel steps injured arm first, leaving her writhing in agony as we go to break. Shirai lands a massive superplex immediately upon coming back from break. The fact there have been multiple breaks in this match bothered me, because it was a phenomenal match with multiple chunks missing. It just takes away from what could’ve been for these two.

After the superplex and a few moves countered, Ripley takes over. After a near fall, Ripley gets Shirai in a fantastic leg hold in which Shirai is upside down in a ankle lock-sharpshooter-figure four amalgamation while being pulled up from the ground. Ripley goes to land a Riptide, but Shirai rolls around in a fantastic feat of athleticism into an armbar, and when Ripley attempts to move around and attempt to land a massive slam, Shirai shifts around again and gets the armbar cinched in again. Barely reaching for the ropes, Shirai goes in for the kill but misses two Mysterio-619-like kicks and finally nailing the third, leading into a shotgun dropkick off the top rope for a near fall. Shirai nails the Meteora in the corner and goes for her finishing Moonsault, but Ripley moves out of the way and nails an inside-out lariat. And after the near fall, Ripley screams in agony that she was that close to getting her title back. Shirai lands a massive DDT and both are laid out, gassed and putting everything into it.

Somehow Io Shirai still moves. And somehow, she’s going for a dive to Ripley on the apron towards commentary. Ripley ducks but Io slides off her back and lands on her feet, firmly in place for a powerbomb. She shifts forward and takes the steps necessary to DEMOLISH RHEA RIPLEY INTO COMMENTARY’S TABLE, busting it out and leaving both women on the outside completely dead. An insanely great moment for this match, Ripley somehow attempts to roll back in and barely breaks the count right into Shirai’s Moonsault out of nowhere. 1-2-3. And, still. A perfect finish to a phenomenal match. They shake hands and hug it out on top of the ramp. They know they just tore it down.

Finn Balor doesn’t wait. He doesn’t do a big entrance for his return. He plainly gets in the ring and grabs a mic. “Io Shirai – congratulations. But let’s get down to business.” The Prince explains he broke his jaw in two places and still defended his title against Kyle O’Reilly. All of the sudden, Pat McAfee and the rest of his ragtag group of miscreants. McAfee taunts at Balor and tells him that NXT is their house now. Drake Maverick and Killian Dain. Dead. Breezango. Dance move. Dead. The Undisputed Era. Dead. They all attempt to get ready to invade and Pat tells Finn he should hand over the title. Or he’s gonna end up just like the others. Dead. Finn Balor is not afraid. And he has brought the Undisputed Era back, bay bay. A brawl of the slobberknocker variety occurs. “The Kings of NXT” are laid out and being systematically destroyed as NXT fades to black. After we fade to black, Regal comes out and plainly mentions “Two teams of four…” and then Adam Cole is begging him to say it, literally BEGGING HIM to say it… “WAR GAMES.”

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