10/14 NXT ON USA TV REPORT: Hustwaite’s “alt-perspective” report on Damien Priest vs. Dexter Lumis for the NXT North American Championship, Shotzi Blackheart vs. Candice LeRae in a No.1 Contenders Match for the NXT Women’s Championship, more

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch Contributor


OCTOBER 14, 2020

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett


– A highlights package aired, which recapped the happenings of last week’s episode.

– Vic Joseph welcomed viewers from the Capitol Wrestling Center and plugged the matches for tonight’s episode.

– Undisputed Era, minus Adam Cole, entered the arena. Kyle O’Reilly took a microphone and cut a promo saying that although Undisputed Era didn’t get their hands on Ridge Holland, Holland would have still ended up in the hospital if they had. On behalf of Undisputed Era, O’Reilly promised to find out who paid Holland to attack Cole. O’Reilly put over Fish and Strong as future tag team champions.

(1) UNDISPUTED ERA (Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong) vs. DANNY BURCH & ONEY LORCAN to determine the No.1 Contenders for the NXT Tag Team Championship

Strong and Lorcan started the match with back and forth chain wrestling. Strong took down Lorcan before Fish and Burch tagged in. Fish missed a springboard leap from the apron and Burch took advantage with European uppercuts. Burch tagged Lorcan and Burch & Lorcan double-teamed Fish. Lorcan isolated Fish in the opposite corner and kept Fish on the mat. Fish managed to escape and Strong made the blind tag. Strong rallied against both members of Burch & Lorcan, but Burch & Lorcan hit a double backbreaker as NXT Tag Team Champions Breezango looked on and the show went to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

Back from commercial, Breezango were still watching the action as Fish laid into Lorcan in the corner. Strong tagged in as Lorcan sent Fish to ringside. Lorcan hit Strong with a big boot. Strong attempted the Strong Hold but was kicked back into the corner. Fish missed a diving headbutt attempt from the top rope when Lorcan rolled out of the way. Burch tagged in and took out Fish before unloading on Strong in the corner. Burch hit a powerbomb on Strong for a two-count. Fish came back and hit Burch with a Samoan drop. Undisputed Era double-teamed Burch while Lorcan was down at ringside. Burch hit a double dropkick on Undisputed Era and Lorcan tagged in to rail Strong with a running uppercut. Lorcan took out both members of Undisputed Era with a running blockbuster. Burch came in and applied a crossface to Strong while Lorcan locked in a half-crab on Fish.

Undisputed Era managed to escape the holds and Fish and Lorcan ended up on the outside. Back in the ring, Burch took down Strong with a clothesline. Lorcan tagged back in and Burch and Lorcan hit a double-team DDT on Strong. Lorcan covered Strong for a two-count, as Fish made the save. Fish went after Lorcan and dropped Burch on the apron. Strong hit a running knee on Lorcan and pinned him for the victory.

WINNERS: Undisputed Era at 13:25 to become No.1 Contenders for the NXT Tag Team Championship

– McKenzie Mitchell checked in from backstage and provided an update on Finn Balor. Mitchell threw to images of Balor’s surgery to repair his jaw and said that William Regal was waiting to see how successful the surgery was before making any decisions about the NXT Championship. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A solid match which leads to what should be a similarly solid match of Breezango vs. Undisputed Era. The hard-hitting style of Burch and Lorcan was on full display here and they meshed well with Undisputed Era, as they did a few years ago when they had a series of matches.)

– A vignette featuring Ember Moon played. Moon talked about her recovery and how it led her on a journey of self-discovery. She said that she was meant to be a part of the recent WWE Draft, but wanted to instead come back to NXT where the best women’s division is. Moon listed off a series of NXT wrestlers she was ready to go through in order to get a shot at Io Shirai and the NXT Women’s Championship. She said she doesn’t care who she has to beat, because “Ember’s Law” will lead her back to the championship.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: This was a much better way to give Moon mic time. The controlled, produced environment resulted in a much better promo compared to her live, in-ring promo last week. It was good to get a sense of direction for the wider division too, seeing that it is so stacked now. It looks like we’ll see a journey for Moon, with a number of programs along the way.)


Adonis and Atlas went back and forth, resulting in a stalemate to open the match. Adonis showed off a little and was cut off by a kick from Atlas. Adonis hit a big dropkick and covered Altas for a nearfall. Both wrestlers talked trash to each other and exchanged slaps. Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza of Legado del Fantasma walked to ringside and distracted Adonis. The commentators referred back to Adonis involving himself in the Escobar/ Isaiah Scott situation a few weeks ago. Atlas took advantage of the distracted Adonis and rolled him up for the win.

