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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
JULY 1, 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
Tonight after NXT, join Nate Lindberg and Tom Stoup to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.
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-I’m not going to be in a quiet environment tonight (we’re at a vacation house that’s too wide open for that), so Tom and Nate will be doing PWT Talks NXT live without me this time. I’ll host as usual next week.
-Hype for Great American Bash – it’s back. Shots of NWA stars were interspersed with shots of those that will be in the ring tonight. Io Shirai was subtitled despite her English being perfectly understandable. There was a red, white and blue theme in the arena, and the ramp was flanked by two cars of those colors. The Great American Bash apron lined the ring.
(1) TEGAN NOX vs. MIA YIM vs. DAKOTA KAI vs. CANDICE LERAE – four-way elimination match to determine #1 contender for the Women’s Championship
Order of entrance was Nox-Kai-Yim-LeRae. The usual PC crowd was in attendance. Mauro casually tacked on that this was an elimination match, which wasn’t mentioned previously.
The heels bailed, and Yim and Nox went at it. Yim got dumped and LeRae tossed her into the steps. LeRae ran in but Yim rolled her up for two. Kai reentered and did a drop toehold to Nox on the apron. Both left the ring and LeRae wanted a tope, but Yim hit a dropkick as she ran. Yim missed a cannonball and LeRae wiped her out, then hit a bulldog on Kai on the apron with a really ugly landing. LeRae and Yim fought on a turnbuckle while the ref checked on Kai, who was apparently okay. All but Yim reentered and hit big kicks in the corner. The faces did a tandem slam on Kai on top of LeRae. Yim hit LeRae with Seoul Food to take her out surprisingly quickly, and the match went to split-screen commercial.
FIRST ELIMINATION: LeRae by Yim at 4:03.
Upon full-screen return, the faces were teaming up on Kai in a corner, each hitting a cannonball. The faces covered at the same time for two. Kai bailed, and Nox and Yim shared a handshake before going to blows. Yim hit a big jab, then dumped Nox after baiting her in. Kai jumped into the ring and hit a slam on Nox, and Yim reentered and hit a dragon suplex on Kai. All three women hit a corner, and Yim hit flying headscissors on both (using Kai as a stair to get to Nox). Yim hit a tope on both women as they bailed.
Yim brought Kai back into the ring and hit Code Blue on Kai for two. Nox rolled her up with a crucifix for two. Yim hit Nox with Seoul Food, and Nox ran out of the ring. Kai rolled up Yim with an Okana roll to eliminate her. Split-screen commercial again. Mauro sold what just happened as a sort of miscommunication between the babyfaces that should tease tension, though it wasn’t entirely clear why this moment was different from the usual multi-person schmoz.
SECOND ELIMINATION: Yim by Kai at 10:01.
Kai and Nox were exchanging big forearms and palm strikes. The crowd stomped their feet and slapped the Plexiglass as it went on. Kai hit a superkick to take down Nox. Nox got up and hit a big headbutt, but it was a bad angle that easily caught the leg slap and showed light on their heads. Nox hit some lariats and backed Kai into a corner, then hit a couple of running back elbows. Then a running European uppercut. Kai fell to the bottom turnbuckle and Nox hit a nasty-looking cannonball, then covered for two. Kai ran right into a fallaway slam by Nox for two. There was a “that was awesome” chant, but it’s been…fine.
Nox went up, and Kai gave chase and slammed her to the mat. Kai-ropractor got a long two. Kai hit her feet and brought up Nox, then whaled on her with forearms, then kicks to boos. Kai put up Nox in a fireman’s carry, but she wriggled free and hit a falcon arrow for two. Nox wanted a Shiniest Wizard, but Kai reversed and caught Nox in a submission. Nox rolled her up to break, then hit another headbutt, thankfully from a better angle. Molly-Go-Round, Shiniest Wizard, and that’s it.
WINNER: Tegan Nox at 20:30.
