Oh hey y’all! What’s goin’ on, wrestling fans? It was a weird week for wrestling as the NBA playoffs have made scheduling a circus for the next month. As such, for this week’s war, we’ll be looking at NXT’s go-home show for TAKEOVER XXX and stacking it up against AEW DYNAMITE’s Saturday offering, as well as some bonus thoughts on NXT TAKEOVER XXX.
Ok. Let’s go!
AEW VS NXT – 8/19/20 (GO-HOME SHOW FOR TAKEOVER: XXX)
NXT 8/19/20 (HOSTS – VIC JOSEPH, BETH PHOENIX, MAURO RANALLO)
1. JOHNNY GARGANO (W/CANDICE LERAE) VS RIDGE HOLLAND (NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER)
2. DAKOTA KAI VS JESSI KAMEA
3. TEGAN NOX PROMO
4. FINN BALOR PROMO
5. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA VS BREEZANGO/ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT
6. UNDISPUTED ERA/PAT MCAFEE PROMO
7. ALIYAH/MERCEDES MARTINEZ (W/STONE) VS RHEA RIPLEY/SHOTZI BLACKHEART
8. EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: KEITH LEE VS KARRION KROSS
9. JOHNNY GARGANO VS VELVETEEN DREAM (NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER)
JOHNNY GARGANO (W/CANDICE) VS RIDGE HOLLAND (NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER, CONSOLATION BRACKET…)
- (Yay) Gargano: “You don’t belong in the same ring with me.” Well, that proved true in a most unfortunate way…
- (Boo) YIKES, that botched powerslam(?) was scary! Ridge, buddy, dumping vets on their head is not the best way to get a push… Glad to hear Gargano wasn’t seriously injured. Luckily, editing and basic heel psychology made this look less horrific than I bet it did live.
- FINISH (GARGANO DEF HOLLAND, SPRINGBOARD DDT) Scary bump aside, this was good stuff in my book, with Gargano making Holland’s stuff look good while continuing to work the larger Holland’s left arm. Right guy went over. Not looking for another NA Championship run for Gargano, but someone’s going to need to direct traffic on Saturday. ***
DAKOTA KAI VS JESSI KAMEA
- (Boo) Jessi, you will not be gifted offence in the future if it is this sloppy. That slide into the corner looked like she was trying to avoid the tag at second base.
- FINISH (KAI DEF KAMEA, GTK) – Kai continues to become more naturally heelish by the week, and this was a squash done right, with Kamea posing little threat setting up the challenger to look strong for this weekend. Always wanna root for faces that don’t get a lot of TV time, but didn’t see anything here that makes me want to see more of Kamea. **
- (Boo) Never a big fan of the post-match promo, as the wrestler is often gassed and has trouble focusing (Rics and Terrys aside). Would have been a stronger picture for me to have Kai cut the promo, kick Kamea’s a**, then have Io run-in post match.
TEGAN NOX PROMO
- (Boo) I want to root for Tegan Nox. I do. I find her in-ring work kinda vanilla, but that pales in comparison to the flavorless ice cream that was this promo. I don’t want to see you shrug your way through a promo about how your close friend stabbed you in the back.
FINN BALOR PROMO
- (Boo) Well, this promo is functioning on multiple levels.
LEGADO DEL FANTASMA VS BREEZANGO & SWERVE SCOTT (6-MAN TAG)
- (Boo) LET THIS FEUD DIE!!!!
- (Boo) Big fan of Swerve’s from his indie days, think he and Escobar could have a decent feud as they’re using Escobar’s only loss as a building block, but it’s just getting lost by being crammed in with the Breez-angle, with most of the match focused on neither champion nor challenger
- (Boo) The ref rightfully telling Swerve he can’t make the cover as he is not legal, but then allowing both non-legal members of Legado to double-team him immediately following without batting an eye. What is this, AEW?
- FINISH (ESCOBAR DEF BREEZE, PHANTOM DRIVER) – Never really developed into anything and made the challenger look foolish for not knowing who was the legal man. Again, I’m not sure if any of these 6 men are better off for this feud. **
- (Boo) Vic Joseph reminds us that Escobar won on a “technicality”, whereas I would call it the rules, but hey, now we’ve made Escobar look weaker too. Awesome.
– (Boo) Beth informs us that this Saturday will be a triple threat tag to decide the #1 contenders for the NXT Tag Team Championship featuring the two teams that just bored me and Burch/Lorcan, who I dig on a level, but cripes, what happened to the tag division?
