7/29 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Lumis vs. Balor vs. Thatcher to qualify for TakeOver Ladder Match, Shotzi vs. Mercedes Martinez

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor



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

WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
JULY 29, 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


Tonight after NXT, join me with cohosts Nate Lindberg and Tom Stoup to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.

STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 30 MINUTES AFTER NXT
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[HOUR ONE]

-Jim Johnston’s song “The End,” which was written initially for Judgment Day, played to recap the road to the Keith Lee-Karrion Kross feud, culminating in the beatdown of Dominik Dijakovic last week.

(1) IO SHIRAI & TEGAN NOX vs. DAKOTA KAI & CANDICE LERAE

Kai jumped Shirai on the ramp to get us down to business without much in the way of entrances. LeRae and Nox started the match and LeRae controlled and leaned on Nox for a two-count. To a corner, hair mare by LeRae and a cover for one. Ground and pound by LeRae. Nox got to her feet and threw some body shots. Both women tagged.

Kai swept Io and threw some kicks to her head. Kai taunted Io, who popped up, threw kicks and grounded Kai for a thrustkick. Basement dropkick by Io, who kipped up but got monkey flipped by Kai. Kai threw a thrustkick and covered for two. The PC crowd was pretty animated already. Kai backed Io to the heel corner and tagged LeRae. When Io backed LeRae to the same corner, Kai tagged in again and tried to lean on Io for a cover again and got two. Kai wrapped up Io and choked her on the second rope, then hit a suplex for two.

Rope run and a flapjack by Io, who leaned on Kai and mocked her. Io wrenched Kai’s arms back and put on a lotus lock, which LeRae broke up. Nox hit the ring and dumped Candice. Nox tagged in and Kai rolled through a tandem suplex, then dumped Nox. LeRae tagged in and went out of the ring and tossed Nox into the stairs to head to split-screen commercial. Nox was the face in peril throughout the break, and she and Candice took each other down with headbutts upon return to full-screen.

Kai and Shirai tagged in. Io took control with kicks and a dropkick. To a corner, Shirai kicked Kai, dumped LeRae from the apron and hit Kai with a dropkick for two. Kai blocked a Tiger Driver but Shirai hit a German suplex. Shirai went up for a moonsault but Kai quickly popped up and followed, and the two fought at the top of the turnbuckle. Shirai hit a double palm strike to put Kai in the tree of woe, and Shirai waited for Kai to lean up and she hit a double stomp. Shirai covered for two.

Kai rushed to the corner and tagged LeRae, who wasn’t ready for it. Shirai hit a shotgun dropkick and the Bullet Train double knees. As the ref checked on Kai outside, Nox ran in and hit the Shiniest Wizard on LeRae. Shirai hit her moonsault on Candice for the win. Kai left Candice at ringside without hesitation. Kai stood on the ramp staring in at the victorious babyfaces.

WINNERS: Io Shirai & Tegan Nox at 12:58.

(Wells’s Analysis: Basic tag fare to keep working toward Kai and Shirai’s eventual match. LeRae is back to her usual spot as near the top, but not near enough that she doesn’t eat a lot of pins)

-The angle Adam Cole did on the Pat McAfee show was shown, leading up to now, where the two are supposedly going to have a talk to clear up the miscommunication. No word on whether this will be tonight or on an eventual episode of Pat’s show.

(Wells’s Analysis: The angle seems to be working in that people are talking about it, but this is a weird way to bring back a guy to TV who still hasn’t appeared since the loss of his very long championship reign)

-A recap of Bronson Reed’s big win last week in the triple threat match aired. Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong blamed each other for the loss to Reed, so they’ll go tonight.

(2) RODERICK STRONG vs. JOHNNY GARGANO

Collar-and elbow led to a quick roll-up by Roddy followed by quick mat reversals. Mauro claims this is only the second all-time meeting between the two (with the other being last April on NXT), which seems unlikely. Gargano Escape was quickly countered with a roll-up and Gargano escaped a Stronghold. Reset.

Both guys shoved the other in the middle of the ring. Strong took down Johnny and called him a dork. More mat reversals, and Gargano worked a submission hold into a cover for two. Gargano put on a headlock and Roddy got to his feet and Irish whipped Gargano. Rope run and Johnny hit a huracanrana. Strong dragged Gargano outside and Gargano caught Roddy and slammed him leading to a commercial.

