NXT returned to us last night (Sept. 11) with their final pre-taped episode before moving to USA next week for the 2-hour live show. You can find the results at the live blog here.
Damien Priest def. Boa
This was pretty much a one-sided beating. And that’s fair. Boa is a rookie who couldn’t get out of the first round of the Breakout Tournament so he can take a loss like this under the umbrella of being so new.
The brief flash of offense he demonstrated in this match showed potential. His style is different with the way he moved around delivering those kicks. As he continues to develop, his different style could be something exciting to watch.
As for Priest, I think it’s time to move past these squash matches that don’t allow him to show his full skill. His match with Lee was the closest to getting to show what he can do, and that was very good. But in general, it’s time to move on to an angle.
Johnny Gargano, after a very long ovation, is about to announce his plans before he’s interrupted by Shane Thorne, who is topless but wearing jeans. The Aussie says NXT will be just fine without Gargano, if not better with the right people (him). Johnny tells him he’s not going anywhere and delivers a superkick.
The Full Sail crowd has gotten some crap over the years, much of it deserved. But we’re long past them being constant snarky asshats like they were in the early years. More often, they’re just a really hot crowd (if it’s not very late in a taping). This showed that. Their non-stop cheering for Johnny Gargano helped make this segment, and it’s a reason that NXT in Full Sail weekly should come off as a strong product even if they’re not touring.
Thorne’s interruption was well timed and had the desire effect. It surely helped that the crowd was all in for Johnny Wrestling here.
I’m a fan of this heel incarnation of Thorne. He’s got a great look and has the obnoxious attitude down. He’s promos are solid and with time, he could be a strong heel for the brand. A feud with the purest babyface in the promotion should sure help.
This will be a good program for both men. It should elevate Thorne while slotting Gargano into a feud right off his return where he’s fighting to remain the face of NXT.
Pete Dunne def. Angel Garza
Angel Garza was likely the standout of the Breakout Tournament so it was good to see him get a showcase match against the uber talented Pete Dunne.
Their styles at first would seem to clash, but Garza was able to hang, even with some grappling of his own. Of course, he didn’t pick up the win over the former UK champion, but he definitely looked good. His infectious attitude was one display and he gave the Bruiserweight a real run for his money.
They should have a spot for the talented Garza sooner than later.
Cameron Grimes def. Raul Mendoza
Mendoza is the type of athlete that catches the eye, which may not be the best when he’s enhancement talent. Because it’s easier to be impressed by him than the person they’re showcasing.
I was a fan of Trevor Lee in Impact, but Grimes isn’t clicking just yet for me. And a silly hat and vest combo isn’t the magic answer. (Though definitely keep that ridiculous get up.) But it’s early and he rarely gets a chance to talk. It’s his goofy charm that makes him endearing as a heel or face.
Or maybe his big hat should be wearing a smaller hat. That would definitely help.
Candice LeRae demands to know why Io Shirai keeps getting rewarded for her actions. William Regal agrees andadds her to the #1 contenders match next, making it a fatal 4-way. He thinks about and says they’ll add Rhea Ripley in if she wins tonight.
Oh man, that match is going to be busy. It’s smart to add a woman who hasn’t lost to Shayna Baszler recently. and they can use the match to help build the Io/Candice rivalry.
I appreciate the little fire LeRae showed here. And I continue to love reasoned GM William Regal.
Shayna Baszler def. Rhea Ripley via DQ when Rhea used a chair that Shayna and the Horsewomen introduced
This match maxed at “pretty good,” but given the finish, they’re likely saving the good stuff for when it’s for real.
Not that it was bad. There was still a pretty good story to watch for, and that was Shayna trying to deal with an opponent that had a significant size/strength advantage. Normally, she’s bigger than or the same size as her opponents: Kairi Sane, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Io Shirai, Mia Yim. Rhea’s the first who brought size and that made it harder for Shayna to lock in her submissions. Rhea was able to drop the champ or power out of Kirifuda Clutch attempts, making Shayna’s go to move significantly more difficult to utilize.
Using the chair didn’t make Rhea look the brightest, but that’s because we knew about the fact she’d get added to next week’s match if she won. I don’t think she or the announce desk knew about it. They certainly didn’t mention it. But then why at all have Regal mention it? That bit with Regal was likely taped afterwards, so why even mention adding Rhea and then having her be the one who blows the opportunity?
If she didn’t know what Regal said, using the chair a perfectly reasonable move because there was nothing to lose. And then sitting in the chair afterwards and inviting all three horsewomen back in the ring? Bad ass.
Ripley could be a major star. Seeing her come so far so fast from the first Mae Young Classic where she was just a tall, strong woman who had played rugby makes it even more enjoyable.
This isn’t over just yet. Mauro Ranallo alluded to that as they went off the air. But Ripley is likely going to have to wait for the winner of next week’s match to get their turn first.
Another solid episode prior to their big episode next week.
Sound off below.