WINNER: Jake Atlas at 1:50

– Mendoza and Wilde pulled Adonis from the ring and started to beat him up. Atlas hit the ropes and dived onto the heels at ringside, before joining Adonis back in the ring. Escobar joined Mendoza and Wilde on the ramp and led the trio to the ring. Suddenly, Isaiah Scott slid into the ring with steel chairs to even the odds for the faces, as Legado del Fantasma backed up.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Pretty formulaic stuff to set up an inevitable six-man tag, presumably to fill the card at the upcoming NXT Takeover.)

– Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae were interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell. LeRae claimed to be the uncrowned NXT Women’s Champion, ahead of her No.1 Contenders match against Shotzi Blackheart. Gargano said it was his and LeRae’s destiny to be champions at the same time, and took issue with Dexter Lumis jumping ahead of him for a shot at the NXT North American Championship. Mitchell asked Gargano if he was looking past his opponent tonight – Austin Theory. Gargano said he was ready and that he would teach Theory a lesson. [c]


Straight to mat wrestling after the bell and Gargano took the upperhand. Gargano sent Theory into the corner with chops. Theory tried to fire back but Gargano levelled Theory. Gargano taunted Theory as he worked over Theory’s arm. Gargano tried to lock in the GargaNO Escape but Theory made it to the ropes. Theory managed to takedown Gargano with a clothesline and followed up with a standing moonsault for a two-count. Gargano went to send Theory into the ropes, but Theory countered with a dropkick. Theory attempted an ATL but Gargano blocked the move with elbow strikes. Gargano took down Theory with a slingshot spear as the show went to a commercial break. [c]

Back from commercial, Gargano was still in control of Theory with an abdominal stretch locked in. Theory reversed a hurricanrana into a flapjack, followed by a slingshot stomp and suplex. Theory attempted another suplex but Gargano escaped. Theory hit Gargano with a superkick. Theory got Gargano up and dropped Gargano into a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Gargano tried to fight back but Theory dropped him with a kick. Theory tried for the ATL again, but Gargano managed to escape again. Gargano took to the ropes and dove at Theory who rolled through into a fireman’s carry. Theory began to show signs of frustration and went back and forth with Gargano, exchanging forearms in the middle of the ring. Theory tried to hit a superkick but it was blocked by Gargano, who landed a superkick of his own on Theory. Gargano launched Theory into the turnbuckle and hit him with a diving forearm. Gargano scored with the One Final Beat and pinned Theory for the win.

WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 14:15

– Raquel Gonzalez cut a promo on Rhea Ripley backstage. Gonzalez challenged Ripley to a match at NXT Takeover: Halloween Havoc. Ripley appeared and tried to fight Gonzalez, but the two were separated by referees. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Yet another good showing from Theory that resulted in yet another loss. Not that he should be defeating Gargano at this point in time, but if NXT are really comfortable enough with Theory as they appear to be by way of his regular TV time, then they need to start booking him to win some matches, even if just against enhancement talent. I’m not sure why they booked a heel vs. heel match here. If this ends up with Theory buying into the “Gargano Way” then things would make more sense.)


– Tomasso Ciampa was watching his match with Kushida on a screen backstage. He reacted to the footage of Dream interfering by saying “he’s dead” and leaving the room.

(4) SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. CANDICE LERAE – No.1 Contender’s match for the NXT Women’s Championship

Blackheart took LeRae down soon after the bell, following an exchange of mat holds. Blackheart sent LeRae to ringside and dove on to her with a suicide dive. Blackheart did her signature howl and rolled LeRae back into the ring. Blackheart covered LeRae who kicked out at two. Blackheart got LeRae up and drove her into her knee with a facebuster. Blackheart charged at LeRae, but LeRae had Blackheart scouted and sent her face-first into the turnbuckle. LeRae hit a Natural Selection for a two count. LeRae worked over Blackheart and kept her grounded in the middle of the ring. LeRae went for a suplex but Blackheart countered it into a suplex of her own. LeRae found herself on the apron and ate a roundhouse kick from Blackheart. Blackheart tried to send LeRae into the ringpost, but LeRae countered and slammed Blackheart into the post instead. LeRae knocked Blackheart to the floor as the show went to commercial. [c]

