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NXT recap & reactions (July 20, 2021): Respect Joe’s authority!

NXT returned last night (July 20) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Joe’s gon-na kill Kross

If you’re a professional wrestling fan dating back to his Ring of Honor or TNA Wrestling days, you’re familiar with fans chanting “Joe’s gon-na kill you” for his matches. It became so synonymous with his fearsome wrestling that the WWE Universe picked it up too. After Karrion Kross choked out Samoa Joe last week, the first thing that popped into my head was “Kross — you better keep your head on a swivel! When Joe wakes up, Joe’s gonna kill you.” In fact he was already looking for Kross moments after the show went off the air.

What would the follow up be when everyone came back to the CWC this week? Would William Regal’s rule that Joe could only retaliate when “provoked” take precedence, or would cooler heads prevail so Kross could get away with his dastardly actions? And how would the fact Kross just lost his Raw debut to Jeff Hardy play into all of this?

Joe opened the show with a fiery babyface promo promising he’d clean Kross’ clock (tick tock). Regal begged him not to retaliate and argued that last week Kross put his hands on a NXT referee, not NXT management. “Semantics!” bellowed Joe, and I’m with him on this one. Regal begged him to solve the problem tonight without violence. Joe said out of respect for Regal he would solve it tonight... but wouldn’t promise it wouldn’t be violent. He did promise that one way or another, someone was going to sleep.

Near the end of the overrun Joe stormed down to the ring and demanded Kross bring his “happy ass” to the ring for the beating he deserved. Instead Kross cut a promo on the video screen from the parking lot, showing a beaten and bruised William Regal laid out on the ground in front of him. Joe ran at top speed to get there but Kross pulled off in his car just before he got there, leaving him screaming in fury at what had been done to Regal. Now this is a brilliant set up! We don’t get the payoff yet, we want it even more now, and Regal is undoubtedly going to rescind his demand that Joe settle things politely now that Kross has given him a vicious beating. Next week’s marching orders? Take, Kross, OUT.

Raquel González vs. Xia Li

Dakota Kai and her G2k (Go 2 Kick) successfully squashed Ember Moon like the bug she had proclaimed her to be. On paper it might have seemed like that was the solution to all of her and Raquel González’ problems, but a new challenger was waiting to literally emerge from the fog — Tian Sha’s hit woman Xia Li.

Intentionally or not, Xia Li had proved herself a forced to be reckoned with after giving Mercedes Martinez a concussion with a roundhouse kick to the head. You never want that to happen to a performer, but like most accidents in pro wrestling, you might as well take it and find a way to make something out of it. Despite the size difference between the two Li’s feet of fury gave her all the credibility she needed going in.

There was a very awkward ending to this match during the overrun. González did a corkscrew splash off the ropes and landed on Li’s midsection, at which point the ref stopped the match and trainers came out to check on Li. Since none of this was done off camera it’s all part of the plan, but it left a lot of our Cageside readers questioning if Li had legitimately gotten hurt, so their plan succeeded. As soon as the trainers cleared her González immediately hit Li with the Chingona Bomb (one arm slam) for the pin. Another dominant performance for the champion and a fine if slightly underwhelming main event.

Bobby Fish & KUSHIDA vs. Tyler Rust & Roderick Strong

This match was also set up by last week’s show. (Continuity! Ain’t it somethin’?) Bobby Fish answered the Diamond Mine’s open challenge hoping to face his former Undisputed Era teammate Roderick Strong, but Malcolm Bivens gave him Tyler Rust instead. After losing the match with Rust, Diamond Mine was set to give Fish the Four Horsemen beatdown, but KUSHIDA ran out to make the save. That’s what got us to this week’s match.

Two commercial breaks later, we got the double down and double tag, leaving Rust and KUSHIDA as the legal men. Rust had been doing really well until that point, but once KUSHIDA started unloading with his precision strikes it was only a matter of time. He softened up Rust to the point that when the Hoverboard Lock was applied he didn’t even try to fight it and tapped out instantly. That won’t sit well with his stable of submission experts. KUSHIDA and Fish celebrated their victory but we’re still waiting to see Fish get his revenge on Strong. They teased it but didn’t deliver it, and that’s a good thing in my eyes. Make us wait for that payoff. It’s all good!

LA Knight vs. Drake Maverick

Drake Maverick tried to be a Good Samaritan and help LA Knight’s butler Cameron Grimes carry all the bags in the trunk of Knight’s car, but Knight was having none of it. Easy set up for a match later on the program? You bet it was.

