NXT HITS & MISSES 7/22: Kross vs. Dijakovic, Keith Lee vacates North American Title, Gargano vs. Reed vs. Cross, Lumis vs. Dain, Robert Stone Brand, Oney vs. Thatcher

By Nate Lindberg, PWTorch contributor

Keith Lee (photo Wade Keller © PWTorch)

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

Keith Lee Asks for a moment, Vacates North American Championship – HIT : The show kicked off with William Regal on a Zoom call saying that NXT North American and NXT Champion, Keith Lee asked for some time tonight to talk to the NXT audience. Lee talked about how important the North American title was to him and his career. Selflessly, he relinquished the title so someone else can have an opportunity to enhance their career. Glad they did this, Lee doesn’t need to lose the title and now we get a triple threat tournament to crown a new champ.

Dexter Lumis vs. Killian Dain – HIT : Last week, Dain demanded this match by telling Robert Stone to make it happen. Looks like he did, as this matched kicked off the show proper. I wasn’t super excited for the match personally because both Lumis, while I’m a fan, doesn’t seem like a babyface. He seems like this really creepy stoic heel. I can’t buy him in that role against the monster Killian Dain. It’s hard for Lumis to build sympathy with the audience because of the very nature of his character – an unstoppable machine. That said, I still enjoyed the match as itself. It was two big hoss’s going head to head in a fight. Nothing groundbreaking, but a great opener.

Gargano, Reed, and Strong Cross Paths – HIT : The first of the triple threat matches to determine who goes on to the final match for the NXT North American Championship will be between these three men. Roddy was being interviewed when both Reed and Gargano waltzed into the camera shot. Reed is showing the most fire going into this match, where Strong and Gargano are treating it like old hat being former champions. I like this fire in Reed.

Ever-Rise vs. The Mounties. Errr, I mean Breezango – HIT: My favorite undercard tag team, Ever-Rise, hails from Canada. Breezango, poking fun at Ever-Rise they dressed as Mounties and came out to The Mountie’s music, which was wonderfully fun. Ever-Rise is an incredibly underrated tag team as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them on the indy circuit nearly a half dozen or so times and their matches were always some of the more memorable of the night for me. They are a great team to go opposite Breezango because the two teams are very similar. Great wrestlers who can be serious, but are actually great comedic wrestlers. Ever-Rise’s time as the team 3.0 in Chikara really helped to shape and mold that comedic wrestling for them.

Aliyah (w/ Robert Stone) vs. Shotzi Blackheart – HIT : Weekly reminder that two weeks ago, Robert Stone was run over by a freaking tank. Robert Stone was still selling the injury, wearing the air cast and demanding Aliyah help him into the ring. Shotzi came out with her tank made a bee-line for Stone, hitting the ring steps and knocking him off of them and to the floor. I think Stone is becoming my favorite part of NXT. I never thought I would say that. This is the first Aliyah match that I’ve watched where I felt like I was watching a fleshed out wrestler and not a trainee, so big props to her for stepping up her game. Shotzi ran Stone over again with the tank when out of nowhere, Mercedes Martinez big booted Shotzi out of her tank. No idea what this means, if she has her sights on the Robert Stone brand or if she is just making herself known.

Swerve Spotlight – HIT : About time we got a closer look at the former Shane Strickland! This is was a great look at his music making outside the ring as well as his career inside of it. Swerve called out Santos Escobar, being the only person in the WWE to give him a loss. That’s a rematch I’m looking forward to.

Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed vs. Roderick Strong – HIT : Strong and Gargano looked to form an alliance early against the Thicc Boi, Bronson Reed. This was Reed’s match to shine and it was definitely booked in such a way to highlight his strengths. Seemingly every time either Strong or Gargano would get the upper hand on Reed, he would bounce back very quickly. He looked very strong here, stronger than I can remember in the past. A lot of innovative, three way offense here to keep this triple threat entertaining and action packed. A massive victory for Reed, Gargano and Strong are two of the biggest names in NXT.

Timothy Thatcher vs. Oney Lorcan – HIT : Anyone who has read my columns in the past knows just how high I am on both of these two hard hitting grapplers. This was not a match for everyone, but absolutely another clinic in technical wrestling. Oney Lorcan has been on the roster for four years now and these two matches with Thatcher have been his best televised contests as far as I’m concerned. If you’re looking for a great technical wrestling match, great storytelling and great selling, look no further.

Mercedes Martinez Joins Robert Stone Brand – HIT : As Robert Stone was back stage nursing his ankles after being ran over twice by a tank, Martinez came up to him and said she needed someone to handle all the out of the ring stuff so she could focus on hurting people. Finally. A bigtime angle for Stone.

Karrion Kross vs. Dominik Dijakovic – HIT : For an NXT Main Event, I must say this was not a match that really captivated me on paper. I’m a fan of both men, but I think I’m ready to see something new out of Dijak. He’s a great wrestler, but I want to see some more character work out of him. I don’t see him as a main eventer, more of a solid midcarder who may brush with the main event from time to time. But, this wasn’t to build Dijak. This match was to build Kross as a major player. I loved how they really played up the viciousness of Kross. Punting the stairs into Dijak’s head and continuing the assault on a supposedly unconscious Dijak. It almost reached uncomfortable territory. Which is exactly how Kross should come across. They sold this even more with Lee coming ringside to help his friend, but Dijak telling him not to interfere. Lee just stood there as Dijak got his butt handed to him. Superbly booked and told by all men involved.


RELATED: 7/22 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Regal’s “huge announcement,” Kross vs. Dijakovic, Lumis vs. Dain

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