The SmarK Rant for NXT – 08.26.20
Taped from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett in the arena and Beth Phoenix from whatever limbo she currently resides in.
Karrion Kross joins us to start, arm in a sling but still doing his full badass entrance. Now that’s a trooper after HHH’s own heart. So he’s the new NXT champion, and he told us so, and he told us everyone would suffer on the way there. Well, 2020 has been rough on everyone. But although the path might hold obstacles, for him the obstacles ARE the path, and he’s vacating the NXT title and he’ll be back later to destroy everyone. You know, I feel like he’s already made his point, and he should just go right to the main roster when he’s ready to return. I think he’s gonna be a big babyface when he comes back if they don’t fuck it up.
NXT tag team titles: Imperium v. Breezango
Really, without WALTER, Imperium is a complete waste of time at this point. Breezango attacks before the bell, but Aichner takes Fandango (or as Barrett knows him, “The Dangler”) down and Imperium trades armbars on him. Dango comes back with a dropkick and we take a break. Back with Barthel in control, because why would we need to see the heat? Double team into a clothesline gets two for Aichner. Butterfly suplex gets two. Dango tosses Aichner and makes a hot tag to Breeze, and he hits Barthel with a superkick and follows with a pair of corner elbows and a high knee. Barthel elbows him into the corner and follows with a suplex, but Breeze hits him with a leg lariat for two. Barthel takes over again with a high kick in the corner and it’s back to Aichner, but Breeze hits him with a kick to cut that off. Dango comes in with a guillotine legdrop on Aichner, but Barthel pulls him out to prevent the pin. So Fandango hits them with a dive, but gets taken out on the floor, and we take ANOTHER break. Back with Aichner doing the Omega YOU CAN’T ESCAPE moonsault for two, and Barthel pulls Breeze out and hits him with a tilt-a-whirl slam on the floor. Fandango fights back with a jawbreaker, but he’s got no partner to tag and Imperium double-teams him some more and Barthel gets two. Fandango finally tags Breeze and he manages to fight off Imperium with superkicks and Fandango comes in with a flying legdrop on both at the same time, and pins Barthel to win the titles at 14:38. I have nothing specifically against Breezango as a team, but even by NXT standards they’re a midcard joke team and they shouldn’t be champions. **1/2 Like really, it’s only been about a year but it feels like an eternity since the great days of Moustache Mountain v. Undisputed Era putting on five star matches on free TV and tag titles that meant something. Like what does it even mean to beat Imperium without WALTER? Nothing. They’re just two guys who do suplexes. Maybe put together some guys who are either employed for no apparent reason or have nothing else going on, and let them be a tag team, like Drake Maverick and Cameron Grimes. You can’t tell me they wouldn’t have fun. NO BUYS.
Meanwhile, Damian Priest is ready for the afterparty, but Timothy Thatcher thinks he should be the guy to get the first shot because Priest is unequipped to wrestle with him. “Looks to me like I’m pretty well equipped” notes Priest. HA! Now that’s a good line.
Jake Atlas v. Tomasso Ciampa
Ciampa immediately destroys Atlas and drops him with the draping DDT for the pin at 0:43. And then he continues the destruction and beats the shit out of him outside afterwards. Wait, so HE’S a heel again now, too? I think they’re a TAD heavy on the heel side at this point. Are they gonna reform DIY and then break them up again? Atlas goes out on a stretcher, but does anyone REALLY care about Jake Atlas? Exactly.
Meanwhile, Candice LeRae gives the backstory behind her broken friendship with Tegan Nox.
Meanwhile, Bronson Reed is doing a promo, but Austin Theory interrupts and he’s pretty sure that Reed might be a champion by the time he’s 55. Reed doesn’t really appreciate that “compliment”.
Mia Yim v. Shotzi Blackheart
Robert Stone continues being the gift that keeps giving, as he comes out cutting a random promo on Mia, but Shotzi runs him over from behind and crushes his leg under her tank again. That was some tremendous timing. Yim works for a hammerlock, but Shotzi takes her down and welcomes her to the ballpit. Mia gets a rana, but Shotzi gets her own for two. Yim rolls her up with a leglock for two, but they stop for sportsmanship and then Yim punches her in the throat and gets a rollup for two. Wade Barrett: “Shotzi’s a weirdo. I always hated taking on the weirdos.” Yim dropkicks her into the corner, but Shotzi comes back with a bulldog and slugs away with kicks and a Saito suplex for two. Yim fires back with a dragon suplex and a boot in the corner, but she misses a missile dropkick and Blackheart goes up with a senton for the surprise pin at 4:31. I continue to not get Shotzi’s deal and she’s still really green out there, but you gotta push new people sometimes. **
Meanwhile, Mr. Regal and the NXT braintrust have come to a decision about the NXT title situation.
Meanwhile, Dakota Kai isn’t bothered by Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai.
