This week was a very special edition of NXT as we had the return of The Great American Bash.
The stage was set for night one. The ring ropes were all decked out in red, white and blue just days ahead of the fourth of July. The show kicked off with a bang with a women’s fatal-4-way elimination match to determine the No.1 Contender for the NXT Womens Championship.
Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai vs. Mia vs. Candice LeRae – No. 1 Contendership match for the NXT Womens Championship
The second the bell rang to make this No.1 Contendership match official, both Kai and LeRae played up to their cowardly characters and rolled out of the ring, leaving Nox and Yim to start this match off. Now, there was no fear of being counted out, as this was an elimination match so the rules were a little different than your regular wrestling match. I couldn’t envision a better match to start off this show. First of all, all participants have been intertwined in each other’s storylines over that past number of weeks and secondly, this match has NXT Womens Championship implications! If I get what I want, I will soon see Tegan Nox holding the Championship outside of Cardiff Castle back in Wales sometime soon, but that’s just me being a biased fan.
Nox and Yim were really going at it with a strong grapple up until the sneaky, dare I say cowardly, Candice LeRae yanked Yim’s legs and pulled her out of the ring and attacked Yim on the outside. Now, with Yim and Kai still on the outside, this left the former friends, Nox and LeRae, in the ring. The two fought briefly until the dastardly Dakota Kai interjected herself into the match for the first time since the match started.
I’m still sour on Kai after she attacked Nox at War Games and wanted nothing more than to see her get pummeled. Unfortunately, Kai took down Nox and also speared LeRae to ground, proving that she is in this for herself. All women involved ending up brawling on the outside until LeRae jumped atop the ropes and cleared everyone with a cross-body dive. LeRae plays dirty, but admittedly that was cool. All four participants made it back to the ring, where everyone was on a big-boot spree, figuratively beheading everyone in sight. Yim hit the first nail in the coffin here by pinning LeRae with the Three Count, thus eliminating Lee from the match.
An alliance then seemed to be formed between Nox and Yim, who beat down Kai (yes, that made me happy). The alliance didn’t last long, however, as Nox and Yim turned on and fought against each other – it was truly every woman for herself. Soon enough Nox and Kai were brawling while Yim had been knocked outside of the ring. There is only one wrestler that I truly cannot stand because he is such a good ‘bad guy’ and that is J.B.L (I can’t stand the guy mainly because he’s arrogant and such a devilish character, but I respect that he makes me hate him, so my emotions are all over the place). Dakota Kai is a close second.
Kai and Nox were going at it and we all know their history, former best friends, now bitter enemies. Kai brought the offence to Nox until Yim got involved and hit Kai with an explosive dragon suplex, causing Kai to land on her neck. Yim was firing on all cylinders as she delivered running headscissors to everyone who crossed her path and followed up with multiple suicide dives to the outside. Kai kicked out of a pin attempt after being hit by Yim’s Code Blue signature move. In the meantime, Nox was sent flying through the ropes to the outside. Kai took advantage of a distressed Yim and successfully pinned Yim for the three count. Yim had been eliminated!
Now there were two: Kai vs Nox. Let’s have it! Kai and Nox were trading vicious blows, with Kai coming out of it with the upper hand. NXT’s own iteration of Captain Marvel, Tegan Nox retaliated and looked to be building momentum as she attacked Kai in the corner of the ring.
Both of these women knew they had to pull something special out of the bag because the stakes were so high. All I can say is, I cannot wait for the world to get back to normal, especially because I really want to witness Nox and Kai wrestling in person. Nox had multiple running European uppercuts for Kai, which left Kai in a vulnerable position. Nox’s facial expression completely changed at this point as she had a cold glaze come over her face. Nox crushed Kai with an explosive running cannonball in the corner of the ring!
Kai managed to lock a submission move onto Nox soon after this. Nox somehow reversed and soon paid homage to my personal favourite women’s wrestler, Molly Holly, with the molly-go-round followed by the shining wizard, nearly decapitating Dakota Kai. Nox transitioned into the pinfall straight away and scored the three count! Tegan Nox had won and is now the No.1 Contender for the NXT Womens Championship!
Winner: Tegan Nox
Timothy Thatcher vs. Oney Lorcan
This match started off with a strong grapple, with Lorcan gaining the upper hand. Lorcan remained in control throughout and Thatcher could not seem to keep up with Lorcan in the early moments of the match. Soon enough, the tide changed and Thatcher locked in a dangerous armbar. Thatcher remained in control and you could clearly see that he was enjoying inflicting pain to Lorcan’s arm, as he targeted that limb and would not let up.
