Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. Last week’s show was one of the best episodes of the year since it was the Great American Bash special. Now we have to see how NXT follows up as we head towards the next Takeover show that is believed to be in late August around SummerSlam time, but that hasn’t been announced by WWE yet. This week’s NXT is headlined by Karrion Kross defending the NXT Championship against Johnny Gargano with the added intrigue of Samoa Joe as the special guest referee.
This episode is taking place at the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Check out my WWE NXT review archive here. Let’s get to it.
The show began with a graphic saying it was “In Memory of ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff.” Paul was a legend and deserves to be honored like that.
There was an opening video package showing Great American Bash highlights from last week while also hyping up this week’s show.
They were at the CWC with a few hundred fans in attendance. I’m hoping they go back to Full Sail University soon or somewhere else because they need more people at the shows. The announce team was Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix and Wade Barrett.
Ember Moon entered for singles action. They showed that Ember encouraged former tag team partner Shotzi Blackheart, who is now on Smackdown. The announcers said that Shotzi’s contract was selected by Smackdown, so there’s a simple explanation of the move. Dakota Kai entered with NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez supporting her at ringside.
Ember Moon vs. Dakota Kai (w/Raquel Gonzalez)
Moon and Kai did some creative spots leading to Moon hitting an armdrag into an armbar. Kai broke free with a hair pull followed by a running kick for a two count. Kai with another kick to knock Moon down. Moon got a rollup for two and Kai hit another jumping pump kick for a two count. Moon blocked a kick leading to a takedown for a pin attempt for two. Kai to the floor, so Moon hit a suicide dive that sent Kai into the barricade. Kai sent Moon into the ring apron. Moon with a couple of kicks on Kai to knock her down leading to a picture in picture break.
Kai was still in control with kicks and a suplex, but Moon kipped up with the comeback. Moon with a clothesline, then an enziguri kick, a pump kick, a neckbreaker and suplex. Moon with a springboard cross body block for a two count. Kai with a cartwheel kick and then she tripped up Moon by the turnbuckle. Kai with a running kick and a spinning neckbreaker for a two count. Kai went up top, took way too long and Moon kicked her followed by Moon hitting a Frankensteiner (hurricanrana) off the top for two. Kai with a forearm that rocked Moon on the apron, then Kai had Moon over the top rope and Kai hit the Go To Kick for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dakota Kai
Analysis: **3/4 It was a solid match between two veteran women’s wrestlers. Kai was on offense a lot, Moon made the comeback and Kai still won clean. I’m a bit surprised by the result because I thought Moon could have used the win now that she’s a singles wrestler again. Kai winning is good for her, but I’m not sure if that will lead to anything.
Post match, Xia Li walked out to the ring and walked right past Kai so she could face Gonzalez. Li told Gonzalez that she is in the way of her destiny. Gonzalez held up the NXT Women’s Championship and accepted the challenge. Li left.
Analysis: Xia Li has been built up as a strong contender, so it’s not a big surprise to see her get into the NXT Women’s Championship. They are both heels, but that doesn’t seem to matter in NXT that much.
There was a clip from earlier in the day with Diamond Mine with manager Malcolm Bivens talking about how they are competition, so it is open challenge time. Bobby Fish showed up to face off with former friend Roderick Strong, so Bivens said that Fish can face Tyler Rust. Strong told Fish that after he’s done with Fish tonight then it’s over. That match is next.
There was a video about Ikemen Jiro, who is in the NXT Breakout Tournament match later in the show. Ikemen means handsome in Japanese, he was trained by Tajiri and Great Muta. Great trainers. He was looking forward to his match.
There was the debut video of Cameron Grimes as LA Knight’s butler. Knight has a big house and Grimes showed up wearing a jacket without a shirt. They had a guy from Maestro’s Classic clean up Cameron Grimes’ beard and hair. Grimes liked how he looked while Knight laughed at it, so then Knight mocked him for looking like a penguin and a butler.
