SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
JULY 20, 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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-Recaps of the Samoa Joe-Karrion Kross budding feud. Kross’s unbeatable mystique is dead thanks to Raw and this juicy feud is essentially dead in the water as a result. I can’t imagine they even acknowledge Raw tonight.
-Samoa Joe entered the ring. “Tick tock, tick tock…guess who’s come to smash your clock?”
William Regal ran down the ring and yelled that this isn’t what he had in mind when he hired him. Joe reminded him that he was provoked. They argued semantics about whether Joe was provoked directly or indirectly. Joe said Kross wasn’t under control since he showed up on Raw, and Joe will get him under control. Regal said that Kross was on his way, and Joe would be solving this peacefully. “Let them fight” chant. Joe said that because of his deeply held respect for Regal, he said tonight would be the end of it, but he didn’t promise it would end peacefully. Somebody will be going to sleep.
The announcers transitioned to hype for tonight’s Women’s Championship match. Xia Li, in a hype segment in her native tongue, said she’d be doing the same thing to Raquel Gonzalez that she did to Mercedes Martinez.
(1) KUSHIDA & BOBBY FISH vs. RODERICK STRONG & TYLER RUST (w/Diamond Mine)
The babyfaces jumped Diamond Mine on the ramp and the ref struggled to get control. The faces cleared the heels from the ring as the show went to commercial with no bell yet.
The match was in progress upon return. Strong and Fish were legal. Fish tripped Strong into the corner buckle, then battered him against the ropes and tagged Kushida. The faces wrenched Strong’s arm and then kicked him in tandem. Kushida covered for two. Kushida tied up Strong and snapped his arms backward with his legs. Fish and Rust both tagged in. Knees by Fish. Springboard senton by Fish. Kushida tagged in and Rust took him to the heel corner and tagged. Kushida blocked a suplex and threw stiff kicks. He went for an armbar but Strong redirected into a backbreaker and tagged Rust, who stomped Kushida. Belly-to-back suplex by Rust got two. Tag to Strong, who threw chops and then an elbow to the head. Kushida threw body shots but Strong hit a suplex and covered for two.
Kushida tried to fight back into it but the heels made the tag. Kushida hit a back elbow on both guys and tagged Fish. He kept the momentum up and hit a clothesline on Rust for two. Rust fought back with some kicks and Fish threw knees. Strong distracted Fish and Rust threw an elbow to his back. Strong backdropped Fish on the apron and heading to commercial, Vic asked if Fish and Kushida could get back into it against “Diamond Man.”
Diamond Mine was in control upon return. They double-teamed Fish and Rust hit a high axe kick on Fish and covered for two. He worked a brief headlock and threw some punches to a grounded Fish, who fought to his feet. Rust wrenched Fish’s leg and tagged Strong, who tried a headlock as Fish tried to fight him off. Fish threw some knees but Strong took him down with some knees. He covered for two and immediately went back to the knees. Rust tagged in and threw kicks to the ribs. Abdominal stretch by Rust with a fishhook. The two exchanged shots and Fish got close to Kushida but couldn’t tag. Closer to the center of the ring, Fish hit a spinebuster. Strong tagged in and Kushida made the hot tag and controlled with his rapid offense. Strong evaded a kick and tagged Rust, who hit a gut-wrench powerbomb. Enzuigiri by Kushida. Quick reversals and the two exchanged forearms. Slam by Rust and Fish made the save.
Kushida went up and came down with an elbow to Rust. Quick reversals and Kushida slapped on the Hoverboard Lock for the immediate tap.
WINNERS: Kushida & Bobby Fish in about 18 minutes (opening bell off TV).
(Wells’s Analysis: A decent technical match that didn’t kick into high gear. All the same, the audience got into it as the work drew them in. The live crowd remains pretty invested in Fish, which is impressive given he was the most invisible of Undisputed Era most of the time and has literally never won a singles match on NXT TV)
-Cameron Grimes, still LA Knight’s butler, arrived at the arena earlier. Knight made Grimes carry his large amount of luggage and Drake Maverick, passing by, tried to help. Knight talked down to Maverick and said Grimes didn’t need the help.
-Odyssey Jones hype segment ahead of his Breakout Tournament opener tonight. He’s a man of energy and charisma and he can’t wait to show the NXT Universe what he’s made of tonight.
