SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
SEPTEMBER 16, 2020, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me, Nate Lindberg & Tom Stoup to break down the episode:
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-Additional to the matches announced, per twitter, William Regal has two “major announcements” tonight.
-Earlier today, Wade Barrett announced that he’s signed a contract with WWE and will be in the NXT booth for the long-term.
-Recaps opened with the championship match from last week, continued with Tegan Nox eating with the Garganos and concluded with Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez, who seemingly completed her move to the main roster with a split from Robert Stone in a WWE.com exclusive.
(1) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. IO SHIRAI
Non-title. Shotzi was introduced first and drove to the ring in her tank. Io’s unofficial tweener days may be over, as the PC crowd cheered her even as she headed to the ring to square off with a babyface.
Shotzi extended a hand, and Io slapped it hard. Collar and elbow. Shotzi tossed Io, then missed a boot. Rope run and Io missed a clothesline. Shotzi did her wolf howl. Rope run again and Io flipped and postured. Quick takedown by Shotzi for one. Crucifix by Io for two. Jackknife pin by Shotzi for two. Reversal for two. Shotzi grounded Io and wrenched her arms, then took shots at her biceps. Io rolled to a rope to break. Shotzi charged and missed in a corner, then got dumped. Moonsault by Io from the apron kind of made contact on the ramp side of the ring. Back inside and Io covered for two. Split-screen commercial. Io controlled the majority of the break.
Io hit Shotzi with an Irish whip, but Shotzi hit a shotgun dropkick in the corner, then threw shots. She put Shirai on the mat and hit a running knee. Io got up and the two exchanged shots. Io missed an enzuigiri but took down Shotzi with a crossface in the center of the ring. Shotzi swung her legs until she could reach a rope to break. Io missed 619 and Shotzi hit a step-up enzuigiri and a question mark kick. Senton on the ropes by Shotzi. Io blocked a German suplex by grabbing the ropes, but Shotzi hooked the arms and hit a suplex with a bridge for a long two. Io worked a bridged submission on the ropes and Io floated over for a cover to break. Io escaped a fireman’s carry and hit a flapjack, then 619. Missile dropkick from the top connected for a very long two. Io went up for the moonsault but Shotzi tripped her up, then hit a huracanrana from the top for another near-fall. Shotzi sold agonizing frustration.
Shotzi went up the buckle and Io popped up, then joined her. Shotzi blocked a superplex, then put Io on the apron. Shotzi wanted a – destroyer? – on the apron but Io blocked and hit a German on the apron, after which Shotzi crumbled to the outside. Io dragged Shotzi into the ring for a two count. Io hit double knees in the corner and set up Shotzi for the moonsault. She hit it (hard and with mostly the knees on Shotzi’s chest) to finish. Wade Barrett put Shotzi way over in defeat. Io brought Shotzi to her feet and they had a friendly handshake. Wade put Shotzi over again and called it a star-making performance.
WINNER: Io Shirai at 14:20.
(Wells’s Analysis: Excellent opener that’s probably Shotzi’s best match in NXT. It’s long been unclear if Shotzi is going to be moved to the next level, but it genuinely may be her time to stick in the uppercard now)
-A recap reminded us that Tommaso Ciampa is evil again.
(2) DESMOND TROY vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA
Troy was formerly known as Denzel Dejournette. Troy backed Ciampa to a rope, and Ciampa hit a knee. Headlock takedown by Ciampa. Ciampa missed a stomp and Troy rolled him up for one. Dropkick by Troy. Ciampa returned fire with a clothesline in the corner, then stomped a mudhole. Ciampa put Troy into the bottom buckle face-first as he’s done with the underside of the ring lately. Willow’s Bell finished.
WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 1:53.
After the match, Ciampa grabbed a chair to attack further, but Jake Atlas stormed the ramp and asked if Ciampa remembered him. Ciampa smiled and sat in the chair. Atlas said next week, he’d show him how dangerous he could be. Ciampa smiled and shook his head.
-Outside earlier today, an unseen announcer asked Drake Maverick about his match teaming with Killian Dain later. Drake said they would work as a team, despite them not talking all week, Dain punching him in the face a couple of times, and Drake not having his cell number.
