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NXT ON USA
JULY 13, 2021, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me, Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg to break down the episode:
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-In memory of Paul Orndorff, 1949-2021
-Recaps of Great American Bash.
(1) EMBER MOON vs. DAKOTA KAI (w/Raquel Gonzalez)
Jawing to start. Collar and elbow went around the ring until Moon took down Kai briefly. Kai and Moon both tried wristlocks and finally Kai ran the ropes and blocked Moon to the mat. Rope run and Moon hit a couple of hiptosses and held on for the second to work an armbar. Kai yanked Moon by the hair for a brief cover. Corner kick by Kai and she covered for two. Pump kick to the back by Kai and another cover for two. Short scissor kick got two. Kai showed brief frustration. Moon rolled up Kai for two, and Kai responded with a pump kick for two. More minor frustration from Kai. We were getting a lot of shots of Gonzalez.
Kai tied up Moon, who broked with a hip toss. Miscommunication on a spot but Moon was able to roll up for two. Kai bailed and Moon hit a tope. Moon glanced at Gonzalez and Kai shoved her to the apron. Moon spun around with a kick from the apron and the match went to split-screen.
Kai was in control and was covering for two upon return. She threw some fists down at Moon and considered her next move. Moon fought back with combo kicks. Pump kick, neckbreaker, suplex combo by Moon. Hip attack in the corner. Slingshot cross-body by Moon; she stumbled on the ropes so Kai had to wait a moment. The two went to the corner and Kai yanked Moon up and dropped her on the top rope. Corner kick and a big DDT by Kai got two. She sold some shock. Moon threw a right but Kai returned with a vicious one of her own. Kai went up but Moon followed and hit a rana from the top for two.
Moon went out to the apron and went for a springboard, but Kai caught her with a shot and lifted her for the Kota Kick. Clean victory for Kai. Cool.
WINNER: Dakota Kai at 13:00.
Xia Li hit the ring right after the match. She walked past Kai and said to Gonzalez, “You are in the way of my destiny.” Gonzalez said if she wanted a shot at the belt, she’s got it. Kai seethed subtly in the background.
(Wells’s Analysis: The two had some slight timing issues here and there but they’re both so good, they were able to quickly correct course. It would seem that Xia Li is the next major challenge for Raquel Gonzalez, but with Dakota Kai growing visibly annoyed at the title picture, particularly as she picks up wins, I’d still place a (small) bet that she’ll be the next champion, or at the very least feud with Gonzalez to turn Gonzalez babyface)
-Malcolm Bivens and the Diamond Mine spoke on a YouTube exclusive earlier today. Bobby Fish walked in and said he wanted to issue a challenge. Roderick Strong said Tyler Rust would deal with him tonight.
-Ikemen Jiro hype segment. He said he was handsome, but don’t let it fool you – he’ll kick your ass. He said he was trained by Tajiri and The Great Muta and he’s excited for the Breakout Tournament.
-LA Knight caught some rays by a pool and told someone on the phone his butler would soon be there. Knight gave Grimes a makeover and laughed and held up a mirror. He grew annoyed as Grimes clearly liked the way he looked in the butler outfit.
(2) BOBBY FISH vs. TYLER RUST (w/Diamond Mine)
Jockeying for position. Back suplex by Rust. Rust took Fish to the corner for a chop and took down Fish with an armdrag and stomped his arm. Vicious chops by Rust, who grounded Fish and hit a kick to the back. Fish recovered briefly for a kick but Rust took him down with a headscissors. Fish powered out, blocked a kick and threw rights. A kick to the chest took Rust down. Another. Back bodydrop by Fish. Exploder by Fish into the ropes. Roderick Strong hit the apron for a distraction. Fish dumped Rust on the opposite side. Strong held his focus for long enough for Rust to get back in, chop block the back of Fish’s leg, and hit his finisher.
WINNER: Tyler Rust at 2:37.
Diamond Mine closed in on Fish after the match, but Kushida made the save to cheers and Diamond Mine headed outside the ring.
(Wells’s Analysis: They kept Diamond Mine strong while giving Fish something of an out as he gears up for more with Roddy. Rust continues to be one of the most aggressive wrestlers anywhere in the ring and I hope it’s clear to all involved that he shouldn’t act as a fall guy for Roddy)
-Samoa Joe, in his referee outfit for tonight, found Karrion Kross sparring backstage. He gave Kross the rules for tonight and asked if he understands. Kross snapped and said if he screws him out of his title tonight, he’ll be dealt with. Joe said “I’ll take that as a yes.”
-Earlier today, The Way arrived. Beth Phoenix held Indi Hartwell back to talk to her and vaguely suggested she should take her shot at Dexter Lumis.
