NXT returned last night (Aug. 26) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results from the live blog here.
The show opened with Karrion Kross relinquishing his title due to a shoulder injury.
We still don’t know the actually extent of the injury, but I’d have to guess it’s going to be many months for recovery. If it were just a month or two, they’d probably just book around it.
That is a huge bummer. Just like when this happened to Finn Bálor, it’s always a downer to see a wrestler have to go on the shelf just after reaching a pinnacle. I mean it’s always a downer when any wrestler has to go on the shelf in general, but it’s an even stiffer kick in the beanbags when they just achieved something big.
It sucks for the promotion too. Because they had a plan for him. Perhaps that plan was a long title reign. Now they have to slot people into the title scene that weren’t supposed to be there, upending all they had planned for those people.
They have to pretty much tear up a large portion of their outline of events and come up with something new. NXT creative is consistent, and they’ll likely come up with something good. But it’s often not as good as the big picture they had planned.
They have experience in this. Twice Tommaso Ciampa’s injuries delayed big plans for his feud with Johnny Gargano, including denying us the finish of that two year program. Both of those situations, they came up with something, but in regards to the second injury, it was never going to be as rewarding as the proper payoff.
Now for what they decided to do with this vacant gold.
William Regal announced there’d be a FATAL 4-WAY IRON MAN MATCH to decide the new champion. It will include Finn Bálor, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, & Adam Cole. Remember me bemoaning a rather repetitive title picture in the preview? Well this doesn’t change anything.
That being said, they don’t have anyone else who can slot into this spot right now. And this match should rule no matter what.
Iron Man matches are fun but really can bog down in the middle with just two competitors. But with a fatal 4-way, it should keep things fresh. Guys can rotate in and out of focus to keep the action exciting. And these are four straight up excellent wrestlers. No doubt they’ll put together a great one.
Tommaso Ciampa just returned and the last we saw him was getting his ass kicked by Kross. That’s a tough spot to justify giving someone a title match. Their answer was to turn him back into a vicious heel with a squash and post match brutalizing of Jake Atlas. This was likely not the original plan but they needed to give us a reason to believe he deserves to be in this match. Going back to the classic Blackheart does that.
Normally it’d be odd to have pretty much four heels in a match like this. You could argue that Cole is now a tweener after his Pat McAfee feud and Finn has been one for awhile. But not to have one true babyface is wild. But all these guys are at a point where it just doesn’t matter because they’re all so good.
If I had to pick a winner, I’d pick Finn Bálor. Johnny doesn’t feel like he’s high enough of the card, Adam just came off a LONG title reign, and Tommaso just returned with a rushed heel turn. But we’ll see how they go.
Get pumped for this match!
Tyler Breeze and Fandango have finally claimed gold in WWE, never having done so before. (Apparently Breeze as Mike Dalton held an FCW title when that was still their developmental, but that really isn’t the same as NXT or WWE.) It’s long past due.
They had themselves a tough match against the always good Imperium. Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner seemed to dominate most of the match, making sure the impressive duo looked strong in a loss. But the plucky and talented underdogs wouldn’t go away and eventually won with superkicks from Breeze and a double top rope leg drop from Dango.
It’s great to see these guys finally hold some gold after all the work they’ve put in, grinding through lack of creative and injuries in Fandango’s case.
It looks like a match with El Legado del Fantasma may be in their future, and knowing NXT’s booking, they will probably be a short lived babyface tag team to help establish a heel duo. That’s not really a compliant. It’s a style I don’t mind. I’m just glad Dango and Breeze are champs right now.
Honestly, the main event, Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai & Raquel González, was a good match, but the type of match that if it happened anywhere else on the card, I’d probably give it the “All the rest” treatment.
But it was the main so we’ll look at it a bit more than that.
The ending involved Mercedes Martinez knocking Rhea off the ring apron as revenge from that huge powerbomb last week when the referee was not looking. Ripley recovered enough to get back in ring, but immediately took a big boot and slam from González for the L.
They clearly see a lot in Raquel and want to elevate her by having her work with Rhea Ripley. That’s not a bad thing. She’s impressed since taking on the role of Dakota’s heavy. And opening up the women’s division even more is only a good thing.
More than a Squash
There was a match that looked like it’d just be a squash between Kyle O’Reilly and Drake Maverick that ended up doing a lot in that time.
Drake showed some fight, but it was the predictable KOR win you were thinking. But then after the match, Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong attacked Maverick in typical Undisputed fashion. However Kyle didn’t really seem as down with that. He didn’t join in, though he didn’t try to stop them. Maybe he’s going to be the babyface in a potential Adam Cole feud, but personally, I think the roles would be better reversed.
Killian Dain made the save, but it was really just to get revenge from when the ERA interrupted Dain’s match with Maverick the other week. This is something NXT does that I always appreciate. A throwaway segment like the one the other week led into a little more of something here. It wasn’t a wasted motion but the subtle start to a program, even if it isn’t going to be a major program.
Any hope for a buddy cop pairing of Dain and Maverick were quickly short circuited when Killian attacked Drake afterwards.
All the Rest:
- Shotzi Blackheart picked up a win over Mia Yim. It wasn’t the scheduled match. Mercedes Martinez was supposed to face Yim, but Shotzi ran over Robert Stone with a tank (it’s what she does) and took her place. Mercedes hadn’t even walked out yet so I guess she didn’t care either way.
- Santos Escobar successfully defended his Cruiserweight title against Isaiah “Swerve” Scott by putting on what looked to be a loaded luchador mask and headbutting him. That knocked Swerve out and Escobar took the W. I appreciate the way they went here. It was Santos using the lucha imagery to steal a win, his own way to mold the style to his image after so often discussing remaking lucha libre.
- Wade Barrett was very good on commentary this week. Sometimes I forgot he was there, but it’s not always great to notice announcers all the time. When he did speak, it was entertaining and did a good job putting over the action. I look forward to seeing him again next week.
This is a weird one because the biggest happenings on this show were all secondary to Karrion Kross’ injury. They did well with what they presented, but it was also obviously ripping up the script of the long term plan the doing something completely different.
Still, it was an enjoyable show and next Tuesday should be very fun.
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