8/3 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s report on Lumis vs. Gargano in a “Love Her or Leave Her” match, Hit Row vs. Legado, Strong vs. Fish, more

by Kelly Wells, PWTorch Contributor


AUGUST 3, 2021, 8PM EST

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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-Shots from last week’s show covered Dakota Kai turning on Raquel Gonzalez and Samoa Joe’s return to the ring. Focus shifted to tonight’s Love Her or Leave Her match with romantic music playing in the background.

(1) HIT ROW (Top Dolla & Ashante Thee Adonis) (w/Isaiah “Swerve” Scott & Breanna Brandi) vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) (w/Santos Escobar)

All four went at it upon the bell. Hit Row dumped Legado to start, and Legado regrouped on the outside. Adonis and Mendoza were the legal men. Adonis clubbed Mendoza, then hit some forearms in a corner. Irish whip and again back to the original corner. Mendoza reversed and hit a chop, but Adonis hit a DDT. Adonis went up for a cross-body, but Mendoza was playing possum. He tagged Wilde. Rope run but Adonis hit a neckbreaker. Top Dolla tagged in and wrenched Mendoza’s arm. He no-sold a chop and lifted Wilde, held him up for a while and let him down and body-blocked him. He set up Wilde on top and tossed him to the floor. He hit a big chop in the corner and tagged Adonis. and the two worked together on a move that went awry, but Adonis covered for two anyway. Running clothesline by Adonis. Rope run and a flapjack by Adonis. Escobar, Swerve and Brandi all got involved and Legado ended up using the distraction to bring Adonis to the outside and whip him to the barricade as the match went to commercial.

Legado were dominating Adonis upon return. Wilde covered for two. He threw some forearms at a grounded Adonis and hit a brief headlock. Adonis tried to fight his way out but Wilde drove him to the Legado corner and tagged Mendoza. The two made frequent tags to take turns doing impact corner splashes and forearms. Double suplex, moonsault by Mendoza and a two count. Chinlock by Mendoza. Adonis avoided a few shots and went for a tag. Mendoza made the tag and Top Dolla made the hot tag and dominated (there was a pop, but I’m not sure everyone knows Hit Row are working babyface yet). Top Dolla did his catchphrase and ran the ropes for a splash, but Escobar hit him with a chairshot for the immediate DQ.

WINNERS: Hit Row by disqualification at 10:51.

Legado triple-teamed Swerve after the match and yanked his grill out of his teeth. They set something up but Top Dolla dragged Swerve to safety. Brandi hit a chairshot on Wilde and the others cleaned up on Mendoza as Escobar left up the ramp. Legado all hit the top of the ramp and Escobar mocked Hit Row with Swerve’s grill.

(Wells’s Analysis: A fun, well-worked opener. Hit Row kind of turned face without having a big babyface moment, so the audience is playing a bit of catchup. Furthermore, Legado has long been popular at the CWC, though the audience treated them more like heels than usual tonight.)

-Samoa Joe happened upon William Regal backstage, where Regal informed Joe that he had security detail on him until TakeOver 36 to make sure nothing happened between he and Karrion Kross.

-Dexter Lumis, in his dark art room, was working on an “InDex” picture of him carrying Indi Hartwell with a heart around them.

(2) IKEMEN JIRO vs. RIDGE HOLLAND (w/Pete Dunne & Oney Lorcan)

Jessika Carr worked NXT for the second week in a row. Uppercuts by Holland, who followed with a knee drop. Headlock by Holland. Jiro fought his way out and hit his lapel strikes on Holland. Holland set Jiro up on a rope and blocked him to the floor, then set him up outside and pounced him into the barricade. Back inside for a suplex by Holland, who tore off Jiro’s jacket to boos. Holland jawed with the crowd. Knee drop on Jiro’s head. Holland tossed the jacket to the outside. Jiro tried to fight into it and Holland hit a belly-to-belly. “You suck” chant as the crowd is buying fully into his heel act (they’ve been chanting for Jiro as well). Scoop powerslam finished.

WINNER: Ridge Holland at 3:12.

Pete Dunne took the stick. He said everyone thinks they’re a bad man until a real bad man walks in the room. He cut on Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. He said this is what happens (pointing to Jiro) when you cross these three men. Try to prove him wrong – he dares ya.

