9/30 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Priest & Shirai vs. Gargano & LeRae, and Balor meets O’Reilly face-to-face

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch Contributor


SEPTEMBER 30, 2020

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Beth Phoenix


– The show opened with a highlight package recapping last week’s show featuring the Gauntlet Eliminator match and the women’s battle royal.

– Tom Phillips was on the call again, joined by Beth Pheonix, as Shotzi Blackheart made her entrance.

(1) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. DAKOTA KAI (w/ Raquel Gonzalez)

After both wrestlers trash-talked at the bell, Kai shoved Blackheart in the face. Blackheart retaliated with a takedown and went back and forth with Blackheart making early pin attempts. Blackheart hit Kai with an inverted atomic drop. Blackheart yelled out her catchphrase and hit a double leg drop to the mid-section of Kai, ala Lita. Blackheart maintained control with an arm breaker and another two count. Kai tried to come back, but Blackheart dropped Kai on her face and worked over her limbs. After escaping a full nelson, Kai took over and worked over Blackheart in the corner. Kai hit a suplex out of the corner into a pin attempt for a two count. Kai took Blackheart back to the corner and charged, but Blackheart countered with a drop toe hold. Blackheart hit the ropes and came face-to-face with Gonzalez, which was enough of a distraction to allow Kai to hit a backbreaker. As Blackheart lay on the mat, the show went to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

During the picture-in-picture commercial, Kai maintained control of a grounded Blackheart. Blackheart mounted a comeback as the show returned to full screen, slamming Kai face-first into the mat. Blackheart followed up with a modified slingblade, a series of strikes, and an enziguri. Blackheart scored a nearfall after hitting a chicken wing suplex. Blackheart sent Kai to the corner and charged, but was met with high knees from Kai. Kai took down Blackheart and made a pin attempt, but could only manage a two count. Kai picked up Blackheart on her shoulders but Blackheart slipped out and sent Kai to the apron. Kai and Blackheart exchanged blows on the apron, with both landing big kicks on each other. Blackheart blocked a kick from Kai and went for a dangerous-looking Sliced Bread from the top rope onto the apron. Both wrestlers were laid out at ringside as the referee checked on them. Gonzalez laid a cheap shot on Blackheart and Rhea Ripley ran-in for the save. Referees separated Gonzalez and Ripley, as Blackheart avoided a big boot from Kai in the ring and rolled Kai up for the victory.

WINNER: Shotzi Blackheart at 13:08

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Both Blackheart and Kai did well here, but I am still cringing from that super-dangerous looking sliced bread on the apron. We’ve seen a few of these risky spots with heads cracking on the apron, and I worry it’s just a matter of time before we see an injury. Again though, this was a good match, with Blackheart being positioned for an elevation up the card.)

– Tom Phillips conducted an interview via video link with Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and Santos Escobar, who were in split-screen. Scott focused on how he still the only person in WWE who has pinned Escobar and promised to do so again at NXT Takeover. Escobar laughed off Scott and called him a parasite. Escobar promised that it would be a fair fight but Scott found that hard to believe, citing previous interference from Legado del Fantasma and the loaded mask from a few weeks ago. Escobar dismisses this, accusing Scott of making up excuses. Both men argue further with each other and Escobar promised to bury Scott at Takeover, to which Scott said he’d like to see Escobar try.

– An in-depth look at Kyle O’Reilly was promoted by Pheonix for later on tonight before the show went to commercial. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A solid interview segment that went longer than I expected. Both men were calm and measured, with a small number of exceptions where they spoke over each other. They appeared to be given free rein to speak without being overproduced and it showed – in a good way. I expect to see more long-form interviews and video packages to fill out the program tonight.)

– Another Call Of Duty style vignette aired for the returning NXT wrestler, with the upcoming Takeover date again being highlighted.

