This week’s NXT saw Karrion Kross defend the NXT Championship against Johnny Gargano in the main event. New rivalries were born, Diamond Mine got in the face of Bobby Fish, Sarray was in action against Gigi Dolin, and Santos Escobar fought Dexter Lumis. It was Cameron Grimes’ first week as LA Knight’s butler, the NXT Breakout Tournament was in full swing, and there was a surprise return to the black and gold brand. First up, Ember Moon looked for payback against Dakota Kai.
Ember Moon vs Dakota Kai W/ Raquel Gonzalez
Moon and Kai locked up until Kai knocked her to the ground. Moon was able to arm drag Kai and lock in an arm lock, but Kai broke out. She drove a knee into Moon in the corner and get a two-count. Kai hit Moon with a scissor kick and a pump kick, but Moon kicked out of a pin again. Kai used Moon’s arms to choke her. Moon broke free and hit a Tope Suicida. Off the apron, Moon booted Kai in the face as the show went into commercial. After the break, Kai hit a suplex, but Moon got straight back to her feet and hit a clothesline, followed by a series of kicks. Moon was on fire, hitting a crossbody off the second rope. Kai hit a scorpion kick, then dragged Moon off the turnbuckle to allow another huge kick. She hit a face wash kick, but Moon kicked out of a pin. As Kai climbed the turnbuckle, Moon kicked her in the jaw and landed a hurricanrana. As Moon stood on the apron, Kai dragged her in the ring and nailed the GTK to pick up the victory. As the match ended, the lights went out and Xia Li entered the ring. She walked up to Raquel Gonzalez and told her she was in the way of her destiny. Gonzalez held her title up to Li and told her it would be the closest she gets to it.
Winner: Dakota Kai Rating: 7/10
Tyler Rust W/ Malcolm Bivens, Hideki Suzuki, & Roderick Strong vs Bobby Fish
Rust nailed a dragon screw and a chop to Fish’s chest. He stomped his arm and landed some uppercuts. Fish fought back, but Rust wrapped his legs around Fish’s jaw. Fish was able to land some big kicks on Rust’s chest and a nasty suplex into the ropes. Strong got up on the apron and distracted Fish which allowed Rust to hit a buzzsaw kick for the victory. After the match, Diamond Mine surrounded Fish, but Kushida ran out to make the save.
Winner: Tyler Rust Rating: 6/10
Gigi Dolin vs Sarray
Sarray and Dolin spent the early parts of the match reversing each other’s moves. Out of nowhere, Mandy Rose appeared on the ramp. Sarray tried to roll up Dolin, but she kicked out. Sarray locked in the Muta lock, but let go to deliver some big kicks. Dolin almost rolled up Sarray for the pin. Dolin landed an STO, and Sarray hit a dropkick. She followed up with her savage basement dropkick and Saito suplex for the victory. Mandy Rose walked off as Sarray won.
Winner: Sarray Rating: 5.5/10
Dexter Lumis vs Santos Escobar W/ Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde
Escobar knocked Lumis to the ground with a shoulder barge, but he got straight back up. Lumis landed a Lou Thesz press, then slid towards Escobar who freaked out and sent Mendoza and Wilde to attack him. Lumis then pulled Escobar underneath the ring but was saved by Mendoza and Wilde. After the break, Escobar chopped at Lumis’ chest, then delivered a double knee into the opposite corner. He hit a hurricanrana and went for two pins, but neither were successful. Escobar connected with a basement dropkick and a couple of clotheslines in the corner. Escobar went for Three Amigos but only got two, turning the third into a backstabber. Lumis dropped Escobar with some right hands, following it up with a clothesline and a bulldog. He dropped Escobar with a side slam but was pulled out of the ring before Lumis could lock in Silence. After getting distracted, Escobar hit the Phantom Driver and picked up the victory. After the match, Hit Row appeared behind Legado Del Phantasma on the ramp. They all squared up to each other, but Legado Del Fantasma walked off.
