The SmarK Rant for NXT – 07.22.20

The SmarK Rant for NXT – 07.22.20

Well, I’m still on vacation and thus able to stay up late when NXT goes up on the Network on Thursday night, so let’s give it a look in the interest of equal time.  This is something new for me, reviewing it literally as soon as it drops on the Network, so this is as early as you’re possibly getting the review.  We’ll see if that helps it get some attention.

Taped from the Performance Center

Your hosts are Mauro & Beth

William Regal joins us to start and throws it to Keith Lee, who has now become Keith Two Belts.  But he doesn’t want to limit anyone’s opportunity, so he’s giving up the North American title.  So it’s time for the WWE favorite trope:  A series of multi-man matches leading to another multi-man ladder match for the title at Takeover.  LAME.  I mean, the matches will probably be great, but just do a damn tournament.  Also, there’s no point in taking the North American title off him.  Keith Lee is a wonderful human being and well deserving of finally getting the big belt, but they need to get the NXT title on Karrion Kross as soon as humanly possible.  In fact it was honestly probably a waste to put the belt on Lee in the first place and they should have just moved from Cole right to Kross.

Dexter Lumis v. Killian Dain

Very topical for me because they added Dain to WWE Champions as the free character this month and he fucking sucks there.  At least not as bad as last month’s Masters of the Universe Robot John Cena (don’t even ASK) but still pretty bad. So now I’ve finished bingeing Stranger Things, I can safely say Lumis’s music is much more related to that show than his namesake show.  Dain goes after Lumis and he slithers around the ring to evade Dain.  They brawl on the floor and Dain tries to whip Lumis into the stairs, but he somersaults over them in an interesting spot.  Dain hits him with a crossbody out there anyway and runs him into the plexi.  Back in, Dain gets a guillotine legdrop for two and we take a break.  Back with Dain throws forearms while Lumis no-sells it and just looks confused, so Dain boots him in the face, but walks into a spinebuster.  Lumis comes back with a corner clothesline into a bulldog, and belly to back suplex for two.  Lumis goes up and misses a senton, allowing Dain to dropkick him into the corner and follows with a cannonball and drops an elbow for two.  They fight to the top and this time Lumis gets his senton, and moves into a head and arm choke to finish Dain at 11:00.  I’m not feeling Lumis, as I’m not really sure what he’s going for with the character, sometimes breaking the fourth wall of wrestling with his weird flips and evades and then sometimes just being a guy who does normal WWE style work.  This was an OK opener, and Dain is getting way better than he used to be.  **1/2

Meanwhile, Roderick Strong has an opportunity tonight to earn an opportunity at an opportunity if he can take advantage of his opportunity!  Bronson Reed interrupts, and Johnny Wrestling butts in and tells him off.

Ever-Rise v. Breezango

Tonight, it’s a tribute to the Quebecers, complete with “I’m the Mountie” theme music.  OK, I popped.  I’m not familiar with Ever-Rise but they have one of the worst tag team names I’ve ever heard.  They sound like a brand of yeast.  Parker ducks away from Breeze’s superkick, so Tyler hits Martel with one on the apron instead.  I gotta say, it’s kind of funny to see Breeze just completely give up on his whole supermodel deal and just be a guy again who likes to be funny and mess around.  Breeze gets run into the plexi and worked over, but Fandango gets a hot tag and hits them both with a legsweep.  Ever-Rise bails to the floor, and Fandango hits them with a MOUNTIE DIVE, while saluting no less, and back in they finish with a double superkick at 3:35.  Fun squash!  *1/2

Oh, apparently Tom Philips is an announcer here too.  I literally didn’t even notice him until he showed up on screen to talk about the rest of the show here.  I’d go back and edit him in at the top, but that’s ALL the way up there and that’s a lot of scrolling when I’m already at 650 words.  I’d rather just write a paragraph here instead.  That’s how little I care about Tom and what he adds to the show.

Aliyah v. Shotzi Blackheart

Robert Stone appears to be carrying on the grand managerial tradition of overselling a minor injury with his walking cast.  Shotzi welcomes us to the ball pit, but charges and lands on the floor, as Aliyah gets two.  Back in, Aliyah rams her into the mat and gets a rolling suplex for two.  Aliyah has been around for a LONG time in developmental, and she still looks like someone playing pro wrestler, who kind of knows the moves isn’t the least bit convincing while doing them.  Shotzi makes a comeback with a bulldog and some kicks, and a nasty backdrop driver for two.  Aliyah rolls her up and uses the ropes for two, but Blackheart hits her with an enzuigiri and follows with a suplex.  Stone tries to take the ref, so Shotzi boots him off the apron and onto his bad foot in a funny bump, and then finishes Aliyah with a flying senton at 4:52.  Stone is hilarious in this role but the in-ring stuff mostly sucked, and he needs someone more effective than Aliyah to manage.  And then on cue, Mercedes Martinez comes out and lays out Shotzi to save him, so perhaps that’s where they’re going.  *

Meanwhile, we meet Swerve Scott again.  Man, he should team up with Keith Lee.  Not sure what they could call the team, though.