After being dominated by Thatcher, Lorcan managed to reverse their positions and attempted to maintain any momentum he could get. Thatcher was always a step ahead though.Thatcher sent Lorcan flying out of the ring, insulting his opponent in the process. When the show returned from commercial, Thatcher was in the middle of hitting Lorcan with a belly-to-back suplex. The thing about Timothy Thatcher is how good he is at targeting his opponent’s limbs and working them throughout the match. That is exactly what he was doing here with Oney Lorcan.
Thatcher was dissecting Lorcans arm and saw that as his opportunity to wear down the hard-hitter in order to pick up the victory. Out of seemingly nowhere, Lorcan hit Thatcher with a half and half suplex followed by an abrupt running European uppercut to the face of Thatcher. Lorcan was back in the game.
The two brawlers then put on a show of various attacks, primarily chops and uppercuts, to one another. Lorcan literally slapped Thatcher to the ground and paid homage to his trainer, Lance Storm, by locking in a single leg Boston crab submission move in hopes of picking up the victory. Although in excruciating pain, Thatcher refused to tap out. Instead, Thatcher pulled off a reversal and wound up locking Lorcan’s knee and wrenching on it. Thatcher was so intense and his eyes looked as if they were going to pop out of his head. Lorcan escaped momentarily but Thatcher was able to lock in the Fujiwara armbar, forcing Lorcan to tap out.
Rhea Ripley vs. Aliyah & Robert Stone
The former NXT Womens Champion Rhea Ripley found herself in a 2 on 1 handicap match this week at The Great American Bash. The stipulation here was that if Ripley were to lose, then she would join the Robert Stone Brand and allow Stone to be her manager.
First off, Stone looked hilarious. He was definitely channelling his inner Rocky Balboa in terms of his ring gear. Stone starting things off, and I cannot believe I’m saying this, with the Mohammed Ali shuffle. Ripley was just smiling at Stone and was ready to throw down. Ripley gave Stone one slap to the chest and he retreated outside of the ring. Aliyah decided to pick things up and jumped onto Ripley from behind. Ripley threw Aliyah straight down to the mat. Aliyah responded with an incredible headscissors that transitioned into a hurricanrana takedown, proving that Aliyah is no pushover.
The two went at it for a while, with Aliyah coming off so incredibly impressive, in my opinion. Ripley transitioned a hurricanrana from Aliyah into an electric-chair slam down to the mat. Ripley went for the pinfall attempt, looking to make quick work of Aliyah. Stone gathered enough courage to get back in the ring and broke up the pinfall attempt just after the two count. Stone was smiling his head off, thinking he was the bee’s knees, that is until Ripley approached him and Stone was terrified yet again.
A litter later in the match, Stone attempted to dive over the top rope onto Ripley. All Ripley had to do was slowly walk out of the way, and Stone was made a fool of. Stone almost landed on his knees, causing more damage to himself than anything else. I loved this. This was quality entertainment!
Ripley continued to taunt Stone but should not have taken her eye’s off Aliyah, who hit Ripley with a bulldog on the outside, taking out the former NXT Womens Champion. Ripley soon gained full control of the match by hitting both Aliyah and Stone with a double suplex, then following up with a fierce dropkick to Stone as soon as he got back up. Ripley was done playing around.
In a desperation attempt, Stone pathetically tried to roll Ripley up for the pinfall, but he literally did not have the upper body strength. Ripley ended things with a headbutt to Stone, then grabbed both opponents and submitted them simultaneously with a double iteration of her signature submission, the Prism-Trap.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Strap Match: Roderick Strong vs. Dexter Lumis
Undisputed Era member Roderick Strong was forced to face his fear of Dexter Lumis in a strap match. Strong desperately needed the upper hand before the match, which explained why he jumped Lumis before the strap could even be attached!
Once strapped in, Lumis used said strap to his advantage by propelling Strong towards him and hitting a jaw crunching uppercut. Strong tried to escape to the outside, which was a terrible move as Lumis pulled on the strap with all his might, driving Strong into the apron multiple times. Lumis followed Strong outside of the ring and Strong gained the upper hand with strikes.
The pair made their way back into the ring, with Lumis having Strong in the palm of his hands. After a strong strike to the jaw of Strong, who was stuck in a bad position atop the turnbuckle, the fight made its way outside the ring once again. The battle made its way to the top of the stage where there were two cars parked at either side. The cars were there as props and decorated in red, white and blue. Lumis eyed up a white Dodge Viper and opened up the trunk. As soon as Strong saw this, he was traumatised all over again after previously being shoved into the trunk of a vehicle by Lumis a number of weeks ago on NXT.
