NXT INTERIM CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT GROUP A PLAYOFF FINAL: Drake Maverick vs. KUSHIDA vs. Jake Atlas- 7.5/10
Great action and good underdog stuff from Maverick, whose arm was still taped up after last week. The finish was that KUSHIDA had Atlas locked in a cross-armbreaker, but Maverick crawled over and got his arm across Maverick’s chest and pinned him. This sounds really smart… until you realize that by virtue of having the armbar locked in, KUSHIDA’s legs were also draped across Atlas’ body, so why does the pin go to Maverick and not him? (The announcers mentioned that KUSHIDA was “protesting” and there is one more week before TakeOver so it’s possible that they are going to follow up on this and give us KUSHIDA vs. Maverick next week, but I don’t think that’s actually going to happen, making this a dumb finish.
When we came back from commercial, we learned that KUSHIDA’s protest was because he actually had Atlas tapping but the referee didn’t see it and gave the win to Maverick, so the above finish remains bad.
More interestingly, they said that the title match was going to be “next week” rather than at TakeOver. Huh.
JOHNNY GARGANO & (CANDICE LERAE PROMO)- Gargano is giving some lucky youngster the chance to wrestle him. I laughed at the Adrian Adonis joke. It’s not actually Adonis we got (he’s probably not in the right shape to wrestle, unless someone used that pendant from Lucha Underground on him), but rather…
ADRIAN ALANIS vs. JOHNNY GARGANO (w/Candice LeRae)- no rating, fine squash
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- very good
Keith Lee and Mia Yim showed up on the TitanTron and made fun of Johnny & Candice’s dinner promos with the dumb lighting and sound effects. I laughed my ass off at that part. Then they cut a good promo on them.
MCKENZIE MITCHELL INTERVIEWS DRAKE MAVERICK- didn’t like it
McKenzie starts to ask about the fact that KUSHIDA had Atlas tapping. Maverick was a total babyface and offered to have another match, but KUSHIDA showed up and told him to win the title. Maverick told KUSHIDA he would give him the first title shot. The acting here was very good, but I don’t like KUSHIDA (or anyone) giving up on an argument that he deserves a title shot just to be nice to someone else.
IMPERIUM PROMO- good
They don’t like Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan. They say they’ll never lose the titles, and WALTER will never lose the NXT UK Title.
SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. RAQUEL GONZALEZ (w/Dakota Kai)- 4.75/10
The stories here were Gonzalez working the back and Dakota interfering. At one point Dakota got into the stupid f*cking Little Tykes tank that Shotzi drives to the ring and started driving around in it until Tegan Nox ran down the ramp and laid her out. Tegan stayed at ringside, and we eventually got these two hated rivals standing across the ring from each other but not fighting, which I HATED. I don’t remember if these two have had a proper blow-off yet (which is a pretty damning statement in and of itself), but even if they did, this feud and the huge personal betrayal should be so fresh that they should still start attacking the other at the drop of a hat.
Shotzi started her comeback and eventually went for a Coffin Drop to both heels on the outside, but managed to overshoot them and land on her head. Then Candice LeRae came out to berate Tegan for her cameo in the Keith Lee/Mia Yim promo from earlier, which distracted the referee enough for Dakota to stop Shotzi from hitting the Stratusfaction or whatever she was going for, allowing Raquel to get the win.
DAMIAN PRIEST VS. FINN BALOR VIDEO PACKAGE- good
Mauro throws out a Hana Kimura RIP and an anti-cyberbullying message in a tone that was just wrong. He did it during Io Shirai’s entrance, and still had that “getting PUMPED UP!” tone in his voice. It was soooooo weird and wrong. Almost creepy. Tone-deaf doesn’t even begin to cover it.
RHEA RIPLEY & IO SHIRAI vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR & CHELSEA GEEEN (w/Robert Stone)- 7/10
Chelsea was a mystery partner, and I actually like the way they set this up, even though Chelsea is just a midcarder. I think it actually works better for Chelsea and Stone to be mystery partners that had to be recruited by Charlotte instead of just being booked into the spot. Chelsea/Stone is EXACTLY the sort of act who would want to team with Charlotte even though Charlotte has been talking down to the entire roster, including the heels.
This was great babyface vs. heel stuff, with Charlotte being a GREAT chicken-sh*t. Io and Rhea were able to work together relatively well despite the fact that they’ll be opponents at TakeOver and have had some heat recently, which I liked. There is no reason to make your wrestlers look like overdramatic children who doesn’t understand that sometimes you have to be professional.
Chelsea and Charlotte worked together well, too, and I think that’s something that we might actually see continue into the future, as it’s really the only way that doing a finish where Chelsea takes the bullet for Charlotte by stepping in front of Io’s missile dropkick and then Charlotte uses illegal leverage from the ropes to pin one of her TakeOver challengers after the two challengers bump heads makes any sense.
