30 Day Wrestling Challenge: Day Twenty One = NXT TakeOver: SmackDown (1/11/2019) – Review

So Today’s is meant to be ‘Most Overrated’, but I’m quite a glass-half full kinda guy with my wrestling, so instead today for no reason in particular, I’m instead going to talk to you all about an absolute BANGER of a show. One that started off  one of the more unique storylines of recent years… enjoy! 

On November 1st 2019, around 24 hours after a WWE show in Saudi Arabia took place, the company had a small matter to deal with… oh yeah, that would be the latest episode of their new A-show… and how they were going to put it on with the majority of their male roster trappe… sorry ‘held up’… sorry ‘Delayed returning to the United States from Saudi Arabia due to mechanical issues of their plane’… yeah, that old chestnut…

Anyway WWE had a show to put on, and so they called on their A Team… no not Mr T and friends, I’m talking about their best brand (don’t try and argue with me)… Some may call it a pleasant surprise or a happy accident, but the November 1st 2019 SmackDown on Fox began the build to the Survivor Series PPV later that month, with one of the most unique shows we have seen for some time. And turns out it ended up being one of the best WWE weekly shows for a LONG long time. So I’m now going to go back and watch it, and I’m going to write down what I see. Enjoy!


Following the fancy opening video for the show we kick things off with Tom Phillips (filling in for Michael Cole) welcoming us to the show, emanating from Buffalo New York, on commentary. Phillips is joined at the announce desk by Aiden English and Renee Young as the makeshift yet fun announce team. Phillips explains that some mechanical issues effecting the plane returning from Crown Jewel means that Corey Graves and Michael Cole (the regular announce team) were unable to be here tonight. Then WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman come to the ring… Brock was fresh off retaining his title against long term foe Cain Velasquez in… whatever that was in Saudi Arabia, and because Brock and Heyman were among the chosen few, they got back in time to do this show… hmm… (Kayla Braxton is our ring announcer tonight by the way)… Phillips goes on to explain how some of the SmackDown roster will most likely not be here tonight due to those mechanical issues.

Heyman does the usual intro, and goes on to say that the only way to describe his client’s mood tonight (at Crown Jewel by the way the night before Lesnar beat Cain, but was attacked with a steel chair afterwards by Rey Mysterio) is to educate you on the fact that Brock Lesnar is really, really pissed off…’ Heyman goes on to say that he knows what the crowd are thinking, how could that be after (and I’m not making this up but he actually said what I’m about to type next) “the most historic moment in combat sports history”? … Come on now Paul, Really??? … Anyway, he continues saying how Brock conquered Cain, but instead of him talking about that match, I give you the ultimate piece of footage…

They then showed the match IN FULL… It was a worked MMA fight, it went just over two minutes and after dancing around a bit, some messy-looking grappling in the corner that was like your olden british wrestling shite, then some more attempts at some strikes by Cain, followed by two hard kicks that sent Brock down, Lesnar was able to get in the Kimura Lock for the win. Yeah it was really a nothing occasion, although by design I will state that worked MMA fights shouldn’t go long, because most MMA fights don’t really follow any pattern like a ‘wrestling match’ would, it is a fight after all. Cain has a seriously bad knee so that have and I’m sure has hampered his WWE career to this point… anyway the main angle came after when Mysterio got in the ring and attacked Brock with a chair (which they didn’t show).

After, back on the show, Heyman puts over how 9 years almost to the day that Brock got a scar carved into his face (by Cain) Brock got his retribution. And explains how after the most ‘spiritually orgasmic’ moment of his career, then came ‘your hero’ Rey Mysterio… They then did show the footage of Brock giving Cain the F5 onto a chair before Rey came in with a chair of his own for the attack.  Heyman said they had a real problem, that they had gone to Vince McMahon and said now they wanted Rey Mysterio, and apparently Vince said he can’t do that because ‘SmackDown superstars are contractually obligated to be exclusive to Fox, and Raw superstars are obligated by contract to be exclusive to USA Network’, so this would stop any possible Rey vs Brock match. So… Heyman continued and said that if Rey Mysterio can’t come to SmackDown then as of this Monday Brock Lesnar is gonna come to Raw looking for Rey Mysterio, and if anybody has a problem with that then ‘what the hell are you gonna do about it?’… He goes on to say that Brock hereby quits Friday Night SmackDown on Fox, and that he’ll show up on Raw and he is going hunting for Rey Mysterio. He then finishes his promo in Spanish before tossing the microphone away and he and Brock left…

