SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
•Mia Yim vs Candice LaRae – Street Fight – HIT : Candice barely made her way out out from backstage before Mia Yim attacked her from behind. I personally appreciated how quickly they jumped into the action, especially for a feud that’s been featured this heavily. Street fights, a lot of times, are used to hide weaknesses of one or more opponents. This way the weapons and lack of rules can add to the story and mask any injury or weakness that may prevent a talent from having a traditional wrestling match. That was not the case here tonight. Yim and LaRae are two of the best female talents on the roster. They used the tables, chairs, kendo sticks, trash cans and other weapons to enhance their match. Not mask their shortcomings.
Something that they haven’t done before was stick with the downed competitors on split screen during commercial after the match concluded. They showed Gargano coming down to the ring and helping LaRae to the back and Yim celebrating her victory with the few “fans” in attendance. Very weird choice to do this. It was nice to see Yim get praised by her peers, but nothing they showed felt important enough to warrant split screen during commercial.
•Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Drew McIntyre, Mark Henry speak on Adam Cole vs Keith Lee – HIT : I forget the context of the conversation, but I was talking to my buddy Conrad years ago about Attitude era wrestlers. He said something to me along the lines of “Mark Henry, man, I loved how strange Sexual Chocolate was, but I don’t know if anyone has ever uttered the phrase ‘Mark Henry is my favorite wrestler’.”
At the time, I didn’t disagree. But I had also missed the “Hall of Pain” run, as I wasn’t watching wrestling then. Now that I’ve gone back and seen some of what he brought to the table, Mark Henry is definitely the legend that WWE portrays him to be. Add the current WWE champion and a smattering of legends to the analysis, and it made the match feel that much bigger.
•Bronson Reed vs. Tony Nese – MISS : “I’ll take ‘Matches that I couldn’t care less’ about for $2000, Alex!”. Reed did call out Karrion Kross a couple weeks ago, sure, but he hasn’t been pushed at all lately outside of that show of courage. And he got his clock cleaned by Kross to boot! Tony Nese… well, it’s Tony Nese. He hasn’t really made any sort of a splash in the WWE as a whole in his tenure outside of a short WWE Cruiserweight title run. Wasn’t The Great American Bash booked to counterprogram AEW’s Fyter Fest? I can’t imagine that anyone would hear about this match that was in the middle of watching Fyter Fest and flipped over to NXT.
Now, I don’t want to bash on either talent here. This isn’t their fault. The match itself was actually pretty good. But they put them in an odd position to try and draw eyes away from Fyter Fest with just the most thinly veiled attempt at a build when neither competitor is a draw as of now. The match itself was hit-worthy. This gets a miss because I personally feel like this match felt so completely out of place on a show that’s supposed to be huge.
•Robert Stone Finally Showered – HIT : Robert Stone and Aliyah were shown backstage trying to recruit Shotzi Blackheart. Robbie even seemed to have a nice new suit, hair slicked back and looked like the Robert Stone of old. Shotzi turned them down and then Killian Dain came out of nowhere and destroyed Stone. As Shotzi ran over Stone with her tank, Stone’s screams of “I’m DYING!” were perfect.
They stuck with the split screen during commercial again this segment while officials tried to help Robert Stone to his feet, and then showed U.E. arriving at the arena. Great move by WWE here. Keep eyes on USA network, and the fingers off of the remote to flip over to AEW.
•Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Johnny Gargano – HIT : Here’s a match I’ve wanted to see, just not under these circumstances. Similar to Reed vs. Nese, this match really didn’t have a build, promotion or anything like that. At least that I’m aware of, perhaps maybe on social media? Swerve hasn’t been built up as a competitor on the level as Gargano as of yet, so on paper this seemed like the equivalent of John Cena vs. Heath Slater, AJ Styles vs. Bo Dallas or The Undertaker vs. The Gobbledy Gooker on paper in terms of Star power.
Just because Swerve doesn’t have the same star power as Gargano, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t deliver! Technically sound mat wrestling and submissions, high flying flippy stuff and actual ring psychology, I couldn’t have asked for a better wrestling contest for a match that I wasn’t super excited about watching without a build. No, I didn’t think Swerve had a chance in hell to win. But the fact that he had a competitive and lengthy match with one of the top talents in NXT says a lot about what they think of him in the back as far as I’m concerned.
•Shirai vs. Nox Hype Video – 50/50 : I loved the Io Shirai parts of this video package. Her ominous Japanese, to the way they shot her underwater, this was so well done. Tegan Nox’s parts were done well, but it seemed much more generic than Shirai’s. Almost like they were two video packages mashed together. Nox also said she was sick of people seeing her as the “Comeback kid” and she wanted to show everyone what else she stood for. Please! Please do! Because without that comeback story, she doesn’t really have a story or gimmick.
•Legado del Fantasma vs. Breezango & Drake Maverick – HIT : Every time Breezango make their entrance, I wonder how they can outdo themselves. This wasn’t nearly as good as the spacemen or Emporium, but the throwback to the Conquistadores was certainly appreciated. I loved the emotion out of Drake throughout the entire contest, further showing why he should have never been released in the first place. Legado del Fantasma looked great together, wonderful chemistry between the trio. The whole match built to Maverick finally getting his hands on Escobar, and what a climax it was. Of course, Legado del Fantasma needed to win their first match as a stable, but Drake brought every ounce of fight in him to try and get the win here. High energy, great storytelling, amazing wrestling.
•Mercedes Martinez vs. Santana Garrett – HIT : Finally! Mercedes Martinez makes her actual debut, outside of that battle royal a few months ago. Santana was a good choice for a first singles opponent for Martinez. Mercedes can show off her power in the ring and squash a talent who is so low on the food chain that they can eat that loss. Martinez just has this presence about her, I can’t describe it. She has that veteran swagger about her. I really hope that NXT has big plans for her, she could potentially fill the void that Shayna left.
•Cameron Grimes and Damian Priest hype video – HIT : This is a feud that’s been building for weeks now and next week they’ll clash. Very well produced segment, and looking forward to seeing what these two do together.
•Winner Takes All – NXT Champion Adam Cole vs. North American Champion Keith Lee – HIT: This match result was leaked last week and I had done everything in my power to avoid spoilers so I could watch this match as intended. The match started off relatively slow but picked up when Lee was thrown through the protective Plexiglass. While we’re on the Plexiglass, what the heck is the point if you are going to throw someone through it each week?! Ugh. I don’t have much to say about the match itself, it was exactly as I thought it would be – a great performance by two of the greatest talents on the roster. I do want to point out that both my cohosts on PWT Talks NXT predicted a screwy finish here, but I was pulling for a Keith Lee Dual Champion for weeks now! Well deserved!