Analysis: That was mildly fun. I enjoy Grimes a lot while Knight is a classic heel. More skits to come later in the show.
Bobby Fish vs. Tyler Rust (w/Roderick Strong, Malcolm Bivens & Hachiman)
Rust ducked a kick and hit a belly to back suplex. Rust with a dragon screw leg whip takedown. Rust with a stomp on the left arm and a kick to the back. Fish with a comeback with strikes, then multiple kicks to the chest and a back body drop. Fish with a belly to belly suplex into the ropes. Strong got on the apron, so Fish was distracted and then Fish knocked down Rust. With Fish still on the apron, Rust with a chop block and a kick to the side of the head for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tyler Rust
Analysis: *1/4 A shorter match to put over Rust. Fish is a guy in his 40s that is there to put over younger talent and I’m not sure if he’ll win that many of these kinds of matches. I would have liked to see Rust win with something more impressive than a kick to the head.
Post match, the Diamond Mine guys circled Fish and were about to attack, but Cruiserweight Champion Kushida made the save. That set up a tag team match for next week.
Karrion Kross was shown warming up with Scarlett standing by. Samoa Joe showed up with a referee shirt. Joe said Kross should protect himself at all times and obey Joe’s commands at all times. Kross didn’t pay attention so Joe asked him if he understood. Kross said he understands that if Joe screws him out of this match then Joe will be the one who is dealt with. Joe said he’ll take that as a yes and he left.
There was a commercial for WWE going back to live events and on the road for TV.
There was a video shown from earlier today of Johnny Gargano arriving with The Way. Indi Hartwell was there, so Beth Phoenix asked what happened with Dexter Lumis. Indi said that Dexter was a complete gentleman, but nothing happened. Beth gave her some advice telling Indi that sometimes you just have to take a chance.
Sarray vs. Gigi Dolin
They did a pre-match handshake in what is Dolin’s first singles match. She has been in tag team matches before. They did some mat wrestling early with neither woman getting the advantage. When they were about to lock up again, the lovely Mandy Rose appeared on the stage. Mandy looked amazing in a jacket, a top and a very short skirt. She hasn’t been on NXT for several years, so I guess she’s back on NXT now. Sarray and Dolin stopped to look at her, but then it continued as the women exchanged kicks. Dolin with a snapmare into a kick to the back. Sarray got a rollup for two. Sarray bridged back on a submission and then she followed up with more kicks to the body. Dolin got an inside cradle for two. Dolin got another rollup for two. Dolin with an STO for two. Dolin with a forearm to the jaw, then Sarray came back with a dropkick into the ropes. Sarray with another dropkick this time with Dolin against the ropes. Sarray hit a head/arm suplex for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sarray
Analysis: *3/4 A clean win for Sarray, who remains undefeated and impressive in every match she has had. Dolin is somebody to keep an eye on in the future, but it’s not her time yet.
Post match, Mandy Rose looked as if she was a bit impressed, but then she walked away without saying or doing anything.
Analysis: I’m not sure why Mandy Rose was there, but I’m certainly glad to see her on any show. I saw on Twitter that people were tweeting her about how it had similarities to Trish Stratus scouting during her debut in 2000, but I mean that’s 21 years ago and Mandy has been around for about five years. It seems like it might lead to Mandy scouting for some allies in NXT and maybe there will be a women’s stable. I guess this means Mandy has been moved to NXT as well. (We found out via Wrestlevotes reporting that it’s Mandy Rose to NXT and Aliyah is going to Raw.)
— Mandy (@WWE_MandyRose) July 14, 2021
There was a backstage promo from Santos Escobar and Legado del Fantasma. They ripped on some wrestlers including the Hit Row group because he wants the North American Title held by Swerve Scott now. Escobar talked about his opponent Dexter Lumis and reminded us that Santos always ends up on the right side of history.
There was a video package about NXT Breakout Tournament wrestler Duke Hudson, who is 6’5” and 270 pounds from Australia. Duke was very confident that he was going to win the tournament.
