SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
AUGUST 31, 2021, 8PM EST
TAPED 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 and Nate Lindberg to break down the episode:
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(1) SARRAY vs. MANDY ROSE (w/Jacy Jayne & Gigi Dolin)
The show opened with the heels entering and Wade putting her over so the others could claim he was drooling over her. Not the best start.
Lockup to open. Mandy took Sarray to a corner and slapped at her in a hilariously half-hearted manner. Standing switch and a takedown by Rose, who posed to (mostly) boos. She did a few push-ups on Sarray’s back to more boos. Sarray struck back with some kicks and a dropkick. Fisherman suplex attempt was blocked, and a second attempt resulted in a brief guillotine by Rose before Sarray got her over for a one count. Roundhouse kick by Sarray got two. She got the crowd going a little bit and went high but missed a cross-body. Rose mounted Sarray for some punches. Rose put Sarray’s head in a corner, then another, then stomped a mudhole. Rose hit a suplex for two. Rose stretched Sarray over her knee and tousled her hair heelishly. The two exchanged a few forearms and Rose caught Sarray for a fallaway slam. Abdominal stretch by Rose. Sarray rolled through to break and locked Rose in something like a sharpshooter with a bridge. Rose broke with a thumb to the eye. Forearm exchange was won by Sarray. Rose ran the ropes and Sarray dropkicked her, then dropkicked her again to the outside, where Dolin and Jayne grabbed a towel to cover her face, because apparently she’d been hit there and didn’t want to show it? They led her up the ramp for the countout.
WINNER: Sarray by countout at 6:49.
(Wells’s Analysis: Oh boy, what a bizarre start to the show. Sarray has shown the need for a little more work to get fired up and looked like she’s really taking that to heart, because she was getting the crowd into it and looked to be putting far more effort into her presentation. Mandy looks as much like an early work in progress as ever, and I’m not seeing what Dolin and Jane gain from this partnership, either from a kayfabe or developmental sense)
-Tommaso Ciampa, in a sit-down vignette, cut a promo on Ridge Holland and the rest of the boys in his stable. He said he was dedicating tonight’s ass-whooping to good old (injured) Timmy. [c]
(2) KYLE O’REILLY vs. DUKE HUDSON
Vic said Hudson was still upset about Carmelo Hayes winning the Breakout Tournament. Hudson smirked when O’Reilly removed his hoodie to show his midsection was taped.
Jockeying for position early. Hudson put O’Reilly down with a big forearm. O’Reilly suckered Hudson in and grabbed a leg. Hudson lifted O’Reilly, who floated over for a sleeper until Hudson tossed him forward to the floor. O’Reilly went for a heel hook but Hudson blocked it and put O’Reilly down with a right. Repeated knees to the taped midsection. O’Reilly wrenched free of an abdominal stretch attempt and worked one of his own, but Hudson hiptossed him. Hudson mocked the air guitar taunt. Hudson stomped on the grounded O’Reilly’s midsection. Kick to the head. O’Reilly got to his feet and threw some forearms. O’Reilly rolled up Hudson for two. Knee by O’Reilly, but Hudson hit a pretty backbreaker and O’Reilly sold the pain heading into split-screen commercial. [c]
O’Reilly’s tape was ripped off during the break. Hudson was working O’Reilly’s arms and O’Reilly briefly reversed, and then Hudson hit a shot. O’Reilly came back at him with repeated kicks, one which looked like it almost caught Hudson in the worst place possible as he was expecting a kick from the other side. Guillotine by O’Reilly, and Hudson drove him to a corner to break. Corner lariat by Hudson, followed by a belly-to-belly suplex for two. O’Reilly ended up on the apron, and he hit a dragon screw over the second rope, and another with the other leg. He went up for his flying knee, followed by the heel hook to finish.
WINNER: Kyle O’Reilly at 11:52.
(Wells’s Analysis: Not a bad next step for Hudson, who gains something just for hanging around in this match, even with the “out” of O’Reilly selling an injury. A perfectly decent affair) [c]
-Vic promoted the Indi Hartwell-Dexter Lumis wedding two weeks from now.
