Reviews

TJR: WWE NXT 06/24/20 Review (Lee vs. Gargano vs. Balor)

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. As was the case last week, this will not be as detailed of a play by play format as I usually do. I’ll still cover everything as best as I can. I think for the main event I’ll do play by play because it’s a big title match.

From Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s roll.

The ring was surrounded by the developmental wrestlers behind the plexiglass at Full Sail University, which is the home of NXT. Good job by Rick Bugez showing a lot of energy as usual. The NXT announcers are Mauro Ranallo and Beth Phoenix. It was taped last week.

They showed Cameron Grimes running in the parking lot as we saw Damian Priest down by his car. It was cheap attack from Grimes prior to their match.

Grimes said that Priest is going to no-show the biggest match of his career. Grimes claimed Priest was faking his injury. Damian Priest entered the arena with taped ribs and got into the ring. When Priest got into the ring, Grimes stomped on him. The referee started the match.

Cameron Grimes vs. Damian Priest

Priest showed off his power with some punches early on, but Grimes kept on working on the back. When Grimes went for a leaping punch, Priest hit a sitout Chokeslam and Priest was selling the back injury a lot. When Grimes left the ring, Priest met him with a kick. Grimes avoided another attack on the floor and hit a double foot stomp to the chest of Priest. Even though Priest avoided a corner attack, Priest was able to hit the double foot stomp to the chest known as the Cave In for the pinfall win in a match that went over four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cameron Grimes

Analysis: ** This was a logical short match to put over Grimes as a crafty heel that injured Priest before the match. If they had a regular match with no injury story then you would think Priest would win easily, but I think it was smart to have Grimes get a big win. They will probably do a rematch soon with Priest getting the win.

Rhea Ripley was shown in the parking lot earlier in the day. Stone said that Aliyah has signed with the Robert Stone brand. Stone offered Ripley a spot with the Robert Stone Brand, she punched him in the stomach and dumped Stone in a dumpster. Aliyah defended her manager and slapped Ripley in the face. That set up a match.

There was a Timothy Thatcher training video featuring unknown wrestlers. Thatcher demonstrated the Half Crab submission where the wrestler tapped out quickly. Thatcher slapped on an armbar as well and then made angry faces. Thatcher said that they learned some things, had fun and he’ll make champions out of them.

The Legado Del Fantasma group entered with Santos Escobar for the next match.

Santos Escobar (w/Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza) vs. Jake Atlas

This was not for Escobar’s NXT Cruiserweight Title. Atlas was aggressive early with a running cross body block. Atlas continued the offense with a running hurricanrana, then he was on the apron, distracted by the guys on the floor and Escobar punched Atlas into the barricade leading to a break.

Escobar was in control with a jumping side kick and a back elbow, then a long chinlock to kill a few minutes. Atlas came back with a running clothesline, body slam and standing moonsault that got a two count. Atlas sent Escobar to the floor, then Atlas hit a moonsault off the turnbuckle onto Wilde and Mendoza. Atlas got a two count with a forward bulldog slam. When Atlas went up top, Escobar grabbed him and hit the Phantom Driver for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar

Analysis: **1/4 A solid match with a finish that could have been booked better. I like how strongly Escobar has been booked including his road to winning the Cruiserweight Title to taking out Drake Maverick and then winning this match. If this was Raw or Smackdown they would book the champion to lose a non-title match to build a contender, but NXT is different and this is the right way to book a champion.

The Undisputed Era was shown at a therapy session against with Roderick Strong talking to the doctor (Kyle O’Reilly) and Strong saying that he was ready to ride in the trunk. That was his fear. Strong realized Kyle was the doctor and not mad about it. Strong went into the trunk, then it was closed and they opened the trunk with Strong fired up. Strong found out he’s facing Dexter Lumis in a match, which he was worried about.

Malcolm Bivens and his team Indus Sher were interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell with Bivens saying he is pissed off. Bivens complained about Burch and Lorcan attacking his guys. Bivens noted they were going after them. I like Bivens and think he needs to be used more.

There was a video package about the NXT Title match in the main event of the show. Plus, the winner of that faces Adam Cole for the NXT Title in two weeks on July 8.

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

There was a big size difference between the bigger Gonzalez and the two smaller opponents, especially Kacy. Carter and Kacy did some nice double-teaming, but then Gonzalez recovered and brought Kai. Catanzaro hit a nice diving attack on Kai for two and a distraction from Gonzalez led to the heels taking over. Kai and Gonzalez worked over Catanzaro a bit, Carter was on fire after the hot tag and she has a great dropkick. Carter got a believable nearfall with a boot to the face while Kai was against the ropes. Gonzalez ended up being a big factor with a one-armed Powerbomb on Catanzaro after kicking Carter and then Kai got the submission win for her team after about four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez

Analysis: ** This was about putting over the heel team of Kai and Gonzalez that have been featured a fair amount in the last few months. Catanzaro and Carter are fine as babyfaces that smile a lot, but there is not much to them in terms of gimmicks.