Dexter Lumis vs. Santos Escobar (w/Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza)
Escobar with a shoulder tackle, Lumis kipped up and blocked a punch. Lumis ran the ropes with a Thesz Press followed by punches. Lumis did some creepy crawling, so Escobar left the ring. Lumis left the ring, then went under the ring and pulled Escobar under the ring, but then Escobar was saved by his buddies. Lumis stared from under the ring leading to a break.
Escobar was in control with hard chops to the chest. Escobar with a double knee attack against the turnbuckle, then a kick to the head and Escobar hit a Frankensteiner off the top for two. Escobar hit a running dropkick to the ribs. Escobar with two running clotheslines, then two vertical suplexes and Lumis powered out of it, but Escobar hit a Backstabber (double knees) to the back. Lumis came back with a huge clothesline. Lumis with a clothesline followed by a bulldog. Lumis with a sitout Uranage slam. Mendoza pulled Escobar out of the ring, Wilde sent Lumis shoulder first into the ring post (the referee didn’t see it) and Escobar put Lumis into the ring for the Phantom Driver for the pinfall win. This went about nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar
Analysis: **1/2 This was just an average match. Lumis isn’t really known for having great matches, so it was tough for Escobar to carry him since Escobar is one of the best wrestlers in NXT. The match saw Escobar on offense a lot, Lumis selling and making the comeback that isn’t that exciting. Escobar got the win thanks to the numbers game and some crafty cheating.
After the match, the Hit Row foursome were on the stage confronting Escobar and friends. They argued while on the stage, so then Escobar and friends backed away.
Analysis: I like that as a future feud. They are both heel acts, but I think Hit Row could be faces in this feud. I’d rather keep Hit Row as heels because Swerve Scott has been one of my favorite heels in all of WWE this year.
Kyle O’Reilly was interviewed by Wade Barrett earlier in the day. Kyle said that losing is a part of life. Kyle said he didn’t know where the killing instinct was last week. Kyle said that he needs to get his groove back. Kyle said that the guy that was in Undisputed Era is still in there somewhere. Kyle said that Adam Cole can’t say and do the things he’s done and get away with it. Kyle said he’s going to be the guy that will finish Adam Cole.
Analysis: It’s pretty clear that the Kyle/Cole feud isn’t done. They each have one win, so it would make sense to do the blowoff at the next Takeover. Maybe it’s a “Loser Leaves NXT” type of match and then Kyle can win to send Cole to Raw or Smackdown soon. That’s my guess for now.
There was a video with LA Knight wanting Cameron Grimes to cut a big yard of grass with a small roller as a lawnmower. Grimes was happy to do it.
There was a video from after the last match where Indi Hartwell tried to carry Dexter Lumis, but then she dropped Lumis. Indi was about to kiss Dexter until Candice LeRae showed up and shoved Indi out of the way.
NXT Breakout Tournament – First Round: Duke Hudson vs. Ikemen Jiro
Duke Hudson wrestled as Brendan Vink in the past, but we have to pretend we never saw him as that name and this is his debut of Hudson. Jiro wrestles with his jacket on. Jiro used his speed to avoid Hudson early on, then Hudson caught Jiro and sent him into the top rope. Hudson hit a double axehandle to the chest. Hudson with a hard chop along with a body slam. Jiro came back with uppercuts that rocked Hudson and Hudson tied up Hudson in the ropes in the Tarantula like Tajiri used to do. Hudson caught Jiro in his arms and hit an overhead belly to belly suplex. Hudson with an uppercut to the jaw for a one count. Hudson went for a move into the turnbuckle, Jiro countered with a headscissors. Jiro hit a Blockbuster off the middle ropes. Hudson to the floor, so Jiro hit an Asai Moonsault off the top onto Hudson on the floor. Hudson pulled Jiro into the rope, then Jiro came back with a headscissors, but then Jiro ran the ropes and Hudson hit a Bossman Slam for the pinfall win after five minutes. Barrett said that Hudson reminded him of himself and he used to call that move the Winds of Change.
