Reviews

TJR: WWE NXT 07/15/20 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. As is the case for my NXT reviews, this will not be as detailed of a play by play format as I usually do, but I will do play by play for the main event. I’ll still cover everything as best as I can. They taped two episodes on Wednesday for this week and next week.

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

There was a video package showing highlights from last week when Keith Lee won the NXT Championship to go along with his North American Championship as he became a double champion.

The show took place at Full Sail University as wrestlers surrounded the ring and were behind the plexiglass. The announce team of Mauro Ranallo and Beth Phoenix welcomed us to the show with Tom Phillips joining them as well.

Let’s Hear from Keith Lee

It’s not that common for NXT to start with a promo, but it’s the right call this week. Keith Lee made his entrance with the NXT Championship and North American Championship as the wrestlers in the arena gave him a huge ovation. They chanted “oh bask in his glory” as well with Keith smiling about it. Lee asked the ring announcer Alicia to introduce him again, so she did it and Keith held up his titles.

Lee talked about the struggles and pain that took place on his way to the top. Lee said he felt something special with these championships, not just as the North American Champion, but also the NXT Champion. Lee said there’s an entire locker room that wans the same opportunities that he has managed to earn. Lee said that this wasn’t done on his own – opportunity and chances created this. Lee noted that Tim Brooks (his trainer who passed away recently) was more than a trainer for him, he was like a father and he believed in him when no one else did. Lee thanked the NXT Universe for welcoming him with open arms and told people that Keith Lee was limitless.

Lee thanked one more person that has been playing a pivotal part in all of this. Lee said he saw him backstage and he knows he’s trying to decide what he’s doing in his WWE career. Lee said he wanted to have a talk with his number one, frenemy…Dominik Dijakovic. They had a lot of great matches together, so there’s a history there.

Lee was joined in the ring by Dijakovic, who congratulated Lee on his title win last week. Dijakovic was wearing a Shad Gaspard tribute shirt, which was really cool to see.  Dijakovic said nobody is prouder of him than Dominik is. Lee said that this about both of them because Keith thought the competition between them propelled Keith into opportunities. Lee said he loved competition, so he had a talk with Mr. Regal (the NXT General Manager) and Regal agreed the first challenger for the championships should be Dominik Dijakovic. Dominik asked when he wanted to do this and Keith said they should do it tonight. Dominik wasn’t sure at first, Keith told him to “just say yes” and then Dominik agreed to it.

Analysis: That’s a good idea to do on Lee’s first night as the champion and it gives a big match for later in the show. Lee’s not an over the top promo guy. However, he speaks with confidence and it’s easy to like a guy like him. There were rumors of Dijakovic heading to the Raw brand and it’s likely coming soon, but not yet because they set up that double title match.

The main event is Io Shirai defending the NXT Women’s Championship against Tegan Nox.

Cameron Grimes vs. Damian Priest

This was built up for the last two months with Grimes getting in a lot of cheap shots and even picking up a win over Priest in the past. Priest was aggressive with corner splash and a spinning kick while Grimes tried to getting away. Grimes got control with a forearm followed by a dropkick and a spinning slam. Priest was in control with a dropkick as they went to split screen break.

Priest did his comeback with forearms to the face and Grimes did a nice flip bump to sell it. The action spilled to the floor again with a Razor’s Edge on the ring apron. Big bump with Grimes selling it well. Priest got a nearfall after a flatliner into a slam. They did this really cool spot where they did a running cross body collision that saw Grimes land on top into a two count. Grimes missed the running double stomp, Priest with a spinning kick to the back and Priest hit the Reckoning neckbreaker off the ropes for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Damian Priest

Analysis: *** A good match to give Priest a big win over Grimes to likely put an end to the feud. Grimes got plenty of offense, but when Priest got the momentum going, it was all about putting over Priest in a big way. Priest is likely going to move on to bigger name rivals soon.

Timothy Thatcher was shown training wrestlers some more submission moves. Thatcher demonstrated the fujiwara armbar and talked about how he beat Oney Lorcan with that move while saying you can win the battle, but also leave an impression to last a lifetime.