-Alicia Taylor introduced NXT: UK Champion Ilja Dragunov to a good reaction. Ilja sold a limp as he walked the ramp. “You deserve it” chant. Dragunov ate it up for a minute and said before he goes back home, he wanted everyone to see that he’s still alive. “Please don’t go” chant. He said he felt more alive than ever before. He feels like a man who survived the biggest and most intense battle of his life. He said he likes it here – he really does – and the crowd will see him soon again. He said he showed everyone the will, the passion, the soul and the struggle that it takes to be NXT: UK Champion. He said the Ring General has fallen…long live the Tsar.
-Arash Markazi sat with Kay Lee Ray. He asked what gave her the right to walk in at such a big time for Raquel Gonzalez. She said she took the biggest moment available. She said the division needed a boost and that’s why she was here. Markazi ran down a list of women in the division and Ray tired of it and ran them all down. She said she was capable of anything she wants. Her reign was the longest in the UK in several decades, and now she’s going to dominate the USA. [c]
(Wells’s Analysis: Kay Lee Ray is indeed awesome. I look forward to seeing what this run has in store for her. As always, a simple but very effective segment with always-solid Markazi)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked with Carmelo Hayes, who has a title shot of his choice in the future. Legado del Fantasma shortly after broke in on the fun and Santos Escobar said he didn’t want to hurt Hayes before he got his opportunity, but made some threats.
(3) DRAKE MAVERICK & GRAYSON WALLER vs. IMPERIUM (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner)
We got a brief interview from earlier where Drake was trying to calm the amped Waller, who’s making his debut. Beth called it a role reversal for Maverick but didn’t invoke Killian Dain by name. Aichner dominated Waller early and Barthel tagged in and hit a double-underhook suplex. PK by Barthel and another. Jawbreaker by Waller, who made the tag. Aichner tagged in and Maverick dominated both guys with quick offense. Blockbuster by Maverick, who set something up, but Waller tagged himself in and Imperium put Maverick into the barricade outside and hit the Imperium Bomb on Waller to finish.
WINNERS: Imperium at 3:07.
(Wells’s Analysis: Waller has a fun energy and should be able to play either a plucky babyface or a douchebag heel effectively. He’s Australian and previously worked under the name Matty Wahlberg)
-Indi Hartwell tried to convince Johnny Gargano to give Dexter Lumis a chance. He said he’d think about it, then turned the other direction and ran right into Lumis. Gargano stormed off ahead of his upcoming match. [c]
-Pete Dunne, Ridge Holland, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan cut a promo together, focusing on the Holland-Ciampa main event.
-Moments ago, Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne beat down Sarray in a locker room and walked off.
(4) JOHNNY GARGANO (w/Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis) vs. LA KNIGHT
Hartwell and Lumis did his slinking pose together and Beth loved it. Gargano was less enthused.
“LA sucks” chant. Block by Knight. Wristlock by Knight, reversed into a front face lock by Gargano. He floated over some escape attempts until Knight planted him to break. Headlock by Knight, who was inviting nuclear heat in the CWC. Running shoulderblock by Knight. Gargano nearly clamped on the GargaNo Escape but Knight found a rope. Kicks and punches by Knight. Rope run and a ranaby Gargano. Inverted atomic drop by Gargano and a rollup for two. Dropkick by Gargano. “Johnny Wrestling” chant. I’m not sure The Way can stay heel much longer, if they’re even still supposed to be. Chops in the corner by Gargano. He hyperextended Knight’s elbow a couple of times over his own shoulder, but Knight broke by grabbing Gargano’s hair and hit another block. Knight spilled outside on a missed spear attempt, and Gargano hit a tope.
