Reviews

The John Report: WWE NXT 08/03/21 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. This episode was taped two weeks ago and we posted the spoilers, so I know what’s coming going into it. I don’t think that will affect my enjoyment of the show. In the US, it was the second week where it aired on Syfy due to Summer Olympics coverage on USA Network. It will be back live on USA Network next Tuesday.

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 opening video package showed some highlights from last week and provided a bit of a preview for this week.

There was a shot of the CWC with some fans in attendance making some noise as usual. Hit Row made their entrance to begin the show with Top Dolla and Ashante Thee Adonis in tag team action. They were joined by Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, who is the NXT North American Champion and also B-Fab was there. The Legado del Fantasma group made their entrance as the opponents. The announce team was Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett & Beth Phoenix as usual.

Analysis: The feud has been pretty good here although I wish Hit Row had a longer run as heels. I understand why they are more like faces now because they are easy to root for.

Hit Row (Ashante Thee Adonis & Top Dolla) w/Isaiah “Swerve” Scott & B-Fab vs. Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) w/Santos Escobar

Hit Row cleared the ring to start the match. Adonis whipped Mendoza into the turnbuckle, Mendoza with a hard chop and then Adonis came back with a DDT. Adonis jumped off the top with a cross body block, Mendoza moved and Adonis hit the mat hard. Adonis hit a neckbreaker and a corner whip into the turnbuckle. Dolla faced off with Wilde with the big man Dolla delivering a shoulder tackle along with a hiptoss across the ring. Adonis back in, Wilde fought out of the corner briefly, but then Adonis hit a dropkick on a spinning Wilde for a two count. Adonis with two clotheslines, a forearm and a flapjack. Escobar was on the apron, so the referee was distracted and Mendoza pulled the rope down, so Adonis bumped to the floor. Wilde whipped Adonis into the barricade leading to a break.

(Commercial)

The heels were in control as the Legado guys hit several running clotheslines against the turnbuckle. Double suplex by Legado leading to Mendoza hitting a springboard moonsault for two. Mendoza went for a running knee, Adonis moved and hit a dropkick. Dolla got the hot tag with splashes, a punch, a running knee lift and a sidewalk slam. Dolla bounced off the ropes, so Escobar hit him with a steel chair (in the back) for the DQ finish because the referee saw it. This went 11 minutes.

Winners by disqualification: Hit Row (Ashante Thee Adonis & Top Dolla)

Analysis: **3/4 This was a solid tag team match with the heels controlling most of it and then it just ended with the DQ before the faces could make the comeback. The Legado guys are very good as regular NXT viewers know. Adonis sold really well. I thought Top Dolla had some good power moves after the hot tag. If you’re a big guy like him, just do the basics and it usually works well.

After the match was over, Swerve was isolated in the ring because the other guys were taken out on the floor. Escobar hit Swerve in the ribs with a steel chair while Legado held Swerve. Escobar pulled out a gold casing that was in Swerve’s mouth. Escobar teased an attack with a chair around the throat, but Top Dolla saved Swerve from it. B-Fab went into the ring and hit Wilde with a chair to the back. Top Dolla hit a double dropkick. Adonis hit a spinebuster on Wilde and a superkick sent Wilde out of the ring. Swerve was back in, so he hit a sitout slam as well. Hit Row stood tall in the ring while Legado del Fantasma went up the ramp.

Analysis: The feud continues with the post match attack. It should lead to Swerve vs. Escobar at the next Takeover show on August 22. It’s not official, but it makes sense as a North American Title match.

Samoa Joe was shown pacing around backstage in a “Provoke Me” shirt. William Regal had security with him with Regal saying that they would be staying with Joe to make sure nothing happens between Joe and Karrion Kross until Takeover 36. Joe said nothing as Regal left.

A video was shown of Ridge Holland returning to NXT with an attack on Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. Holland’s in-ring return is next.

(Commercial)

There was a video of Dexter Lumis drawing pictures of In-Dex (or #InDex on Twitter), which is the “couple” name of him and Indi Hartwell. Lumis faces Johnny Gargano later in the show.

