The SmarK Rant for NXT – 08.12.20
Taped from the Performance Center
Your hosts are Mauro, Beth, and starring Jerry Mathers…as the Beaver. No, apparently it’s Vic Joseph, who is still a thing I guess.
LAST WEEK: Imperium retained the tag team titles over Undisputed Era and man does Karrion Kross ever want that title shot!
Karrion Kross v. Danny Burch
OK, how about this wacky scenario instead of the nonsense tournament thing we’ve currently got: Keith Lee doesn’t vacate the North American title after winning them both, and instead faces Kross for the NA title at Takeover to make him earn a shot at the NXT title. Then Kross wins THAT title, sets up a bigger rematch between them at the next Takeover, and that way Kross gets the secondary title he needs and all the wah-wah babies won’t have to complain about Lee’s title reign getting cut off in his first defense. Burch charges in and attacks, but Kross destroys him on the floor and then back in for a couple of nasty suplexes. Burch fires back with his own suplex and a clothesline for two, which sets up a crossface. Kross powers him up with one arm and then drops him on his head with a Saito suplex, and puts him away with the choke at 3:56. With that bit of business taken care of, Keith Lee joins us, and complains that Kross doesn’t want to face him. So he PLEADED with Mr. Regal for a match with Kross and he’s even got a contract ready. I can only hope that Scarlett is a notary public so the contract signing is all nice and legal. But then Keith goes to check the contract and it turns into a fireball and burns him, because I guess Kross is magic now too. That just seems so impersonal, ya know? Jerry Lawler and Eddie Gilbert would get right up in your face and throw the fireball. Back when people really cared about people while trying to burn them, you know?
Drake Maverick v. Killian Dain
We immediately take a break and return with Undisputed Era arriving, and that’s gonna be an awkward conversation when they ask what they’ve missed so far. And they run in for the DQ at 4:39 as there was basically no match shown because the whole thing was during the commercial. So the Era beats down both guys, which is a message to Pat McAfee. I’m very confused about who’s supposed to be the heel here and I’m not feeling this feud at all.
Meanwhile, KUSHIDA is confident about his chances in the main event tonight. You’re the only one, buddy.
Tyler Breeze v. Santos Escobar
Escobar pounds him down with forearms to start and follows with a dropkick, then beats on him with kicks and takes him to the floor and drops him on the apron. And we take a break. Back with Escobar holding the chinlock and then putting Breeze down with a high knee. Breeze shoves him out of the ring to escape the finisher and makes the comeback with forearms in the corner and the supermodel kick. But then the Mexican cavalry runs in and Escobar finishes with the Phantom Driver at 7:25. Nothing to this one. *1/2 Fandango tries to save Breeze from a further beating, but he too succumbs despite having a stick, and Swerve Scott has to make the save.
Meanwhile, Dakota Kai is pretty sure she’s got the secret to beating Io Shirai.
Indi Hartwell v. Mia Yim
Mia is distracted by Keith Lee’s exploding contract situation, but she still sucks it up and does her whole entrance because she’s a trooper. Yim sweeps the leg and takes her down for two, but Hartwell stomps her down in the corner and they slug it out. Hartwell gets a sideslam for two and goes to a chinlock, but Yim fights out of it, so Hartwell boots her down for two. Vic Joseph notes that Keith Lee was “engulfed in flames” at the beginning of the show, which is a BIT of an exaggeration. Yim tries a cradle and Hartwell blocks it, so Yim goes with an armbar instead and taps her out at 4:40. This was OK. **
Bronson Reed v. Damian Priest
Priest works a wristlock and we’re promised a medical update later after Lee has been transported to a local medical facility. Oh lord now they have writers putting the wacky WWE-speak into THIS show, too. Reed overpowers him and they trade forearms, but Priest puts him down with a back elbow and they trade some kicks. They fight for a suplex and Reed turns it into a DDT, which chases Priest out of the ring as NXT ROLLS ON! Back with Priest working a chinlock after getting the heat during the break, but Reed gets a spinebuster and catches a high kick before hitting a slam for two. I should note that they say “building momentum” multiple times here, as momentum is apparently far more important than any title. They trade some knees and Priest DOES THE DEAL with a falcon arrow for two. He tries another one but Reed turns it into a suplex of his own. He goes up for a flying splash, but misses, and Priest sets up to finish, but Reed reverses to a rollup for the pin at 11:14. But most importantly, Reed has continued to BUILD MOMENTUM. This was a reasonable hoss fight. **3/4
Meanwhile, Io Shirai has some words for Dakota Kai, most of which are in Japanese. But there’s subtitles.
Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes is taking the North American title TO THE MOON.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter v. Aliyah & Mercdes Martinez
Robert Stone makes an offer to Kacy, but she kicks him in the shin to apparently turn him down. Still not a “no”, though! The babyfaces double-team Aliyah in the corner with kicks and Carter gets two from that. Martinez comes in and hits Carter with a wheelbarrow facebuster and we take a break. Apparently this match is EN FUEGO, like the Robert Stone Brand. Wait a minute…Stone is on fire, and he signs people to contracts…could this mean an alliance with Karrion Kross? TUNE IN NITRO TO FIND OUT! Back with the Stone Brand working Carter over and choking her out in the corner. Carter fights back and makes the hot tag to Kacy, who hits a somersault kick on Martinez for two. But then the Air Raid Crash puts her away at 7:22. Another one where most of the match took place during the commercial. **1/4 This brings out Rhea Ripley for the brawl, but she falls victim to a beating before Shotzi Blackheart makes the save. Just by the numbers stuff.
Meanwhile, at the home of Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae, Gargano reassures us that he’s got everything under control. There’s lots of new faces, like Damian Priest “and that Thicc Boy guy”, one of whom is much hungrier than the other.
Meanwhile, Timothy Thatcher delivers more lessons in pain to his students, teaching them about adaptation.
MEDICAL UPDATE: Keith Lee was quoted as saying “Karrion Kross is a dead man”. I’m pretty sure he’s not a doctor.
North American Qualifying match: Cameron Grimes v. KUSHIDA v. Velveteen Dream
Well that’s one way to recapture the 12-18 year old girl demographic. Dream runs wild and hits a double axehandle and rollup on KUSHIDA for two, but Grimes tosses him. KUSHIDA follows with a tornado DDT to the floor and we take a break, just like every other match in this show. We return with KUSHIDA running wild and hitting an enzuigiri on Grimes, and they all slug it out and everyone is down. Dream clotheslines Grimes to the floor and follows with a dive, and back in for the Dream Valley Driver on KUSHIDA, but Grimes tries to steal the pin and Dream saves. They fight on the floor and KUSHIDA hits them with a dive to take out Dream. Back in, Grimes and KUSHIDA fight on the top and fall into an armbar from KUSHIDA. Dream saves and he too falls into an armbar, but Grimes hits them both with the double stomp, gets rid of Dream, and pins KUSHIDA at 9:28. Man Dream looked TERRIBLE here. They worked at a fast pace but nothing really went anywhere. **1/2 Glad to see Grimes making it to the Takeover show, though. But don’t worry, Dream gets another chance next week, because apparently he gets a LOT of second chances in life lately. Dream then snaps and beats on KUSHIDA to apparently turn heel, which brings out Finn Balor for the staredown to set up next week’s match.
I found this one to be pretty weak compared to the last couple of weeks. I think the dumb Keith Lee angle at the beginning really took me out of it and it never recovered. Hopefully the episode next week running unopposed will put some pep in their step leading to Takeover.