(Wells’s Analysis: Kai was used as a red herring as she postured and claimed she was coming for Io Shirai, which allowed this surprise finish (though with Yim pinning LeRae and then Kai pinning Yim, those who know the unwritten booking rules of elimination matches probably saw this coming). This was fairly disjointed, with no flow, until just two were left. Even then there were some soft moments, but it got much cleaner as the two went to the finish. As always, the biggest issue is that Nox has a big push but no discernible personality)
-Damian Priest, backstage, challenged Cameron Grimes. He said the beating he gives Grimes will live forever.
-Elsewhere backstage, Bayley hyped up Sasha Banks for her match later with Io Shirai, which appears to be non-title as they haven’t promoted it as being for the Championship.
(2) ONEY LORCAN vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER
This should be stiff. Some dork in the PC started a “USA” chant, as if the Full Sail crowd would do that in this situation.
The two exchanged shots early. Headlock by Lorcan, who worked it into a leg scissors. Thatcher wriggled free and hit a bow and arrow stretch. To their feet. Thatcher wanted the S-grip and Lorcan fought it off. Thatcher lifted Lorcan with one arm, but Lorcan took Thatcher down with a leg scissors. Thatcher reversed and hit a short headlock, then hit a snap mare and put on an arm lock. He pushed Lorcan’s shoulders to the mat for two. Thatcher continued working the left arm and Lorcan got a rope break, though Lorcan put down Lorcan with a double wrist lock.
More quick reversals in the ring, and Lorcan hit a snap mare and wrenched back Thatcher’s arms. Another “USA” chant. This is not a foreign menace character. Weird. Lorcan added a knee between the shoulder blades. Thatcher got to his feet and hit an Irish whip, then ran into a back elbow. Lorcan went up but Thatcher put him down and out with a running elbow of his own heading into another split-screen commercial.
Thatcher had Lorcan grounded, but Lorcan fought his way to his feet. Thatcher hit a belly-to-belly suplex to stop Lorcan’s upward momentum, and Lorcan rolled from the ring. The ref counted to five and Lorcan hit the apron, though Thatcher hit some shots there. Thatcher wanted a suplex into the ring, but Lorcan rolled through and hit a half-and-half suplex and a running European uppercut for two.
Shot exchange in the middle of the ring. Lorcan fired himself up after taking a huge palm strike and he controlled for a moment, and took down Thatcher with a chop. Lorcan put on a half-crab as the crowd fired up. Thatcher couldn’t reach the rope, but he was able to wriggle back and put a – knee crab? – on. He went for the Fujiwara armbar but Lorcan took him down. Butterfly suplex and a float-over by Thatcher for two. He went for the Sugar Hold, but Lorcan fishhooked Thatcher to avoid it for a second. Thatcher put on the Fujiwara armbar for a quick tap. After the bell, Thatcher pulled back much further to make an impression. Thatcher over-celebrated his violent win.
WINNER: Timothy Thatcher at 11:29.
(Wells’s Analysis: The occasionally hard-hitting submission-fest you’d expect. Lorcan is a perfect step-over guy for Thatcher at this point, and a guaranteed good match for him. It went a little longer than I expected, but I’m sure NXT is going for heavy in-ring minutes all night tonight)
-Karrion Kross vignette. Tick-Tock, Adam Cole.
(3) RHEA RIPLEY vs. ALIYAH & ROBERT STONE – Handicap match
Aliyah and Stone entered second. Stone’s glasses were gone, and he had a boxing jacket on. He fired himself up and put in a mouth guard before the match, making a big production of it, as if it’ll be a factor in the match. Stone did some sparring with Aliyah, then put on some big silly goggles. Stone sent Aliyah out of the ring as Phillips laughed at his decision to get in there with Rhea.
Stone danced around a lot, then got taken down with a big forearm and he bailed. Aliyah jumped in for a headscissor takedown. Stone distracted Rhea at a corner and Aliyah took her down for two. Aliyah wanted a – headscissors? – but Rhea put her up in the electric chair for a massive slam on Aliyah. It got two as Stone kicked Rhea to break. Rhea planted Stone to the outside and she made a production of inviting him back in, but Aliyah sailed through the ropes and took down Rhea by the hair leading to split-screen commercial.