So, just in case you’d forgotten, the previous night The Fiend (a SmackDown superstar) had won the Universal Championship (Raw’s top belt) from Seth Rollins… so in the following weeks basically they would swap the two top belts from the two shows. It was assumed all along that Fox wanted Brock Lesnar as their big star name to help launch SmackDown on their network. But a combination of Heyman being lead guy on Raw behind the scenes, and also the growing popularity of The Fiend garnering the attention of those at Fox, a swap of the two made sense for all parties… this was just a novel way of explaining it that’s all…

As the commentary team spoke of this shocking announcement we saw Brock and Heyman backstage making their way out of the arena… and appearing in shot as they walked off was Triple H, who had Shawn Michaels (sporting a fine NXT-emblazoned cap and tracksuit combination) with him… this got a big pop from the crowd…

We were then shown a graphic advertising Bayley defending her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Nikki Cross was up next.

Bayley (C) with Sasha Banks vs Nikki Cross for the SmackDown Women’s Championship 

We were just a few weeks into heel Bayley at this point, and it’s still an act I absolutely adore. Nikki had won a 6 pack challenge a couple of weeks prior to this to earn this title shot. Cross got a roll up nearfall early after they tied up to start, then a couple more nearfalls before Bayley took over after a big knee. Nikki later hit a tornado ddt on the outside using the apron for leverage that gave her another nearfall. After the break they exchanged nearfalls, before Bayley rammed Nikki back first into the ring steps. Bayley then went shoulder first into the post after Cross moved, before Cross hit a series of strikes after a jawbreaker, and then a big crossbody. She took Bayley down a few times before a big roar and then a bulldog. Cross then got a crossbody off the top for another nearfall, Nikki then tried to elevate Bayley off the ropes for possibly her finish, but Sasha Banks came onto the apron to try and pull her friend to safety. The ref tried to stop this, but instead Banks got his by Cross after Bayley ducked out the way. Bayley was quick to take advantage by kicking Cross in the face, then hitting her Elbow Drop from the top rope… but shockingly and to the disgust of Bayley, Cross kicked out! Bayley followed up by lifting Cross to the top rope, and eventually slamming her down after Cross tried to gain momentum. Bayley tried to slide outside but Cross used the ring apron mat to trap Bayley and then hit her multiple times (it’s a spot Nikki has done for a while and many times when she was in NXT, but it’s a fun one nonetheless). Sasha also got one from Cross when she tried to make the save… Cross then tossed Bayley back in the ring and went up top, only for Sasha to push her down with the ref’s back turned and him looking towards Bayley, so he didn’t see it… Bayley then slammed Cross face first into the mat with what was like a variation on Miz’s Skull Crushing Finale move, whatever it was it saw Bayley slam Cross face first to the floor so it was effective enough to get the win. Bayley retains. Overall a fun little TV title match, it’d have been great on a PPV but the problem is with TV matches it’s often hard to make them come across as great as they’re usually spliced up by an advert in the middle of them, and this tends to take away a lot of momentum the match had. But this was good as it made Bayley look a strong champion, and was good exposure for Nikki Cross too. The big angle though came afterwards…

As Bayley held up her belt in the ring, meanwhile on the outside Sasha Banks was being shoved into the ringpost… BY NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPION SHAYNA BASZLER!!! Baszler then came into the ring and hit a knee to Bayley and kicked Cross out of the ring. Commentary and the crowd were shocked as Shayna then tossed Bayley into the ringpost before hitting her with a rolling gutwrench suplex, followed by another knee strike as the ‘NXT’ chants filled the arena.. before calmly putting her leather jacket back on as if it was nothing, and then walking away through the crowd… She got a big reaction from the crowd… some statement that!

