SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Bask In His Glory, Lee Addresses Audience – HIT : The show kicked off with a video package with seemingly every NXT star saying Keith Lee’s name over and over again, which actually came across a lot better than it sounds. He then carried both belts out of the back and into the ring and then asked the ring announcer to announce him once more, just so he could hear it again. Cocky, but Lee can get away with it. I don’t dislike Lee’s promos, don’t get me wrong. But there is something about the cadence and flow to the words leaving his lips that really only works with a roaring crowd behind him. He seems a little bit robotic and rehearsed. Yes, there is energy, emotion and power in his promos – it just feels a little too rehearsed for my liking. For as long as I spent on it, however, it’s a nitpick at best.
On social media over the week, Dijakovic was the first to congratulate Lee on his victory. Lee subsequently went on to say that one day he and Dijak will main event WrestleMania. I had a feeling we were going to be walking into another Lee/Dijak angle going into tonight. It looks like the feud is going to put both belts on the line, as both championships were earmarked for the upcoming match announced for later in the night.
Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes – HIT : A match that we’ve been building to over the past few weeks finally came to a head as two of the most promising up-and-comers locked horns. Personally, I’ve been anticipating this bout for weeks. I’ve absolutely loved the trajectory of both Grimes and Priest, though it seems that this feud was really to elevate Priest. Grimes still looks strong, of course, but it’s clear this feud was crafted to put a shine on Priest and line him up for a possible #1 Contender spot. After the match, Priest looked into the camera and called out the winner of Dijak vs. Lee more or less confirming my initial thoughts of him getting lined up as the next challenger for Lee.
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Indy Hartwell – HIT : Reminder that Shotzi Blackheart ran Robert Stone over with a tank last week. Very traditional heel/babyface story telling in this match right up until the finish. I figured this would be a quick win for Shotzi, but after the interference of Robert Stone and Aliyah and Hartwell’s upset victory, I smell a potential addition to the Robert Stone Brand.
Legado del Fantasma Video Package – HIT : They did a great job making it feel like they were in an upscale restaurant even though they probably weren’t. It had a “let’s make a shady deal in a noisy club” vibe to it. Rather than building a drug or other sort of illegal empire, they talked about taking over NXT and building their Lucha Libre empire. Great stuff.
NXT North American & NXT Championship – Keith Lee vs Dominik Dijakovic – HIT : I like how this match was built out. It wasn’t a traditional heel/face match, instead it was more of “let’s watch two guys who are going to give us an awesome showing”. The beginning of the match, they went back and forth with friendly contests of strength before going to commercial. After the commercial, that’s when they really kicked into gear and both men showed what they can do in the ring. Nothing was revolutionary for either man, but still a solid performance overall. After Lee’s victory, Dijak raised Lee’s hand when the lights went out and Scarlett appeared on stage under a spot light. She walked to the ring and placed the shattered remains of the hourglass on the apron. Lee shattered that hourglass weeks back. A message from Karrion Kross, he’s coming for Lee. After the commercial break, Dijak was being interviewed and he said that Kross is no match for Lee. Kross appeared out of nowhere and a brawl ensued leaving Dijak battered and bruised.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Denzel Dejournette – HIT : This might be the first time I’ve seen Dejournette get an actual entrance! Next, he needs to work on his entrance attire as he entered with a black towel with a hole cut out in the middle so he could wear it like a poncho. Really weird. This was a great opponent for Thatcher, as Dejournette is very clearly a skilled technical/amateur wrestler. As I’ve said before, Thatcher is technical wrestling at its best and I’m glad they’re giving him so much TV time lately. Thatcher continued his assault on Dejournette after the match ended, and Oney Lorcan ran out for some revenge. Thatcher ran up the ramp, continuing this feud and making this particular columnist extremely happy. Lorcan vs. Thatcher was an absolute mat classic two weeks ago and I absolutely look forward to seeing what they can do in the future.
Did Killian Dain Join The Robert Stone Brand? – HIT : Last week, Stone spilled coffee on Dain and this week he looked to apologize. As Dain was not accepting his apology, Aliyah ran up to them with a painting done by Lumis of all of the events of the Great American Bash last week. For some reason, Dain then demanded Stone get him a match with Lumis and shoved him away. Did Dain just sort of become part of the Brand?
NXT Women’s Championship – Io Shirai vs. Tegan Nox – HIT : First and foremost, I want to congratulate Nox for coming out earlier in the week, truly showing that she is living her best life. Above all else, wrestling included, that is what is important.
Nox came into this match with a fire, jumping Shirai during introductions. Nox keeps saying that she wants to move away from being the “comeback story” after both knee injuries after the two Mae Young Classics. Well, where does she go from here? If the story of this match was that she is more than just a comeback story and then she winds up losing “the big one”, now what
All that said, this was one of the best matches that I’ve seen Nox have in NXT. She and Shirai went out there and put on a near 20 minute classic including a few false finishes. I thought Nox might actually win after she nailed the Molly-Go-Round, but Shirai kicked out and quickly fought back for the win. Very well done by both women. As we were going off the air, Kai came out of nowhere and attacked Shirai as the screen faded to black. Looks like Kai may be Shirai’s next challenger after all!