This week opened with a recap of Adam Cole’s in-ring promo from last week and Johnny Gargano’s ensuing beatdown that crisscrossed across the arena.
Before cutting to General Manager William Regal stating that the pair will meet again in Toronto for another 2 out of 3 falls match with one major stipulation. Each man will choose the stipulation for their fall with a third to be announced at the venue by Mr. Regal in the event of a tie.
Then during the transition to the arena and rundown of the main event (Keith Lee versus Damian Priest), we were alerted that both Cole and Gargano’s stipulations would be revealed tonight.
Jordan Myles vs. Angel Garza
The first match of the night was a Semi-Final Matchup of the NXT Break Out Tournament pitting Jordan Myles against Angel Garza. Jordan Myles’ was last seen outside of a WWE ring in NJPW with a brief stink as Tiger Mask Dark for his Tokyo Dome debut and as a member of Taguchi Japan as well as one half of the tag team Super 69 who were in the finals of the 2018 Super Junior Tag League losing to the then Junior Tag Team Champions Roppongi 3K. His opponent Angel Garza was last seen outside of a WWE ring in IMPACT wrestling were he made a few appearances alongside Loredo Kid but is best known for his time in AAA as El Hijo de Ninja.
The match opened slowly with Garza soaking up the adoration of the crowd and extending his hand to Myles before locking his fingers behind his head and feigning stretching while smirking. Myles’ maintained his infectiously happy personality before locking into a collar and elbow tie up and transitioning into a waist lock which was quickly reversed into another waistlock by Garza who brought both men to the mat and attempted a pin with a head scissors hold for a one count.
After the fall was broken both men scrambled to their feet and stared each other down jockeying for position before trading wrist locks, Myles momentarily gaining the upper hand. Garza was able to escape the wrist lock by doing a from flip against the ropes and reversing the pressure maintaining the wrist lock. Myles then transitioned into an arm drag and chicken wing hold keeping the pressure on the shoulder of Garza who fought back to his feet before being Irish Whipped into the ropes leading to him performing a leaping somersault over Myles’ back and shoulders and attempting a shoulder tackle that Myles’ evaded with a backflip into a dropkick.
Myles’ then took a moment to feign dribbling a ball between his legs which gave Garza time to roll out of the ring and press himself against the apron. Garza pushed the apron up when he did this and when Myles’ began to come out of the ropes to bring Garza back inside pulled the apron forcefully from beneath his feet leaving him to come crashing hellaciously into the side of the ring. Garza then pulled Myles’ to his feet driving him into the steel ring steps and guardrail before re-entering the ring to remove his pants showing a gold pair of briefs beneath.
Garza seemed content to earn the victory by count-out but Myles was able to reenter at 8 only to catch a kick to the face before being hauled vertical for a backbreaker by Garza. Garza then stood over Myles’ as the smaller man pulled himself to his hands and knees and seemed to botch a spot that was repeated a moment later where he jumps and drives his thighs into the injured man’s ribs driving him back to the mat. Garza then brought Myles’ into an adjusted Camel Clutch hold which had both Myles’ arms stretched over Garza’s legs putting more pressure on his neck and spine.
Jordan struggled for the ropes and took the momentary break in the hold from Garza to flip onto his back and roll Garza into a pinning predicament which was kicked out at 2 As Jordan moved to his feet after the broken pin attempt Garza caught him on the chin with a thrust kick moving into a pinning predicament of his own which was broken at 2.
Garza then caught Myles’ hand beneath his boot and used the ropes to put as much pressure as he could on the appendage before being forced off of him by the referee. Myles’ backpedaled into the corner looking for some protection but was followed quickly by Garza who proceeded to drive Jordan’s skull repeatedly into the turnbuckle. Daring Garza to strike him.
He attempted to drive Myles’ back into the turnbuckle but was blocked as Myles began to put together a series of hard-hitting offensive strikes shifting the momentum of the match in his favor. Myles jettisoned Garza into the center of the ring before throwing himself off the ropes and through him forcing him to the mat.