-Also earlier, Gigi Dolin made a challenge to Sarray. Gigi has a lot of charisma in her body language, but her line readings are brutally overwrought. On the upside, she’s trying a much different style and cadence than most, so hopefully she finds something there.
(3) SARRAY vs. GIGI DOLIN
Dolin is FKA Priscilla Kelly, I believe finally debuting on TV. Grappling attempts to start. The two exchanged brief wristlocks and Sarray worked a headlock. Rope run and an armdrag and headlock takedown by Sarray. Quick reversal by Dolin and the two held on for a moment to accept applause. The two were distracted by something on a ramp, and we saw it was Mandy Rose?! “You don’t go here” chant. The two exchanged some spots and Sarray worked a submission for a moment. Inside cradle by Dolin got two. Rollup got two. Rope run and a big STO by Dolin for two. Rope run and a dropkick by Sarray. Sarray hit an awesome dropkick against Dolin against the ropes. High-angle suplex finisher by Sarray. Mandy Rose was impressed, or something. I’m not sure she has the acting range for us to take anything away from it.
WINNER: Sarray at 3:25.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very good stuff from both of these two; Sarray hasn’t been overly memorable to this point but that dropkick was beautiful and is at least a start. There’s no takeaway yet from what Mandy Rose is supposed to be, but if she fits in with anyone, it’s the Franky Monet budding faction, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she isn’t just visiting)
-Santos Escobar pumped up Legado del Fantasma. He said Swerve is really lucky and he has what Escobar wants – the North American Championship. Joaquin Wilde said the Hit Row cypher last week was offensive to his ears and he couldn’t do his signature dance to it. Raul Mendoza added that they had no class. Escobar fired up for his match with Dexter Lumis.
-Duke Hudson segment ahead of his debut in the Breakout Tournament tonight. “I’m not perfect…but I’ve got to be close” was the opening line. He laid it on thick throughout. Good, confident heel delivery by Hudson.
(4) DEXTER LUMIS vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR (w/Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza)
Wade said LdF had to step away for a moment to refocus after the loss to Bronson Reed. Lumis stood still in the corner while the others did their entrance. Escobar tried to dance around but slowed himself when Lumis didn’t move. He charged and Lumis didn’t flinch. Rope run and a block by Escobar. Escobar taunted the crowd and Lumis popped up. Thesz press by Lumis, who followed up by slithering on his knees, which Vic effectively sold as creepy. Escobar bailed and started looking around for Lumis, who was apparently under the ring. He yanked Escobar, whose cronies tried to pull him to safety. After they did, Lumis slithered out and all three of Legado flipped out heading into commercial. It’s been a long journey with this character, but Lumis’s act is hitting on a higher level of late after a long time of being just okay.
Back live, Escobar had turned it around and was in control. He threw some kicks and lifted Lumis for a big palm strike in the corner. Another. Lumis shoved Escobar. Irish whip and double knees by Escobar, who put up Lumis for a step-up enzuigiri. Escobar went up and hit a top rope rana. Cover for two. Escobar took Lumis to a corner and charged with a clothesline. He ran the length of the ring for another. Three Amigos by Escobar, but Lumis blocked the third. Escobar hit a backstabber instead. Escobar charged but Lumis hit a lariat to ground him. Lumis took down Escobar with rights. Rope run and a corner lariat and bulldog by Lumis. Lumis hit a slam on Escobar but Mendoza dragged Escobar to the outside. Lumis stalked them but Wilde pulled Lumis into the post. Back inside, Phantom Driver finished.
WINNER: Santos Escobar at 9:17.
Legado were proud of their work, but they went up the ramp and realized Hit Row was at the top. The two factions jawed at one another but we didn’t get any specific money lines.
(Wells’s Analysis: Another in a series of very good matches for Escobar, and easily one of Lumis’s best. Lumis is bringing so much more of his character into the work and it’s paying off. It’ll be interesting to see if Legado or Hit Row are framed as faces for this feud, and if so, it’ll be even more interesting to see if NXT bookers guess right on which will be cheered more; they’re the two coolest acts going on the brand right now)
-Wade Barrett had a sit-down interview with Kyle O’Reilly earlier today. O’Reilly said losing was part of life sometime but this was tough. He said he sold his soul for Undisputed Era but maybe he needed to sell it back. Wade called out this line and O’Reilly stressed that Adam Cole can’t do what he’s done and get away with it. He said he’s not the man that will beat Adam Cole, he’s the man that will end Adam Cole.
-LA Knight took Cameron Grimes to an enormous lawn and said his first job was to mow the lawn. Grimes mocked the size of the lawn and tried to get on the nearby riding mower, but he instead was forced to use a very old push mower. He said his granny used to chase him around the yard with one of those, and he was still in good spirits. Knight stormed off.
-Moments ago, Indi Hartwell hit the ring and checked on Dexter Lumis. She went in for a kiss but Candice LeRae charged in and shoved her away to boos.
