NXT Champion Adam Cole def. Finn Balor
I don't believe Cole and Balor have ever faced off one-on-one before, so it was surreal to see them against each other and even cooler to see them deliver. This was an entertaining opener with both guys bringing the goods and the crowd eating up everything they did. I appreciated that Undisputed Era didn't get involved and that the only interference (if you can even really call it that) we got was from the returning Johnny Gargano, who distracted Balor from the ramp and cost him the victory. I'm not sure if Gargano is cleared to compete yet, but it looks like they're building to them finally facing off at TakeOver: Portland.
Damian Priest def. Killian Dain
Priest was supposed to face Dain two weeks ago on NXT but was pulled from the bout at the last minute due to injury, so it's good to see him back so soon. Priest and Dain managed to keep fans invested in the action throughout even with the heel vs. heel dynamic and put forth a strong effort. Both guys are incredibly athletic for their size and I thought they made the most of the time they had. Priest needed a victory, but it was weird to see Dain lose coming off his clean win over Dunne. I think it's high time all three guys moved on from this feud.
Cameron Grimes def. Kushida
This was a rematch from two weeks ago, except it was much longer and more competitive this time. They put together a really fun match that showcased the skills of both men nicely. Grimes' character still doesn't do a ton for me, but there's no denying that he can go in the ring. It was also smart for him to win here after suffering back-to-back losses lately. It's nothing Kushida can't recover from.
Io Shirai def. Santana Garrettt
I believe this was the first televised appearance Shirai has made since Survivor Series weekend. She's been a breakout star in NXT's women's division in 2019, so I hope she can find direction soon. This short-and-sweet squash match was a fine rebound win for her, where Garrett also had the chance to shine before losing. Speaking of Garrett, fingers crossed she can be focused on at some point and move away from enhancement status.
Pete Dunne def. Travis Banks
Banks' victory over Jaxson Ryker last week was likely designed to make him look like a threat to Dunne here. While I never legitimately bought into the possibility of him winning, I appreciated the effort and thought he had a solid showing. This was a very well wrestled match with a great pace. Dunne's win gets him back on the right track following a recent setback at the hands of Dain, but he still lacks direction.
Rhea Ripley def. Shayna Baszler to Win the NXT Women's Championship
I absolutely loved the big fight feel this had and how they built it up to be such a meaningful main event. It can be argued that it belonged on a TakeOver, but considering TakeOver: Portland isn't for another two months, I don't blame NXT for wanting to close out 2019 with a bang by booking a major title change. Remember, Baszler has been champion for well over a year, so Ripley taking the title from her made for a memorable moment. Referee bumps are one of the most overdone spots in wrestling, but it worked here with viewers thinking it was all over for Ripley. Instead, she battled back and hit the Riptide off the top rope to claim the championship. The post-match celebration with members of the locker room as well as fans from Full Sail University piling into the ring with Ripley was a spectacular sight. It was the right time for Baszler to drop the strap, not to mention how this frees her up to win the women's Royal Rumble match next month.
Props to NXT for not phoning in their final live show of 2019. Not that I ever expected them to, but it's a stark contrast to the main roster where the last episodes of the year for Raw and SmackDown are usually nothing special. This show, however, was very newsworthy between the surprise return of Gargano and of course Ripley becoming the new NXT Women's Champion. Both championship matches were excellent and the stuff in between was worthwhile as well, causing the two hours to fly by. Two matches were announced for next week's episode, though I believe both were already taped. In other words, it likely won't be your typical show due to the holiday.
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