Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. My apologies for not doing a review last week. Life got busy and I just didn’t have time. It was just an average show. 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.
The next Takeover event is NXT Takeover XXX (that means it’s the 30th Takeover, not a bad Vin Diesel movie) on Saturday, August 22, so we have a few more weeks of NXT until we get there. This show was taped last Wednesday after last week’s show.
The show began with highlights of last week’s show that including the Undisputed Era returning to NXT.
The show took place at Full Sail University, which is common for NXT, and the developmental wrestlers surrounded the ring as they stood behind the plexiglass. The announcers are Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix and Tom Phillips chiming in as well. I have been asked about this in the past, so in case you’re not aware, Mauro is at home in California, Beth is at home in North Carolina and Phillips is there in Orlando
Rhea Ripley vs. Dakota Kai
The winner of this match gets a shot at the NXT Women’s Title held by Io Shirai. Ripley has blonde hair now. Ripley’s Australian and Kai is from New Zealand.
Ripley used her power early with clotheslines and a standing dropkick along with some chops. Ripley hit an impressive delayed vertical suplex. When Kai tried to avoid a charging attack, Ripley hit a wheelbarrow facebuster (thanks Mauro) for a two count. Ripley continued to dominate with a leg scissors around the ribs, so when Kai got out of that, Ripley hit another clothesline. Kai was unable to get going as Ripley kicked Kai into the barricade followed by a hard slam into the edge of the apron. That led to a break.
Kai finally got some offense going with a boot to the face. Ripley with a kick to the ribs, both women were down and Ripley continued with multiple clothesline and a running dropkick to the back of Kai’s head. They exchanged strikes, Kai got in a kick to the head, Ripley with an elbow and Kai hit a Scorpion Kick. Ripley managed to come back with a popup toss slam for a two count. Kai with an incredible DDT counter to the Riptide that led to a nice nearfall. Kai countered a submission by sending Ripley into the turnbuckle and then a boot to the face. They battled on the apron, Ripley punched Kai down and Mercedes Martinez showed up with a kick to Ripley’s ribs to send Rhea into the ring post. The referee was checking on Kai, so he never saw it. Kai hit the Go To Kick (GTK) for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dakota Kai
Analysis: ***1/2 This was very good with the more powerful Ripley using her power advantage early while Kai was crafty as the heel that found a way to win in a cheap manner. I think Ripley was on offense for about 85% of the match, so this was a case of Kai finding a way to win rather than having a dominant performance. It keeps Ripley strong in defeat and so does the cheap ending with Mercedes Martinez making an appearance. The result made sense since Kai is a heel, Shirai is a face and Kai has done a cheap attack on Shirai in the past.
The win means that Kai will challenge Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Title at NXT Takeover 30 on August 22.
Post match, Mercedes Martinez attacked Ripley again with an Air Raid Crash slam, which drew boos from the crowd. Martinez is part of the Robert Stone Brand and Ripley had some history with them.
There was a clip from earlier in the day with special guest Pat McAfee talking to WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, who works for the NXT brand.
Bronson Reed vs. Shane Thorne
Reed has already qualified for the NXT North American Title Ladder Match at NXT Takeover 30. They got into a slugfest early as they exchanged forearms to the head and Thorne hit a dropkick that sent Reed out of the ring. Thorne hit an impressive suicide dive onto Reed with Thorne hitting him with his back. Thorne got more offense in the ring with a running attack on Reed, who was against the turnbuckle. Thorne got a nearfall with a Shining Wizard knee to the face. Reed took over with a headbutt, press slam and senton splash. Thorne ran right into a Reed clothesline and Reed hit a Death Valley Driver. Reed went up and hit a Tsunami Splash for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bronson Reed
Analysis: **1/4 It was a hard-hitting shorter match to put over Reed as the bigger guy and the one getting a push. Reed continues to impress by showing off his agility for a 300 pounder. Thorne put up a good fight, but we all knew Reed was getting the win here. It continued the positive momentum for Reed.
