The SmarK Rant for NXT – 07.29.20

The SmarK Rant for NXT – 07.29.20

Guess we’re gonna try doing this as a regular thing now.  As always, I have avoided all spoilers on the show and have no knowledge coming in, so as to be as fair about it as possible.

Taped from the Performance Center

Your hosts are Mauro, Beth and the other guy.

Oddly they recycle “The End is Here”, which was the theme from Armageddon 1999 or 2000, in the opening video package about Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic.

Io Shirai & Tegan Nox v. Dakota Kai & Candice LaRae

Everyone brawls before we can even get ring intros, and LaRae takes Nox down and slugs away on the mat, but Tegan fights back and brings Io in.  Dakota takes her down, but Io beats her down with kicks and adds a low dropkick.  But Kai monkey flips her and gets a superkick for two.  The heels double-team Io in the corner and Kai chokes her out and gets a suplex for two.  Shirai comes back with a surfboard into a double arm submission, but LaRae breaks that up.  So it’s back to Nox, but Kai boots her out of the ring and she gets tossed into the stairs as we take a break.  This “crowd” is fake and weird, acting excited beyond all reason for a match with nothing special going on.  It’s just meaningless noise and banging on the glass.  They might as wel just do like baseball and pump in the crowd noise with cardboard cutouts in the stands if they want to manipulate it that way.  Back with Shirai hitting Kai with a bodypress for two and a german suplex, but she goes for the moonsault and Kai brings her down.  They slug it out and Io hangs her in the Tree of Woe and follows with the double stomp off the top, which gets two.  LaRae comes in and Io hits her with a missile dropkick and then dives onto Kai outside with the tope, which allows Tegan to hit Candice with the shining wizard and Shirai finishes with the moonsault at 12:19.  This was an OK opener but didn’t have any particular flow or storyline going.  **1/4

Meanwhile, Adam Cole appears on the Pat McAfee Show and it gets REAL.  TOO REAL.  Almost as real as a Twitter beef.

Johnny Gargano v. Roderick Strong

They take it to the mat to start and Strong works for a wristlock, but Johnny reverses to the Gargano Escape and Strong reverses out of that for the stalemate.  They go back to the mat for a couple of near-falls and Johnny wraps him up with a double arm submission and then goes back with a headlock.  They fight to the apron and Gargano yanks him to the floor with an arm wrench and we take a break.  Back with Johnny working for another submission, but Strong escapes with a backbreaker and beats on Gargano with chops in the corner.  Gargano tries to slingshot for a DDT, but Strong blocks that with a backbreaker for two.  They fight to the top and Gargano brings him down with a flatliner for two and he continues working on the arm.  Another Gargano Escape, but Strong rolls him over for two and then tries for the Strong Hold.  Gargano escapes that, but Strong kicks him from the mat, so Gargano hits him with an enzuigiri and they slug it out.  Superkick puts Strong on the floor and Gargano runs him into the glass a bunch of times, which sets up the slingshot DDT back into the ring for the anticlimactic pin at 12:25.  Strong didn’t get much in this one, but they worked hard.  ***

Meanwhile, Dakota Kai is sick of going through triple threats and tag team matches and she just wants a shot at the NXT title.  But then Rhea Ripley interrupts and has something to say about it, which I’m sure will lead to yet another triple threat match or tag team match.

Meanwhile, the Undisputed Era is falling apart, so Kyle O’Reilly is here to whip them into shape.

Shotzi Blackheart v. Mercedes Martinez

Shotzi is all fired up, so Mercedes dumps her and Robert Stone cuts a promo on her as distraction.  This allows Mercedes to attack from behind and drop her on the apron.  Back in the ring, she pounds away with forearms, but Blackheart gets a small package for two.  Sunset bomb gets two.  Martinez misses a clothesline and Shotzi bulldogs her and puts her down with kicks and a senton for two.  Martinez hits a bulldog for two and they fight to the top, where Mercedes gets a german suplex and then finishes with an Air Raid Crash at 4:24.  I don’t really get Shotzi’s gimmick, as she seems to be trying about 20 different things at once with it.  Not much to this one.  *1/2

Meanwhile, Ridge Holland moves over from NXT UK next week.  Who is coming up with these awful names?  What could “Ridge Holland” possibly tell you about his character or motivation?

