We have three title matches on the card tonight, or at least two and a half. The two are Breezango attempting to regain their tag titles from Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, and Santos Escobar defending the NXT Cruiserweight Championship against Jake Atlas. The half is Johnny Gargano’s promise that he will defend his title against ‘a worthy opponent’. He’s trying to break the curse of inability to successfully defend a single’s title, so I wouldn’t have the highest expectations for his opponent. The only other announced match features Candice LeRae. She faces Toni Storm because Storm isn’t happy about LeRae distracting Shotzi Blackheart during their match last week. LeRae destroyed Blackheart’s tank and left her distraught, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her try to get some revenge of her own.
Leon Ruff def. Johnny Gargano – TITLE CHANGE
Santos Escobar def. Jake Atlas
Candice LeRae def. Toni Storm
Timothy Thatcher def. Dexter Lumis
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch def. Breezango
The show opened with ‘Johnny Gargano’s Wheel of Challengers’. It had some great names for opponents, and Leon Ruff written on a bit of paper and taped on. When he spun it, it was clearly weighted to land on Ruff.
Johnny Gargano (C) vs Leon Ruff – NXT North American Championship match
It was supposed to be an easy night for Gargano, and it started that way. Damian Priest was watching from the crowd and Gargano made fun of him because he was behind the plexiglass and fencing. When he stepped out into the open, Gargano staggered back into the ring and nearly got pinned with a rollup. He got cocky again a minute or so later and Ruff pinned him with a crucifix pin.
Leon Ruff is the new NXT North American Champion. Damian Priest helped him fasten the belt around his waist, but they might need to make a couple of extra holes because it fell straight down.
Backstage, Ruff was being interviewed but Priest, who couldn’t stop laughing, told him Gargano would come through the curtain pissed off, and gave him his car keys to make his escape. He was right, Gargano was pissed off. He blamed Priest and William Regal. Damian Priest was still laughing and Regal wasn’t having any of it, so Gargano was forced away by officials.
Santos Escobar vs Jake Atlas
This match was made after Atlas attacked Joaquin Wilde with a metal pipe, just like he did to Raul Mendoza, and told Escobar he was next. Escobar demanded the match, so Atlas got what he was aiming for. Wilde was out there with Mendoza, so he didn’t do too much damage. Legado del Fantasma tried to take Atlas out with a metal bar of their own, but Atlas got hold of it and laid them out. He nearly pinned Escobar immediately after, but Escobar kicked out and escaped the ring going into a break.
During the break, Mendoza and Wilde got caught tripping Atlas and were sent to the back. Atlas was fired up after that, but things went bad when he got shoved from the top turnbuckle to the floor. He would possibly have been counted out, but Escobar followed him out. A suicide dive went messily wrong for him but he didn’t hurt himself and the match went on.
Santos Escobar caught him attempting his cartwheel DDT and finished it.
Shotzi Blackheart said Candice LeRae didn’t just destroy her tank, she destroyed a piece of her. It represents her struggles and her family in the military. She disagrees that they’re even. She’s going to kick LeRae’s ass.
Boa came to the ring to tell Raquel Gonzalez that Xia Li couldn’t take part in their match. She was annoyed because it was Li who called her out, so she beat him up instead.
The lights went off and the image of a dragon chased around the video wall, then a guy walked to the ring, handed Boa and envelope and put a symbol on his hand. Boa looked terrified.
August Grey was being interviewed about attacking Timothy Thatcher when Thatcher returned the favour and put him through the excellent cartoon Dexter Lumis had been shown drawing earlier. Lumis was suddenly there and presumably not happy (who can tell), but William Regal arrived to separate them and Thatcher stalked off.
Toni Storm vs Candice LeRae
This was great. I love Toni Storm and Candice LeRae and their styles mesh really well. LeRae won it with her feet on the ropes, then all hell broke loose. Toni Storm didn’t take being cheated out of a win very well and attacked LeRae. The masked figure appeared to rescue her, then Shotzi Blackheart ran down to help Storm when it became two on one. Toni Storm rolled out of the ring and the masked figure helped put Blackheart in position for the Wicked Stepsister.
