The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 08.17.21
Live (for the last time in a while) from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett & Beth Phoenix
(The) Diamond Mine joins us in the ring to start, those who haven’t been fired yet that is, as Roderick Strong was supposed to face Kushida for the Cruiserweight title tonight, but Kushida is not medically cleared and so it’s an open challenge instead.
Roderick Strong v. Ilya Dragunov
I know, they should job Dragunov again so that it’ll REALLY be a surprise if he beats WALTER! They trade hammerlocks on the mat to start and Ilya fights him off, so Strong hits him with chops and they lay in some leather until Strong takes him down and stomps him down. Strong pounds him with knees, but Dragunov hits him with a senton for two. They trade headlocks on the mat and Strong just unloads with more chops, but Dragunov gets a suplex and rolls into a high knee. Strong fights back with more strikes, but Dragunov hits him with knees and tries a 619, which Strong counters with a dropkick that puts Ilya on the floor. They slug it out on the floor and Strong hits him with a suplex onto the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and we take a break. Back with Strong in control, but Ilya rolls him into a cradle and puts elbows to head to knock Strong silly. Dragunov deadlifts him into a pair of german suplexes and his forehead starts spurting blood all over Strong from a wayward elbow, but a bridging German suplex gets two. He tries the running knee, but Strong counters that, so Dragunov rebounds with a spinning elbow and knocks him out for the pin at 11:33. Well they were sure hitting each other pretty hard. **** And then Dragunov calls out WALTER, but he’s probably still in Austria.
Meanwhile, Samoa Joe (not to be confused with Samoan Joe from the 1988 AWA shows) is in the parking lot and looking mad.
Meanwhile, we review the other matches that Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly have had, to prepare for them having another match. WWE loves their rubber matches.
Hit Row joins us, and the beef has now reached the level of “on sight”. But Santos Escobar interrupts on the big screen, offering to give back Swerve’s grill if they meet in the parking lot like men. So Swerve heads out like a moron, where of course Legado del Fantasma are waiting for the ambush, and Escobar pulls out the OTHER grill this time. But then Hit Row makes the save and Swerve steals his tooth coverings back and they leave Legado laying. I’m not 100% clear on who was supposed to be the babyfaces in that situation and the crowd seemed to be booing Hit Row as well.
Meanwhile, LA Knight sets up Cameron Grimes in a match with Josh Briggs in exchange for $10,000. Briggs is probably wise to take that guaranteed income in the uncertain financial times of current NXT.
Josh Briggs v. LA Knight’s Personal Butler Cameron Briggs
Ted Dibiase joins us at the announce table for this one, although I thought Nick Khan was making a cameo when I heard that music. Briggs lays out Grimes with a big boot while Dibiase bets Knight double or nothing on that $10,000. Briggs with a splash for two and he catches Grimes on a bodypress attempt, but Cameron fights back with forearms and hits the Cave In to finally win a damn match at 2:02. LA Knight, a true heel, decides to welch on his bet with Dibiase and punches him out and then lays out Grimes with a neckbreaker on the floor as well. *1/2
Meanwhile, Papa John and Candice are disgusted with Indi’s relationship with Dexter, although there’s not much they can do about it since Dexter won that match against Johnny and all. Oh that’s right, he didn’t and they’re just ignoring it, my bad.
Meanwhile, Io Shirai and Zoey Stark are still working on their friendship.
