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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
JUNE 24, 2020
LIVE(?) IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix, Tom Phillips
-An hour before the show went to air, outside, Cameron Grimes ran away from the scene of a crime where Damian Priest was slammed into the door of his own car. Grimes went to the ring and laughed that Priest was running from his biggest match tonight, but that’s another victory for Grimes, so he wants someone to raise his hand.
Damian Priest, taped up around he waist, charged the ring and took some shots. Grimes, of course, attacked the injury. The referee made sure Priest wanted to go along with the match, and he got confirmation, so the bell sounded.
(1) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. CAMERON GRIMES
After a few shots, Priest missed a splash in the corner and Grimes clubbed Priest’s injury. Priest blocked a shot and hit a chokeslam, and Grimes bailed. Grimes feinted that he was going to walk up the ramp to bring Priest outside, and when Priest followed, Grimes drove him into the apron. Grimes blocked a Razor’s Edge and Grimes hit the Cave In on the outside. Grimes slid in the ring and Priest joined him at the last moment before the countout.
Priest missed another splash in the corner, and Grimes hit another Cave In.
After the three count, Grimes collected his hat and quickly moved up the ramp, then yelled into the camera that he couldn’t be beat.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 3:14.
(Wells’s Analysis: Grimes seems to be a priority, but they keep stifling him by having the faces get their wins back quickly, and this is likely to be no exception. I do think it works for Grimes’s character, though, who steals all of his big wins. Priest continues to be shown in a complete babyface context without hesitation)
-Earlier today, an unseen announcer caught up with Rhea Ripley and asked if she thought it was Io Shirai’s NXT now. She started to answer, but Robert Stone showed up and said last week, Rhea hurt his body, but she also hurt his heart. He said he had signed Aliyah, and although he doesn’t give second chances, but he had a golden ticket for her (he mimed the ticket in his hand) and said the offer was still on the table. Ripley kicked him in the midsection and threw him in a nearly dumpster. Aliyah popped into frame, told Rhea that just because her career was in the trash, it didn’t mean she should shove her manager in the trash. Aliyah slapped Rhea and immediately looked regretful. Rhea smiled and said Aliyah had earned a golden ticket to Rhea’s ring. Beth said the two would face off later tonight.
-“Thatch as Thatch Can” segment – Timothy Thatcher taught some mostly-unseen PC guys how to torture people with a half-crab. He then put on an arm lock until the victim wailed. Thatcher smiled, told the wrestlers they were excused, and said he’d make champions out of them.
(2) JAKE ATLAS vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR (w/Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza)
Escobar and his lackeys entered in a flying V formation. Wilde and Mendoza wore dapper suits. It was a strong entrance, and a breath of fresh air after Escobar’s underwhelming entrances as a babyface. The group is called “Legado del Fantasma” (Legacy of Fantasma). Atlas charged the ring with anger, looking to avenge Drake Maverick. This is non-title.
Escobar backed Atlas into a corner. Semi-clean break, and Atlas hit a cross-body. Atlas backed Escobar into a corner and threw some forearms. Snap mare and chinlock by Atlas. To the corner, armdrag by Atlas and some forearms. Back to another corner and a mudhole stomp by Atlas. A big chop took Escobar into a corner, and Atlas won a short shot exchange. Rope run and Atlas hit a huracanrana. Atlas was put over the rope to the apron and a distraction by the lackeys allowed Escobar to push Atlas into the plexiglass as the show went to commercial.
Escobar had Grimes dominated in a corner upon return. Thrustkick took Atlas down for two. Escobar reversed to put Atlas down into a chinlock submission and Atlas fought to the rope (it looked a bit silly, as Atlas was probably close enough to the rope from the beginning). Running back elbow by Escobar got two. Escobar hit some kicks and then a snap mare into a kneeling abdominal stretch. Atlas threw some shots and the two reached their feet. Atlas blocked the Phantom Driver and hit an Irish whip. Snap mare and an axhandle by Atlas. Scoop slam, standing moonsault got two for Atlas. A dropkick by Atlas sent Escobar to the outside. The lackeys blocked Escobar, so Atlas hit a moonsault from the top rope to lay both of them out. Back into the ring, Atlas planted Escobar for two. Atlas went up but got crotched. Escobar hit the Phantom Driver to finish.