Back from the break and now Phillips and Young were joined at the commentary table by Pat McAfee (occasional NXT TakeOver kick off show analyst). He explained how he got a text from The Game telling him to get to Buffalo for the show.

They cut backstage to Cathy Kelley, who’s guest was Sami Zayn. She asked him what his take was on everything that had happened so far tonight? Zayn said he was starting to see a pattern with Triple H and Shawn Michaels, and then Shayna Baszler and now Pat McAfee and it seemed to him as if maybe NXT was here… and said fair play to them for maybe trying to take advantage of SmackDown but that they needed to watch where they stick their nose… Zayn said all this in a calm, non-confrontational manner but did point out if they did so to the ring person it could end up bad for them… and outright said if one of them stepped to him it’s gonna be pretty bad news for… and right on queue (wearing NXT shirts) appeared both Matt Riddle and Keith Lee of NXT. Big pops from the crowd… Riddle signalled for Zayn to carry on as Zayn appeared to gleefully welcome them. Zayn said he was a big fan and all seemed cordial, and he used to be ‘the heart of NXT’ and he’d been down with NXT since day one, and he unzipped his jacket thinking he had an NXT shirt too, but as Riddle pointed out it was of course just a plain black shirt… Zayn said he took his NXT shirt off to avoid staining it and he was just going to go and get it, Riddle and Lee followed Zayn as he told them they didn’t need to, and eventually he took a quick turn to try and run away and the chase was on… they spilled out into the arena area, where they chased him to the ring before they cornered Zayn and then eventually after Zayn tried to take a shot at Riddle he got a ripcord knee for his troubles and then a Bro-Derick slam. Keith Lee then hit a moonsault to Zayn… Keith Lee is well over 300 pounds by the way… Lee’s music they played as him and Riddle did the bro fist into Riddle’s music. Another statement made… 

We were told that next up was supposed to be Miz TV with the new Universal Champion Bray Wyatt, but apparently now The Miz intends to interview himself… OK…

They recapped Tyson Fury beating Braun Strowman the night before at Crown Jewel, and Braun powerslamming Fury after… yikes…

Miz came out for Miz TV… he talked about how this had been the wildest 24 hours in WWE and that included his supposed guest Bray Wyatt, before they looked back at what he did at Crown Jewel. They then showed a video package of the highlights of The Fiend beating Seth Rollins the night before in a Falls Count Anywhere match to win the Universal Championship. The video really painted The Fiend as basically indestructible. Miz said Wyatt couldn’t be here today, but talked about the ‘elephant in the room, NXT’. Miz then recapped what we had seen so far from NXT on the show, and said he can’t wait to see what happens next because that’s what WWE is all about… he was then interrupted by the music of… former NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa!!! Ciampa came out to a big pop of course… Commentary then put over how had returned from neck surgery only two weeks ago before this after missing the previous 7 months of action.

Ciampa questioned that this was supposed to be must-see TV and that Miz was supposed to be the most must-see superstar in all of WWE, saying that his name was Tomasso Ciampa and he just so happens to be the greatest sports entertainer of all time. He said Miz acts like the entire world revolved around him, but it was time somebody came out and gave him a reality check, and said the fact is that Miz was everything that was wrong with Raw and SmackDown while he was breaking his damn neck in NXT to prove exactly how good he was. He said Miz was playing actor and talk-show host, and whilst he was playing the part ‘Boy, Tomasso Ciampa is THE part’. Miz said he’d heard the same thing told to him for a very long time, before putting over Ciampa and his past accomplishments in NXT, but also said that he had hoped Ciampa would have come up with something a little more original, because for 15 years he had heard the same thing, and if he and NXT were here to make a statement then make a damn statement! They then set up a match between them both right now. And after we came back from an ad break, both men were in the ring in their gear ready to go!

