NXT – August 31, 2021

Date: August 31, 2021
Location: Capitol Wrestling Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett, Vic Joseph

The changes continue around here as we are marching towards the new version of NXT. I still have no idea what that means and I’m not sure I want to. Then again it might be for the best, as NXT has not exactly been at its most thrilling for a long time now. There are a few matches set in advance this week so let’s get to it.

Mandy Rose vs. Sarray

Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne are here with Rose. Mandy takes her down to start and rubs her face in the mat, setting up some pushups on Sarray’s back. Sarray is back up with a dropkick and a kind of nasty looking fisherman’s suplex for two. A top rope twisting splash misses for Sarray and we hit the quickly broken chinlock.

Rose grabs a fall away slam into a nip up and it’s off to something like an abdominal stretch. That’s broken up as well and Sarray starts the striking. The running dropkick sets up the running dropkick in the ropes to send Mandy outside. Jayne and Dolin immediately cover her face up and get her to the back for the countout at 7:39.

Rating: C. This was completely acceptable as Mandy is doing a much more old school heel thing in the ring. There is no point in trying to have her be some kind of a moves person and thankfully NXT gets that. Let her go out there, be the heel she can be so easily and use some old school tactics to get heat. It works well for her, and in a place where everything is about going a hundred miles an hour, it makes her stand out that much more.

Tommaso Ciampa is ready to hurt Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland. He isn’t going to cry over spilled milk and a motivated Ciampa is a scary Ciampa.

Duke Hudson vs. Kyle O’Reilly

O’Reilly’s ribs are heavily taped so Hudson goes after the obvious target in a hurry. A heel hook is blocked and Hudson blasts him with a right hand to the ribs. O’Reilly can’t grab an abdominal stretch and it’s a hiptoss to take him down. Hudson even mocks the air guitar, which is a bit better than Hogan’s. A fireman’s carry gutbuster drops O’Reilly and we take a break.

Back with Hudson staying on the ribs and cutting off an O’Reilly comeback attempt. O’Reilly gets smart by kicking at the legs before spinning into a guillotine choke to put Hudson in trouble. It’s broken up with straight power, so O’Reilly grabs a hanging dragon screw legwhip. The top rope knee to Hudson’s knee sets up the heel hook for the tap at 11:52.

Rating: B-. They had a good, back and forth match here but the key was to not have things get too complicated. Hudson is still very much a work in progress so it was a smart move to let him get in there with someone who can walk him through a match. O’Reilly gets a come from behind win, Hudson gets his feet wet against better competition and we move on after a good use of both guys.

We look at Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell’s engagement.

Beth Phoenix is VERY excited about the wedding but Wade Barrett throws away his In-Dex shirt.

Here is the very banged up and limping Ilja Dragunov to talk about how he went through a war with Walter. He survived against the Ring General and is ready for whatever comes at him. The fans don’t want him to go and wants to know who is willing to come after the title. Long live the Czar.

Kay Lee Ray says the NXT women’s division needs a boost and that is why William Regal…..and the interviewer cuts her off to ask about various women in NXT. Ray isn’t worried about Io Shirai or Ember Moon and she is coming to take over the division.

Carmelo Hayes is considering his options for the title match but Elektra Lopez comes in to say the North American Title is for Santos Escobar. Cue Legado del Fantasma to seemingly offer some threats.

Imperium vs. Grayson Waller/Drake Maverick

Before the match, Maverick looks worried but Waller says Imperium is just annoyed at having to carry Walter’s bags. Waller is taken into the corner to start and it’s time to hammer away. Barthel adds some loud kicks to the chest but Waller gets over to Maverick for the hot tag. Maverick loads up what looks to be a charge but Waller tags himself back in, leaving Maverick to be knocked outside. Maverick is sent into the lighting rig and Waller is kicked in the face. The Imperial Bomb finishes Waller at 3:04.

Rating: C-. More of the same from Imperium, meaning they had a competent squash which wasn’t going to hold my interest. These two are not exactly inspiring but do have all of the technical stuff down. It’s kind of a Dean Malenko vibe, but without the occasional big spots to spice it up a bit.

Indi Hartwell asks Johnny Gargano to give Dexter Lumis a chance. Lumis is standing near Gargano and gets to go to the ring with him.

Pete Dunne, Ridge Holland, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch are ready to hurt Tommaso Ciampa.

Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne have attacked Sarray.

Johnny Gargano vs. LA Knight

Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis are here with Gargano. The fans are behind Gargano, Lumis and Hartwell here as Gargano and Knight fight for control on the mat. It’s too early for the Gargano Escape so Knight starts in on the arm and then elbows him in the face. Gargano sends him outside though and hits a suicide dive. Knight runs him over again though and, after some mocking of Lumis and Hartwell, drops Gargano to send us to a break.

Back with Knight missing a knee drop, allowing Gargano to hit a middle rope Downward Spiral. The slingshot spear drops Knight again but he’s back up with a pop up powerslam dropped backwards instead of forwards. Gargano doesn’t mind as he tries the Gargano Escape, which is quickly escaped. The One Final Beat is countered as well but Gargano lands on Lumis, who then moves him away from a charging Drake. Back in and Gargano reaches for Lumis, but walks into the BFT for the pin at 14:02.