WINNER: Santos Escobar at 10:32.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very good action here that continues to elevate the Cruiserweight championship and division. Wilde and Mendoza flanking Escobar is a good look, as both are shorter than he is.)
-“Earlier today,” Dr. Kyle O’Reilly reprised his role as Roderick Strong’s psychologist as Bobby Fish and Adam Cole looked on. Strong talked himself into being ready to conquer his fear of the trunk of a car. Strong got up off the couch and Kyle took off his glasses, and Strong was stunned to see that Kyle was the psychologist. Outside, the four went to a nearby SUV and O’Reilly bragged that he was studying up for a role. Strong went into the trunk and the other three cheered. When he got out, he high fived the three others, and Adam Cole said Roddy will overcome his fear of Dexter Lumis in a match tonight. All but Roddy walked out of frame, and Roddy tried to pump himself up for the match later.
(Wells’s Analysis: Last week I thought it was the bad kind of comedy that Strong didn’t catch on that he was talking to Kyle O’Reilly and not a real psychologist, but I think they may have gotten away with it with O’Reilly’s silly explanation about the movie (your mileage may vary). Lumis is likely to get his win back here, and we’ll see if the two were saving anything for a second match)
-Backstage, Malcolm Bivens, backstage and flanked by Indus Sher, said he was pissed “to the highest level of pisstivity.” He said those thugs, Lorcan and Burch, couldn’t keep to themselves. He said Lorcan and Burch were in trouble. He threw to Indus Sher, who each spoke in their native language (Urdu?) to threaten Lorcan and Burch.
-Hype for the triple threat match outlined the road of each of the three men in tonight’s main event – Johnny Gargano, Finn Balor and Keith Lee. Previously there was a brief tale of the tape onscreen.
(3) KACY CATANZARO & KAYDEN CARTER vs. DAKOTA KAI & RAQUEL GONZALEZ
Gonzalez and Carter to open. Raquel took down Kayden with a shove, but Carter fought back. She tried to use the ropes for a snap mare but it was no use. Blind tag by Kacy, who used her speed to avoid big moves. Carter blind tagged and the two used a tandem block to temporarily ground her, but Raquel drove Carter into the heel corner and tagged. Babyface tag and tandem move, and Kacy got two. Kai got up and hit a kick for one. Raquel tagged in and stomped Kacy and made the tag. Tandem big boot and powerslam got two, and Carter made the save.
Kacy made the tag and Carter fired up and took down Kai with shots and a dropkick. Rope run, wheelbarrow, roll through, Back kick by Carter for two. Carter hit a scorpion kick as Kai was draped on the bottom rope for a long two. Both were able to make tags. Carter threw Kacy over her onto Raquel, who caught her, kicked away Carter and hit a powerbomb on Kacy and tagged, and told Kai to finish her. Kai locked on a submission. After the win, Kai got in the camera’s face and said she’ll show Io Shirai that this isn’t her NXT.
WINNERS: Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez at 4:12.
(Wells’s Analysis: Spirited work by all four. Kacy continues to grow as a worker and is starting to look less rehearsed and more comfortable with the rest of the division. Kai and Raquel really have a good thing going as a tag team and I’d advocate for them, if anyone in NXT, to eventually hold the Women’s Tag Team championships before their inevitable split and Raquel’s face turn.)
(4) BRONSON REED vs. KARRION KROSS
Kross’s entrance is still fantastic, in case you were wondering. NXT has done a good job of not showing it too often, to build suspense for the next time.
Reed hit some elbows to get the surprise upper hand, but ran into a chop to the throat. Kross hit a big boot in the corner. Kross stalked Reed and hit an exploder suplex. Kross ran into a forearm and Reed hit a few more. German suplex with a release by Reed, but Kross essentially no-sold. Shot exchange in the center of the ring as the announcers were impressed that Reed was in it. Northern Lights suplex by Kross. Short-arm clothesline took Reed down. Doomsday Saito suplex by Kross into the Kross Jacket.
Kross stared down the referee when she tried to raise his arm, but accepted when Scarlett did the same.
WINNER: Karrion Kross at 2:22.
