The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 07.20.21

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 07.20.21

Live from the Capitol Wrestling Center

Your hosts are Wade Barrett, Vic Joseph & Beth Phoenix

Oh man, they’re busting out “The End Is Here” again, so you know they mean business! And I bet Joe is terrified of facing the guy who lost to Jeff Hardy in (checks notes) 1 minute and 40 seconds!

Samoa Joe joins us and he’s calling out Karrion Kross, but Mr. Regal is horrified by this behavior and storms out to confront him. Regal tries to explain that Joe was a referee last week and thus it doesn’t count as Kross provoking him. And Kross will be here tonight, so they better settle things PEACEFULLY. Or else. There’s a contradiction there. Joe doesn’t make any promises. Man, I just hope Jeff Hardy doesn’t show up as well and beat Kross in 1:40 again.

Meanwhile, Xia Li is prepping for her Women’s title match tonight, where she’ll become the first Chinese champion in NXT. And then when she goes to the main roster it won’t count.

Roderick Strong & Tyler Rust v. Kushida & Bobby Fish

The babyfaces charge the ring and clear out Diamond Mine as we take a break and return with the match joined in progress. I like that they put the little graphic in the corner with their names on it, too! That’s the kind of stuff I appreciate as a fan and a recapper. Kushida works on Strong’s arm, but Roddy makes the tag to Rust and Fish beats on him with knees and slingshots in with a senton for one. Kushida comes in and hits Strong with kicks and works the arm again, but Strong escapes with a backbreaker and now I’m confused about the heel team as they get the heat on Kushida. Is it “Diamond Mine” like the graphic at the beginning said, or “The Diamond Mine” like the announcers keep saying? WHAT ABOUT THE DEFINITE ARTICLE? Fish gets a hot tag and beats on the (?) Diamond Mine with forearms and takes Rust down for two, but he turns his back to yell at Strong and Rust sends him out to the floor. Strong drops him on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and we take another break. We return and now the announcers are flip-flopping between “Diamond Mine” and “The Diamond Mine”. This is gonna drive me crazy now. Fish and Rust slug it out and Rust works the leg. Back to Strong, who looks REALLY old with his new shaved head and stubble look. Strong cranks on the neck and Rust comes in with high kicks on Fish before tying him up in an abdominal stretch. Fish fights back with a spinebuster and makes the hot tag to Kushida, who hiptosses Strong into a cartwheel kick. Superkick gets two. Rust comes in and hits Kushida with a gut wrench and takes him down with an anklelock, but Kushida rolls out of it and they slug it out. Rust gets a wacky neckbreaker for two and it’s BONZO GONZO as Fish takes Strong to the floor and Kushida beats on Rust’s arm with kicks and rolls into the Hoverboard Lock to finish at 18:39. Why are they beating the Diamond Mine already? They’ve only been around for two weeks! I’m also not really clear if it’s supposed to be setting them up for a title match with Kushida or something? Hard work from everyone here but the match didn’t really go anywhere. ***1/4

Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes is unloading all of LA Knight’s bags and Drake Maverick tries to help him, but LA Knight informs us that it’s not Bring Your Idiot to Work Day and Drake should get lost.

Franky Monet v. Jacy Jayne

These are some spectacularly terrible Name Generator examples out there. Jayne gets a rollup for two while Monet is distracted by Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea at ringside, but Franky comes back with a running knee in the corner. She goes to a chinlock while Mandy Rose also comes out and lays on the announce table to provide more distraction, allowing Jayne to come back with a rana and big boot to set up a neckbreaker for two. We get SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE because I guess that’s her finisher? But then Franky finishes with a Glam Slam at 3:18. This was pretty bad. ½* I know Taya did some good stuff in Impact but this wasn’t a good showcase of her and having Stone and his losers around her just drags her down. Unless she’s going to be another comedy geek, in which case, fair play.

Meanwhile, Johnny Gargano has been taking his loss last week pretty hard, which brings Kool Kyle out to challenge Austin Theory, although he has to explain it a couple of times because Austin is pretty dumb. Do it for Papa John! Man, don’t even get me started on Papa John’s this week. They put a flyer in my mailbox and I was all excited to order from there because it was a great deal and I’ve never tried their pizza before, so I go to the website and it tells me they don’t deliver to my area! THEN WHY DID YOU PUT A FLYER IN MY MAILBOX, JERKS?

Now I’m all riled up again. That’s OK, I can always take it out on this show.

Kool Kyle O’Reilly v. Austin Theory

Between Kyle and Monet I appreciate all the British Columbia love being shown in NXT. Usually anyone in Canada is either from Calgary or Toronto. I just need someone hailing from Maple Ridge now. They trade forearms to start and Theory escapes an armbar attempt with a suplex, but Kyle fires back with knees until Theory takes him down with a headlock. He hangs onto that tenaciously and elbows out of a suplex attempt, but he charges and Kyle sends him to the apron and kicks him to the floor as we take a break. Back with Kyle putting him down with kicks and he manages to roll into an anklelock to counter a dropkick, but Austin makes the ropes. Theory comes back with a rolling fisherman’s suplex for two and goes to an armbar, but Kyle fights out and throws knees to make the comeback. Kyle sweeps the leg…

