The SmarK Rant for NXT – 10.28.20 (HALLOWEEN HAVOC!) and some other thing

The SmarK Rant for NXT 10.28.20 – HALLOWEEN HAVOC (and One Other Thing)

OK, let’s just get caught up and be done with it.  Plus I just can’t leave that thumbnail of Shotzi Blackheart in that outfit any longer without watching it.

And then another thing later that you can probably guess.

Immediately the video package and arena setup make this one seem like a big deal.

Live from the Capitol Wrestling Center in Florida

Your hosts are Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix, and as mentioned, Shotzi Blackheart, whose entire life thus far has probably been building to this gig.

NXT North American title, SPIN THE WHEEL MAKE THE DEAL:  Damian Priest v. Johnny Gargano

Priest gets a live guitar player for his entrance, while Gargano gets a giant inflatable pumpkin, which is promptly slashed open to the horror of Beth.  Shotzi spins DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND match, which is the usual falls count anywhere stip, and Priest immediately attacks and claps the ears to set up a flatliner.  Priest hits elbows in the corner and a Stinger splash into a leg lariat for two.  Priest walks the ropes and hits a forearm from the apron to put Johnny on the floor.  Gargano tries the slingshot spear and gets caught, but yanks Priest to the apron and beats on him out there.  He sends Priest to the stairs and finds a kendo stick, but Priest has a nightstick and we take a break with no warning.  Back with Gargano hitting a dive off the stage and then beating on him with the kendo stick, but Priest hits the South of Heaven chokeslam for two.  They head back to the apron and Johnny kicks him to the floor and follows with a dive, but Priest blocks that and Johnny hits a shiranui onto the stairs for two in a pretty incredible sequence.  He follows with a tornado DDT off the apron, but Priest counters with the falcon arrow onto the announce table.  Over to the graveyard site, where Johnny opens up a coffin and gets spooked by a skeleton.  What the hell did he expect to find in there?

They go backstage and Johnny uses the fire extinguisher to take over and then dumps some trash on him for good measure.  Priest doesn’t move anywhere, so Johnny smashes a cart into him and we take another break out of nowhere.  Back with Johnny climbing up to the wheel set to escape Priest, but apparently he hates heights and wheels.  I can understand the first one, but wheels?  That would make it pretty hard to function in normal society.  Gargano smashes a garbage can into Priest and stops to insult the wheel again.  LEAVE THE WHEEL ALONE!  Priest kicks the garbage can back in his face, but someone in a Scream mask attacks Priest from behind with a pipe, allowing Gargano to hit a tornado DDT off the wheel, and then smashes a tombstone into Priest to send him flying off the stage and through a haunted house.  And with Priest out, Gargano gets the pin and regains the North American title at 19:54.  I feel like I missed a LOT of the match with the commercial breaks, but it was a fun brawl and I hope Priest doesn’t lose his newfound mojo.  ***1/4

In a funny bit, Wade Barrett declares himself the winner of the costume contest by holding a gavel, because he’s Bad News Barrett.

Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes hides in the back while Mr. Regal calmly tells him to head out to the parking lot for his match with Dexter Lumis.

Pat Mcafee and his new tag team champions join us, and the ENTIRE WORLD agreed that he had the greatest debut in the history of the business.  Even us idiots of the “internet wrestling community” agreed on it!  But Adam Cole didn’t thank him for the great match, he just stood in the ring and flexed on him!  But in his private plane back to Indianapolis, all he could think of was what a bum Cole is and all the great things he’s up to, which is why he couldn’t deal with Cole himself.  So he called Ridge Holland and offered him a car in exchange for taking out Cole, but then the guy fractured his leg in “700 pieces”, which was an expensive mistake for him, sure.  So then he reached out to the guy who took out his guy and asked him if he wanted to be Pat’s guy with his other guy.  But before he can finish the story, Kyle O’Reilly interrupts.  Too bad, this guy is a fucking unbelievable heel promo and they should just let him talk for as long as he wants.  So Kyle brings Pete Dunne as backup, back from NXT UK with chairs, at which point Dunne turns on Kyle and lays him out to join Mcafee’s group.  These guys need a badass team name, STAT!  So Pete stomps the hand to break it, as he enjoys doing, and Burch & Lorcan hit him with an elevated DDT onto the chair before Pat drops some more quality trash talk on Kyle to end the segment.  TREMENDOUS.  This is the kind of intriguing direction that the show has desperately been needing.

Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes just wants to forfeit the match, but Regal escorts him out to the parking lot, where a creepy white van awaits, dropping off Michael Hayes while rocking out to “Badstreet USA”.  Grimes:  “I hate rednecks!”

Santos Escobar v. Jake Atlas

Escobar lays him out in the corner and follows with a knee, then hits the running double knees and smacks the kid around.  Atlas fires back in the corner and hits him with a backdrop and faceplant, and a spinning forearm gets two.  To the top for a fancy DDT that gets two, but Escobar gets his foot on the ropes.  So Atlas hits the goons with a dive and tries to fight them off alone, but one of them hits him with the LUCHA MASK OF DEATH and Escobar finishes with a DDT at 3:30.  This an OK short match.  **

Shotzi warns us that the Haunted House of TERROR is next.  PRESENTED BY GEICO!

HAUNTED HOUSE OF TERROR:  Cameron Grimes v. Dexter Lumis

Yup, it’s CINEMATIC WRESTLING.  I don’t think they’re gonna top the Boneryard Match from the Talk’n Shop A Mania PPV.  Grimes walks around talking to himself while Lumis watches him from a tree, and he takes a tour of the house while Lumis watches from various corners.  And there’s a referee standing in the corner who turns out to be a zombie or something.  So Grimes hides out in the bathroom, where someone is taking a shower, and that immediately improves Cameron’s mood, but it turns out to be the demon from the Ring, and he runs away in terror until Lumis ambushes him while various demonic creatures distract him.  Poor Grimes didn’t even want the match and now he’s gotta deal with THIS shit?  Finally he runs away to the van to escape, but Lumis has teleported to the driver’s seat.  And apparently it’s to be continued.  Oh good, I wouldn’t be able to sleep not knowing how this plays out.

Rhea Ripley v. Raquel Gonzalez

They slug it out to start and Rhea wins that, then blocks a suplex with a facelock and squeezes on that.  Gonzalez pounds her down, but Rhea comes back with a headbutt and they get into a shoving match over that.  OH DAMN BITCHES BE CRAZY!  So they slug it out and Rhea wins that again, but Gonzalez stomps her down.  So Rhea tries some clotheslines and Gonzalez won’t go down, so they criss-cross and Ripley dropkicks her to the floor instead and follows with a baseball slide into the desk.  She tries a dive and gets caught, and Gonzalez powerbombs her into the plexiglass as we take a break.  Back with Gonzalez holding a backbreaker submission in the ring, but Rhea reverses to a sunset flip for two.  And then Gonzalez puts her down with a clothesline for two.  She follows with corner clotheslines and a lariat for two.  Damn they’re hitting each other pretty hard.  One of them probably borrowed a t-shirt 7 years ago and never returned it.  Speaking from experience here.  Rhea pounds on the back and wraps her up in the cloverleaf, but her back is hurt and she can’t hold the move.  So Gonzalez boots her down and follows with a spinning slam for two.  To the top, but Gonzalez can’t hit the superplex and Rhea tries for the Riptide up there.  Gonzalez fights out of that and comes back with a throw off the top for two.  She goes for a pumphandle slam, but Rhea manages to reverse her into the corner and then finishes with the Riptide at 12:34.  Goddamn, where did THIS come from?  They were beating on each other at 100 miles an hour.  ****

Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes is still running from Dexter Lumis.

Meanwhile, Drake Maverick is Hulk Hogan (complete with 2.4 inch pythons) and he gets caught in a reenactment of Halloween Havoc 95’s Yetay v. Giant hug.  But then Killian Dain comes out as the Shockmaster, but refuses to trip and fall, so Drake does it instead and Dain thinks that’s pretty funny.

Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes has made his way back to the arena.  So he makes it to the graveyard set, which is apparently populated by the same demons from the house, and then Lumis lays him out in the ring and we’re overrun by zombies.  And then Lumis puts him to sleep to win the match?  And remember, Dexter Lumis is supposed to be the BABYFACE.  This was all irredeemably stupid and I feel like my life has been wasted for the 20 minutes required to watch it.  “Lumis has summoned the forces of Hell!” notes Beth in the same way one might hype up a guest appearance from a C-list celebrity.  More like the forces of Wrestlecrap.

Meanwhile, Ciampa reminds us this ain’t Monopoly and we ain’t taking turns.  Well unless you’re on the main roster.

NXT Women’s title, SPIN THE WHEEL MAKE THE DEAL:  Io Shirai v. Candice LaRae

The stip here:  Tables, Ladders and SCARES.  So the ref hurriedly attaches the belt to the clamp and sends it in the air, while the women fight on the floor and retrieve the table and the ladder as promised.  And a bag of severed limbs that gets Candice all freaked out.  Since it’s wrestling I’m assuming that it’s all left arms.  Io runs Candice into the post and tosses her over the desk, but she tries a suplex up there and Candice nails her with a laptop to send her flying.  Candice makes a ladder bridge, but Io tosses a chair at her face and then drives the double knees into the stairs.  Ouch.  Io sends some chairs in the ring and suplexes Candice on the floor, and we take a break.  Back with the women slugging it out on the floor, but Io finally gets a ladder in the ring to make a climb.  Candice runs up the ladder, but Shirai brings her down and tries for a powerbomb on a pile of chairs.  Candice blocks it, so Shirai gives her a backbreaker instead and goes up with the moonsault, which misses and hits the chairs.  Candice sets up a chair, but Io suplexes her on the open chair and that’s fucking horrible.

Candice retreats to the corner and leans on a ladder, which suckers Io into charging with the double knees and hitting the ladder.  Candice goes up and Io slugs her down and sets up another pair of open chairs, but thankfully can’t get the suplex onto them.  So instead she traps one of Candice’s feet in a chair and yanks on it.  “You can’t climb a ladder if you can’t walk!” notes Joseph.  Also if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.  Or so I’ve heard.  They fight on the apron and both crash through tables at ringside, but Scream Lady returns and puts Candice up the ladder.  This WILL NOT STAND on Shotzi Blackheart’s big night, so she runs down and takes out the Scream Lady herself, leaving Io and Candice to fight it out for the belt on top of the ladders.  Candice shoves Io down, but Io pushes over the ladder and Candice goes crashing through her own ladder bridge, hoist by her own petard, and Shirai retains the title at 16:50.  Jesus, I could do with them not doing another car wreck like this for a while, but as a special thing once in a while it was great.  ****  That last ladder bump, though…MAN.

Hell of a show this time, probably the best one I’ve seen from them since the switch to the two hour format last year.  I really hope Damian Priest doesn’t get shuffled down now that’s found his character, though.  Also, Shotzi Blackheart was born to host this show and made it 300% better.  Maybe 350% with the various outfits.

Anyway, with that out of the way, time to wrap up another piece of business from this past week…