Johnny had Roddy in an abdominal stretch, but Roddy hit a backbreaker and threw Gargano’s head into a turnbuckle. Roddy struck Gargano from one corner to another. Fireman’s carry, but Johnny hit a step-up enzuigiri. Johnny wanted One Final Beat, but Roddy caught him for another backbreaker for a two-count. Big chop by Roddy in the corner. The two went up a turnbuckle and Johnny kicked Roddy away and hit a big flatliner from the top for two. Johnny stomped Roddy. After a number of quick reversals, Gargano put on his finisher and Roddy rolled him up to break.

Roddy went for the Stronghold again, and Gargano kicked him away. Both guys hit their feet and exchanged shots. Step-up enzuigiri by Johnny. Big back elbow by Roddy. Gargano hit a huracanrana and dumped Roddy, and the action spilled outside where he hit another. Gargano threw Strong hard into the Plexiglass twice, tossed Roddy into the ring and hit the One Final Beat DDT, which finished. Mauro said “the hard times continue for Undisputed Era.”

WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 12:54.

(Wells’s Analysis: a very good match considering it was 13 minutes including a four-minute commercial, but these guys could get 20-25 easily. Roddy has been the only UE guy on TV since Adam Cole lost his championship, interestingly)

-Dakota Kai talked to McKenzie Mitchell in the back. Kai said she was no longer a team player – she just wanted to take on Io Shirai for the Women’s Championship. Kai started walking off, but Rhea Ripley popped into the picture with a fresh dye job (it’s much blonder now) and said she still had business with Shirai. Kai muttered that they’d see what William Regal thinks about it.

-McKenzie talked to Timothy Thatcher said Finn Balor and Dexter Lumis were in for a tough night with him.

-Backstage, UE met in a hallway. Kyle O’Reilly, with a new goofy fauxhawk, said he was sick of the excuses and it was time to reassert themselves as the dominant force.

(Wells’s Analysis: It wasn’t much, but this quick scene may have hinted at some eventual dissension)

(3) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. MERCEDES MARTINEZ (w/Robert Stone & Aliyah)

Shotzi charged and got a few shots in, but Mercedes dumped her near Stone & Aliyah, who mocked her long enough to cause a distraction. Mercedes dropped Shotzi on the apron and rolled her back in. Ground and pound by Martinez in the ring. Shotzi blocked a fisherman buster and rolled up Mercedes for one. Step-up enzuigiri and a shotgun dropkick by Shotzi. Shotzi covered for two after a sunset bomb.

Rope run and Shotzi hit a bulldog. Running knee and a discus forearm by Shotzi. Switchblade kick. Shotzi fired up and hit a senton with Mercedes on the second rope. Cover for one. Shotzi dragged up Mercedes but ran right into a spinebuster. Mounted forearms by Mercedes. Shotzi wanted Sliced Bread #2 but Mercedes put on the brakes and went up the corner with Shotzi and clubbed her. Mercedes hit a release German from the top and Shotzi went flying. Mercedes hit Air Raid Crash, flattening out on Shotzi, for the win. The announcers weren’t quite sure what to call it, so I guess it doesn’t have a name yet.

WINNER: Mercedes Martinez at 4:21.

(Wells’s Analysis: Martinez can go as high up the card as she’s asked to, and will be just fine. The top of the division is crowded, but all the same, I hope some room is made for her. Shotzi remains under the glass ceiling for now)

[HOUR TWO]

-A vignette for Ridge Holland aired. He was kicked out of rugby for being too violent. He said this was NXT’s warning. He said he was coming for the North American Championship.

(Wells’s Analysis: Holland was receiving a solid push in NXT UK before the pandemic, positioned as a badass babyface. It was less clear here which side he’d land on. He’ll be a good strong style addition to the roster, and I love the touch of calling out his goal in the North American Championship)

-Keith Lee walked to the ring with purpose. He said he has some regret over Dominik Dijakovic, but he’s a grown man and he’ll be just fine. He called out Karrion Kross for his “extra bullshit” (bleeped, but the crowd chanted it afterward). He said it again and said he’s doing something Kross doesn’t seem to have the balls to do – come face to face and man to man. “Karrion Kross…I’m callin’ you out.” Cameron Grimes’s music played, and his video played on the tron with Lee’s face still in the shot, selling annoyance.

Grimes said Lee should be talking about Cameron Grimes. He said he was going to take the NXT Championship and go straight to the moon. He asked Keith over and over if he could hear him, to a comical degree, and Keith snapped and whipped around, then choke-slammed Grimes into the ring. As he was about to continue the beatdown, Scarlett showed up on the ramp in her soft light. Grimes charged Lee for a Cave In, but Lee caught Grimes and hit the Spirit Bomb.

