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The WWE TV YouTube Experiment (Week 5: RAW/ July 15, 2019)

Monday Night RAW happened. Or did it? Let’s talk about what we saw on YouTube and discuss whether anything actually occurred at all.

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The WWE TV YouTube Experiment
Week 5
Monday Night RAW/ July 15, 2019/ Long Island, New York

I had Night 3 of New Japan’s G1 Climax to watch on Sunday (and Night 4 on Monday), so I didn’t see Extreme Rules. The results seemed okay, but it’s worthless to cover it here if I didn’t actually see it. I did, however, take advantage of a 3-month subscription for 99 cents a couple of days ago, which follows the 2-month subscription for 99 cents that ended this week. So that’s awesome. I can justify spending what translates into less than 40 cents a month on the WWE Network. I can’t justify 10 bucks a month. And it has nothing to do with the current product.

I’m not going to get on a soapbox, but in short, I signed up on day one and kept my subscription even after I stopped watching regularly, and even after I stopped watching altogether. But when they signed the Saudi deal, I was not happy. And then they doubled down by continuing on with the show after the murder of an innocent journalist. It runs deeper than that, but that’s the gist. As soon as they decided to run that show, I decided that morally, I couldn’t give them $120 bucks a year any longer. So that’s that. I started a free trial at the end of January. Got a second one at the beginning of April, and then accepted 2 months for 99 cents in May and 3 months for 99 cents in July. A buck ninety-eight for 9 months? Yeah, I don’t have a moral obligation that stops me from throwing couch change at someone. In reality, when my subscription ends in mid-October, I’ll have paid 22 cents a month. Hey, I’m even doing numbers analysis up here. How about that?

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Monday Night RAW 7/15/2019
Total Number of Clips: 13
Total Time: 34 minutes, 18 seconds

*Note: In the interest of saving space, I won’t be embedding every clip, only the ones that I feel are necessary.*

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Brock Lesnar’s SummerSlam opponent to be revealed (4 minutes, 56 seconds)

This was the longest clip of the small batch this week, running more than a full minute longer than the second longest, and that one (Truth, Maverick, and the 24/7 Title) was one YouTube clip but 3 actual TV segments. The next longest video that was only one segment was a full minute and 56 seconds shorter than this. The Women’s 4-Way and angle afterward got a 3-minute video. More on that later. This was fine, standard fare from Heyman, and although the outcome at the end of the night was disappointing, at least based on this segment it felt like maybe someone fresh would get a title match. Good enough. (1 for 1)

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2-out-of-3 Falls Six-Man Tag Team Match (2 minutes, 59 seconds)

This got Robert Roode on TV, which is good. He actually feels like a guy who would fit well as a regular partner/ally for The Revival. Match seemed fine, and the aftermath was good, with Ricochet getting taken out by The Club, which means they aren’t done with him even though AJ took his belt at the PPV. I hope something big happens with The Club and it’s not just AJ as a mid-card guy with 2 guys as his backup. Or even AJ as a main event guy with 2 guys as his backup, like they did in his feud with Roman Reigns in 2016. If that’s all they do, eh, it’s fine, but it’s nothing special. Finn has to become part of this when he returns in the fall, right? (2 for 2)

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The Viking Raiders vs. Vinny Gruner & Jackson James (1 minute, 36 seconds)

Man, they came really close to killing that guy with the pop-up powerslam finish. It’s good to see these guys aren’t getting the Ascension treatment, but they have been on TV for exactly 3 months as of this episode of RAW. It’s time to start doing something with them because the crowd doesn’t seem to care very much. It was just an inoffensive squash and they’re not being beaten up by 60-year-old men every week, so I’ll take it. Next week is the RAW Reunion, though. If I were these guys, I might consider not showing up. (3 for 3)

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Cedric Alexander vs. Drew McIntyre (2 minutes, 17 seconds)

After the unbelievably bad angle they did last week to close the show, they needed to give Cedric something, and thankfully they did in the form of a quick win over Drew McIntyre. I get the feeling Drew probably isn’t going to be challenging, much less defeating, The Undertaker at SummerSlam. He’ll probably just be in Shane’s corner for his match against Kevin Owens. Oh well. That’s close, right? I’m interested in seeing if they follow up with Cedric now, or if this was just an apology match for the shit that happened on the previous show. Either way, this was exactly what they needed to do. (4 for 4)

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Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe (1 minute, 47 seconds)