-Finn Balor sat backstage in black-and-white film. He acknowledged that Adam Cole was undisputed, but there’s only one prince. He said people are asking how things will be different from last time. Last time, he had to carry the brand and build it. Now it’s different, and the brand needs him. He said he’d made the NXT Championship the most famous championship in the game. He warned that suitors should look both ways before crossing the prince.
(3) KUSHIDA vs. AUSTIN THEORY
Theory did some basic mic work, inviting anyone. Kushida charged in and dropkicked Theory from the ring. Theory got back in and the bell rang. Kushida put Theory into a rope, then took Theory down and went for an armbar. Theory broke it and hung up Kushida on a rope, then clotheslined him. Ground and pound by Theory. Backbreaker by Theory, who then missed a standing moonsault. PK by Kushida, who threw some more kicks. Hiptoss/basement dropkick combo by Kushida, followed by a senton into the ropes. To the outside, Theory went for a forearm. Kushida moved and Theory ate post. Kushida slammed down on Theory’s arm and rolled him inside. He stomped Theory’s head into the mat and hit a Hoverboard Lock for a very quick tap. He held on for a bit and the announcers asked what’s going on with Kushida, and where this side of him came from.
WINNER: Kushida at 3:19.
(Wells’s Analysis: Another step forward in the transformation of Kushida, and another near-complete beating of Theory)
-From home, Candice LeRae said Tegan Nox said she’s changed. At least she’s changed for the better. Johnny Gargano sat next to her and said he couldn’t believe they had to watch TV in their crappy guest room. LeRae said next week there was a women’s battle royal to determine Io Shirai’s next opponent for the championship, and Tegan should watch out.
(4) BREEZANGO (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) (c) vs. IMPERIUM (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Breezango did the hot cops entrance. Wade said even he was an admirer, and the other announcers laughed. Imperium charged with their tracksuits still on. The ref separated the teams and started the match. Quick cheap shot by Aichner on Fandango. Mudhole stomp. Body slam by Aichner. Tag to Barthel, who put Fandango in a corner and stomped a mudhole of his own. Fandango hit a couple of chops but Barthel dragged him to the heel corner to break off the tag. Stomps by Barthel, who taunted Breeze. Tag and Aichner hit a belly-to-back suplex. Aichner hit the Imperium stance and ran Fandango across the ropes. Fandango hit a boot but Aichner took him down with a lariat for two.
Barthel took over again and hit a suplex out of the corner for two. Barthel went at Fandango’s chest and neck and took him to the heel corner and tagged. Fandango threw shots and almost made the tag, but a blindside shot by Barthel broke off the flurry and Aichner covered for two. Tandem dropkick by Imperium on a draping Fandango led to commercial.
Barthel had Fandango grounded, but a back elbow by Fandango almost led to a tag. Barthel dragged him back but Fandango hit a huge lariat and rolled for the hot tag. Aichner also tagged in. Breeze was a house on fire as he finally tagged into the match after over nine minutes. Half-crab in the middle of the ring by Breeze. Breeze lifted Aichner, who countered and hit a DVD and went up the ropes, but Breeze hit him with a superkick for two, broken up by Barthel. Aichner rolled up Breeze for two, but Breeze threw forearms. In the heel corner, Barthel tossed Breeze to Aichner, who caught and slammed Breeze for two. Things broke down and everyone hit the floor, other than Breeze who was on the apron. Imperium handled Fandango, then went for their tandem slam on Breeze on the outside but each got hit by Fandango superkicks. Into the ring, Fandango missed a flying legdrop. Barthel interfered and Aichner hit a German suplex for a convincing near-fall.
Aichner stood above Fandango and taunted him. Fandango threw chops and hit a tornado DDT, then made another hot tag. Breeze missed a clothesline but hit a step-up enzuigiri. Blind tag by the heels. They went for the European Bomb, but Fandango hit a superkick and Breeze rolled through and trapped Aichner for the three count.
WINNERS: Breezango at 14:18.