– The “Prime Target” segment on Kyle O’Reilly aired. O’Reilly spoke about his passion for the business and his history with Adam Cole was focussed on. Plenty of great, old shots of the two were shown. O’Reilly closed out the segment declaring he would help Undisputed Era reclaim their prophecy of championship success. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Yet another quality video production from NXT. Surely this approach would resonate with the audiences on Monday and Thursday nights? Regardless, this package solidified O’Reilly as a babyface and helped move things along quickly in the short build to O’Reilly vs. Balor. With the face-to-face also to come tonight though, it does feel like a longer program is being squashed together.)

– Sarah Schreiber interviewed Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano backstage. Schreiber laid the blame for Tegan Nox’s ACL injury on LeRae. Gargano justified it as retaliation for his TV getting broken. Gargano and LeRae hyped the main event and mocked Schreiber after she left the interview set.

– Cameron Grimes made his way to the ring and received a lot of heat from the wrestlers in the crowd. Grimes took a microphone and lamented not winning the Gauntlet Eliminator match. He decided to cheer himself up by hosting the “Cameron Grimes Invitational Stepping Stone To The Moon”, a gauntlet match with wrestlers of his choosing.


Grimes mocked Dominguez, calling him Joey Pistachio as he entered the ring, despite his trunks saying Ariel Rodriguez. Rodriguez entered the ring and immediately ate a Cave-in Stomp from Grimes, who pinned him for the win.

WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 0:10

– Grimes called out his next opponent “Joey Strong”, who came out onto the stage but was taken out by Ridge Holland.


Grimes tried to talk his way out of a confrontation with Holland, who entered the ring and destroyed Grimes with stomps until the referee called for the bell for the apparent disqualification.

WINNER: Cameron Grimes via DQ at 0:35

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: I’m not the biggest fan of Grimes’ character, but this was a lot of fun. It’s good to see some movement to the face side of the roster with what appears to be a turn from Holland. He looked good here and showed a lot of fire. Holland has a lot of promise and working with Grimes will be very beneficial.)

– Sarah Schreiber interviewed Austin Theory, who went after Kyle O’Reilly. Theory bragged about wrestling at WrestleMania and said O’Reilly should be playing catch-up with him, instead of being talked about as the future.

– A Kushida vignette aired, where he hyped his Takeover match with Velveteen Dream and talked about the world seeing the real Kushida. [c]


Nese taunted Kushida by flexing his muscles but ate a kick from Kushida in response. Kushida landed more kicks on Nese, who eventually stopped Kushida’s momentum with a blow to the throat. Nese sling-shotted Kushida over the top rope. At ringside, Kushida launched Nese shoulder-first into the ring post. Kushida brought Nese back into the ring and continued to unload with a series of kicks. Kushida took down Nese and worked over Nese’s arm. Kushida locked in the Hoverboard Lock and Nese tapped out almost immediately.

WINNER: Kushida at 2:10

– Velveteen Dream appeared on the big screen and told Kushida that Dream always puts on his best performances under the biggest spotlight. Dream doesn’t care which Kushida shows up at NXT Takeover, and he’ll see Kushida on Sunday.

– Cameron Grimes is shown walking backstage, still feeling the effects of the beatdown from Ridge Holland. He came across a returning Dexter Lumis, who stayed silent while Grimes called him a freak. Lumis stared a hole through Grimes and Grimes walked off to find William Regal. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Kushida is being pushed very hard with his new, aggressive attitude. So much so, that I can’t see the benefit in him losing at NXT Takeover, which raises questions for what’s in the future for Velveteen Dream.)


– Back from commercial, Adam Cole was in the ring with a microphone. Cole reminded everyone about the dominance of Undisputed Era over the past three years and how they delivered on their prophecy to be “draped in gold”. Cole said that despite Undisputed Era eventually losing the titles and the locker room feeling like they could say what they want without repercussions, nothing has changed and Undisputed Era are still the same dominating force that won the War Games. Cole called out Austin Theory and challenged him to repeat what he said about Undisputed Era to Cole’s face. Theory came out and Cole told him he could either come to the ring and face Cole like a man, or get beat down by all of Undisputed Era.