Winner by pinfall: Duke Hudson
Analysis: ** It was a solid match to put over the bigger man Hudson. Jiro is a likable babyface with a lot of energy, so I can see him having some success in the future. Hudson sold well for the smaller man and came back to win with a power move. I think Hudson is a potential winner in the Breakout Tournament. I’m going with him or Carmelo Hayes, who is my top pick.
Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Dunne said he didn’t care who won the NXT Title because he can beat either man one on one since he’s the best technician in the world. Timothy Thatcher showed up to ask if Dunne is the best technician or baddest man in NXT. Tommaso Ciampa hit Dunne with a forearm and then the fight was broken up by security.
Analysis: That’s an easy way to set up a tag team match.
There was a replay of Io Shirai and Zoey Stark winning the NXT Tag Team Titles last week.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs. Aliyah & Jessi Kamea (w/Robert Stone)
Kamea knocked Kacy down using her size advantage. Aliyah sent Kacy across the ring and hit a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Kamea stomped on the back of Kacy. More quick tags from Kamea and Aliyah as they continued to work over Kacy. Carter made the tag with a bulldog, two clotheslines and Aliyah did a hair pull takedown. Stone handed Aliyah a shoe to use, but Carter got a rollup and Kamea hit Carter. Kacy hit a cross body block on Kamea on the floor. Carter with a superkick on Aliyah, Kacy got the tag and Kacy hit a 450 Splash while Carter held Aliyah, so Kacy got the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
Analysis: *1/2 A short match to put over the babyface team of Kacy & Kayden. They are easy to like and are potential Tag Team Champions in the future as long as they keep getting wins. The Aliyah & Kamea team with Robert Stone lost a lot. And this appeared to be the end of the team based on what happened after the match.
After the match, Robert Stone went into the ring to check on Aliyah, who shoved Stone twice. Aliyah said she has done more for Stone than anybody and she slapped Stone. Aliyah attacked Stone with punches and knees while the crowd cheered her while chanting “Aliyah” for her. Aliyah kicked Stone in the ribs as well and the fans chanted “one more time” so she did it again. Aliyah blew a kiss to Kamea and left on her own.
The lovely Franky Monet made her way to ringside to talk to Kamea, who left with Monet. Stone was left on his own.
Analysis: There’s the Aliyah split that has been coming for a while. As mentioned earlier, it appears as though WWE is moving her to Raw rather than keeping her on NXT, so good luck to her.
Johnny Gargano was in the locker room with Austin Theory and Gargano’s wife Candice LeRae. Samoa Joe went in there with the referee shirt. Joe went over the instructions with Gargano, Johnny said that he understood and Joe left. Pete Dunne stepped up to Joe, Pete shrugged his shoulders and left.
Analysis: There’s a nice tease of a future match.
There was another scene with LA Knight and Cameron Grimes. There was a cut on that was “cutting” grass with a rake in his hands. Grimes said he agreed to be a butler, but he’s also a millionaire. Grimes wanted to pay the kid, Knight told the kid to leave and the kid kicked Knight in the shin. Grimes accidentally knocked Knight into the pool.
Analysis: Poor LA Knight made to look like a fool by his butler Cameron Grimes. The story of the night was that Grimes really didn’t mind being a butler after all. Knight wanted to humiliate him, but Grimes ended up liking the job.
Let’s Hear from Adam Cole
I am still not sure about this Adam Cole theme song. It is too generic. Cole said it felt good to say “I told you so.” Cole said he told the world that he was better than Kyle O’Reilly and at Great American Bash, he proved it. Cole said he was the greatest NXT superstar in the history of this brand. Cole said that Kyle’s win over him was a fluke and it didn’t count since it was an Unsanctioned Match. Cole ripped on Kyle saying he went through the fire and got burned by Adam Cole, bay bay. Cole said he would embarrass Kyle again if they had a rematch. Cole looked into the camera saying he wanted to talk about Samoa Joe sneaking up from behind and choking him out. Cole called Joe an overpaid security guard in a suit that doesn’t scare him. Cole said that he knows Joe won’t face him man to man. Cole said there was nobody in the locker room that will go toe to toe with Cole and here comes Bronson Reed.