(Wells’s Analysis: NXT is pretty good at these squashes that still give the loser a little something to hang his hat on. Kross is as hot as any act right now, and a lapsed fan who came back this week just said to me “hell, just put him over either the Raw or SmackDown champion with that act right now.”)
-McKenzie Mitchell asked Adam Cole which of the three in tonight’s main event he’d like to face, since a title unification match takes place in a couple of weeks. Cole sarcastically entertained the question before mocking it and walking away.
-Mercedes Martinez vignette. She says she’s not there to play nice or play by the rules. She’ll turn the division upside down.
(5) RHEA RIPLEY vs. ALIYAH (w/Robert Stone)
Aliyah entered second. She begged Rhea to give chase, then tied herself up in the ropes, but Rhea snatched her out and tossed her effortlessly. Aliyah elbowed out but Rhea hit a dropkick that sent Aliyah outside. A disheveled as always (lately) Stone gave her some pointers. Aliyah dropped Rhea on her neck on the rope but Rhea caught a flying Aliyah. Aliyah wriggled free and yanked Rhea’s hair, and took her down but Rhea popped up and hit some knee strikes. Rhea mocked Stone on the outside and hit a press slam for two. Rhea went for the prism but Aliyah blocked. A second attempt was good enough to trap Aliyah, but Stone threw a shoe at Rhea to distract her. Rhea chased him down into the ring, and though he escaped, Aliyah couldn’t. Riptide finished. Stone jawed at Ripley from the outside, so perhaps this isn’t over, and Stone will form a stable?
WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 3:07.
(Wells’s Analysis: Entertaining for what it was, though I’m not sure why the effort was put into the Aliyah/Stone act to feed her to Ripley right away, though there could be more Robert Stone brand members in the future)
-Backstage, Johnny Gargano prepared for the main event.
(6) DEXTER LUMIS vs. RODERICK STRONG
Roddy entered with Bobby Fish, though Bobby was just trying to hype Roddy up for the match. Strong tried to run to the back but Fish stopped him and forced him to the ring, and Fish walked to ringside after all.
Lumis glared coldly as Strong struggled to even make eye contact. Strong bailed and told Fish he just wasn’t ready, but Fish sent him back in the room. A few people chanted “Dexter’s gonna kill you” and Strong told the ref to kick them out. Strong bailed again and said he wasn’t ready. Fish said he was born to do this and he’s totally ready. Strong went back in and out once more and the PC crowd rained down with boos. Lumis follwed Strong out this time and stalked Roddy, who ran away, accidentally jumping into the plexiglass. Strong got up and ran off. Bobby Fish yelled to the back, and Lumis got behind him and briefly put on the Kaji Gatame until Fish wriggled free and ran away.
WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 1:49 by countout.
-Via Zoom, Robert Stone (with Aliyah) said they needed a rematch to William Regal. Regal liked the idea of “them” getting a rematch so he gave Stone and Aliyah a handicap against Rhea. Stone said that isn’t what he meant, but he talked himself into it and demanded that when he wins, Rhea Ripley has to join the Robert Stone brand. Regal said he doesn’t make that kind of decision. Rhea popped into frame, slapped Stone on the chest “playfully,” looked at the tablet and told Regal she was fine with all that, and she’ll see them next week.
(Wells’s Analysis: With Rhea kind of stuck as far as the championship picture goes, they’ve found a decent way to put some fun into a feud that would otherwise be a meaningless squash.)
-Next week, Mia Yim, Tegan Nox, Candice LeRae and Dakota Kai will go in a fatal four-way to determine the #1 contender for the women’s championship. Additionally, Roderick Strong will face Dexter Lumis in a Strap Match, NXT’s first ever.
(7) KEITH LEE (c) vs. FINN BALOR vs. JOHNNY GARGANO – Triple Threat match for the North American Championship; winner will face Adam Cole with both titles on the line in two weeks
Gargano was introduced first, followed by Balor. Champ entered last. The ring announcer handled formal intros. Gargano was booed. Balor got a tweener-leaning-heel reaction, so they treat Finn in accordance with his competition. There was a “Keith Lee” chant.