Keith Lee is here to discuss his frenemy Dijak, who is a grown man and will be just fine.  He’s got words for Karrion Kross, but Cameron Grimes interrupts and he wants a shot at the title.  That goes pretty badly for him as Lee mauls him like a grizzly bear.  Scarlet comes out to act as distraction and Grimes makes another run at Lee, but gets powerbombed in a funny spot.  But then Kross does his promo on the big screen and he is much more serious about his shot at the title than Grimes is.

Imperium v. Ever-Rise

Really?  The geeks that got squashed by Breezango get a match with the champions?  Barthel takes Martel down with an armbar and Aichner comes in with an armbar of his own.  Parker comes in and runs wild, but Aichner slams him onto Martel and Imperium hits him with stereo dropkicks in the corner.  That’s a cool spot.  Aichner with a spinebuster into a shining wizard from Barthel, and they finish with the European Bomb at 2:20.  This proves to be just a setup for the Undisputed Era running in and destroying them.  They’re putting the locker room on notice!

Meanwhile, we learn a little bit about Bronson Reed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Regal will not be bullied, and Karrion Kross has to earn a title shot like anyone else.  Pretty sure he’s already done that, but they gotta have another #1 contender triple threat match or whatever, I guess.  It’s kind of an oddly contradictory storyline, in that they’ve booked Kross to be clearly the new #1 threat to the title and had him decimate a few top contenders, but then they act like it’s unreasonable for him to demand a title shot.

Jake Atlas v. Swerve Scott

They trade some gymnastics and Atlas dropkicks him, but tries another one and misses, and Scott rolls him up for two.  They trade chops in the corner but Swerve puts him down with a spinkick and we take a break.  Back with Atlas getting a springboard blockbuster for two, and they both roll into kicks before Atlas gets a headlock driver for two.  Swerve takes him down with a neckbreaker for two.  They fight to the top and Atlas gets a spinning Angle slam off the top for two.  Atlas goes back to the top, but Scott brings him down and superkicks him to the floor, leaving him hanging in the ropes for a dropkick to the face.  Back in, Swerve finishes with a package powerbomb for the pin at 9:28.  Just a match, but a fun one.  **1/2

Meanwhile, Damian Priest isn’t worried about his triple threat match next week.

Next week:  Priest v. Oney Lorcan v. Ridge Holland!  Imperium defends the tag team titles against Fish & O’Reilly!  And yeah, Dakota Kai has to go through more bullshit to get to Io Shirai in the form of a #1 contender match with Rhea Ripley.

Dexter Lumis v. Finn Balor v. Timothy Thatcher

Balor and Thatcher go at it to start while Lumis watches them, but then he dives between them on the floor in a dumb spot.  Back in the ring, Lumis slugs them both down and hits Balor with a backdrop suplex for two.  Thatcher gets dumped out and Balor goes after Lumis in the corner and goes for the leg, and Thatcher adds some of his own punishment and works the arm after a belly to belly.  Lumis drops him with a hotshot to escape and everyone is down as we take a break.  Back with Lumis missing a dropkick to put him on the floor, and Balor cradles Thatcher for two.  Thatcher beats him down with knees to the ribs and drops an elbow for two, but Finn fights back with forearms.  Lumis returns from the void and everyone gets laid out.  Balor is first up and runs wild on the other two, but Thatcher posts him from behind and applies a leglock on the apron.  Lumis breaks that up and hits Thatcher with a spinebuster to set up his submission hold, but Balor breaks it up with a Coup de Grace on Lumis for two.  Thatcher ties up Balor with a heel hook, but then Lumis hooks Thatcher in his submission and puts him out at 12:55 to advance.  As expected, this was a trainwreck of completely different styles that did not work for me at all.  Also we just had weeks of Thatcher getting established as a master of submissions and catch wrestling and then they have him pass out to DEXTER LUMIS?  Fuck off with that.  *1/2

A mostly inoffensive and easy to watch show this week, although I’m really beginning to resent this Lumis push.  Not really much to either show, and I’d call it a tie this week.