The SmarK Rant for NXT – 01.08.20
Live from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Mauro, Nigel & Beth
Rhea Ripley joins us to start and the crowd is surprisingly subdued for her entrance. She barely starts her promo before Toni Storm interrupts, and Toni is apparently going to win the UK Women’s title at UK Takeover and then win Rhea’s belt at When Worlds Collide. Lots of moving parts in that plan. So then this brings out Kay Lee Ray, who says not much before Io Shirai also interrupts. She also wants the title. So does Bianca Belair. Don’t we get enough of this stuff on RAW and Smackdown? She gets a funny line at least with “You don’t even go here!” while pointing at Storm, and then Candice LaRae also comes out and everyone brawls. So WE’RE GONNA HAVE A TAG TEAM MATCH, PLAYA.
Candice LaRae, Rhea Ripley & Toni Storm v. Kay Lee Ray, Bianca Belair & Io Shirai
I’m not 100% sure on the logic of having this be a random six-man match when two of the people on Ripley’s team declared that they want a title shot. The heel side works on LaRae after the break and Io gets a low dropkick for two. KLR works the arm and chokes away on the ropes. Belair comes in with a chinlock and back to Kay Lee, but LaRae gets a rollup for two. Belair with a suplex for two as the dull heat segment continues into a neck vice. I’ve got 20/20 vision and I can see this match kind of sucks. Belair cuts off the tag and Kay Lee comes in with a swanton for two, and finally the Aussie babyfaces can take no more and everyone runs in for a brawl as we take another break. Really? I don’t feel like this needed another break. Belair cuts off the tag again, but gets distracted and that allows Toni Storm to get the hot tag. They’re still advertising KLR v. Storm v. Piper Niven for the show on Sunday, but Piper’s been pretty open about her Bell’s Palsy attack and I don’t know how likely it is that she’s going to even be there. Shirai tries to finish Storm with the moonsault, but Belair tags herself in and sets up the KOD. But then Shirai dropkicks Belair to break the move and walks out on the match. This leaves Ripley, who finishes Belair quickly with the Riptide at 15:20. Crowd was pretty dead for this one and there wasn’t much to it. ** Always good to have Toni Storm on my screen, though. Weird how she had so much momentum after winning the Mae Young Classic and seemed like a sure bet for the main roster, and then just kind of disappeared back to the UK. In retrospect, they 100% should have put Io Shirai over there given there were no plans for Storm.
Meanwhile, Ciampa wants his title back and his life back from Adam Cole.
Keith Lee is gonna pounce on whoever gets in his way in 2020.
Dusty Rhodes Classic round one: The Forgotten Sons v. Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Bartel)
The Sons quickly double-team Aichner with a backbreaker for two, but Aichner rakes the eyes and brings in Bartel for a double dropkick on Blake that gets two. Blake with a DDT and Cutler comes in with a knee strike and a butterfly backbreaker on Aichner for two. Boston crab, but he releases right away and Imperium gets another double-team in their corner. Regal roll, but Aichner misses a moonsault, and then Blake misses his own and Aichner gets a brainbuster for two. Cutler sends Aichner into the railing and hits him with a fisherman’s driver and then that gets immediately broken up. Imperium double-teams Blake, but Wesley quickly escapes that and now the Sons set up THEIR double-team, which is immediately broken up as well, and then Imperium hits their own double-team to finish at 5:16. This was the exact opposite of everything Dusty would have wanted in this kind of tournament. There was no heat segment at all, they worked so fast that I could barely tell what was going on, and no one sold anything. Even the guy who was wearing a face protector for his broken nose! But hey, it had a bunch of MOVEZ. *1/2
Matt Riddle explains the formation of his Dusty team with Pete Dunne. He’s a bro, Pete’s a bruiserweight, so together they’re the Bro-serweights. That’s a pretty awesome team, actually.
Austin Theory v. Joaquin Wilde
I’m vaguely familiar with Wilde from his time as Zema Ion in TNA but Theory is new to me. You know it’s gonna kill me not to make a million MatPat references during this match, though. Wilde gets a headscissor takedown, but Wilde slingshots into a double stomp and hits a fisherman’s suplex for two. Wilde builds momentum and creates separation with some clotheslines, then puts Theory on the floor with a rana, but Theory pops back in with a dropkick right away and finishes with a TKO at 3:00. He doesn’t seem particularly special, but that’s just a theory….an AUSTIN THEORY. OK, that was my one per match. *1/2
Meanwhile, Damian Priest hangs out with his ladies to prepare for the main event tonight.
