The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 08.03.21

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 08.03.21

Anyone else watching the Transformers: War for Cybertron trilogy on Netflix?  I got through the first two acts, but I had to finally give up 3 episodes into the final part because it’s the most depressing and dull s--- imaginable after a cool and different first season, somehow making giant robots trying to blow each other up into a dull slog with ghost dinosaurs wandering a forest and endlessly talking to each other about time travel.  Not even making that up.  I wanted to get through it before moving onto Masters of the Universe but that will definitely not be happening.

Taped from the Capitol Wrestling Center

Your hosts are Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix & Wade Barrett.  I keep wanting to type “Stu Bennett” and it’s driving me a little nuts.

Ashanti Thee Adonis & Top Dolla v. Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza

Big brawl to start and Hit Row clears the ring right away as the announcers talk about how much the crowd loves them, which thankfully finally establishes that they’re supposed to be the babyfaces.  Back in the ring, Adonis sends Mendoza into the corner, but goes up and misses a bodypress, allowing Wilde to come in and take over.  I will say, I appreciate Wilde putting his name on his ass AEW-style, because otherwise they’re pretty generic and I can’t really tell who’s who.  Top Dolla overpowers Wilde and throws him around while holding a wristlock, but Wilde fights back and tries a rana on Dolla.  That goes badly and Ashanti dropkicks him on the way down in a spot that looks pretty botched, and that gets two.  Adonis with a flapjack while the various seconds all yell at each other, and that allows Wilde to run Adonis into the plexi as we take a break.  Back with Wilde in control as he continues beating on Adonis and goes to a chinlock, and LDF double-teams him with corner clotheslines as they switch off.  Double suplex and Mendoza gets a Lionsault for two.  He actually bounced off the bottom rope, which seems like a questionable strategy.  Adonis fights back and makes the hot tag to Dolla, who runs wild and hits Wilde with a sideslam.  And then Escobar hits him with a chair for the DQ at 10:32.  Match was decent but didn’t go anywhere and the finish was beyond flat.  **  So with the backup taken care of, Escobar goes for the beatdown on Swerve Scott, before Top Dolla recovers and makes the save.

Meanwhile, William Regal assigns security to Samoa Joe to protect him before Takeover.  Maybe he should hire some kind of enforcer for exactly this purpose?

Meanwhile, Dexter expresses his pain via art.

Ridge Holland v. Ikemen Jiro

Jiro goes for a headlock and Holland beats him down and goes to a chinlock.  Jiro fights back, but Holland sends him to the floor and spears him into the barricade.  Back in, Ride throws him around and pulls off the jacket in the ultimate show of disrespect, and then suplexes Jiro a few times before finishing with a powerslam at 3:13.  A complete squash, for those thinking they might do something with Jiro.  I dunno, Ridge looks like the dozens of other generic muscle guys who do suplexes and want to be Brock Lesnar now.  I feel like he worked a totally different style in the short time he was around originally.

Meanwhile, Franky Monet throws Robert Stone under the bus for her loss last week, and notes that they are losers, but she’s not.

Bobby Fish v. Roderick Strong

Fish takes him down and throws kicks before grabbing a headlock, and they take it to the mat, but Fish hits him with a high kick and we take a break.  Back with Strong attacking out of the corner to take over, and a rollup gets two.  Snap suplex gets two.  Strong with a chinlock and Fish elbows out, so Strong gets a uranage backbreaker for two.  Fish fights back again with more kicks and gets a seated clothesline for two, but Strong hits him with a backdrop suplex and the running forearms into a slam for two.  Fish puts him down with another kick for two, but he goes up and Strong shoves him onto the floor.  Back in, Fish gets a rollup for two, but Strong hits a knee strike and finishes with a suplex into a lungblower at 12:09.  This is apparently leading to Strong challenging Kushida for the Cruiserweight title at Takeover.  So we’ve got a direction there, that’s good.  **1/2

Meanwhile, LA Knight and Cameron Grimes agree to put aside their differences for a tag team match tonight, but Knight still makes him shine his boots despite their truce.  I mean, he IS still the butler.

Cameron Grimes & LA Knight v. The Grizzled Young Veterans

I was kind of hoping that the Vets would drive their custom golf cart to the ring.  Also this feels like something they should have advertised ahead of time because it makes sense and flows from last week’s highlight of the show.  Also Grimes is working in his butler outfit so that’s even more awesome.  Grimes goes for the arm on Gibson to start and Knight decides to come in and get his shots in, but the Vets quickly turn the tide.  Knight reverses a suplex to a neckbreaker and actually gives Grimes the tag, but Gibson lays him out from behind with a knee to the back and they go to work on him.  Gibson gets a sleeper but Grimes escapes with a backdrop, only for Knight to short-arm him.  So now Grimes has to do it by himself and he’s OK with that.  So he hits them both with a rana to chase them to the floor and hits Drake with the flipping bodypress for two.  But then he gets distracted by Gibson and the Vets finish him with their double-team deal at 4:47, because it’s WWE and OF COURSE the babyface is going to lose and lose and lose because that’s the only way they know how to build sympathy.  That one really sucked the life out of the crowd as well. Grimes is depressed about this, but Ted Dibiase comes out and gives him another peptalk, letting him know that he’s gotta get out of this situation.  **1/4

Meanwhile, we take a look at the NXT career of Samoa Joe, leading up to Takeover.

