8/5 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Rhea Ripley vs. Dakota Kai #1 Contender’s Match, Imperium vs. Undisputed Era, Keith Lee vs. Cameron Grimes

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor


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

WELLS’S NXT TV REPORT
AUGUST 5, 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]

-Hulu Live has been iffy across the country at times tonight, but the last hour has been good. Hopefully we can get through this whole thing.

-NXT is somewhat stacking this show after a couple of pedestrian weeks – as far as marquee matches – following Great American Bash. There’s at least one triple threat this week to qualify for the ladder match at TakeOver, but it’s buried in comparison to previous weeks. AEW remains hot but there’s some rising backlash toward some of their approach, so it’ll be interesting to see if ground is gained this week or not.

-Recaps from last week focused on Keith Lee and Karrion Kross’s continuing feud and gave some shine to Dexter Lumis after his triple threat win, and finally focused on the return of Undisputed Era to the ring as they jumped Imperium.

(1) RHEA RIPLEY vs. DAKOTA KAI – #1 Contender’s Match

Rhea was introduced first as the PC crowd was hot for her. She’s in black-and-blue gear tonight in addition to the peroxide job, which might take getting used to. Kai, without Raquel Gonzalez (last week Kai said she “wasn’t a team player.” Is this a change?) jawed at Rhea on her way to the ring.

Headlock by Kai. Rhea lifted her up but Kai landed on her feet, then threw a huge right to a kneeling Rhea and got cocky about it. Ripcord clothesline and a dropkick by Rhea. Shoulderblocks in the corner by Rhea. Rhea tossed Kai’s head to the buckle and unleashed a huge palm strike in another corner. To a third corner, Kai ducked a shot, Rhea ducked another, and Rhea hit another palm strike. Delayed suplex by Rhea as Mauro invoked the name of Daveyboy Smith. Cover for two.

Rope run, and a wheelbarrow facebuster by Rhea for two. Kai fought to a corner, selling the pain to this point. Rhea kicked at Kai and then dragged her up by the hair and kicked again. Rhea battered Kai with rights and made the “I can’t hear you” motion to fire up the crowd more. Rhea mounted Kai’s back and yanked her back into a bodyscissors after grabbing the hair twice, which Mauro called out as a “more aggressive” Rhea. Kai rolled backward for a two count and Rhea unleashed with rights in response. Rhea rolled the bodyscissors to a count for two. Kai got up and ran right into a lariat for one. The announcers called out Rhea getting lax and not hooking the leg.

Shot exchange in the middle of the ring. Kai wriggled out of a suplex, then hit the apron and tried to drag Rhea out, but Rhea kicked Kai and went outside. Rhea hit an electric chair drop right into the edge of the apron. Dang. Rhea rolled Kai in and covered for two. The match went to split-screen after a long segment of Rhea in control. Of course, heel Kai took control during the “break.”

Kai missed a mule kick and Rhea used an Okana roll for two. Big boot by Kai for two. Kai hit a kneeling chinlock/abdominal stretch and rolled Rhea up for a near-fall. Rhea hit a back kick to create some separation. Clothesline by Rhea. Another. Repeated knees by Rhea, then a basement dropkick. Rhea let out a primal scream and hit an electric chair drop for two. Rhea tried to drag up Kai. Kai hit a kick but Rhea threw forearms. Scorpion kick by Kai, who ran into a quick gorilla press slam for two. Rhea sold some right knee pain as she jawed at Kai. Rhea went for Riptide and Kai hit a DDT reversal in midair for two.

Kai wanted the Kairopractor, but Rhea pushed her off and hit the Prism Trap, but couldn’t completely lock it in, and Kai rolled through to put Rhea into a buckle. The two were at opposite corners, and Kai hit a face wash. Kai took Rhea up the corner and the two exchanged shots up there. Rhea pushed off Kai, and while referee Drake Wuertz checked on Kai, Mercedes Martinez appeared out of nowhere and hit a running boot on Rhea. Kai hit the GTK to finish.

After Kai went up the ramp, Martinez kept up the beatdown and smiled at her handiwork to boos. Rhea bled from the nose.

WINNER: Dakota Kai at 15:46.

(Wells’s Analysis: It probably doesn’t make a ton of sense for Raquel Gonzalez to be away from this match, but that had to happen to get to the two matches that have been teased for some time now, and Raquel would’ve just been in the way of the story. Despite a finish that was likely predictable to many, Kai and Ripley had a wonderful match leading up to it, as the two have repeatedly shown themselves to click when they face off)

(2) BRONSON REED vs. SHANE THORNE

Reed continues to be a priority leading to his ladder match at TakeOver. Thorne, picking up the young star-hater gimmick, takes issue with Reed’s opportunity, leading to this match.