There was a shot of the Breezango duo Fandango and Tyler Breeze arrive at the arena earlier in the day. The Legado del Fantasma group beat up Fandango and Breeze. They tossed Fandango in their truck. Do they want to learn some dance lessons? Guess so.
The Robert Stone Brand trio of Stone, Mercedes Martinez and Aliyah were shown walking outside. Stone said that they are not doing with Rhea Ripley, Aliyah said “bye” and that was it.
A clip was shown of Dexter Lumis winning a triple threat match to make the NXT North American Title match. After the match, Finn Balor hit a 1916 DDT on Timothy Thatcher after the match.
NXT North American Title Qualifying Match: Oney Lorcan vs. Damian Priest vs. Ridge Holland
It was noted by Phillips that Holland is from NXT UK and has yet to be pinned when he was on that brand. There were some strikes right from the beginning with Priest getting a lot of offense including a leaping flatliner on Holland, but then Holland kicked him out of the ring. Lorcan sent Holland out of the ring and hit a dive over the top onto both guys. Holland hit an impressive head/arm overhead suplex on Lorcan and suplex where he hooked Priest’s arms. Holland knocked Priest out of the ring with a clothesline and that led to a break.
The match returned from a break with Lorcan hitting a dive off the ropes onto both guys and Lorcan hit a double blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count. That was great. Lorcan continued the offensive moves with a running forearm on Priest for two. Holland hit an overhead suplex on Lorcan for a two count. Holland showed off his power with a gutwrench Powerbomb on the big man Priest for a two count after Lorcan broke it up. There were more brutal strikes between Holland and Lorcan, which they both seemed to enjoy as Holland hit a huge clothesline with Lorcan doing a flip bump. Priest with a sitout Chokeslam on Holland and Priest finished off Lorcan with the Reckoning for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Damian Priest
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a very physical match with a lot of strikes by everybody in the match. I liked the finish quite a bit. These three guys worked well together in terms of the style of match. Priest is the most established and most likely to get a push, so it made sense that he would win. Lorcan always good matches. He just doesn’t seem to get the big wins. There are high hopes for Holland in WWE, but he’s still early in his career. It was a decisive win for Priest, who could be the next NXT North American Champion.
The win means that Priest is in the North American Championship Ladder Match at NXT Takeover 30.
Keith Lee vs. Cameron Grimes
Lee is the NXT Champion in this non-title match. Grimes was doing the chickenshit heel routine and hit a moonsault on the floor. That led to a break. Back from break, Lee was dominant with strikes and a running cross body block. Grimes managed to counter a power move with an inside cradle for two. Nice counter as Grimes got another two count while putting his feet on the ropes. They did a cool spot where they ran the ropes with Grimes landing on top for a move called the Collision Course slam that Grimes does. Lee took over with a hard double chop to the chest with Grimes selling it in a big way. Lee no-sold some punches leading to three huge clotheslines. Lee hit the Spirit Bomb for the pinfall win after about 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Keith Lee
Analysis: *** A dominant showing by the NXT Champion Lee with Grimes getting some offense in. It’s NXT, so the champions don’t lose non-title matches as much as they do on the other WWE shows. I think if this was seven minutes it would have been better than 12 minutes. It’s nothing against Grimes, who is very good. I just think Lee should look more dominant and win in under ten minutes in a match like this.
Post match, Lee was in the ring with the NXT Title as the lights went out in the arena except for the spotlight on Lee in the ring. Scarlett’s voice was heard saying something in a foreign language. If it’s not Greek or French, I have no idea. Karrion Kross appeared on screen showing his eyes. Kross said that they must be doing this the hard way. Kross was shown choking out a wrestler and there were a few other wrestlers on the ground. Kross: “Tick tock.” Lee just stared without saying a word.
Analysis: It’s obvious they are going with Lee vs. Kross as the NXT Title match at Takeover, but it’s not official yet.
They are using the Metallica song “Moth Into Flame” for the NXT Takeover 30 theme song. I usually don’t mention stuff like that, but I’m a Metallica fan.
It was mentioned that Dexter Lumis has an ankle injury, so he’s out of the North American Title Ladder Match at Takeover. The NXT GM William Regal noted that Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano complained about not being pinned in those matches. Regal said that the four men who weren’t pinned or submitted in their triple threat matches will have two singles matches to determine the other participants in the NXT North American Title match.