Strong hit Lumis with a boot to the face and was doing everything in his power to veer Lumis away from the vehicles and back towards the ring. Strong hit Lumis with what would be a Kurt Angle-approved Olympic Slam on the outside of the ring before managing to get Lumis back into the ring with the strap intact. Back in the ring, Strong proceeded to whip Lumis with the strap and followed up with a series of strikes to the head of his opponent. Strong was trying to maintain his momentum so he continued to whip the chest of Lumis with the strap.
At this point, the NXT recruits who were in the crowd began to chant ‘Dexter likes it’, which may have been the most accurate statement of the night! Lumis fought back with a clothesline, levelling Strong. Undisputed Era member Bobby Fish ran to the ring to help out Strong and ran straight into the strap while it was extended lengthways by both Strong and Lumis and pretty much knocked himself out! Fish was then in a groggy state, up against the ropes. Lumis used the strap to send Strong flying into his buddy, then wrapped Strong up with the strap. He hit the Uranage slam and followed it with his signature move, Silence, for the submission victory.
Winner: Dexter Lumis
NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks
The NXT Womens Champion came to fight the Smackdown Tag-Team Champion Sasha Banks, legitimately for the first time ever, at The Great American Bash. Needless to say, this was a highly anticipated match. Sasha Banks was accompanied to the ring by Smackdown Womens Champion, Bayley. The match started off strong with neither Banks nor Shirai gaining the upper hand. This was simply down to the fact that they are both very evenly matched in their respective skill sets. Banks taunted Shirai with a few sly strikes to the face. Shirai began to play some mind games with Banks whilst displaying her athleticism early on into the match. Shirai dodged a number of grounded strikes from Banks and Shirai very quickly reminded us why she is nicknamed ‘the genius of the sky’ by launching herself from the top turnbuckle, connecting a diving dropkick to the chest of Sasha Banks.
Shirai then ploughed Banks out of the ring and followed up with a suicide dive to the outside, taking out the ‘Legit Boss’. During the first half of this match, Banks contributed with minimal offence. Shirai was out to show that she is the queen of NXT. Shirai hit Banks with a Frankensteiner hurricanrana from the top rope, turning Sasha Banks inside out. Shirai dominated Banks throughout the match and continued to maintain her momentum. While grappling on the mat, Banks did manage to somehow slip into position and lock her signature submission move, ‘The Bank Statement’, onto the NXT Womens Champion. For the first time in this match, Io Shirai was in trouble.
Sasha Banks proceeded to layeth the smackdown on Io Shirai while claiming that she made NXT what it is today. To be honest, I can’t argue with that. A pivotal moment in this match occurred when Banks had Shirai positioned upside down on the bottom left turnbuckle. Banks went for a running strike attack but Shirai kicked up right in time to avoid it and followed up with probably the best moonsault in professional wrestling today. Banks moved out of the way only seconds before Shirai landed. Banks launched towards the top rope and crashed down onto Io Shirai with her signature move the ‘Meteora’ double knee divet, impacting the chest of Shirai. The Champion was then sent flying into the plexiglass at ringside by Banks.
Banks was in full control at this point. She was looking to put an end to the match when she rolled Shirai back into the ring and went to pay homage to ‘Latino Heat’ Eddie Guerrero with a Frog-Splash from the top rope. Shirai countered the splash and rolled right into a submission. Banks crawled as if her life depended on it towards the bottom rope in hopes of breaking the submission.
Banks was reaching out and was mere feet away from the rope. Bayley then threw her Championship in the ring to distract the referee. When the ref looked away for a split-second, Bayley socked Shirai with a sucker-punch to face, causing the submission move to be released. The ref did not see a thing!
When the ref retrieved Bayley’s Championship and brought it to the opposite side of the ring, both the ref and Bayley’s backs were turned. This was when Raw Womens Champion Asuka appeared at ringside and blew green mist into the face of Sasha Banks! Once again the referee did not see this transpire. Shirai followed up with a roll-up attempt, yet Banks kicked out even though she couldn’t see as Asuka had blinded her with the green mist. Shirai hit the final nail on the coffin with her picture-perfect moonsault crushing the ribs of Sasha Banks. One three count later, Io Shirai reigns supreme.
Winner: Io Shirai