Thorne sat on the top buckle in the corner to start, and Reed stared in at him. Reed backed Thorne to a corner and gave him a clean break, then invited Shane in. Shane said “Let’s skip the pleasantries” and threw two big rights, then ran the ropes and hit another. Reed, barely staggered, threw two big elbows to stagger Thorne. Dropkick put Reed out of the ring and Thorne hit a tope. Thorne hit a big chop on the outside, but Reed blocked a back elbow and hit a full nelson slam on the apron.

Back in the ring, Reed went up. Thorne followed Reed up and went for a double underhook, but Reed pushed him off. Thorne hit a dropkick and a running senton as Reed crumpled on the top. Shining wizard from Thorne got two. Thorne wanted a submission move but Reed wrenched him away and hit a press slam. Senton by Reed got two. Thorne hit a thrustkick and a lariat but Reed wouldn’t go down. Rights and lefts wouldn’t take down Reed. Thorne ran the ropes right into an inside-out clothesline. Death valley driver, Tsunami frog splash, and that’s it.

WINNER: Bronson Reed at 4:30.

(Wells’s Analysis: As always, Thorne looked great and showed himself to be a largely wasted talent when given the opportunity, though he does thrive in this pesky heel role. Reed picks up a decent win on the way to the ladder match for the North American Championship)

-Earlier today, Breezango walked along the sidewalk, and Legado del Fantasma pulled up and beat them down. They tossed Fandango in the back of their vehicle and Tyler Breeze tried to give chase, but they were gone quickly.

(Wells’s Analysis: The insinuation is that Fandango, too, will fall prey to Stockholm Syndrome and join Legado del Fantasma. It’s a surprising and intriguing development with pros and cons on both sides. Breeze has likely already seen his best days, but as a single I think he’s still got something to give, if that’s the way it goes)

-Outside, McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Robert Stone, Aliyah and Mercedes Martinez. Stone said that Rhea Ripley may be done with the Robert Stone brand, but he’s not done with her. Aliyah added “BYEEEEE” as Stone laughed and Martinez smirked and the trio walked off.

(3) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. ONEY LORCAN vs. RIDGE HOLLAND

The above listing was the order of introduction. Priest looked on at Lorcan with a smirk as Lorcan got serious. The audience was quiet and noncommittal as Holland was introduced, likely leaving the door open for him to work either heel or face. Tom Phillips brought up Holland never being pinned or submitted during his time on NXT UK.

Upon the bell, all three hesitated. Lorcan and Holland exchanged uppercuts and Priest took both down. Priest and Holland hit Lorcan with corner shots. Leaping flatliner by Priest to Holland. Priest hit a discus forearm on Lorcan. Holland charged in and dumped Priest. Lorcan dumped Holland and then hit the two with a plancha. Lorcan and Holland hit the ring and exchanged reversals. Exploder suplex by Ridge. Priest hit the ring and Holland hit a double-underhook suplex. The match went to commercial with Holland in control.

Back to action, Ridge and Priest were in a forearm exchange in the ring, and Oney was outside. Priest and Ridge hit their feet and threw rights. As they collapsed together, Oney took out both with a senton from the top rope. Ridge and Priest ended up in opposite corners and Lorcan ran for uppercuts, then hit a double blockbuster. Cover for two. Lorcan went for a single-leg crab but Priest pushed him off. European uppercuts by Lorcan and he covered Priest for two. Lorcan ran the ropes but Holland pounced, then hit a powerslam on Lorcan for a believable near-fall. Holland smacked at Lorcan as he hit his feet, but Priest went for the Reckoning on Holland. Ridge reversed and hit a powerbomb for two, broken up by Lorcan. The PC crowd got rowdy as all three sold on the mat.

Ridge and Oney threw shots as Priest was off in a corner. Big forearm took down Oney, but Oney got firedup and threw chops. Oney ran the ropes and hit a European uppercut. Another took Ridge down, but a third ran right into Damian Priest. Oney caught Priest and fought him off, but ran the ropes right into a Holland lariat. Priest laid out Holland and stalked Lorcan, then hit the Reckoning to finish.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 10:13.

(Wells’s Analysis: A spirited affair that easily outdid last week’s triple threat but fell well short of the one a week earlier, largely because the amount of match aired was so much less. Priest is the first “favorite” to win, and has always seemed tailor-made for the North American Championship, but the time invested in Bronson Reed will make the match intriguing.)

[HOUR TWO]

-According to a twitter update, Pat McAfee and Adam Cole ironed out their differences. I’m sure that’s the last we’ll hear of it!