Myles then waited for Garza to return to a vertical base before sweeping his left leg and executing a seated dropkick. Myles brought some great storytelling to the match at this point though as he was unable to nip up after the offensive onslaught that Garza had unleashed on his back and shoulders. Myles then caught Garza with a Discus clothesline in the corner before climbing to the top turnbuckle as Garza rolled away. Myles then dismounted and attempted a springboard cross body but was plucked out of the air with a pinpoint accurate drop kick leaving both men gasping for air on the mat. Garza moved into a pin attempt but it was kicked out at 2 by Myles.
Garza then climbed to the second rope for a springboard moonsault that was avoided by Myles. Garza landed on his feet however and followed up with a kick attempt which was blocked by Myles who again swept the leg and kicked him in the side of the head. Both men separated to their corner before Myles threw Garza into the middle of the ring and set him up for a German suplex and bridge into a pin attempt for the 3 count. Myles moves on to the finals of the NXT Breakout Tournament and will face the winner of Bronson Reed and Cameron Grimes which should take place next week.
After the match NXT alumni, Shane Thorn came to the commentary booth and took Mauro Ranallo’s headset to pose the question,
“Why use a tournament to debut 8 new superstars when you already have Shane Thorne right here. Even on their best days, they can’t hold a candle to me. They don’t have the talent, skill or good looks that I have on my worst. See I’ve been here for 3 years, making memories and making moments. While I was jumping off of scaffolds on TakeOver they were sitting around just wishing they were on NXT. I don’t need a tournament to break out Shane Thorn is going to break out on his own.”
A great match and a great way to start of the show that I think was unfortunately taken away from and not added to with Thorne’s commentary promo. By coming out and saying all of that just to leave quietly it reminds me more of a current Dolph Ziggler than what I think the producer was going for which is an NXT era, Samoa Joe. Someone whos put the time and effort in but feels they’re being overlooked and takes matters into their own hands. Thorne comes across as a whiny kid who hasn’t had the talent to make a big enough impact in NXT yet and is tired of being told to be patient.
The show then moved into a backstage segment with Johnny Gargano who revealed his stipulation for Gargano/Cole 3 to be “A stipulation I’ve come to know very well and a stipulation I have grown to enjoy.” A street fight.
Xia Lia vs. Bianca Belair
The second match of the night saw Xia Li face off with the “EST of NXT” Bianca Belair. Belair got to a quick start with Xia driving her into the corner and battering her with shoulder strikes and kicks. After being separated from the corner Xia was chased to the other corner and brought back into the center of the ring for a Grand Slam into a back handspring. Li rolled to the apron to attempt to catch her breath before being brought back into the middle of the ring for a fallaway slam from Belair.
Belair then taunts and continues to beat down Li eventually squatting her while holding her in a vertical suplex position before Li was able to break away and deliver some strong kicks shifting the momentum briefly. Belair then moved Li into the K-O-D for the pinfall. As far as squashes go this one did the job well. It reinforced that Belair is just insanely strong and a solid worker in the ring and with Li’s young career in the Squared Circle still getting underway it did no permanent damage to her character or believability as an upper mid-card talent.
Next, we were given a promo package from the newly returned Killian Dane who took the time to explain why he chose to target Matt Riddle,
“Matt Riddle isn’t just anybody. Matt Riddle is somebody. A former UFC fighter, his world may be tougher. But my world- in my world there is no discipline no weight class. In my world, there are no rules. When I put Matt Riddle through that stage he got only a little glimpse of my world. I can’t wait to show you everything. I can’t wait to show you my world.”
Followed by another security footage video of Mia Yim targeting one of the four horsewomen, this time ambushing Jessamyn Duke in the performance center beating her down and using a set of steel lockers to pick apart the UFC alumni and leaving her on the floor crying and clutching her arm in pain.
A good set of promos presumably setting up matches between both Riddle/Dain and Yim/Baszler at TakeOver Toronto. Neither package seemed to overstay their welcome and was not overly produced or made to feel cheap.
Next, we were treated to the Velveteen Dream cutting an in-ring promo on Roderick Strong. Complimenting the man on his ability to supposedly “Go all night.” Before laying down a challenge saying that Roderick is not ‘Big Enough’ to challenge for the title but if anyone thought they were they should come down to the ring.
Unsurprisingly Roderick Strong himself made his way down, microphone in hand to retort that the dream doesn’t believe anything he just said and claiming that he has been ducking Strong because he’s scared. Claiming to be the most deserving challenger on the continent and that given the opportunity he would take the title like that. Before challenging the dream to a match for the North American title at TakeOver Toronto.