Throughout the break, Ripley would get control of one opponent just long enough for the other to interfere and take control. Back to full screen, Stone had a Boston Crab applied as Aliyah added a headlock. Rhea pushed Stone off of her but Aliyah broke and hit a kick to the breadbasket. Stone and Aliyah hit a double suplex, and both tried to cover. Aliyah said “you’re the agent, I’m the client!” and covered for two. They tried again, and this time Ripley reversed and suplexed both.
Back bodydrop for Aliyah. Dropkick for Stone. Rhea drove Aliyah into Stone in a corner, then hit her short-arm clotheslines. She did the ripcord to Aliyah, which dropped Stone into a corner, then slammed Aliyah down on Stone where she hit him right in the crotch. Stone tried to sneak a rollup on Rhea but she wasn’t having it. Rhea put up both in the Prism Trap and got the tap.
WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 9:52.
(Wells’s Analysis: Fun and satisfying. Not sure if this is a dry run for more intergender action or just a funny one-off based on Robert Stone being a weakling in NXT canon)
-In a vignette, Roderick Strong begged Dexter Lumis to get out of his head.
-Tom Phillips said this hour would have even less commercial interruption thanks to the sponsor, Mountain Dew.
(4) DEXTER LUMIS vs. RODERICK STRONG – Strap Match
Strong wanted Lumis to back up while referee Drake Wuertz put the strap on his end.
Strong jumped Lumis while the strap wasn’t on Strong yet, and Lumis fought him off and forced the strap on him to officially begin the match. Lumis dumped Strong, then yanked him back into the apron. Lumis followed Strong out of the ring and Strong threw some shots against the plexiglass. Strong wrapped up some strap and swung, but Lumis moved just in time. Back into the ring. Lumis leaned on Roddy’s throat with a boot in a corner and hit a big back bodydrop, strap-assisted.
To a corner, Lumis beat down Strong in a corner. Lumis closed in on Roddy, who put up his two legs for a dropkick from the mat. He got up and threw chops that Lumis no-sold. Lumis dumped Roddy to the apron. Roddy tried to leave but Lumis yanked the strap to bring him in. Roddy got bealed into the ring, then went hard at Roddy in a corner but ate boots. Roddy hit a knee to Lumis’s face, then threw shots in the corner. Roddy rolled up some strap and hit shots as he mounted Roddy in the corner, but Lumis slipped under and hit an uppercut on Roddy.
Roddy bailed again on the ramp side, near the two cars (is this where they come into play?). Strong tried to get away over some steps but Lumis dragged him back. The two went up to the top of the ramp and exchanged shots, and Lumis threw Roddy face-first into one of the big pieses of the set.
Lumis went to one of the cars and opened the trunk, and Roddy freaked out. Phillips noted it’s a Dodge Viper so it’s a tiny trunk. Roddy got some shots in and hit an Olympic Slam at the bottom of the ramp, right on the show logo. Strong rolled Lumis into the ring and got some strap together and smacked Lumis on the back with it. Again. “Stay down, Dexter,” Roddy yelled. Roddy mounted Lumis and threw fists, then hit a basement dropkick and threw some more fists. He covered for one.
“Do you know who I am?” Roddy yelled down at Lumis. Roddy wanted a gut-wrench suplex, but Lumis fought him off. Roddy put on a headlock, while trying to use the strap in some way (it didn’t look clear). Lumis fought out of it and took some shots to Roddy, who shut down the flurry with a step-up enzuigiri. “You embarrassed me,” Roddy yelled as he used the strap as a weapon again. Roddy hit a running forearm, then came up for another but got turned inside-out with a big lariat.
Lumis dominated Roddy in a corner with lariats, then covered for two. Lumis hit a slingshot suplex, then prepared a length of strap and smacked Roddy repeatedly, who sold it like death. Roddy reversed a sleeper and then hit a jumping knee. To the corner, Roddy put Lumis up on the turnbuckle and followed for a superplex. Long two count. Roddy used the strap to wrap up Lumis at the ankles, and he sat back in a Boston Crab. Lumis fought to the ropes and dropped out and came loose of the straps. Lumis slammed Roddy on the apron.