Back from commercial, Blackheart was making a comeback and splashed LeRae in the corner before hitting a reverse slingblade. Blackheart hit a standing senton and covered LeRae for a two-count. Blackheart took to the top rope and went for another senton, but LeRae got her knees up to counter the high-risk move. LeRae covered Blackheart for a nearfall, and showed frustration afterwards. LeRae went to the top rope, but Blackheart cut her off. Blackheart went for a superplex but LeRae avoided the move and hit a German suplex from the second rope. LeRae followed up with a superkick for a two-count. Blackheart fired back and hit a suplex into a bridge for a nearfall. Shotzi picked up LeRae and LeRae slipped out and hit a backstabber. LeRae hit a lionsault for a two count.

Blackheart managed to lock in a Cattle Mutilation but LeRae made it to the ropes for the break. Blackheart and LeRae made their way to the top rope again and Blackheart shoved LeRae down, diving onto her with a Thesz Press. Blackheart went back to the top rope but LeRae rolled out of the ring before Blackheart could dive again. At ringside, Indi Heartwell was behind the barrier and handed a set of brass knuckles to LeRae. LeRae reentered the ring and blasted Blackheart with a loaded punch for the victory.

WINNER: Candice LeRae at 15:40 to become No.1 Contender for the NXT Women’s Championship

– Drake Maverick was backstage with Killian Dain excitedly showing off the marketing concepts he had hired an agency to create. Maverick had bag loads of sample materials for ring gear, and pitched “The Furry and the Fury” as their tag team name, with a cartoon logo to boot. Dain was not impressed and was surprised when Maverick told him that they had a tag match later on in the show against Imperium.

– Toni Storm’s return to the ring was hyped for after the commercial break. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: No surprises that LeRae won here, considering where her story is at compared to Blackheart’s. That said, it was a very good match to get to that outcome, and Hartwell is now well and truly established as a follower of LeRae’s. The addition of Hartwell into the mix adds a new layer of intrigue to the latest incarnation of Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae. The Maverick/ Dain skit was short and sweet. Maverick continues to shine and Dain seems to be getting more comfortable with his role – although hopefully not too comfortable that we have to see Dain in the fishnets that Maverick offered up..!) 

– Robert Stone was in the ring with Aliyah and his promo was cut off by Toni Storm’s entrance music.

(5) TONI STORM vs. ALIYAH (w/Robert Stone)

Aliyah got in Storm’s face and taunted her, leading to Storm rocking Aliyah with a headbutt. Storm followed up with a dropkick and covered Ailyah for a two-count. Aliyah avoided Storm in the corner and wailed on her in the corner. Aliyah hit a swinging neckbreaker but could only manage a two-count. Aliyah took Storm to the mat and tried to apply a submission, but Storm countered with an armdrag. Storm hit a succession of atomic drops and chops. Aliyah tried to fight back with a clothesline, but Storm ducked and hit a German suplex. Storm hit a Hip Attack and dropped Aliyah with a clothesline. Storm hit a Storm Zero and covered Aliyah for the win.

WINNER: Toni Storm at 2:30

– McKenzie Mitchell interviewed William Regal about the current state of play with the women’s matches for Halloween Havoc. Xia Li turned up with Boa and requested a match at Takeover, insisting that she really needed a match. Regal didn’t commit but promised to take her request under consideration. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: A solid squash match which served its purpose. Storm still shows all the potential that she had before her injury. Hopefully, she isn’t thrust too quickly into the title scene and can take advantage of the deep roster to build some real momentum.)

– Imperium made their entrance, followed by Dain and Maverick. Dain demanded that the music be cut off, as Maverick cried out about the music not getting to the whistle part.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Dain is close to turning back full-fledged heel in my books, if he continues to cut the song off before the whistle.)

(6) DRAKE MAVERICK & KILLIAN DAIN vs. IMPERIUM (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)

Dain assertively decided to start the match, as Vic Joseph on commentary excitedly raved about the fledgling “teamwork” shown by Dain and Maverick. Dain bodyslammed Aichner, tagged in Maverick and then threw him on to Aichner. Maverick managed a two-count and Aichner quickly recovered and slammed Maverick down. Aichner tagged in Barthel who worked over Maverick with a series of punches. Barthel charged at Maverick who dropped down and pulled the ring rope, causing Barthel to career over it to the floor. Maverick made the hot tag to Dain who fired up but fell victim to an Aichner spinebuster. Dain managed to hit a suplex on Aichner and reached Maverick in the corner who was calling for the tag.

