SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AUSTIN THEORY vs. ONEY LORCAN
This match came about after last week each man defended their leader, Johnny Gargano and Pete Dunne respectively. We were shown the two brawling backstage earlier in the day as well to sell the bad blood between The Way and Dunne, Lorcan and Burch (I know Burch is injured, but I’m still gonna include him in the faction). Where this match is an extension of the main event, seeing Dunne and Gargano come to ringside to stand in the corners of Theory and Lorcan was rather predictable. I had a feeling we’d see them in some way, and of course we saw them brawl at ringside during the match, getting dragged to the back from the refs.
I was a little surprised to see Lorcan get the win, but I think it was needed as well. Lorcan is being presented as a semi-main event talent and needs to be booked strong. The perception of Lorcan, as much as I love him, is still that of an undercard talent. This win did help him look stronger, and kept the perception of Theory being a dumb jock, with him losing due to the distraction outside the ring.
DOK HENDRIX APPEARANCE
Michael PS Hayes resurrected his announcer gimmick, Dok Hendrix, to run down the In Your House card. If you couldn’t get Todd Pettengill again, then Hendrix was a fun little throw back.
ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT vs. KILLIAN DAIN
Last week, Hit Row and Drake Maverick had an altercation outside of the Covid Wrestling Center with Killian Dain stepping in to protect his partner leading to the match tonight. Hit Row is probably the best thing on NXT right now with Swerve absolutely on fire. Ashanti Adonis and Top Dolla were eating popcorn ringside! Little touches like that are what separates a good act from a great act and will take Hit Row to the top.
Dain is a great monster for Hit Row to try and overcome, even if Hit Row are the heels and Maverik/Dain are the faces here. Dain has been slotted into a typical big man role where they say he’s hard to beat, yet everyone beats him. No doubt in my mind that Swerve was going to win this, but Dain still put on a great performance and made Swerve look strong. I’d like to see this continue for another few weeks, maybe to even set up the eventual Dain/Maverick split.
MERCEDES MARTINEZ vs. JOBBER MCJOBBERPANTS (name not mentioned on TV)
Xia Li attacked Martinez before Martinez even walked down the ramp, playing on the Tien Sha/Martinez feud. Martinez was forced to get in the ring to face her scheduled opponent, and she made quick work of this jobber (Camron Branae) with an Air Raid Crash, not taking any nonsense. She screamed into the camera that Xia messed with the wrong woman. This was a perfect segment as far as I’m concerned. In less than three minutes they reminded us of how much Li and Martinez dislike one another and reminded us just how badass Martinez is by decimating her opponent after a vicious attack.
MILLION DOLLAR ANNOUNCEMENT
LA Knight and Cameron Grimes joined Ted DiBiase in the ring for DiBiase’s big announcement. A ladder match at IYH for the Million Dollar Championship. Knight and Grimes are the second best thing on the show right now, second to Hit Row. They both play so well off of one another with two completely different and contrasting characters.
While the MDC isn’t a legitimate title, it’s legacy speaks for itself in wrestling lore and I’m so pumped to see this title make a return for this feud. Since Grimes first mentioned DiBiase, even before we saw the Million Dollar Man on TV, I was hoping that we’d see the MDC make a comeback as I’ve documented here in this column and on PWT Talks NXT. I couldn’t imagine a better trajectory for this feud right now.
GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS vs. AUGUST GREY & IKEMAN JIRO
August Grey was mentioned on TV, but his partner was not. This was really just a showcase match for GYV to give Ciampa and Thatcher a reason to interact with them without the teams touching before their match at IYH, which was made during this segment. August Grey did look impressive here for what it’s worth, though I think this is the first time his partner, Ikeman Jiro, has been on NXT TV and he did look rather impressive as well, though I do want to see more of him before making an opinion on him.
Before the Thatcher & Ciampa vs. GYV match was made, I thought it was already on the books to be honest. While I’m not looking forward to this match as much as I would assume I would be if I saw it on a card poster, this should still be a hell of a match come Sunday.
IO SHIRAI RETURNS
Poppy had been all over the show tonight, foreshadowing a return from Io Shirai who uses Poppy’s music as her entrance theme. Credit to Amin Ajani, another PWTorch Contributor for calling that earlier in the week via Twitter DM. For some reason, I hadn’t even considered Poppy’s appearance here tonight to lead to a Shirai return, but once he pointed it out to me I figured it was a foregone conclusion that she’d return. With her returning to feud with one half of the NXT Women’s Tag champs, I’m wondering if Shirai looks for a partner (knowing WWE, Sarray, probably) to go after The Way’s titles, or if she’ll feud individually with LaRae, putting the entire women’s tag division in a state of flux while the titles are held up in a non-tag feud.
Regardless, it’s awesome to see Shirai back.
DAKOTA KAI vs. EMBER MOON
With Shotzi out of action for a bit, Ember returns to singles competition as she challenged Raquel Gonzalez for her NXT Women’s Title at IYH. Dakota Kai, Gonzalez’s partner, took Ember on tonight before their match on Sunday. This may have been one of Ember’s better matches since her return to NXT. She’s felt clunky and “ring rusty” in the majority of her matches, which was masked a little bit by teaming with Shotzi. Their attitude and persona while tagging didn’t help things either, as they were so annoying it was hard to be anything but apathetic at best towards the duo.
With her distancing herself from the team and getting back to a singles career for the time being, I’m hoping we see a return to that initial return to NXT gimmick. That edgier, biker chick gimmick and less of that “high school girl” who makes fun of everyone. With Gonzalez at ringside, a DQ finish seemed pretty likely. Or a finish that saw Gonzalez and Kai get the upper hand after an Ember Moon win. Instead, we saw Moon get the upper hand on both Kai and Gonzalez after the finish. Of course, whoever gets the visual win on a go-home show, loses at the big show – further adding to my prediction that Raquel will retain at IYH.