(Wells’s Analysis: Any company would kill to have their intended heels and faces get these reactions. It’s great to see Holland back in the ring with no apparent rust. It’s a shame he wasn’t able to work WarGames last year as was probably planned, so maybe he’ll get to do it this year although there are plenty of factions to choose from)

-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Franky Monet, Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea. Monet said their loss last week was due to Stone’s interference, and they’re used to losing. She said it has to be Franky’s way or nothing, and it’ll be rebuilt starting soon.

-Brief hype for Bobby Fish vs. Roderick Strong, up next.

-Hype for Trey Baxter, a bump machine-type, ahead of his first round Breakout Tournament match tonight.

(3) BOBBY FISH vs. RODERICK STRONG (w/Malcolm Bivens & Tyler Rust & Hideki Suzuki)

Strong fist-bumped his mates ahead of the match. The two fought to a corner and Strong worked a wristlock. “Bobby” chant. Fish brought him to a rope to break. Hiptoss and a kick to the back by Fish, though Strong was rolling away from the kick. Rope run and a block by Fish. Rope run and a knee by Strong. Headlock takeover by Strong and the two jockeyed for position until Fish took Strong to a corner and threw shots. Vic said this could end up being “Fish’s biggest singles win here on NXT.” Well, yes, because it would be his first singles win on NXT.

The two fought near a rope and Fish grounded Strong and kicked his back again. To a corner, Strong fought out with chops and shots. Shot exchange and Fish leaned on Strong in a corner. Body shot by Fish, followed by a thrustkick on a running Strong headed to split screen commercial.

Back to full-screen, the two exchanged forearms. Strong feigned a knee injury and used the opening to take Fish down with some shots and knees in the corner. Rollup and a kickout. Suplex by Strong got a one count. Strong worked a headlock, then hit a backbreaker for two. Another backbreaker and Strong transitioned into a complicated stretch. Fish used a fishhook to break. To their feet for another shot exchange. Back elbow by Fish. Running knee in the corner by Fish. Kicks and strikes as Fesh kept working the knee. Back kick threw Strong backward. Fish covered for two. Fish tried to work a headlock but Strong broke by taking Fish back into a buckle. Another backbreaker by Strong.

Strong did his running forearms against the ropes. Cover for two. Roundhouse kick by Fish out of nowhere and he covered for two. Fish went up after spending a moment looking out at Diamond Mine. Strong took the opening and dumped Fish. Back in and Fish rolled up Strong for two, but Strong hit his new(?) finisher.

WINNER: Roderick Strong at 12:41.

(Wells’s Analysis: A nice enough technical match (though not a huge standout by Strong’s standards). You’d never know from the tepid reactions to this, despite a few Fish fans, that it was a feud stemming from the breakup of Undisputed Era. Meanwhile, Bobby Fish still waits for his first singles win on NXT.)

-Cameron Grimes and LA Knight met up backstage. Tonight they face Grizzled Young Veterans. Knight asked if Grimes had his back, and Grimes said he was a man of his word. They took turns doubting the other, and Knight called on Grimes to shine his shoe. Grimes’s patience for this work is starting to wear on him.



Grimes entered, joyful, to his awesome music but Knight’s music cut it off quickly to get the desired heel reaction. “To the moon” chant. GYV were introduced and Drake said Grimes was living proof that a turd can’t be polished. Gibson said he didn’t know what role playing game they were at these days, but tonight GYV will take them down.

Grimes was being forced to compete in his butler outfit (including gloves) by Knight. Grimes worked a wristlock on Gibson and tagged Knight. Knight facetiously tried to start a chant of his name. He tried to whip Gibson, and Drake blocked, leading to Gibson taking control. Tag to Drake, who hit a lariat for two. Suplex countered into a neckbreaker by Knight. Grimes tagged in and hit a top rope crossbody to cheers. Knight tried to yell something to Grimes, who got distracted and missed a tag. GYV took control and hit a double clothesline on Grimes. Quick cover by Drake. Gibson tagged in. Grimes dumped Drake but Gibson caught him in a sleeper.

Back bodydrop by Grimes. He crawled to the corner and finally was about to make the tag, and Knight dropped off the corner and grinned at Grimes, and said it was all Grimes. Grimes ripped off his jacket and fought off both guys for a bit. PK for Gibson. Twisting cross-body by Grimes for two. Grimes ripped off the undershirt, but got distracted by Gibson. Tag, Ticket to Mayhem.

WINNERS: Grizzled Young Veterans at 4:45.

(Wells’s Analysis: Another good step forward in the Grimes-Knight saga, as Grimes finally starts to let go of his gentle good humor as Knight starts to get a little more vicious and heartless. Not a bad idea to give GYV a win either, as they’ve been pushed a couple of times in NXT just to be knocked to the bottom both times.)

