WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Reaction from December 5
NXT continued to engage its audience Wednesday with another explosive episode on WWE Network that gave fans a taste of what they can expect from the brand as 2018 comes to a close and 2019 draws near.
NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa set out to address the fans, but former titleholder Aleister Black and longtime Ciampa tag partner-turned-enemy Johnny Gargano made sure that segment did not go according to plan for the resident Blackheart.
The Forgotten Sons returned to tag team action as they sought a shot at the NXT Tag Team Championships, Matt Riddle battled former Ring of Honor TV champion Punishment Martinez in what would have been an indie dream match a few months ago and Dakota Kai squared off with NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler as they continued their rivalry.
Who emerged victoriously and how will the various segments of the show affect the brand going forward?
Find out with this recap of the December 5 episode.
Matt Riddle vs. Punishment Martinez
The King of Bros returned to NXT TV Wednesday night, as Matt Riddle squared off with the debuting Punishment Martinez in singles competition in the night's opening match.
The highly touted signees battled each other with an array of strikes and takedowns until Martinez dropped Riddle with a cyclone kick. He continued, answering a chop with a wicked lariat that put Riddle down.
Strikes and an array of back elbows allowed Riddle back into the match. He tried for the Bromission, but Martinez escaped. A series of hard chops to the chest of the newcomer led to a second attempt at the Bromission, this time successfully.
Martinez tapped, and Riddle scored another big win.
After the match, Kassius Ohno delivered a spinning forearm that knocked Riddle off the stage and to the ground below. He stood over him to end the segment.
Riddle defeated Martinez
It felt like the TakeOver: WarGames angle between Ohno and Riddle was the start of a rivalry rather than the end of it, and this proved it.
Riddle gives Ohno a high-profile opponent to work with, something he has not had in an honest-to-goodness rivalry. While the prospects of Ohno ultimately winning the program are incredibly low, it elevates his star on the show and gives him something significant to do after the last year of playing the proverbial good soldier for NXT.
Martinez looked strong here, an equal to Riddle rather than a tackling dummy for Riddle. As he embarks on his NXT journey, more even performances such as this will be essential to his success.
Raul Mendoza and Humberto Carrillo vs. The Forgotten Sons
The Forgotten Sons' Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake, accompanied by Jaxson Ryker, were in action Wednesday as they battled the upstart team of Raul Mendoza and Humberto Carrillo.
The speed and agility of the babyfaces frustrated Cutler and Wesley early, as Mendoza and Carrillo were able to remain elusive. That stopped when a frustrated Blake tossed Mendoza into his partner and proceeded to isolate him.
The heels beat Mendoza down, working the head and neck for the midsection of the bout. A hot tag to Carrillo, though, sparked a babyface comeback.
That is, until Cutler delivered a double knee to the back of Carrillo's head. From there, an inverted DDT/double stomp put him away, giving The Forgotten Sons a big tag team victory.
Cutler and Blake defeated Mendoza and Carrillo
This was meant as a showcase for The Forgotten Sons, a way to rehab the team following a recent loss to Heavy Machinery, and in that regard, it worked. With that said, the duo has not been properly defined to this point, and the in-ring abilities of Cutler and Blake have not been highlighted in a way that drums up any real excitement for them.
Like Sanity before them, they hit the scene without any real build, excitement and expectation, and they have done nothing to create any of their own.
A little motivation in the form of a genuine storyline or feud would, hopefully, solve that.
Dakota Kai vs. Shayna Baszler
Shayna Baszler brutally attacked Dakota Kai in one of her first appearances with the NXT brand, injuring her arm and sending a loud, definitive message to the women's locker room. At TakeOver: WarGames, Kai's interference nearly cost The Queen of Spades her NXT Women's Championship to Kairi Sane.
Wednesday night, the rivals wrote the latest chapter in their rivalry as they squared off in singles competition.
Baszler dominated early, dominating Kai at ringside before standing tall in the center of the ring. The leader of Team Kick rolled back in, beating the referee's 10-count, but was subjected to further punishment and suffering at the hands of her opponent.
Baszler teased injuring Kai's elbow for a second time, but Kai fought out and fought back. She created separation with a nice double stomp. Moments later, she unloaded with a series of kicks to the face that stunned the champion.
As the Kiwi took off into the ropes, Baszler tripped her up and applied the choke for the submission victory.
After the match, Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke beat Kai down before Io Shirai made the save and chased the heels off.
Baszler defeated Kai
The battle lines are drawn in the women's division, the ragtag trio of Kai, Shirai and Sane combating the ruthless force that is Baszler, Duke and Shafir.
This match, a sprint, allowed Kai to showcase some of her trademark underdog fire, while Baszler looked like the cunning and opportunistic villain she is.
The story worked, Shirai's save was red-hot and the impending Six-Woman Tag Team match between both sides should be an electric one.
Tommaso Ciampa Addresses the NXT Universe
NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa hit the ring in the final segment of the night, ready to gloat about his recent title defense against Velveteen Dream and his status as the NXT MVP. He chastised the fans and even announcer Mauro Ranallo for not believing in him as the brand's top star and champion.
Aleister Black interrupted and said Ciampa is an undeserving champion. Black, the former champion who never received his rightful rematch, said he wants the Blackheart of NXT at TakeOver: Phoenix.
Johnny Gargano arrived on the scene, saying the issues between him and Black are not settled. Ciampa, on the ring apron, stirred the pot, trying to get his two top rivals to rip each other apart.
The champion, recognizing he could get out of a match with Black, egged the situation on. He tried to encourage a steel cage match between the two, going as far as to suggest they should have battled inside WarGames.
Black accepted the match and ended up blasting Ciampa with Black Mass.
Ciampa has spent all of 2018 outthinking the opposition en route to dominating as the lead villain in NXT's larger morality play.
It is a role that suits him perfectly and one he thrives in.
He has been nothing short of phenomenal, and his manipulation of the situation Wednesday night, bringing Black and Gargano together for what is sure to be a war that will weaken them ahead of any potential match against him, made for fun television.
The story is clearly heading for a Triple Threat match between Black, Ciampa and Gargano for the NXT Championship in Phoenix. Given the fact Brooklyn was to be headlined by that match before Black's unfortunate injury, that is a welcome addition to what should be another explosive card.