Shotzi Blackheart vs. Indi Hartwell

It was last week when Blackheart drove her tiny tank over Robert Stone’s leg, which set up a feud with Blackheart and Stone’s client Aliyah. I don’t know that much about Hartwell, but she’s a good athlete with a bright future. Blackheart missed a splash against the ropes, so Hartwell hit a dropkick to the back. Hartwell was in control with a sidewalk slam as she used her size advantage to control her smaller opponent. Mauro noted that Hartwell started training in 2016 when she was 19, so she’s another young woman in NXT at 23 years old. Blackheart hit a corner splash, bulldog, elbow and kicks followed by a unique senton on the back of Hartwell. Robert Stone walked out to ringside in a walking boot on his right foot and he walked in a ridiculous manner. Blackheart with a step up knee and DDT as Stone went on the apron. Blackheart went up top, but Aliyah showed up and tripped up Blackheart with the referee not seeing it because of Stone. Hartwell with a big boot to the face for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Indi Hartwell

Analysis: *3/4 It was decent for the time given with Hartwell picking up a cheap win thanks to Aliyah’s interference. I liked Blackheart’s offense when she made the comeback. Hartwell’s finish was very basic with a boot to the face, but it was enough to get the job done.

Post match, Blackheart was down selling while Stone and Aliyah were happy.

Analysis: I enjoy Stone’s gimmick. It makes me laugh. He’s very good as an over the top manager.

Tegan Nox was interviewed. She talked about how tonight was her night to become champion. Tegan said she wants to be in the likes of Kane and Molly Holly as a champion, so tonight’s the night.

Analysis: Why the Kane and Molly Holly mention? Those are her favorites. Out of every champion in wrestling history, they are odd names to mention, but that’s what makes her unique.

The Legado del Fantasma trio was together in some restaurant or maybe a hotel lobby celebrating their win at the Great American Bash. They mocked Drake Maverick while saying that they shouldn’t forget about Breezango disrespecting them. Santos Escobar called Raul Mendoza the technical assassin and Escobar put over Juaquin Wilde for being deadly in the air. Santos Escobar talked about being NXT Cruiserweight Champion and said that they were going to build their empire.

Analysis: I like this group a lot. They have been booked very strong since they have been together.

There was a video showing Keith Lee’s big double championship win last week.

The entrances of Dijakovic and Lee took place to set up their double championship match at the top of hour two. I think I’ll go play by play for this match.

Winner Take All for the NXT Championship and North American Championship: Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic

They spent the first couple of minutes doing stuff like test of strength and locking up without either man getting the advantage. They did some quick mat wrestling with Dijakovic getting a one count. Dijakovic ran the ropes with repeated shoulder tackles that didn’t even move Lee while Dominik was rocked by it. Dijakovic with a hard chop to the chest, so Lee hit a double axehandle to the chest to knock Dijakovic down. Lee went to the turnbuckle, Dijakovic got him on his shoulders, Lee slipped out and they had a staredown again as the match went to break.

Dijakovic worked over Lee with forearms to the back. Lee came back with lefty punches, a shoulder tackle and a running pounce that sent Dijakovic out of the ring. Lee followed up with a charge on the floor, Dijakovic moved and Lee stopped himself before going into the plexiglass like he did last week. Back in the ring, Lee connected with a lefty punch to the face, but then Dijakovic hit a sidewalk slam for a two count. Lee picked up Dijakovic with one arm and hit a spinning neckbreaker off the ropes for a two count. That was a cool spot that could be a finishing move for somebody if nobody is using it. Lee set up Dijakovic on the turnbuckle, Dijakovic with repeated headbutts to the head and he jumped off the top with an impressive Blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count. That looked great as Dijakovic followed up with a spinning cyclone kick to the head for two. Dijakovic jumped off the middle turnbuckle, but Lee blocked him with a hard forearm to the chest. Lee picked up Dijakovic and hit a huge Chokeslam or maybe it was more like a one-armed spinebuster on a 270 pound man. Lee had Dijakovic on his shoulders and hit the Big Bang Catastrophe finishing move for the pinfall win after about 15 minutes of action.