GYV were jawing into the ring from the ramp, and Ted DiBiase passed between them and went to Cameron Grimes. He said he told him Knight was going to hang him out to dry. He helped Grimes to the back. “DiBiase” chant.

-Video played of Samoa Joe’s first run in NXT, from his introduction to his championship wins. He’ll settle up with Karrion Kross at TakeOver 36.

-Video of Dakota Kai’s turn on Raquel Gonzalez. Kai narrated a video of her needing someone 18 months ago, but without her, Gonzalez would still be nothing in the shadows. Kai said Gonzalez became a star in her own right as Kai allowed her to pick up tag victories. But let’s be real: everyone knew who the leader was. She said Gonzalez didn’t think Kai would want a shot at the championship after Kai plucked her from obscurity? She said she should’ve been the one to be holding up the championship. She said she became known as “Raquel’s sidekick” and she is NO sidekick. She said the funniest thing in all this is that Gonzalez was so wrapped up in her own world that she didn’t know the person next to her was going to kick her head off. Kai said she brought Gonzalez into this world, and she’ll take her out of it.

(Wells’s Analysis: This long-form story was told very well, right up to the parts where Gonzalez was oblivious to Kai’s mounting frustration the entire time. I could ding the turn for being too obvious for too long, but it was all so strong at every moment that I can’t be too upset by it. The big question is how Kai is the heel here, since Gonzalez and all her opponents were completely dismissive of Kai all the time, but Kai’s heel act continues to be strong enough that it doesn’t matter)

-McKenzie talked to Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. Gargano said the importance of tonight’s match was right up there in all his time in NXT. LeRae said she and Johnny know what’s best for Indi Hartwell. Gargano said he knows it won’t be popular, but tonight he ends InDex.

-Hype for Joe Gacy, a mean bruiser who goes in the first round of tonight’s Breakout Tournament.

-Vic announced Adam Cole suffered a neck compression last week after an attack by Kyle O’Reilly. Next week, the two come face to face, mediated by William Regal.

(5) TREY BAXTER vs. JOE GACY – Breakout Tournament first round match

Collar and elbow. Waistlock by Baxter, escaped. Gacy hiptossed Baxter, who charged in but got bealed to a corner. Baxter hit a lariat but sold it more than Gacy. Block by Gacy. Baxter escaped a stomp and hit a kick, then dropkicked Gacy out to the floor. Tope by Baxter, but Gacy caught him, tossed him against the bottom rope and then hit a forearm as Baxter bounced back.

Back inside and Gacy clubbed Baxter, then leaned into a cover for two. Baxter hopped on Gacy’s back for a sleeper but Gacy flipped him forward to the mat, then threw feet. Headbutt and lariats by Gacy against the ropes. Suplex by Gacy got two. Chinlock by Gacy and Baxter hit a jawbreaker, but Gacy didn’t slow down much. Missile dropkick by Baxter. Gacy spilled outside and Baxter hit a big tope, then another, and a plancha. “NXT” chant.

Baxter covered Gacy for one in the ring. He went for another sleeper and Gacy ran to a corner and backsplashed Baxter into it. Gacy took Baxter up, but Baxter kicked Gacy to the floor and hit a 450 stomp for the genuinely shocking win.

WINNER: Trey Baxter at 5:10.

(Wells’s Analysis: Very good big vs. little match that established Gacy as near unstoppable, but Baxter took him down in the end anyway to set him up against an even bigger opponent next round in Odyssey Jones. A potentially strange decision, given that they had a face-heel dynamic teed up but decided to go with a big-little face-face match instead.)

-Zoey Stark and Io Shirai went to a Japanese restaurant earlier today. Stark said they needed to form a bond like she and Kairi Sane did. Stark waited out Shirai ordering in Japanese. Stark said she wanted the same thing. They were served octopus. Stark hid each mouthful in a napkin and threw them on the floor, and at the end of the dinner she whipped the rest of the octopus over her back and against a wall, away from Shirai’s view. Stark thanked Shirai and went for a hug, and Shirai said “No, thank YOU” and left Stark with the bill. Stark considered putting her food in a to-go box, but elected against it. This was a pretty goofy segment for these two normally no-nonsense wrestlers, but I…think they got away with it? Ask again later.

-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Indi Hartwell, who said tonight is about family vs. true love. She said not that she’s rooting for him, but tonight, IF Dexter Lumis is to win, maybe The Way can give him a chance.

