Welcome to the WWE NXT review for this week.
This episode is taking place at the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Check out my WWE NXT review archive here. Let’s get to it.
The show began with a shot of the Capitol Wrestling Center. The fans were behind the barricades as usual. This show was taped at some point last week. I did not see spoilers. The announcers were Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix.
Mandy Rose made her entrance with Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne. This group doesn’t have a name yet. This is Mandy’s first NXT match since returning to NXT this summer. Mandy looked incredible as usual. Sarray was up next.
Mandy Rose (w/Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne) vs. Sarray
Rose refused a handshake to show she’s a heel now after being a face for a few years. With shorts like that, she’s never a heel to me. Just saying. Rose got a waistlock takedown followed by some push-ups on the back. Sarray got some offense going with a dropkick. Sarray got a Fisherman’s Suplex bridging pin for a two count. Rose avoided a top rope attack and that led to Rose getting a suplex for two shortly after that. Rose hit an impressive fallaway slam as fans chanted for both women. Sarray applied a reverse STF submission with Mandy using a thumb to the face to get out of it. The two women exchanged strikes, Sarray with a dropkick and then another dropkick that sent Rose out of the ring. Rose was grabbing her face, then Jayne and Dolin covered Mandy’s face with a towel, so the referee counted Mandy out giving Sarray the win after seven minutes.
Winner by countout: Sarray
Analysis: ** They worked hard to have a competitive match until the lame finish happened. I get what they were going for with Mandy being a heel that is obsessed with her beauty, but that’s a lame way to end the match. I think Mandy is a better performer as a heel rather than the face role she had been in the last couple of years. Sarray is a likable face that has needed a rivalry, so I guess she has that now.
Mandy was helped to the back by her friends. They replayed the spot.
Analysis: Mandy is a heel obsessed with her looks, so that’s the gimmick. It’s not like she was really hurt.
Tommaso Ciampa said he knows you can’t with them all. Ciampa didn’t like Ridge and the boys putting Timmy on the shelf indefinitely. Ciampa said he is NXT, so he fights for his home, he fights for his family and he’s dedicating this match to Toothless Timmy (Thatcher). Ciampa said when he’s motivated, he is scary.
A graphic was shown of the colorful new NXT logo. It will debut on a live NXT episode in two weeks, I believe. That’s when the Lumis/Hartwell wedding is.
Duke Hudson started a feud with Kyle O’Reilly after a backstage interaction recently, so now they have a match. Duke is a 6’5” guy that NXT is going to use more often as they plan on developing more new talent.
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Duke Hudson
Hudson smiled when he noticed Kyle had taped up ribs on the left side. Hudson used his power to counter a sleeper attempt with Kyle landing on the left side with the bad ribs. The big man Hudson was attacking Kyle with repeated punches and knees to the ribs. Hudson kept on working over Kyle with a hard whip into the turnbuckle with Kyle taking a Bret Hart-like sternum bump. Kyle hit a couple of moves, but Hudson used his power for a rib-breaker into the knee.
The match returned with Hudson remaining in control, but Kyle tried to chop down the bigger man with kicks. Hudson ran the ropes right into a double axhandle by Hudson. Kyle applied a guillotine sleeper, the fans wanted a tap and Hudson powered out of it. Hudson got a two count after an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Kyle wrenched both legs against the middle rope. Kyle went op top, he hit a knee drop to the left knee and Kyle applied a kneebar submission leading to Hudson tapping out. It went about 12 minutes.
Winner by submission: Kyle O’Reilly
Analysis: **3/4 It was a fine match with Kyle selling very well throughout to make Hudson look like an impressive heel. This was about having the newer guy in Hudson putting on an impressive showing against the more well-known talent like Kyle and showing that Hudson was a guy to reckon with in the future. Hudson got a lot of offense. I like a lot of his moves. You can see Hudson has huge potential. Kyle did a nice job of making the babyface comeback leading to the win.
Ilja Dragunov, the new NXT UK Champion, was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
There was a mention of Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell getting married on NXT on September 14. Beth Phoenix was wearing an IN-DEX t-shirt, Beth handed Wade a shirt and Wade tossed it into the crowd.
Let’s Hear from Ilja Dragunov
The new NXT UK Champion Ilja Dragunov made his entrance with the title on his left shoulder. Dragunov was limping on his way to the ring and still had a visible cut on his face. I rated his match against WALTER at NXT Takeover 36 at five stars out of five. It’s the WWE Match of the Year so far. The fans chanted “you deserve it” to Dragunov before he said a word.