Scarlett motioned to the tron with a flourish, and Karrion Kross showed up in an extreme close-up. He called out Keith Lee for not helping his friend Dominik Dijakovic when he needed it, then said he’d better give him his match or there would be consequences. Lee told Kross to pick the time and place, and he will whoop that ass. “Whoop that ass” chant.

(Wells’s Analysis: It isn’t exactly Attitude Era, but this feud is showing its teeth, and the Attitude Era did indeed spawn from a ratings war. Strong work here as Lee continues to show more range, proving he has a lot more in his kit than the confident/cocky air he put on for so long. Cameron Grimes is gold in spots like this, but I hope it doesn’t keep him from moving farther up the card)

-Brief hype video for tonight’s triple threat.

(4) EVER-RISE (Matt Martel & Chase Parker) vs. IMPERIUM (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner)

Non-title. The announcers said Ever-Rise were refocusing and getting more serious after assuming everything would break their way. Aichner grounded Martel with an armdrag and the PC crowd dusted off a “USA” chant. Both guys tagged and Ever-Rise hit a tandem move on Aichner but Barthel laid them out and took control of Parker. He threw forearms and made a tag. Combo spinebuster and knee to the face by the two was the precursor to a European Bomb.

WINNERS: Imperium at 2:16.

Barthel started to say something about the standard-bearers of the tag division returning, but all four members of Undisputed Era charged the ring and destroyed Imperium. Adam Cole yelled at the hard cam that they run NXT, nobody else, and this is what happens. UE left and their music played to a mixed reaction.

(Wells’s Analysis: The tag division seemed like it was about to get more of a showcase some weeks ago, and then all those teams disappeared, including the champions. It looks like we’ll get more UE-Imperium, and if we get lucky with the pandemic, Walter can get involved again and maybe we’ll see Walter-Roddy and then Walter-Cole)

-Bronson Reed origin story. He walked his home city and talked about his road to NXT, including his girlfriend believing in him enough to put up some money for him to pursue the dream. He talked about Shawn Michaels making his boyhood dream come true, and said now, it’s time for the Thicc Boi’s dream to come true.

(Wells’s Analysis: Effective, as these segments usually are. We don’t know any other competitors in the ladder match yet, but I could buy a shock win from Bronson Reed at this point)

-Finn Balor got loose for the triple threat match backstage, then walked off. The camera panned up and, in the background, Dexter Lumis had been watching.

-William Regal appeared from home and said he wouldn’t be bullied into making championship matches, and those opportunities will always be earned.

(5) ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT vs. JAKE ATLAS

Atlas’s return here was out of nowhere; given Scott’s issue with Santos Escobar, I thought it might be one of his cronies. Atlas appeared in an inset interview and said tonight he comes back from injury and he’ll get back on track.

Collar-and-elbow. Frankensteiner by Swerve and Atlas backed to a corner and motioned that it was so-so. Atlas ran the ropes and did a handstand, then backed away from a kick, then missed a couple of his own moves before finally connecting with a dropkick. He gave a low bow and smiled at Swerve, who charged. Armdrag and a crucifix by Swerve got two. To a corner, Atlas chopped Swerve. To another corner, there’s another chop. Swerve backed Atlas to a corner and hit a thrustkick leading to commercial.

Quick reversals led to an Atlas spear in the corner. Springboard blockbuster got two. Swerve slipped out of a powerslam but ran right into a kick and an inverted DDT for two. Atlas chopped Swerve but got hit with a German suplex. Flatliner by Swerve got two. Atlas shoved off Swerve in a corner but both ended up on the second rope and Atlas hit a spinning…crucifix bomb?…for two. Atlas wanted a cartwheel DDT but Swerve hung him up on the bottom rope and hit the House Call on the outside. Back in, JML driver was good to finish.

WINNER: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott at 9:56.

(Wells’s Analysis: Some of it got pretty contrived and it was more of a spotfest than anything, but the spots were awfully good. Swerve continues to be elevated as he looks to be the next major contender for Santos Escobar’s Cruiserweight Championship)

-McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Damian Priest and told him his qualifying match next week will be with Oney Lorcan and Ridge Holland. He said his thoughts haven’t changed. He has respect for Oney Lorcan and said Ridge Holland looks legit from what he can see, but there wouldn’t be a Bronson Reed-style upset next week, and the reign of infamy will begin.

