9/16 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Priest vs. Thatcher for the NXT North American Championship and two “major announcements” from William Regal

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch Contributor


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

NXT ON USA TV REPORT
SEPTEMBER 16, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA., AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY MATT HUSTWAITE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett

[HOUR ONE]

– The show opened with a highlights package of last week’s NXT Super Tuesday II. In the arena, Vic Joseph welcomed viewers to the show and Shotzi Blackheart made her entrance in the mini tank for a non-title match against Io Shirai.

(1) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. IO SHIRAI

Both wrestlers circled each other as the bell rang. Blackheart offered a respectful handshake, but Shirai slapped Blackheart’s hand away. Blackheart missed a big boot followed by Shirai hitting the ropes and missing a clothesline attempt of her own. Blackheart and Shirai tried to intimidate each other with a wolf howl and flip into a pose respectively. On commentary, Phoenix and Barrett struggled to get in many words as Joseph called a series of back-and-forth pinfall attempts from both wrestlers. Blackheart eventually gained the upper hand and worked Shirai’s arms with a submission. Shirai made it to the ropes to force the break. Shirai avoided a charging Blackheart in the corner and sent Blackheart to the outside. Shirai hit a moonsault from the apron and rolled Blackheart back into the ring for a pin attempt. Blackheart kicked out at two and the show went to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

After maintaining control through the picture-in-picture commercial, Shirai whipped Blackheart into the corner who then turned the tide with a shotgun dropkick to Shirai. Blackheart followed up with a bulldog and then landed a knee. Shirai returned to her feet and went back and forth with Blackheart, exchanging hard chops to the chest.  Shirai took Blackheart down into a crossface, which Blackheart broke by making it to the bottom rope with her feet. Shirai tried to hit a 619 while Blackheart was still in the ropes. Blackheart dodged the move and hit Shirai with a nice step-up enziguri. Blackheart hit a full nelson suplex after being blocked by Shirai on a German suplex attempt. Shirai avoided getting pinned and Blackheart transitioned into a double underhook submission. Blackheart released the hold and ended up on the receiving end of a flapjack from Shirai. Shirai hit a 619 and a missile dropkick for a two count. Shirai went to the top rope but was tripped up by Blackheart. Blackheart hit a hurricanrana into a pin but could only manage a two count.

Blackheart went back to the top rope but was met by Shirai. Superplex attempt by Shirai that was reversed by Blackheart, putting Shirai on to the apron. Both wrestlers went back and forth, ending with an inch-perfect German suplex by Shirai on the apron. Wade Barrett put the move over heavily on commentary. Back in the ring, Shirai could still only manage a two count. Shirai hit Blackheart with a Meteora in the corner and hit a moonsault from the top rope to score the pinfall.

WINNER: Io Shirai at 14:20

– After the match, Shirai showed that Blackheart had earned her respect and the two shook hands.

– A Tomasso Ciampa video package aired. Joseph plugged Ciampa for after the commercial break. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A quality match. Both wrestlers worked their tails off and maintained a very good pace. Shirai was good as always but this was a coming out party for Blackheart. The announcers really put over Blackheart after the match, saying that even though Shirai got the win – Blackheart is the headline. Barrett said to look past the tank and the weirdness because Blackheart is the real deal. A fair assessment from Barrett, as Blackheart shone in this match.)

– Back from commercial, Desmond Troy was already in the ring as Ciampa made his entrance.

(2) DESMOND TROY vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA

Troy made an attempt to take down Ciampa, and then took him into the ropes. Ciampa fired back with a knee and went to work, taking Troy to the mat into a crossface. Ciampa missed a stomp and Troy rolled him up for a pin. Ciampa kicked out at two. Ciampa hit a double forearm and took the boots to Troy, stomping him down. Ciampa sent Troy face-first into the bottom turnbuckle. Ciampa finished Troy off with the Widow’s Bell for the win.

WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 1:53

– Ciampa got a chair from ringside and brought it into the ring. Before he could use it as a weapon, Jake Atlas came out with a mic in hand. Atlas called back to the beatdown he suffered at the hands of Ciampa three weeks ago. Atlas challenged Ciampa to a match next week, saying he could have jumped Ciampa from behind tonight but isn’t that kind of guy. Atlas said he would show Ciampa how dangerous he can be, as Ciampa smiled and nodded in the ring.