Gargano immediately slipped out of the ring to start. Collar-and-elbow in the ring. Lee took Balor to a corner and set him up, but made a clean break as referee Drake Wuertz separated them. Balor jumped at Lee, who caught him. Both challengers charged at Lee but he blocked both of them down to the mat as the match went to a quick commercial at about 19 minutes to the hour.
Upon return, Johnny Gargano jumped on Keith Lee’s back for a headlock. Lee tossed Gargano away, and Balor picked up where Gargano left off, and Lee went down to a knee. The crowd stomped him into it and he backed into a corner to break. Finn ran the ropes for some forearms on Lee as Gargano sold. Both challengers charged him again and he suplexed both at once. Gargano looked to take down Lee, but Lee kept him at bay. Balor jumped on Lee’s back for another sleeper while Gargano worked Lee’s leg. Lee still tossed Balor off of him and reached down, yanked up Gargano and threw a big left to throw Gargano from the ring.
All three were outside the ring. As Lee stalked Gargano, Balor jumped into frame and hit a sling blade on Lee. Gargano and Balor teamed up to put Lee into the steel steps to finally ground him to head into another commercial.
A commercial hyped next week’s show being billed as “The Great American Bash.” Apparently that was decided after this show was filmed because they haven’t mentioned it before now.
In the ring, the challengers faced off while keeping Lee outside the ring. Slingshot spear by Gargano to Finn for two. Gargano hit a few chops and went for another slingshot, but Balor threw him off. Balor quickly changed course to hit a tope con giro on Lee, then hit a Final Cut on Gargano for two. Sling blade to Gargano for two. Finn made his Bullet Club fingers and Lee, for the first time in a while, popped up into the frame and then hit a slingshot cross-body on both challengers. Lee stood between the two and threw them both to corners, then hit running splashes. Balor chopped down on Lee and hit a double stomp. Finn went for Gargano but Lee put him up in the electric chair. Finn wriggled into a sleeper on Lee. Gargano superkicked Finn and then hit a slingshot DDT and Lee casually yanked Gargano off at the two count. Lee wanted a slam but Gargano hit a guillotine. Slam to the mat and Lee bailed. Tope by Gargano on Lee. Gargano went for a tope on Finn on the other side, but Balor caught Gargano. Balor had Gargano up for 1916 but Lee hit the Pounce on both.
Lee and Balor reentered the ring. Lee looked out at Gargano to make sure he was still out, and he lifted up Balor high for a powerslam. Balor popped up and hit a double stomp. He charged in the corner but Gargano hit a superkick. Chaos ensued with all three hitting big moves in quick succession. Gargano went for a rollup on Lee with his feet on the ropes, but Lee kicked out. Lee hit the Big Bang Catastrophe on Gargano and got a deep two count, broken up as Finn came down with Coup de Grace, but Lee moved so Finn would hit Gargano. Lee picked up Finn and hit Big Bang Catastrophe on him as well to finish.
WINNER: Keith Lee at 19:40.
(Wells’s Analysis: Instead of solely relying on kickouts, there was some real psychology here as the two smaller men worked overtime to finally take down Lee, but Lee got back into it as they tried to finish each other off and he was able to pick the bones. This was a fairly straightforward result, as the real doubt is on the Lee-Cole match to come, but near the end there was a little bit of doubt as the usual schmoz ensued. I’d love for NXT to continue leaning in this direction, with a focus on a coherent story in triple threats that doesn’t necessitate the usual long stretch of near-falls)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Velveteen Dream was, predictably, not on this show as questions abound about things he may have done. The rest of the roster was used efficiently again, though this show was very short on in-ring minutes minus the main event (the other six combined for just 25 minutes) as other contenders took baby steps toward their next major programs. With a big show already planned for July 8th, the offhand announcement that next week’s show would be the Great American Bash was completely out of nowhere, though given it’s three days before Independence Day, I guess now would be the time, and it’s meant to be a counter-program to Fyter Fest (the Vince McMahon who ran the first Royal Rumble opposite Starrcade is still alive and well). Tonight’s show was solid, though I wouldn’t point to any single thing that’s absolutely must-see, as that’s being saved for next week and the week after.
Follow me on social media @spookymilk, and check out PWT Talks NXT tonight live at the link at the top of the page, or listen tomorrow when the file is up. Cheers.