Ridge Holland (w/Pete Dunne & Oney Lorcan) vs. Ikemen Jiro

This will be a short match. Jiro is the guy that wrestles with a jacket on. Holland decked Jiro with an uppercut followed by a tight headlock. Jericho with a jawbreaker, then some punches and Holland caught Jiro. Holland put Jiro on the ropes followed by Holland shoving him off the apron to the floor. Holland with a running shoulder tackle that sent Jiro into the barricade. Holland with an overhead belly to belly suplex. The fans didn’t like it when Holland took off most of Jiro’s jacket. Holland with a knee drop to the head. Holland threw the jacket out of the ring, which drew boos. Holland hooked the arms into another overhead suplex. Holland did it twice while yelling “ten months” because that’s how long he’s been out with injury. Holland with a headbutt and a cradle bodyslam for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ridge Holland

Analysis: *1/4 A dominant win for Holland as expected. They are going to push Holland as a guy that wins a lot of short matches and looks dominant. We’ll see how good he is when he has more competitive matches, has to sell and tell stories in longer matches. I like his potential, though.

Pete Dunne did a promo saying that Tommaso Ciampa thought he was bad until Holland, Lorcan and Dunne stepped into the room. Dunne said that Holland will knock the rest of Thatcher’s teeth out and he wondered how he can pick them up with broken fingers. Dunne said that they are the three most dangerous men in NXT and dared somebody to prove them wrong.

Analysis: I like this heel trio. I don’t know what the group name might be, but I think they’ll do well together.

Franky Monet, Jessi Kamea & Robert Stone were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Franky complained about losing last week because of Stone. Franky said that they had to rebuild the group in her image and in her rule. Stone seemed to agree with that as Franky left with the others following her.

Analysis: I didn’t like Franky losing last week. I think they should have had Kamea lose. Franky should be booked strong as a title contender soon. I think Stone has value as a manager, but they book him like this over-the-top goofy character too much. Kamea will get better working with Monet, who is great.

Bobby Fish faces Roderick Strong up next.

(Commercial)

A video aired about the NXT Breakout Tournament with 23-year-old Trey Baxter talked about how he was going to emerge as a star.

Bobby Fish vs. Roderick Strong (w/Tyler Rust, Hachiman & Malcolm Bivens)

Fish and Strong did some grappling as they exchanged holds. Fish with a shoulder tackle leading to a knee to the ribs by Strong. Fish drove Strong into the turnbuckle, Fish with kicks to the legs and a suplex. Fix with a snapmare into a kick to the back. Fish and Strong exchanged forearms followed by Fish kicking the knee for a takedown. Strong ran the ropes leading to kick to the head by Fish. They went to break.

(Commercial)

The match was a slugfest as they got back from break. Strong hid behind the referee briefly and then Strong hit a forearm to take control. Strong hit a suplex leading to a headlock on the mat. Strong lifted up Fish into a backbreaker for two. They exchanged forearms, Fish with an elbow and a kick to the chest. Fish with a corner splash, kicks to the legs and another kick that sent Strong down. Fish hit a sliding clothesline for two. Fish went for a submission, but Strong fought out of it leading to a belly to back suplex. Strong bounced off the ropes leading to multiple forearms and a lifting slam onto the mat for a two count. Fish created some separation leading to a roundhouse kick for two. Fish went to the turnbuckle for something, so Strong shoved him leading to Fish bumping to the apron and the floor. Fish got a rollup for two. Strong with a jumping knee into a suplex into the double knees for the pinfall win after 13 minutes. Fish was bleeding a bit from the nose.

Winner by pinfall: Roderick Strong

Analysis: ***1/4 A good match between two veterans that know eachother well from their years together as allies in the Undisputed Era group. It was a lot of strikes for both guys with Fish delivering a lot of kicks and Strong working over the back a lot since that leads to his various backbreaker moves. Strong winning was the obvious result since he’s likely feuding with Kushida while Fish isn’t involved in any kind of feud right now. I think they could have built up the finish a bit better with more nearfalls because the ending was a bit sudden. These guys aren’t the most exciting guys in wrestling, but they are so technically sound. I enjoy these kinds of matches although I know it’s not for everyone.

LA Knight was in the locker room while Cameron Grimes showed up to talk to Knight. Knight told Grimes he had to wrestle in the butler outfit. Grimes let Knight know that he’ll be there for him and Knight claimed that he’ll have Grimes’s back too. Knight made Grimes shine his wrestling boots, so the butler Grimes did it. They are in a tag team match up next.

(Commercial)

The top of hour two kicked off with a tag team match with Million Dollar Champion LA Knight joined by his butler Cameron Grimes, who has to wrestle in the butler attire. The Grizzled Young Veterans team entered as the opponents with a pre-match promo talking trash about Grimes.