Dragunov said before he goes back home, he wanted us to see that he is still alive. They chanted “please don’t go” to him. Dragunov said he feels more alive than he’s ever felt before. Dragunov said he feels alive like a man that just survived the most intense battle of his life as fans chanted “Dragunov” for him. Dragunov said he liked it here and you will see him soon again, but now he has shown the world what it takes to be the NXT UK Champion. Dragunov said it was about the will, the passion, the soul, the struggle and he wondered who was willing to go through all of that to take this away from him? Dragunov said as we all saw, the ring general (WALTER) has fallen, and “Long Live The Czar.” That was it.
Analysis: A simple promo to give Dragunov a bit of a celebration as a new champion. The fans didn’t want to see Dragunov go, but he’s off to NXT UK again. I think he has won over a lot of fans that didn’t know him that well before the last month. It might also help the NXT UK brand because while it’s not that popular compared to WWE’s three main brands, maybe some fans will watch it more often in the future to see Dragunov and their other stars. Dragunov is one of the most likable babyfaces in all of WWE.
Kay Lee Ray was interviewed by Arash Markazi. KLR said that she chose one of the biggest moments possible to let the world know that she’s here in the United States. Markazi asked if that means she is here full time, so Ray said that this division needs a boost and a top player like her. Markazi cut her off mentioning other women. KLR said she didn’t care about any of them while ripping on the other women in the division. KLR said that William Regal knows exactly what she is capable of. KLR said that she dominated in the UK and now she’ll dominate in the USA. That ended it.
Analysis: Kay Lee Ray is very talented, so she should be confident. She’s 29 years old, has that heavy Scottish accent, she has a lot of experience wrestling and did have a lot of success in NXT UK, so she’s a great addition to the NXT women’s division. I like interviews like this to learn more about talents and in this case, it’s clear KLR will be a heel.
Carmelo Hayes was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell with Carmelo holding his contract for a shot at any title in NXT. Hayes mentioned all the champions in NXT. Elektra Lopez walked up to him saying that North American Title is for Santos Escobar to win, not Hayes. Escobar and crew showed up saying he heard Hayes mentioning the North American Title, Escobar said he’ll give him a pass to let him walk and told Carmelo to stay out of his business. Santos and the Legado crew left. Hayes: “Did he just threaten me?” It set up a match for next week.
Grayson Waller & Drake Maverick vs. Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner)
Waller is a taller Australian guy making his NXT debut. Aichner took control with a clothesline on Waller. Waller was wearing boxing trunks and threw some good punches, but Barthel hit him with an overhead suplex. Maverick got the hot tag after a few minutes, Maverick cleaned house and Waller tagged himself in at a bad time. Maverick wasn’t happy about it. Barthel took care of Maverick on the floor and Imperium hit the Imperial Bomb (forearm into a Powerbomb) for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner)
Analysis: *3/4 A win for the established Imperium team while Waller is just a rookie in NXT that will have to learn to figure out how to get wins. The pairing with Maverick should work in terms of building a babyface team in NXT while Maverick’s quirkiness will help build Waller’s personality.
Johnny Gargano was backstage with Indi Hartwell, who told Johnny to give Dexter Lumis a chance and Lumis just stared at Gargano.
The foursome of Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, Ridge Holland and Danny Burch did a promo talking about their rivals. Holland said that Ciampa can tell Thatcher how motivated they are while in the hospital. These guys need a group.
There was a backstage scene with Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolan attacking Sarray in a room. That feud between Mandy Rose and her girls will continue with Sarray.
Johnny Gargano was joined by Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis aka IN-DEX with the announcers wondering if Gargano will ever trust Lumis.
Analysis: That’s a simple storyline that will build over time. Gargano won’t trust Lumis, but then there will come a time where Lumis will do something to save Gargano to earn that trust.
Johnny Gargano (w/Dexter Lumis & Indi Hartwell) vs. LA Knight
It was a matchup between heels although Knight clearly gets booed more out of the two men. They should announce LA Knight from Hollywood, not wherever he is from in Maryland. His name is LA so say he’s from Hollywood. Anyway, the crowd was chanting “you suck” at Knight, who hit Johnny with a shoulder tackle. Gargano got some offense going with an atomic drop and a dropkick. There were “Johnny Wrestling” chants for Gargano. Knight managed to take control with an elbow, but then Johnny sent Knight to the floor and Gargano hit a suicide dive on the floor. They showed Hartwell at ringside staring at Lumis instead of watching the action. Back in the ring, Knight sent Gargano throat first into the top rope. Knight hit a slingshot shoulder tackle in the ring.