Before Dream had the opportunity to respond however, the former WWE UK Champion and face of sister brand NXT UK, Pete Dunne, made his return to Full Sail University to express his interest in a North American Title shot as well by snapping the fingers of his former tag team partner Roderick Strong and staring down Velveteen Dream menacingly before Dream vacated the ring.
We then went backstage where Strong confronted NXT GM William Regal asking what Dunne was doing in NXT and who he thinks he is challenging for Strong’s title. Regal with his signature smirk states that he and NXT UK General Manager and fellow UK wrestling legend Johnny Saint have come to an agreement and Pete Dunne will be on NXT for the foreseeable future.
He also approved Strong and Velveteen’s match for TakeOver Toronto with one small change. It will now be a triple threat with Pete Dunne. Strong then demanded that he face Pete Dunne one on one next week. That match was confirmed later in the night just before the main event.
Kacy Catanzaro vs. Io Shirai
The next match saw Kacy Catanzaro face off against the newly reborn Io Shirai. Another supposed squash match began when Catanzaro caught a massive dropkick to the face before being transitioned into a backbreaker. The match was then broken up by an irate Candace LeRay causing a disqualification loss for Catanzaro. Short and decent building block for their eventual clash and a decent way to protect Catanzaro who hasn’t had much in-ring time in front of cameras.
We then went backstage for Adam Cole’s announcement of his stipulation for the TakeOver Toronto match. He accused NXT and WWE management of continuously stacking the deck against the Undisputed Era citing the earlier events between Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne. Then speaking about the match between Undisputed Era members Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Riley’s match against NXT Tag Team Champions The Street Profits then moving into his match with Johnny Gargano stating,
“You said that your fall would be definitive. It would be a street fall. As far as I am concerned there is nothing more definitive than a classic old school one on one wrestling match. Like the one, I beat you in at TakeOver New York and the one I beat you in at TakeOver XXV.”
Two of the three falls of the supposed main event have now been revealed. Street fight and wrestling match.
Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest
The main event of the night saw Keith Lee face-off with newcomer and ROH alumni Damian Priest. Lee and Priest started with a collar and elbow tie up before Lee locked into a body lock which was reversed into a side headlock by Priest. Lee then threw Priest into the ropes before attempting a shoulder tackle that seemed not to phase Priest. Priest responded with a few kicks to his knees before trading strikes back and forth with Lee who then moved into a leaping spinning heel kick drawing cheers from the crowd.
Lee then ran the ropes again for a shoulder tackle connecting this time and driving Priest into the mat. Lee then hauled him up for an elevated armbar before bringing him back down to his feet and catching a forearm strike to the jaw forcing him to release Priest. Priest then attempted to perform a standing suplex which seemed to be blocked by Lee before falling victim to a discus lariat and moving into a cover to be broken up at one. Priest then maintained control with a cross face hold before having it broken by Lee and attempting the vertical suplex again.
They then traded grip control as Priest climbed the ropes for a springboard crossbody and a near fall. Lee then maintained wrist control while absorbing punishment from Priest before jettisoning him into the corner and uncorking a massive forearm across the chest. Priest was then able to haul Lee up for the Falcon Arrow and a near fall at 2.
Priest showed his first signs of frustration following the pin break before both men traded forearms and strikes and began to run the ropes perpendicularly from one another. Lee then shoulder tackled Priest from the center of the ring to the corner.
Priest then rolled out of the ring and Lee followed forcing him back inside. While attempting to reenter the ring Priest gave Lee a hipshot to the side of the head leaving the larger man waiting outside. Priest then ran the ropes hoping for a front flip dive into Lee. However, Lee caught priest around the waist and using his own momentum against him brought him up into a powerbomb position which was evaded by Priest. Who then delivered a massive boot to the chest driving Lee into the steel steps. This only seemed to further anger Lee though as he stalked him around and back into the ring. After using the referee as a shield from Lee’s aggressions, Priest delivered a Cyclone Boot and his rolling cutter called “The Reckoning” for the three count.
Show Grade: C. A solid episode of NXT that was made worse by the large number of promos and pre-recorded segments.