Bet you thought this would be subtitled “Glorious”, didn’t you?
Making his first appearance at Full Sail in over a year, Hideo Itami returns to loud welcome. He’s facing Cruiserweight Classic (CWC) competitor Sean Maluta, and several CWC competitors are shown sitting in the front row. The Japanese Superstar starts fast, and flashes some arrogance when he feigns a knee drop and instead “kicks dirt” on his opponent. The young Samoan gets some payback with a leaping Codebreaker from the second rope that creates an opening for a rest hold, but Itami fights free through some kicks to connect with strikes of his own. A Dragon Screw takes down Maluta, eventually leading to the hesitation drop kick in the corner and the Busaiku Knee for the pin in a little under four minutes.
After Tom Phillips narrates a piece on the Authors of Pain defeating American Alpha a couple of weeks ago, we head backstage where Andrea D’Marco is set to interview tag champs The Revival. Dash & Dawson explain to Andrea (again) they’re the best in the world before TM61 interupt to point out the world is a big place, and they’ve proven themselves all over it, so they should get a title shot. The champs say you can’t just jump to the front of the line, which prompts Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano to butt in and bring up their victory over the champs, saying it should make them #1 contenders. The Revival then say they’ve already given Shane Thorne & Nick Miller a match, and leave the two potential challengers to figure it out.
Recent SmackDown draftee Mojo Rawley is set for what you’d assume is his last NXT match against Chris Atkins. The Hype Man pounces quickly and goes for the pin, but the referee stops his count. The camera pulls back to reveal that’s because Samoa Joe is here. The champ assaults both guys, and grabs a microphone to tell General Manager William Regal that since he didn’t consult with Joe before booking the title match against Shinsuke Nakamura for Brooklyn, he’s not going to consult with Regal before “rampaging” all over NXT. Rawley makes it back in and cuts Joe off with an attack, but Joe returns the favor as officials escort Mojo up the ramp. After the champ chokes out Zack Ryder’s tag partner, he tells the camera and the GM that’s what he’ll do to Shinsuke at TakeOver.
- If Phillips saying “I think it was Kevin Owens,” is the blowoff of Hideo being injured in a parking lot attack, color me sad.
- Great to see the former KENTA back either way, though, and his palpable enthusiasm was very cool. It has to be a bit of a challenge, thinking he’d likely be on the main roster now if he hadn’t been hurt, and with the current landscape likely positioning him for a lengthy NXT run while other guys who came in after him are moved up to Raw and SmackDown. All he can do is bust ass, though, and it looks like the fans are behind him.
- Have only seen Maluta twice, and in the same ring (albeit with different colors for the CWC), but I like him a lot. Should definitely be somebody the consider signing in the next class or two, and probably will considering his (ahem) bloodline.
- Spoilers weren’t clear on it and I was personally kind of hoping Gable & Jordan were full-time on the blue brand. But with SmackDown stalling on some things until after SummerSlam and the inclusion of a reminder video tonight, I guess American Alpha isn’t done with Authors of Pain - or NXT - just yet.
- Continue to wish they’d give TM61 more time to display their personalities in interviews, but they’re the supporting players in this program. Scott Dawson shined as usual all episode, Dash Wilder was his solid self with flashes of greatness (claiming their dominance is “scientifically proven”, the timing on the first lob of “nerds” at Johnny & Tommaso in the closing segment) and the challengers seamlessly integrating their meta-backstory as indy underdogs we’d be rooting for anyway with an adorkably charming friendship.
- Just a home run of a segment, and one of many examples NXT provided tonight you can use to counter anyone who defends a pointless segment on a main roster show. You don’t always have to do it, but it’s absolutely possible to accomplish multiple storytelling goals in any segment, and to let everyone involved look great while doing it.
- Anyone wondering why I love Joseph of the Samoas (h/t Broken Matt Hardy) need look no further than his decision to use the verb “to rampage” instead of anything else in this promo.
- A little worried the NXT title feud is shaping up as Joe vs. Regal (not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se) rather than the growth in Nakamura’s character I was wishing for last week, but they have a few more weeks to build from this.
Interview time again, this time with Charly Caruso and Bayley. The Hugster talks about how she’s been studying Asuka and getting mentally prepared for their rematch. The champ walks up and says “Think you’re ready? Come watch.”
Bayley takes a seat at commentary for Asuka’s match against Aliyah, but the Empress of Tomorrow sets up a folding chair on the ramp and signals for the former champ to sit there. She leaves the desk, but tosses the chair aside and stands at ringside with her arms crossed. In the match, the newcomer lands a couple of strikes, but the two-and-a-half minute match is mostly about the champ toying with her in order to send a message to Bayley. Asuka wins with her submission, but refuses to release the hold. That brings in Bayley to prompt the break, but Asuka continues to taunt her non-verbally.
We’re reminded of Oney Lorcan’s win over Tye Dillinger from a few weeks ago, and shown the post-show YouTube video where he says he needs to go back to his roots in order to continue to grow in NXT. Another video reveals that Ember Moon will debut at TakeOver: Back to Brooklyn.
- Tonight was a big “shut up dummy” to folks like me who’ve been doubting the Women’s champ (although, in my and other’s defense, Creative did course correct from booking her as a straight babyface, too). She only spoke five words, but delivered those perfectly, and communicated more with her face and wrestling in three minutes than the SmackDown women’s roster has in two weeks.
