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NXT recap & reactions (July 24, 2019): Still lost

NXT returned to us last night (July 24) as they build towards TakeOver: Toronto in three weeks. You can find the results from tonight’s episode here.

Jordan Myles def. Angel Garza to advance to the finals of the Breakout Tournament

After the match, Shane Thorne walks to commentary, picks up a headset, and asks why debut these eight guys when they have Shane Thorne on the program?

This tournament continues to deliver in spades.

Tournaments rule in general. But this one featuring a bunch of talent who has already been seasoned outside WWE has really delivered. The first round was a great introduction to new talents we’ll be seeing soon. (Or in the case of Isiah “Swerve” Scott, already saw on 205 Live when he had an incredible match with Drew Gulak this week.)

Jordan Myles will head to the finals. Great choice. He is talented and a great wrestler to showcase all the way to the end.

Angel Garza will be just fine. He has “it.” He’s loaded with talent and charisma. He worked heel in this match and can do that very well. But he’s got so much personality that he’s easy to like, so he can work babyface as well. He’s the big standout from this tournament so far, and I anxiously await seeing what’s next for him.

This transitioned into disgruntled Shane Thorne. I’m always a big fan of when they merge segments together. It makes the show feel real. It’s not just Shane cutting the same promo backstage, which would feel like “Here’s a Shane Thorne segment.” Instead, it’s a pissed off Thorne who can’t handle his place so stormed out to vent about it.

It’s a strong reintroduction to the former TM61 member.

Bianca Belair def. Xia Li

This match was 90/10 Bianca. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine.

Too many matches are 50/50 when it comes to offense. Not every person should be able to hang with every other person. Xia is a rookie. She’s showed some promise but she hasn’t showed us any reason she should be able to hang with a main eventer.

Li still got to work against someone higher up the card, showing some fight at times, and Bianca got to show off her power and attitude.

This was a good use of an extended squash.

We see a Killian Dain video, back in the projector room, where he talks about how he attacked Matt Riddle because Matt Riddle is “something.” Dain is from a different world, one without rules, unlike Riddle. We saw a glimpse last week but a full introduction is coming.

This is going to be such a rad program.

Video of Jessamyn Duke being attacked by Mia Yim after a training session

Mia has now attacked both of Shayna Baszler’s horsewomen, which may make her the smartest woman to challenge for the Women’s title. Everyone else tried to bring their own backup, and that never has worked. Yim is just injuring the women so she doesn’t have to bother. Plus this will help convince Shayna to take the match.

These last two weeks of Yim assaults have been the best part of this story. She’s ruthless attacking these women, framing her as a woman you do not want to f*** with.

The story still needs some heat between champion and challenger to make it feel as big as Baszler’s last crop of challengers. But this was some of the best character building for Mia.

Velveteen Dream cuts a promo saying Roderick Strong isn’t big enough to ride the ride that is the Velveteen Experience. He wants to experience the person that is big enough. Roddy comes out and claims Dream is scared. He challenges for the title in Toronto. But then Pete Dunne interrupts! He marches down to the ring and snaps Strong’s finger. He stares at Dream and his title as Velveteen walks out of the ring.

Strong storms backstage to demand a match with Dream for the title. William Regal tells Roddy that Pete Dunne will be part of NXT for awhile and he’ll be part of that title match - a triple threat in Toronto.

This was a solid segment before the Dunne reveal. Velveteen strolled out with his charisma up to his eyeballs and cut a promo about how Roddy just isn’t big enough for the Dream. And he may not be wrong in that.

(And his outfit - a custom jacket with his face on the back, red gloves, no shirt... **chef’s kiss**)

Roddy’s response was good. He’s not a promo master, but this was simple and well delivered. He accused Dream of being scared and got under his skin.

But then this went to the next level with the introduction of Pete Dunne. He’s a fantastic addition, and it makes sense with the history as well.

Roderick Strong betrayed Pete Dunne when he joined the Undisputed ERA years back. And before Pete went to NXT UK and Ricochet when to the main roster, it seemed like they were teasing a match. So Pete has eyes for that North American title that eluded him in the past.

Sounds like Pete is going to be spending some time in NXT prime. Which is always a good addition. Personally, I’m pumped. The Bruiserweight has been a personal favorite of mine since he came on the NXT scene, but due to the vast amount of wrestling, I don’t watch NXT UK much at all. So I’ve missed out on Pete Dunne lately.

He’s a unique personality that is pretty much the polar opposite of Velveteen Dream. He’s meat and potatoes and full of grit while Dream is all style and flash. He’s certainly big enough to experience the Dream.

Io Shirai def. Kacy Catanzaro via DQ when Candice LeRae attacks Shirai

Io Shirai bails when Candice gets a chair

This segment felt like it didn’t get enough time to do what it set out to accomplish.

The match between Io and Kacy took no time at all. It never finished as LeRae attacked immediately. Much like last week with Cole and Gargano, this could have used the heel beating down an underdog babyface to set things up. It would have benefitted from Shirai really beating down an overmatched Kacy to get the fans to turn on her. Then send Candice out to make the save.

The revenge beat down was short too, with Io bailing early. Shirai getting out of there quickly made sense. We should have to wait to see her get hers. But it undercut LeRae’s passion and left the whole segment feeling rushed.

Damian Priest vs. Keith Lee

This was the main event of the show, indicating that they look at both of these guys as potential future main event level guys.

They rose to the occasion and both had their best match in NXT to date. (Granted, Priest has just had a couple of squashes.) It was a hoss affair where it was the rather large Damian who had to play the undersized athlete. And he did it well.

The finish was the right one. We’re well into “Keith Lee is failing” as his story. No need to stop now. Let’s push the character further and see how he continues to respond. He took this match to get on track, his frustration already seeping through. Now he’s taken another L.

I expect this to end in a heel turn, but you never know. Andrade’s losing streak ended because he found the right manager to keep him on track. Answering these questions is something NXT does very well.

Johnny Gargano chooses a stipulation for TakeOver that he’s come to enjoy: A street fight.

Adam Cole picks a standard ol’ wrestling match.

(They did not do these backstage bits back to back but peppered throughout the night.)

So much for some exciting stipulations...

Cole’s makes sense in story at least. He won the first fall of their 2 out of 3 falls match. He won the title in a one on one match. In his mind, he’s 2-0 against Johnny in regular ol’ wrestling matches. Why stop doing what works?

Plus, it’s a real heel thing to pick a regular match as your big stipulation.

Johnny’s, on the other hand, made little sense. He claimed he learned to love the stipulation, but must have forgotten the last Street Fight he was in, he lost to Tommaso Ciampa. He also lost the subsequent Last Man Standing match, which is a similar style.

Also, why pick a match that makes it perfectly legal for all of the Undisputed ERA to get involved? That makes the least amount of sense. He picked a match he’s not successful in and allows him to endure a four on one beating.

As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon.”

This was another very enjoyable episode of NXT.

Grade: A-

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