The John Report: WWE NXT 06/15/21 Review

The John Report: WWE NXT 06/15/21 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. This week’s show follows the NXT Takeover In Your House event from this past Sunday. The next Takeover is rumored to be on the Sunday after SummerSlam (which is on Saturday this year), so we have about two months to get there. They also have the Great American Bash special episode of NXT on Tuesday, July 6 as well.

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 highlights from Sunday’s NXT Takeover In Your House event. I enjoyed it, but it was not as good as the best Takeover shows. No titles changed hands either, so it wasn’t that newsworthy of a show. The end of the show had a tease of William Regal possibly walking away as NXT GM.

The fans were vocal at the Capitol Wrestling Center and there were a few hundred people there (I believe it’s around 300 people) just like at Takeover this past Sunday.

Let’s Hear from NXT General Manager William Regal

William Regal, the longtime NXT General Manager, made his entrance to no theme music. Regal said he’s been with NXT since the very beginning – since day one. Regal said he started as an announcer and got to call the very first Takeover. Regal said he’s watched NXT become this wonderful, beautiful thing that it became. Regal talked about how they did shows around the United States to England to Japan to Australia and even his hometown of Blackpool where his nieces got to sit with him to watch the show. Regal said that every spare moment of time that wasn’t spent with his family was thinking about making NXT as correct as possible. Regal said that they worked hard for the wrestlers, the announcers, but for every fan that took them to Brooklyn to Houston to Portland and so on. Regal said he has finally decided with the chaos that’s gone on here, he’s given us everything he can give us. Regal said that because of all of us, the people in the back, the staff and the fans of at home, he doesn’t think he is capable of giving us what we deserve anymore, “and so I think it’s time for me to…” and here’s the interruption.

Karrion Kross, the NXT Champion, made his entrance with the NXT Title in his hands and he was wearing a suit. Kross handed the title to the lovely Scarlett so that he can say a few words.

Kross said that Scarlett and Kross knew that this day would come, but they didn’t know when. Kross said that they had to see it and feel it for themselves. Kross: “Are you crying, Mr. Regal?” Kross told Regal he was completely pathetic. Kross said that Regal knew that was Kross was saying was true when he said that Regal lost control. Kross showed at Takeover that he can control this place with chaos and violence. Kross told Regal to tell the people that he’s leaving and walk up the aisle and never come back. Kross wanted Regal to say that “Kross was right.” Kross: “Say Kross conquers all!” Kross said “tick tock” and here’s another interruption. It’s Samoa Joe!

Analysis: Samoa Joe was released by WWE in April. Two months later, he is back as part of the NXT brand. The rumor was out there over the last week, then on Monday/Tuesday there was more confirmation that Joe was coming back, so the fans in attendance knew and they gave Joe a big ovation.

Huge pop for Samoa Joe making his return in dress clothes! Joe got into the ring beside Regal and faced off with Kross immediately. The fans chanted “Joe” for the former two-time NXT Champion.

Joe said Mr. Regal wanted to speak to him. Regal said yeah, but he thought they could talk later. Regal said that he thinks everybody in NXT deserves a General Manager that can hold the position with the integrity and respect that it deserves, so Regal wants Joe to be the new General Manager of NXT. Regal said he can’t keep this up. Joe said his answer: “Absolutely not.”

Joe said that he knows Regal is weary and it has worn on him. Joe said that in the seven years that Regal has been in NXT, he brought the best talent in the world together including Joe. For the last seven years, Regal has helped make NXT an international phenomenon. Joe said that Regal casts a long shadow and has large shoes to fill. Joe made an offer saying that he made Regal’s life hell while he was here, but he afforded Regal respect. With that being said, Joe said that he would be happy to ensure that Regal deserves respect from everybody (Joe stared at Kross).

Regal said it’s an interesting idea. Regal said there would be some conditions saying that Joe cannot be a competitor and he cannot lay a hand on anyone…unless provoked (he stared at Kross). The fans cheered that a lot. Joe accepted his offer. Joe said there was only one more question left to answer as Joe asked Kross: “What are you still doing in this wrong? Tick Tock, young champion.” The fans chanted “Joe is gonna kill you” as Kross left with Scarlett. Fans chanted “na na na hey hey goodbye” at Kross. Joe shook hands with Regal to end the scene.