MCKENZIE MITCHELL INTERVIEWS JOHNNY GARGANO & CANDICE LERAE- great!
I loved that they snapped at McKenzie for calling the earlier video “entertaining.” They cut GREAT indignant heel promos. We’re getting Gargano vs Lee at TakeOver (and Johnny wants the North American Title to be on the line), and Candice challenges Mia to a match next week.
ADAM COLE & WILLIAM REGAL NEGOTIATE OVER SKYPE- fine
Cole was arrogant and narcissistic, and hypocritical as well when he criticized The Velveteen Dream for being those things. Eventually a deal is struck that while TVD is getting a title shot at TakeOver: In Your House, it will be his last one as long as Cole is champion. Regal says that he will “find a location where you can both shine the brightest.” I guess that means the match isn’t taking place in the Performance Center? I really don’t want to see another cinematic match. Or, now that I think about it, that could just mean it’s going to be a cage match.
DANNY BURCH & ONEY LORCAN VIDEO PACKAGE- fine
TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. LEON RUFF- squash
Scarlett came out to watch the match. Ciampa blew a kiss at her.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- good
Karrion Kross showed up on the Tron and cut a promo on Ciampa, with no wacky, over the top bullsh*t. I also loved the way they shot this, in black and white, and zoom closed in on his eyes.
FIGHT PIT MATCH WITH KURT ANGLE AS SPECIAL GUEST REFEREE: Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher-9.75/10
The “NXT Fight Pit” was described by Mauro has having “no ring ropes, no turnbuckle padding, an elevated platform” (around the ring). He didn’t mention that it was surrounded by a cage (though in his defense, this is TV, not radio). It looks pretty cool… but also has me really worried that it will be impossible to see clearly. As we were told earlier, the match can only be one via knockout or submission.
I absolutely ADORED this match. This was f*cking AWESOME and intense and had an atmosphere that made this feel like something completely different. The moment this match was over I began creating my own dream roster for a dream Fight Pit promotion: Riddle, Thatcher, WALTER, Dragon, Samoa Joe, Bobby Gunns, Gulak, Fish, O’Reilly, Nakamura, Suzuki, Filthy Tom, Shelton Benjamin, Chad Gable, Chris Dickinson, Tracy Williams. Daisuke Sekimoto, obviously. And also some guys like Lance Archer, Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, Jon Klinger, and Ilja Dragunov to have some guys with slightly different styles. Maybe Hero and Hager. It’d be cool to see what Will Ospreay could do with this sort of environment...
Anyway, this ROCKED and I loved it. The only thing I would change would be getting rid of the TKO. I really hate seeing the ref back someone up and start a ten count because it feels like it slows the match down WAY too much. Or maybe I wouldn’t get rid of the rule so much as change it to make it happen less frequently.
Okay. I promise I’ll stop daydreaming now and talk about the actual match. I’m pretty sure the blood and the thing with Thatcher’s teeth was worked (unless they stitched his mouth up super-well during the commercial), but it added the PERFECT brutality to early on to really get this thing over. It also worked as a wonderful false tone-setting spot because it made me think they were going to go short but then they went long.
They made excellent use of the structure, had great twists and turns, and had me on the edge of my seat. This is one of those matches that I’m going to watch over and over again.
And I’ll have to watch this one over and over again because the sad fact is that this is probably going to be the only time we’ll see this because the structure makes it pretty much impossible for fans in the building to really see what’s going on. THIS is the sort of creativity I’m happy to see in era of Coronavirus, not these silly “cinematic” matches where they just move the match somewhere else and throw in a bunch of dumb jokes or just do a bunch of weird stuff, or where they try to take a wrestling match and shoot it in a painfully over-dramatic style like Ciampa vs. Gargano. Give me more of this! Find a way to do pro wrestling that you wouldn’t be able to do if you had to care about sight-lines.
This would have been an easy 10/10 if Riddle had sold his ankle better (it really leapt out at me when he was just up and running around after being stuck in that heel hook on the top... although if the way he hung down over the edge is a way of alleviating the pressure, someone please let me know and I’ll give this the full 10). Every single one of you MUST go watch this now.
This was an AWESOME episode of NXT, with many good promos, big matches that mostly delivered (albeit with some suspicious finishes), and a main event that was my absolute favorite thing I’ve seen in pro wrestling all year.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Beth Phoenix said that Adrian Alanis was “one third of the trio known as “the Skulk.”
There are about eight or nine people in the Skulk, at least. If you’re going to pretend to watch EVOLVE (and Beth did bring up EVOLVE) you should at least know what you’re talking about.
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Hold #712: ARM BAR!
FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
CHIKARA Hot Off the Griddle
FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
CHIKARA Hot Off the Griddle
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