(Wells’s Analysis: A fast-paced match that was tough to recap. Breezango came off about as serious as one could expect and weren’t a one-match wonder, which is nice and almost surprising. I still suspect they’re transitional champs as the tag team championships continue to seemingly take a break from the top)
-A video promoted the return of NXT: UK tomorrow.
(5) XIA LI & JESSIE KAMEA vs. KAYDEN CARTER & KACY CATANZARO
Beth brought up the largely-forgotten rule that the women’s tag team championships can be defended on any brand, which begs the question of why it’s never happened in NXT. Carter took down Li to open and tagged Kacy. Tandem trip/dropkick and Kacy covered for two. Crucifix by Kayden nearly finished. Li reached for Kamea but got cut off. Li blocked Carter to the mat and tagged Kamea, who walked into an armdrag. Kacy tagged in and she and Kayden hit tandem kicks and Kacy covered for two. Kamea took down Kacy with a lariat and tagged Li. Li threw forearms and chops on Kacy, then hit a couple of knees and a spinning back kick. Kamea tagged in and whipped Kacy to the corner, then hit a snap mare and tied up Kacy. To a corner, Kamea missed a forearm. Both tagged.
Kayden threw repeated forearms on Li, then hit a basement dropkick. Superkick by Kayden. Kamea charged in and took one as well. Kacy tagged in and she and Kayden did a tandem pump kick/crucifix and Kacy covered for the win. After the match, Kamea bumped fists with the winners, but Li declined and walked off.
WINNERS: Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro at 3:52.
(Wells’s Analysis: Li essentially worked heel here throughout the match so the postmatch angle wasn’t a huge shock. Okay action, although Kamea is a little slow and rehearsed)
-Backstage, Drake Maverick finally found Killian Dain, who brushed him off ahead of their match tonight.
-Connor’s Cure spot followed by Vic promoting connorthecrusher.com.
-Tegan Nox spoke from her gaming setup at home and said the Candice she knew wouldn’t let her husband whine and complain about the TV that SHE broke. She said next week, the best part would be the look on Candice’s face when she won the battle royal. Tegan then got serious and said “And this time, Io, everything is different.”
(Wells’s Analysis: Another nice, small step forward for Tegan)
(6) DRAKE MAVERICK & KILLIAN DAIN vs. UNDISPUTED ERA (Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish)
Again, no Kyle O’Reilly. Drake pointed to the back, but Dain had said he wouldn’t go to the ring tonight. Dain didn’t appear so Drake reluctantly went to the ring. Fish started the now handicap match. Strong distracted Drake so Fish could charge him in the heel corner. Tag and Strong went after Drake with shots and chops. Irish whip and a forearm took down Drake. Big chop by Strong. Irish whip, and Strong missed a running knee. Drake fired back with forearms and then charged into a boot. Fish tagged in and he dragged up Drake, who threw a desperation forearm, then dropkicked Fish. Running knee by Drake. Missile dropkick got nearly two. Drake was distracted by Strong, and Fish took him down again. Blind tag to Strong, who hit a huge backbreaker. Backstage, Killian Dain watched on a monitor and laughed and shook his head. Uranage backbreaker by Strong. Drake fought back with blocks in the corner but Strong hit another uranage backbreaker. Dain continued to watch on a monitor backstage with a bunch of referees and the show went to commercial.
William Regal stepped to Killian Dain and asked what he was doing, and insisted he head to the ring. UE was double-teaming Drake and tossed him on the ramp, where Killian Dain joined him. Dain rolled Drake to the apron and told him to lose and take it like a man. He started up the ramp and UE shouted “Yeah, get outta here, ya fat dork,” and Dain came back. He yanked Strong hard to the floor and entered. Beal for Fish. He went hard at Strong in the corner, and Fish used a chair on Dain for the DQ. Dain tossed UE toward the ropes, where Drake yanked down the ropes, sending them flying. UE left, and Drake got super fired up and said “You and me! We’re the best team ever!” Dain laid out Drake with a punch. He’ll never learn. Dain looked into the ring from the ramp.
WINNERS BY DQ: Drake Maverick & Killian Dain at 9:40.