The Miz vs Tomasso Ciampa 

They tied up to begin with and Miz got an armdrag takedown in and then stood up and posed for the crowd… Ciampa casually applauded Miz as Miz seemed very cocky… Ciamap eventually took Miz down with a shoulder block, and then tried to throw him outside the ring after a running the ropes sequence, but Miz stood on the apron and ushered Ciampa towards him eventually sliding underneath him and getting a nearfall pin attempt. Miz then launched Ciampa over the ropes to the outside… and then tried to fly through the ropes at Ciampa but Ciampa moved and then threw Miz into the barricade, then the other and then into the ring apron and then into the steps, before sitting on the apron and patting himself on the back. He threw Miz back in the ring and quickly got a-hold of Miz, Miz tried to fight out and eventually hit Ciampa repeatedly in the face, then mid-section before a knee to the face followed by a backbreaker-neckbreaker combo that got him a 2 count with a pin attempt afterwards. Miz hit kicks to Ciampa in the corner and then got a couple of running knees before Ciampa knocked Miz down with a clothesline as he went for a third knee. Ciampa then hit a hard knee strike in the corner for a nearfall. Ciampa hooked Miz’s arms looking for his finish but Miz took him down and tried to get a figure 4, but Ciampa kicked him away… Ciampa then tried for a suplex but Miz went behind his back over his shoulder and got a chop block. Miz tried to go again for the leg but Ciampa kicked him away, then Ciampa tried a powerbomb but Miz fought out, took out his leg then hit Ciampa with a ddt. But this also only got a 2 count off the pin attempt… Miz then finally got the Figure 4 leg lock in, with Ciampa eventually powering towards the rope, but then sitting up and glaring at Miz and then turning over and reversing the pressure of the hold, Miz then tried to reverse it back but got to the ropes to break the hold… Miz tried again for the Figure 4 but Ciampa cradled Miz and tried for the pin but only got a 2, Miz tried a kick to the face but missed and got rolled up and almost pinned, but Ciampa held the leg for a single legged crab submission… Ciampa then found himself pulled down and almost pinned by The Miz, then both when on their knees still exchanged chops, before getting to their feet and after Ciampa hit a chop he missed Miz in the corner and collided with the ring turnbuckle, allowing Miz to then hit a running clothesline to Ciampa in the corner. Miz then went up top, but got caught with a big knee from Ciampa, who then picked Miz up, hit the Fairytale Ending, and got the win. Ciampa beats Miz. This was alright, I’m used to seeing Ciampa have blowaway TakeOver matches so this was a tad change of pace… but it was alright. And Ciampa won which was the main thing…

We saw Daniel Bryan walking backstage… he was soon met by Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Triple H happily greeted Bryan, who asked what they were doing here? Triple H explained they were just visiting but it seemed like they kinda got called out… and he casually said to Shawn how he was at home watching Crown Jewel and he saw this advertisement come up ‘Raw vs SmackDown vs NXT’ , and how it seemed like someone was calling us out to go to battle, like they were looking for a fight. To which Daniel Bryan said that was interesting as ‘I’m kind of looking for a fight, and if you’re wanting to go to battle why don’t you and I go fight right now?’ (the crowd popped big for this) … Triple H went nose to nose almost with Bryan and looked real aggressive, and then said that he didn’t really bring his gear and he was wearing a suit and he wasn’t really looking for a fight but he knew somebody else who is… (as this was happening we could see Shawn in between them taking off his jacket)… Daniel looked over to Shawn who just said ‘it’s cold in here’ and quickly put his jacket back on, which was funny… Triple H then told Shawn to put his coat back on and said it’s not him, before calling for ‘Champ’… and in to the shot the a HUGE roar from the crowd walked in the NXT Champion Adam Cole! Triple H said if Bryan was looking for a fight he was your man, and Bryan said back if they wanna do this they should do it right, Daniel Bryan vs Adam Cole for the NXT Championship (the crowd loved this too). Triple H liked the idea a lot and a made the match for later in the night.

