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WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
JULY 8, 2020
TAPED 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 me with cohosts Nate Lindberg and Tom Stoup to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.
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-Recaps from last Wednesday’s Great American Bash night one, ending with Asuka’s appearance and Io Shirai’s victory over Sasha Banks. Hype for tonight’s main event, Adam Cole vs. Keith Lee for all the gold, followed.
-Tom Phillips announced that, like last week, this week’s show will be presented with limited commercial interruption.
(1) MIA YIM vs. CANDICE LERAE – Street Fight
LeRae was introduced but got jumped immediately at the top of the ramp by Yim. After tossing LeRae into the ring, Yim tossed in tons of weapons from underneath the ring, and the announcers made sure to use every work they could think of that wasn’t “weapons.” As Mia threw everything into the ring, Phillips said there must be an IKEA under the ring.
The bell didn’t sound until Yim entered the ring, which seemed unnecessary since it’s a Street Fight. The two went at each other with kendo sticks, and Yim went under the ring for a table as the PC crowd chanted for them. LeRae cut off the flurry and set the table long way up at a corner, then set up Mia against it. She charged, but Mia caught and slammed LeRae for two. The action spilled outside and Yim leaned on LeRae’s head with her boot. Irish whip, reversed, and Yim ate the ringpost. Ground and pound by LeRae, who dragged Yim up and yanked her shoulder into the ringpost twice, but Yim reversed and got LeRae the third time.
The two went through the barricade and Yim tossed LeRae onto some PC wrestlers, and then they went to a craft services table and LeRae emptied a fruit bowl and then bashed Mia with it. The two went up to a platform and Mia set something up, but LeRae produced an unseen fire extinguisher and sprayed LeRae with it. LeRae wanted a suplex from the top through the table, but Yim blocked and hit a shotgun dropkick and LeRae flew off and through the table as the show went to a split-screen commercial.
Back to full-screen, LeRae hit a drop toe-hold on Yim onto a table, then dropkicked her off of it for two. LeRae tried to shake the pain off and then went at Yim with some forearms. LeRae drove a chair down on the grounded Yim as the PC laid in on thick with the boos. LeRae searched under the ring and found more chairs, adding four to the three already in the ring. She brought Yim to her feet and hammered her with the trash can lid as the camera did that terrible snap-zoom that’s happening more and more on NXT lately after years of the show not being poisoned by it.
LeRae set up a chair flat across the ropes in one turnbuckle, but Yim reversed a suplex in the ring. Step-up enzuigiri by LeRae. Thrustkick by Yim. Both women sold on the mat as the crowd stomped their feet. To their feet, and there was a shot exchanged, won by Mia. Chops in the corner by Yim. Yim put a trash can on top of LeRae, always a hilarious visual, and hit a running kick. LeRae fell in the turnbuckle and Yim hit a cannonball on the trash can, then dragged LeRae out for two.
Yim found some brass knuckles, thought hard about it, and was about to go at LeRae but LeRae threw some kicks to take down Yim and then covered her in chairs. LeRae went up top to the corner with the flat table, but Yim popped up and beat down LeRae. She rearranged the chairs into a pile then went up to the table with LeRae. The table wobbled dangerously, but they did a good job of staying centered even as they threw fists. LeRae hit a swinging neckbreaker from the table down onto the chairs, and, exhausted, draped an arm back over Yim for the three count.
WINNER: Candice LeRae at 15:50.
(Wells’s Analysis: A very fun Street Fight that had some good spots but still allowed both to get some good wrestling in. With LeRae taking the first loss in the elimination match last week, a win was inevitable here. This feud, also involving Johnny Gargano and Keith Lee, has produced a lot of good matches. It appears to be over for now, though I won’t complain if they revisit it.)
-Mark Henry talked up Keith Lee’s accolades leading to tonight’s main event.
