NXT returned to us last night (July 10) as they build their way to TakeOver: Toronto. You can find the results from this episode at the live blog here.
Io Shirai opens the show with new music and a new entrance. The crowd greets her with boos. She says she doesn’t need any friends or any of us fans. Then she drops the mic and walks off.
Io got a bit of a repackage with the heel turn.
She had new music and sported an all black outfit. I love a good rebrand when there’s a heel turn, with new music and all. It’s not always necessary (see: Sami Zayn), but it was definitely necessary with Io. Shirai isn’t going to be cutting any long promos to sell her heel turn so a different entrance with different music coupled with a different look and different swagger is necessary.
Shirai did cut a promo. It was brief but effective. With English being Io’s second language, it wouldn’t have been wise to ask her to go out and sell her heel turn with a five minute promo. She had two lines, she delivered them well, and she left. Perfect execution.
The crowd responded appropriately, booing Io the entire time, which answered my question from today’s preview. However, I don’t know if it’s going to be sustainable. An angry Io with a cool entrance, decked in all black is going to be very easy to want to like.
(Note: It appears that those boos were piped in as in person video does not reveal an angry crowd.)
A Velveteen Dream press conference takes place. When asked about Roderick Strong, Dream says Roddy isn’t ready to face him.
Watching how they present Velveteen Dream is always so entertaining. He gets these unique and creative set ups, from a rolling couch to a flashy presser. They’re just additions that make this character feel larger than life, which he absolutely is.
And then the man does his thing to take it home. He refused to answer the first question because it wasn’t good enough. He took one from Cathy Kelley (“Queen Cathy”), put down Roderick Strong, and then didn’t take any more questions. Just one question and he left. A true boss.
Velveteen just makes these things work.
Damien Priest def. El Blanco Loco
Week two of Priest squashes didn’t add or detract from his debut outing. He has a good look and definitely the possibility to go somewhere in NXT. But there’s only so much we can learn from squashes.
Basically, Priest of off to a good start, but we’ll have to wait to see a bit more of a real feud before we can evaluate see how he’s going to fit in on NXT.
Jordan Myles def. Boa
This was certainly more of a plodding match than the first two matches of the Breakout tournament, but that was at least partially by design. Boa’s style focuses on submissions, and it would make sense that he would slow it down given Myles’ strength are at full speed. And that extended wearing down of Jordan made the eventual come back hot.
Boa hasn’t been wrestling long, but acquitted himself well here. They’ll need to figure out how to have a slower, submission based match that doesn’t start to lose the crowd, which it sounded like happened mid match here. But he certainly did not look lost out there.
Myles is obviously impressive in the ring, but his personality was somewhat perplexing. I didn’t watch much of him as ACH prior, so I don’t know if he was always smiling. And it wasn’t even the smiling itself that seemed out of place. Plenty of guys smile in the ring. But his grin felt forced. He’d put on a hold and then flash this phony smile.
Mauro sold this as living his dream, but it almost playing a bit heelish because it didn’t feel sincere. It’s odd in general to smile when you’re in the middle of a battle, but it’s weirder when that smile doesn’t even seem real.
They play a Keith Lee video package/promo where he discusses he hasn’t been what he has wanted to be here in NXT
Normally, I don’t touch on hype packages, but I appreciate the fact they’re leaning into Keith Lee’s slow start and weaving it into his story now. Sometimes it’s better to acknowledge these things and use it to advance the character.
Shayna also addresses the press. She claims that Mia Yim’s good life story isn’t enough to beat her.
This was a less flashy press conference than the Velveteen Dream. No frills, just like Shayna. With it looking like it’s going to be Yim/Baszler at TakeOver, they really need to start building up this rivalry because right now, there’s minimal excitement behind it
Street Profits def. The Brit-Am Brawlers to retain the NXT tag titles
After the match, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly walk out to the entryway and slow clap the champ.
Praised be, this was a tag match didn’t have any interference. That had seemed to be a pattern NXT was developing.
It was a fantastic tag match, which NXT is known for. (For my money, the best tag wrestling is in NXT right now.) The styles of these two teams meshed up well. And there was one moment I felt was the epitome of that.
Early in the match, Danny Burch had Angelo Dawkins in a deep crossface. Realizing his opponent was in trouble, Montez Ford got into the ring and kicked Burch. The hard Englishman was pissed and gave Tez a death stare to which Ford responded by jawing something along the lines of “I did that. What about it?”
It was a great small moment to show off what these guys can do and who they are. There’s the technically proficient Brawlers (and that crossface looked painful) who aren’t going to take crap. And then there’s the brash Ford who will get in your face after saving his teammate.
The whole of the match was very good and if you enjoy tag team wrestling, you should give it a watch.
With Burch and Lorcan at the back of the line alongside the Forgotten Sons, that leaves the Undisputed ERA left to try to claim another piece of gold in what could be an epic night in Toronto for the four.
The tag team match is the only absolutely must-watch thing from this episode, but everything else was good. From Io Shirai’s reboot attitude to another solid outing in the Breakout tournament.
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