Worlds Collide 2020
January 25, 2020
Watch: WWE Network
Meet Our Previewer:
- Andrew Rich is a writer for Voices of Wrestling and the host of Music of the Mat. He’s always down for a good Royal Rumble match, but hold your horses Andrew, we’ve got a Worlds Collide show to get through first! You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewTRich. You can follow Music of the Mat on Twitter @musicofthemat.
Hello folks! It’s your good pal Andrew here with a preview of this Saturday’s NXT Takeover: Hou- *a shadowy Paul Levesque-shaped figure clears his throat in the distance and taps his finger against a cue card* Sorry, a preview of this Saturday’s Worlds Collide 2020!
Your favorite WWE Network special named after a Powerman 5000 song is back for its second outing and first live broadcast. Last year’s inaugural two-day event took place during Royal Rumble Axxess. Yes, between waiting in line to score signed 8x10s of Mojo Rawley and Dana Brooke, and cursing under their breath at the security guard for not letting them bring in their Juul, the lucky fans roaming the Phoenix Convention Center South Building got to stare at such exciting matches as… *check’s notes* Velveteen Dream vs. Tony Nese and… *check’s notes again* Fabian Aichner vs. Ligero.
But Worlds Collide 2020 is a whole different animal! This time the show will only be held on one day, Saturday, January 25. Also, it’s running in Houston’s Toyota Center, an actual big boy arena where people pay to see a major league wrestling show, as opposed to the floor of a convention center where attendees catch a sliver of Trent Seven vs. Jack Gallagher in their periphery while taking a photo with a bleary-eyed Samir Singh.
The other major change taking place this year is the lack of 205 Live talent. 2019’s event saw wrestlers competing from all three WWE sub-brands: NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live. In 2020 it will just be NXT and NXT UK. This isn’t a major shock since 205 Live feels as irrelevant as it’s ever been. How irrelevant? A few months ago the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, which was the exclusive title of that show, was renamed the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. The champion, Angel Garza, is primarily an NXT wrestler, as was the previous champion Lio Rush. The belt hasn’t even been defended on 205 Live since August! Also, it’s not as if we’re missing out on any interbrand dream matches with the absence of the 205 Live core roster. Who’s on that roster? Ariya Daivari, Brian Kendrick, Gentleman Jack Gallagher, Mike Kanellis, The Singh Brothers, and Tony Nese. Woooooooooof.
So Worlds Collide 2020 will indeed be NXT vs. NXT UK. And therein lies the problem with the concept of this show. NXT, for better or worse, has some name value with the average WWE viewer. It’s been on the USA Network for about four months and was involved in a hot angle with Raw and SmackDown for Survivor Series. There’s a stable audience of around 700,000-800,000 people who watch the show every week. The same cannot be said for NXT UK, which gives 205 Live a run for its money in terms of irrelevancy. The casuals don’t follow it because they don’t watch the show on the WWE Network, while the people who do follow it barely register on the Richter scale. Meanwhile, you’ve got a third party, the die-hard UK indie fans, who see it as a monument to the regime that severely crippled their scene, populated with sellouts looking for some steady cash and an “attaboy” from William Regal.
That’s not to say that the show won’t be good because it’s a pretty nice lineup, but boy howdy does so much of it feel slapdash. Granted it falls in line with the “dream match supercard” overtones of the show, where the names on paper are meant to entice you more than the actual stories behind them, but remember this is NXT FUCKING UK we’re talking about here! We’re not bringing in heavy hitters from Raw or SmackDown who have proven in the past to draw more eyeballs to the NXT product, we’re bringing in guys from the tertiary brand like Travis Banks and Ilja Dragunov. Are they gonna put butts in seats? Maybe if it was a more modest venue, but for a big basketball arena like the Toyota Center, that’s asking a lot. Hell, you don’t even have the luxury of labeling it as a Takeover.
Speaking of which, let me remind you that the next TakeOver will be in Portland in February, which NXT has been building to at the exact same time as this show! Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor, and Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair are all ongoing feuds, but most of those wrestlers have been concurrently setting up matches with NXT UK wrestlers for Worlds Collide, which ultimately makes this show feel like a mandatory side quest in a video game. You want to keep following the main story, but first, you have to collect 100 silver dildos in the Forest of Dreams before the game will let you advance.
ANYWHO let’s run down the card, shall we?
Pre-show: Mia Yim vs. Kay Lee Ray
Kay Lee Ray is the current NXT UK Women’s Champion. Mia Yim wrestles on NXT and is not involved in anything right now. They’re gonna have a match because we need a match on the pre-show. That’s all I got. Prediction: Kay Lee Ray
#DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate)
This will be Gargano’s first match since October 2nd against Shane Thorne. It will also be his seventh match ever since Takeover: New York in April. Weird, right? Also weird is Gargano and Ciampa reforming as a babyface tag team after trying to kill each other for over a year in a heated blood feud. I get that they’re reuniting to fight a common enemy in Undisputed ERA, but it just reeks of typical WWE “All is forgiven” booking that ends up happening with split tag teams. Then again, I was at Takeover: New York and saw Ciampa in a neck brace hugging Gargano after he won the NXT Championship, so I suppose it was bound to happen sooner rather than later.