With a nod from Candice LeRae, the masked figure revealed herself to be Indi Hartwell… to the surprise of absolutely no one.
Breezango aren’t coming to play tonight. They’ve worked too hard to be cheated out of their titles by Pat McAfee, and they want them back.
Timothy Thatcher vs Dexter Lumis
Another good match that wasn’t about the match. Timothy Thatcher won, but it was the appearance of Cameron Grimes that made the difference and was the true purpose of the segment. Grimes attacked Lumis after the match and, for reasons best known to himself, put a sack over Lumis’ head while he beat him up. Despite not being able to see, Lumis swung a chair at Grimes but just hit the floor. Grimes sat him on the chair and gave him a Cave In, then told him he wasn’t scared of him.
Johnny Gargano tried to convince William Regal that the match decision should be reversed. He admitted to rigging the wheel and said it was all a joke. Regal said, ‘The decision stands. I guess the curse is still alive. And Leon Ruff in the new North American Champion’, then shut the door in his face and left him shouting and kicking things.
Tommaso Ciampa talked about his history, the guys who trained him who never had to tell you they were tough, like Killer Kowalski and Harley Race. But things are different now and the locker room won’t hesitate to tell you how tough they are. He never thought he’d be the last of a dying breed, but he is. The 2020 locker room culture is going to change, and he is that change.
The in-depth look at Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai was excellent, as they always are. So here it is.
Cameron Grimes said he was afraid of Dexter Lumis and his cold dead eyes, but then he covered them up and caved them in.
Finn Balor will address the NXT Universe next week.
Pat McAfee talked a LOT about Pete Dunne and about himself and, honestly, all I could think was the same thing I’ve thought when they’ve been on for the last couple of weeks. Why is Pete Dunne orange?
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch (C) vs Breezango – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Breezango were all business from their entrance on. There was only the briefest and most perfunctory of hip movement from Fandango. Pat McAfee joined commentary, with Pete Dunne to one side, lurking like a brooding creosoted bodyguard.
It started on the outside with all four of the brawling, but it settled into a decent main event. Dunne nearly got involved with Tyler Breeze when Breeze threw Danny Burch and him and McAfee. Sadly, that didn’t shut Pat McAfee up. Nothing shuts Pat McAfee up, but after a break, he’d moved from commentary to ringside, which was a massive relief.
I wanted to see Breezango do it, they’ve never looked better in the ring and they deserve a decent reign, but it was unlikely to happen with Dunne and McAfee at ringside. Dunne pulled Burch out of the way of Breeze’s dive, but got taken out alongside him by Fandango’s. McAfee tried to distract the ref so something nefarious could happen, and something nefarious did happen, but it wasn’t to his liking. Drake Maverick arrived and kicked Oney Lorcan in the head for Fandango to powerbomb him. Maverick dived on McAfee when he came round to sort him out, but Lorcan kicked out of Fandango’s pin. Maverick was then taken down by a clothesline from Dunne.
Pete Dunne punched Breeze off the apron while McAfee distracted the ref when Fandango desperately needed a tag. All by himself and caught out by a tag he didn’t see, Fandango took Burch and Lorcan’s double team finisher and got pinned.
Drake Maverick jumped off the top turnbuckle onto Danny Burch after the match and got thoroughly beaten up by all four of them and bounced off the announce desk. Fandango tried to help and got put down, as did Tyler Breeze. Breeze landed on the announce desk. Burch and Lorcan held his feet and Dunne held his arms so his head and chest were exposed, and Pat McAfee kicked him in the head.
That was a weird episode of NXT. There wasn’t a single match without some shenanigans attached. It made for a fun show, and it’s clearly building some interesting storylines, but it gets too much after a while. I’m still interested to see where everything is going. That’s the main thing, I guess.