NXT returned last night (July 8) from the WWE Performance Center with night two of the Great American Bash. You can find the results from the live blog here.
Wish You Were Here
Keith Lee climbed the mountain on the second night of the Great American Bash.
He defeated Adam Cole in about 25 minutes to win the NXT title, becoming the first person to hold both men’s singles titles at the same time. It’s a crowning achievement and about damned time.
Lee caught on fire in latter half of last year, much because of his epic feud with Dominik Dijakovic, creating a wave he rode to some amazing heights. It was only a matter of time until he won the big one in NXT. But if they didn’t pull the trigger here, it would have been a loss difficult to overcome. Luckily, NXT realized that and finally went all the way with the Limitless One.
The match was worthy of the moment. It wasn’t the typical NXT epic where two men go too long and kick out of too many moves. (Honestly, that Triple H/HBK main event epic we get so often in NXT is one of the aspects of the promotion I enjoy the least.) Instead, they kept it simple, slowly upping the stakes as it they went along.
The first major point of the match was a call back to one of the earliest moments in the history between these competitors. Harking back to when Lee pounced Cole deep into the crowd, Keith tried that move again. But the NXT champ was wise to it and stepped aside, leaving the larger man to crash hard into the plexiglass.
Using Lee’s own size and speed against him was the perfect way to give the smaller Cole the advantage. Adam still had to work tirelessly to keep Keith down, but the reason he could at all was well established.
There were a few finisher kick outs, all on Lee’s end. That makes sense given his size. First he kicked out of one Last Shot. (Though Cole did not pull his knee pad down so it was not a bone to skull shot, a detail that the announcers neglected to point out as a way to protect that finish.) He also kicked out of a Panama Sunrise, the one move that took a bit too much suspension of disbelief give the size discrepancy, and a Last Shot with an exposed knee.
However, Cole didn’t kick out of any of Lee’s finishers. Even with the Spirit Bomb, he needed to reach the tip of his finger to the rope to break that count. He certainly wasn’t kicking out of the combination of the Bomb and the Big Bang Catastrophe in the end.
There was no Undisputed ERA interference, which was a plus when it came to the match itself given interference will often make a match feel overbooked. But it needed an explanation since Cole has always used them if able before. Why not in the biggest match of his reign?
All of that aside, this was a match I could feel myself getting anxious about as I watched it. And that’s what is important. They hooked me early and had me biting on everything at the end.
The only thing really missing this week was something they just couldn’t have. That’s a real live crowd. The PC fans were as energetic as they could be, but nothing can replace that surge of emotion a real crowd of fans would have given Keith Lee’s crowning moment.
Thems the ropes and that will be something we’re going to say for many many months every time we get a moment like this. Losing the crowd doesn’t detract from the moment, but it does deny it all that it really should have been. Keith deserved to be able to have this moment in front of his fans and the fans deserved to experience it with him.
But there’s nothing that can be done. This moment still felt big without the crowd. We can just imagine how much bigger it could have felt.
A Necessary Win
Candice LeRae picked up her much needed win over Mia Yim this week.
Coming into this Street Fight, Candice hadn’t picked up any significant victories after her heel turn. It was getting to the point that if she took many more losses, her heel turn could suffer for it.
Luckily, she picked up the W this week against Mia in a street fight that earned the name. These two women battled around the arena before settling back in the ring. That’s when Mia introduced my favorite story of the match: the brass knuckles.
Brass knucks are a great weapon and not used enough. Though it’s usually the heel’s tool, in a street fight, it’s hard to paint someone as a heel. Yim has always been painted as a tough street fighter so the weapon fit her. A shame she couldn’t use them though.
Her attempt was blocked by LeRae with a chair. The two eventually fought onto a precarious table set up on the top turnbuckle when LeRae stole the key weapon, socked her opponent with them, and then delivered a swinging neck breaker from that table onto a pile of chairs.
So in the end, LeRae got her needed win and the brass knuckles were protected as a serious weapon.
With a big win under her belt, Candice’s heel turn can move forward to its next big thing. Maybe a feud with Tegan Nox, who was also involved in her elimination from the #1 contenders match last week. That could be a big feud for both women.
Always Good for a Laugh
Another week, another hilarious Robert Stone segment.
Promising a new signee this week, he and Aliyah tried to convince Shotzi Blackheart to sign with them. Well, of course that wasn’t something she was going to do given... well.. the Robert Stone Brand kind of sucks right now.
This surprised Robbie, who reacted with hyperbolic shock, tossing his drink back. Of course, that drink hit big Killian Dain, who immediately laid out Robert. To add injury to injury, Shotzi drove her mini-tank over Stone’s leg, leaving him screaming that he’s dying.
I’ve seen these Stone segments used as evidence of a possible main roster influence to NXT. But I’ve always been a fan of comedy in wrestling as long as it’s not too much. Robert Stone is the perfect person to play this role. He’s becoming the Wile E. Coyote of NXT, thinking he’s clever and getting his butt handed to him each time.
Chelsea Green kicking him to the curb may be the best thing that happened to him while she’s disappeared since then. I’m still not sure the reasoning behind that.
El Legado del Fantasma picked up their first win as a trios unit.
They faced off against the more ragtag unit of Breezango & Drake Maverick, so a win should have been expected. It was still a strong first showing for Santos Escobar’s group, working very well as a unit against a talented team.
Fandango played the face in peril, and it was Maverick who got the big moment facing off with Escobar. He got to show his passion that he’s become known for before Santos put him away with the Phantom Driver.
Drake taking the pin here fits with the underdog persona he’s crafted in NXT while sparing Breezango having to take a pin in a tag style match. That’ll protect them for when they return to the tag team title scene.
All the Rest:
- Johnny Gargano defeated Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in a match that lived up to any hype it carried with the names involved. There isn’t much to say about it but it was a good match that ended with the right man “defending his house.” Johnny couldn’t lose this match. However, NXT needs to get Scott into more of a story.
- Mercedes picked up a rather dominant win over Santana Garrett, showing off her aggression. Looks like this may be Garrett’s role in NXT.
- Bronson Reed defeated Tony Nese in a match that I believe was to defend the honor of enhancement talent Leon Ruff.
The main event was the meat of this show and it delivered. But everything else delivered too. A kickass street fight. A couple other sharp matches. And some more comedy gold from Robert Stone.
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