Joe picks up another win in extremely quick fashion (the match was under a minute and a half long), which is good after losing his 50th title match in a row. Getting beat up by Finn immediately after was completely unnecessary, though. I know that Finn is a fighter, but why bother? Instead of Joe getting what was essentially just a fluke roll-up, why not have him tap Finn or choke him out? Finn is leaving in a few weeks, and it’s going to be The Demon, not Finn Balor, who is going to take on Bray at SummerSlam, so at this moment Finn Balor is a disposable entity. This did nothing for Joe. (4 for 5)

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Bray Wyatt returns and attacks Finn Balor (1 minute, 21 seconds)

I will say, the mask is definitely scarier in the ring the way it was presented here than it was when it was revealed in the Firefly Fun House vignettes. It looked like a corny, failed attempt to look scary, at least to me. I liked the outfit with the striped pants and whatnot since it’s a different attire than he was wearing when he left, but the mask was uninspiring. It was scary as shit on Monday, though. This was very well done, and I really hope Bray beats The Demon at SummerSlam. Hopefully, they can do that and then drop the silly gimmick that The Demon is a creature that uses Finn as a host (that’s pretty much what they’ve made it) and just let Finn be Finn, a cool dude in a leather jacket who sometimes likes to paint himself up because he enjoys the showmanship of it. This was about as good as they were going to get for the re-debut of Wyatt. I hope, almost exactly 6 years after his original main roster debut, they get it right this time. I also wonder if he’s going to wrestle in the mask and if the mask looks a little different because it’s not the exact same one from the promos, and instead has been altered to be worn in the ring. (5 for 6)

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The Street Profits predict Brock Lesnar’s next challenger (1 minute, 59 seconds)

Can they be done with this now, please? It started off as amusing, but now it’s getting annoying. This is a terrible use of a pair of guys who are absolutely terrific. If they aren’t joining the RAW tag division, please just keep them in NXT. (5 for 7)

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Zack Ryder vs. Mike Kanellis (1 minute, 50 seconds)

Next. (5 for 8)

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Lucha House Party vs. The Club (2 minutes, 51 seconds)

This was exactly what it needed to be, with AJ, Gallows, and Anderson picking up a win as a team in what appeared to be a solid match. My big issue with this is similar to other omissions that don’t make much sense. Ricochet interfered in this match and went after AJ (it’s what they used to stop the match for the commercial break). Why not show that? It’s important in the build of the feud that Ricochet isn’t going to let these guys walk all over him. Outside of that, this was still an entertaining clip and the right thing to do for The Club, so I won’t let that drag it down. (6 for 9)

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Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss

I assume that between entrances, the match, and the post-match promo this probably took around 40 minutes of the show to itself, and that would be why this week there are only 13 clips instead of the usual 17-to-19. The only parts of the match that they showed were the 3 eliminations, which means I only saw a minute and 21 seconds of what everyone is agreeing was a Very Bad 25-minute match. That means to me, as a viewer of only the YouTube content, this was actually just fine. Sadly, the last fall did include the “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” dueling chant, along with a very, very brief “Goldberg” chant immediately after. Natalya is suddenly a heel, maybe, or maybe she’s just trying to get on Becky’s level in terms of being a loose cannon on the microphone. I guess we’ll see next week. It was a bit cringeworthy, but I also like Natalya more than a lot of people do, so I’m okay with this. Thanks to the fact that the only parts of the match they showed here were good, this gets a thumbs up from me. (7 for 10)

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The Miz pummels Dolph Ziggler on “Miz TV” (2 minutes, 57 seconds)

It was a different promo than the one that Ziggler has been cutting for the last 3 years, so that was good. The last thing we need is another feud between these two. I have enjoyed most of the stuff they’ve done together over the years, but we don’t need more. I sort of thought this was going in the direction of Ziggler helping Miz get his head back on straight, possibly leading to them forming a tag team that would be somewhat similar to the Awesome Truth. Maybe that is the plan. I’ll wait and see with this. I also might be the last person outside of Vince McMahon and Dolph Ziggler himself who still thinks DZ can be rehabbed and do something good, so I may be judging this on a bit of a curve. Going with a thumbs up for this. (8 for 11)

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R-Truth Invades Drake Maverick’s hotel room (3 minutes, 52 seconds)

As I mentioned earlier, this video was all 3 of the night’s segments all put together, which made sense to do. This may have been the best 24/7 stuff I’ve seen since I started 4 weeks ago. This was a lot of fun. (9 for 12)