Post match, Kai spoke to the camera saying she’s going after NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai. That’s fine with me because I’m ready for Kai to get more of a singles push with Gonzalez watching her back.

I don’t mention the entrances much when I do these NXT reviews, but I think Karrion Kross and Scarlett have one of the most impressive entrances in NXT history. It makes them stand out.

Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Bronson Reed

Kross is undefeated in NXT while Reed is one of the biggest men in all of WWE. Reed got in a few shots early, but then Kross hit a boot to the face followed by a hard forearm shot to the face. Kross hit an impressive exploder suplex on the 330 pounder Reed. There was some offense from Reed with a release German Suplex, but then Kross popped right back up and they exchanged strikes. After Reed hit two running corner splashes, Kross caught him and hit a Northern Lights Suplex followed by a clothesline. Kross with another suplex and then the Kross Jacket submission won it for Kross in a match that went just over two minutes.

Winner by submission: Karrion Kross

Analysis: *1/2 Another dominant win for Kross, who is very skilled in the ring and has some of the best facial expressions in NXT. Reed got some offense, but this was all about putting over Kross as an undefeated force that is tough to stop. Kross is absolutely money right now. He’s going to be a huge star not just in NXT. I think he’ll big on Raw or Smackdown next year at some point too.

Post match, Kross pointed at his wrist as if there was a watch there and he was saying “tick tock” to the NXT Champion Adam Cole.

Adam Cole, the NXT Champion, was interviewed backstage by McKenzie Mitchell. Cole said it didn’t matter who won the North American Title match because he’s better than all of them and said he’s making sure his mantel has room for one more championship.

A video aired about Mercedes Martinez saying she could change the entire women’s division forever.

Rhea Ripley vs. Aliyah (w/Robert Stone)

Ripley easily overpowered Aliyah as she tossed her around the ring and then hit a dropkick. Aliyah got some offense after a choke on the top rope, but Ripley came back with two clotheslines and a running dropkick. Ripley with a boot to the face and then when Ripley put on the Prism Trap submission, Stone threw a shoe at Ripley. Beth had a great line asking “who throws a shoe?” which is from Austin Powers. Ripley chased after Stone, they went into the ring and Stone escaped. Aliyah tried to get a rollup, but Ripley blocked and Ripley hit the Riptide for the win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Rhea Ripley

Analysis: 1/2* A dominant win by Ripley. Very predictable and not that entertaining to me. Ripley needs a new rivalry.

They showed Johnny Gargano getting ready for the main event. That’s standard for NXT to show guys warming up backstage before a big match.

Dexter Lumis vs. Roderick Strong (w/Bobby Fish)

Strong was reluctant to start the match because he’s scared by Lumis, who stood in the corner doing nothing. Strong spent about a minute looking like he was scared and reluctant to start the match. Lumis went after him, Strong turned and ran into the plexiglass. Lumis went back in the ring to win by countout.

Winner by countout: Dexter Lumis

Analysis: There’s no point in rating this as a match when there were no bumps. It was silly.

Post match, Lumis got a chokehold on Fish, but Fish managed to run away.

Analysis: This entire thing was lame. I know Lumis is an over the top kind of character, but I don’t think this was a good use of TV time. It made Strong look ridiculous and if I was watching live at home, I would have changed the channel.

Robert Stone was shown talking to William Regal with Stone saying they wanted to face Rhea Ripley. Regal made a match with Stone and Aliyah vs. Rhea Ripley. That led to Ripley going up to them to say she’ll see them next week.

Analysis: Stone is a former wrestler that was known as Robbie E when he worked for TNA/Impact for most of the last decade.

Finn Balor was shown getting ready for the main event.

Next week on NXT: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox vs. Candice LeRae vs. Mia Yim. The winner of that match gets to face Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship.

Analysis: I think Kai or LeRae will win since they’re heels. I’ll go with LeRae to win here while Kai will be a future challenger at a Takeover type show.

Also next week on NXT: Dexter Lumis vs. Roderick Strong in a Strap Match. The idea is that Strong can’t run away in that setting.

The entrances took place for the NXT North American Championship match. Johnny Gargano was out first, then Finn Balor and lastly the champion, Keith Lee.

NXT North American Championships: Keith Lee vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor

I’ll do a play by play review for this match. The big man Lee was dominant early with shoulder tackles on both guys and a double clothesline. They went to break one minute into the match.

