NXT – August 19, 2020

NXT
Date: August 19, 2020
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Vic Joseph, Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix

It’s the go home show for Takeover and really, I’m not sure I could remember half of the card at this point. This show has felt slapped together and while I have confidence in NXT to be able to pull it off, it doesn’t exactly make me want to watch the show. Hopefully they do something better here. Let’s get to it.

North American Title Match Qualifying Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Ridge Holland

Candice LeRae is here with Johnny. Holland starts fast and knocks him outside but Gargano manages a kick from the apron and a stomp to the hand to take over. Back in and Holland knocks him down with straight power again before a forearm to the face makes it even worse. Gargano pulls him down by the leg but a crank on said leg is broken up with some kicks to the face. Holland misses a running knee in the corner and Gargano takes him down with the suicide dive as we take a break.

Back with both guys down and everyone panicking after Gargano got dropped on his head after a botched spinning powerslam attempt. That looked HORRIBLE but Gargano is fine enough to hit a superkick. Holland grabs him in a front facelock and swings him around, which is probably not advisable after he got dropped on his head. Gargano flips out of an over the shoulder backbreaker but gets Pounced out to the floor. LeRae grabs the foot on the way back in though and Gargano kicks the rope for a low blow. One Final Beat finishes Holland at 8:10.

Rating: C+. The match was a nice power vs. speed fight but that drop on the head was absolutely terrifying as Gargano came straight down. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t edit that out of this as the show is taped and it could have allowed for a lot less cringing. Gargano winning was the only call here as Holland isn’t ready to beat him one on one and you already have Reed in the match as the young power guy.

Dakota Kai vs. Jessi Kamea

Kai sends her hard into the corner to start and yells about being #1 contender. Some running boots to the face in the corner set up a Facewash for two. Kai’s double arm choke is broken up and Kamea hits a kick of her own, followed by a sliding kick to the chest in the corner. A spinebuster gives Kamea two more but Kai is back with the GTK for the pin at 2:58. That was a lot of offense for a #1 contender to give up two days before a title shot.

Post match Kai grabs the mic and says she isn’t scared of Shirai. Io is so focused on Kai’s past but she’s focused on the future, which means taking the title from her. Kai promises to kick her in the face over and over but here’s Kai to beat her up. They fight up to the ramp and it’s the returning Raquel Gonzalez to take Shirai out. It makes the title match more intriguing, but Kai’s promo had very little fire and sounded scripted in a bad way.

Tegan Nox doesn’t like how Candice LeRae has been and needs to fix it. Maybe over a glass of wine like old time. She’s ready to talk.

Finn Balor knows Velveteen Dream has talent but tonight, no one is getting in the way of Balor getting his North American Title back. Tonight is the same as always: Finn over.

Breezango/Isaiah Scott vs. Legado del Fantasma

Fandango’s arm is still taped. It’s a brawl at the bell with Fandango being left in the ring with Mendoza for a running clothesline. Wilde comes in and gets draped over the top, setting up a double kick to the face. Fandango comes back in but gets sent outside, with Scott having to hit a slingshot dropkick through the ropes to Mendoza. Escobar’s dive is cut off with a kick to the head and Breezango’s double superkicks put the rest of Legado down.

Back from a break with Fandango being shoved off the top and out to the floor to bang up the arm again. Mendoza comes in and helps with a springboard moonsault from Mendoza. Apparently the tag just doesn’t matter as Mendoza stays in and kicks at Fandango’s arm some more. Another kick sends Fandango into the corner but he gets in a double backdrop to the floor.

That’s enough for the hot tag to Scott for the house cleaning, including the jumping Downward Spiral on Escobar. A Wilde distraction lets Escobar knee him out of the air though and it’s Scott in trouble this time. Wilde’s springboard missile dropkick hits Escobar by mistake and Scott is knocked into the corner, knocking Breeze off the apron. Scott comes back out and hits the JML Driver on Escobar but Scott running into Breeze counted as a tag (What else was it supposed to be?). Breeze comes in to slug away but walks into the Phantom Driver for the pin at 12:00.

Rating: C-. This was a messy match and the ending felt a little more complicated than it seemed to be. The idea was to have Scott ready to pin Escobar but Scott not realizing that touching your partner on the apron was a tag was a weird moment. They tried to put in a little more than they should have and it didn’t work out that well. Scott vs. Escobar should work, but the Breezango stuff is making it seem a lot less serious than it should be.

Here’s the Undisputed Era to go face to face with Pat McAfee. Cue McAfee, complete with a bunch of NFL players, through the side entrance. He knows Adam Cole goes nowhere without the rest of his team so he brought a team of his own. Everyone else drops to the floor and McAfee talks about how the last time they were in this arena together, Shawn Michaels was checking Cole’s vitals. Then the next week, Cole went on a rant about how McAfee isn’t special enough to be here.

Cole has wrestled all over the world and even called himself the King of NXT. Yeah Cole was undefeated for 400 days or whatever it was but it took McAfee one kick to knock Cole out. McAfee has made a million dollars in seven different professions and he could make wrestling #8 if he wanted to. Cole gave him two weeks to get ready for this match and HHH talked about how he can make McAfee famous.