Winner by pinfall: Keith Lee

Analysis: ***1/2 It was fun as usual any time these two guys have a match. The part before the break was too slow for my liking although I understood the point of it. It wasn’t as good as their best matches that I have seen, but it accomplished its goal as a competitive match to put over Lee as a fighting champion while Dijakovic proved he could compete with a familiar rival. The problem with matches like this is nobody was going to believe that Dijakovic was going to win, so it was tough to get into the nearfalls. Lee’s comeback setting up the finish was really good. Ending on a high note is always smart.

Post match, Lee held up his NXT Champion and North American Championship while his buddy Dijakovic was down in the ring. Lee helped up Dijakovic as a show of respect. They shared a hug in the ring.

After the match, the lights went out as the lovely Scarlett was on the stage with a spotlight on her. Scarlett had a bag with her, she poured out the contents on the ring apron and it was the broken hourglass from several weeks back. Scarlett laughed about it as Lee stared at her and it was a message from Karrion Kross. Mauro said “tick, tock” because that is what Kross likes to say.

Analysis: The next Takeover is SummerSlam weekend on August 22, so it’s very possible that they go with Lee vs. Kross there. I wonder if Lee will still have both titles and put them both on the line or if it’s only one title on the line.

Dominik Dijakovic was interviewed backstage and said Keith Lee is on another level while adding that Karrion Kross is good, but not on Keith’s level. That’s when Kross showed up for a staredown with Dijakovic. They got into a brawl with Kross hitting a suplex on Dijakovic in the backstage area. Kross stood over a fallen Dijakovic and said “Tick, Tock” to him.

Analysis: That should set up a match between them and we found out later that they will have that match. I still think Dijakovic is heading to Raw soon, but first he’s going to put over Kross like he put over Lee.

Timothy Thatcher vs. Denzel Dejournette

Thatcher with a suplex takeover. The announcers talked about Dejournette as an amateur wrestler and he got a takedown. Thatcher managed to get a hold of the left arm followed by a forearm to the back. Thatcher with a leg takedown, Dejournette tried to break free and Thatcher slapped on a single leg crab with Dejournette tapping out. It was over in under two minutes.

Winner by submission: Timothy Thatcher

Analysis: 1/2* A quick match to put over Thatcher as a submission specialist that is tough to beat.

Post match, Thatcher slapped on single leg crab again with Dejournette tapping out again. Oney Lorcan ran out to the ring to go after Thatcher and he knocked Thatcher out of the ring.

Analysis: Thatcher has beaten Lorcan in the past, so they are likely going to have a rematch soon.

They showed a tweet from former NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley saying she was focused on the NXT Women’s Title match.

(Commercial)

There was a clip from earlier today with Robert Stone talking to Killian Dain saying he was sorry about spilling coffee on him last week. Aliyah had some Dexter Lumis art that had an image of Stone getting run over by the “tank” last week and Dain was on there as well. Dain told Stone if he wants to make this up to him then he’ll him get a match with Lumis next week.

Next week on NXT:

* Killian Dain vs. Dexter Lumis

* Karrion Kross vs. Dominik Dijakovic

Tegan Nox made her entrance for the main event. Tegan was in the news a bit this week because she spoke about being a lesbian. She posted an Instagram photo with another woman and I’m glad she’s happy in life. I’ve been really impressed by her in the ring and how she carries herself. I think she’s got a very bright future in the wrestling business and has shown a lot of toughness in how she has come back from two major knee injuries already in her career. She’s only 25 years old, so it’s easy to be excited to see what’s in store for her future.

Io Shirai made her entrance as the NXT Women’s Champion. It’s the second time in three weeks where Shirai has headlined NXT since she beat Sasha Banks two weeks ago (thanks to Asuka). Shirai also headlined the last NXT Takeover event. This was Shirai’s first title defense.

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai vs. Tegan Nox

They are both babyfaces and they have wrestled in the past. Shirai was in control early with side headlock. Nox got some momentum with arm drags, a trip and she got a couple of nearfalls. Shirai sent Nox out of the ring. Shirai tripped up Nox on the apron as they went to a break.