UNDISPUTED ERA/PAT MCAFEE PROMO
- (Yay) I can’t believe Cole’s face turn is coming via McAfee, but I honestly am looking so much forward to seeing Cole beat the sh*t out of him, which probably means the finish is going to be a nut shot by McAfee followed by a punt just to piss me off…
- (Yay?) A decent promo out of Mcafee? What is going on this week? Am I drunk?
- (Boo) So, Mcafee brings his NFL buddies to watch his back, but then security jumps the ring to hold Cole back while they stand around like goons?
- (Yay) Line of the night – Cole: “This Saturday at Takeover, I’m going to make you my bitch”! Take my money!!!!
ALIYAH/MERCEDES MARTINEZ (W/ROBERT STONE) VS RHEA RIPLEY/SHOTZKI BLACKHEART
- (Yay) Haven’t mentioned it before, but that Martinez entrance is dope. I’ll enjoy it even more when it’s not part of a comedy angle.
- (Yay) While this NXT version of Shotzi grates on me, I’m glad to see she got back her legit stolen helmet. Stealing isn’t cool, kids.
- (Yay?) Hmm, something about the Ripley/Blackheart aesthetic works for me as a team.
- (Boo) Ripley powerbombs Martinez over the ring barricade. Not a very babyface thing to do, and kinda kills the heat for the match on Saturday, huh? They’re basically even now.
- FINISH (BLACKHEART DEF ALIYAH, TOP ROPE SENTON) – Hey, basic tag team formula works, and this did what it needed to do, though I was already looking forward to Ripley vs. Martinez based on style alone. Nice work from both teams, and while I don’t think this is the best way to introduce Martinez, it’s growing on me and it’s the best work I’ve seen from Aliyah during her long tenure.
EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: KEITH LEE VS KARRION KROSS
- (BOO) This is a fine video package. NXT always does a nice job with these, but is this really all we’re getting for THE MAIN EVENT IN A GO-HOME SHOW?!?!? I know we’re selling Keith’s injury, but having neither man appear doesn’t seem the best way to sell a PPV.
FINN BALOR VS THE GUY I THINK SHOULD BE RELEASED (NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER, CONSOLATION BRACKET…)
- (Boo) I’ll try not to harp on this repeatedly, as the man has not been officially charged with anything, but I’ve seen some of the same things I’m sure you’ve seen so I’ll just say again that I think Dream should be released but am in no way surprised that he hasn’t been.
- (Boo) Finn, what they been doin’ with you, man? You’ve been directionless for so long. You fully face now? You wrestle as such.
- (Yay) Solid work from both guys, but the pace picks up when we get a Grimes run-in! I can’t believe how quickly I’ve gone from hating to loving this guy! Grimes atop the ladder giving Dream n’ Balor the Statler and Waldorf treatment takes me back to the ol’ neighborhood carnival dunking booth days.
- FINISH (DREAM DEF BALOR, PURPLE RAINMAKER, THATCHER INTERFERENCE) I’m into a Thatcher/Balor program, but I’m also NOT into easy opportunities right away for Dream. Match never really got going, but was just a set-up for the big group schmoz at the end, which is a fitting way to hype this particular match, which I am genuinely looking forward to.
AEW DYNAMITE 8/22/20 (HOSTS – JIM ROSS, TONY SCHIAVONE, TAZZ)
- FTR VS PRIVATE PARTY
- JON MOXLEY PROMO
- MJF PROMO
- JURASSIC EXPRESS/NATURAL NIGHTMARES VS LUCHA BROS/BLADE & BUTCHER
- BRITT BAKER PROMO
- ORANGE CASSIDY INTERVIEW
- DARK ORDER (3,4,5) VS BTE (BUCKS/OMEGA)
- FTR INTERVIEW
- DARBY ALLIN VS BIG WILL HOBBS
- THE GUEVARA CARD SCHTICK
- THUNDER ROSA PROMO
- DIAMANTE/IVELISSE VS NIGHTMARE SISTERS (AEW WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH)
- CODY (C) VS BRODIE LEE (TNT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH)
FTR (W/TULLY BLANCHARD) VS PRIVATE PARTY
- (Boo) And we just flatly cut to the ring without any entrances or build, which is made less jarring by the relief that FTR gets an actual tag match this week and Aubrey is the ref, which means order will be kept as much as AEW allows
- (Yay) Tully with FTR? Now this I can get into, as the potential Horsemen reimagining is about all I can look forward to on this show lately.
