7/15 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Io Shirai vs. Tegan Nox, Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes, Keith Lee’s first show as NXT Champion

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
JULY 15, 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


[HOUR ONE]

-Normally the recaps from last week work up to the main event, but this week it got to the Keith Lee-Adam Cole match immediately. It went to Lee emotionally reacting to his win, followed by top-carders saying he had a target on his back, went into a large amount of NXT stars saying his name (other than Dexter Lumis, who stared silently into the camera), and then ended with Karrion Kross saying “Tick Tock.” Good start.

-Lee’s music played, bringing him out to the ring. The PC crowd chanted for him and pounded the Plexiglass. Against the norm, the camera panned across them, showing even heels like Kona Reeves getting into it. Lee said he enjoyed the chant – it was like a choir – but he liked being introduced as double champion even better, so he had Alicia Taylor introduce him again. He said everyone’s had their struggles for the last couple of months, and he understands more than anyone – losses hurt. He said he feels it so strong right now – not just with the people here, not just with Alicia, but through the belts themselves. He laid out the belts on the mat in front of him. He said he celebrated and he enjoyed it, but reality says that the locker room all want the same opportunity that he earned. He said he had to acknowledge he’s not a self-made man; no one is. He had a trainer, Tim Brooks. He didn’t do it alone. He said there’s one more person who’s played a pivotal part in all this, and he may not realize it. He said he’d like to bring out his #1 frenemy, Dominik Dijakovic.

Luckily, Dijakovic’s music was queued up, bringing him out to the ring. Dominik told Keith that nobody was prouder than he was, but it’s not his moment. Lee disagreed. He said it was about the two of them, because the competition between them propelled him to his opportunities. He said he had a talk with William Regal, and perhaps the first challenger should be Dominik Dijakovic. Dijakovic smiled and asked if Lee meant both championships, and Lee said yes. Dijakovic asked when he wanted to do this, and Lee said how about tonight? Dominik started to balk about tonight, but Lee told him to just say yes. Dijakovic said yes, and they bumped fists.

-Graphics ran down that the Women’s Championship is also on the line, and Priest would face Grimes next.

(1) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. CAMERON GRIMES

Grimes attempted the Cave In before the bell, but Priest shoved him off. Priest took Grimes to the corner and stomped a mudhole before Grimes could remove his vest. Big back elbow in the corner by Priest. Arrow. Spinning back kick in the corner by Priest. Grimes bailed and finally ripped off his jacket. Back to the ring, Grimes hit a flying forearm, sending Priest out. Basement dropkick as Priest tried to reenter. Back to the ring, powerslam by Grimes for two. Grimes leaned on Priest in the corner, then dropkicked Priest after a rope run for two. Split-screen commercial started without the usual setup by the announcers.

Back to full screen, Priest blocked a suplex and threw rapid fire strikes, then turned Grimes inside out with a lariat. Priest missed a back elbow in the corner and Grimes clotheslined him over the top. Baseball slide missed, then both guys reversed impactful attempts until Priest hit a Razor’s Edge on the hardest part of the apron.

Back in the ring, flatliner by Priest for a long two. Priest wanted his finisher but Grimes hit an inside cradle for two. Grimes hit his twisting cross-body for another two, then sold frustration. Grimes told Priest not to ruin his moment, then threw a shot to the kneeling Priest, who fired up and threw some shots, but Grimes hit an enzuigiri. Grimes missed another Cave In and got tangled up in the ropes, and Priest hit the Reckoning from the second rope to score the victory. Priest got in the camera’s face and told the winner of tonight’s Lee-Dijakovic match could count on him challenging.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 9:54.

(Wells’s Analysis: the commercial break was long, and almost half of this match was minimized in split-screen. Good action that ended as it always does for Grimes, with the face getting his win back.)

-Thatch as Thatch Can segment. Timothy Thatcher showed faceless PC guys how to make people writhe in agony using the Fujiwara Armbar. He said not only will you win the match, you’ll leave an impression that’ll last a lifetime. Just ask Oney Lorcan.

(2) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. INDI HARTWELL

Shotzi drove her mini-tank to the ring, and recaps were shown of the bizarre segment last week where she ran her tank over Robert Stone’s leg and he screamed in pain. I had Aliyah figured as her opponent as she was introduced first, but I guess we’ll have to wait for that payoff.