Mr. Regal joins us, putting over Karrion Kross and wishing him best wishes on his recovery. But hey, life moves on, so next week we’re gonna have a four-way Iron Man match with Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa and Adam Cole to decide the title. I’m sure the match will be awesome, but Iron Man matches are ratings DEATH. Anyway, this has gotta be Finn Balor, you’d have to think. Unless they just go back to Adam Cole again and finish the complete reset of the year.
Cruiserweight title: Santos Escobar v. Isaiah Swerve Scott
Scott immediately takes Escobar to the floor with a headscissors, and then we immediately take a break seconds into the match. Back with Escobar working a headlock, but Swerve gets a suplex for two. Swerve hooks him in a Gory Special and turns it into a backslide for two, but Escobar gives him a couple of boots to the gut and they fight to the apron, Scott gets slammed into the plexi and then dropped on the stairs for good measure. Back in, Escobar boots him down for two. Double knees in the corner gets two. They fight over a knucklelock and Swerve tries a rana off the top, but Escobar counters to an UGLY powerbomb that gets two. Oh man that was almost a pair of broken necks. We take another break and return with Escobar working Scott over and putting the boots to him, but Swerve makes the comeback with a diving elbow to put Escobar on the floor and he follows with a Fosbury Flop backflip dive. Back in, flatliner gets two. Escobar’s goons take the ref and he gets a high kick for two, but Breezango evens things up and Scott gets a high knee for two. German suplex gets two. Shining Wizard gets two. Santos bails to the floor and puts on his luchador mask, then headbutts Scott for the pin at 16:03. Super weak finish, well worked match. *** Guys, I think that mask might be loaded! I just find this “Evil lucha” stable so boring. They had all sorts of wacky stuff going on originally with Escobar’s split personality tease and kidnapping people, and now it’s just another stable with one star and a couple of interchangeable goons.
Meanwhile, Johnny Gargano is gonna prove himself all over again next week.
Meanwhile, we get an advertisement for WWE’s content on Peacock. On the WWE Network. Where you can just watch all that same stuff and about 100 times more on top of it.
Meanwhile, Finn Balor isn’t a cornerstone, he’s a centerpiece. Joey At Home Trolling On The Internet is gonna get what he wants! I think I already banned him from the blog, actually.
Drake Maverick v. Kyle O’Reilly
Maverick fires away to start and dropkicks the knee, putting Kyle on the floor. Drake follows with a dive onto the Undisputed Era, but O’Reilly kicks the crap out of him in the ring to take over. Drake gets all fired up and throws his own kicks before hitting a senton to the back, but O’Reilly swats him down like a fly with another kick. O’Reilly takes out the knee with leg kicks, but Maverick fights back with an enzuigiri, and then the knee buckles and O’Reilly rolls him into the heel hook and taps him out at 3:20. And then Maverick gets beaten down again. Why did they even bother hiring him back? Killian Dain makes the save. Hey, there you go, there’s a new tag team they can put together! But no, Dain eschews thanks from Maverick and beats him up as well. **
Meanwhile, Rhea Ripley wants to stress that she’s not friends with Io Shirai and she’s just there for the NXT title. Fair enough.
Io Shirai & Rhea Ripley v. Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai
Ripley immediately throws Kai around to start, so we get the showdown with Ripley and Gonzalez and they slug it out a bit before Shirai comes in. The heels bail to the floor and surprise surprise, we take a break seconds into the match. Back with Rhea running wild on Kai with knees, but Gonzalez pulls her partner to safety and they double-team Rhea on the floor. Back in, Gonzalez beats on Ripley for two and Kai comes in and works the back. Rhea gets a high kick and makes the hot tag to Io, and she faceplants Kai and holds off both heels. 619 for Kai and a springboard dropkick gets two. They do an awkward pair of reversals and Io gets a knee to the head and a german suplex for two off that. Gonzalez takes out Io and hauls Kai over for the tag, and a powerslam gets two. We get a false tag to Rhea and they haul Shirai back for more abuse in the corner, at which point Mercedes Martinez heads out and yanks Rhea off the apron while Gonzalez slams Io for two. Rhea manages to tag herself in, but walks into a boot from Gonzalez and a powerbomb finishes her at 10:42. They are just doing everything humanly possible to kill off Rhea Ripley, it feels like. Like, she was super hot around Wrestlemania and now she’s doing midcard feuds with Robert Stone’s geeks and jobbing to heat up Raquel Gonzalez. Why is she even in NXT at this point? The main roster is just Bayley and Sasha fighting Asuka over and over anyway, send her up there and freshen it up. **1/4
This was an OK at best show that felt like complete time filler after the NXT title getting vacated and tag title change. Dynamite wasn’t exactly hot shit either, but I’m going with AEW this week because it was more entertaining and had more interesting stories going on.