The match returned both guys going for nearfalls including Knight getting a two count after a neckbreaker. When Gargano wanted a back body drop, Knight took him down with a head whip into the mat. Gargano hit a sweet flatliner off the middle ropes. Gargano got a two count after a slingshot Spear for two. Gargano got more nearfalls, but then Knight hit a slam off the shoulders for two. Gargano went for a Gargano Escape submission, Knight got out of it and Knight punched Gargano off the apron, right into Dexter’s arms. Gargano told Lumis to get out of his business. After Lumis saved Gargano, Johnny hit a superkick on Knight. Lumis wanted to touch hands, Gargano reached out and that allowed Knight to hit the BFT front neckbreaker for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: LA Knight
Analysis: ***1/4 A very good match that was no surprise considering Gargano was involved in a longer match. The finish was a creative way to continue the story between Gargano and Lumis with Dexter trying to help, but it ended up costing Gargano the match. I liked how it was an even match the whole way with Knight showing he can hang in there with Gargano and Knight got the big win.
Post match, Johnny Gargano was mad at Lumis and Hartwell at ringside.
MSK, the NXT Tag Team Champions, were backstage in NXT GM William Regal’s office. Nash Carter said that they wanted to give Lorcan/Burch a Tag Team Title match. Wes Lee said that they are fighting champions. Regal said he was going to take away Lorcan/Burch’s shot at the titles, but then Regal said if that’s what they want then the match is on for next week.
There was a video letting us know that Mei Ying will be in a match next week.
Raquel Gonzalez vs. Jessi Kamea (w/Franky Monet & Robert Stone)
This won’t be a long match. Gonzalez is the NXT Women’s Champion. Gonzalez used her power to drive Kamea rib first into the top rope followed by an elbow drop off the middle rope. Kamea got some offense with a knee stretch across the top rope and Kamea hit a spin kick. Gonzalez came back with a dropkick and then she sent Kamea into the ropes. Kamea with a jumping kick, but then Gonzalez decked her with a clothesline. Gonzalez hit the Chigona Bomb (a Powerbomb) for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Raquel Gonzalez
Analysis: 1/2* A dominant ass-kicking to put over Gonzalez in a big way. Kamea doesn’t really get to win that much in NXT, so it was easy to see what was coming here.
Post match, Franky Monet got in the ring with Gonzalez for a staredown.
Ember Moon was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell saying that Ember was trying to celebrate her birthday (happy birthday), but then she heard Kay Lee Ray talking crap about her. Moon challenged KLR to a match for next week.
The NXT Champion Samoa Joe was up next.
Samoa Joe Interview
The NXT Champion Samoa Joe was interviewed by Wade Barrett earlier in the day. Joe said that his expectations are to re-establish a precedent of what it means to be NXT Champion. Joe said he is a man that represents himself in all aspects of what he does. Joe said that he didn’t go into this event 100% ready to go. Joe said that he was in Las Vegas holding tryouts to find the next superstar in NXT, then he had a redeye flight, dying to see his family and he needed to capture the NXT Championship because the precedent needed to be set. Joe said that legacy is important while mentioning Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor. Joe said that he needs to carry on that legacy. Joe wondered who in NXT will step up and try to challenge him? Joe said that he’s more than happy to find those answers.
Analysis: A good interview with NXT Champion Samoa Joe as usual. Joe is in babyface mode and he’s likable as a veteran that has done it all.
Roderick Strong made his entrance with his Diamond Mine allies Malcolm Bivens, coach Hachimura and brothers Brutus & Julius Creed.
Roderick Strong (w/Malcolm Bivens, Hachimura, Brutus Creed & Julius Creed) vs. Ikemen Jiro
If you don’t know Jiro yet, he’s the guy that wrestles with a jacket on. They did a big spot early on with Strong giving Jiro a hiptoss into the steel steps. Ouch. Roddy hit one of his patented backbreakers. Jiro avoided a forearm from Strong and Jiro got some offense going with punches. Jiro hit an impressive slingshot moonsault. Strong got back into it with a knee to the face and then a suplex into the backbreaker (double knees to the back). Strong hit another suplex into a backbreaker for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roderick Strong
Analysis: **1/4 A solid match with Strong looking impressive as the winner. Jiro wrestles an exciting style and he might get a push at some point in the future, but it’s not his time yet. It made sense for Strong to get the win since he’s going to challenge Kushida for the Cruiserweight Title whenever Kushida is ready.
The Diamond Mine stood in the ring with Roderick Strong that Kushida’s Cruiserweight Title is his and nobody is better than the Diamond Mine.
Io Shirai & Zoey Stark the NXT Tag Team Champions were interviewed at the same time as Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro. It led to Kacy and Carter saying they were going to win the title match next week because they are best friends while Io and Zoey aren’t friends. Io said she doesn’t like Carter or Kacy or even Stark, but she is partners with Stark, so they will win. When Stark said she would take a bullet for Io, she wanted a fist bump, but Io left. Ouch.