Waistlack by Indi, and Shotzi broke it with a snap mare. Indi grounded Shotzi, who reversed into a pinning combination for two. To a corner, Shotzi hit a huracanrana that Indi took awkwardly into the turnbuckle. Indi ran the ropes and dropkicked Shotzi, then threw some forearms and covered for two. Rope run and a back elbow by Indi for two. Indi hit a side slam after the camera caught her very clearly calling the spot. Indi put a boot to Shotzi’s back while wrenching back her arms, but Shotzi reversed and threw a few shots. To a corner, Shotzi hit a running splash and then planted Indi with a bulldog as Mauro said Shotzi always goes “balls to the wall.” Shotzi hit a senton on Indi in the ropes, and Robert Stone hobbled to the ring in a walking boot. Shotzi hit a DDT, but as the ref was tied up with Stone, Aliyah threw Shotzi from the top rope and Indi hit a running boot for the win.

WINNER: Indi Hartwell at 4:06.

(Wells’s Analysis: They’re looking to have their cake and eat it too here, by moving toward the Shotzi-Aliyah payoff while also giving Indi Hartwell her first televised win. It all worked on paper, though the match was messy at times, and the big boot seemed transitional and not like the kind of move that would finish off Shotzi.)

-McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Tegan Nox backstage. Nox said Io was an obstacle, and tonight she had to jump over it. Tonight she needs to fulfill her destiny. She’s faster, stronger and shinier than she ever been.

-Tom Phillips set up a previously-filmed scene starring Legado del Fantasma, who sat in couches sharing drinks. Santos Escobar said he had put away Drake and it was time to celebrate. Raul Mendoza said not to forget Breezango, who mocked lucha culture when they came out as the Conquistadors last week. Escobar put over both Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde, and said the Cruiserweight division needed them. Sometimes you need to tear things down to build them back up. Escobar: “We are Legado del Fantasma.” Mendoza: “We are familia.” They clinked glasses.

(Wells’s Analysis: This is one of the best acts in all of WWE right now. Cruiserweight divisions can be such a draw if the talent is kept away from heavyweights in meaningless losses, and we’re seeing that now. Defending the good name of lucha libre should probably make them babyfaces against Breezango, but I can live with it)

-Lee vs. Dijakovic is up next, so the women will still main event tonight even with this unannounced match.

(3) KEITH LEE (c) vs. DOMINIK DIJAKOVIC – NXT Championship and North American Championship

Alicia Taylor handled formal introductions and called it out as a “Winner Takes All” match. Referee Darryl Sharma held up the belts and a graphic reiterated the “Winner Take All” nomenclature.

Dominik half-circled Lee as Lee waited for him to come in. Both guys tentatively went for a test of strength, which Lee got the better of as he backed Dominik into the ropes. Lee made a clean break but stayed there, forcing Dominik to spin out.

Collar and elbow put Dominik back to a turnbuckle, and the two reversed it repeatedly as Sharma tried and eventually succeeded to get them to break. The two shared a fist bump as the feeling-out process closed in on three minutes. Collar and elbow, and this time Lee put Dominik on the mat, and he splashed an arm but missed an elbow drop; Dominik covered for one and the two shared a smirk.

[HOUR TWO]

Dominik offered a handshake, and Lee took it, then pulled in Dominik for a headlock before Dominik could do the same. Dijakovic powered out and hit a headlock of his own. Dijakovic hit two body blocks but couldn’t knock Lee down. Three, four, five, but Lee stoodhis ground in the middle of the ring. Dijakovic again offered a handshake, but threw a big palm strike on Lee’s chest. Grizzly Magnum (double-arm palm strike) by Lee put Dijakovic on his back. Lee went up a turnbuckle and Dijakovic popped up and nearly had Lee in a fireman’s carry when he wriggled free, leading into commercial.

Dijakovic had Lee on his knees in a chinlock upon return, and the crowd tried to fire Lee up. Lee broke momentarily, so Dijakovic threw strikes to Lee’s upper back, then went for a suplex, which Lee blocked. Again. Lee worked himself free of Dijakovic’s grip and threw big lefts as he held Dijakovic with his other arm. Rope run, shoulder tackle, then a pounce by Lee to sent Dijakovic out. Lee wanted another pounce through the Plexiglass, but Dijakovic moved. Lee put on the brakes. Back in the ring, Lee hit a big forearm then ran the ropes, but Dijakovic caught him with a side slam for two. Both guys sold on the mat and fought their way up on opposite sides of the ring.