- Nobody turns me into a mark like Bayles, and her slow transition into a bad ass gets me everytime. I was pumping my fists like Charlie from Always Sunny on a bender when she crossed her arms after throwing the chair, and I was with her when Asuka’s viciousness gave her pause. One of the many reasons her character is relateable is because Bayley sometimes believes her own hype before being confronted by something (usually Asuka) that triggers the old doubts.
- Just can’t say enough about Asuka here, dismantling Aliyah while never taking her eyes off Bayley. Aliyah may have been great, but I couldn’t tell you, because I couldn’t take my eyes off the Empress.
- Athena and Biff Busick getting pushes makes me ridiculously happy. And, if memory serves, Ember is the first woman other than Asuka to get a TakeOver launch, and that surely indicates big plans. Plus, the Heavy Metal meets Sailor Moon hype video was dooope.
Entering to his GLORIOUS new theme song, Bobby Roode arrives in Full Sail. He describes being in the crowd in Dallas and knowing he had to sign with NXT. After the typical “We Are NXT” stuff we get from every veteran who comes in, Roode starts to talk about how NXT needs him. He slowly transitions to running down the crowd, ripping on their oversized t-shirts and cargo pants then promising to replace them with “Presidents and C.E.O.s”. Bobby Roode is here to be the star NXT needs, and it will be glorious.
After learning next week will feature a contract signing for Bayley/Asuka II, TM61 enters for their match against the tag champs. The two teams are evenly matched at the open, as evidenced by a couple of cool spots - one where Shane Thorne kicks Dash’s hand away when Dawson goes for a tag, only for The Revival member to slam him down and reach his partner anyway, and another when Dash & Dawson block Thorne & Nick Miller’s stereo dropkick spot, then fall victim to it a moment later. That bit takes us to a commercial.
When we return, the champs have isolated Thorne and are working over his arm (basically, Top Guy stuff). After a nearfall off a Dawson dropkick, Miller gets the hot tag and cleans house with suplexes and clotheslines - plus a couple two counts of his own, one off a nice spinebuster. Meanwhile, Wilder pulls Thorne off the apron, prompting his partner to give chase. Dash slides back into the ring, and Dawson grabs Nick for a DDT and the pin after a little more than eight minutes.
After getting their hands raised, the champs are back on the stick. The Revival run down all the teams they’ve beaten, but are cut off by Gargano & Ciampa. Johnny & Tommaso mockingly pick up the names Dash & Dawson are throwing down, like the Hollywood Blondes, Kermit & Miss Piggy and Pikachu & Charmander. Full Sail breaks into a “Pokemon” chant - Dash calls them all nerds - which the CWC guys use to say they haven’t collected them all, but they are going to collect the tag titles.
The Top Guys say it’s all talk and they’re out, but they try to land some fists (not flips) on the way by. Ciampa & Gargano are ready, dumping Dawson to the floor and hitting Dash with knees, kicks and their combo finisher to stand tall with the belts.
- Has anyone had a more masterful introductory segment than this? I need to time to consider how high it ranks, but it’s on my promo of the year somewhere.
- It validates the slow burn to his debut, and makes you think Roode and the NXT team were backstage crafting the whole package - his look, the theme, how to lull us in to thinking we were getting the “great to be here, y’all are changing the business” speech we’ve gotten versions of from Joe, Austin Aries, Rhyno, Eric Young, etc. to applying the ether so deftly we almost didn’t realize what was happening before he was expertly picking us apart.
- And, I say us, because as much as some of you may want to claim this was aimed at Full Sail, the only difference between most of us and who Roode was describing is the chants. Granted, that’s a big difference, but this wasn’t KO calling FSL the John Cena of wrestling fans. This was a takedown of wrestling fans, and it was... you know.
- Said it on Twitter, but it bears repeating. Graves’ reaction to Roode’s promo - his timing in deciding how long to let it sink in to the way he expressed his excitement for how great it would be to have rich, classy types in Full Sail rather than wrestling fans - was the best evidence he’s the next Bobby Heenan I’ve heard yet (the “I hope Gargano and Ciampa go play Pokemon Go right off a cliff somewhere” to close the night was just icing on the cake).
- The only problem is - I don’t know who challenges him. This is where we need the male version of Bayley to answer the call, but the last couple of those are on the Raw roster now.
- Fun main event which mostly served to whet our appetites for a future program between these teams. Just being in a match with evident stakes made it easier to feel attached to TM61, but I’m still not where I’ve been with previous babyface pairs. For instance, I thought Miller’s hot tag was well executed, but it didn’t particularly excite me.
- But that may be because I’m in the bag for The Revival and I’m just watching to see how they’re going to screw their opponents this time.
- The closing promos and brief fisticuffs expertly built off what we got earlier, and I’m not sure I have a lot to add. Their callbacks to history - both NXT and wrestling in general - didn’t feel like pandering, since both teams are about honoring that history, in their own ways. Ciampa & Gargano aren’t actually funny, but they mean well and have good rapport, and that makes up for a lot.
- This was a huge night for both Tommaso & Johnny. I’ll let Vidence break down their other main event for you, but needless to say, it was an impressive, impressive night. Is it October yet?
I truly can’t remember, even back in the salad days when Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze were making a great Sami Zayn/Neville feud even better week-in and week-out, an episode of NXT I’ve enjoyed as much as this one. Though I always say I reserve this for shows where I wouldn’t change a thing, and there are a couple of things I might change about the fifty-odd minutes we got on Aug. 3, the peaks reached by Asuka & Bayley, Bobby Roode and everything having to do with the tag title feud more than made up for them.
Do your worst, Cagesiders... nobody’s harshing this buzz.