Ridge Holland and friends were shown walking for the main event.
Cameron Grimes was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Grimes said that there’s only one Million Dollar Man and Ted Dibiase taught him there’s only one Cameron Grimes. The Grizzled Young Veterans walked up with the replica Million Dollar Title that Grimes was given. They mocked Grimes for having a toy title. Grimes dropped the title on Zack Gibson’s foot (we didn’t see it actually hit) and Gibson had to sell it. Grimes tossed them some money and left.
Next week on NXT:
* MSK defends the NXT Tag Team Titles against Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. I don’t anticipate a title change.
* Ember Moon vs. Kay Lee Ray. It should lead to KLR getting the win.
* Io Shirai & Zoey Stark defend the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles against Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter. A title change is possible, but I think the champs get the win.
* Carmelo Hayes vs. Santos Escobar. A graphic was shown of that during the main event.
Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance alone for the main event. Ciampa’s buddy Timothy Thatcher is out of action indefinitely after getting beat up. Ridge Holland was accompanied by Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Ridge Holland (w/ Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch)
It’s main event time, so I’ll go play by play here. Ciampa countered an armbar with a forearm, but Holland hit an overhead suplex across the ring. Ciampa to the apron where he hit a neckbreaker against the top rope. Ciampa with a running knee by the turnbuckle. Lorcan and Burch pulled Holland out of the ring, Ciampa left the ring and shoved Holland into the barricade. Ciampa sent Holland’s right arm into the ring post. They went onto the announce table with Ciampa hitting an elbow followed by a running knee. Ciampa was on fire doing his clapping routine. Ciampa was distracted by Lorcan/Burch, so Holland hit a flatliner leading to a break.
Holland was in control with a running attack against the turnbuckle. Ciampa and Holland exchanged forearms with Holland getting the advantage. Ciampa bounced off the ropes with forearms, then a knee to the face and three running clotheslines. Ciampa delivered more corner clotheslines with the fans getting behind him. Ciampa ran off the ropes leading to a running clothesline for two. That was a clothesline-fest. Ciampa lifted Holland for the Fairytale Ending, but Holland slipped out of that and hit the Alabama Slam. The referee checked to see if Ciampa was hurt, but Ciampa claimed he was fine. Holland got a two count out of that. Ciampa came back with a back elbow leading to a slugfest again, Ciampa took control with a barrage of punches and Holland was down by the ropes. Ciampa lifted up Holland leading to the Air Raid Crash for the two count. Ciampa to the apron, but Holland stopped him with a headbutt. Holland with a running powerslam into the barricade. Holland tried to attack with his club, but Ciampa moved and Holland hit the barricade. They battled on the apron with Ciampa delivering chops, Ciampa was back in the ring, Ciampa with repeated knees and Ciampa hit the Willow’s Bell DDT named after his daughter Willow. Ciampa covered to win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a pretty good match with the veteran Ciampa working hard with his younger opponent. Working with somebody as good as Ciampa is going to help Holland long term. I’m a bit surprised that Holland lost this match because I figured he would get the win due to a distraction from the guys out of the ring. Nope. It was a clean win for Ciampa. This was a nice reminder of how great Ciampa is whether he’s a heel or face. The guy is awesome. I guess the reason for Ciampa getting the win was to set up the post match attack.
Post match, Holland’s buddies Dunne, Lorcan and Burch went after Ciampa. It was mostly Dunne punching and kicking him. The MSK duo of Lee & Carter made the save by beating up Lorcan and Burch on the floor. Dunne and Holland left. MSK went into the ring with Ciampa.
Analysis: They are doing MSK vs. Lorcan/Burch next week, but this should also lead to a six-man tag team match in the future as well.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Tommaso Ciampa
2. Kyle O’Reilly
3. Johnny Gargano/LA Knight
This week: 7 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
2021 Average: 7.37
A good show with NXT greats like Johnny Gargano, Kyle O’Reilly, Tommaso Ciampa picking up singles wins in the best matches of the night. You can tell that they are definitely trying to utilize newer people while also introducing us to some taller people like Duke Hudson and Grayson Waller. This might be what we get from NXT moving forward as they mix the talented veteran shorter guys (Gargano, Kyle and Ciampa) in with the newer talent to try to elevate them a bit. That’s fine with me.
There were plenty of women segments in matches and interviews, but nothing really stands out in terms of the direction of women storylines right now. Doing two tag team title matches next week is smart, though.
I’m interested to see the new era of NXT with the new, bright colors starting on September 14. Next week’s show is taped and then it’s the new era of NXT after that.
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