(4) IKEMEN JIRO vs. DUKE HUDSON – Breakout Tournament first round match
Hudson was introduced first and he had a smarmy theme song that fit his personality. Jiro entered to cheers.
Quick takedown by the fairly large and formidable takedown. Another. He smiled smugly. Jiro danced around to mess with him and frustrate him. Headlock by Jiro. Hudson shoved him to a corner but he slipped out of trouble. Hudson caught Jiro and held him like a sack of potatoes for a very impressive quick high kick to the head followed by a slam. Hudson battered Jiro in a corner. Hudson grounded Jiro, then ran him on the ropes and caught him on a rollup attempt. Reversal and a series of rights by Jiro. Jiro worked a tarantula near a corner. Jiro flew in but Hudson caught him with a belly-to-belly suplex. Rights and lefts in the corner by Hudson. Uppercut by Hudson and he covered for one.
Hudson went for a Razor’s Edge but Jiro hit a crucifix bomb and rolled up Hudson for two. Top rope blockbuster by Jiro. Hudson bailed and Jiro hit a sliding dropkick, then a moonsault from the top rope. Jiro sold a bad landing that on replay looked like an actual bad landing, I guess. Back inside, Jiro hit a few kicks but Hudson caught him with a sudden Boss Man Slam and finished.
WINNER: Duke Hudson at 4:49.
(Wells’s Analysis: A very good opening match for the tournament, absolutely loaded with character stuff. The two worked an extremely effective big vs. small match and I can’t wait to see more of Hudson in this tournament)
-McKenzie Mitchell was with Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan. He said he’d beat either one of the men who walked out with the championship tonight because he’s the best technician in the world. Tommaso Ciampa flew into frame and it immediately devolved into a two-on-two brawl.
-Replay of the Women’s Tag Team Championship title change last week. Four months, four reigns. Why not?
(5) KACY CATANZARO & KAYDEN CARTER vs. ALIYAH & JESSI KAMEA (w/Robert Stone)
Kacy and Jessi to start. Kamea hit a big boot to charge Catanzaro to the corner. Tag to Aliyah. Hair mare. Aliyah charged in and hit a back elbow. Nice Northern Lights suplex by Aliyah for two. Tag to Kamea, who booted Catanzaro. Kamea battered Catanzaro and taunted Carter. Kamea hit some boots and covered for two. She took Catanzaro back to the heel corner and Kamea tagged in. Tandem kick and Kamea made a cocky cover for one. Inside cradle by Catanzaro got two. She couldn’t make the tag as Aliyah hit the ring and cut it off. Blind tag to Carter, who hit a bulldog on Aliyah. Repeated clotheslines by Carter. Aliyah yanked Carter’s hair and things broke down briefly and all got involved. Carter hit a superkick on Aliyah after it cleared up and she made the tag and held Aliyah in place for Catanzaro’s 450 splash for the win.
WINNERS: Catanzaro & Carter at 3:27.
Stone tried to console Aliyah after the match, and Aliyah shoved him away. Stone wanted an explanation and Aliyah said she’d helped Stone more than he ever helped her. She battered Stone in a corner to cheers. “Aliyah” chant. She ran the ropes for one more kick. She kissed Kamea goodbye on the ramp and walked up for a “you deserve it” chant. Franky Monet immediately slinked to the ring and whispered to Jessi Kamea, who followed her. Stone seemed to be with them, but it wasn’t entirely clear.
(Wells’s Analysis: Aliyah ostensibly got the big moment here, but I’d be surprised if this wasn’t just to distance her from a better potential act in Monet & Kamea. There are a lot of moving parts here but I wouldn’t be stunned if Aliyah is the low babyface on the totem pole, if she even gets more TV time than she’s been getting. Catanzaro & Carter continue to do fun tag spots together so it’s a shame they’re one of the only teams on the brand that hasn’t gotten near the tag titles)
-Samoa Joe covered the basics with Johnny Gargano, who was flanked by Austin Theory and Candice LeRae. They offered him a shirt with them on it and he walked out of the room. He locked eyes with Pete Dunne, and as always, neither spoke before the segment ended.
-LA Knight confronted Cameron Grimes in his sun room, where Grimes was hanging out in his underwear, boots and white gloves, as he had hired a kid to do the lawn for him. Knight talked down to the kid, who kicked him in the shin. The kid took off and Grimes accidentally knocked Knight into the pool. Knight lost his mind. Good segment, but the cheery, goofy comedy music kind of overdid it.
-Adam Cole’s music played him to the ring. He said he proved to the world he was better than Kyle O’Reilly. He said he was the greatest superstar in the history of the brand. He said he was listening to O’Reilly’s interview earlier and he mocked him for saying losing was a part of life. He said he’d embarrass O’Reilly one more time, but he wanted to talk about Samoa Joe. The same Samoa Joe who put him out. The coward. He told Joe that he was an overpaid security guard in a suit. He said he knew nobody was man enough to go toe to toe with him.