For me, and many others as fans, this was a wet dream of a segment. The stuff of absolute wonders.

Back from the ad break we had Fire & Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) in the ring already… before Carmella followed them out… or at least her music and titantron played, but eventually we cut to backstage where NXT’s Bianca Belair was beating up Dana Brooke, and Carmella was slouched beside them having been laid out it looked like herself… Belair then gorilla press slammed Carmella over some crates backstage. This really made Belair look awesome and like an absolute machine. Mandy and Sonya looked on in the ring baffled and asked the referee for their upcoming match what was going on… before the music of NXT’s Rhea Ripley played and she came out, along with another NXT superstar Tegan Nox… Ripley cut a promo as they came down the ramp, saying how it looks like you guys don’t have any opponents tonight… WELL YA DO NOW!

Fire & Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) vs Rhea Ripley and Tegan Nox 

Tegan and Rhea both charged at them to start the match and Tegan sent Deville to the outside as Rhea striked away at Mandy Rose in the ring. Nox and Deville brawled outside and Sonya even launched Nox into the barricade… meanwhile in the ring it was Ripley striking away at Rose, until Rose got her head outside the ropes to force the ref to back Ripley away… Rose got a couple of shots in before Ripley got a huge dropkick, as Deville and Nox still fought outside as Tegan Nox sent Sonya over the announce table and into the commentators, screaming at her ‘that’s how we do in NXT baby!’. Nox then got in the ring and hit a flying knee to Rose, and Ripley then got an inverted cloverleaf submission and Mandy tapped out to give NXT another strong win for the night. This was exactly what it should have been, short and sharp to give NXT another rub.

We got an advert for the upcoming Survivor Series focusing on the three brands battling it out.

Shawn Michaels and Triple H came to ringside for the main event.

Stephanie McMahon came out and stood at the top of the ramp. We had the comical moment where she waved and blew a kiss to Triple H, and when the camera cut to Hunter you could see Pat McAfee in the background waving at her. Stephanie cut a promo on the women’s revolution and then we took a look back at Natalya vs Lacey Evans from Crown Jewel.