Nox with forearms, Shirai jumped in her arms and Nox hit a fallaway slam into a pin for two. Shirai with a double knee attack against the ropes. Shirai put her legs around the throat of Nox against the ropes and Shirai hit a body slam. Nox avoided an elbow drop leading to Nox getting a rollup for the pin. Shirai with a hair whip followed by the double knees to the ribs. Shirai with a flapjack for two as they went to break again.

Shirai was still in control as she knocked Nox out of the ring and battled on the floor with Shirai throwing Nox into the steel steps after Nox tried to do it to her. Shirai went for the double knee attack, but Nox moved and Shirai hit her knees against the steps. That looked like a possible turning point, but when they went back in the ring, Shirai did a backbreaker that sent Nox into Shirai’s knee and Shirai was selling the knee injury. Nox got a rollup, but then Shirai hit a bridging German Suplex. Shirai went up top, Nox tripped her up and Nox hit a running uppercut to the back. Nox with a cannonball on Shirai for a two count. Nox got some momentum going with three clotheslines and an uppercut. Nox with a running cannonball on Shirai against the turnbuckle. Nox went up top and jumped off with a cross body block for a two count. Nox did a Chokeslam since she’s a Kane fan and that got a two count. Nox with two running uppercuts, Shirai moved and Shirai hit a German Suplex with Nox’s neck hitting the bottom rope although it didn’t hit hard. It might have missed. Shirai with the double knee attack followed by the tiger feint kick (619) against the ropes. Shirai went up top and hit a missile dropkick for two. Both women were down selling for about one minute. Nox with a kick to the knee followed by a front suplex.  Nox went up top and hit the Molly Go Round (big Molly Holly fan as mentioned) for a two count. Nox went for the running knee, but Shirai stopped him with a palm strike to the face. Shirai up top, moonsault connects and Shirai pinned Nox to win after 23 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Io Shirai  

Analysis: ***3/4 Great main event match. That was a very long match that went a few more minutes than I would have expected. It showed how much faith the bosses have in both women to put them out there for over 20 minutes like that. I think one of the strengths of Nox is in her selling as a babyface that can take a beating. Nox does a lot of cool moves too, but she sells everything so well with her facial expressions and grabbing at body parts. That’s so important in terms of telling a story. Shirai is definitely one of the best in WWE because she makes everything look so smooth and she’s so athletic. That moonsault is as good as it gets in this company although Shirai did jump a bit too far on it. There were a few small things to keep it under four stars out of five, but I still really enjoyed the match.

They showed highlights of the key spots in the match.

Shirai celebrated with the NXT Women’s Title on the ramp. That’s when Dakota Kai showed up with a kick to the face. Kai stood over a fallen Shirai and the show went off the air right there.

Analysis: I figured it was Kai that was up next as a challenger for the title. They need a heel and Kai has had a decent push this year. Nox won a 4-Way with Kai in the match to get the title shot, but it makes sense to have Kai step up as the next challenger, which will likely lead to a title shot at NXT Takeover during SummerSlam weekend next month.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Io Shirai
  2. Keith Lee
  3. Tegan Nox/Dominik Dijakovic

 

Final Thoughts

I give this show a 7.25 out of 10.

The two big title matches were the highlights of this week’s NXT show. It’s so cool that they believe in Shirai and Nox so much that they give them over 20 minutes in a main event match that will help to establish Shirai as a great champion. The Lee vs. Dijakovic match wasn’t as good as their best matches, but I still enjoyed it. Karrion Kross made his intentions known after the match. Dijakovic will put both guys over in back to back weeks before likely heading to Raw soon (that’s the rumor anyway).

While I liked the show for the most part, some of the bigger names were not on it. I wonder what’s next for the likes of Cole, Gargano, Balor and Ciampa to name a few. The tag team division also wasn’t part of the show again as that division continues to be one of the weak points of NXT right now. They featured some other midcard characters, we got Priest getting revenge on Grimes and some other storylines continued.

It also seemed like, based on some events on this show, that we’re heading towards Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross at Takeover SummerSlam and Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai as well. Both of those rivalries feel fresh, so that’s a good thing.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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