Cole took things to Theory straight away, stomping a mudhole on him and landing repeated pump kicks. Cole hit a neckbreaker and tried to hit another pump kick, but Theory avoided it and tried to get out of dodge. Cole followed Theory to ringside and hit a Yakuza Kick. Theory tied to get Cole back in the ring but received an enziguri instead. Back in the ring, Cole attempted a pin but could only manage a two count. Cole got Theory in the corner and hit a dropkick. Cole took Theory down with a headlock. Theory taunted Cole while in the headlock, calling Undisputed Era “undisputed crap”. Both wrestlers returned to their feet and Cole hit Theory with a back elbow. Theory got some offense in and hit a rolling dropkick for a nearfall as the show went to commercial. [c]

Theory was in control of the match coming back from commercial. Theory hit a standing moonsault for a two count and Cole soon turned the tide and hit a backstabber for a two count of his own. Cole kneed Theory in the neck and covered him for another two count. Cole went for the Panama Sunrise but Theory countered and caught Cole with a thrust kick. Theory followed up with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Cole mounted a comeback and scored with a superkick and, eventually, a Last Shot for the win.

WINNER: Adam Cole at 13:00

– After the match, Cole spoke into the camera and put over Kyle O’Reilly strong. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Theory continues to find himself in high profile segments and matches which, despite still being winless since his return, is proving to be beneficial for him. Continued strong showings in all his matches will hold him in good stead once management is comfortable to get behind him again. Cole was so over the top with his support of O’Reilly that I can’t help but wonder if a Cole turn on O’Reilly to break-up Undisputed Era will come sooner than expected at NXT Takeover.)

– A video promoting Connor’s Cure aired.

– Sarah Schreiber interviewed Damian Priest and Io Shirai backstage. Priest laughed at Schrieber calling Gargano and LeRae a “power couple” and said that Priest and Shirai would be keeping their NXT titles at Takeover. Shirai added some comments in Japanese and the two bumped hand-horns. Priest said he thought Shirai was “cool as hell” and the interview ended with Shirai saying that Priest is “not bad”.

(6) KAYDEN CARTER (w/Kacy Catanzaro) vs. XIA LI

The match started with chain-wrestling, with neither wrestler gaining the upper hand. Carter went for a cover after hitting a dropkick, but could only manage a two count. Li started to show more aggression and tripped Carter before dragging her forcibly to ringside. Li returned to the ring and waited for Carter to get back in before unloading with a series of strikes. Li tried a succession of pin attempts with no success and shared her frustration with the referee. Kacy got back in the match and went back and forth with Li. Carter got the upper hand but had a pin attempt blocked by Li. Li hit a sunset flip into a pin for two, and Carter rolled Li over for another pin for her own but could only manage a two count herself. Carter eventually rolled up Li for the victory.

WINNER: Kayden Carter at 3:25

– Carter tried to be a good sport by helping Li to her feet, but Li blew her off and stormed to the back. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Li continues to slowly evolve her character, as she entered the match with her usual, peppy attitude which shifted to a more frustrated one by the end of it. A full-fledged turn is clearly on the cards, but they’ve drawn it out to the point that I’m not sure it will have much of an effect if she turns on Carter and Catanzaro. Li shows a lot of promise though, and deserves to be elevated.)

– Shawn Michaels is seen sitting in a darkened arena at a table for what is a pre-recorded segment between Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor. Michaels said that there doesn’t seem to be any animosity between O’Reilly and Balor yet, so he invited them to shake hands – which both men did. Michaels put over O’Reilly as the biggest secret in all of the wrestling world, to which Balor disagreed. Balor said that was more of a fringe fan’s view and that Balor knows how good O’Reilly is. O’Reilly said that Balor was good at stroking his ego and declared that he would defeat Balor at Takeover. Balor brought up Undisputed Era and taunted O’Reilly by asking if he would show up as a man or with his faction. O’Reilly said that Takeover was about himself and not Undisputed Era. However Michaels speculated that O’Reilly winning might cause conflict within Undisputed Era. O’Reilly shrugged the suggestion off with humor and Balor said that there’s no room for jokes at Takeover.

