Hi, and welcome to the first NXT review on the brand-new SteelChair magazine website. Don’t worry, the change of scenery will not present a change in levels of snark, nothing ever will. Anyway, tonight we have two semi-finals, a big title match and much more. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Finn Bálor def. Joaquin Wilde // Pinfall (Coup de Grace double stomp). Squash
Toni Storm vs Io Shirai // No Contest (Bianca Belair crashed the ring and attacked both women). Not bad, it kept everyone looking strong though it is worth noting, everyone who says that was a DQ win for Storm are wrong. Belair clearly attacked both women so it is a no contest. Accept I am right and move on.
Shayna Baszler def. Shotzi Blackheart // Submission (Kirufuda Clutch). A nice, little match using the story of the overconfident newcomer being humbled by the veteran. Didn’t overstay its welcome and hinted at good things to come for Blackheart.
Promos & Packages
We got a hype-up reel for Sunday’s Women’s Championship match.
Shotzi Blackheart had a promo where she says that she eliminated Shayna and is going to beat her tonight. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t.
Ilja Dragunov responded to Finn Bálor calling him out by reminding him that he is Unbeseigbar. And to be extra helpful, he also let him know that means ‘invincible’ in Russian.
We got hype-up reels for both teams in the GYV vs Moustache Mountain match.
The Undisputed Era were pissed off and as normal it’s Regal’s problem to deal with it but he’s nowhere to be seen. Are you OK, Mr. Regal? We miss you.
We were treated to a video package detailing the collapse of the Tegan Nox-Dakota Kai friendship. This was very well produced and also explained both people’s viewpoints while not making Kai comes across as sympathetic.
Dusty Classic Semi-Finals: Undisputed Era vs Grizzled Young Veterans & Broserweights vs Imperium
So this week we had the two semi-finals in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and frankly, I thought it was high time we had a good chat about this tournament. Yes, that was a weed joke, just for you Riddle, just for you. Who is this tournament for? Here we have the entire penultimate round and it seems to be less about actual proof of any kind of tag-team supremacy bit more about building to Imperium vs Undisputed Era on Saturday. Here is the thing, if you take the brand squabbles out of each match, they aren’t bad, they were both pretty good tag matches but neither felt like they were designed to be enjoyed out of context. GYV vs UE was always a hard sell as heel vs heel match-ups can suffer from a lack of clear sympathetic relation but as the UE showed against The Revival a few months ago, it can work if you just focus on a contest of equals, take away all the bullshit and just put on good tag-team wrestling. So instead we got a finish involving a distraction by Imperium that made Fish and O’Reilly look like a right pair of goofs.
Over in the second match, it ended up being much the same as the Broserweights first match, just overblown spotfest nonsense. I love a spotfest as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is my friend George. He loves ’em) but it felt like this one was just as utterly inessential as last weeks. I like Imperium, I like Riddle and Dunne separately but it does seem that put the two of them in a tag match and what you get is the sort of house show spotfest that just frankly bores me. Imagine if one of NXT’s actual tag teams like Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch had this slot, if it felt like there was any flow or attempt to follow the rules of a tag match, it might have been very good fun, instead of just a disappointment.
They still have the finals to go and I beg you, Broserweights, GYV, please, prove me wrong, remind me why I love tag team wrestling. Also one last note, Pete wasn’t wrong when he said GYV have never beaten him because he’s only had one match against both of them, it was a 6-man tag and Peter’s team won via DQ.
Winners: GYV & Broserweights
NXT North American Championship: Keith Lee vs Roderick Strong (c)
After a somewhat low-key show, I hoped this was going to be a barn-burning main event, especially as previous encounters between Strong and Lee have been very good indeed. Sadly, for the coronation of the first of the near-infinite amounts of WWE gold Keith Lee will hopefully will, it was a downbeat affair, putting so much work into selling the knee and the number’s game to make Strong feel like a threat that it never gave Lee enough time to actually be fun. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sometimes you just want to watch a nice, big man beat up the annoying, smaller man. This was one such occasion. I love Keith Lee, I think Roderick Strong is one of the most consistent performers WWE has but here, it just felt like he was too much playing the clichéd heel champion rulebook and not doing as he does and just hitting his opponent a lot. This match did have its moments and when it delivered, it did so with verve and passion but it also had a lot of wasted time. Not a bad match but it did have the issue of reminding me that NXT isn’t a cool indie, it is a part of WWE and for its detriment, this was a very WWE match. Lee won with the Ground Zero Fireman’s jackhammer.
Winner: Keith Lee NEW CHAMPION!
An underwhelming week of NXT television here. But not one that doesn’t leave a lot of room for improvement. I might not have loved the match he won it in, but I am excited to see where a Keith Lee title reign goes in NXT. Let’s find out.
Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai
All Images courtesy of wwe.com