LA Knight & Cameron Grimes vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake)

Knight with a back elbow on Gibson, then Gibson came back with a knee to the ribs and Drake tagged in with a clothesline. Knight countered a suplex into a neckbreaker. Grimes the butler tagged in with a cross body block off the top. Gibson was back in with a knee to the back of Grimes to send Grimes into the ropes. GYV hit a double team clothesline on Grimes. Drake charged, Grimes sent him out of the ring and Gibson applied a tight chinlock. Grimes with a back body drop on Gibson and when Grimes tried to tag out, Knight went off the apron to the floor. Grimes tried to fight on his own with punches to both guys and Grimes hit a hurricanrana on both guys at the same time. Grimes with a neckbreaker across the top rope. Drake charged leading to Grimes hitting a cross body block into a flipping pin attempt for two. The fans were strongly behind Grimes, Gibson with a distraction and there was a blind tag. GYV hit the Ticket to Mayhem double team move (a lift by Drake into the double knees by Gibson) for the pinfall win after five minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake)

Analysis: ** It was fun while it lasted, but Grimes couldn’t do it against two opponents on his own. This was more about advancing the story of Knight being a jerk towards Grimes and that led to GYV picking up the win.

Ted Dibiase walked up to Grimes at ringside. Dibiase said that he had a feeling that Knight would do what he did. Dibiase: “I know you’re a man of your word, but you gotta figure out some way to get out of this situation.” Dibiase helped walk Grimes to the back. Some fans were chanting for Dibiase there.

Analysis: Grimes is a talented wrestler that just needs to pick up some wins and then I think he’s on his way to being a main event guy in NXT. They are obviously building to another Grimes/Knight match where Grimes should get the win so that Grimes won’t be a butler anymore. I can see both of these guys on Raw or Smackdown at some point soon too.

(Commercial)

A video aired about Samoa Joe showing some of his NXT history. Joe was the first-ever two-time NXT Champion. Joe challenges Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover 36 on Sunday, August 22.

A replay was shown from last week when Dakota Kai turned on her best friend Raquel Gonzalez, who is the NXT Women’s Champion.

Dakota Kai Explains Her Actions

Dakota Kai was shown in a video package talking about how 18 months ago, she knew she needed somebody to help her. Kai said that early on it was simple, Raquel had to stand behind her and do her job. Kai said that Raquel became a star in her own right. Kai said that she let Raquel get those victories and everyone knew who the leader was (referring to herself). Kai said that Takeover Stand & Deliver, Io picked Raquel and Kai complained about how she should have been in that position. Kai complained about how Gonzalez stole that opportunity and then Gonzalez beat Shirai. Kai said that all she wanted was for Gonzalez to return the favor. Kai said that Gonzalez already got what she wanted and from that point on, she was known as Raquel’s sidekick. Kai: “I am no one’s sidekick.” Kai said that the funniest thing is that Gonzalez didn’t even see it coming. Kai said that Gonzalez claimed that there was no on left, but what about her? Kai said she’s going to take her out of this world and become the NXT Women’s Champion.

Analysis: Great video summarizing the storyline while Kai made a lot of smart points about her history. I assume Gonzalez will be positioned as a babyface going forward. It’s possible Kai beats Gonzalez especially if Kai gets help from another wrestler, but maybe it will be a Gonzalez win to keep her dominant run going.

Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae were interviewed saying they know what’s best for Indi Hartwell. Gargano said that the fate of Indi’s life rests in his hands, so he has to protect Indi at all costs. Gargano said tonight he ends “IN-DEX” with Candice saying “for good.”

There was a video about Joe Gacy in the NXT Breakout Tournament. Joe said that he can’t be controlled until wins the NXT Breakout Tournament. That match is next.

(Commercial)

The announcers talked about how Adam Cole had a neck compression injury after Kyle O’Reilly attacked him on NXT week. Kyle gave Cole a brainbuster on the steel steps just like Cole did to Kyle months ago. Next week on NXT is a Cole/O’Reilly “face to face” with Mr. Regal on hand.

NXT Breakout Tournament: Trey Baxter vs. Joe Gacy

There’s a big size difference here with Baxter weighing 180 pounds while Gacy is 280 pounds. Gacy used his power to toss Baxter across the ring. Baxter with an up-kick and Baxter hit a dropkick to the back to knock him out of the ring. Gacy caught Baxter on the floor and then hit him with a forearm to the face. Back in the ring, Baxter tried to come back with some kicks to the body, then Gacy with a forearm and multiple clotheslines to the chest. Gacy suplexed Baxter from the apron into the ring. Baxter hit a jawbreaker. Gacy charged, Baxter moved and Baxter hit a missile dropkick off the top. Baxter hit a suicide dive on Gacy on the floor, then back in the ring and Baxter hit another suicide dive. Baxter charged for a third time with a leap over the top into a moonsault onto Gacy on the floor. Back in the ring, Baxter hit a splash off the ropes for two. Baxter was on Gacy’s back, so Gacy did a cannonball into the turnbuckle. Gacy lifted up Baxter on the middle turnbuckle, but Baxter broke free and Baxter hit a 450 Stomp to the chest for the pinfall win after about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Trey Baxter

Analysis: ** I liked the story of the match with Gacy using his power throughout, Baxter took a beating and then made that exciting comeback with the three straight dives on the floor. Gacy has more experience, but Baxter is a younger guy with a bright future that is also fun to watch, so I think they made the right call in having Baxter win.