-The cameras rolled during the break, as Johnny Gargano went to the ring and helped Candice to her feet and helped her hobble to the back. Yim, alone in the ring, set up a chair and sat in it as the PC crowd cheered on the moral victory.
-A quick recap shows what led to the next match; Bronson Reed took issue with Tony Nese’s treatment of Leon Ruff in a match.
(2) BRONSON REED vs. TONY NESE
Nese showed off his eight-pack, then acted like he was searching Reed’s abs for the same. Reed body-blocked Nese to a turnbuckly. Nese shook it off and charged, but Reed caught him with a chinlock, then an arm wringer. Nese yanked Reed’s hair to get him to a corner, then speared inward. Nese backed up and did a few jumping jacks to an unimpressed Reed, who caught a jumping Nese and slammed him as he attempted a leapfrog. Big senton by Reed, and Nese bailed. Reed followed and hit Nese with a headbutt. Reed threw Nese into the ring but Nese put the apron over Reed to stun him and he threw fists.
Back into the ring, Nese threw some kicks to Reed’s right knee (called “left knee” by Beth) and Reed created some separation with a headbutt. Nese threw some shots but Reed yanked Nese back from the ropes and then hit a bionic elbow. Avalanche by Reed. He attempted another, but Nese hit him with his boots. Nese snapped Reed’s neck over the top rope and hit a quick moonsault for two. Nese went up but had to jump down when Reed charged. Reed hit a huge lariat to turn Nese inside out, then hit his frog splash to finish.
After the match, Reed did his pose and the crowd did it back.
WINNER: Bronson Reed at 5:18.
-Robert Stone and Aliyah found Shotzi Blackheart backstage, and told her she should join the Robert Stone brand because it was on fire. Yeah, a dumpster fire, Shotzi said. Stone said “You’re saying no to me?” as he threw his coffee cup behind him. The camera panned over and Stone’s cup had apparently hit Killian Dain, who slammed Stone to the ground. Shotzi drove her mini-tank over his leg as he screamed “I’M DYING!” and Aliyah apparently ran off.
(Wells’s Analysis: the classic way to use rotten heel managers is to have them escape physicality for weeks or even months, then get their comeuppance at major shows. Stone gets his comeuppance literally every time he’s on TV)
(3) ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT vs. JOHNNY GARGANO
Mat reversals to start. Johnny posed after pushing off Swerve and got booed. Front face lock by Gargano, who then trapped one of Swerve’s arms to the mat as he worked an armlock. He went after the digits of Swerve, who rolled out and tripped Gargano briefly, but Gargano reversed back and worked on Swerve’s digits. Mauro brought up Scott being the only person so far to beat Santos Escobar, which I was afraid they had forgotten.
After a couple of great reversals, both ended up outside. Swerve went in and Gargano tried to set up One Final Beat, but Swerve caught him and slammed him. Gargano went outside and Swerve hit a tope leading into a split-screen commercial.
Back from commercial, Gargano put Swerve on the mat and hit a running lariat for a one count. Swerve landed on his feet through a suplex attempt and threw a back elbow in the corner, then came off the top and hit a falling elbow to Gargano’s back. Gargano bailed and Swerve hit a running PK from the apron, then took Gargano back in and threw body shots. Big jumping DDT by Swerve for two. Swerve sold frustration.
To a corner, Gargano hopped to the apron and hit a slingshot spear for two. Gargano mounted Swerve in a corner for some punches but Swerve snuck through. Suplex by Swerve and the crowd got into it. Scott went for the House Call but Gargano moved. Quick reversals again, step-up enzuigiri by Gargano and House Call by Swerve, who was too groggy to cover. The crowd stomped as Swerve stalked Johnny, but Gargano slipped behind Swerve and put on an STF; Swerve rolled over for a long two count to break. Superkick by Gargano. Gargano wanted the GargaNo Escape but Swerve blocked and hit a JML Driver for two, and Swerve showed frustration again.