Lee used his two forearms to the arms of Gargano to knock him down. Balor jumped on Lee’s back with a sleeper attempt, but Lee pulled Balor off him. Gargano jumped on the back of Lee with a sleeper and Lee swung him off as well, so Balor slapped on the sleeper again, which took Lee down to one knee. Balor got some momentum going with about five forearm shots to the face of Lee. Balor charged again, Lee caught him, Gargano charged and Lee caught him too, so Lee tossed Balor and Gargano with overhead suplexes at the same time. Lee whipped Balor into the turnbuckle. Lee picked up Gargano over his head, Gargano slipped out and Balor jumped on Lee’s back with a sleeper hold again while Gargano slapped on a leg lock. Lee still managed to toss Balor down and Lee decked Gargano with a forearm to the face. The action spilled to the floor where Balor got some offense on Lee wit ha Slingblade. Gargano with a rolling senton off the apron on Lee on the floor. Balor and Gargano worked together to whip Lee into the steel steps at ringside. That led to another commercial break.

Balor and Gargano were in the ring as they battled with some forearms, chops and Gargano hit a slingshot Spear on Balor for a two count while Lee was outside the ring. Gargano went for an attack off the apron, but then Balor punched Gargano down. Balor hit a somersault dive over the top onto Lee. Back in the ring, Balor with a Final Cut elbow drop on Gargano for two. Balor took down Gargano with a Slingblade neckbreaker as Lee appeared on the apron in the background where Balor was and Lee sent Balor into the turnbuckle. Gargano with an enziguri on Balor and Lee hit a slingshot cross body block from the apron onto both guys. That was a cool spot for the 340 pounder Lee, who is a special athlete for his size. Lee with punches, then corner splashes and a forearm to Gargano. Balor tripped up Lee, then a double foot stomp to the chest and Lee got back up as he put Balor on his shoulders. Balor with a sleeper on Lee that wore him down a bit and Gargano hit a superkick on Balor to break that up. Gargano jumped back in over the top with a sweet Tornado DDT on Balor for a two count. Gargano with a guillotine choke on Lee, which led to Lee knocking Balor off the apron and Gargano hit a Tornado DDT on Lee. Gargano with a suicide dive on Lee. Gargano went for a suicide dive on Balor, who blocked it and then Lee ran over to both guys and ran them over with a Pounce on the floor. The crowd was getting into it. Lee picked up Balor in the ring and then Balor hit a double foot stomp to the chest. Balor charged at Lee, Gargano with a superkick, Balor back in with a dropkick on Gargano into Lee against the turnbuckle and Lee landed on Gargano. Balor went up top, Lee choked him and Gargano got a rollup on Lee with the feet on the ropes for a two count. Lee sent Gargano into Balor and then the Big Bang Catastrophe on Gargano. Balor jumped off with the Coup de Grace double foot stomp, Lee moved and Balor hit Gargano. Lee grabbed Balor and hit the Big Bang Catastrophe on Balor for the pinfall win after about 19 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Keith Lee

Analysis: **** This was a great match with three talented guys all getting their chance to shine during the match and it was exciting from start to finish. The last five minutes were really awesome. I loved the finishing sequence with Lee hitting his finish on Gargano, avoiding Balor off the top and then Lee finished off Balor as well. If there was a real crowd they would have been going crazy for that ending. Lee was the biggest man in the match as well as the only babyface, so it was easy to root for him as he tried to fend off two guys, had trouble with it for a bit and then came back in the end to win. Balor and Gargano are both awesome workers as well. I thought Balor might here because it would have made sense for him tow in a title he had never held before, but I have no problem with Lee winning.

The win by Lee means he will challenge Adam Cole for the NXT Championship on the July 8 edition of NXT. It’s a Winner Take All match with both guys leaving with both titles.

Post match, Adam Cole went into the ring with the NXT Championship for a face off with Lee. Cole and Lee each held up their titles as the graphic was shown behind them. They did some trash talking to end the show.

Analysis: That’s going to be awesome on July 8. I’m picking Lee to win both titles. It’s time for Cole to lose and Lee is the guy to do it. However, if Cole survives then maybe Karrion Kross that will become the next NXT Champion. I’m interested to see how it goes.

After the show, WWE announced that next Wednesday is a Great American Bash theme show. I live in Canada and it’s Canada Day next Wednesday, but I guess they felt the need to use the Great American Bash name for it before the July 4th Independence Day in America. Anyway, since they didn’t even mention this on the show, it must have been a late decision by WWE.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Keith Lee
  2. Finn Balor
  3. Johnny Gargano

 

Final Thoughts

I give this show a 6.5 out of 10.

The NXT product is consistently very good thanks to a nice balance of some great matches every week, strong story development and they usually deliver outstanding main event matches, which is what we got here as well. I think they could have done a better job of making the other matches matter more because it felt like a one-match show.

Great showing from Lee, Balor and Gargano. I recommend checking out that match. The rest of NXT this week wasn’t that interesting.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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