The semifinals in the Breakout Tournament are Carmelo Hayes vs. Duke Hudson and Odyssey Jones vs. Trey Baxter.

Analysis: I hope Hayes wins it all, but they might want to go with a big guy, so Hudson or Jones could do it. I doubt Baxter wins it.

There was a video earlier in the day where Zoey Stark was at a Japanese restaurant with Io Shirai. Zoey said that it’s important for them to bond as partners. Shirai ordered in Japanese and Stark said she’ll have what she’s having. When the food arrived, Stark didn’t like what was ordered and she didn’t like it. Stark even tossed some octopus across the room. Stark said that they were starting to bond and Shirai was starting to like her. Shirai left first and Stark wasn’t sure about the food.

Analysis: It was a way to try to build a friendship for Stark/Shirai since they are NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. It really wasn’t that interesting or funny. Stark doesn’t seem like she has much of a personality. Shirai is okay in stuff like this but really thrives in the ring.

(Commercial)

Indi Hartwell was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell about the Gargano vs. Lumis match. Indi said on one hand she’s got family and on the other hand, it’s true love. Indi said that if Dexter wins then Johnny & Candice would see that he’s not a bad guy, he’s just misunderstood. Indi said we’ll find out if it’s meant to be or not.

Karrion Kross appeared at the announce table and he stood on the table to do a promo. Kross was wearing the NXT Title around his waist. Kross said that Joe quit his job because he thinks he can make a change around here. Kross said that Joe can’t control this place and he asked “who provoked who?” That led to Joe going out to ringside with the security guys, who are NXT trainees. Joe beat up the security guys with a toss over the top to the floor. Joe hit a guy with a clothesline and another with a uranage slam. Joe gave that guy the Coquina Clutch as well. It was Bronson Rechsteiner, who is the son of Rick Steiner. Joe stared into the camera and called out Kross saying: “I’m coming for you.” Joe stared into the camera. That was it. The fans cheered for Joe as he let out a yell.

Analysis: That was a quick segment that was very effective. Poor Bronson Rechsteiner, though. I know he’s a nobody in NXT right now, but he could be big in the near future.

Prime Target: WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov

There was a video about this match coming up at Takeover 36 on August 22. They had comments from various WWE people talking about how incredible their match was last year. Drew McIntyre said it showed how far British and UK wrestling has come. Dragunov said that the whole world was talking about it. Dragunov said went on a path of violence to have a chance to fight WALTER again. WALTER talked about how for Ilja it’s the match of his life. Dragunov said that everybody will see how much of a mistake it is to underestimate him. WALTER said that Dragunov does not have the mental ability to step up to his level. WALTER said that everybody will know that Dragunov is full of doubt and full of fear. Dragunov said that WALTER is wrong.

Analysis: Good video as usual. This match will be amazing. It might be a Match of the Year contender after they had the WWE Match of the Year last year. I’m so excited for it. I think Dragunov will win the title to end WALTER’s 800+ day title reign.

The main event is next.

(Commercial)

Kushida was shown saying he respected Roderick Strong’s win. Kushida said that Strong wants a title shot at his NXT Cruiserweight Championship, so he’s got it. They did not say when that match is.

Next week on NXT:

* Raquel Gonzalez responds to Dakota Kai’s attack against her.

* “Face to Face” with Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly mediated by William Regal.

* Ember Moon vs. Sarray.

* Ilja Dragunov live.

Analysis: They will need to add some more matches. That’s not a very strong lineup at the moment.

Johnny Gargano made his entrance saying that he was doing this for Indi Hartwell with Joseph saying it was like a dad protecting his daughter. Dexter Lumis made his entrance as the opponent with his slow walking stare.