Winner: Santos Escobar Rating: 7.5/10
NXT Breakout Tournament First Round Match: Duke Hudson vs Ikemen Jiro
Jiro mocked Hudson by evading his moves and doing a handstand on the turnbuckle until Hudson stopped him in his tracks. He punched Jiro in the guts and landed a powerslam. Jiro hit four big right hands and tied up Hudson in a tarantula. Hudson hit an overhead belly-to-belly and an amazing uppercut. Hudson went for the crucifix bomb, but Jiro reversed. He hit a blockbuster off the middle turnbuckle on Hudson, then a moonsault to the outside. Jiro got in some more offence but was stopped with a Boss Man Slam to pick up the win.
Winner: Duke Hudson Rating: 7.5/10
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs Jessi Kamea & Aliyah W/ Robert Stone
Kamea and Aliyah worked well at wearing down Catanzaro by making short tags and inflicting bursts of pain on her. Catanzaro made the tag and Carter landed some clotheslines on Aliyah, but was thrown to the mat. Carter went for the roll-up, but Kamea hit her. Catanzaro landed a crossbody on Kamea outside, then hit an assisted 450 Splash on Aliyah for the victory. After the match, Aliyah shoved Stone a couple of times, then said she had done more for him than anyone. She then slapped him and beat him up. Finally, she’s seen sense. Aliyah walked off and Frankie Monet walked out. She said something to Kamea who followed her, leaving Stone on his own.
Winners: Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter Rating: 5/10
NXT Championship Match: Johnny Gargano vs Karrion Kross W/ Scarlett
Gargano went right after Kross before the bell rang. Kross hit a Saito suplex, then landed some huge strikes. He hit a suplex, but Gargano dropkicked him outside. He flipped onto Kross off the apron. Kross got straight back up and attacked him from behind. Kross ran into Gargano, but he moved out the way and sent him into the steel steps. They traded blows outside until Kross threw Gargano into the announcer table. After the break, Kross delivered a knee to Gargano’s stomach. Gargano moved out the way as Kross ran in shoulder first at the ring post. Gargano hit a step-up enzuigiri and a slingshot spear. He followed up with a Tope Suicida, sending Kross into the barricades. Kross hit a couple of suplexes, but Gargano kicked out.
Gargano countered a Saito suplex off the turnbuckle into a crossbody. He hit a DDT after being driven into the turnbuckle, then ate a big punch from Kross. Gargano superkicked the champion twice, then broke out the Kross Jacket to lock in Gargano Escape. Kross deadlifted him and locked in Kross Jacket again. Gargano managed to get a hand on the bottom rope as Joe had to break the hold. Kross and Joe almost came to blows. Outside the ring, Kross smashed Gargano into the barricades three times. He picked up the steel steps, but Joe took them out of his hands. As Kross stared down Joe again, Gargano hit a flying DDT. He almost pinned him in the ring after One Final Beat. Kross hit multiple powerbombs followed by a Doomsday Saito. Kross hit his deadly blow from behind and pinned Gargano to retain the belt. Once again, Joe and Kross stood face-to-face. As Joe walked off, Kross locked in Kross Jacket on him and put him to sleep.
Winner: Karrion Kross (Still NXT Champion) Rating: 8/10
What Else Went Down
– Diamond Mine were shown earlier in the day being interviewed by McKenzie Mitchell backstage. Bivens said they have the best fighters, coaches, and prospects. He said they were about competition and it was open challenge time. Bobby Fish walked in and stared down Roderick Strong. Bivens said Rust would face Fish, but there was definitely some tension between the two former Undisputed Era members.
– A promo aired featuring Ikemen Jiro where he talked about being trained by The Great Muta and Tajiri. Later on, another aired for Duke Hudson who was overly arrogant, giving me some Zack Sabre Jr vibes.
– LA Knight was shown earlier in the day at his house where he moaned about Grimes being late on his first day as his butler. Grimes said he will uphold his end of the bargain and is going “to the broom.” Knight responded by saying Grimes was going “to the toilet” first. Knight got someone to give Grimes a clean up with a trimmed beard and suit with white gloves. Later on, he asked Grimes to call him Mr Knight, then told him to mow his lawn. Knight gave him a tiny manual lawnmower, and Grimes said it wouldn’t be a problem as his grandma used to chase him around with one when he was younger. In the final segment, Knight walked in on Grimes chilling out by the pool. Knight said he asked Grimes to do the lawn, not some kid. Grimes went to pay the kid for doing the lawn, but Knight knocked the money out of his hand. Grimes offered to sweep up the money and knocked Knight into the pool.