-Karrion Kross charged down and demanded Samoa Joe, who appeared and choked him out in the ring. Joe was sweating buckets after the quick scene. In fairness, this had to be shot a second time (this was taped two Wednesdays ago) because the audience was yelling out Jeff Hardy’s name at Karrion Kross.

-Prime Target: Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov II. Dragunov sat down and talked about the level of brutality in their first amazing (I added that word) match. Drew McIntyre, William Regal, Triple H and Shawn Michaels all weighed in. Walter said he belongs on the big stage, and it’s the biggest match of Ilja’s life. Walter said on his own best day, he’s unbeatable. Ilja said he has more endurance and stamina, and Walter said everyone will find out Ilja is a fraud, full of fear. It’s at TakeOver 36.

-In a brief video segment, Kushida accepted Roderick Strong’s challenge for the Cruiserweight Championship at TakeOver 36.

-Next week, Ember Moon faces Sarray and Ilja Dragunov appears on NXT US for the first time.

(6) DEXTER LUMIS vs. JOHNNY GARGANO – Love Her or Leave Her match

Wade Barrett was firmly on Johnny Gargano’s side, but Vic tricked him by getting him to agree with lyrics from Huey Lewis’s “The Power of Love” to suggest they were all on Lumis’s side.

Headlock by Gargano. He held on as Lumis tried to shove him off. Escape and Gargano hit some armdrags, and held on for an armbar on the second one. Lumis rolled through and hit two armdrags of his own, then a standing dropkick. He stalked Gargano, who backed out of the ring and baited Lumis just far enough to throw fists and drag Lumis outside for a suplex on the floor on the NXT logo at the foot of the ramp. Indi Hartwell walked down the ramp. “InDex” chant. Gargano tried to send her away, but she wouldn’t go.

Gargano went into the ring and Lumis hit a Thesz press. To the corner for some forearms by Lumis. Rope run and a back elbow by Lumis. Another rope run and Dexter tried a basement dropkick but rolled out to the floor. Lumis went under the ring and Indi followed. Candice LeRae entered the picture and she and Gargano dragged out Indi, who was also holding Lumis. Gargano tossed Lumis into the barricade as the match went to split screen.


Lumis got back into it with elbows and a side slam. Cover for two. Lumis set up The Silencer, but Gargano elbowed out of it, dumped Lumis and hit a tope into the announce table. Gargano blamed Beth Phoenix for this whole problem and Beth said the heart wants what it wants. Gargano rolled Lumis inside and went for One Final Beat but Lumis backed off and hit an uppercut and a falcon arrow for two. Superkick by Gargano for two. The announcers were selling the stakes of the match higher than the usual championship match.

Forearm exchange. Superkick by Gargano. Lumis returned fire. Both sold for a moment. Lumis locked eyes with Hartwell and went for a springboard elbow, but Gargano slipped away. Gargano strapped on the GargaNo Escape right in front of Hartwell. Hartwell went right up to the ropes and Lumis fought his way to her. He stroked her face, then grabbed the ropes to break. Lumis rolled up Gargano, but Gargano kicked out and Lumis ran into Hartwell on the apron. Lumis checked on her, and Gargano hit One Final Beat on the outside. He rolled Lumis in and hit it inside as well to finish. Hartwell looked devastated.

WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 12:51.

Hartwell, Gargano and LeRae walked up the ramp, but Hartwell kept looking back at him. Hartwell finally charged the ring and went at Dexter with what was essentially a Thesz press and kissed him on the mat to a big pop. Gargano and LeRae were disgusted. The show went off the air at seven past the hour.

(Wells’s Analysis: It’s all been a very silly feud, but these stakes worked for the crowd and NXT had it both ways by having the more important wrestler win the match while having Hartwell choose love over her faction in the end anyway. Though it was more of an angle than a match, it was a fine enough match as well)

FINAL THOUGHTS: The show took a few more steps toward TakeOver 36 a few weeks from now, once again showing they haven’t lost their ability to tell long-form stories after the Wednesday Night War era had them working toward “big” matches far too often. The show looks to be shaping up well outside of Jeff Hardy hanging over the main event. The crowd seemed a touch gassed throughout this show, which was expected given this was part of a two-fer that taped two Wednesdays ago. Next week they return live to USA Network.

A good show all around as the show continues to lean more toward the pacing that made NXT such a good show in the first place and away from the crash TV that made the product occasionally unbearable as they faced AEW. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream tomorrow.

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