Love Her or Leave Her Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Dexter Lumis

Gargano delivered two armdrags into an armbar. Lumis came back with two arm drags of his own along with a dropkick. Gargano got a hold of Lumis on the floor with Gargano hitting a suplex on the floor. That led to Indi Hartwell going down to ringside to watch the match. The fans were chanting “IN-DEX” for Indi and Dexter getting together. Lumis took down Gargano with a Thesz Press leading to punches. Lumis with a back elbow. Gargano got his feet up leading to punches, but then Lumis slid out of the ring under the bottom rope where Hartwell was. Lumis went under the ring, then Hartwell followed him out there, so Candice LeRae showed up and Candice/Johnny pulled Indi back while Indi was holding Dexter’s hand. Gargano sent Lumis into the barricade.

(Commercial)

Gargano was in control with a headbutt. Gargano with a forearm, then he bounced off the ropes and Lumis hit a spinebuster. Lumis hit a corner clothesline leading to a bulldog and a belly to back suplex. Lumis with a leg drop for two. Gargano dumped Lumis out of the ring and hit a suicide dive on the floor. Gargano told Beth that this was her fault for pushing for IN-DEX to be a thing. Gargano tried an attack, but Lumis avoided it and Lumis hit a slingshot Falcon Arrow slam for two. Lumis went up top, he jumped off with nothing, Johnny moved and Gargano hit a superkick for two. The wrestlers got into a slugfest as they exchanged strikes, then Lumis hit an uppercut and Gargano hit a superkick. Lumis hit a superkick while also falling to the apron where he stared at Hartwell. Lumis went for a springboard elbow drop, but Gargano moved and Lumis hit the mat. Gargano applied the Gargano Escape right in front of Hartwell and Lumis touched Hartwell’s face before touching the bottom rope. Lumis got a rollup on Gargano for two and then Gargano sent Lumis into Hartwell, who was on the apron. Lumis with an uppercut punch. Lumis left the ring to check on Hartwell, so Gargano hit a suicide dive into a DDT on the floor. Gargano hit the One Final Beat DDT on Lumis for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Johnny Gargano

Analysis: ***1/4 A good match with Gargano picking up the relatively clean win since Lumis was distracted by Hartwell on the floor. That led to Gargano hitting two impressive DDT’s back to back to put Lumis away. Lumis isn’t known for having great matches in part because of his character, but I think Johnny reminded us again why he’s been one of the best in the world for several years now. When they announced this match I figured Lumis would win because that’s the right way to book this storyline, but they ended up doing something else after the bell.

The loss meant that Hartwell could not pursue a relationship with Lumis meaning she had to “leave him” per the stipulation.

It looked like Hartwell was going to leave with Johnny and Candice, but then Hartwell locked eyes with Lumis in the ring. Hartwell went into the ring, she jumped Lumis in the ring and they started kissing on the mat. It was a makeout session on the mat wit the fans cheering while Beth was Beth was screaming: “IN-DEX is happening and nobody can stand in the way!” Beth said that this is the moment we have all been waiting for. Lumis and Hartwell kissed some more. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: Congrats to IN-DEX! There’s the payoff after months of teasing Indi “hooking up” with Dexter. I don’t recall how long this story has been going on, but it feels like it’s been most of the year, so now Dexter and Indi had their big moment. I assume they’ll remain an on-screen couple from here. Based on the crowd response, the fans really liked it and were happy to see it, so I assume that’s the reaction of most fans watching at home. By the way, Lumis is married, so maybe his wife doesn’t love the storyline! I’m sure a lot of people do. Clearly, Beth Phoenix loves it.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Dexter Lumis & Indi Hartwell – It’s gotta be IN-DEX, right?
  2. Johnny Gargano
  3. Roderick Strong

 

The Scoreboard

This week: 6.75 out of 10

Last week: 6.5

2021 Average: 7.41

 

Final Thoughts

I thought it was average for NXT, but still a good show overall. These last three weeks have been below the high standards for NXT.

There wasn’t one match that really blew me away in terms of being great although I thought Gargano/Lumis was strong in terms of the story and Strong/Fish had some great technical wrestling. They advanced several stories without going too long on any one thing. It’s rare for NXT to have a show without a single women’s match. There were plenty of female performers on the show, but no matches.

Here’s the lineup for NXT Takeover 36 on Sunday, August 22nd so far.

NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (c) vs. Samoa Joe

NXT UK Championship: WALTER (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov

Other likely matches are Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly, Raquel Gonzalez vs. Dakota Kai and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Santos Escobar. That could be the five matches and possibly more if they decided to go longer with Knight vs. Grimes. Some of them are going to be just TV matches too. There’s a lot going on in NXT now, that’s for sure. And it’s a good thing too!

You can watch NXT TakeOver 36 at 8 ET/5 PT on Sunday, Aug. 22, streaming exclusively on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.

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Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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