-Samoa Joe paced, waiting for Karrion Kross’s arrival.
(2) JACEY JANE vs. FRANKY MONET (w/Jessi Kamea, Robert Stone)
Stone showed up about thirty second in, clearly not invited. Monet absorbed some early offense but shut it down with double knees in the corner. Ground and pound by Monet. Mandy Rose showed up and laid on the announce table like she was sunbathing and watched the match. Huracanrana by Jane, followed by a pump kick. She looked out at Rose, who made a sort of approving look. Monet hit the Glam Slam shortly after.
WINNER: Franky Monet at 3:19.
(Wells’s Analysis: With Aliyah heading to Raw, it would seem her big moment last week was the end of her part in this story. We don’t yet know how Mandy Rose fits in; I just hope it’s not in a way that upstages Monet, who has way more potential)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to the men of The Way briefly. Kyle O’Reilly showed up and said he was in the mood for a fight. He challenged Austin Theory, who agreed to a match. Gargano said Theory was on his own tonight, like he was against Kross last week.
-Vic announced that TakeOver 36 would be on SummerSlam weekend, and next week, NXT moves to Syfy for two weeks.
-Wade Barrett sat down with Bronson Reed, who said he was briefly on top of the world before losing his championship. Next week, he faces Adam Cole and said he wanted to face the best. He shut him down last week, and said next week he’ll finish the job.
(3) KYLE O’REILLY vs. AUSTIN THEORY
Theory went for the no-look high five that he does with Gargano all the time because he forgot Gargano isn’t here. Theory backed O’Reilly to a corner and O’Reilly escaped trouble quickly. Takedown by Theory, but O’Reilly popped up immediately. O’Reilly grabbed a leg, leading to some quick reversals until Theory hit a snap suplex. Both guys got to their feet and Theory hit a headlock takedown. Theory jawed at O’Reilly as he tried to escape. Headscissors broke it up. Both guys hit their feet again and Theory worked a brief headlock. Big knee by O’Reilly, who ran the ropes and then stopped and just slapped Theory. O’Reilly put Theory on the floor with a knee heading to split-screen commercial.
Theory controlled upon return to full screen, but O’Reilly escaped and threw kicks and knees. Slam by Theory got two. Ground and pound by Theory. Quick reversals and Theory went for a dropkick but O’Reilly had baited him into it and snapped on a submission. Theory quickly scampered to a rope to break. Theory put O’Reilly’s head in the buckle a few times and hit a rolling fisherman suplex for two. Theory fought fack with some knees. Rope run and O’Reilly hit a knee to take Theory down. Stiff knees by O’Reilly followed by some kicks all over. Running forearm by O’Reilly. A knee in the corner followed by an armbar in the middle of the ring. He transitioned to an anklelock but Theory got to the rope. O’Reilly dropped an elbow immediately, then threw kicks. Quick counters and Theory hit a powerslam for a long two. He hit something like an ushigoroshi for another near-fall.
Action went outside and Theory removed some steps, but O’Reilly fired up and destroyed Theory. Back into the ring and O’Reilly mounted Theory for some body shots and he unloaded with kicks and forearms as Barrett called out O’Reilly as having a Jekyll and Hyde moment. O’Reilly hit a knee from the top and snapped on a kneebar for the quick submission. Barrett said “Mr. Cool went out the window, and something snapped.”
WINNER: Kyle O’Reilly at 14:04.
(Wells’s Analysis: There’s a segment of the audience that can’t get over O’Reilly being against Adam Cole, and he got booed relentlessly by one guy, and there were some chants for Austin. Still, the match may have been a success in trying to shed Kyle O’Reilly of his irritating persona coming out of Undisputed Era)
-Raquel Gonzalez said after she destroys Xia Li tonight, there will be no one left. Dakota Kai hung around but didn’t say anything until she bid McKenzie farewell.
-Legado del Fantasma were in the ring with two masked guys holding guitars. Santos Escobar changed his mind and said he wasn’t going to embarrass himself like Hit Row out there. He said if this was a battle of styles, his style is being the true Campeon. He started hyping up lucha libre and Hit Row’s music played.