– Samoa Joe walked up to Kross who was training with a punch bag. He reminded Kross of the rules, but he ignored him. Joe grabbed the bag and asked him again if he understood. It got heated as Joe walked away. Samoa Joe found Gargano later and reminded him about following his commands. Theory asked Joe if he wanted to hang out, but he walked off, only to bump into Pete Dunne.
– The Way were shown arriving in the arena. Beth Phoenix stopped Hartwell and asked her how things went with Lumis. She said nothing happened, to which Phoenix replied, “sometimes, you just need to take a chance.” After the Lumis match, Hartwell picked him up, but as she carried him off she fell over. They were just about to kiss until Candice LeRae pushed her off of him.
– Legado Del Phantasma were cutting a promo backstage. Escobar talked trash about Reed and Swerve. Wilde called the cypher from last week offensive. Mendoza said Hit Row had no class. Escobar called Dexter Lumis a loser, then took off his shirt and headed to the ring.
– Wade Barrett was interviewing Kyle O’Reilly from earlier in the day. He asked O’Reilly how he felt after losing last week. O’Reilly said losing is a part of what they do, and it was a part of life. He said he needed to get his groove back, and he would finish Adam Cole.
– Pete Dunne was being interviewed by Mitchell. He said he could beat Kross or Gargano in a one-on-one match. Timothy Thatcher walked in and said was he the best technician or the baddest man in NXT? Ciampa walked in and they both attacked Dunne and Lorcan.
– Adam Cole walked to the ring. He said it felt good to say “I told you so.” Cole said he proved he’s the greatest NXT Superstar on the brand. He said he listened to O’Reilly’s pathetic interview earlier and mocked what he said. Cole said he was sick of talking about O’Reilly, then turned his attention to Samoa Joe. He called him a coward and called him an “overpaid security guard in a suit.” Cole said there was nobody brave enough to go toe-to-toe with him. Bronson Reed walked out and called Cole manipulative. He said he has nothing to lose and all eyes were on him. Cole went to attack Reed, but he knocked him to the ground. Samoa Joe’s music hit and out he walked. Joe walked past Cole and stared him out. Reed then left the ring as the main event got underway.
– Monet was backstage and said they wouldn’t have to worry about Aliyah anymore. Mandy Rose walked up and said it looked like the brand was under new management, then walked off.
– It was announced Bobby Fish would team up with Kushida next week to take on Roderick Strong and Tyler Rust. Also, Xia Li would face Raquel Gonzalez for the NXT Women’s Championship.
After The Bell
Wow, what a show. Most of the matches were really good. The main event was great, even if it felt like Gargano was a tool for the Karrion Kross and Samoa Joe feud to pick up heat. Are we really going to see the two face off against each other? I really hope so. The Cameron Grimes and LA Knight segments were better than I thought they would be, but to be fair, they’re both fantastic in these situations. Mandy Rose coming back to NXT is rather exciting. Frankie Monet needs some direction, so getting to watch her build a feud with Rose might actually work really well.
Sarray once again proved how good she is. It would be amazing to see her in the title picture after Gonzalez destroys Xia Li next week. It was so disappointing not getting to see Tegan Nox or Shotzi Blackheart. A part of me hoped their SmackDown appearance was a one-off, but it looks like they’re gone for good. There were some great setups for new feuds this week. Adam Cole and Bronson Reed is such a good move. Also, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong will be a solid mid-card rivalry if it’s done right. Duke Hudson looks mightily impressive in the ring. I can see him going far in NXT. Finally, I am all in on Legado Del Fantasma feuding with Hit Row. Both factions are popular and are both dripping with talent.
Star of the Show: Karrion Kross Overall Rating: 8/10
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