Last week:  Dakota Kai turns on Raquel, and we get a video package where Dakota explains her actions and claims credit for everything that Raquel has done.  And apparently Raquel stole her title shot, although Dakota got a bunch of title shots before and lost.  I’m sure the match will be fine but the dynamic is bad and it feels like they had nothing else they could think of and just decided to break up the team.

Meanwhile, Papa John has Indi’s fate in his hands and tonight he ends In-Dex.

BREAKING NEWS:  Adam Cole has suffered a neck injury and thus he’s not medically cleared to compete.  But he’ll be here next week to talk with Kyle O’Reilly.

Breakout tournament:  Trey Baxter v. Joe Gacy

Well Gacy got a video package earlier and the other guy didn’t so I guess we know who’s winning this one.  Gacy throws Baxter around, but Baxter tosses him and tries a dive.  Gacy catches him and runs him into the apron to take over.  Baxter fights back with a sleeper, but Gacy stomps him down and out to the apron.  Suplex back in gets two.  Baxter dumps him again and this time the dive hits and he comes back in with a splash for two.  Another sleeper, but Gacy runs him into the corner with a cannonball.  Baxter escapes to the apron, however, and finishes with a 450 into a double stomp at 5:05.  Well that was certainly an unexpected result.  **1/2

Meanwhile, Zoey and Io go for dinner at a Japanese restaurant to bond, but Zoey accidentally orders all kinds of wacky sushi dishes and doesn’t eat them because sushi is YUCKY.  I still don’t get what they’re going for here.

Meanwhile, Karrion Kross interrupts the wacky banter from the announce team and calls out Joe, who answers by beating on random security geeks.

Meanwhile, various people put over how great the WALTER v. Dragunov rematch is gonna be.  Really it doesn’t matter what else is on Takeover, that match is gonna be an instant thumbs up anyway.

Meanwhile, Kushida is tired of Strong calling him out, so he accepts the challenge for a title match.

NEXT WEEK:  Raquel talks!  Adam Cole talks to Kyle O’Reilly!  And maybe there’s some matches, who knows?  Anything is possible!

LOVE HER OR DON’T LOVE HER, WHATEVER:  Johnny Gargano v. Dexter Lumis

I feel like I should reinforce again how little I care about this stupid storyline and all the geeks involved with it, in case it wasn’t clear before.  Johnny grabs a headlock to start and takes him down with armdrags, but they fight to the floor and Dexter gets some offense.  Back in, Johnny throws forearms and Lumis slides out of the ring for some reason and hides under the ring, so Indi Hartwell heads under to find him.  Johnny and Candice drag her out and bring Lumis out with her, and we take a break.  Back with Lumis making the comeback with a bulldog in the ring into a legdrop for two.  Johnny tosses him and follows with a dive before stopping to blame Beth Phoenix for encouraging the relationship, but Lumis comes back with a falcon arrow for two.  He goes up and misses a splash, and Johnny superkicks him for two.  They slug it out and trade superkicks, but Lumis is up first and goes up with a flying elbow that misses.  So Johnny jumps on him with the Gargano Escape and Dexter makes the ropes while stroking Indi’s face.  But then Lumis accidentally collides with Indi off a rollup attempt, and Johnny DDTs him and finishes with the One Final Beat at 12:51 to break up the love of Indi and Dexter forever.  *** But then Indi breaks away from her family and tackles Dexter to make out with him.  So…..why he didn’t just win the match then?  I believe this is the new booking trope that we can call the “Have your cake and eat it too” finish where you book a stipulation match and then just immediately ignore the stipulation.

Another dull but mostly OK show from NXT this week, but they’re so heel-heavy that you’d think they would let a babyface win sometime to balance things out a bit.  Like, note to cranky old guys booking this show, it’s OK if Cameron Grimes wins a match once in a while, we’re still going to be invested in the storyline if he’s not made to be a complete goober every week!  It might even get him over even more, who knows?  I’d also say we should let the Dexter Lumis thing play out and see where it goes but I’d be lying because I’m sick of everyone involved and hope they all get cut the next time Nick Khan needs to free up some money to redo the atrium at Titan Towers.

Other than that, the show was fine.