Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. I took last week off due to working on this new website, but I’m back and should have no issues going forward (hopefully!). As usual for my NXT reviews, I will be doing a summary of matches and segments along with the analysis/star ratings for every match. I’ll go with a play by play format for the main event match.
This the last NXT TV show before Saturday’s NXT Takeover XXX event on August 22, so let’s see what the NXT crews has in store for us. This show was taped last week at Full Sail University.
The show began with the first match that was for one of the spots in the North American Championship Ladder Match at Takeover 30. The announcers are Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix and Vic Joseph, who took over the third announcer role for Tom Phillips starting on last week’s show. I miss Nigel McGuinness on commentary, but it’s not like the current team is that bad.
Johnny Gargano (w/Candice LeRae) vs. Ridge Holland
Holland is new in NXT after being on NXT UK since he’s from England. Holland was very aggressive early and was in full control with Johnny bumping to the floor after a shoulder tackle. Gargano lured him in with a kick and then a stomp on the arm while on the apron. Gargano kept going after the arm, but Holland managed to knock him down again with a hard forearm to the back. Gargano hit a suicide dive as the show went to break.
There was a very scary spot when Holland went for a powerslam and dropped Gargano on the top of his head. That was brutal seeing Gargano’s head/neck get spiked in the mat like that. Johnny ended up being okay after the referee gave him some time and Johnny hit a superkick for two. Holland with a spinning slam and an overhead powerslam for a two count. When Johnny was connecting with clotheslines, Holland didn’t go down and Holland bounced off the ropes with a running shoulder tackle to send Gargano to the floor again. LeRae grabbed Holland’s foot while on the apron, Gargano kicked the ropes for the low blow and the One Final Beat DDT for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Johnny Gargano
Analysis: **3/4 This was a solid match with Gargano bumping all over the place to make Holland look like a powerful badass. Gargano worked on the arms for most of the match, Holland sold it well and I like that it was an ongoing story throughout the match. Candice being at ringside set up the cheap finish, which makes sense because that’s why she is out there. Heels should cheat! That bump on Gargano’s head/neck was very scary. I’m glad he’s okay.
The win means that Gargano is now in the North American Title Ladder Match with Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Cameron Grimes and one more man that we would find out later. Ranallo said it would be Johnny’s record 18th Takeover event.
Analysis: I think the right guy won because Gargano should be in a Takeover match at every Takeover while Holland still has a bright future. Johnny makes every match better.
Dakota Kai vs. Jessi Kamea
Kai was aggressive early on with two running kicks to the face. Kamea avoided a clothesline and got a rollup for two. Kamea hit an impressive spin kick to the chest, corner splash and sliding knee. The knee wasn’t that impressive, but the other moves were. Kamea with a sloppy looking slam for a two count. Kai had Kamea on the shoulders and hit the GTK jumping kick for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dakota Kai
Analysis: *1/2 It was just a simple match to put over Kai ahead of her NXT Women’s Title match at Takeover. Kamea is a good athlete that is still developing (she has also been under a mask in the Retribution group segments), which is part of what NXT is all about.
Dakota Kai did a promo talking about how she’s moving on from the past and looking ahead to the future when she takes the NXT Women’s Championship from Io Shirai. Kai said it’s going to feel so good when she kicks her face over and over and over and…here’s Io Shirai.
Shirai worked over Kai with punches, when Kai left the ring Shirai went after her and Shirai knocked her down with a forearm to the chest. There’s Raquel Gonzalez showing up and she kicked Shirai down. Gonzalez dumped Shirai into the ring. Shirai knocked down Kai, but then Gonzalez got back in the ring with two big slams on Shirai. The heels stood tall while Shirai was down.
Analysis: When I was writing this at first I wrote “I liked Gonzalez with Kai, so it’s disappointing that she is not with her for the match” and then as we saw this play out, there’s Gonzalez. I’m glad Gonzalez is there with Kai. Now that’s a factor to consider in the Shirai vs. Kai match because maybe Kai will win thanks to Gonzalez being there.
Tegan Nox was interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell. Nox said she was hurt by recent comments from Candice LeRae and she felt like she can fix this. Nox said that they can fix this like old times over a glass of wine. She’s ready to talk.
There was a Finn Balor promo about his match with Velveteen Dream later in the show.
Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza) vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango)
I praised the Legado Del Fantasma group on Twitter on Wednesday and Santos Escobar liked the tweet, so they are my new favorite wrestlers. I’m kidding about that, but I really like the group. The match started out as a chaotic brawl for about a minute since there was a good rivalry here, but then the heels took over as they tried to work on Fandango’s left arm injury. Things broke down a bit as they all got involved on the floor, there was a kick from Scott to Escobar and a double superkick by Breezango leading to break.
The match returned with Fandango as the face in peril as the heels worked over his left arm. Cool moves by the LDF group as they slammed Wilde onto Fandango and Mendoza hit a moonsault for a two count. Fandango cleared house to break free and Scott got the hot tag. Scott went after Escobar with punches and hit a leaping flatliner. Scott kicked Mendoza out of the ring and Wilde onto the floor. When Scott jumped off the top rope, Escobar hit a leaping knee to the face. That looked awesome. They timed that perfectly. Scott avoided a Wilde dropkick, so Wilde hit Escobar by accident. Breeze got the tag when Scott bumped into him, so Scott couldn’t get the pin. Wilde and Mendoza kicked Scott out of the ring. Escobar with a choke on Breeze on the top rope and then the Phantom Driver got the pin for Escobar on Breeze after about 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza)
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a pretty good tag team match that you would expect from a six-man tag in NXT. The finish was a bit different, but I don’t mind it because it made sense. The Legado Del Fantasma group continues to be booked very strong with Escobar as the Cruiserweight Champion and Wilde/Mendoza building momentum as a team. If Scott were to get the win to build him as a challenger against Escobar that would have been fine, but it’s another win for Escobar.
Adam Cole and Pat McAfee Go Face to Face
Adam Cole made his entrance with his Undisputed Era buddies Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish. McAfee entered in the back part of the arena. McAfee had former NFL players with him like former linebacker AJ Hawk.
Pat did a promo saying that Cole called him out. Pat said he brought 28 years of NFL experience with him because he knows Cole would be nothing with the Undisputed Era by his side. Cole told his three buddies to leave the ring, so McAfee told his guys to leave the apron.
Pat and Adam were alone in the ring. Pat said that two weeks ago they were in this arena with Shawn Michaels checking Cole’s vitals to make sure he was okay after Pat attacked him. Pat said that he outsmarted Cole in his own house, in his own business. Pat said that Cole did this rant about how Pat is not special and Cole has wrestled all over the world. Pat said that Cole became the biggest star in NXT and he calls himself the King of NXT. Pat said it took him one minute to knock his ass out – one swing of this foot. Pat said that was pretty special, yet he made Cole look amateur. Pat claimed he has made $1 million in seven different professions (heels lie?) and all of us better hope he doesn’t stick with this profession because this will be number eight if he wants it to. Pat said that on Saturday, it will end just like it did two weeks ago. Pat said that they are different level humans while noting that he only has two weeks to train for this match. Pat said two weeks is all he’s going to need to beat him and then Cole will have to explain how he lost to an outsider. Pat said that Cole is great in this world, but Pat is above him as a human, above him as an athlete and on Saturday it will end with one swing of this foot. Pat claimed the only sound that we will hear is…boom.
Analysis: That was a great heel promo from McAfee. The reason it was so great is because a lot of it was true – he did knock Cole out with the one kick and he does only get two weeks to prepare for the match. Obviously Pat has known this was the plan for weeks and has actually trained longer than that, but in character what he said was the truth.
Cole and McAfee got into an argument, Cole beat up the jobber security guys to leave us with Cole and McAfee again. That’s when the other NFL players got on the apron and Undisputed Era guys stood behind Cole. When Cole told McAfee to have his guys fight, McAfee wasn’t interested.
Cole got in McAfee’s face: “This Saturday at Takeover, I’m going to make you my bitch.” The Undisputed Era left with Cole.
Analysis: Great segment overall. I’m excited for the match just to see how well McAfee does in his first wrestling match. It feels like a personal rivalry instead of just a typical wrestling feud. McAfee is a former NFL punter in his early 30s and he’s a wrestling fan that has performed well in terms of setting up this match. I like how he’s a true heel. I expect Cole to win the match.
Mercedes Martinez and Aliyah (w/Robert Stone) vs. Rhea Ripley and Shotzi Blackheart
Ripley went after Martinez early, then a hard slam on Aliyah and Blackheart hit a running bulldog. Martinez grabbed Blackheart in a chinlock leading to a break.