Chops by Gargano near a barricade. Gargano rolled Knight inside and slipped out quickly when Knight tried to drop an elbow on him. Knight lifted Gargano and hung him on the top rope. Snap suplex by Knight, who jawed at the crowd for a second. Running knee on the apron by Knight. Slingshot block by Knight. [c]
Gargano escaped a slam attempt and Knight hit a backbreaker shortly after for a two count. Blocks in the corner by Knight. Knight missed a running charge but saw a backdrop attempt coming and slammed Gargano. Knight missed a jumping knee and Gargano hit a corner forearm and a tornado DDT from the second buckle. Slingshot spear by Gargano got a long two. Knight lifted Gargano, who rolled through for two. Knight caught and slammed Gargano for two in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen before. Knight tried his finisher twice but got blocked. GargaNo Escape locked in, but Knight rolled him up to break. One Final Beat attempt. Knight threw a fist and Gargano fell from the ring where Lumis caught him. Lumis also tossed Gargano out of the way when Knight tried to blind charge him. Back in the ring, Lumis wanted to share a moment with Gargano and made a sort of high five. Gargano reluctantly went for it and Knight hit his finisher to win. Lumis did some shifty eyes afterward to show some regret.
WINNER: LA Knight at 14:03 (counting commercials, but it was taped, so time is not necessarily correct)
(Wells’s Analysis: A strong match with some fun and innovative spots. The ending involving a mistake via Lumis was probably obvious enough, though I’m genuinely curious to see how this marriage goes off)
-MSK walked down the hall and met with William Regal. They wanted to give Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch a shot at the championships they never lost. Regal said he was going to take the match away from them because of their attack last week, but this was very noble of them and they can have the match next week.
-In a brief hype segment, Boa promoted Mei Ying competing next week.
(5) RAQUEL GONZALEZ vs. JESSI KAMEA (w/Franky Monet & Robert Stone)
Lots of piped in cheers for Gonzalez (there’s been even more piped in sound than usual all night). Non-title.
Gonzalez backed Kamea to a corner, then bealed her. Delayed suplex attempt but Kamea landed on her feet. Gonzalez ran Kamea stomach-first onto the top buckle. Side slam by Gonzalez and a twisting flying elbow. She covered and Kamea grabbed a rope to break. Kamea tripped Gonzalez and then evaded a kick and hit a couple of her own. She missed a kick and Gonzalez hit a dropkick. Scoop slam by Gonzalez, who followed by hanging Kamea on the top. Kamea stomped Gonzalez’s foot but ran right into a back elbow. Chingona Bomb finished. Gonzalez locked eyes with Franky Monet as Robert Stone checked on Kamea.
WINNER: Raquel Gonzalez at 2:42.
(Wells’s Analysis: Kamea has some interesting offense and movement, but it’s not exactly fluid all the time. She could be a very interesting player if she continues to tighten things up. Franky Monet at one point seemed a likely person to take the title from Gonzalez, but now she feels like a small speedbump before Kay Lee Ray)
-Ember Moon cut a promo on Kay Lee Ray, saying she’d never been in the ring with someone like her. Haha. She said if KLR wants to talk crap about her, she’ll see her next week.
-A brief video hyped the new NXT logo and just said “coming.”
-Wade Barrett sat down with new NXT Champion Samoa Joe, who cut his usual erudite promo about taking the championship without really ever talking about Karrion Kross by name. Wade teed up that Joe is holding his unprecedented third NXT Championship and Joe said now it’s his responsibility to show how to be NXT Champion. He wanted to know who was going to step up next. As always, without transcribing Joe word for word, it’s hard to express just how strong he was.
(6) IKEMEN JIRO vs. RODERICK STRONG (w/Malcolm Bivens, Hachiman, Creed Brothers)
Over the weekend, Jiro answered Roderick Strong’s open challenge because Kushida is his hero. For the match, Jiro had a hilarious yellow jacket with his own face all over it.