Balor put himself over as a 20-year veteran, to which O’Reilly countered with his own 15-year career. Balor hyped the match at Takeover as one that would be life-altering for O’Reilly and everyone who would see it. O’Reilly took issue with being considered the underdog in the match and predicted that Balor could get beat by a “tag-team specialist”. Balor confidently said that O’Reilly could become champion if he was facing anyone other than Balor. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: This face-to-face was very well done, and felt different from what we’d usually see as it was shot in a cinematic style with background music. I’m not sure that Michaels added too much to the segment, but at least he didn’t detract from it. O’Reilly showed good range here and Balor was great, as always. I still feel like they are cramming weeks’ worth of storyline development into one show. However, I feel stronger than I did even earlier in this show that the real story being played out is Adam Cole turning on O’Reilly in the very near future.)

– Philips and Phoenix ran through the card for NXT Takeover and plugged Corey Taylor, who provided the theme song for the event.

– Entrances for the main event took place, including a cool meshing of Priest and Shirai’s entrances.


Priest and Shirai rushed the ring and cleared out Gargano and LeRae. The heels collected themselves at ringside before Gargano returned to the ring. Priest laid out Gargano with a big boot. Priest dropped Gargano with a sidewalk slam before the women tagged in. LeRae rolled up Shirai for a two count. Shirai took control and scored with a flapjack on LeRae and a dropkick which sent LeRae into the corner. Gargano interfered to allow LeRae to recover, but Priest took Gargano out with a roundhouse. Shirai sent LeRae to the corner and hit running knees. LeRae rolled to ringside to recover, while Shirai perched herself on the shoulders of Priest. Shirai dove on to Gargano and LeRae as the show went to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

While in picture-in-picture, LeRae was able to recover and turn the tables on Shirai. LeRae taunted a grounded Shirai, who retaliated with a palm strike and German suplex. The men tagged in and Priest picked up where he left off with Gargano, kicking him and landing a heavy-hitting clothesline. Priest got at two count after hitting Gargano with a Falcon Arrow. Gargano slipped out of the Razor’s Edge position but was met with strikes from Priest. Shirai tagged in and dropkicked Gargano. Shirai attempted a Tiger Driver on LeRae, but LeRae avoided the move. Shirai locked in a crossface, but Gargano pulled LeRae out of the hold to ringside. Shirai and Priest took out Gargano, which was enough of a distraction for LeRae to roll Shirai up for a two count. LeRae hit a senton on Shirai’s back. LeRae tried to follow up with a lionsault, but Shirai moved. Gargano pulled LeRae to safety again after Shirai hit a backbreaker. Priest came in and hit Gargano with a bell clap and big boot. Shirai went up top and landed a moonsault on Gargano. Priest went for the Reckoning, but LeRae blindsided him with a lowblow. Gargano was able to hit One Final Beat and pinned Priest for the win.

WINNERS: Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae at 10:15

– With Priest laying on the mat, LeRae hit a backstabber on Shirai and stood tall with Gargano as they held the title belts aloft. The announcers put over the “Gargano Way” as the show ended.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Standard “go-home show” booking, with the faces booked to look strong in the match only for the seeds of doubt to be planted with the heels standing tall as the final image. The match to get to that point was quite good though. Priest and Shirai actually have quite a bit of chemistry together. I was surprised that Gargano was on the defensive for so much of this match, but he made Priest look brilliant. If he hasn’t already, surely Vince will be eyeing Priest off for a call-up soon.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Despite all that had to be crammed into this show before Takeover, it was still an enjoyable two hours. As I predicted last week and early in my report, they leaned heavily on pre-packaged segments and vignettes. This was fine though, as they needed to get the build-up rushed through and Takeover will no doubt be very heavy with top-quality in-ring action. I actually find myself quite intrigued with a number of aspects of Takeover, which is a credit to the NXT writers who had hardly any time to build-up to the show, with a roster in re-build mode after the departure of Keith Lee and Karrion Kross’ injury.

Make sure to check out Kelly Wells’ report for his perspective on this show and make sure to check out the PWT Talks NXT podcast when it drops tonight. You can find me on Twitter at @mattyhuss. See you on Sunday for NXT Takeover!

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