Dusty Classic tournament round one: Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly v. Gallus
I’m getting kinda confused about the build to stuff at this point, since we’re hyping the UK Takeover for the weekend, plus the Worlds Collide show later this month, PLUS the NXT Takeover show in February. Plus the UK cast of characters aren’t really memorable for super casual viewers of the UK stuff like myself. I guess they’re trying to duplicate the success they had with the Survivor Series leadup, but I don’t feel it. I’m sure the shows will be great, at least. Mark Coffey quickly gets caught in the Era corner, but Coffey throws Fish across the ring with a backdrop. Wolfgang beats on Fish in the corner, but gets distracted by the UE guys on the floor and the heels take over. Everyone brawls outside and we take a break. Back with the Era getting a double-team kick on Wolfgang for two and they go to work on his leg, but Coffey gets the tag and Mauro goes for the low-hanging wordplay fruit with various “coffee” puns. Those are weaker than watered-down diner coffee. Oh shit, now I’m doing it. The Era double-teams Coffey in the corner as this just isn’t going anywhere and it’s back to Wolfgang. Gallus with a slingshot into a samoan drop on Fish for two. So they do a four-way slugfest which is intended to be the climax and pop the crowd, and it just doesn’t. Finally Adam Cole hits Wolfgang from the floor and they finish him with the High Low at 11:52 to advance. This was decidedly Just a Match. **1/4
Johnny Gargano is here and he’s been waiting for a live mic to talk about the Prince! So he cuts a fired up promo on Finn Balor and manages to get himself booed. But then he plays the “I stayed in NXT because I love it” card and the fickle crowd reacts properly again. Finn Balor interrupts and gets a SICK BURN, noting that they should call him “Johnny Promo” because that’s the only thing doctors will clear him for. So if Johnny wants his moment, they can do it at Takeover.
Next week: The Timesplitters reunite! Or maybe they reunited last week and we just didn’t know about it because we’re in the wrong timeline?
Mia Yim v. Kayden Carter
Oh yeah, I vaguely remember Carter from the MYC, doing the hometown underdog deal. Carter gets a dropkick and tries a rollup, but Yim blocks her, so Carter gets the lucha wristlock springboard and tries for a rana. Yim reverses into a powerbomb for two and gets a low dropkick for two. Yim with a back suplex for two, but Carter comes back with some chops and a rollup into a superkick for two. Carter goes up and lands on Protect Yo Neck and Yim gets the pin at 3:50. And then Chelsea Green attacks both girls and we meet her manager, Robert Stone. OK then.
Keith Lee v. Dominik Dijakovic v. Damien Priest v. Cameron Grimes
Winner of this gets a shot at the North American title at some point. Lee and Dijak do a brief stalemate, but Grimes and Priest attack them and stomp them down. But then Priest gets backdropped into the arms of Keith Lee, who uses him to batter the other guys and then powerbombs Priest for two. Lee gets tossed out and double-teamed by Grimes and Dijak, but Lee throws them off and then Priest hits them all with a dive as we take a break. Back with Lee headbutting Priest down from the top rope and following with a deadlift superplex, but Dijak moonsaults him for two. Grimes comes in with a bunch of superkicks and a german suplex for two, but Priest takes him down from the top with a rana. And Keith Lee catches Grimes and threatens a powerbomb, but Dijak grabs Grimes and hits Feast Your Eyes, before Priest hits Lee with the Reckoning for two. Priest and Dijak slug it out with their feet and both try a chokeslam, but then Lee rises from the dead in a great camera shot and chokeslams them both. But then he charges and Grimes catches him out of nowhere with his powerslam for two. Grimes with the Cave In on the apron to take out Dijak, but then he goes up and lands on a double chop from Lee. Grimes throws down, but walks into the Spirit Bomb at 14:20 and Lee gets the title shot. Really, Keith Lee pinning Cameron Grimes was the only result that made sense. ***
Eh, this was just a show this week.