Bronson Reed said that Cole has a lot of confidence and a master of mind games. Reed said that he no longer has the NXT North American Championship, so he has nothing to lose. Reed said that all eyes are on him. Reed said that people are wondering what his next move is and people considered Cole to be “NXT’s golden boy” and Reed considered him to be his “golden opportunity.” Cole tried a superkick, Reed blocked it and Reed hit a running body attack to knock Cole out of the ring. Cole retreated.
As Cole stood on the floor, Samoa Joe made his entrance in a referee’s shirt for the main event. Joe had a staredown with Cole at ringside. Joe got into the ring with Reed while Cole left. Reed left as Joe got ready for the main event.
Analysis: That was a way to set up a new story between Cole and Reed. It’s interesting because when Reed lost the North American Title the assumption was that he might be heading to Raw or Smackdown soon, but he’s still in NXT. I think Cole is a guy that could be on Raw or Smackdown soon as well. It will probably be just a TV match between them and that’s fine. I also think Cole calling out Joe is good as well because it just adds another person that wants to fight Joe in NXT. There are a lot of options for Joe there.
There was a backstage scene with Franky Monet, Jessie Kamea and Robert Stone. Franky said that you won’t have to worry about Aliyah anymore. Mandy Rose walked up to Franky and said that it looks like the brand is under new management. Mandy left.
Analysis: I’m intrigued to see where this goes. I’m not sure if Mandy is going to have a female stable or if Franky will. Maybe there’s a rivalry there. I think there are a lot of options. They’re very easy on the eyes, so that’s a good thing too!
Next week on NXT:
* Kushida & Bobby Fish vs. Roderick Strong & Tyler Rust
* NXT Women’s Championship: Raquel Gonzalez (c) vs. Xia Li
Two decent matches there, but neither match is that big.
Johnny Gargano made his entrance alone without any members of The Way joining him at ringside. Karrion Kross was up next as the NXT Champion joined by the lovely Scarlett, who was in a black leather bodysuit style outfit. The fans chanted “Johnny Wrestling” as soon as the music ended. The wrestlers stood in the ring for the championship introductions with some more “Johnny” chants.
NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Johnny Gargano
Samoa Joe was the Special Guest Referee of this match.
Gargano attacked with punches, Kross drove Gargano into the corner and kicked Gargano in the ribs. Kross with an overhead suplex. Kross with a suplex. Gargano came back with a dropkick to send Kross to the floor and another dropkick. Gargano hit a somersault dive off the apron onto Kross on the floor. Kross got right back up and hit a boot to the face while they were on the floor. Kross charged, Gargano moved and Kross hit the steel steps. Kross picked up Gargano above his head and slammed him back first onto the hood of the announce table. Ouch. They went to a picture in picture break.