Maverick ran wild, sending Barthel to the outside and Aichner into the turnbuckle. Maverick took to the top rope but was distracted by Barthel tossing Dain into the ring steps. Maverick dove off the top rope towards Aichner who had recovered while Maverick was distracted. Aichner caught Maverick and drilled him with a brainbuster. Barthel returned to the ring and hit the European Bomb with Aichner for the victory.

WINNERS: Imperium at 3:50

– Imperium celebrated in the ring while a frustrated Dain was shown at ringside. After Imperium left, Ever Rise appeared and bullied Maverick. Dain flattened Ever Rise with a double clothesline and turned to Maverick to shout “no-one hits you but me!”. The upbeat music hit and an excited Maverick followed Dain to the back. [c]

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Another great chapter in this entertaining odd-couple storyline. It goes without saying that Maverick is excelling in his role, but Dain deserves credit for his character development in this storyline too. There is plenty of scope to play this dynamic out for a while, so hopefully they don’t rush through the story and break them up too soon.)

– The lineup for Halloween Havoc was hyped and entrances for the main event took place.

(7) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. DEXTER LUMIS – NXT North American Championship match

Priest and Lumis locked up and struggled back and forth to a stalemate. Priest hit Lumis with a shoulder block but Lumis popped right back up and got in the face of Priest. Priest took down Lumis with an armdrag and transitioned into an armbar. Priest whipped Lumis into the corner and wrenched Lumis’ arm and walked the top rope, diving on to Lumis with a crossbody. Priest beckoned Lumis who charged at him with a Thesz Press and landed a series of throat punches. Priest fired back with a combination of strikes and soon after hit a Broken Arrow for a two-count as the show went to picture-in-picture commercial. [c]

Lumis turned the tide during the picture-in-picture commercial and hit a bulldog as the show came back to full screen. Lumis dropped Priest with a spinebuster for a nearfall. Lumis tried to lock in a Kata Gatame but Priest fought out with elbow strikes. Priest scored with a cyclone kick and hit a flatliner for a nearfall. Priest applied an ankle lock causing Lumis to scream. Priest upped the intensity of the submission but Lumis managed to kick his way free. Lumis swung at Priest who ducked and hit the bell clap followed by a big kick. Priest hoisted Lumis up for the Razors Edge but Lumis slipped out and hit a belly-to-back suplex.

Lumis did a kip-up and hit a leg drop for a near fall. Lumis took to the top rope and missed on a senton attempt when Priest rolled out of the way. Priest hit Lumis with a clothesline. Lumis avoided a cyclone kick and hit Priest with a uranage. Lumis applied the Kata Gatame, but Priest made it to the ropes for the break. Lumis went to to the apron and was blindsided by Cameron Grimes. Priest hit a sit-out chokeslam and covered Lumis for the pinfall.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 12:10

Priest laid out Grimes after the match, telling him to stay out of Priest’s business. Priest told the cameraman to follow him and he prepared to fire his invisible arrow when Johnny Gargano appeared and laid Priest out with a steel chair. Candice LaRae appeared and the Garganos stood tall over the fallen Priest. William Regal walked on to the stage and he confirmed that Gargano would face Priest at Halloween Havoc, but with some heightened stakes. Shotzi Blackheart appeared on the other side of the arena and revealed that both Gargano and LeRae’s matches would have stipulations determined in classic “Spin the Wheel, make the deal” style. Blackheart did her wolf howl as the show went off the air.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Priest continues to shine in these prominent TV matches. He has a magnetic ring presence and is showing a lot of babyface fire down the stretch of his matches. Lumis was no slouch either, showing no signs of regression after returning from injury. The match was good and served its purpose of setting up two key matches for Halloween Havoc. I could’ve done without the community theatre acting from Shotzi though, too much more of that and her buzz could get killed quite quickly.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: A typically solid episode of NXT, which felt more like the NXT we know and love, compared to the more “sports-entertainment” infused episode last week. That said, the discipline of booking ahead to the following week seems to be falling by the wayside of late, which is a shame as that was a real strength of the solid presentation we’ve been seeing. I am most intrigued by the developments with the Gargano’s, and I look forward to seeing if some sort of “Gargano Way” stable develops. There was plenty of activity on this show, as required due to how soon Halloween Havoc is, but the in-ring product is still super strong, and with four matches topping out at over ten minutes each that makes for a happy PWTorch Contributor.

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. 

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