Oh man that meme is SO MUCH more meaningful to me now that I’m a couple of episodes into season 2 of Cobra Kai. I just want Johnny to be a better person and maybe tell his kid that he’s proud of his mad karate skill, like we all do! Anyway, O’Reilly hits a running forearm and some knees on Theory, and hiptosses him into the cross armbreaker, and then switches to an anklelock instead, forcing Theory to make the ropes. Theory with a back elbow to shake Kyle a bit, but he fights back and beats on Theory until walking into a torture rack into a powerbomb for two. Neckbreaker gets two. They head to the floor and O’Relly gets all fired up and beats on Theory in the ring, hitting him with the ground and pound and just messing him up but good with strikes. Theory is knocked loopy and O’Reilly comes off the top with a flying knee onto his leg, and finishes with a heel hook at 13:40. Kyle is pretty awesome but unfortunately he loses every high profile match he’s in. ***1/2

Meanwhile, Raquel and Dakota are not scared of Xia Li and her scary friends.

MARIACHI MUSICAL MADNESS! Sadly, Santos Escobar changes his mind before we get any music, because the fans aren’t worth it and they’re not Hit Row. So this brings out Hit Row, who mock their trash music and cut some spicy rap verses on them. OOOOOOOH THEY GOT SERVED! Actually Swerve telling them that they got kidnapped from a parking lot as children but the car turned around and sent them right back is a pretty funny line. So things get heated and it looks like we’re going to proceed from rap battle to wrestling battle as they brawl and Swerve takes out Escobra and threatens him with a guitar, which sends the heels running. And then his poor lackies take the beating instead. I was looking forward to some mariachi musical madness and they couldn’t even deliver that! Why even tease us with a mariachi band if you can’t follow through?

Meanwhile, the Way are arguing about stuff and Indi awkwardly breaks it in with “If he wants to kiss Dexter, let him kiss Dexter!” Touché?

Meanwhile, Samoa Joe is still getting ready to greet Kross with violence upon his arrival, regardless of what Mr. Regal wants.

NXT Breakout Tournament: Andre Chase v. Odyssey Jones

These names are just breathtakingly terrible. Jones reminds me of a younger and much more mobile Mark Henry. Chase tries a headlock and Jones puts him down and clotheslines him to the floor. Chase comes back with a baseball slide and dives onto Jones, but that nearly goes HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY wrong as Jones can’t catch him cleanly and drops him on his head. Luckily Chase was able to roll through that one but that was terrifying. Jones charges and hits a lighting rig, and back in, Chase comes back with a moonsault press for two. He works the arm, but Jones hits him with a bodypress and corner splash, and a uranage finishes at 3:28. This was fine. ** Jones should probably lay off the Red Bull before his matches though because he was flying around out of control.

Meanwhile, MSK is about to reveal the origins of their name, but Imperium breaks into the video feed and cuts a promo on them, as we return to MSK and miss the reveal.

Meanwhile, Pete Dunne wants a SCRAP with Ciampa & Thatcher to determine who is truly tough.

LA Knight v. Drake Maverick

Drake attacks while Grimes is given the Million Dollar Belt to hold high, but Knight hits him with a backdrop suplex and then goes to chide his butler. Back in, Maverick gets a rana and goes up with a bodypress for one, but Knight gives him a sack of shit slam and continues to berate his faithful butler, which allows Drake to get the fluke rollup for the pin at 2:22. Of course this means nothing because Knight immediately beats him down like a complete jobber. Knight isn’t done and orders Grimes to beat him down as well, specifically wanting a punch in the face out of Grimes. So Grimes does so because he’s a man of honor, but he feels super bad about it. This is clearly the best storyline on the show by a mile and it’s not even close.

Next week: NXT is on SyFy and they ain’t even gonna try. Fair enough.

NXT Women’s title: Raquel Gonzalez v. Xia Li

Li grabs a headlock to start but Raquel powers her down and informs us about the respect that will be paid. Li tries a sunset flip and Gonzalez tosses her into the corner and then puts her down with a big boot. They head to the floor and Raquel misses a boot to the post, allowing Li to work on the knee for a bit and we take a break. Back with Li beating on Raquel in the corner for two and then getting a half crab, but she powers out. Raquel fights back with a slam and dropkick for two, making what appears to be a babyface comeback. Li gets a rollup for two and puts her down with a spinning kick for two. Raquel puts her down with a spinebuster and goes up with a senton for two, but the ref and medical people call her off and check on Li. That goes on for a while as this is a weirdly booked match if that’s not a legit injury. So she’s allowed to continue and Raquel chokeslams her for the pin at 11:13. I’m very confused by that finish. If she was hurt then why not just stop the match? **

And finally, Samoa Joe calls out Karrion Kross, but Kross pops up on the screen, having beat up Mr. Regal lot before driving off. Joe is very upset by this development but he can take solace in knowing that Kross already lost to Jeff Hardy in 1:40 the night before.  Like really, who the fuck could possibly take big bad Karrion Kross seriously now?

I’d say this was a better show than last week, but there was nothing that really stood out to me as must-watch or anything. Aside from Joe v. Kross there doesn’t seem to be a lot of really clear direction for the big stuff, either.