The heels remained in control as Aliyah hit a neckbreaker on Blackheart, who was the face in peril. Martinez and Aliyah made a lot of quick tags as they worked over Blackheart for several minutes. Martinez with a butterfly suplex that was good for a two count. Blackheart made the comeback with a jumping DDT. Ripley got the hot tag clotheslines on Aliyah, knees to the face and a running dropkick. Ripley slammed Aliyah off her shoulders for a two count as Martinez made the save. Blackheart kicked Martinez out of the ring. Ripley with the Riptide slam on Aliyah, Martinez tripped up Blackheart while Stone distracted the referee and Ripley went shoulder first into the ring post after Martinez avoided a charge. Ripley ended up giving Martinez a Powerbomb on the floor. I am assuming there was a mat there and then when they showed Martinez, there was no mat. The idea is that Ripley gave her a Powerbomb on the floor, but this was taped one week ago, so they had time to edit. Back in the ring, Blackheart hit the top rope senton for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Rhea Ripley and Shotzi Blackheart
Analysis: *** They did a nice job here with Ripley continuing her rivalry with Martinez. Once again in WWE they always follow the same tag team formula where they isolate a face, who was Blackheart in this case and then Ripley was on fire after the tag. They’re building to a Ripley showdown with Martinez although it won’t be at Takeover.
Post match, Martinez was out on the concrete floor while Robert Stone was freaking out.
Keith Lee and Karrion Kross Video Package
There was a video package showing the story between NXT Champion Keith Lee defending the title at Takeover XXX against Karrion Kross with Scarlett. Lee has been dominant during his NXT run while Kross has been undefeated in NXT, so it’s a battle between two guys that have been pushed strongly this year. They showed Lee winning the NXT Title since the last Takeover while Kross has dominated guys like Tommaso Ciampa and Dominick Dijkavoc to build him up as a threat. Lats week on NXT, Kross and Scarlett presented Lee with the title match contract that had a fireball in Lee’s eyes. They used the song “Frantic” by Metallica for the video. Great song that was fitting for this kind of intense rivalry especially due to the repeated use of “Tick, Tock” which is Karrion’s catchphrase.
Analysis: I haven’t written this part of the preview yet, so I am torn on a prediction. If Lee loses then it’s a short title reign for him. If Kross loses then that’s his first loss. Either guy winning makes sense to me. I’m interested to see how it goes.
Finn Balor made his entrance for the main event. The four names qualified for the North American Championship Ladder Match were Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Johnny Gargano, Cameron Grimes and the winner of this main event.
Velveteen Dream made his entrance. He has been absent due to being in a car accident and injuries sustained from that. That’s according to Triple H, at least.
Analysis: There have also been accusations of Velveteen Dream saying inappropriate things to minors via social media and text images. There are photos of his body parts that were reportedly sent to these minors as well. According to Triple H, WWE investigated it, but then one of the alleged victims said that they were not contacted by WWE. I don’t know what’s true. Fans are tweeting #FireVelveteenDream and starting petitions to get Dream fired as well, so obviously the accusations are getting a lot of support. I’ve seen some of the evidence against Dream to think that victims should contact the police if they haven’t done so already. I’m just here to review a wrestling show, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Finn Balor vs. Velveteen Dream
Balor was in control for the first minute, Dream bailed to the floor and that led to a break.
The match returned with Balor hitting some chops, then he ran the ropes and Dream hit a Thesz Press leading to some punches. Balor came back with punches to the ribs followed by kicks to the legs. Balor went for a submission on the legs, but Dream was able to get to the ropes to break the hold. Balor kept on going after the leg, Dream fought out of it and Dream hit a jumping sidekick for a two count. Dream continued the slow paced offense with punches followed by some hip shaking in Balor’s face while delivering some punches against the turnbuckle. Dream missed a jumping side kick when Balor moved followed by Balor with chops and stomps to keep Dream. Back elbow to the face by Dream and a double axehandle to Balor. Dream drove Balor throat first into the top rope. Dream was by the ladder on the floor with the North American Title above it and Cameron Grimes went out there to watch the match.