On paper, this match should be fantastic since these are two of the best tag teams in recent WWE history. I find it funny though that it was literally set up via a tweet.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could stay mates long enough to fight us?
Moustache Mountain vs #DIY?
— Trent Seven (@trentseven) January 16, 2020
Neither team were on the go-home show either, instead shaking hands during a dark segment before the broadcast. Wow, really making the fans salivate for this bad boy, aren’t ya? Mustache Mountain should win because they’re the more established tag team at this point, but I’ll pick #DIY because them winning their first match back together feels like a very WWE thing to do. Prediction: #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa)
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Angel Garza © vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks
They had qualifying matches to determine Garza’s three challengers for this four-way. Scott defeated Lio Rush and Tyler Breeze on last week’s NXT, while Devlin and Banks beat Ligero and Brian Kendrick respectively on this week’s NXT UK. Given the talent involved this could be a good match, though I worry that it will suffer from the “two guys in the ring at a time while the other two catch their breath on the outside and wait their turn” cliché that seems to plague so many four-way dances. Part of me wants Devlin to win so he can escape the Black Lodge that is NXT UK, but in all likelihood Garza and his sweet tearaway pants are retaining. Prediction: Angel Garza
Finn Balor vs. Ilja Dragunov
This match is happening. Why? Just because. They announced it completely out of the blue on a WWE Now video on YouTube on January 9, which only hammers home how thrown together most of this show feels.
Unlike the DIY-Mustache Mountain match, this one actually got a modicum of build on WWE programming. Balor “sent a message” to Dragunov by squashing Joaquin Wilde on NXT this week, while Ilja had a promo package on the same episode. He then cut another brief promo about Balor on the following day’s NXT UK. It’s not exactly Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade 97 in terms of anticipation, but the match itself could rock if it turns into a slugfest. Ilja had one of those against Cesaro at NXT UK Takeover: Cardiff last year and he thrived in that, so hopefully Balor cranks up the intensity himself and delivers in kind. Prediction: Finn Balor
NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley © vs. Toni Storm
Finally a match with an actual build, rather than something that was materialized out of thin air like it was beamed aboard the Enterprise! Back in 2018, a then-heel Ripley defeated Toni Storm in the finals of a tournament to become the first NXT UK Women’s Champion. Storm defeated Ripley in a rematch at NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool in January 2019 to win the belt, then beat her again in the rubber match. Flash forward a year later and Ripley is now both a babyface and the NXT Women’s Champion. Storm, meanwhile, has been showing more of an aggressive side since losing the UK Women’s Title to Kay Lee Ray.
A few weeks ago Storm turned up on NXT and interrupted Ripley’s championship victory speech. She challenged Ripley to a title match, taunting that she was 2-1 against the champion. She then promised that she would beat Kay Lee Ray in their previously scheduled match at Takeover: Blackpool II to win back the NXT UK Women’s Championship, then beat Rhea at Worlds Collide to become a double champion. Toni failed to beat Ray again in Blackpool, so now she’ll likely take out her frustrations on Ripley in Houston. This is the first match on the card with stakes, a proper backstory, some potential for character development, and it looks good on paper to boot. Talk about a breath of fresh air!
As for who wins, it is way too soon to stop the Rhea Ripley Express. She’ll beat Storm here and then turn her attention to Bianca Belair for Takeover: Portland. Prediction: Rhea Ripley
Imperium (Walter, Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel and Alexander Wolfe) vs. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong)
This was the first match announced for the show and probably the most obvious one to book if you just looked at the two brands’ rosters. NXT and NXT UK both have a dominant four-man heel stable that acts as the centerpiece of the show with the leader as that brand’s top champion. Fans have been waiting for this match to happen for quite a while now and it only makes sense to have it take place at an event like Worlds Collide.
Imperium became a semi-regular presence in NXT when the show went live on USA back in September, but they had managed to avoid any confrontations with the Undisputed ERA. That was until the Worlds Collide match was announced. The Undisputed ERA fired the first shot when they surprise attacked Imperium at the end of Takeover: Blackpool II. Imperium gained a measure of revenge by costing Fish and O’Reilly their semifinal match in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, then both teams brawled again to close out the go-home show.
I’d wager that Undisputed ERA will be the babyfaces here since they’re the smaller of the two teams and will have a “home field advantage” of sorts. That said, I think Imperium will pick up the win. If my predictions for the prior matches turn out to be true, NXT UK will be 1-4 by the time we get to the main event. They need a major victory on this show to save face and Imperium beating Undisputed ERA after a hard-fought battle would be just the ticket. Roderick Strong just lost the NXT North American Championship to Keith Lee on Wednesday, so he could take the fall. You could then use that loss to potentially reignite the “weak link” tension between Cole and Strong that we saw several months back. Aicher and Bartel could claim a shot at Fish and O’Reilly’s tag belts. And WALTER could proclaim Imperium as the stronger of the two groups and set out to conquer the rest of NXT.
OR Cole could pin Wolfe and everything I just wrote would have all been for naught. Prediction: Imperium (Walter, Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel and Alexander Wolfe)