Lee hit a rope-assisted flatliner for a long two. Lee took Dijakovic to a corner and set him up, then followed. Dijakovic fought back with shots to the breadbasket, then five headbutts to send Lee to the mat. Dijakovic stood up on top and hit a blockbuster for another long two. Big boot by Dominik. Running cyclone boot got yet another near-fall. Dijakovic went to the second rope and removed an elbow pad, but jumped right into Grizzly Magnum. One-arm chokeslam by Lee, followed by Big Bang Catastrophe to end it.

Dijakovic sold dejection after the match. Lee yanked him off the mat and they shared a moment, then a hug.

The lights went very low, and Scarlett appeared on the ramp carrying a bag. Dijakovic backed up to a corner and Lee focused on her. Scarlett poured out the broken hourglass that Lee shattered weeks ago. She went back up the ramp and scowled at Lee, then smiled cruelly, and finally walked to the back.

WINNER: Keith Lee at 15:25.

(Wells’s Analysis: These two have had some great matches in the past, though they were all big power exchanges that went 50-50. With Lee on another level now, the story was told that Lee’s strength is greater than Dijakovic can handle now, and he was fighting from underneath. It looks like Lee and Karrion Kross are going to meet sooner than later, which could mean a very short reign for Lee. It sure seemed like Kross-Cole was the plan, but either there was a pivot, or it was a red herring as Kross was going to chase the titles regardless of who held them)

-Io Shirai pumped herself up backstage somewhere, fortuitously in front of an Io Shirai banner.

-McKenzie talked with Dominik Dijakovic, who said Keith Lee is on another level. A dapper-dressed Karrion Kross got into his face and made some threats, and then laid out Dijakovic through a barricade somewhere, and then stood above Dijakovic and said “Tick tock” before heading off.

(4) DENZEL DEJOURNETTE vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER

Dejournette got a full entrance, as is happening more often with enhancement talent on NXT of late (I know he won’t always be enhancement, but he is now).

The two reversed a collar-and-elbow a few times, and then traded takedowns. Denzel was the rare match for Thatcher’s grappling given his amateur pedigree. To their feet, Thatcher held a wristlock and threw a knee to Dejournette’s stomach. Escape by Dejounette, who put on a headlock as the crowd pumped him up. Thatcher took down Dejournette with a trip, then put on a single-leg Boston Crab for an immediate tap. After the bell and music, Thatcher put it back on, and Oney Lorcan ran out in jeans and sneakers to clear out Thatcher. Thatcher contorted his pretty smile into a grimace as he glowered from the ramp.

WINNER: Timothy Thatcher at 1:50.

(Wells’s Analysis: This was a quick enhancement win to get to a midcard feud for Thatcher before I assume he keeps moving up the card, but I wouldn’t sleep on Dejournette’s talent. Given his style, he’s a perfect match for Thatcher, and if there’s any justice, maybe we’ll see these two down the road when Dejournette is more established)

-Robert Stone ran into Killian Dain. He said he had a bad week. He got run over by a tank. Dain started to walk off, and Aliyah ran into the frame saying “Have you seen this?” and she showed Stone one of Lumis’s doodles, which showed three of last week’s happenings, including the moment with Stone, Dain, Shotzi and Aliyah. Dain said if Stone wants to make this up to him, he needs to get him a match with Lumis next week. Approximately one second later, the announcers told us the match had been made for next week, along with Karrion Kross vs. Dominik Dijakovic.

(5) TEGAN NOX vs. IO SHIRAI (c) – NXT Women’s Championship

Tale of the tape was honest about Shirai’s height, unlike last week with “six foot tall” Adam Cole. Alicia Taylor began formal intros, but the women scrapped a little and the bell sounded.

Collar and elbow reversals to a corner, then through and down the ropes. Tegan had Io backed into a corner, and snapped her over and held it on the mat. Io powered up and the two exchanged wristlocks. Nox bridged to reverse a wristlock but Io worked a headlock and snapped Nox to the mat. Nox rolled backward for a two count to attempt to break, but Io held on. Repeat. The two got to their feet and Nox tripped Io and grabbed a headlock on the mat. Io rolled to try to reach a rope, then brought Nox to her feet and put her own headlock on. Nox worked out and hit an arm drag, then another, she tripped Io after a rope run and bridged for two. Another roll-up for two.

Nox took Io to a corner and threw kicks. Io reversed and threw her own until she had to break. Io threw Nox to another corner and kicked until she had to break again. She threw forearms on a leaning Nox, but Nox reversed and threw shots and kicks of her own. Io dumped Nox from the ring. Shirai missed a baseball slide, then blocked a PK and ripped Nox’s leg backward to faceplant her on the mat heading to a commercial. There’s no split-screen, so there’s likely another break to come.