Strong dominated early and took Jiro to a corner for some shots, but Jiro sped things up and used his coat to hit a bunch of strikes. Action spilled outside and Strong hiptossed Jiro onto the steps near the rest of the Diamond Mine, who kept their distance and just watched. Roddy tossed Jiro into the ring and stomped him. Backbreaker by Strong got two. Brief abdominal stretch by Strong. Strong missed a back elbow but Jiro missed an uppercut from the second buckle. Strong stomped Jiro and covered for two. Back to their feet. Shot exchange. Big chop by Strong, who charged but Jiro sidestepped and ran him to the turnbuckle. Rights by Jiro, still using the jacket. He hung Strong on the top and hit a springboard splash for two. Inside cradle by Jiro for a long two. Jiro ran into a kneelift by Strong. Modified backstabber and a second by Strong to finish. Diamond Mine stood together in the ring after the match. I had a hard time believing the Creed Brothers’ attempt at intensity.
WINNER: Roderick Strong at 4:57.
(Wells’s Analysis: Even though littl[e was asked of them, I’m not sure the Creed Brothers should be on TV yet, but as we settle into a new (old) version of NXT, we’ll see more growing pains. Fun stuff in a losing effort as always from Jiro)
-McKenzie Mitchell did a tandem interview with the teams of Io Shirai & Zoey Stark and Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter. In short, Io Shirai doesn’t like any of the other three. They’ll go next week. [c]
-McKenzie talked to Cameron Grimes, now no longer holding the real Championship, which I assume is again retired. Grizzled Young Veterans stormed in and mocked him working so hard for months just to get a replica. Grimes checked it out and said it was a little heavier than the replica DiBiase gave him, then pretended to mishandle it, and he dropped it on Zack Gibson’s foot (below camera). A horribly cartoonish “thud” sound effect was added and Gibson sold it like intense pain. Grimes tossed some bills at Gibson’s feet and walked off.
(7) TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. RIDGE HOLLAND (w/Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch)
Holland backed Ciampa to a corner. Ciampa took Holland down briefly, but Holland picked him up and drove him to another corner. Sweet belly-to-belly by Holland. Holland kicked Ciampa hard on the back. Ciampa hung Holland on the top rope, which has happened in almost every match tonight. Ciampa set up a charge but Lorcan and Burch pulled Holland to safety. Ciampa followed Holland out and drove Holland to the post. Ciampa broke the count and set up Holland on the announce table and dropped and elbow on his neck, then did his self-congratulatory spot. Back inside, Holland capitalized on a distraction to backdrop Ciampa heading to split-screen. [c]
Holland ran Ciampa into a corner. The two exchanged forearms and Ridge followed with a couple of stiff knees to ground Ciampa. A corner graphic promoted Santos Escobar vs. Carmelo Hayes next week. Holland ran Ciampa on the ropes but Ciampa kicked him, and exploded out of a corner with a block. Chops and forearms by Ciampa, but Holland grounded him with a European uppercut. Ciampa got right back into it with a kneelift and some corner lariats. Rope run and a lariat by Ciampa got two. Ciampa wanted Fairytale Ending but Holland countered with a slam that laid out Ciampa. The ref checked on Ciampa, who waved him off. Holland covered for two. Holland hit a forearm to the small of the back, and another. Ciampa hit a back elbow and threw some rights. Forearm exchange. Ciampa won the exchange and rained down punches until there was a rope break.
Another exchange. Ciampa hit Air Raid Crash for a long two. Ciampa went to the apron and set something up but a Holland headbutt sent him outside. Holland followed and slammed Ciampa into the barricade. The two went to the apron and Ciampa hit repeated palm strikes. Ciampa slipped inside and hit repeated knees, then Willow’s Bell to finish with no attempt to break by the heels. Huh.
The rest of the faction jumped Ciampa immediately, and MSK made the save, and destroyed Burch and Lorcan before running the others up the ramp. MSK and Ciampa stared out at the heels from the ring to end the show.
WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 12:01.
(Wells’s Analysis: Strong power vs. technical match. The finish helped set up the tag title match next week for the live crowd. Ciampa got a big win here during a time where he’s being used more and more to put others over. Is another main event run in him?)
FINAL THOUGHTS: I quite liked the episode this week, as the company continues to work in some new talent whether they’re ready for the stage or not. The continued focus on longer-term storytelling is helping a lot, as there’s no major show on the horizon but we’re getting angles that set up multiple hooks for the next show. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream tomorrow.