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Cross-Branded All-Star Top 10 Battle Royal (2 minutes, 53 seconds)

Boy, oh boy, there is a LOT to unpack from the name of this match. I won’t do it, but wow. That’s something. I don’t know… the excerpts from the match itself were good, as you would expect with the talented guys involved. The winner was disappointing but Seth was really the most obvious winner, and nobody should have expected WWE to go an unexpected route like Big E, even though the crowd seemed to be supporting him the most, and the fact that he’s been ready for the spot for like 3 years, or more. Again, this was fine. I don’t really care very much. I will say, though, that I thought Rollins was showing a ton of fire in the post-match promo, and it almost made me care. And then he had to shoe-horn in the “reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Heavyweight Champion” line, and it ruined the whole thing for me. I’m listing this as a negative because I wish they would explore different directions. This was a perfect opportunity. Whatever. (9 for 13)

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Final Analysis

The July 8 episode, the final RAW before Extreme Rules, was really quite awful. I hated it. This week is a step above that. I’m mostly apathetic toward it. I felt nonplussed by pretty much everything. I’m glad that it was under 35 minutes long because it went by extraordinarily quickly, but when I was done it felt like I watched a whole lot of nothing. With the exception of the Bray Wyatt return, this week’s episode could have not happened at all, and nothing would be different.

Come to think of it, that’s probably worse than a bad show because contrary to what I said last week it wasn’t bad TV that drove me to stop watching. It was the fact that with the exception of some really strong matches, the show was the same thing every single week. There were a number of occasions where I would miss 2 weeks and not check out the reviews, and when I saw the show again, there had been such a minimal amount of storyline progression that the episodes I missed might not have even existed at all. I hope something happens next week. At least they appear to be doing fun stuff on SmackDown, with Kevin Owens if nothing else.

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Straight Numbers

Average Clip Length
Week 5: 2 minutes, 38 seconds
Week 4: 2 minutes, 10 seconds
Week 3: 2 minutes, 33 seconds
Week 2: 2 minutes, 44 seconds
Week 1: 2 minutes, 32 seconds

The average length of each clip is back on par with the first 3 weeks after last week’s sizeable drop. After a little under 48 hours, here are some viewership numbers:

  • Bray Wyatt’s return has over 2.5 million views
  • Just over 2 million views for R-Truth pinning Drake in the hotel
  • The Battle Royal has over 1.7 million views, as one might expect
  • The Women’s 4-Way has 555k views
  • Over 400k for Cedric vs. Drew
  • Viking Raiders at under 87k views, by far the least-watched

Bray’s return came very close to outclassing, in under 48 hours, the most-watched clip from last week’s show, which was the Roman/Cedric vs. Shane/Drew match. That had around 2.6 million views as of last Friday night, more than 2 days longer than the Bray return clip. As of the writing of this, Wednesday evening July 17th, that clip has only earned about another 100,000 views, at just over 2.7 million.

The 24/7 Championship saga must have had some buzz, which it hasn’t had for the last 2 weeks. It’s the second-most-watched clip for the July 15th RAW. The 24/7 stuff didn’t even earn enough views last week for me to even mention it in more than a single sentence — there were 3 clips (probably should have just put them all together in one) and only one of them was over 100k. The one with the word “consummation” in the title was just under 300k last Friday and sits at 662k as of Wednesday evening. The other two videos are well below 350k. Hitting over 2 million views this week is back up to form and makes me happy.

I don’t recall any other video featuring the women’s division going above 300,000 views, especially not in under 48 hours. I would wager that the reason it’s at more than half a million views is that people heard the match was awful, and they were curious to see it for themselves. Those people were likely both disappointed and relieved at the same time. No disrespect to the women, but this match had a ton of buzz online and it wasn’t positive attention. Very few people checked the 4-way match video out because they were interested in the outcome, and Becky Lynch isn’t in the thumbnail, her name isn’t in the title of the video, and the title doesn’t even specify that the match was for a title shot.

The Viking Raiders continue to be one of, if not the least-viewed videos every week. After just under 48 hours, they have well under 100,000 views, Even the Street Profits hit 104k. Also, after hitting 1.4 million for Maria’s in-ring destruction of Mike Kanellis a few weeks ago, that angle has stalled out big time both in development and in YouTube hits. Ryder squashing Kanellis has only 284k views. The “pickles and ice cream” video from the July 8th episode, which was the awful follow-up to the original angle from July 1st (which peaked at 1.8 million as of this writing) is at a pitiful 184k after more than a week. Maybe they should be glad that nobody is checking them out. The fewer eyes, the better.