-Next week, Rhea Ripley and Dakota Kai face off for the right to face Io Shirai for the Women’s Championship at TakeOver XXX. Priest-Lorcan-Holland go in a qualifying match. Imperium defends their championships against Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly.

(6) DEXTER LUMIS vs. FINN BALOR vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER – Qualifying match for the North American Championship ladder match

Order of intro was Lumis, Thatcher, Balor. Lumis stood stock still as Balor and Thatcher faced off, going first to a buckle and then to the outside. Thatcher rolled Finn into the ring where he ran right into a forearm by Lumis, and then Thatcher ran into one himself. Finn and Thatcher went outside again where Lumis flipped outside; both of them moved but Lumis landed calmly on his feet as they looked in shock. Back to the ring, Lumis controlled the action and hit Finn with a backdrop driver for two. Lumis dumped Thatcher when he tried to intervene, and Finn went at Lumis’s left leg with kicks and stomps. Finn beat Lumis from one corner to another and threw chops.

Thatcher hit the ring and splashed both in a corner. Finn bailed and Thatcher hit Lumis with a belly-to-belly. Thatcher locked on the double wristlock, and broke when Finn was on the way. Lumis dropped Thatcher’s neck on a rope and Balor went toward the corner, but Thatcher knocked him off and all three were selling as the match went to split-screen commercial.

Thatcher was in control upon return to split-screen. Lumis got dumped and Thatcher threw some uppercuts but Finn rolled him up for two. Big European uppercut by Thatcher, and another. Thatcher put a hard knee to Finn’s side, knocked a returning Lumis to the floor, and hit another knee on Finn. Thatcher hit a chinlock but Finn manipulated Thatcher’s joints to break. Thatcher slammed Finn and dropped an elbow for a one count. Thatcher knocked Lumis from the apron and he and Finn continued exchanging shots. Balor took down Thatcher with a forearm but Thatcher shoved him off and Lumis finally hit the ring and took down Thatcher with a bulldog. Balor hit Lumis with a Pele kick and all three sold on the mat.

Balor took down Thatcher and hit a sling blade on Lumis. He stalked Lumis wit the Bullet Club finger guns but Thatcher, from outside, yanked Balor back and crotched him against the ringpost. Thatcher, standing outside, wrenched Balor’s leg until Lumis slipped out and hit an uppercut on Thatcher.

Lumis and Thatcher entered the ring and Lumis hit a spinebuster. Thatcher elbowed out of Lumis’s finisher, Silence, and Finn tried to enter but Thatcher hit him with a dragon screw. In the ring, Lumis hit Silence on Thatcher, but Finn flew in with Coup de Grace on Lumis, but Thatcher yanked him off. Thatcher worked an ankle lock on Balor, but Lumis grabbed Thatcher and put on Silence. Thatcher passed out and Dexter Lumis advanced to the ladder match in another signal that the match may be something of a wild card. Lumis briefly held Thatcher’s head before slinking out of the ring.

Lumis stopped at the table where the North American Championship sat and took a long look as the show faded out.

WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 12:17.

(Wells’s Analysis: Whereas last week’s triple threat was a master class in psychology, this one unfortunately fell back on the tropes of one guy being out of the ring for most of the match and was more of a series of spots than a coherent match. It wasn’t upsettingly bad, of course, but given the main event spot, I hoped for more. The announcers called out the “underdog” winning the triple threat again, which would seem to hint toward Oney Lorcan or newcomer Ridge Holland winning next week, but I’d probably put my money on Priest, who doesn’t have another obvious program heading to TakeOver and seems to be meant for the North American Championship picture)


FINAL THOUGHTS: After a couple of strong episodes, this one felt almost entirely forgettable outside of the Keith Lee-Karrion Kross issue burning a little bit hotter. Rhea Ripley and Jake Atlas both seem like they could have been used in a more interesting way, but Rhea simply stepped into a shot to make a match and Atlas’s return was to enhance Swerve when he seemingly had something working with Drake Maverick. Adam Cole, too, is in a bizarre spot after his ironman title reign.

Nothing to write home about this week, and there were no must-see matches to report. My thumbs are firmly in the middle here. Follow me on social media @spookymilk and check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or tomorrow morning.

If you’re VIP, you can also catch Tom Stoup and I each Saturday on the Podcast “NXT: Eight Years Back,” which is what it sounds like. Join us as we talk about the birthplace of NXT as a brand; as of now we’re talking about the initial tournament for the NXT Championship. Hope you’ll tag along!

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