Rating: C+. This was much more about the interactions and the character stuff with Gargano, as the fans’ reactions are getting interesting. Gargano is still popular, but all he has to do is give Lumis and Hartwell a sideways glare and fans can’t stand him all over again. The wedding actually has me curious and I would not have bet on that just a few weeks ago so nice job on setting things up.

Lumis knows he screwed up.

MSK goes in to see William Regal and wants Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch to have a Tag Team Title shot. Burch and Lorcan were stripped of the titles so Regal makes the match for next week.

Next week: Mei Ying’s in-ring debut.

Raquel Gonzalez vs. Jessi Kamea

Non-title and Robert Stone and Frankie Monet are here too. Kamea slips out of a suplex to start and manages to snap the leg over the top rope. A missed basement spinwheel kick lets Gonzalez dropkick her into the corner, setting up a powerbomb hot shot. The Chingona Bomb finishes Kamea at 2:42.

Ember Moon doesn’t like what Kay Lee Ray said and would be glad to face her next week.

We get a sitdown interview with Samoa Joe, who knows what it means to be champion. He hasn’t had time to rest because he has been in Las Vegas scouting NXT talent. Then he took a red eye flight back here because he needed to win the NXT Title. The precedent had to be set and now it is time to defend his title. If anyone wants something, come try and take it from him.

Roderick Strong vs. Ikemen Jiro

The Creed Brothers are now part of the Diamond Mine. Jiro is accepting an open challenge on Kushida’s behalf because Kushida is his hero. Strong starts strong by kicking Jiro down and sending him outside. A hiptoss sends Jiro into the steps and we hit the chinlock back inside. The seated abdominal stretch keeps Jiro in trouble but he fights up for some shots to the face. The slingshot springboard moonsault gives Jiro two but Strong knees him in the face. Back to back End of Heartaches finishes for Strong at 5:02.

Rating: C-. Total squash here and there is nothing wrong with that. Strong is in a holding pattern until Kushida gets back from whatever is wrong with him. Until then, just keep building Strong up and making him feel like the ultimate challenger. They can do a lot of work on the way to the title match and that seems to be the case.

Zoey Stark and Io Shirai are ready to defend their Tag Team Titles against Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro. The champs aren’t really friends outside of the ring and it is going to catch up with them. Stark and Shirai don’t have much of a rebuttal.

Cameron Grimes, looking like his old self again, talks about how great it is to receive the Million Dollar Legacy. Cue the Grizzled Young Veterans to say that Grimes is the champion with a fake title, just like the one they have. Maybe next week he can be Universal Champion once he hits WWEshop.com. Grimes is impressed by the replica belt…and drops it on Zack Gibson’s foot. He throws in some money on his way to the moon.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Ridge Holland

Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch and Pete Dunne are with Holland while Ciampa is alone. Ciampa headlocks him down but gets caught in a northern lights suplex. Not that it matters as Ciampa is back up with a running knee in the corner. Holland is taken outside for a ram into the barricade and a posting. A running knee to the face lets Ciampa pat himself on the back but Holland goes for the knee to send us to a break.

Back with Holland grabbing a chinlock to keep Ciampa in trouble. Ciampa fights up with a clothesline and a jumping knee to the face. More corner clotheslines look to set up the Fairy Tale Ending but Holland reverses into an Alabama Slam to drop Ciampa hard. After a check from the referee, Ciampa fights up with some shots to the face to knock Holland down against the ropes. An Air Raid Crash drops Holland again but he headbutts Ciampa out to the floor. Holland powerslams him into the barricade but Ciampa is back with some knees to the face. Willow’s Bell is good for the pin on Holland at 12:05.

Rating: C+. I’m not sure what it is but there is something about this feud that is making it hard for me to care. What you’re getting is mostly good stuff and I can go for seeing more of Ciampa, but it feels more like a way to get us towards WarGames rather than a match or feud that I want to see. Good match, though I didn’t really get inspired by what I was seeing.

Post match the beatdown is on but MSK comes out for the save.

Overall Rating: C+. The biggest problem with NXT right now is the lack of a top story. What is the main angle going on in NXT right now? Samoa Joe doesn’t have a challenger. The Way is waiting around to get to the wedding. Ciampa vs. Holland N Pals feels like an upper midcard feud at most. What on here feels like a top level story? I know it will change, but that has been seriously lacking from NXT.

The NXT Title hasn’t felt important in months, Raquel Gonzalez vs. Frankie Monet still seems like it’s a few weeks away at most and the North American Champion is part of a faction war. What does that leave? Io Shirai/Zoey Stark and MSK? There just isn’t much going on right now that feels must see and nothing is standing above the rest. That’s a problem and until it is fixed, NXT isn’t going to feel all that important.

Sarray b. Mandy Rose via countout
Kyle O’Reilly b. Duke Hudson – Heel hook
Imperium b. Grayson Waller/Drake Maverick – Imperial Bomb to Waller
LA Knight b. Johnny Gargano – BFT
Raquel Gonzalez b. Jessi Kamea – Chingona Bomb
Roderick Strong b. Ikemen Jiro – End of Heartache
Tommaso Ciampa b. Ridge Holland – Willow’s Bell



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