– Drake Maverick was shown arriving at Full Sail earlier today. He spoke to the cameraman about teaming up with Killian Dain on tonight’s show. Maverick became progressively nervous as he recalled how little contact he has had with Dain, especially after being punched out by Dain.

– Joseph said we would hear from Finn Balor after the commercial break. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Thoughts: A straight forward squash for Ciampa but the post-match angle was interesting. I wasn’t expecting Atlas to enter into a storyline with Ciampa, even if it is just for a couple of weeks. Atlas carried himself pretty well in his promo, showing some old-school babyface fire. We’ll see if this is just a short-term bridge to another program for Ciampa or if they are using their returning star to create a new player in Atlas.)

– Back from commercial and a Finn Balor promo aired. Balor talked about how things have changed since he was last NXT Champion four years ago. Balor put over the NXT Championship as the biggest in WWE as shots of other WWE champions were shown. It’s time for form a line behind The Prince, according to Balor.

– Austin Theory entered the arena and cut a promo. He said last week’s loss to Bronson Reed was a fluke and that Theory is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Theory was determined to prove himself and challenged anyone in the back to come out and fight him. Kushida quickly answered the challenge, pacing to the ring with serious intent and no entrance music.

(3) AUSTIN THEORY vs. KUSHIDA

Kushida hit an enziguri before the bell could ring. Once the match officially started, Kushida took down Theory and went for an armbar. Theory escaped the hold and dropped Kushida with a snake eyes, followed by a clothesline. Kushida got back to his feet and went back and forth, trading punches with Theory. Theory hit a snap suplex into a pin, but could only manage a one count. Theory landed a knee strike to the abdomen of Kushida and then hit a backbreaker. Kushida regained control and hit Theory with the basement dropkick combo and a double boot from a handstand.

Kushida went for a plancha but Theory managed to avoid the dive. Theory tried to punch Kushida but Kushida ducked and Theory hit the ringpost instead. Kushida targetted the injured hand of Theory and hit a side slam. Kushida stomped aggressively at Theory and locked in the Hoverboard Lock for the tapout.

WINNER: Kushida at 3:19

– Joseph put over the new aggressive streak we have seen recently from Kushida and the program went to commercial. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Kushida continues to evolve following his return. The Back to the Future schtick is fun, but it’s good to see a more serious side of Kushida being presented. There doesn’t appear to be much on the horizon for Theory, as he wasn’t really presented to shine, even in defeat.)

– Candice LeRae chimed in from the Gargano Residence with a selfie-style promo. LeRae was fuming about Tegan Nox, but Johnny Gargano was more focused on his broken TV. LeRae warned Nox to watch out for her in next week’s battle royale, with the winner becoming number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.

(4) BREEZANGO (c) vs. IMPERIUM  – NXT Tag Team Championship match

Breezeango were back to the stripper gimmick, based on their entrance. Imperium ran straight to the ring and got the jump on Breezango. Imperium double-teamed Fandango, isolating him in the corner. Fandango tried to fire back with a kick, but Aichner shut Fandango down with a clothesline. Aichner tagged out to Barthel who entered the match and quickly locked in a cravate. Imperium took turns working over Fandango. Fandango tried to mount a comeback and nearly tagged Tyler Breeze, but Barthel blindsided Fandango which led to a pin attempt by Aichner. Imperium landed a double dropkick on Fandango as the show went to commercial. [c]

[HOUR TWO]

Back from commercial, Fandango started to mount a comeback and hit a back elbow and clothesline on Barthel. Fandango managed to make the hot tag to Breeze, who came in and cleaned house. Aichner had tagged in but fell victim to a single leg crab by Breeze. Aichner turned the tables and hit a Samoan Drop. Into the corner, Breeze caught Aichner with the Cheeky Nandos. Breeze made the cover, but the pin was broken up by Barthel. Aichner launched Breeze into Fandango, taking Fandango out of the picture. Breeze went high-risk but was caught by Aichner who transitioned the catch into a nice suplex.