North American title qualifier:  Johnny Gargano v. Bronson Reed v. Roderick Strong

Reed overpowers both guys and the heels decide to work together on three, but then can’t even make it into the ring before turning on each other.  Johnny tries a rana on Reed and gets slammed, so Strong attacks him from behind and he gets beat up as well.  Gargano and Strong collide in a clown bump and hit the floor again, and we take a break.  Back with our heels double-teaming Reed with chops in the corner, but he fights out with elbows until Strong hits him with a leg lariat.  Strong tries a sunset flip on Reed, but Gargano catapults Strong into Reed’s crotch to block it in a funny spot that puts Reed on the floor.  Johnny hits him with a dive, and tries to slingshot into the ring, but Strong blocks that with a backbreaker for two.  Strong goes for the Stronghold, but Reed breaks that up and runs wild on both guys. Strong hits the Angle Slam on Reed, but Gargano tosses him out and tries to steal the pin on Reed, and gets two.  Strong returns with a backbreaker on Johnny and then delivers running forearms to Reed in the ropes.  Gargano and Strong slug it out on the floor, but Reed hits them both with a dive and we take ANOTHER break.  Back with everyone trading chops, but the smaller guys try to go up and Reed hits them both a double samoan drop for two.  Strong and Gargano fight to the top rope, but Reed breaks it up with an electric chair on Gargano, which Johnny turns into a reverse rana and Strong steals the pin attempt on Reed for two.  Reed slugs it out on the apron with Strong, but Gargano slips out there and powerbombs Reed to the floor in an ouchy spot.  Back in, Strong hits Gargano with the backbreaker for two.  Johnny comes back with a rana into the Gargano Escape, but Strong reverses out to the Stronghold and they trade near-falls off that.  Gargano lawn-darts him into the corner, but misses the superkick and Strong hits the exploding gutbuster to put Johnny on the apron.  He slingshots back in with the DDT for two, but Reed steals the pin on Strong at 22:02 to move onto Takeover.  Did they HAVE to do that cliché finish?   The ending with Strong and Gargano was tremendous, no surprise, but I didn’t find that Reed added that much to the match.  ***3/4

Oney Lorcan v. Timothy Thatcher

Timothy Thatcher as mean throwback stretching machine is tremendous stuff.  Thatcher takes him down and they fight for the arm, so Lorcan throws chops when he can’t win that battle.  Thatcher hits him with a suplex for two and begins the process of breaking him down on the mat again, grinding him down for two, and then takes him over with a facelock suplex for two.  You gotta have neck strength to take that kind of stuff.  Thatcher wraps him up in a bow and arrow and rolls him over for two, and then goes for the wristlock and Oney makes the ropes.  Thatcher pounds him with forearms and then just BURIES a knee into his ribs for two, but Lorcan fights back with forearms to put him on the floor.  But then Thatcher just pulls him out and grabs the arm again, until Lorcan runs him into the post to break.  And we take a break as well.  Back with Thatcher beating on him with forearms, but Lorcan comes back with a diving forearm ala Cesaro.  Thatcher stays on the arm, but Lorcan uses SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION and takes him down.  Thatcher keeps beating on him, but Lorcan takes him down with a half-crab and goes for his own Fujiwara armbar.  Thatcher FISH-HOOKS him to break, which is something I don’t have to type very often, and Lorcan hits him with a suplex for two instead.  Lorcan makes the comeback with chops, fighting through Thatcher’s attempts to block them with his forearms, and he goes for the injured arm with a hammerlock attempt but can’t get enough power.  He finally gets him down, but he lands on his back and Thatcher is on top for the pin at 12:50, still the smarter guy.  Tremendous, I love Thatcher’s whole deal and this was great and different from anything else out there on TV today.  ****

Meanwhile, Mercedes Martinez accepts Robert Stone’s offer of management (“I got run over by a tank…AGAIN!”) as long as he knows his place.

Karrion Kross v. Dominik Dijakovic

Even the crowd of plants goes crazy for Kross’s awesome entrance.  They have to get the NXT title on this fucker NOW.  If ever there was a guy to pull the trigger on, this is it.  Kross cranks on a facelock in the corner and Dijak tries to run him into the corner to break, but he tries Feast Your Eyes instead and Kross flips out of it.  Dijak slugs him to the floor with forearms and follows with a big boot out there.  Back in, Kross fights back with kicks and a DDT as we take a break.  Back with Kross working on an armbar, and when Dijak gets fired up, Kross drops him with a Saito suplex again.  Dijak escapes the choke and hits Kross with forearms to come back and a drop suplex.  Chokeslam gets two.  Kross bails and Dijak follows with a tope, but Kross runs him into the stairs and then smashes them into Dijak’s head with a running kick for good measure.  Ouch.  That actually silences the crowd because it’s so awful.  Dijak is dead weight, so Kross hauls him in, and then calmly mounts him and smashes forearms in his face.  This brings out Keith Lee, so Kross continues bashing Dominik.  He won’t quit, despite Lee’s advise to do so, so Kross chokes him out for good at 15:00.  That’s called PUTTING SOMEONE OVER, baby.  And we get the staredown between Lee and Kross to set up the Takeover main event.  Wasn’t a great match but it accomplished EXACTLY what they needed with Kross.  And now they better put the damn title on him, because it’s the right time and the right guy.  **1/2

A very enjoyable and easy to watch show this week!  I’d say NXT had the better matches but AEW was the better show overall, but both are winners in my book.