NXT UK title:  WALTER v. Ilja Dragunov

Funny how WALTER has been champion for 573 days according to the announcers, and I’m like “Man, it’s still way too soon to even think about taking it off him yet.”  Ilja charges in with shots immediately and WALTER throws right back and tries for the powerbomb, but Dragunov fights out and throws more strikes.  They head to the top and Dragunov chops him down and follows with a senton.  He tries the torpedo already, but WALTER catches him with a sleeper into a suplex, dropping him on his head.  They exchange chops and WALTER beats him down, but Dragunov hits his own and keeps coming until WALTER just hurls him out of the ring, whiplashing him on the way out.  I really hope that was a planned spot.  Back in, WALTER just unloads on him again, but Ilja fires back with more chops, so WALTER takes him down with a neck hold to work on the whiplashed neck.  Dragunov tries for a suplex and WALTER cranks on the neck and beats him into a pulp before choking him out on the apron.  Back in, WALTER continues contorting the neck and mauling Dragunov like a grizzly bear, but Dragunov keeps throwing chops to hold him off.  WALTER takes him down with a test of strength and then stomps the neck for two.  He follows with another suplex right onto the neck and then wraps him up in a hold on the mat, literally just stepping on the neck and dropping a knee on it.  But he does not ask for mercy, FUCK NO, and throws more chops, so WALTER batters him down again for two.  WALTER hangs on the top rope and smashes him with a chop to the chest, and Dragunov bumps to the floor like a ragdoll.  WALTER doesn’t even let him recover out there, stepping on his throat from the apron and then hauling him up for more clubbing forearms and a sleeper.  Dragunov fights out of that and slugs on him from the apron, beating on the chest with forearms, but WALTER just BOOTS him in the face and Dragunov snaps off a desperation german suplex.  WALTER is an unstoppable killing machine, so Ilja does it again and WALTER is slightly slowed down.  So it’s a THIRD one, as WALTER finally stays down for a bit, buying Dragunov a few seconds to regroup in the corner for a pump kick.  WALTER responds with a slap to the face, so Dragunov hits him with a deadlift suplex for two.  Dragunov jumps on the downed WALTER and lays a beating on him, but WALTER fires back from his back and still knocks Dragunov over with them.

The kid keeps fighting with a lariat, but WALTER hooks a sleeper, so Dragunov rolls him up for two.  WALTER counters with a sleeper, but Dragunov rolls through for two and keeps fighting.  Slingshot lariat gets two as he’s finally slowing WALTER down, but he’s so beat up he can’t capitalize.  He tries the torpedo, but WALTER swats him down like a gnat and both guys are down.  WALTER is of course up first like a monster and chops him down, then retains wrist control and stomps on the neck some more, plus some more chops on the poor chest of Dragunov.  This poor kid is being made into hamburger here.  WALTER with the lariat and powerbomb and that gets two.  He’s softened the prey up and now it’s time to devour him.  Another lariat gets two.  But now WALTER is getting frustrated, which never happens, and he stops to trash talk the kid before putting him into the dragon sleeper, but they end up in the ropes.  WALTER pulls him off and kicks him in the back, then goes back to the sleeper, but Dragunov fights out with more chops and headbutts.  WALTER won’t let go of the wrist, so Ilja keeps beating on WALTER with knees and chops, finally putting WALTER down to his knees, and Dragunov goes up with a missile dropkick for two.  They talk shit in GERMAN, the shit-talking-est language there is, and trade more sick strikes until Dragunov deadlifts him into a slam for two.  He gets fired up again and chops WALTER down, then hits the torpedo to the back of the neck, but he’s still too injured to follow up.  So he talks himself into another try, but the neck gives out, and they collide with Dragunov falling on top for two.  Dragunov psyches himself up again and throws elbows out of desperation, but WALTER retreats to the floor and catches him with the sleeper suplex out there and then boots him into the stairs.  OH MAN.  He follows with the apron powerbomb, and back in for another powerbomb, and goes up to finish the kid off with the flying splash mercy kill, but it gets TWO?!?  WALTER does not stop to hold his head and look shocked, instead mounting him and beating the shit out of him with elbows and then finishes him for real with the sleeper at 25:09 like a real man.  But to clarify, they’re both real men.  What do you even say here?  They just beat each other into ground beef and Dragunov gave everything he had, but couldn’t answer WALTER’s big guns.  Man, if NXT was wanting someone to play the heartless serial killer like Dexter Lumis is supposed to be, WALTER is the guy.  This was also perfect for the non-crowd atmosphere because they didn’t need to pause for reaction, plus you could hear every sickening destruction of the flesh.  It was pretty boss.  *****

Well this was quite the night of wrestling for yours truly.