Analysis: That was a great opening segment. It’s rare for NXT to do a show opening promo like that because we are used to seeing it on Raw, but it’s not what they do in NXT. It made sense in this instance, though. I think a lot of us expected Joe to be the new NXT GM, but instead, he’s in this enforcer role that will likely work very well in NXT. I know Regal said that Joe can’t wrestle in this role and we know Joe has had concussion issues that have prevented him from wrestling for the last year and a half. However, maybe down the road, if Joe can get cleared to wrestle again, it can lead to him being a wrestler again. Joe is a very good talker, so he’ll do fine in a speaking role while I’m happy that Mr. Regal is still around as the GM. I think Karrion Kross did a terrific job as well as a heel champion that showed disrespect towards Regal, so then Joe got in Karrion’s face to shut him up. There were times when people didn’t know if Kross was a face or heel. I think it’s pretty clear he’s a heel now and that’s for the best when you have babyface authority figures. Welcome back to NXT, Samoa Joe. Please stay a while.

Samoa Joe returns to confront Karrion Kross: WWE NXT, June 15, 2021

The announce team of Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix and Wade Barrett hyped up what’s coming up on this week’s show.

(Commercial)

The Grizzled Young Veterans duo of Zack Gibson and James Drake did a promo about the Tornado Tag Team Match main event. I’m looking forward to it.

Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)

Poor Breezango didn’t even get a televised entrance. Barthel started with Breeze with Breeze hitting a jawbreaker and Fandango hit a dropkick. Aichner was back in with an armdrag into an armbar. Breezango came back with chops, a leg drop and he sent Aichner out of the ring. Breeze went for an attack over the top, Imperium moved and then Fandango hit a somersault dive onto both guys on the floor. Fandango up top, Barthel grabbed him and then Aichner tripped up Fandango to knock him off the turnbuckle. Fandango came back with a running knee to the ribs of Aichner.

(Commercial)

Aichner was in control with a body slam on Fandango. Barthel was back in with a knee to the ribs. Fandango rolled through into a pin attempt for two. Fandango knocked both opponents to the floor, then a back body drop on Barthel and Breeze got the hot tag against Aichner. There was a clothesline from Aichner on Breeze and then Breeze got an inside cradle for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)

Analysis: **3/4 It was a pretty good tag team match here with a bit of a surprising result. Then again, both teams are around the same level as teams that are former champions, so I guess it’s not that much of a shock. I just figured Imperium would win here.  You don’t see those kinds of finishes very often with Breeze taking a move after a hot tag and then hitting an inside cradle to win. Interesting way to book it, but I like it because it’s fresh.

After the match, Imperium beat up Breeze with Imperium hitting a boot to the face. Imperium hit their double team uppercut into a Powerbomb. Imperium put their banner over Breeze. Fandango was out on the floor and couldn’t save his partner. Imperium’s music played to end it.

Analysis: Lose the match and look strong after the match. There will probably be a rematch with Imperium getting the win.

There was a backstage scene with Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole being separated by security.  Regal was there telling them they’ll have a match at the Great American Bash show in a few weeks. Regal said that next week they can pick their opponents. Samoa Joe showed up to break up the fight, Cole shoved him and punched Kyle some more. Since Joe was shoved, Joe grabbed a hold of Cole and applied the Coquina Clutch to him to knock him out. Joe left with Cole out on the floor.

Analysis: Good way of setting up some matches while also having Joe getting involved early in his NXT run as an enforcer.

Kushida was shown walking backstage for his match up next.

(Commercial)

There was some video showing a charger that was at 1% and not moving. I don’t know what it was for.

Santos Escobar did a promo in the backstage area saying he had the North American Title in his hands, but then Bronson Reed had to put him through a wall. Escobar said that’s the only thing Reed could have done to put him down. Escobar said he’s going to snatch the North American Title from Reed’s hands.

A video aired about Trey Baxter leading to his NXT debut. His name was Blake Christian during his days on the indies.

NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Kushida vs. Trey Baxter

Kushida did some mat wrestling going for pin attempts with Baxter fighting out of it. Baxter got a pin attempt for two. Baxter with a roll through into a pin attempt. Baxter avoided some Kushida moves and hit a jumping headscissors. Baxter with a jumping kick followed by a springboard clothesline that sent Kushida out of the ring. They went back into the ring trying a spot by the apron, but then Baxter kicked Kushida in the leg. Baxter hit a twisting moonsault over the top to the floor onto Kushida. Kyle O’Reilly was on the stage watching the match.