Robert Stone & Jessi Kamea v. Dexter Lumis & Indi Hartwell
Indi is now doing all of Dexter’s creepy mannerisms, and we’ve clearly got a stage 5 clinger. Stone, in silk pajamas, tries for a takedown on Lumis and gets nowhere, so he decides to run away and Franky Monet throws him back in. We get a four-way brawl and In-Dex try for a makeout session, but Stone breaks it up and Franky gets dragged into the match by Lumis and we take a break as she gets ejected. Back with Kamea in control, but she misses a splash on Indi and Lumis gets the tag and destroys Stone with a bulldog. Actually Lumis didn’t even get the tag, Kamea accidentally tagged Stone and thus forced Dexter into the match. Back to Indi, who hits Kamea with a powerbomb for two, but Kamea puts her in a half-crab and Indi makes the ropes. Stone tries a dive on Lumis and lands 3 feet short, and Indi finishes off Kamea with the side choke at 8;27. This was a complete trainwreck, with the men having a comedy match where Stone literally couldn’t even compete, while Hartwell and Kamea were supposed to be having a serious match at the same time. And then we top it off with Hartwell getting a ring from Beth at ringside and proposing to Dexter. Just in case I haven’t expressed this clearly in the past quite enough, I hate everything and everyone associated with this entire storyline. It is stupid and you are stupid for liking it. Just saying. No offense, but everyone involved is worse than 18 Hitlers and I hope they all perish in a bus accident and a building falls on them. And you can’t be offended that I said that because I started with “no offense”. With all due respect. DUD
Meanwhile, Raquel and Dakota do a sitdown interview in advance of their title match on Sunday. The pink in Dakota’s hair probably matches the color of the slip that she’s going to get from Nick Khan pretty soon. Regardless she has zero chance against Raquel.
Breakout tournament semi-finals: Carmelo Hayes v. Duke Hudson
Winner of this faces Odyssey Jones in the finals, which I was assuming is at Takeover, but turns out to be next week on NXT instead. Duke overpowers Hayes and puts him down with a legsweep, but Hayes grabs a headlock and springboards into a slingblade for two. Another headlock, but Duke tosses him to the floor and we take a break. Back with Hayes coming back with an enzuigiri, but Hudson clotheslines him into the corner and lays him out to take over again. Hudson bails and Hayes hits him with an axe kick on the way into the ring and then hits him with a terrifying DDT on the apron, as Hudson slips on the way down and nearly breaks his neck. Back in, Hayes with a bulldog for two and he goes up and takes Hudson down with a cradle for two. Back to the top and Hayes gets a flying guillotine to finish at 8:29. Duke was off on another planet after that DDT and I’m shocked they didn’t just go home right afterwards. Just a couple of green guys having a match outside of the one terrifying spot. **1/2
Meanwhile, Jacy Jayne is going to turn up the volume.
Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes apologizes to Ted Dibiase for not believing in himself and repeatedly dropping the ball. But he seems to be sufficiently pumped up now and headed TO THE MOON.
NXT Tag team titles: MSK v. Imperium
MSK double-teams Aichner in the corner as Carter comes in with a mule kick in the corner for two, but Barthel takes him down with a hammerlock and adds a bridge. Carter rolls away from him, but walks into an uppercut and Barthel gives him a double underhook suplex out of the corner. Nash escapes and tags Wes Lee in and they double-team Aichner and dump Barthel, but follow with stereo dives and Imperium catches them and beats them down outside as we take a break. Back with Aichner hitting Lee with a clothesline out of the corner for two. Lee fights back on Barthel, but Barthel reverses an enzuigiri into an anklelock and Aichner hurls him into the corner for a nice bump. Wes is still out and they hang him in the corner for a double baseball slide that gets two. Wes fights back again but now WALTER joins us to provide some motivation for his cronies. Nash Carter gets a hot tag and a standing moonsault on Aichner for two, but WALTER distracts the ref and takes out Carter. This brings out Ilya Dragunov to even things up, and MSK recovers and finishes Aichner with their double team neckbreaker to retain at 11:38. And then WALTER absolutely WRECKS MSK single-handedly, while dressed like a high school gym teacher to boot, and chokes out Dragunov for good measure. To be fair, Ilya DID call him out at the beginning of the show, so he was literally asking for it. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Ridge Holland and Pete Dunne are gonna make names for themselves against Thatcher and Ciampa next week.
Samoa Joe and Karrion Kross join us for their face to face meeting while the crowd chants “Jeff Hardy” and “Where is Scarlett?” Really whatever peak this feud might have had was passed about two weeks ago. And they get into a brawl with security trying to pull them apart and failing.
A great match to open and a pretty good tag match to end and WALTER on my TV makes for an easy to watch show at least, but there was just nothing going on in the middle this week. Really Takeover is an instant thumbs up already because of WALTER and Dragunov so you might as well just call it a thumbs up show before it even happens, but I’m not really super-interested in anything else on the show besides that.