Hit Row went to the top of the ramp. Breanna Brandi said the two lackeys were probably celebrating their quinceanera with Daddy Escobar. Top Dolla jawed at Legado next. Swerve finished it off and said he was going to make Santos his bitch. Escobar said he was going to take the North American title. Hit Row approached the ring and the two groups faced off. Escobar sent his boys at Top Dolla and Ashante Thee Adonis, who handled them easily. Escobar tried to hit Swerve with a guitar, but Brandi snatched it from him and Swerve took a swing with it. Escobar found higher ground, but Joaquin Wilde got stuck in the ring surrounded by Hit Row. Adonis took down Wilde with a kick and Swerve smashed the guitar so hard over his back, it sounded like a gunshot. Not a bad segment, other than a few idiots yelling “what.”
-The Way had a powwow. Candice LeRae lectured all of them about their recent losses. It broke down quickly as Candice, Johnny and Indi conversed and Austin Theory walked off.
-Samoa Joe continued pacing. William Regal told him Kross had assured him he’d be here, so Joe should just calm down. Joe said he was making sure he was the first one to greet Karrion Kross tonight.
(4) ODYSSEY JONES vs. ANDRE CHASE – Breakout Tournament first round match
Barrett put over Chase and said he had a tremendous in-ring IQ. Jones got a strong reaction during his entrance.
“Odyssey” chant. Jones blocked a takedown attempt and deadlifted Chase, who tried a headlock. Rope run and a lariat by Chase didn’t move Jones. Rope run and a boot by Chase staggered Jones, but Jones splattered Chase, caught him on a Thesz press attempted and dumped him to the outside. Chase went for a plancha and Jones was supposed to catch him but the moment went awry and they landed awkwardly. Jones threw Chase on the announce table but Chase crashed Jones into the steel pillar. Back inside and Chase tripped Jones into the buckle. He floated over the ropes with a neckbreaker. Moonsault by Chase got two. He worked an armbar on the much larger Jones, who fought it off and and hit a cross-body that also didn’t look perfect. Jones splashed Chase in the corner and caught Chase for a slam and the pin.
WINNER: Odyssey Jones at 3:18.
(Wells’s Analysis: Jones has an absolutely stunning amount of power, but it would be interesting to hear his feedback after the match considering a couple of spots weren’t great – particularly the missed attempt at catching Chase on the outside. Chase looked good trying to fight a much larger man)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked with MSK. She asked what the future held for them, and they said they welcomed all challengers. She said they never told them what MSK stands for. Wes Lee started to set the stage and the screen flickered and went to an Imperium segment where Aichner and Barthel talked down the entire tag division. The screen flickered again and went back to MSK, where Wes said “and THAT is what MSK stands for,” and the two headed out.
-Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan gave a backstage promo and said finally someone stepped up to them – Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa. They’ll go next week.
(5) DRAKE MAVERICK vs. LA KNIGHT (w/Cameron Grimes)
Maverick didn’t even get an entrance; he was unceremoniously shown after Knight’s entrance. On the outside, Grimes was tasked with holding up the Million Dollar belt. Knight dominated after Maverick got in some small shots. Grimes got a “To the moon” chant and Knight went out and moved him to a different place around the ring and told him to hold up the belt there. Knight tried a powerslam but Maverick hit a rana, and then a high cross-body for a one count. Rope run and Knight caught Maverick and tossed him over his back. Knight tried to shut up another “to the moon” chant. Knight jawed out at Grimes, and Maverick rolled him up for the win. Maverick wanted to celebrate with Grimes, who begged him to go. Knight hit a lariat on Maverick and stomped him in the corner. Grimes yanked him off and Knight said it was Grimes’s turn to beat down Maverick. Grimes tried to leave and Knight yanked him back inside and said he needed to punch Maverick in the mouth. Grimes finally complied and felt awful about it. Knight yelled “I love it!” and posed with the belt.
WINNER: Drake Maverick at 2:22.
(Wells’s Analysis: Again, even despite a small amount of minutes, this feud came off as one of the best things on the brand. Grimes is going to get a huge pop when he decides he’s had enough of Knight’s BS and destroys him)
-Apparently, Karrion Kross has arrived. Samoa Joe charged outside to find him.