- (Yay) Wheeler pretending he doesn’t understand that you can’t tag out from the outside so that Harwood can rake the eyes while Aubrey admonishes him is like candy to me. Sweet, sweet candy.
- (Boo) Tully, I love you, but can someone tell him not to stand blocking the hard camera’s view of the ring? That new FTR jacket is dope, but we don’t need to push it that hard.
- FINISH (HARWOOD DEF QUEN, GOODNIGHT EXPRESS) – I’m a sucker for basic-formula tag team wrestling, so I dug this, with FTR leading Private Party to a solid match. These are the types of matches younger teams can learn and improve from. Lame gimmick aside, I think at least half of Private Party have potential, so it’s good to see them climb a branch on the learning tree. ***
JON MOXLEY PROMO
- (Yay) Usual quality promo work from Moxley, providing a mix of building MJF up while also suggesting he should move out of his mother’s basement. Unfortunately, it does feel like the emotional energy on this feud peaked last week.
- (Boo) Not a fan of move-banning storylines, especially in this case. The Paradigm Shift has never looked particularly brutal, and the attempt to ban it just makes MJF look weaker and adds nothing but clutter to this storyline. This is the one guy you can just sit back and let him do his thing; stop with the bells and the whistles, yo.
JURASSIC EXPRESS/NATURAL NIGHTMARES VS LUCHA BROS/BLADE & BUTCHER
- (Boo) Ah, an 8 man tag. Things were going so well. Maybe Dustin talked to them beforehand and there’ll be some logic to the proceedings…
- (Boo) QT Marshall can not even sell a chop properly. A f*cking chop…
- (Boo) Does no one tell Luchasaurus his sh*t is sloppier every week? He needs some tough love.
- FINISH (JUNGLE BOY DEF BLADE, SCHOOLBOY) – Just a bunch of sloppy slop. **
- (Yay) Oh good, we were all hoping Eddie Kingston’s strong showing a while back would turn into more work, but is…this…a….faction? I like most of these guys, but a faction comprised mainly of two tag teams seems limited. Hopefully Kingston is screwing them all over.
BRITT BAKER PROMO
- (Yay) Britt’s always gold. Glad AEW continue to find a way to get her screen time each week.
ORANGE CASSIDY INTERVIEW
- (Boo) Trent’s Chive Bill Murray kneepad encapsulates everything I hate about Best Friends in a piece of protective equipment. Everything these guys do I would totally eat up if only they were heels.
- (Yay) Jericho “I am embarrassed to an extent”. We all are, Chris. We all are.
- (Boo) Mimosa…Mayhem…Match… I just. I just can’t What are we doing anymore? We’re just actively trolling intelligent adults at this point.
DARK ORDER (3,4,5) VS BTE (BUCKS/OMEGA)
- (Boo) Yay, more matches with no storyline build or explanation! JR reminds us the Dark Order are on fire lately though they lost all of their matches last week.
- FINISH (OMEGA DEF ONE OF THE MASKED SCHMUCKS, ONE-WINGED ANGEL) No story. No rules. No pacing. No flow. Just the same old sh*t. Found myself rooting for the Dark Order because at least they looked like they cared. * 1/2 *
FTR INTERVIEW –
- (Boo) How does Marvez have this job? He delegitimizes anyone he stands near. I’ll blame him for this yawner of a meandering tease between FTR and Hangman, whose chance to breakout is being squandered increasingly by the week.
DARBY ALLIN VS BIG WILL HOBBS –
- (Boo) Wow this week is really driving home the fact that AEW has nothing going on. None of the matches this week so far have had anything to do with actual programs currently in place.
- FINISH (ALLIN DEF HOBBS, COFFIN DROP) I dig Darby, but having him squeak out a win vs a guy who barely sees TV after jumping him before the bell, and then having Taz/Starks cut a promo on him immediately after, doesn’t exactly elevate him in my eyes. 3/4*
- (Yay) I’m a mark for any time someone compares Darby to the “I like turtles” kid, so bonus points for Starks here, who has looked good so far since joining AEW.
SAMMY GUEVARA CARD SCHTICK –
- (Boo) Having Hardy use a chair marked with tape obviously denoting it as gimmicked but then switching to the “same type of chair he got hit with” is exactly the type of fuel I need for this ‘AEW purposely insulting our intelligence’ conspiracy theory.