-Outside, Jake Atlas was asked if he knew what he was doing with this challenge of Tommaso Ciampa. Atlas was fired up, but Ciampa hit him from out of nowhere. Kyle O’Reilly, of all people, made the save and asked Ciampa what he was doing. He told him to save it for next week.
(Wells’s Analysis: UE continues to exist as a unit, I guess, though Cole and O’Reilly are working (separately) as babyfaces while the others remain heel. I can dig NXT squeezing another week out of the Dain/Drake saga, as this ridiculously optimistic version of Drake serves him well)
-William Regal said this was an interesting time in NXT. We have a new champion, but now we need a new #1 contender. Five men will me named for a “Gauntlet Eliminator” match. Two men start in the ring. Every four minutes, another one entered. Elimination is via pinfall or submission and the last one standing will face Finn Balor at TakeOver. A graphic promoted eleven women for next week’s battle royal, as well as Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jake Atlas. Eliminator competitors were not named, though at least ten men were shown.
(7) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER – North American Championship match
Alicia Taylor handled formal introductions. Thatcher took early control and hit a knee while tying up an arm. Priest tried to wrench himself free and he dropped to his back to get free. Priest grinned at Thatcher, who scowled. Headlock by Priest, hammerlock transition, and Priest worked an armbar as Beth said she was surprised Priest was working this ground style against Thatcher. Thatcher grabbed a headlock and briefly grounded Priest. Rope run and Priest hit a shoulder tackle to take Thatcher down. Thatcher popped up and hit a big uppercut. Shot exchange. To a corner, Priest hit the apron and got dumped by an uppercut. Boos rained down as Thatcher approached Priest. Priest wanted a powerbomb on the outside, but Thatcher countered and put Priest into the steps. Double-underhook suplex by Thatcher on the NXT logo leading to split-screen commercial.
Thatcher had Priest grounded with his usual tangled web of arms and leaned in for a two count. Another two count. Priest fought to his feet and Thatcher hit him with an uppercut. Priest fought back with body shots, but Thatcher hit a big palm strike. Priest fired up and threw a palm strike of his own. Priest threw kicks and a big forearm to take Thatcher down. Huge lariat by Priest. Priest stomped his feet in the corner, shot his arrow and hit a flying back elbow. Falcon arrow got two. Thatcher caught a shot and went for the Fujiwara armbar, but Priest shot off the ropes to break it off and threw some kicks. Priest ran the ropes and missed a springboard senton. Thatcher fought for the Fujiwara armbar but Priest blocked and hit his feet. Big shot exchange, won by Priest. Thatcher caught a kick and took down Priest. Thatcher wanted a half-crab but Priest kicked him away. Half-crab by Thatcher looked so much more painful than that of most guys, given the way he torques the leg. Priest ran right into a Fujiwara armbar, but Priest used his long legs for a rope break.
Both guys hit their feet and Priest hit a flatliner. South of Heaven chokeslam by Priest got a long two. Thatcher went for another Fujiwara but Priest hit an overhead kick. Spinning heel kick from the top by Priest. The Reckoning finished. The announcers put him over as the show ended.
WINNER: Damian Priest at 12:49.
(Wells’s Analysis: Excellent action that had a lot in common with Japanese strong style both in mo veset and pacing. I think Priest benefits a lot from showing he can win this kind of match, just as he can a match that spends a lot of time in the air.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Funny that such a story-heavy show would end with a straightforward championship match and no shenanigans. Thatcher seems made for the North American Championship, but so does Priest. Another eventual match between the two would be more than welcome. Meanwhile, the pieces on the chessboard moved a little further as we gear up for TakeOver on October 4th. The only lock of a match is Tegan Nox vs. Candice LeRae, as next week we’ll set up challengers for championships in rushed fashion since the next big show is coming up quick out of nowhere. I have a feeling TakeOver (which doesn’t have a nickname yet) will come off as feeling a little haphazard and rushed, but the TV on the way there continues to be compelling.
Even with two championship defenses tonight that got significant ring time, it still felt like a bit of a breather compared to the last two weeks, and next week will be packed as well. As always, the question is what such a pace will do what we think of “normal” NXT. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight and follow me on social media @spookymilk. Cheers.