(Commercial)

Kushida did an arm wringer, then an atomic drop and a running palm strike. Kushida with a hiptoss into a low dropkick. Baxter avoided a kick to the arm, but Kushida hit him with an enziguri kick. Baxter hit an impressive cartwheel into a jumping kick to the face. Kushida with strikes, then Kushida charged and Baxter hit a Spanish Fly slam! That was so good. Baxter hit a springboard 450 Splash for two. That looked awesome and it was a great nearfall. They battled on the turnbuckle, Kushida went for the arm submission and jumped off the ropes with the armbar. Kushida kicked the left arm of Baxter and Kushida applied the Hoverboard Lock leading to Baxter tapping out. Kushida won after 11 minutes.

Winner by submission: Kushida

Analysis: ***1/4 This was a really good match. Kushida always has strong showings while Baxter got plenty of offense and came close to winning a few times. This wasn’t the kind of match where Kushida dominated most of it and Baxter barely looked like he belonged. Baxter looked very competitive throughout the match. Kushida is so much fun to watch. He is one of my favorites in NXT. From an athletic standpoint and in terms of in-ring performance, there’s no question that Baxter can hang with the guys in NXT. I just hope he develops as a character. There’s plenty of time for that.

Post match, Kushida shook hands with Baxter and O’Reilly applauded Baxter along with a tap on the arm.

Kyle O’Reilly got in the ring saying he issued a challenge to face Kushida in a match. Kushida liked it.

Kushida vs. Trey Baxter – NXT Cruiserweight Title Match: WWE NXT, June 15, 2021

Analysis: There is Kyle’s opponent for next week. This was not set up as a Cruiserweight Title match, so it’s just a regular match. I think O’Reilly will win.

Franky Monet was backstage for an interview with her dog Presley. Monet said that next week will be the encore performance of her world premiere. Monet walked up to Jessi Kamea and Aliyah saying she watched their match, then complained about Robert Stone. When Stone showed up, Franky was nice to him instead of trashing him, so it showed that Franky was a sketchy person.

Analysis: This could lead to Kamea and Aliyah joining Franky as allies since the Robert Stone Brand thing isn’t working at all.

LA Knight’s championship celebration is up next.

(Commercial)

Mercedes Martinez said that she is the wrong person to mess with. Martinez said that she’s 1-1 against Xia Li. Martinez said next time she’ll knock Mei Ying out of her chair.

Million Dollar Championship Presentation

The Million Dollar Championship was in the ring in a briefcase. That led to the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase making his entrance for this championship presentation.

Dibiase said that last Sunday at In Your House, he found somebody most worthy of being the next Million Dollar Champion. There was a video about LA Knight, who beat Cameron Grimes at Takeover In Your House in a Ladder Match to become the Million Dollar Champion.

LA Knight was shown driving up to the building in an expensive car and walked right into the building and right into the ring from there. Barrett put over Knight a lot saying we need to “bow down” to LA Knight because he’s a Million Dollar Megastar and it’s a fact of life…yeah.

Knight spoke to Ted saying that it’s not often in life that we get to meet their heroes and in this business, it’s rare to share the ring with your hero. Knight said he doesn’t know how to describe what he’s thinking or feeling. Knight said his neck is banged up, his back is banged up and standing there with him and that belt right now – it was 100% worth it. Knight said when he used to watch wrestling as a kid with his father, Ted was constantly on his TV screen. Knight said when he was a kid, they’d wrestle in the backyard and one of them was always the Million Dollar Man and he had the action figure that came with that belt. Knight said he needed Ted there to express his gratitude, appreciation and say thank you. They shook hands. Dibiase said you’re welcome and you earned it. Knight said that this is the greatest moment of his wrestling career and it would be the honor of his life to have Ted crown him as the Million Dollar Champion. Dibiase put the title on Knight’s shoulder and shook his hand. There were some sparklers/pyro in the ring. Some fans chanted for Knight while other fans chanted for Cameron Grimes.