Io had Nox in a chinlock, and tossed her backwards to the mat to a tweener-leaning-heel reaction from the audience. Nox fought back with some European uppercuts, then caught Io on a high cross-body attempt and bridged into a fallaway slam for two. To the corner, Io did her wrecking ball double knees spot and covered for two. Tegan reached a rope, so Io stepped on Tegan’s fingers. The action went to the center of the ring, where Io worked a chinlock while also stepping on the fingers. Nox fought to her feet and hit a roll-up for two. Shirai wrapped up Nox in the ropes in a sort of triangle choke, then slammed Nox in the ring. Running back elbow missed and the crowd clapped and stomped for Tegan. Oklahoma Roll by Nox got two. To their feet again. Io hit a big chop on Nox against the ropes, and another. Io slammed Nox’s face into the turnbuckles until she was forced to break.

Nox fought back with forearms, and the two exchanged shots. Io whipped Nox to her back with her hair, then hit pendulum double knees and covered for two. Io stomped on Nox. Nox got up and hit a headbutt, but Io hit a flapjack for two as the match went to split-screen commercial.

Io stomped on Nox near a rope until she had to break. A springboard double stomp missed as Nox bailed from the ring. Io followed and threw shots on Nox. Nox tried to reverse Io into the ring steps, but Io put out a boot and threw Nox to the steps. Io went for double knees on the steps but Nox moved, evening the score.

Back to the ring, Io hit a Tiger Driver into a backbreaker. Io moved in but Nox rolled her up for two. German with a bridge by Io for two. Io stepped on and over Nox to set up her moonsault, but Nox tripped her into the tree of woe, and hit a cannonball for two, which Io broke by grabbing the rope. Nox fired up and threw palm strikes on Io, then a couple of lariats. Irish whip, uppercut by Nox. Cannonball in the corner by Nox. Nox went up the buckle quickly and hit a cross-body for a near-fall.

Nox hit her Kane chokeslam for a long two and Nox slowed down long enough to sell frustration. She shook her head as Io got up in a corner, then charged in with a European uppercut. She ran the length of the ring for another. Shirai blocked a third, and hit a German into the bottom turnbuckle to Nox. Bullet Train double knees by Io, then 619. Io hit a beautiful missile dropkick for two. The camera caught an awkward moment as Nox fought to get her hair out of her mouth.

Double underhook by Io, but Nox kicked Io and hit a facebuster on Io then went to the top. Molly Go Round got a near-fall, and Nox pleaded with the referee, asking if it was three. Nox charged for the Shiniest Wizard, but Io threw an uppercut, then a palm strike, grounding Nox. Io charged to the corner, went up and hit her lightning-quick moonsault to finish.

Io went up the ramp, and as the show was about to fade out, Dakota Kai charged from the back and laid out Io.

WINNER: Io Shirai at 22:57.

(Wells’s Analysis: Nox’s offense isn’t exactly hard-hitting, and it really shows when she’s paired with a striker like Shirai, but this match was exceptional overall and is easily Nox’s best match on NXT TV. I didn’t think coming in that Nox had a chance, but some of the late near-falls got me to stop thinking like a booker for a second. Io continues to get a reaction based on her opposition as she plays a true tweener role; with a babyface out of the way, now she gets to be one in her upcoming feud with Kai. Dakota was used as an effective red herring to win the fatal four-way a few weeks ago, but now their feud can begin proper, and perhaps culminate at TakeOver if one happens the night before SummerSlam.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: NXT has been bumping up too close to being main roster-lite in recent weeks, but this took a step back from that and it felt like what we had come to expect before that (outside of a handful of those nauseating snap-zooms). The show also scaled back to about 54 minutes of ring time, in keeping with what they were doing before a few storyline-heavy episodes before Great American Bash.

Dominik Dijakovic being Keith Lee’s first defense makes a lot of sense, as did Lee’s nod to Dominik about how their matches made him better, though it was jarring to see Dijakovic as he’s been used so sparingly on TV as rumors heated up that he was going to the main roster. Next week he’ll be doing another job, of course, to Karrion Kross, though they got there in an interesting way. Thumbs up tonight. Follow me on social media @spookymilk. Download the PWTorch Dailycast’s “PWT Talks NXT” podcast. Just find it on the main page or search “pwtorch” in your podcast app.

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