THUNDER ROSA PROMO –
- (Yay) I mean, it sucks that AEW has to go outside their roster to infuse some life into the women’s division, but this one promo already demonstrated more charisma than 3/4 of their current roster.
DIAMANTE/IVELISSE VS NIGHTMARE SISTERS (AEW WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP)
- (Yay?) Hey, Veda Scott and Shaul Guerrero are here for some reason? Get those AEW paychecks!
- (Boo) This tournament is so important that they waited until the finals to broadcast any of it nationally!
- FINISH (IVELISSE DEF ALLIE) Well, I’m surprised and relieved as I assumed this was just a way for Brandi to get herself on television more, but hey, they gave the belts to the competent team and maybe we’re done with the Nightmare Sisters garbage. **
CODY (C) VS BRODIE LEE (TNT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH)
- (Boo) Well, we’ve got 10 minutes left after intros, so this ain’t gonna go far…
- FINISH (LEE DEF CODY, DISCUS CLOTHESLINE) I hate all of this Dark Order stuff as much as you do, more, even, but they need something to give them some legitimacy, so this makes some sense. But it felt so flat, and it would have been effective if they hadn’t been treated like jobbers for months. Finish came out of nowhere – some end to Cody’s reign. Also Dark Order find every opportunity to cheat every time we see them, but Brodie goes over clean here?
Wow, it’s really comparing turds this week. I thought AEW was going to have it after a strong opening, but I still gotta go with NXT for causing me to bang my head against a wall less than the alternative.
Now, as the weekend brought with it a big show for NXT, here’s my brief thoughts as I jump into Takeover XXX, which I’m sure will surpass this episode of Dynamite by the end of the opening package.
NXT TAKEOVER XXX 8/22/20 (HOSTS – COREY GRAVES, VIC JOSEPH, BETH PHOENIX)
- FINN BALOR VS TIMOTHY THATCHER – (Balor def Thatcher, 1916 DDT) – Well, this feud developed quickly. Works for me. Just good stuff all around here, with Balor (who can wrestle any style) making Thatcher look like a million bucks, and Thatcher rising to the occasion. *** 3/4*
- NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH (WINNER: DAMIAN PRIEST) – Ladder matches feel especially odd without crowd noise, as the time spent setting up spots feels like an eternity. These fellas are all very talented, but this never really got going until the end or featured anything we haven’t seen in countless other ladder matches. Didn’t need the LeRae interference in a match that already has 5 guys, but that was a nice splash Reed delivered from the ladder with LeRae on his back. Feels like the right time to elevate Priest, who has been getting better and better by the week. And hey, thanks to decent booking, we’ve already got a feud with Reed set up. *** 1/4*
- ADAM COLE VS PAT MCAFEE (Cole def McAfee, Panama Sunrise) – I’m ashamed at how much I want to see this match, but here we are. And I’m as surprised as any to admit that McAfee looked pretty good here. He’s basically Mojo Rawley but already better in every way. Shoot, his psychology is better than half the AEW roster. With Cole directing, this was much better than it had any right to be, though I could have done with less McAfee offense. I bit and thought the nut shot was leading to the finish as I feared, so good on ‘em for foolin’ me. Relieved Cole didn’t have to put McAfee over as well. *** 1/2*
- IO SHIRAI (C) VS DAKOTA KAI (NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH) (Shirai def Kai, Over the Moonsault) – This took a while to get going after Shirai landing on her head threw the rhythm out of whack, but once it did, there was strong work from both women. Kai kept inching closer and closer to a win, but ultimately Shirai hung on for the hard-earned victory. Match of the week for sure. ****
- KEITH LEE (C) VS KARRION KROSS W/SCARLETT (NXT MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH) (Kross def Lee, Doomsday Superplex) – LOUD SIGH…. I mean…..what the f*ck? I was worried when this feud began, as I couldn’t see them cutting off Kross so quickly. So we gave Keith both titles, had him give one away, and then have him lose the other this quickly? Unless he’s showing up at Summerslam, Raw, or Smackdown, I honestly have no idea what they are doing. The match itself was plodding at best. Kross, while promising, did not look ready for this. The finish was lackluster at best, kills Lee’s push, and ruins one of the only things in wrestling I’ve felt good about lately. Even if he is moving to Mondays or Fridays, I shudder to think what Vince will do with him.