Swerve went up, but Gargano rolled to the apron, then went up to the turnbuckle and threw some shots to Swerve. He charged from the apron but Swerve kicked his face, sending him outside. Scott missed a double stomp and Johnny charged Swerve into the post, then hit a poison rana on the outside. Back into the ring, Gargano hit the One Final Beat DDT and finished.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 14:05.
(Wells’s Analysis: This is a great match on paper if given the minutes; they were, and they delivered. There were excellent reversals throughout and the two were almost able to create some doubt, although Gargano was the heavy favorite going in. Well worth seeing)
-Io Shirai-Tegan Nox hype. She said she and Tegan Nox were very similar. Tegan Nox said she was no longer the comeback kid – she’s been here all along. Shirai said the difference was that Io does it alone, and Nox needs support from her friends to get things done. Nox called her out because last week she was helped out by Asuka, but Io is right – it’s a weakness Nox has. She said this time, she’s faster, stronger and shinier than she’s ever been. Io said if she believes it’s her destiny to take this title from her in one week…she will be waiting.
(Wells’s Analysis: We didn’t get a real idea of who Nox is in this vignette, which is always the problem with her, but we got a mission statement and it came off well. Shirai’s segments were underwater, like in her video hyping the triple threat where she eventually won the championship. Very good hype for next week’s match)
(4) DRAKE MAVERICK & BREEZANGO vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Santos Escobar & Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza)
Legado del Fantasma had matching gear in black, gold and red. Drake said he wanted to start the match with Escobar, but Escobar slipped out and smiled. Fandango and Wilde opened. Quick reversals and an arm drag by Fandango. Float over by Fandango for one. Fandango draped Wilde on the ropes and tagged Breeze, but Wilde backed Breeze into the Legado corner and tagged Mendoza. Quick reversals again and Breeze hit a swinging neckbreaker. Tag to Drake, who threw a big shot to Mendoza and then jawed out at Escobar. Drake went at Mendoza but couldn’t keep his mind off Escobar. He didn’t pay for it (yet) and he tagged Breeze. Irish whip, Mendoza floated over the ropes and hit an enzuigiri and tagged Wilde for some tandem offense. Escobar and Mendoza slammed Wilde onto Breeze for two.
While hit an armbar to slow things down, but Breeze hit a jawbreaker and tagged Fandango, who hit a flying elbow and fought off Mendoza. Falcon Arrow for Wilde. The heels all bailed, and Fandango launched Drake onto them, then hit a slingshot splash on all three. Fandango may have tweaked a knee on it, as he came up gingerly. Drake looked to help out but the action went back into the ring. Wilde taunted Fandango as he couldn’t tag, so the leg injury was likely worked – I’m always nervous with Fandango. Wilde worked Fandango’s leg, then held an armbar and finally tagged in Escobar, who taunted the babyface corner and went at Fandango. Fandango fought back with some punches but Escobar took him down with a strike to the knee, then hit a kneeling abdominal stretch and tied up a leg as well.
Escobar threw an elbow across the back of Fandango’s neck, then tagged Mendoza, who worked on the left knee of Fandango. Mendoza dragged Fandango away as he tried to tag, and dropped an elbow to stop the attempt and dropped an arm on the back of the left knee. Mendoza dragged Fandango to a rope and dropped his full weight on Fandango’s left knee as his leg was draped over the bottom rope. Fandango was able to kick upward and send Mendoza to the outside, and then he hit a dropkick to the Plexiglass.
Both tagged, and Escobar and Drake were legal. Drake went nuts on Escobar with strikes and a big DDT. Bonzo gonzo as everyone got in the ring. Drake went up but Escobar kicked him to the mat, then hit the Phantom Driver for three. Mauro said Drake did everything he could, but Escobar still has his number.
WINNERS: Legado del Fantasma at 10:38.
(Wells’s Analysis: They’ve shown a lot of good restraint with Legado del Fantasma, not even getting the trio into the ring until this week. The match had a minimum of silly breakdowns and was an enjoyable six-man to build a little more toward the eventual inevitable rematch between Escobar and Maverick.)
-McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Gargano and LeRae. She said “Candice, tonight you beat Mia Yim” and LeRae made her say it two more times. Gargano said they had some wrongs that needed to be righted, but for now, they need to set off some fireworks of their own. LeRae showed a small eye roll as the two walked off.
-Imperium vignette. Nothing special; it existed to remind us that the tag team champions are still a part of the show, I guess. They haven’t done a lot since winning the championships.
-Drew McIntyre weighed in on the main event, and he picked Adam Cole to win, as he always does.
(5) SANTANA GARRETT vs. MERCEDES MARTINEZ
Garrett was back in her burlesque referee-looking gear that she wears when she works face. Martinez got a foreboding entrance in low light and had a subzero-style mask on. She stared down Garrett before the match started.
Garrett moved in and got kicked and punched for her troubles. To a corner, Martinez threw a loud forearm. Garrett slipped out and wanted a rollup but Martinez pushed her off. Martinez went for an abdominal stretch but Martinez held tight and tossed Garrett, then hit a big boot. Ground and pound by Martinez, who threw MMA-style rights as the crowd booed. Double underhook, but Martinez slipped out and threw shots. Martinez fought off an Okana roll but Garrett hit some shots until Martinez charged forward with a lariat. Fisherman buster finished.
WINNER: Mercedes Martinez at 2:39.
(Wells’s Analysis: Santana’s first win streak has ended at one. Martinez was thoroughly dominant, fighting off every hint of an attempt at offense. She’ll be a strong challenger for Io Shirai (or whoever) eventually; I’m interested to see how far they move her up the card.)
-Cameron Grimes-Damian Priest hype segment. The lead-up to next week’s match was recapped as both guys got some words in. Damian Priest said that next week, everyone would find out Grimes is a little bitch.
-Mick Foley weighed in on the main event, saying if Lee doesn’t come out with a quick win, Cole will win if it goes over ten minutes. Shawn Michaels hedged, and essentially said his heart says Lee even if his head is telling him it’s Cole. Tom Phillips said the match is up next; it’s about 30 minutes to the hour at this point.
-Asking Alexandria provided tonight’s theme song. I wasn’t aware they were still a thing. The announcers hyped next week’s top two matches – Shirai-Nox and Grimes-Priest.
(6) KEITH LEE (North American Champion) vs. ADAM COLE (NXT Champion) – Winner Takes All
The crowd grooved to Lee’s music, and he nodded in acknowledgement. Cole was shown walking from the back to Gorilla Position as the Undisputed Era theme got going. Alicia Taylor handled formal introductions in low light.
The bell sounded at 22 to the hour. Cole worked a headlock and put on the pressure as Lee tried to lift him. Lee finally wrenched one of Cole’s arms after he got free, and he gripped one of Cole’s hands. Cole went to the apron but Lee yanked him back in, then held him up with one arm as the announcers marveled. Cole broke free and threw some kicks; this simple opening was over two and a half minutes long. Lee shoved Cole out of the ring and got to the camera and asked “You remember Johnny Gargano?” Lee walked over to Cole, who popped up and drove Lee through Plexiglass.
Cole stopped the ref’s count, then went out and went back to work with forearms. He broke the count again as referee D.A. Brewer told him to bring it in the ring. Cole said to shut up. Lee pushed Cole off and got into the ring. Cole followed and hit a neckbreaker, then taunted Lee. Forearms and a big boot by Cole. Another neckbreaker by Cole for a one count. Cole drove knees to Lee’s back and then hit a triangle on Lee. Cole told Keith to quit as he laid it in. Cole leaned in and told Lee he was nothing. Lee grabbed Cole’s neck, but Cole kicked him off and hit another neckbreaker, this time for two.