-Next week, it’s Adam Cole vs. Bronson Reed as well as Dunne & Lorcan vs. Ciampa & Thatcher! Carmelo Hayes will face Josh Briggs in the Breakout Tournament as well.
(6) RAQUEL GONZALEZ (c) (w/Dakota Kai) vs. XIA LI – NXT Women’s Championship match
Boa and Mei Ying weren’t present as the challenger entered. Alicia Taylor handled formal intros. Li got in Gonzalez’s face (well, her clavicle, given their heights) as she was introduced.
Gonzalez shoved Li to a corner. Li escaped and tried a headlock. Gonzalez broke free and blocked her to the mat. Gonzalez yelled down at Li that she’s the champion and Li will respect her. Gonzalez powered Li to the mat but Li used her agility to strike quickly a few times. Gonzalez shoved Li to a corner and booted Li after a quick escape. The action spilled outside and Gonzalez darted Li to the post. Gonzalez went in to break the count and yelled at Li to get in there. She went out and tried to boot Li, but Li moved and Gonzalez’s leg wrapped around the post. Li wrenched it three times, then drove Gonzalez to the steel steps as the match went to split-screen commercial.
Li was in control upon return. She wrapped Gonzalez’s leg around the second rope and dropkicked it a few times. Li covered for two. Single-leg crab by Li, but Gonzalez rolled through to escape. Fallaway slam by Gonzalez. Lariats by Gonzalez. Dropkick and a cover for two by Gonzalez. She wanted the Chingona Powerbomb but Li escaped and rolled into a cover for two. Li kicked Gonzalez’s back, then came off the ropes with a twisting kick and another cover for two. On the outside, Dakota Kai was concerned with how things were going.
Gonzalez blocked a guillotine and shoved Li down. Gonzalez hit a senton on Li off the top for two. Li was off screen for a while and I think she may have really taken it out of Li. Trainers checked on Li for a while and she attempted to get back in it. She walked into Gonzalez’s Chingona Powerbomb immediately. The heels celebrated briefly on the top of the ramp afterward as the camera stayed away from Li again.
WINNER: Raquel Gonzalez at 10:45.
(Wells’s Analysis: That was going pretty well until Li got the wind entirely knocked out of her. Raquel essentially worked face here, as I’m still convinced she’s headed for a feud with Dakota Kai before long. This long break in the match followed by Gonzalez simply hitting her finisher obviously wasn’t the intended finish, and it would be interesting to see how it was supposed to go down.)
-Samoa Joe hit the ring and demanded Karrion Kross join him. Kross appeared on the tron – he was still outside – and said things had changed since he was here last, and Kross runs things now. The inevitable happened as a fan tried to get a “You got beat” chant going. Kross said he had to go after someone Joe cared about, and the camera panned out to show that Kross had laid out William Regal. Joe ran up the ramp and outside, where Kross’s car sped off before he could get there. The show ended at six past the hour. Eight minutes past is the standard; I imagine Li’s injury could be the reason for the quicker finish.
(Wells’s Analysis: Given Kross’s quick loss in the meaningless match against Jeff Hardy on Monday, it was probably a good idea not to have Kross out there in the arena. I’m sure they would’ve preferred not to have him appear at all, if it didn’t interfere with the story they’re telling with Samoa Joe. Great intensity here, but it’s hard to quantify just how much momentum this lost, and how much it would have meant for Joe to finally be the one to destroy Kross, if Raw hadn’t gone down the way it did)
FINAL THOUGHTS: That ridiculous Karrion Kross-Jeff Hardy match is just hanging over this whole show, mocking it and its main event storyline. It doesn’t even seem like many people are very high on Kross, but most agree that they seemingly had a monster on their hands and Vince McMahon just decided it wasn’t going to happen that way. If fans can choose to forget Raw for the purposes of NXT, then this was a strong step toward the Kross-Joe match down the road.
Otherwise, this show didn’t seem to move much toward any specific space. NXT is always working the hard sell for something, but for the most part, this was an odd episode where no major story beats occurred. Odyssey Jones showed in many ways why people are loving him from a personality and presence standpoint, but if every match in the Breakout Tournament is an audition for the next round, Jones might not be the lock to win that many assume he is. A decent if forgettable episode tonight. Check out Tom Stoup and me tonight on PWT Talks NXT or stream tomorrow. Cheers.