With Wuertz up with Roddy, Bobby Fish tripped Lumis on the apron. Backbreaker by Roddy in the ring for two. An interfering Fish ate strap, and Lumis ran Roddy into Fish to dump him. Lumis put on The Silence, using the ropes for extra pain, and got the tap.
WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 15:59.
(Wells’s Analysis: There were a few fun spots here, though all in all it was just okay, and it was likely obvious that Lumis would be getting his win back. Now that Lumis has finally taken down one of Undisputed Era, what’s next? With Velveteen Dream still potentially off TV, and Cole soon to be likely tied up with Karrion Kross, his next move isn’t obvious)
-PRIME TARGET: Keith Lee vs. Adam Cole. Tom Phillips hypes next week’s continuation of Great American Bash, leading into this segment. Lee gets a few minutes of good hype interspersed with some dopey soundbytes (NXT is now N..X…Lee). Cole responds and says not many can say they had a better year than Keith Lee…except for him. He said Keith Lee on SmackDown doesn’t happen without Adam Cole defending against Daniel Bryan. He said he’s the one who spearheads everything. Lee said when the dust settles, just one man will hold these championships above his head – and it’s Keith Lee. Adam Cole says that when the chips are down, Keith Lee fails, and he succeeds, which is why he’s the longest running champion ever. Lee said that while Cole might be undisputed, he’s unstoppable. Cole says “roughshot” again. Are they just trolling now? The screen hyped next week’s Winner Take All match.
(Wells’s Analysis: Prime Target was well produced, as always, though dangerously over-produced with the nonstop catchphrasing. This match is intriguing; the obvious finish here, historically, is some kind of mess where both guys keep their titles, but NXT isn’t known for that kind of schmoz and this could genuinely be Keith Lee’s moment. If it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if Karrion Kross is involved somehow, leading to his own feud with Adam Cole)
-Finn Balor vignette, brought to you by Mountain Dew (the commercial break was just 90 seconds long rather than the usual 210 or so).
-Backstage, Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae said everyone was jealous, and that’s why they teamed up earlier. LeRae ran out of frame to attack Mia Yim, who was around. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott tried to break them up, which led to Johnny and him getting into it verbally.
-Legado del Fantasma entered the ring in their sweet suits, led by Santos Escobar. “Once revered – the culture used to mean something. It used to transcend the wrestling ring. We were movie stars, icons, heroes, role models. Remember that? Our historic tradition turned into…a side show? You settled. You were led to believe that lucha libre was a bunch of guys in masks doing flips. Well you’re wrong! Because we are more than a match. Legado del Fantasma is going to rediscover lucha libre in our image…in MY image. We’re going to restore its honor and leave a legacy we can be proud of. We are going to right the wrongs of those who disrupted what it means to be a lucha libre artist. We’re going to build an empire. I am Santos Escobar…and THIS…”
Drake Maverick’s music played. Drake hit the ramp with a neck brace on. He ripped it off and ran to the ring, and Escobar stayed back and let Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde take him apart. Santos said “I told you, little guy…no one can touch me.”
Breezango hit the ring and fought off Wilde and Mendoza. The three babyfaces stared at Escobar, who considered his position and rolled out of the ring. Fandango said next week, they’re going to have no place to run and hide.
(Wells’s Analysis: Another great segment featuring Escobar, who continues to elevate the Cruiserweight division. I figured someone would have to make the save for Drake soon, though I figured it would be Atlas/Swerve or Atlas/Kushida. I think we have next week’s opener figured now)
-McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Cameron Grimes, who mocked Damian Preist’s low voice, then said he couldn’t think about the past because he had his foot on the gas. He got hugely fired up and claimed he’d be the #1 contender and he was going to the moon.
-The six-man is made official for next week, as well as Mia Yim vs. Candice LeRae in a Street Fight. Don’t forget Keith Lee vs. Adam Cole, Winner Take All.
(6) IO SHIRAI vs. SASHA BANKS
Bayley and Sasha arrived in a convertible at ringside. Bayley had a goofy American flag-themed hat on as well as a Sasha jacket. She was carrying a dog also, though she left it with someone at ringside. Mauro finally said aloud it was non-title. It was 16 to the hour when the bell sounded.