Cole swaggered around the ring, saying Lee could never win the big one. Cole looked to move his knee brace for The Last Shot, but Lee grabbed his arm, popped up and slammed Cole into the turnbuckle. Rope run and a big powerslam by Lee for two. Splash in the corner by Lee. Lee said “I must break him” in Ivan Drago’s accent from Rocky IV. Backstabber by Cole for two, and Lee launched Cole off of him in the kickout.
Cole went out and to the corner, and Lee body-blocked to knock him to the apron. Lee went to the top and deadlifted Cole, then superplexed him. Lee was slow to recover, then covered for two. The crowd stomped and chanted for Lee as he stood over Cole. Cole snuck through Lee’s legs and dropkicked him in the back. Cole ran the ropes and charged right into a Lee powerbomb; Lee smartly hooked the far leg, but Cole draped a finger over the bottom rope to break the count as Lee looked on incredulously in a cute (perhaps overly cute for some) spot.
Cole went for a flash knee, but Lee moved and pounced. He spiked Cole to the mat for a long two. Lee dragged Cole near a corner, then smiled. He went up to the second turnbuckle and hit a moonsault for another long two. Cole sold pain and shock in the aftermath. Lee dragged Cole to his feet and trew him up in a fireman’s carry. He wanted Big Bang Catastrophe, but Cole snuck out and hit a superkick. Lee tried to fire up but Cole hit another. Shots to Lee’s knees. Last Shot by Cole to the back of Lee’s head for two. Cole muttered to himself in frustration.
Cole ran the ropes and Lee hit a big lariat. Bad landing for Cole, who took a ton of impact on the back of the neck as he couldn’t get all the way over. The ref got in and checked on him, and the match went on. Cole hit Panama Sunrise for a very long two as Mauro spewed shock that Lee had kicked out of the Last Shot as well as Panama Sunrise. Big “NXT” chant as the crowd stomped again.
Cole got to his feet and waited for Lee to hit his knees. Superkick, and two and three, for a long two count. The crowd stomped anew. Cole finally moved down his knee pad and hit the Last Shot to the back of Lee’s head. Instead of a cover, he went up the turnbuckle and told Lee to get up. He went for Panama Sunrise, but Lee caught him for a Spirit Bomb. Lee put up Cole and screamed as he hit Big Bang Catastrophe to become double champion. Genuine emotion took over for Lee as the crowd cheered Lee.
Lee held up his two belts proudly and showed them off as the announcers showed the many highlights. They show the bad spot on Cole’s neck again, which I could have done without.
Red, white and blue streamers rained down. Up in the sound booth overlooking the ring, Karrion Kross and Scarlett surveyed the scene.
WINNER: Keith Lee at 19:54.
(Wells’s Analysis: Excellent match. I felt strongly that this is where Cole would finally lose the championship, and many more knew this because of the spoiler by Saurav on Instagram. It would have been nice to get this in front of a crowd, but there’s no telling when there will be a crowd big enough to make it worth it, so there’s no point in waiting until the fire dies down. Lee now holds both heavyweight championships, and it’ll be interesting to see how the two are split up (will he end up in two matches on TakeOver?). I also appreciated that there was no interference from Undisputed Era nor Karrion Kross to sully the moment.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s a bummer that this was spoiled, but that might be an okay thing; like when Eric Bischoff forced Tony Schiavone to spoil the Mankind-Rock finish, it’s possible nobody would have tuned in for a heel retention, but a lot of people likely showed up for this title change. Last week the women dominated in the main event spot, so it’ll be interesting to see what the men did this week.
Like last week, this was a good episode of NXT with a theme crammed into it, but the main event was big enough that it really did warrant the spotlight it got. With two excellent men’s matches, one strong women’s street fight and nothing negative surrounding it, this really stands out as one of the best episodes in NXT in the USA era.
Join me, Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg on PWT Talks NXT tonight live, or stream late tonight or tomorrow. Follow me all over social media @spookymilk. Cheers.