Gargano with a boot to the face, then Kross charged, Johnny moved and Kross went shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Gargano with two clotheslines that had no effect and a step up enziguri kick. Gargano was on the apron and hit a slingshot Spear for two. Kross was on the floor, so Gargano hit a suicide dive that sent Kross into the barricade. Back in the ring, Kross got a hold of Gargano with a Northern Lights Suplex into a Fisherman’s Suplex for two. The fans chanted for Gargano again. Kross set up Gargano on the top turnbuckle and Gargano countered a suplex into a cross body block. Gargano with two kicks to the head, but then Kross came back with a clothesline. Kross drove Gargano into the turnbuckle, but then Gargano came back with a spinning DDT for a two count. Kross with a forearm to the jaw followed by a Chokeslam. Gargano with two more superkicks, Kross applied the choke submission and then Gargano turned it into the Gargano Escape submission. Kross powered out of that and Kross applied the Kross Jacket submission, but Gargano got to the bottom rope to break it. Samoa Joe had to physically force Kross to let go. They left the ring again with Kross ramming Johnny back first into the barricade three times. Kross wanted to use the steel steps, but Joe pulled the steps to stop that. Gargano hit a suicide dive into a DDT on the floor. Back in the ring, Gargano hit the One Final Beat DDT for one…two…no! I thought that was it and so did the crowd. Kross avoided a charging Gargano and hit a forearm to the back. Kross hit three straight Powerbombs followed by a Doomsday Saito Suplex that looked brutal. Kross hit a running forearm to the back of the neck for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Karrion Kross
Analysis: ***1/2 This was a very good match, but not like some of the better NXT Title matches that Gargano has had in the past. Kross had better singles matches with some other people and the last Fatal 4-Way Title match was better than this too. With that said, Gargano was terrific in his comebacks and nearfalls including that DDT on the floor followed by the One Final Beat DDT that only got a two count, but certainly could have been the finish. The fans wanted Johnny to win so badly, yet it was another dominant win by Kross. I liked how they had Kross physically dissect Gargano in the closing moments so it’s not like he won with one move. Kross beat him down and then finished him off. It’s a dominant win for a strongly booked champion. There were probably some people that thought Kross might lose the title and I certainly thought it was possible because know Kross might be on Raw or Smackdown soon. No title loss yet, but it’s probably coming soon.
Post match, Samoa Joe raised Kross’s hand as the winner and then Joe pulled the hand down. Kross didn’t like that. The fans hated that finish and you could see some of them that were on screen that left immediately after Kross won. Gargano rolled out of the ring.
Kross and Joe got into an argument. Joe dared Kross to hit him and then Scarlett stood in front of Kross. When Joe turned his back to leave, Kross jumped on his back and applied a Kross Jacket choke submission. Kross took down Joe to the mat and yelled “unless provoked” and told Joe he brought this on himself. The fans were booing loudly. Nobody went out there to try to help Joe. Kross let Joe go and Kross posed with Scarlett and the NXT Title. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: It sure seems like they have to go with Kross vs. Joe for the title at the next Takeover and the fans would strongly be behind Joe in that match. Joe didn’t take an actual bump here because it was about him passing out in a sleeper-type hold, but I assume Joe is either close to being cleared or cleared already. I’m not sure who else could be the next title contender since they have clearly build up the story between Kross and Joe. The only thing I don’t like in this situation is that there aren’t security guys out there or even William Regal out there to try to help Joe. I understand wanting to make Kross look strong by making Joe pass out, but if you can have security breaking up a backstage segment within seconds then they should be out there while a guy is getting choked out for a minute or two. I just want consistency in those situations.
The below video was from after the show with Joe looking for Kross.
Three Stars of the Show
- Johnny Gargano
- Karrion Kross
- Samoa Joe
This week: 7 out of 10
Last week: 8.5
2021 Average: 7.52
It was a solid episode although I wouldn’t say it was at the same level as last week. The match quality last week was way better. There weren’t any standout matches this week. This was more about building some new stories. The NXT Championship match between Karrion Kross and Johnny Gargano was good, but not great and then it was really intriguing after the match when Kross attacked Samoa Joe. It sure seems like they are going in the Kross/Joe direction possibly at the next Takeover assuming Joe is able to wrestle.
I certainly didn’t expect to see Mandy Rose on NXT after she was just on Raw, but I guess WWE felt the need to move her back to NXT. Hopefully there’s a good story in place for her possibly as a rival of Franky Monet and others. Mandy hasn’t done much on Raw in the last year anyway aside from losing tag team matches with Dana Brooke, so I’m happy to see her in NXT, which is better than Raw. It’s a smaller audience, but I review them all anyway, so it doesn’t matter to me.
Overall, I’d say it was mostly just an average show for NXT, which is still good compared to the other brands. A lot of different people got TV time, some stories were developed a bit and we got some Cameron Grimes comedy, so that’s always fun too. Last week was like a PPV show, so this was more about building new things and that’s okay.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays. My contact info is below.