Banks backed Io into a corner and posed. Banks had red, white and blue accents on her usual gear style that looked pretty sharp. Rope run, cartwheel by Io, who begged Sasha in. To the corner, Pele kick by Shirai. Missile dropkick by Io and Sasha bailed, just to get hit by a tope. Io yelled “It’s my NXT” to the nearby Bayley.
Io tossed Sasha back into the ring and put the boots to her in the corner. Double knees and a cover for two. Io had Sasha mounted in the corner, and Bayley honked one of the horns to distract Io and lead to Sasha taking control. Rear chinlock by Sasha, who charged the corner and hit double knees herself for a two-count as Mauro said it was a non-title affair, but a dream match. Mauro said it was Terry Funk’s 76th birthday, and he had Mauro’s favorite Bash match with Ric Flair in 1989.
Double running knees in the middle of the ring by Sasha, who rolled up Io for two. Sasha wrenched back Io’s arms. Io hit some knees to the breadbasket and a headscissor takedown, then charged a corner but ran into knees. Io struck back and went up the turnbuckle with Sasha and hit a Frankensteiner. Both women sold on the mat.
The two ran at one another. Shirai with a block, a missile dropkick, then a 619 for two. Io sold for a moment and then hit a double underhook for a piledriver but Sasha wriggled free. Sasha rolled through a German suplex attempt and hit her feet, but it was a hard and awkward landing. Banks Statement, but Io rolled up Sasha to break. Crucifix by Sasha for two. Double stomp by Io. Running knees in the corner by Shirai. Io went up for a moonsault but Banks popped up and put Io in the tree of woe, then slapped Io a few times. Sasha said nobody would be there without her. Sasha backed up to the opposite corner and went for running knees, but Shirai pulled herself up. Moonsault missed but Io hit her feet. Banks hit Meteora from the top for a long two. “This is awesome” chant was earned by the PC crowd in this case.
Io and Sasha threw fists with Io on the apron. Io wanted a springboard but Sasha held her off. Io hit the top rope and Sasha caught her in place and threw a thrustkick. Sasha rolled out and hit a sunset flip to the plexiglass. The PC crowd got loud and rowdy, and Bayley yelled as annoyingly as she could. “You don’t go here” chant by the crowd distracted Sasha briefly. Sasha came off the top but Io caught her in a crossface. Sasha dragged her way toward Bayley, and Bayley used one of the Women’s tag belts to distract the ref and throw a forearm. Sasha wanted to use the other belt, but Asuka showed up out of nowhere and spit mist. Io hit her lightning-quick moonsault to finish.
Asuka danced to Io’s music and posed at Sasha and Bayley, who jawed at her. Asuka continued “presenting” Io as the heels complained on the ramp.
WINNER: Io Shirai at 14:01.
The announcers ran down the card for next week’s night 2 of the Great American Bash. Asuka kept it whimsical with Io as the show went off the air.
(Wells’s Analysis: Easily the match of the night, as one would likely guess with a glance at the card. The appearance of Asuka got a genuine pop out of me and was a very real surprise here. Though Shirai’s defense against Tegan Nox wasn’t officially slated for next week, I don’t know why it would be held off the show unless there’s a longer story to tell (and hopefully there is, and Nox can start showing some real personality).)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This mostly felt like a better-than-average week of NXT with a gimmick tied to it to promote a bit of counter-programming, because indeed it was. The women got a huge showcase this week, with long opening and closing segments plus a good bit of minutes for Rhea’s match. Prime Target was fun, but kept short as this was all about nonstop ring action and likely will be again next week.
Velveteen Dream is becoming more conspicuous by his absence, and Dexter Lumis is likely feeling the effects of that absence, as it seems a tag team title challenge might have been in their semi-near future.
72 minutes of in-ring action is a huge step up over the last couple of weeks (it’s right around double what we’ve gotten, and even better than double when you figure in commercial breaks). It’ll be very interesting to see these ratings vs. AEW’s later, and to compare show quality. Surely the twitterverse will be fair and even-handed.
Catch Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg on this week’s PWT Talks NXT, and I’ll catch you next week. Cheers.