Knight said he’s learned so much from Ted in just the last few weeks. Knight said now he’s got everything that he wants, so now it’s time to drop what he doesn’t need. Knight punched Dibiase! Knight kicked the security guys down. Knight told Dibiase that he was the only true Million Dollar Champion. Dibiase was down selling the punch and Knight stomped on him. They were light kicks leading to Cameron Grimes making the save. Grimes with punches on Knight and a clothesline that sent him over the top to the floor. Knight grabbed his Million Dollar Title and left while Grimes checked on Dibiase. Grimes: “You’ve crossed the line and you’re gonna pay!” The fans chanted for Grimes.

Analysis: I thought this was great. Knight is a terrific heel that did a swerve in the promo by seeming genuine in how he talked to Dibiase at the start of it and then turning on  Ted to show that Knight is a guy that you can’t trust. This was also very effective in terms of helping to solidify the babyface turn of Cameron Grimes. The fans popped big for Grimes making the save, which shows that the face turn has worked very well for the man that shouts “to the moon” and has bragged about being rich. The story has worked. Ted Dibiase was a key part of it in not only crowning the Million Dollar Champion, but also for taking that punch and having Grimes save him to make Grimes look like a nice guy.

LA Knight ruthlessly turns on Ted DiBiase: WWE NXT, June 15, 2021

Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Raquel and Dakota talked about how they’ll win their match tonight and then become champions for a second time.

(Commercial)

The charging graphic was shown again this time showing it was at 11%.

There was a backstage scene with Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai walking backstage. Ember Moon and Indi Hartwell were being held back from attacking them. William Real and Samoa Joe were there.

Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter

Carter and Kacy are fun, energetic team to watch that just needs more chances. Kacy and Carter hit a double kick on Carter. Kacy with a necksnap leading to Carter hitting a dropkick. Gonzalez tagged in, used her power against Carter right away and then Carter pulled back on Raquel’s arms. Carter with a jawbreaker, then a dropkick and a Kacy tagged in. Kacy jumped on Raquel’s shoulders, then Raquel sent her off and Kacy hit an impressive headscissors on Raquel. Kai was back in, Kacy with a headscissors on her and Kacy hit a twisting splash over the top onto Kai. Carter tagged in with a cross body block on Gonzalez and Kai as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Gonzalez was in control as she worked over Kacy with a backbreaker across the knee. Gonzalez sent Kacy into the turnbuckle and Kai tagged in with a running boot to the face. Gonzalez with a running splash, then a spinning slam and Kai tagged in with a running kick. Kacy sent Kai into the apron. Carter got the hot tag with forearms, then a dropkick and a running forearm. Carter with a dropkick leading to a splash. Carter with a roll through into a kick to the head. Carter with a running kick on Kai for a two count. Kai with a Scorpion Kick to the head, Gonzalez tagged back in and Carter went for a move off the top, but Gonzalez hit a spinning sidewalk slam for two. Gonzalez held Carter and Kai tagged in for a double knee attack Lung Blower for two with Kacy making the save. Carter fought back, Kacy tagged in and Carter flipped Kacy up into a splash on Kai. Kacy dropkicked Gonzalez out of the ring. Carter with a kick on Gonzalez and Kacy with a headscissors on Gonzalez. Carter with a kick to Kai, Kacy tagged in and there was a neckbreaker/450 Splash combo, but Gonzalez broke up the pin attempt. Gonzalez sent both opponents into the barricade. Kai kicked Kacy. Kai lifted up Kacy for the GTK for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai

Analysis: **3/4 A pretty good tag team match here. There was no doubt in my mind that Gonzalez and Kai would win, but it was nice to see Kacy and Carter get plenty of offense in the first half of the match. I know Kai is known for her kicks, but Carter did a lot of kicks throughout the match as well. I’m glad that Kai got the win since Gonzalez usually wins the matches for her team.

Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs. Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro: WWE NXT, June 15, 2021

The Ever-Rise guys watched a clip of Hit Row attacking them earlier in the day. Ever-Rise warned Hit Row. That should set up a tag team match.

Io Shirai was shown walking backstage.

(Commercial)

The charging graphic was at 21% now.

There was a commercial for the Great American Bash themed episode on Tuesday, July 6. Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly will take place at that show.

Next week on NXT: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Kushida. Adam Cole is in singles action.

