NXT returned last night (July 17) as they continue to build to TakeOver: Toronto. You can find the results at the live blog here.
Matt Riddle def. Arturo Ruas via official stoppage
After the match he’s attacked by the masked man... KILLIAN DAIN!
What a fantastic re-debut.
Killian Dain returned to NXT TV and set up a major feud, indicating he will not be starting from the bottom. Matt Riddle is top guy material in NXT so Dain is coming in hot. Which is exactly what he should do. We don’t want to see the Beast of Belfast rolling over jobbers for two months. He’s too good for that. We’ve seen him stand face to face with soon-to-be NXT champion Drew McIntyre. He’s established in the promotion. No need to reestablish him.
I appreciate the little touch of main roster destruction to help put this over. The senton that broke the stage (and Riddle) was nice spot to sell Dain’s strength. This is now a contender to sneak onto the TakeOver card.
I quite enjoyed the match that preceded the important post-match events. This was a very unique “enhancement match” for Matt Riddle. His opponent Arturo Ruas is versed in MMA so this felt more like a mixed martial arts fight at times. (I appreciated Mauro Ranallo for prepping the fans for a very different style.) It’s a change of pace from the standard wrestling enhancement match.
The Street Profits have a more serious Street Talk video
The Street Talk segment featuring a serious (well more serious) Street Profits was a great touch to a feud that has only just started. A team like the Profits, proving they’re not just a one dimensional act is always important to keep fans invested and maybe pull in the fans that weren’t.
Mia Yim attacks Marina Shafir at the parking lot of a live event
This was an odd one. It was a cool standalone chapter, but it felt like a quick chapter of a book we’re not reading. The aggression Mia Yim showed was great to see as she slammed the car door on Shafir’s body. But what made her resort to this? It feels like something that should have been in response to some heinous acts by Shayna Baszler and her horsewomen.
Bronson Reed def. Dexter Lumis to advance in the Breakout tournament
This match felt like it was meant to showcase Dexter Lumis, so it was quite surprising to see Bronson Reed go over.
I chuckled a bit at first with Dexter’s gimmick. They pretty much repackaged Samuel Shaw with the same gimmick he had in TNA. But at the same time, it came off really great on screen.
Two thumbs up for his 80s style horror movie music. His look was great and he played the character very well. (Again, he’s had some practice.) While I remember his Dexter rip off gimmick in TNA, I had no recollection of his in-ring skills and he seemed impressive here.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bronson Reed does in the second round, but I’m more curious to see what Dexter Lumis does next in general.
Tyler Breeze is giving an interview backstage about how he needs some backup when he’s interrupted by the Forgotten Sons. He cracks a joke about Wesley Blake still being there but then Jaxson Ryker gets in his face.
Is Tyler getting a stable?
He was talking about getting some friends before a current stable started taunting him. It’s not going to be easy for Prince Pretty to go it alone against Jaxson Ryker with Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler in the big man’s corner. (It’d be a hard task without them out the outside.) It really feels like this could be leading to Tyler getting a stable... or at least a partner.
KUSHIDA vs. Apollo Crews
What a match this was.
This was probably KUSHIDA’s best match in NXT. It certainly was my favorite. And much credit has to go to Apollo Crews who was incredible in this bout. He played to his power (but was athletic as hell as usual) and at times KUSHIDA just had to survive him.
It was finally after working Apollo’s arm that KUSHIDA was able to seize an opportunity by hooking that arm from the top rope and turning that into an armbar in the middle of the ring. That led to the Hoverboard Lock and the tap out.
Who’s next for KUSHIDA? Whoever it is, they better bring it like Crews did.
Keith Lee is interviewed backstage. He talks about his starts and stops in the promotion and being looked over/passed by. He didn’t get the opportunity like the eight men in the Breakout tournament. Now Damian Priest is the hot topic. Maybe it’s time to change the narrative there.
It’s good that they’re using Keith’s start and stop run in NXT as part of his story now. However, complaining about lack of opportunities is often a heel move. Maybe that’s where this is going.
His match with Priest should be an interesting one booking wise. Taking a loss now would be a big deal for both guys in the current stage of their NXT careers. And that makes it very intriguing.
Adam Cole cuts a promo prior to his match, discussing a power shift in NXT. Then he introduces his opponent with a video. It’s Twan Tucker, a product of the AIW school, and the video shows him sharing a nice moment with Gargano.
Tucker comes out, but didn’t come alone. Johnny Gargano marches to the ring. He and Cole fight through the crowd. The big brawl ends with a Gargano Escape in the middle of the ring.
This feud just doesn’t feel like it’s clicking to the degree that it should.
Of course that’s just my opinion. (This whole review is just my opinion as that’s how these things work.) So I’m sure there are people out there who are loving this. But it just doesn’t feel like it’s at its full potential.
Take tonight for example. The pull apart brawl was very well executed. But it didn’t feel earned yet. Yes, Cole was a real douche when he went to Cleveland and stopped by Johnny’s parents pizza place before going to his wrestling school. But it wasn’t that bad. It was an eye roll. It was a “C’mon, dude. Don’t be like that.” It wasn’t anything that warranted the rage from Johnny that we saw here.
Honestly, I would have had Cole kick the crap out of Twan Tucker to really ramp up how evil he is so tonight’s closing segment felt warranted.
It’s not as if this program is a bad program. It’s the best of the three builds they’ve had given Sore Winner Adam Cole is such a great character. And the match will be great no doubt.
Maybe it’s because this is a story that started abruptly right at the same time we were denied the end of the fantastic Gargano/Tommaso Ciampa story. Maybe they’ve never done enough to build the heat for the matches. Whatever the reason, it’s just not as good as a Cole/Gargano program should be, and to be fair, that program should have the highest of expectations.
NXT continues to put on an entertaining product weekly, even if the main event angle seems to be missing something.
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