Fandango tagged into the match and sent Aichner to the outside. Fandango brawled with both members of Imperium on the floor. Once Imperium took care of Fandango, Barthel grabbed Breeze and Imperium set up for a double team suplex. However, Fandango reappeared and hit both members of Imperium with superkicks. Once the wrestlers returned to the ring, Fandango took to the top rope went for the Last Dance legdrop. Aichner avoided getting hit by the move and hit a German suplex for a nearfall. Fandango hit a tornado DDT which brought him enough time to make the tag to Breeze. Aichner also managed to tag Barthel who was on the receiving end of a Breeze enziguri. Aichner made the blind tag and Imperium went for the European Bomb. Fandango interfered with a superkick and Breeze scored with a victory roll for the pinfall. Breezango celebrated their victory as the show went to commercial. [c]

WINNERS: Breezango at 14:20

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: I was worried when Breezango entered with the stripper gimmick once more. It didn’t bleed into the match though, as Breezango retained their serious edge for the most part. This is a good thing, as the hokey gimmick just doesn’t work and these veterans are better served playing things in a more straight forward manner. The match was very good, a fitting farewell for a NXT UK bound Imperium perhaps? As nice it is to see Breezango get some time in the sun as champions, the transition to Legado Del Fantasma is surely  in the near future.)

(5) XIA LI & JESSIE KAMEA vs. KAYDEN CARTER & KACY CATANZARO

The match started with a chain wrestling sequence between Carter and Li, which Carter got the better of. Carter made the tag to Catanzaro who hit a dropkick on Li. Catanzaro made a pin attempt but only could manage a two count. Catanzaro tagged out to Carter who applied an armbar on Li. Li escaped and dropped Carter with a clothesline, which allowed her to make the tag to Kamea. Carter managed to also make the tag to Catanzaro, and they both hit Kamea with roundhouse kicks. Kamea managed to make the tag to Li, who isolated Catanzaro in the corner. Li hit a flurry of knee strikes on Catanzaro and landed a back kick before tagging in Kamea. Kamea hit Catanzaro with a forearm. Both Li and Carter were able to tag in, with Carter getting the upper hand with a series of strikes. Carter kicked Li and took out Kamea on the apron with a superkick. Catanzaro tagged back in and hit a double team, Samoan drop/ crucifix combo which allowed Catanzaro to score the pinfall.

WINNERS: Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro at 3:50

– Carter and Catanzaro offered handshakes, but Li rejected the invitation and left looking disappointed.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Pheonix made sure to note on commentary that the WWE Women’s Tag Championship can be defended on any brand, perhaps planting the seeds for some talent movement across the three brands. It would make sense, in that case, to start fleshing out more of a women’s tag division in NXT. The action was fine, Carter and Catanzaro continue to develop well and it was nice to see Li back with some focus after falling off of TV for a while there.)

– Drake Maverick found Killian Dain backstage but was shirked off by Dain, who said they were neither friends nor partners. [c]

– Back from commercial and Tegan Nox responded to Candice LeRae’s promo from earlier in the show. She disputed LeRae’s version of events regarding who has changed and ended by hyping the battle royale for next week.

– Undisputed Era entered first, followed by a hyped-up Drake Maverick. His optimism quickly faded though, as he realized that Killian Dain had followed through on his promise to no-show. Maverick told the referee he would wrestle the match by himself, essentially making this handicap match.

(6) DRAKE MAVERICK and KILLIAN DAIN vs. UNDISPUTED ERA (Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish)

Undisputed Era took advantage of the lone Maverick quickly, as Strong distracted Maverick allowing Fish to charge him into the corner. Strong tagged in and worked over Maverick with chops and a forearm. Maverick tried to rally, landing some punches on Strong but Strong quickly fired back and threw Maverick into the ropes. Strong tagged in Fish who was surprised with a flurry of offense from Maverick. Maverick hit Fish with a knee and a missile dropkick, followed by a pin attempt for a two count. Fish hit Maverick with knees and Strong blind-tagged Fish. Maverick was still focused on Fish as Strong came in and scored with a backbreaker. The camera cut backstage where Dain was watching the match on a monitor, seemingly disappointed in Maverick. Strong hit another backbreaker on Maverick and applied a cravate. Maverick tried to mount a comeback, landing some punches on Strong, but Strong responded with another backbreaker as the show went to commercial. [c]

William Regal confronted Dain backstage and chastised him for abandoning his tag team partner. Dain reluctantly conformed and headed to the ring. Back in the ring, Undisputed Era double-teamed Maverick and sent him to the outside. Dain made his way down the ramp but, instead of helping Maverick, rolled him back in the ring and told him to “lose like a man”. As Dain went to leave, Undisputed Era mocked Dain for his weight, which led Dain to retaliate and attack both Strong and Fish. Fish eventually hit Dain with a chair shot, leading to a disqualification.