Let’s Hear from Io Shirai

Io Shirai made her entrance. Shirai hasn’t appeared that much since losing the NXT Women’s Title to Raquel Gonzalez in April. Shirai was involved in a segment with Poppy last week. Shirai: “I’m back.” Shirai said that she feels good and her next target is…here’s the interruption.

It was Candice LeRae, who is one half of the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. Candice said she is no longer an uncrowned champion and since Shirai is no longer an unbeatable champion, it’s back to the bottom for Shirai. LeRae said she still can’t stand Shirai and she picked the wrong time to screw with Candice. That led to Indi Hartwell attacking Shirai from behind as well. Shirai kicked Candice out of the ring and then Shirai hit the 619 kick on Hartwell. LeRae held Shirai, so Hartwell kicked Shirai to the floor. LeRae drove Shirai back first into the ring apron. Hartwell cleared off the announce table. LeRae told Hartwell to deliver an elbow drop, Indi was a bit apprehensive and then Zoey Stark showed up to attack Hartwell. Stark delivered punches, then a jumping kick and Shirai came back with a springboard missile dropkick. Stark shook Shirai’s hand with Shirai thanking her for the save.

Analysis: The LeRae/Shirai rivalry goes back a long way, so it made sense to revive it last week and continue the story with Indi getting involved here. I like Stark saving Shirai because there’s mutual respect there and it’s nice to see Stark involved in a storyline. This should set up a tag team match.

Samoa Joe and William Regal were shown walking with Mckenzie Mitchell trying to interview them, but it was cut off. It aired after the break.

Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher were shown walking backstage with MSK there eating popcorn. MSK wished them good luck. Thatcher had a bit of popcorn and took the bucket.

Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher made their entrance for the main event.

(Commercial)

There was a video letting us know that the Diamond Mine will be “opening next week.” Sure.

They showed William Regal and Samoa Joe in their office with Mckenzie Mitchell trying to interview them. Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory walked into the ring with Gargano saying it was so good that Joe was there. Gargano said that Regal has lost total control. Theory still had the Diesel glove on from In Your House on Sunday. Joe told Johnny to get out. Pete Dunne walked into the room. Dunne had a staredown with Joe. Regal: “Gentlemen, please.” The staredown continued.

Analysis: There are a lot of interesting stories they can do with Joe in this role. I’m excited about it.

Grizzled Young Veterans wanted to do a pre-match promo, but Ciampa and Thatcher attacked them. The bell rang to start the match.

Tornado Tag Team Match: Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake)

A Tornado Tag Team Match means there are no tags, no countouts and you can only win by pinfall or submission. The graphic didn’t list “no disqualifications” but that’s part of it too.

Ciampa and Thatcher threw the GYV guys into eachother. Thatcher and Ciampa each delivered punches on the opponents with the fans cheering them. Ciampa and Thatcher went for armbars, but GYV broke free to the floor. GYV tossed Thatcher over the top to the floor. Ciampa came back with chops and a double clothesline. Ciampa with running clotheslines on both guys, but then Drake and Gibson hit a dropkick combo. Drake with a running attack on Thatcher to knock him off the apron to the floor. Gibson whipped Thatcher into the barricade and Ciampa was sent back first into the barricade. Thatcher choked Drake by the ropes, but then Gibson hit a knee to the back. Gibson with a thrust to the throat of Ciampa and Drake clipped the leg of Thatcher. GYV hit a double team neckbreaker on Thatcher for two. Ciampa back in with a forearm and clothesline to send Gibson to the floor. Ciampa with two clotheslines, then a running knee. Ciampa threw both opponents into the barricade on the floor. Ciampa with a running knee attack on both guys on the floor. Back in the ring, Thatcher and Ciampa took turns doing running forearms/clotheslines on both opponents.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Thatcher unleashing forearms on both opponents, but then Gibson hit a dropkick into a flatliner by Drake. Submission attempt by Drake hooking the arms of Thatcher, but then Ciampa was back in with the save. Gibson with a thumb to the eye of Ciampa and Thatcher hit a belly to belly suplex on Gibson. Thatcher with a kick on Drake. Ciampa with a kick to Thatcher by accident due to Gibson moving. Drake with a kick to Ciampa. Drake up top, Ciampa fought out of a move and Ciampa hit a suplex on Gibson. Ciampa hit the Air Raid Crash slam off the middle rope for two. Ciampa battled Drake on the apron as they exchanged chops, Ciampa with a kick and Drake fought him back. Gibson had Ciampa on the shoulders leading to a suicide dive into a Doomsday Device by GYV on Ciampa! Wow, that was impressive as Drake hit a forearm to knock Ciampa down. Gibson fought Thatcher in the ring, they exchanged submission attempts and Gibson drove Thatcher to the turnbuckle, which led to Drake hitting a running dropkick. Drake lifted Thatcher and Gibson hit the double knees for an Elevated Backstabber for two on Thatcher because Ciampa made the save. Gibson suplexed Ciampa onto the hood of the announce table. It’s thin, but it sounded loud when it broke. Ciampa picked up Gibson on the announce table and gave him an Air Raid Crash slam on the table. The table did not break. Ouch. Drake was left alone as Thatcher/Ciampa chopped him and Ciampa delivered the Fairy Tale Ending. Thatcher applied an Ankle Lock while Ciampa applied an armbar and Drake tapped out to the double submission. Big win in a match that went 17 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher

Analysis: **** This was an awesome match. I loved the chaos involved. I was a bit surprised by the lack of weapons used during the match because they didn’t go for chairs or the popular kendo sticks we see all the time. They did use the announce table and the barricades around the ring, but the lack of those other weapons is something I thought I’d see. With that said, the way they told this story by using wrestling moves, tag team spots and wearing the other side down was really cool to see. When it looked like GYV might get the win after some cool double team moves from Gibson/Drake, there was a big save by Ciampa and that led to the comeback. Ciampa taking out Gibson on the table took out Gibson and left Drake all alone in a legal situation since it was a Tornado Tag. That’s good storytelling right there. I like seeing a Tornado Tag Team Match once in a while. It shouldn’t happen all the time, but every few months is good. I think if this match took place at Takeover on Sunday then people would be talking about it as the second or third best match on that show.

Ciampa and Thatcher celebrated the win with some posing including “Toothless Timmy” showing off the teeth and “Old Man Ciampa” talking to the camera. They could be in line for a title shot soon.

Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. GYV– Tornado Tag Match: WWE NXT, June 15, 2021

William Regal and Samoa Joe were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell in the parking lot. Regal said he thinks things are going to be a little different around here. Joe shook Regal’s hand saying “night one of many” and they left in separate cars. End show.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Tommaso Ciampa/Timothy Thatcher
  2. Grizzled Young Veterans
  3. Samoa Joe/William Regal/Karrion Kross

 

The Scoreboard

This week: 8.25 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2021 Average: 7.55

 

Final Thoughts

This was a great show. I think the key thing is the non-wrestling segments really stood out as a nice mix to complete the really good matches that took place. It was great to see Samoa Joe back. The rumors of his return, but he’s not the GM because William Regal is still there (that’s fine with me) and Joe has a role as an enforcer of sorts. That segment with Regal/Joe and Karrion Kross may have been Karrion’s best non-wrestling segment so far. The other non-wrestling segment I really enjoyed was LA Knight attacking Ted Dibiase with Cameron Grimes making the save to a HUGE pop from the crowd. The face turn of Grimes has worked brilliantly. I didn’t know it was coming months ago when Dibiase first showed up, but it has played out really well.

There were only four matches on the show, which is low for NXT because they usually have more than that and three of them were tag team matches. I thought the Tornado Tag Team Match was outstanding with Ciampa/Thatcher beating GYV in what was a very physical match. Great ending with Ciampa taking out Gibson first leading to Drake being unable to prevent a 2 on 1 attack since it was Tornado Tag Team rules. As I wrote in the review, I think if that Tornado Tag Team Match took place at Takeover then it would have been the second or third best match on that show. Kushida’s match with the debuting Trey Baxter was awesome too. Kushida never has a bad match with Baxter showing he can hold his own. Next week we get to look forward to Kushida vs. Kyle O’Reilly, which should be amazing.

I think having some more fans there helped this week’s show just like it helped at Takeover. Hopefully they can increase the crowd size by going back to Full Sail University soon or do something to get even more noise in the building. NXT looks small compared to Raw or Smackdown especially when the crowds come back. The presentation of the show is just as important as the in-ring product. I’m interested to see what changes happen throughout the summer.

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John Canton

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