Bronson Reed’s music played, and Reed had a mic. He said Cole might be a master of mind games, but Reed no longer has the North American Championship and he has nothing to lose. He said all eyes were on him, and people were wondering what his next move is. He said Cole might be the golden boy, but he’s Reed’s golden opportunity. Cole tried a superkick but Reed caught it and pounced. Cole bailed and Samoa Joe’s music played ahead of the main event. Joe stared deep at Cole before hitting the ring.
(Wells’s Analysis: Joe sure is in a lot of feuds for a guy who officially isn’t a wrestler. That’s not a criticism – I’m very interested, given his bevy of issues, to see which one of them finally goads him into a return match)
-An unseen announcer asked Franky Monet, Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea if Aliyah was no longer part of the brand. Monet said “Let’s just say that you don’t have to worry about Aliyah anymore.” Mandy Rose walked into frame and said it appears the brand is under new management before she moved on.
(6) JOHNNY GARGANO vs. KARRION KROSS (c) (w/Scarlett) – NXT Championship match with Samoa Joe as special referee
Alicia Taylor handled formal intros, which happened at a mere eight minutes to the hour. This could be another essential squash for Kross.
Gargano charged in quickly and attacked. Samoa Joe treated it like a normal match until he remembered to call for the bell a moment later. Kross dominated with power stuff early. Kross hit a snap suplex after challenging Joe by working Gargano illegally in the corner. Gargano booted Kross to the outside and went to the apron for a kick and a rolling senton. Gargano ducked from a charging Kross outside and then threw some shots but Kross caught Gargano and disgustingly folded his back over the edge of the announce table, eliciting a yelp from Beth Phoenix, as the match went to split-screen.
Back to action, Kross had Gargano in a headlock. Gargano elbowed out just to catch a knee in the abdomen. Kross charged but Gargano got shots in, then evaded in the corner as Kross charged the post. Gargano threw lariats that Kross no-sold. Kross absorbed a forearm. Step-up enzuigiri. Slingshot spear by Gargano, who got two. Kross bailed and Gargano charged with a tope into the barricade.
Kross caught Gargano on a One Final Beat attempt and hit a Northern Lights suplex followed by a delayed suplex for two. Gargano threw elbows but Kross put Gargano on the top in the corner and went for a Saito suplex from the top, but Gargano redirected for a cross-body. Gargano hit a few kicks but got caught by a lariat. Kross charged Gargano into a corner but Gargano hit a DDT for two. Gargano threw a few rights but Kross absorbed them, hit a forearm and a chokeslam. He charged into a superkick, and another. Kross caught Gargano in a submission but Gargano reversed to GargaNo Escape. Kross powered out and put him in a sleeper. Gargano was passing out but reached a rope. Kross tried to take liberties and Joe shoved him off, creating a tense moment between the two.
Gargano had bailed, and Kross followed and charged Gargano into the Plexiglass a few times. Kross grabbed the top of the steps on the outside and Joe followed and pulled them from his hands. Again, the two got nose to nose. Gargano flew in for a DDT. He shoved Kross to the inside and hit One Final Beat for a believable near-fall. Kross recovered quickly and hit the forearm to the back of the neck. Triple powerbomb. Saito suplex by Kross. Kross measured Gargano, but leaned toward Joe instead, which Vic seemed to miss. He hit his discus forearm to the back of the neck again to finish.
WINNER: Karrion Kross at 12:46.
Kross and Joe got in one another’s faces again after the match. We didn’t hear the lines but the two went on for some time. Scarlett held back Kross, but Joe tried to leave the ring and Kross put him in the Kross Jacket. Kross yelled that Joe brought it on himself as he knocked Joe out with it and the show faded to black at the usual eight past the hour. A “Joe is gonna kill you” chant was just getting started as the show cut out.
(Wells’s Analysis: I doubt anyone thought there was any chance for a title change here, so that didn’t do the match any favors, but Kross is still effective in the role of a man who’s literally unbeatable. Joe has been established as a very powerful authority figure, so Kross gains a lot from putting him out here. The match was a perfectly acceptable TV main event that was more about the events to come)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Whatever NXT was missing before the last TakeOver show seems to have been found, at least in part. A show that’s been defined by breakneck speed to get to the next major show has seen a lot more patience with feuds and storylines, and things seem to be happening more organically and feeling less forced. I’ll have plenty of praise to go around on PWT Talks NXT tonight, but the short version is that this was a very good show that, as for weeks now, has once again felt like a TV show with episodes that matter rather than four to eight two-hour advertisements in a row for the only shows that really matter.