The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 05.18.21
Oh hey, Sportsnet 360 is on free preview until the end of June, so lookie what I can watch on Tuesday nights for a while.
Live from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix
Toni Storm v. Zoey Stark
Never seen Zoey Stark before but she’s not Toni Storm so probably should lose badly. Stark attacks and dropkicks Storm to the floor, and follows with a dive, but Toni runs her into the stairs to take over and follows with a running ass to the face. Back in, Toni stomps away in the corner and follows with a snap suplex for two. Big boot gets two. Toni with a backbreaker and she works on that and gets two. They slug it out and Stark comes back with an enzuigiri and we take a break. Back with Stark hitting a superkick in the corner and sliding dropkick for two. Toni goes for Storm Zero, but Zoey reverses to a rollup for two and suplexes her for two. Storm comes back again with a german suplex and follows Storm Zero for two, which gives us SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE. So she hits some kind of wacky slam onto Zoey’s head and that finishes at 10:45. They both worked hard here and it was a good opener. ***1/4 And then Frankie Monet shows up to put the women’s locker room on notice.
Meanwhile, Legado del Fantasma are doing a promo in the back, but Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa interrupt and they want a match tonight. Thatcher even tries to speak some Spanish, but apparently makes no sense.
Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes throws a few bucks at Jake Atlas to park his car.
Meanwhile, the Way are getting a massage and burying Dexter Lumis, but they don’t notice that Lumis is the one giving the massage! Oh, the hilarity.
Meanwhile, Karrion Kross watches his title match with Balor again, and we get comments from someone who is apparently an “NXT analyst”. Is that like what you do before you get promoted to the pre-show panels on the main roster? Was he mentored by Sam Roberts? Anyway they do this big video package for the rematch and talk about how it’s “too close to call”, which is weird because Kross already beat him cleanly and it’s not like Balor has done anything since to get reheated. Whatever, it’s a TV main event, it’ll be fine.
Jake Atlas v. Cameron Grimes
Grimes shows a video of Ted Dibiase before the match, highlighting Ted getting beaten and humiliated in various ways. Yeah I’m sure that’ll work out for him. We get a REALLY fake-sounding “Dibiase” chant from the fake crowd and Grimes freaks out, allowing Atlas to attack as we take a break. Back with Atlas in control with a nice flying rana for two. Grimes catches him with a knee to the gut and follows with a clothesline for two. Grimes sends him into the corner, but they slug it out and trade forearms while a mysterious dollar-sign themed limo pulls up outside. Atlas with a clothesline for two and he goes up and misses, allowing Grimes to hit his bodypress. This sets up the double stomp, but Ted Dibiase makes his appearance and Atlas wins via distraction rollup at 7:15. And so Grimes is foiled again by that damn Ted Dibiase. Nothing really to the match. ** So…where exactly are they going with this Grimes-Dibiase thing? There’s not really a payoff you can do.
Meanwhile, Pete Dunne sits down with an acclaimed sports journalist who I don’t know, in a weird setup where they’re sitting on dining room chairs backstage for the interview. He wants to go for the NXT title and does a 100% babyface interview here.
Alexander Wolfe v. Killian Dain
I like the little metatextual story of Drake Maverick understanding wrestling history and being all paranoid about Dain turning on him and joining Imperium. They slug it out to start and Dain gets forearms in the corner and follows with a corner splash, but Imperium takes the ref and Wolfe gets a german suplex to take over. So then Imperium throws in a chair and Wolfe hestitates, allowing Dain to hit the bodypress for the pin at 1:50. And then Imperium turns on Wolfe because he wouldn’t use the chair, laying him out with their finisher
Meanwhile, Dakota and Raquel hash out some of their issues, but EverRise interrupt, finally showing some personality 2 years into their run, and get punched out by Raquel.
Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher v. Legado del Fantasma
Wilde taunts Ciampa to start and gets thrown into the railing for his troubles, and back in Ciampa gets two. Ciampa goes to a headlock on the mat and switches off with Thatcher for a cravat, but Mendoza gets a tag and Thatcher immediately goes to work on the arm. Ciampa comes in with a headscissors on the mat and Thatcher goes back to the arm as Mendoza’s nose gets busted open somehow. So Thatcher has no empathy and puts him in an anklelock, and Ciampa comes in for the rare double anklelock, but Fantasma reverses to double rollups to escape and they all knock each other out as NXT ROLLS ON. Back with Ciampa hitting corner clotheslines, as Beth is amazed that Ciampa is getting up in years but can still build momentum! Fantasma takes over with double-teams on Ciampa and a spinebuster gets two for Wilde. At this point a replay shows that the bloody nose was caused by Ciampa smashing an elbow into his face. Yeah that would do it. Mendoza works on Ciampa in the corner, but charges and hits the post and lands on the floor. Hot tag Thatcher and he throws suplexes on the heels and hits Mendoza with an elbow in the corner for two. Thatcher and Ciampa take turns beating on Mendoza and Ciampa hits a running knee strike for two, but misses a charge and Mendoza fights back with kicks. Shining Wizard as Mendoza is bleeding again, and Wilde comes back in with a snap suplex, and they take turns with moonsaults on Ciampa for two. Fantasma dumps Thatcher, but Thatcher trips up Mendoza and Ciampa hits the draping DDT on Wilde for two. But then the ref gets distracted and the Grizzled Young Veterans take out Ciampa and LDF finishes him at 15:12. Not a fan of the finishes on this show thus far but this was a hell of a fight and it kept getting better as it went along. ****
Meanwhile, Bobby Fish is back to pay his debts to Pete Dunne, and we get a gross photo of his injured arm.
Meanwhile, more hilarity at the massage parlor.
Aliyah v. Sarray
Apparently Aliyah is now an “NXT veteran”, which is a pretty sad indictment of the promotion because she can barely work a match. Aliyah attacks with help from Jessie Kamea and gets a hairtoss and running knee in the corner for two. Sarray puts her down with a spinkick for two and follows with a german suplex, then goes up with a missile dropkick and follows with an exploder for the pin at 2:24. Basically a squash, which is what it should have been.
Meanwhile, Ember and Shotzi do some tank maintenance and howl a lot.
Ashanti the Adonis & Top Dolla v. Tony Nese & Arya Daivari
So I guess these guys are Swerve Scott’s evil rap entourage. Do they not have any developmental geeks they can use as enhancement talent instead of constantly killing off the 205 Live guys? Top Dolla destroys Daivari and beats on him in the corner, and Adonis comes in with a dropkick and continues the beating, and Top Dolla gets a death valley driver to finish at 2:10. Apparently Swerve is going to be peeping the cage match and wants the winner. Well his bodyguard tag team squashed a couple of guys so he certainly should be next in line! This gimmick feels really played out already, not even from wrestling but just because we already have seen a million variations and parodies of this idea in pop culture in general.
Meanwhile, William Regal provides some updates on upcoming title matches, and books a rematch for the NXT Women’s tag title next week.
NXT North American title, cage match: Johnny Gargano v. Bronson Reed
Johnny sprints for the door right away and gets hauled back in, so he runs away some more and then runs into Reed and gets swatted down. Reed runs him into the cage, but misses a charge and Johnny tries to take over, only to get caught with a draping DDT. Johnny recovers with a moonsault and slugs away on the mat, but Reed hits him with a death valley driver for two. Reed tries to climb out but gets distracted by Austin Theory, and Johnny knocks him down as we take a break. Back with Johnny in control with a dropkick for two, but Reed powerslams him and slingshots him into the cage. They head up and Reed gets a samoan drop off the middle rope, for two. They fight up the cage and Gargano takes him down with a powerbomb, but my PVR runs out because they apparently can’t do this show without an overrun even when they’re unopposed. Well that’s great. Apparently Reed won the title after the show cut out.
Hey, maybe time your shows better, WWE. Just a thought.