Analysis: It would not be a bad idea to get Balor and Gargano in that ladder match. They could also go with Ridge Holland or whoever loses the triple threat match next week.
The El Legado del Fantasma group showed up with Fandango, who they had in the DREADED WHITE VAN earlier. Santos Escobar, the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, did a promo saying that Lucha Libre is art, not some gimmick to be exploited for easy merch money. Escobar said that unfortunately, people like Breezango exist. They threw Fandango in the ring. Escobar noted that Breezango mocks their culture and they didn’t just spit in the face of their family, they spit in Escobar’s face, so the disrespect starts now. Tyler Breeze went into the ring, but he was beaten up by Juaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza beat him up. Escobar called out “Swerve” Scott and warned him that if he speaks his name again then this will be his future.
Analysis: I love the way this group is booked. Escobar’s promos are consistently good. They are among the best heels in all of WWE because of how strong they are. They could also be a force in the tag team division down the line as well.
There was a video package about the success of The Undisputed Era in NXT over the last three years.
Damian Priest was interview outside the arena saying he’s been after the NXT North American Title for a long time, so at Takeover 30 the “reign of infamy” begins. Bronson Reed showed up to congratulate Priest for the victory and said he’ll see him at Takeover. Priest said there won’t be a fluke kind of situation for Reed, so Reed was offended. Priest said that to him, Reed isn’t that big and challenged him to a singles match. Reed said “anytime” so Priest left.
There was a special guest on the commentary table with former NFL punter/current broadcaster Pat McAfee, who sat beside Tom Phillips in the arena. They noted that McAfee got married recently. McAfee said that it feels good to be there after what happened on his show recently.
Tegan Nox vs. Indi Hartwell
Nox started with a headbutt and then Hartwell sent Nox into the top rope. Hartwell got a two count with a sidewalk slam. Hartwell got a nearfall after a boot to the face. Nox with a takedown followed by some punches. Nox with a corner splash followed by the Shiniest Wizard knee for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tegan Nox
Analysis: *1/2 An easy win for Nox to give her some positive momentum after some recent losses. Hartwell is still early in her career, so she’s there to put people over. I like Nox a lot as a babyface that will hopefully be a Women’s Champion in the future. She’s got all the tools to be there.
Next week on NXT:
* Cameron Grimes vs. Kushida vs. ??? in a Triple Threat NXT North American Championship Qualifying Match
* Damian Priest vs. Bronson Reed
* Karrion Kross vs. Danny Burch (he was one of the guys that Kross beat up earlier)
It’s main event time, so I’ll go play by play for this match with Imperium defending the NXT Tag Team Titles against Undisputed Era. McAfee said he had beef with Undisputed Era, but that’s gone now. The Imperium guys entered first as the champions and then the Undisputed Era foursome entered together. Phillips kept talking to McAfee about his story with Adam Cole with McAfee saying he accepted the apology.
The Cole/McAfee angle happened on Pat’s talk show two weeks ago when he had Cole on as a guest. McAfee ripped into Cole repeatedly and also mocked Cole for being short. Cole flipped out, started swearing and walked out on the show. It was obviously just part of a storyline. The above video is what they showed on last week’s NXT broadcast about it.
Imperium (Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner) vs. Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) (w/Adam Cole and Roderick Strong)
Aichner and Kyle (easier to type than O’Reilly) exchanged punches with Kyle connecting with kicks to the leg of Aichner. Fish worked over Aichner with punches with McAfee saying that his point about Cole was that Cole got a lot of help to win matches. Aichner hit a backbreaker on Fish for a two count. Fish worked over Barthel with some kicks while McAfee was continuing to trash Cole. There were quick tags from Fish and Kyle with Fish hitting a splash over the top onto Barthel. As McAfee kept on ripping Cole, Beth Phoenix said she didn’t want to talk to McAfee anymore. Aichner back in with a spinebuster and Barthel with a kick to the chest. That led to a break.