On Saturday, Cole is getting knocked out with another kick to the head and all anyone will hear is BOOM. Cole comes at him and beats up the referees before saying he’s making McAfee his b**** at Takeover. McAfee’s promo was one of the best celebrity talks I’ve ever heard but I’m still not sure why I’m supposed to cheer for Cole, who has been the top heel for a year plus, after a guy called him out and knocked him cold.

Mercedes Martinez/Aliyah vs. Shotzi Blackheart/Rhea Ripley

Robert Stone is here too. After Beth gets done with a horribly obvious read off a script to recap the feud (not her fault as I’m sure she was told to sound that way), commentary immediately starts ignoring the women to talk about Cole vs. McAfee. Ripley goes right after Martinez to start but Aliyah makes a quick save. That earns Aliyah a trip into the corner for a beating from Ripley and Shotzi comes in for the WELCOME TO THE BALL PIT. Aliyah gets in a shot to the face though and Martinez comes in to grab a chinlock as we take a break.

Back with Aliyah grabbing a neckbreaker on Blackheart and Martinez coming back in for a knee to the face. Blackheart gets dragged back into the corner and Martinez grabs a seated abdominal stretch. The double underhook suplex gives Martinez two but the fisherman’s buster is blocked.

Blackheart grabs a jumping DDT and the diving tag brings in Rhea to clean house. A basement dropkick rocks Aliyah and an electric chair faceplant gets two with Martinez making the save. Riptide plants Aliyah but a Stone distraction lets Martinez crotch Shotzi on top. Ripley manages to powerbomb Martinez over the barricade for a big old crash and the top rope backsplash finishes Aliyah at 9:55.

Rating: C. That ending made up for some of the weaker parts of the match as Ripley vs. Martinez could be one of the best hoss fights the women’s division has seen in a long time. Aliyah is great as someone who can take a fall for the team and Blackheart has the charisma. I liked this more than I would have bet on and that’s a rather nice surprise.

Long video on Karrion Kross vs. Keith Lee. Kross was watching Lee win the NXT Title and made it clear that he wanted the next shot. Then Kross choked out Lee’s friend Dominick Dijakovic and burned Lee’s eyes. This awakened the monster in Lee, which could make for one heck of a showdown at Takeover in a big hoss fight.

Takeover rundown.

North American Title Match Qualifying Match: Finn Balor vs. Velveteen Dream

Dream is in a red shirt and jeans for a weird look. Balor headlocks him over and then sends Dream outside, where the concern in Dream’s face takes us to a break. Back with Dream fighting out of a chinlock and running Balor over, setting up the Thesz press. Dream sends him into the corner and rakes the back. Balor makes another quick comeback and they hit the mat, with Balor cranking on the legs.

The knee gets cranked around the ropes and Balor stomps away, with the referee having to make sure Dram can continue. Dream manages to crank on a cross armbreaker for a bit until Balor kicks his way to freedom. Back up and Dream’s side kick gets two, followed by some right hands in the corner. After Dream gets annoyed at the lack of counting from the fans, Balor dropkicks him to the floor. Cue Cameron Grimes to talk a lot of trash and we take another break.

Back again with Grimes sitting on the ladder and holding the North American Title as Dream hits a backbreaker. Dream hits the Rick Rude hip swivel but Balor rolls through a sunset flip and hits a basement dropkick. Balor stomps away in the corner but stops to chase Grimes up the ladder, allowing Dream to hot shot him onto the apron. Back in and the Dream DDT is countered so Dream tries the Dream Valley Driver. That’s broken up as well and Balor hits the shotgun dropkick into the corner.

Balor looks to go up but a Grimes distraction lets Dream run the corner for the superplex. Cue Johnny Gargano to shove the ladder over, sending Grimes into the referee. Grimes gets up and is taken down by Balor, setting up a Fameasser from Dream. Balor hits Dream with the Sling Blade, only to charge into a superkick for the double knockdown. Gargano grabs the title so here are Bronson Reed and Damian Priest to surround him.

That means a quick knockdown as Priest takes the title and kicks Reed in the face. Dream kicks Priest in the face and the monsters are knocked to the floor. Balor is back up to clothesline Dream to the floor and hits a big flip dive. Cue Timothy Thatcher to drop Balor, setting up the Dream Valley Driver to Balor. The Purple Rainmaker sends Dream to Takeover at 20:26.

Rating: C. This felt like a main roster match and that’s not a good thing. Ignoring everything involving Dream, there was WAY too much going on here and it took away a lot from what was a pretty nice back and forth match. Thatcher vs. Balor should be a good fight (probably next week on TV) and Dream going on to Takeover makes sense, assuming you ignore a lot of stuff happening elsewhere.

Post match we get the usual parade of shots to the face, capped off with Reed holding the title to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I really didn’t care for this week’s NXT. There was nothing on here worth seeing and Takeover feels ice cold. I can’t say I’m surprised by the North American Title qualifying matches not being interesting, as they almost never are. The wrestling hasn’t been all that great in recent weeks and there isn’t much on the line anyway. Takeover should be good as it always has been, but dang they need something fresh on television in a hurry.

Results

Johnny Gargano b. Ridge Holland – One Final Beat

Dakota Kai b. Jessi Kamea – GTK

Legado del Fantasma b. Breezango/Isaiah Scott – Phantom Driver to Breeze

Rhea Ripley/Shotzi Blackheart b. Mercedes Martinez/Aliyah – Top rope backsplash to Aliyah

Velveteen Dream b. Finn Balor – Purple Rainmaker

 

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