(4) KEITH LEE vs. CAMERON GRIMES

Non-title, I assume, since nothing has been stated. Lee stayed intense for this one, as he’s been throughout the Karrion Kross program. Grimes bailed as Lee hit the ring.

Upon the bell, Lee took off his vest but stayed focused on Grimes. He backed Grimes into a corner and Grimes jawed and then bailed from the ring to boos. Grimes hit the ring and got backed into another corner, and bailed again to more boos. He called foul for some reason and tried to regroup on the outside. He finally hit the ring and went for a leg, and Lee put on a headlock but Grimes reached a rope with his left leg. Grimes threw haymakers, but Lee put Grimes in a vise, tossed him against the ropes and hit a shoulder tackle. Grimes tried to bail again, but Lee yanked him to the center of the ring. Grimes ran the ropes and again got flattened by a shoulder tackle.

Lee hit an Irish whip on Grimes, then another, which caused a Flair Flip over and out of the corner. Lee rolled outside and ran around a corner, but Grimes was ready and hit a dropkick, then put Lee knee-first into the steps. Asai moonsault by Grimes to the outside and the match went to commercial.

Grimes hit a running boot. In a corner, Lee hit a running elbow and covered for two. Grimes popped out of a powerslam, then rolled up Lee from a fireman’s carry for two. Grimes rolled up Lee again and used the ropes for two. Forearm by Grimes. Grimes went for a high cross-body but got caught. Grimes wriggled out of a fireman’s carry and hit his twisting cross-body for two and was incredulous that it didn’t finish. Grimes waited for Lee to get up and went for the Cave In, but Lee blocked and hit Grizzly Magnum to ground Grimes. Grimes hit his feet and threw rapid shots but Lee fired up and hit Grizzly Magnum again. Short-arm clothesline by Lee. Another. Lee held on and hit another. He continued to hold on and hit a fourth, finally releasing as Grimes lay prone on the mat. Spirit Bomb was good to finish.

Grimes headed out and Lee remained in the ring. The lights went low and a woman (Scarlett’s?) voice spoke in…Latin? Karrion Kross showed up on the tron. Somewhere, he had laid out Oney Lorcan and said “This is on you.” He walked off.

WINNER: Keith Lee at 12:28.

(Wells’s Analysis: Grimes didn’t get a ton of offense, but showed his wiles throughout. It was the best-case scenario, as he didn’t have to get squashed but Lee showed his dominance all the same. It was a comparatively light week of pushing the Lee-Kross feud)

-Metallica’s “Moth Into Flame” is the theme song for TakeOver XXX.

-A graphic promoted Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai at TakeOver, then the Ladder Match. Online injury reports about Dexter Lumis appeared to be correct, as Lumis had an ankle injury that took him out of TakeOver. In two weeks, the four men who weren’t pinned or submitted in their triple threat matches will be in two singles matches to determine who enters the ladder match.

-Legado entered the arena. The cronies dragged in Fandango as Santos Escobar grabbed the mic and said lucha libre didn’t exist as a gimmick or to sell merch. Unfortunately, he said, people like Breezango exist. The three tossed Fandango into the ring. Escobar said every week, Breezango play dress-up, and at Great American Bash, they mocked lucha culture. They spit in the face of Fantasma’s family, and Escobar himself. He said the disrespect stops now. Tyler Breeze attempted the save, but the numbers weren’t in his favor, and Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde laid out Breeze. Escobar looked into the camera and said if Isaiah “Swerve” Scott speaks his name, this will be his future.

(Wells’s Analysis: Same as usual with this act: it’s hitting on all cylinders, and the only awkward part is that the group is getting booed despite Escobar consistently making good points)

-A brief video package ran down the tag team success of Undisputed Era ahead of their tag team championship shot tonight.

-Outside, someone caught up with Damian Priest, who said come TakeOver XXX, the age of Priest begins. He added that it sucks Dexter Lumis is injured. Bronson Reed showed up in the background and wished Priest well, and Priest said it wasn’t going to be a fluke win again. Reed said he’d show him what a fluke was, and Reed offered a one-on-one anytime.

(Wells’s Analysis: This is a perfect opportunity for the eventual winner of the ladder match to take a loss, therefore creating a natural #1 contender once a champion is crowned)

(5) TEGAN NOX vs. INDI HARTWELL

Indi is a promising wrestler who had a rough match on TV recently; hopefully this one comes off better. Pat McAfee joined the team to chat.

Indi loudly asked Nox if she knew she beat Shotzi Blackheart. Nox, unimpressed, threw a big headbutt. Nox threw shots in a corner but Nox dropped her neck on the rope. Indi recovered and hit a chinlock but Nox broke it. Rope run and Indi hit a double-axhandle for two. Chinlock by Indi. Nox rolled up Indi for one, and Indi hit a big boot for a near-fall. Indi ran corner to corner into Nox’s feet, and nox hit a dropkick and put the boots to Indi in a corner. Cannonball by Nox. Shiniest Wizard finished.