The show returned with Aichner holding Fish in a chinlock with Cole staring at McAfee. Fish broke free with a back body drop to the floor, but then Aichner prevented a tag. Fish slammed Aichner, Kyle got the hot tag and hit a running knee on Barthel, who was legal. Kyle with kicks to the chest followed by a sweep kick. Kyle with a forearm on Barthel, a knee to Aichner and Kyle took out both guys at the same time. Kyle with a forearm on Aichner to the floor. Kyle wrenched the knee and a kick to the back of the leg. Kyle went up top and dropped a knee to the back of Barthel followed by a leg lock submission. McAfee kept on making short jokes about Cole, who couldn’t hear it, but the other announcers hated it. Aichner hit a springboard moonsault on Kyle to break the hold. Cole went over to McAfee to tell him that he could hear his comments, he said he thought they buried the hatchet and McAfee said he was just talking trash and having fun. McAfee called Cole an “angry elf” as he left, so Cole threw a bottle of water on him. Cole dared McAfee to do something as referees and officials showed up to try to break it up, including Triple H and Shawn Michaels. The match continued with Kyle being distracted and Aichner knocked him off the apron. Aichner picked up Fish in a Powerbomb position, Barthel jumped off with a forearm and that was enough to beat Fish. That was the end of the match 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Imperium (Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner)
Analysis: *** The match was solid, but not great considering the quality of the teams. It also felt like it was in the background a bit because of the Cole/McAfee situation. It’s weird seeing the Undisputed Era in a babyface role in NXT now, but O’Reilly was awesome after he got the hot tag. The last two minutes were tough to get through since they focused on the announce table instead of the match, so I had no idea who the legal men were. Imperium retaining is fine, but it’s not like the match got the attention it deserved.
The focus went back to the chaos around the announce table with Cole and McAfee separated by Shawn Michaels, Triple H and WWE referees. McAfee looked like he was about to leave, but then he turned around. McAfee told Cole that nothing is ever going to change and Cole is going to be tiny, itty bitty, short, little bitch. Cole was pissed off, Cole was by the announce table being held back and McAfee punted him in the face or close to the face anyway. McAfee was pushed away by referees as he left the building. Michaels checked on Cole, who sold it like he was knocked out. McAfee was a punter during his NFL career, so it was a fitting move for him.
Analysis: I thought this was excellent. McAfee comes across as a natural heel in the story because of the disrespectful things he has said about Cole as well as the repeated short jokes. If there were fans there, I think this would have worked really well because the fans would have hated McAfee for being a jerk to a NXT star like Cole, so it would be easy to get fans to boo McAfee here. The way they set up that running kick (like a punt that Randy Orton does) was clever because Cole was being held back on the announce table. I like how this was done.
On Friday afternoon, WWE made a new match for Takeover XXX: Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee. It’s official.
Analysis: It will be McAfee’s first ever professional wrestling match. McAfee is a lifelong fan that has been around the NXT brand for a few years working pre-shows and stuff like that, so I guess WWE likely talked to him about doing it. Cole’s one of the best in the ring, which means McAfee gets to work with a guy that’s about as good as it gets and that’s a good thing for Pat, who will have the first match of his life at Takeover.
Three Stars of the Show
- Dakota Kai
- Rhea Ripley
- Adam Cole/Pat McAfee
I give this show a 7.5 out of 10.
This was a pretty good show with the longer matches all being fun to watch. I liked the non-wrestling segments more than usual with the Adam Cole/Pat McAfee really standing out more than anything else on this episode. I thought they did an awesome job with that in terms of making this angle look real and it probably fooled some people along the way. Now they have a match at NXT Takeover as well. I thought the Kai vs. Ripley match was the best of the night and it was the biggest singles win of Kai’s career to set up for a title match. An enjoyable episode of NXT overall, but not necessarily anything great.
The lineup for WWE NXT Takeover XXX on August 22 looks like this so far:
NXT Women’s Title: Io Shirai (c) vs. Dakota Kai
NXT North American Title Five-Man Ladder Match: Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. three more wrestlers.
Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee
They will likely be adding Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross for the NXT Title as well.
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