Daniel Bryan vs Adam Cole (C) for the NXT Championship 

NXT North American Champion and fellow Undisputed Era member Roderick Strong came out with Cole, before Cole sent Strong to the back. There’s a kid in the front row I saw as Kayla was doing the introductions, the kid is with his Dad presumably and has a sign saying it was his first WWE Live event… well kid you picked an unbelievable show to start off with!!! They got into a bit of a stalemate early on, exchanging holds and who had the advantage with leg-headlocks on the ground etc… Bryan then got the better of a wrist lock before Cole did a couple of rolls on the floor to try and take over, Bryan pushed Cole into the corner and then harshly smacked Cole on the chest, then slapped Cole on the face, before Cole came back with some hard strikes, then Bryan responded with a big forearm of his own to send Cole down. Bryan then kicked Cole on the ground before taking him to the corners and hitting him with chops, Cole then backed Bryan into the corner with strikes and kicks of his own, before a headlock takedown gave Cole control. Cole sent Bryan down again with a shoulder block, then came off the ropes again a few times before being caught with a kick from Daniel Bryan. Bryan bent Cole’s arm back and then stomped on it, before he did the submission he does where he stands on the back of the guy’s legs and then pulls them up by their arms, all whilst Bryan was looking right at Triple H who was sat ringside. Bryan then sat down with the hold in, his arm now pulling back on Cole’s neck in what I’m sure can’t have been fun for Cole at all to take… Cole hit a couple of punches before Bryan dropped a knee onto Cole on the floor… Bryan hit a couple of big uppercuts, before coming off the ropes a few times only to be caught by a big boot to the face by Cole, which gave him a nearfall. Commentary pointed out the cast Cole had on his arm, due to a broken wrist he had been working through. They each blocked attempts at suplexes before Bryan suplexed both men over the ropes and they both fell to the outside. After an ad break and back in the ring, Cole hit a neackbreaker for a nearfall. Cole then got another nearfall before trapping Bryan in a figure 4 headlock, but Bryan got to the ropes. Cole kicked Bryan in the corner, then the other before they exchanged strikes with Bryan dropping Cole with a big uppercut… Cole sent Bryan into the corner but Bryan came back off the ropes and leaped over Cole backwards, coming off the ropes a couple of times before dropping Cole again with a running clothesline… Bryan tried to gee himself up before sending  Cole against the ropes only to be hit with a kick on the way back, then Cole was sent outside as he went at Bryan against the ropes… Bryan then coming off the apron hitting Cole with a flying knee. Bryan sent Cole back into the ring before heading up top, and hitting a big missile dropkick. With Cole in the opposing corner Bryan did his signature running dropkick, before setting Cole up trying to a suplerplex but Cole reversed it into a pin attempt that got him a nearfall. Bryan responded with three big uppercuts, then came off the ropes but was caught with another kick by Cole, but this only got the NXT Champion a 2 count. Cole looked to hit a backbreaker but Bryan got behind Cole, and he then reversed this and sent Cole to the outside before Bryan went flying through the ropes into Cole in the area HHH and HBK were sat, but they got out the way. Bryan got back in the ring and then did the same thing again, but was caught this time by a kick from Cole… we then had another ad break and after came back to Cole in the ring and Bryan on the top rope, Cole ran to the ropes causing Bryan to fall down, Cole went up after him and eventually Bryan slid under him and pushed him down onto the top rope bit, Bryan then going back up and sending Cole crashing down with a German Suplex off the top turnbuckle! Triple H and Shawn Michaels looked real concerned at ringside as Bryan was on the top rope, and he came off the top looking for a flying headbutt but Cole moved out the way in time… Cole then lifted Bryan up and dropped him onto his knee to the back of his head for another nearfall. Cole then pulled down his knee pad and came off the ropes looking for the Last Shot, but ducked underneath it and hooked Cole’s leg for a single leg crab… Cole tried to get out only for Bryan to drop down and tie up Cole even more… Cole eventually able to roll and roll until he reached the bottom rope. Bryan screamed at Cole to get up, then kicked away at his legs before Cole came back with strikes of his own, Bryan then picked Cole up in a fireman’s carry position before Cole dropped Bryan to the floor with almost a triangle reverse hurricanrana type move that looked kind of mad, this got Cole a nearfall… until Bryan moved over and got Cole into the Labell Lock (Yes Lock, but he hadn’t quite turned back full babyface at this point in time)… Cole found a way out briefly but Bryan was just as quickly stomping on Cole, then pulling back on the injured wrist of Cole before the Labell Lock again, but Cole somehow got close to the ropes only for Bryan to pull back on his arm and fingers to stop him, but Cole just about got his leg on the ropes as a relieved looking Triple H applauded his champion. Bryan hit the Yes kicks to Cole, but Cole ducked under one and pushed Bryan with him towards the ropes sliding over into a cover, before Bryan rolled them over into a cover of his own, but Cole pushed him off only for Bryan to then hit a big kick to the side of Cole’s head. With Cole in the corner Bryan set up for the running knee but Cole caught him with a big superkick that Bryan flew into so it looked great, and they panned the camera over to Shawn Michaels at ringside who alongside Triple H came out of his seat in joy. Cole went to a second turnbuckle and hit Bryan with Panama Sunrise, aka Canadian Destroyer (I can count on one hand how many times you’re likely to see any of those on SmackDown anytime these days), and then he came running off the ropes and hit Bryan with the Last Shot knee strike to the back of the head to get the 1, 2, 3. Cole retains! This was a great match and despite going through a few ad breaks it was still pretty good, as expected with these two. 

Then… this happened…

Shots well and truly FIRED! An amazing end to an amazing show. NXT was not messing about… and they backed it up as well. NXT is the fucking best, they showed it on this show, they showed it in the build to Survivor Series… and they showed it at the PPV itself.

Josh. 

 

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