WINNER: Tegan Nox at 3:03.

(Wells’s Analysis: This didn’t lead into anything and seemingly existed to keep Nox lukewarm for whatever they have planned for her. A three-minute win is fine but infinitely worse than a hype video that would finally introduce Tegan Nox to us)

-Next week, Kushida, Cameron Grimes and a surprise third person will face off for a spot in the North American Championship ladder match. Bronson Reed faces Damian Priest. Karrion Kross faces Danny Burch. Brief as that will be, it should be a fistful of fun.

-Pat McAfee remained on commentary for the main event, keeping him in play for whatever comes up with Adam Cole. He said he had beef with Undisputed Era “in the past,” but he’s here for a good fight.

(6) UNDISPUTED ERA (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. IMPERIUM (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) (c) – NXT Tag Team Championship

Again, the crowd was 100% for Undisputed Era, who continue to work face without ever really turning, which could happen tonight. Both Adam Cole and Roderick Strong were present as Pat McAfee continued to remind us of the “misunderstanding” on his podcast. Of note, introductions aren’t happening until 12 to the hour, so this might be more angle than match.

No low-light intros for some reason. Kyle and Fabian started. Shot exchange in the center. Kyle went nuts with kicks and rights. I’ve missed him. Kyle battered Aichner in the UE corner and tagged Fish. Fish continued with the body shots as Aichner looked to get set. Aichner caught a charging Fish and hit a backbreaker for a one count. Armbar by Aichner. Fish looked to roll free but Aichner shoved him down into position. Blind tag by Barthel, who locked a charging Fish into an armbar. Fish wriggled free and threw shots and kicks and tagged O’Reilly. Tandem kick by UE. Kyle made a tag and Fish hit a senton atomico for two. The camera is repeatedly cutting to McAfee as he continues to comment on the situation with Cole, which is completely unnecessary because we hear him already. It’s detracting heavily from the action in the ring, but this will likely be justified when the match ends with McAfee and Cole continuing their story. The match went to split-screen commercial.

Upon return, Adam Cole was shooting dirty looks at Pat McAfee. The match was largely ignored by the cameras as the two looked at one another. Aichner and Fish faced off, and Fish dumped Aichner. Fish looked for a tag but Aichner hit a back bodydrop. Both guys tagged and Kyle destroyed both of Imperium. He went at Barthel with kicks and shots. Aichner charged and still the two were wrecked as Kyle hit a dragon screw that took out both guys. Aichner got dumped and Kyle hit another dragon screw on Barthel in the corner. Kyle went up and hit a diving knee on Barthel, then locked on a kneebar, looking for a tap. Barthel reached the ropes but Fish hit a diving headbutt on Barthel. Aichner hit a moonsault on Kyle from the opposite corner and all four guys were laid out in the ring.

Adam Cole went over to Pat McAfee and said “I am 20 feet from you and I can hear you. I thought we buried the hatchet.” Pat said “He’s an angry elf, isn’t he?” Cole threw water on McAfee and several officials, including Shawn Michaels and HHH, broke them up. In the ring, Imperium hit a European Bomb on Fish to win a match that was of bare importance, all things considered.

WINNERS: Imperium at 10:45.

Pat McAfee said “Nothing is gonna change – your entire life, you’re gonna be a tiny itty little BITCH…” and then he hit a running boot on Cole to lay him out. Cole sold it like death and HBK checked on him as the show faded out.

(Wells’s Analysis: The camerawork and production would be unforgivable here in a legitimate competition, and served to make it very obvious that we were leading to a continuation of the McAfee-Cole feud. Cole sold the big boot like a finisher, which would lend one to believe that McAfee might actually be on his way to becoming a full-time wrestler. On the other hand, it could be that they just needed to put a face on the person that turned Undisputed Era babyface, and a guy who riles people up like McAfee works well in that regard.)


FINAL THOUGHTS: The last few weeks have been between uninspiring and average for the most part, but this was a strong all-around episode, perhaps contingent upon the main event actually leading to something big. TakeOver seems to be mostly filled out with Lee-Kross, Kai-Io, Rhea-Mercedes (unannounced but likely) and the ladder match. Undisputed Era could certainly be in a 4-on-4 at the show, with Imperium joining Pat McAfee and someone else, but hopefully you’ll forgive me if I feel weird even typing that. Thumbs up tonight, and hopefully we’re looking at another couple of strong weeks to bring us to SummerSlam weekend. Follow me on social media @spookymilk and check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or tomorrow.

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