NXT returned last night with the first episode of the Great American Bash. You can find the results at the live blog here.
Coming into this week’s main event between Sasha Banks and Io Shirai, the prevailing thought was it’d be very good as long as they got the time.
In the end, they received about 15 minutes. At first, that doesn’t sound like too much. Normally a televised 15 minutes is more like 8-10 minutes with commercials and any post match angle.
But the “limited commercials” applied mainly to this match, running the entire thing commercial free. (Though it feels like they really just moved the commercial set that would run around 10:50 to the beginning of the show.) This allowed the two women to maximize that time.
They did the most with it, putting on a sharp match displaying two women at the top of their game trying to out do the other. It didn’t hit that overdrive some matches do, but they likely would have needed at least five more minutes and more at stake to reach that. In the end, it was a highly entertaining match that’s worth your time.
The finish wasn’t squeaky clean, but we were spared a non-finish, which would have spoiled this a bit. Instead, we got a surprise appearance from the Raw Women’s champion as Asuka popped out from under the ring to stop Sasha Banks from using the tag team championship as a weapon while Bayley had the referee distracted. This save from the Empress included a face full of mist for the Boss.
The rest of the match, which was only about a minute long, involved Sasha kicking out of Shirai’s immediate rollup, a moment which helped protect the now blinded Banks. However Io’s moonsault sealed the deal, including a cover where Shirai cleverly draped her leg across the face of Sasha to hide the mist from the referee.
Even though she had help, help that was warranted given the Golden Role Models were up to no good, Shirai beating Banks is a big win. However it protects Sasha enough to keep her strong going into her bout against Asuka at Extreme Rules... sigh... Horror Show.
And even better, it sets the stage for a possible Shirai/Asuka vs. Banks/Bayley tag team bout. Get Teddy Long out here!
A Rocky Start
The Bash got off to a bit of a rocky start with the #1 contenders fatal 4-way elimination match.
The match felt it was off the track early. It came off as sloppy and uneven. From spots that seemed out of synch to Tegan employing facial expressions that didn’t full match the mood (either unwarranted surprise or apprehension towards Mia Yi). These women are all very talented and have been in the ring together before. But it wasn’t there for the four of them this week.
Candice LeRae’s early elimination was also a questionable call. The woman just turned heel and has been owning the role. But as we saw with Dakota Kai’s early heel turn, it’s not hard to derail a hot heel turn with shotty booking. (Ironically, both getting beaten by Mia Yim was part of that equation.) LeRae losing in the first five minutes unceremoniously, not long after being on the losing TakeOver team.
This doesn’t completely doom LeRae, but it took awhile for Kai to rediscover her heel mojo, and that involved introducing Raquel González as her heavy. If Candice defeats Mia Yim next week in a street fight, and Mia doesn’t still get the last laugh, this will be OK. If LeRae loses to the HBIC, it spells bad news for the Poison Pixie.
Mia was next eliminated, leaving Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai to close this thing out. Coming back to these heated enemies was a good move. That story helped fuel the last section of the match. While this part of the match didn’t completely get things back on track after a sloppy start, it was an improvement given these women know each other so well. And things were back on track enough that it was easy to enjoy the ending.
Nox’s win serves as retribution after she lost the program with Kai, which was the necessary move at the time.
It does feel a bit early. Given Tegan’s incredible comeback story, it could be better served to wait until she’s actually a threat to win the title as part of a big emotional climb. It’s very unlikely Io Shirai is going to lose the title soon so Nox’s first shot is probably going to be an unsuccessful one.
But this is NXT and they have plenty of earned faith when it comes to booking so the journey will be worth the watch.
A Silly Diversion
Rhea Ripley will not have to join the Robert Stone Brand.
While I’m a bit sad about that given the comedy potential, it’s probably the right move. We got to have some fun with Rhea Ripley, letting her do some light comedy stuff before going on to kick ass elsewhere.
This entire angle was fun. I’m a fan of goofy comedy wrestling when done right and Robert Stone does it right. He played the goof so Ripley could play the straight woman. That allowed her to maintain her badass appeal even in a silly story.
This week’s match continued that. There was never a moment where you thought that Ripley could lose fair and square. Robert Stone would play dirty or use an opportunistic distraction, and then both he and Aliyah would be able to go on the attack. But Rhea was never really threatened.
Instead, she’s the badass that tapped them both out at once. (I really enjoyed Aliyah tapping out on Robbie’s back.)
This was a fun diversion for Rhea in a time that she’s out of the title picture. Instead of just squashing some enhancement talent, she looked just as impressive while amplifying an entertaining talent in Robert Stone.
The strap match stipulation was a perfect choice for Dexter Lumis’ match with Roddy Strong.
It fits Lumis’ gimmick, given he’s a creepy stalker that you want to run from but now can’t. But it’s also an old school match for a show with an old school title.
The match was fun, though maybe a bit longer than it needed to be. Lumis keeps stealing the show with his icy stares and deliberate mannerisms. The strap helped fit the character he’s playing, but honestly, his character is ever present in every match. It’s why he’s been so good.
Dexter finally got a win over a member of the Undisputed ERA, something that eluded him prior. Now we need to see what’s next for him. It was likely an angle with Velveteen Dream, but Dream has disappeared after more allegations came out against him during the #SpeakingOut movement.
Timothy Thatcher’s rollout has been very smart.
NXT is making sure to show us how dangerous he is because of how proficient he is in catch wrestling. His personality is intense, but it’s his skill that really makes him someone to be feared. From beating Matt Riddle in the FIGHT PIT to the video packages featuring Thatcher teaching how to use holds to hurt men twice his size, they’ve been able to present him as a force to be reckoned with.
Oney Lorcan, a madman (at least on the socials), was eager to step up and take the challenge. And he held up too. Lorcan gave Thatcher a fight. But he came up short, having to tap to the Kimura.
Now we wait to see who’s next to step up against the dangerous Thatcher.
In a segment that sets up a match for next week, Drake Maverick interrupted a promo by Santos Escobar to get his revenge from prior beatdowns. But like the stubborn fool he is, Maverick ran into another three on one beat down. Luckily Breezango saved his ass, setting up a trios match for next week. Breezango/Drake is a trio I didn’t know I wanted until now.
While that was the takeaway, the best part of this segment was Escobar’s promo. He gave a compelling explanation for his stable and more importantly, their lack of masks. Santos claimed that lucha libre has become almost a parody, being associated with high flying and flips. So they’re going to mold it into a new image - their image. Shedding the hallowed lucha masks is symbolic of their remaking the style.
That’s a smart promo tying into lucha’s very deep tradition.
The main event of this show delivered. The rest of the show was pretty much a good episode of NXT, outside the opener which was a bit of a rocky start.
Sound off below.