Knight took 80% or more of this match, but spent the other 20% of it berating Cameron Grimes for not holding up the Million Dollar Title properly. This cost him in the end as Maverick drop kicked him face first into the belt and then rolled him up for a quick pin. In retaliation Knight beat the crap out of Maverick, then ordered his personal butler to ball up his fist and punch Maverick in the face. Grimes had to convey in one fell swoop that he feared for his NXT job if he didn’t honor the stipulation of the match that he lost, even though he’s a millionaire and could afford to walk away from all of this, and somehow managed to pull it off when he smacked Maverick and dropped to his knees in shame. That man needs to acting classes because I for one was convinced.

Franky Monet vs. Jacy Jayne

This match was about everything but the match. Jessi Kamea followed Monet to the ring. Robert Stone came out to join her after the match had already started. Mandy Rose came out to watch the match, laying seductively across the announce desk, while Wade Barrett and Vic Joseph argued about who had a chance with her. Monet hit the Glam Slam and pinned Jayne and it was the least important part of the entire segment. The heels relished their victory, while Rose had mysteriously vanished to parts unknown. If you care about this story it was a great build. If you wanted a great match sorry chief, this wasn’t it.

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Austin Theory

The set up for this one happened pretty quickly. O’Reilly said he heard Theory running his mouth last week and challenged him to a match. After checking with “Papa John” Gargano to make sure it was okay, Theory accepted the match and it lasted through a commercial break at the halfway mark of the broadcast. If you want the particulars check the live blog but here’s the important part — Theory lost his cool after a couple of near falls and went outside the ring to tear apart the steel steps and use them. That made O’Reilly “go to a dark place” at which point his offense completely overwhelmed Theory, put him in a leg lock, and refused to let go even after Theory tapped. The ref forced him to let it go but didn’t disqualify him for going a little too far. He would’ve been within his rights to do so.

Mariachi Musical Madness

The moment they announced this segment was going to feature Legado del Fantasma, I was uncomfortable. Would they have to ride lawnmowers to the ring and drink tequila? This couldn’t possibly end well.

Thankfully because this wasn’t WWE Raw it wasn’t nearly as cringe as I expected it to be. In fact Santos Escobar immediately dismissed his mariachi singers, using the excuse that he’s not here to play music and entertain “you people” because “you don’t deserve it.” Hit Row interrupts for everybody to take turns mocking Legado, until Escobar calls them “pendejos.” That’s fighting words bro! Everybody squares up and Escobar picks Scott while the rest of the flunkies fight each other. Escobar tried to use a mariachi’s guitar for the old Jeff Jarrett style El Kabong, but the tables were turned and he had to avoid it coming back his way. Needless to say it was one of Legado who ultimately had to eat it on his behalf. So long Joaquin Wilde, it was nice knowing you.

Odyssey Jones vs. Andre Chase

Squash. The 400 pound freak of nature Jones totally ran Chase over. In this NXT Breakout Tournament there are only two words you need to know: “Size, matters.”

What else do you need to know?

Three matches have already been booked for next week. Bronson Reed will finally go one on one with Adam Cole (bay bay). In the NXT Breakout Tournament it will be Carmelo Hayes vs. Josh Briggs (I’m praying for this one to be an upset for Hayes). And in the single thing I’m looking forward to the most, it will be Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan vs. Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. Let violence reign supreme!

We also had The Imperium interrupt a NXT backstage interview with McKenzie Mitchell to remind us that the mat is sacred.

As a result we never got to learn what MSK stands for, although our Cageside Commentary Crew has a few good ideas. They also reminded us multiple times during the broadcast that NXT will be on SyFy for the next two weeks due to the Olympics.

Grade: A-

The final segment had that kind of heat that will keep me watching next week, even with NXT being bumped to a different network. Austin Theory was the highlight of the show this week, absolutely over-delivering in his bout with Kyle O’Reilly. CCC thinks he’s leaving The Way and going up to Raw or SmackDown. Honestly I can see it but I also think NXT needs him right now too much to let him go. As much as NXT is Paul Levesque’s baby though, it may not be up to “Poppa Hunter” or “Papa John” where he goes. If Xia Li is genuinely hurt I feel bad for her. Just because she accidentally concussed Mercedes Martinez is no excuse for someone not involved to give her a receipt. The fact the camera was on her the whole time though makes me believe it’s a work. Nothing on the show was bad. Even the squash matches Monet and Jones had were fine, although it certainly didn’t do their opponents any favors. At least Maverick got the win over Knight, although he paid dearly for it. This was a damn good show, it just wasn’t as damn good as last week — close though!

Get up from your cageside seats and sound off below. See you in seven days!

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