WINNERS BY DQ: Drake Maverick & Killian Dain at 9:40

– Maverick returned to the ring and helped Dain clean house. Maverick was thrilled that Dain had finally turned up and that they were, seemingly, a team. However, Dain didn’t reciprocate and knocked out Maverick with a punch.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: I love a sympathetic underdog and Maverick plays that role well. He continues to show good fire when he mounts a comeback and it’s a shame that this storyline with Dain isn’t playing out in front of a regular live crowd, as I think they would eat it up. They could play this story out over a number of weeks, but I imagine they will be looking to pivot Dain into a different role to accommodate the roster losses of Keith Lee and the like. As for Undisputed Era, they seem to just be hovering around as Cole and O’Reilly do their individual things, with Strong and Fish remaining as cocky heels. It would be good to get some sort of clarity on the status of the faction, but I’m not expecting it.)

– Outside of Full Sail, Jake Atlas was blindsided by Tomasso Ciampa who viciously beat him down. Shawn Michaels and Steve Corino appeared to break things up, and Kyle O’Reilly got in Ciampa’s face, telling him to save it for next week.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Well, that clears up my speculation from earlier. It appears Ciampa is headed towards a program with O’Reilly. Just how soon is the question now. I am very intrigued by next week’s Ciampa vs. Atlas match, and hope that they use it to make something out of Atlas, instead of just a squash to lead to an O’Reilly run-in.)

– William Regal announced a new style of match to determine the number one contender to Finn Balor’s NXT Championship. The “Gauntlet Eliminator” match will see two men start in the ring, with a new competitior joining at four minutes intervals. Wrestlers can only be eliminated by pinfall or submission, with the winner going on to face Balor for the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover.

– Next week’s show was promoted with Phoenix hyping the women’s battle royal and Joseph officially announcing Ciampa vs. Atlas.

(7) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER – NXT North American Championship match

Thatcher tried to take control early with a methodical targeting of Priest’s arm. Priest was able to counter with an arm drag and taunted Thatcher with a smile. Priest applied an armbar of his own, but Thatcher countered into a side headlock. Thatcher drove Priest into the mat, maintaining the headlock. Priest managed to turn things around, landing a forearm to the head of Thatcher. The action spilled outside of the ring and Priest attempted a powerbomb, which Thatcher countered by shoving Priest into the ring steps. Thatcher dropped Priest with a suplex on the floor, and the show went to a picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

Priest tried to rally with a series of strikes to the abdomen of Thatcher, but Thatcher came back with a vicious chop to the throat. Priest came back again with a kick combo, followed by a clothesline. Priest fired up and landed a pair of kicks to the side of Thatcher’s head. Priest went for a springboard cannonball, but Thatcher avoided the contact.  Thatcher attempted an armbar, which Priest avoided by clasping his hands tightly. Priest hit a flurry of knees and punched Thatcher with no effect, as Thatcher took Priest down with a single leg. Thatcher tried to lock in the half crab submission. Priest initially blocked the move, but Thatcher eventually locked the move in. Priest managed to escape and tried to land a punch on Thatcher, which Thatcher caught and transisitoned immediately into an armbar. Priest made it to the ropes for the break and hit a flatliner followed by a chokeslam for a near fall. Priest took to the top rope and hit a spinning heel kick. Priest hit The Reckoning for the victory.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 12:50

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: The match was destined to not be overly long because of the very full card for the show. What we got in the near thirteen minutes though was awesome. The styles of these two men work really well together, and the strong-style provided a nice contrast to the rest of the matches on the show. Priest looked great in victory, and while Thatcher didn’t look weak in defeat, it is yet another loss for him. He needs to be moved into a program that he can win, because the losses continue to add up and they will eventually put a dint in his credibility.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: NXT continues to air strong show after strong show, even when they don’t look overly noteworthy going in. There is a lot of ground to cover between now and Takeover, and I expect to see a bit more of a rushed approach storytelling compared the usual discipline we see from NXT. They did a good job getting seven matches on the show, without any feeling overly inconsequential. You can’t help but wonder though when NXT may run out of steam, as they continue to try chase down AEW Dynamite. A permanent change to Tuesday nights probably would do the long-term booking of the weekly show a service.

Make sure to check out Kelly Wells’ report for his perspective on this show. You can also find me on Twitter at @mattyhuss.

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