The match was back with Grimes holding the North American Title on the ladder while Dream kicked Balor in the ribs. Dream with a backbreaker followed by some taunting towards Grimes. Dream with a forearm to Balor leading to some flexing. Dream with a sunset flip attempt, but Balor rolled through into a basement dropkick. Dream to the top, Balor tripped him up to knock him down on the top rope and Balor kicked the ribs of Dream. Balor with a running chop, then a corner whip and Dream bumped over the top to the floor. Balor climbed up the ladder with Grimes on the other side. Dream sent Balor face first into the ring apron. Balor and Dream battled over some holds, Dream with a fireman’s carry and then Balor hit the elbow to the chest. Balor with the running dropkick that sent Dream into the turnbuckle. Balor slowly went up top because he was arguing with Grimes on the ladder, so Dream jumped up to hit a superplex off the middle ropes. Johnny Gargano walked out to ringside and shoved the ladder over to knock Grimes off the ladder, which led to Grimes knocking over referee Drake Wuertz in the ring. Balor took down Grimes, double foot stomp and Dream hit a Fameasser to Grimes. Balor with a Slingblade to Dream, but then Dream met him with a superkick. Bronson Reed and Damian Priest were in the ring to confront Gargano, who was holding the North American Title. Priest punched Johnny and Reed dumped Johnny over the top to the floor. Priest kicked Reed in the head, but then Dream kicked Priest and Reed hit a clothesline to send him out of the ring with Priest. Balor with a clothesline on Dream to the floor. Balor also hit a somersault dive on the other side of the ring on Priest and Reed. Balor was attacked on the floor by Timothy Thatcher, who hit Finn with a clothesline. Thatcher rolled Balor back in the ring and Dream hit the Dream Valley Driver. Dream went up top and hit the Rainmaker Elbow off the top rope for the pinfall win after 21 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Velveteen Dream
Analysis: *** The match was good enough although going 20 minutes was a bad idea. They didn’t do enough exciting things for my liking although I thought Balor was excellent here. I think Dream wrestled a boring match that didn’t showcase his skills enough. I don’t know if it’s due to having a long layoff or just a chemistry thing. Dream is still a young guy at 25 years old (birthday was on Wednesday), so he’s going to go through growing pains in the ring while Balor is a 20-year pro that is one of the best in WWE. The last few minutes were great even with the ref bump. It also protected Balor in defeat because he lost due to Thatcher attacking him.
That means the North American Championship Ladder Match at Takeover XXX will have these five participants: Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Johnny Gargano, Cameron Grimes and Velveteen Dream.
Analysis: I think putting Dream over is wrong because of the accusations against him. I know WWE feels confident in using him, but what if the allegations are true? Then it makes WWE look bad for pushing the guy. A lot of fans are angry about this. It’s understandable.
Analysis x2: On Thursday, Finn Balor was added to the NXT Takeover XXX lineup because he’s going to face Timothy Thatcher. That will be the fifth match on the main show, which is the standard number of matches on the main show.
After the match, Gargano went into the ring and Dream with a superkick. Gargano grabbed the North American Title and Grimes hit a superkick. Priest with a Chokeslam on Grimes. Reed with a running clothesline on Priest. Reed also hit a Death Valley Driver on Dream. Reed held the North American Title up in the air and told the four other men in the match that he was going to win. The show ended with Reed standing tall.
Analysis: That was booked well as a wild finish with the five Ladder Match participants all getting in shots. Reed has been an ascending star this year, so the thought of him as champion would be cool. I don’t think he’ll be my pick. That pick is coming in the preview.
Three Stars of the Show
- Adam Cole/Pat McAfee
- Finn Balor
- Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza)
I give this show a 7 out of 10.
The show was good thanks to some solid matches around the three-star level and I thought the Cole/McAfee segment was great. McAfee nailed it in that promo. The main event between Dream/Balor was okay, but it also went too long at 20 minutes. I think if it was five minutes shorter it may have been better. The women’s division segments were fine, which is no surprise since that remains a strength of the NXT brand. The tag team division wasn’t featured much, though, which has been a weak point in NXT this year. It would have been nice to hear from either of them one more time before Takeover. Overall, a nice show to get us ready for Takeover on Saturday, but also not some exceptional show that you have to see if you missed.
The lineup for NXT Takeover XXX is pretty good, but it’s also not as interesting as the best Takeover shows.
The lineup for WWE NXT Takeover XXX on August 22 looks like this.
WWE NXT Championship: Keith Lee (c) vs. Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett)
Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee
Ladder Match For The Vacant WWE NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. The Velveteen Dream. vs. Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes
WWE NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Dakota Kai
Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher
KICKOFF SHOW – Number One Contender’s Match For The WWE NXT Tag Team Championships: Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan vs. Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)
We will have a preview up for NXT Takeover on Friday morning. I’ll have a review NXT Takeover XXX on Saturday.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.