Well, that’s all I have for this week. I’m officially at the halfway mark, as there are 3 more episodes of RAW before SummerSlam and my last will be the night after. So far, I’m not leaning toward going back to being a regular RAW viewer. I might start checking out SmackDown, though. It seems like fun.

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Nick Marsico/ Writer (kinda)
The Chairshot Dot Com
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Greg DeMarco

Greg DeMarco’s ROH #469 Review: Pure Championship Tournament Kicks Off

Greg DeMarco starts playing catch-up on ROH with the Pure Championship tournament, featuring Jay Lethal vs. Dalton Castle and Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta!

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ROH Ring Of Honor Pure Tournament Pure Championship

Greg DeMarco starts playing catch-up on ROH as the company makes its return to TV with the Pure Championship tournament, featuring Jay Lethal vs. Dalton Castle and Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta!

If you know me, you know I am a huge ROH fan going back to the “old days” when the company featured stars like CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Kevin Steen (Owens), El Generico (Sami Zayn) and many more. Recent years turned me off of the of the product, but with ROH making a return and focusing on the Pure Championship, I am ready to make my own return…to honor.

ROH episode #469

The company gives us a quick overview of the Pure Championship that was impactful for me–a guy who was already familiar with the product. For someone who isn’t? I think it’s lacking. Then we have Quinn McKay here to present the field to us, in a manner that was downright goofy with the majestic music and all. It doesn’t seem to fit the “pro wrestling” motif they are going for.

They also give us an overview of the rules, and I am left wondering if they simply forgot that the first closed fist earns you a warning, and the second costs you a rope-break if you have any left. If you’re going to bring this back, even using the old belt, let’s do it right!

Jay Lethal promo

We’re doing sit down interviews with each person, and it’s still just…odd. I don’t know if it’s the music, the way it’s lit, filmed, or what. It just seems like I am watching an old show, not something that was released within the past month. Jay Lethal does a good job selling the importance of the championship, but I question calling Brian Kendrick “Spanky.” Yes, that was his name when Lethal beat him, but today’s fan isn’t going to remember this as well. This is a problem similar to AEW. you’re trying to build new fans, not just appease old ones.

Dalton Castle promo

I am on record thinking that Dalton Castle was cheated in his ROH World Championship reign. but his promo didn’t sell me on ANYTHING. And I love Dalton Castle.

Pure Championship Tournament Block A First Round: Dalton Castle vs. Jay Lethal

I love, love, LOVE the stats on the wrestler cards on their way to the ring. Kinda reminds me of another company that was going to focus on stats….and hasn’t. The clock and rope break counter on the bottom of the screen is a nice touch. It’s strange to see if during a whole match, but it’s also something I will get used to.

Jay Lethal was manipulated into the ropes by Dalton Castle early, establishing the importance of the rope breaks. Later Castle used the rope for leverage, allowing Ian Riccaboni to explain to use that that wasn’t a rope break.

Castle went for a Bangarang at the 11-minute mark, seeing his leg give out at the end. Lethal had to use his second rope break to stop the pinfall. Jay Lethal connects with the Lethal Injection at 13 minutes to score the pinfall.

Winner and advancing to the Block A Semifinals – Jay Lethal
Rating – ***
Impression: Great match, cheated out of fan reaction, definitely one to watch.

I really liked his this match established the rules of the tournament, as Lethal used two rope breaks and Dalton Castle used none. Castle was highly effective with his legal closed fists, telling that story as well. This was a good match to kick off the tournament.

Wheeler Yuta promo

I was exposed to Wheeler as part of Dojo Pro on Amazon Prime, but this promo did a good job establishing who he is. Might be worth it to secure some footage of his matches, even if it’s from Dojo Pro. Pictures are great, but footage is better. Wheeler Yuta fits in with ROH, and this promo told me exactly that.

I also really liked Yuta describing his in-ring philosophy as a “decoder.” One who figures out his opponent through film study and the feeling out process of a match, and then “decodes” how to beat them. Break down their tendencies and exploit them. If you want to see wrestling presented as a modern-day sport–this is it.

Jonathan Gresham promo

Gresham’s rise to prominence in ROH came when I wasn’t really watching, so for me this was a great opportunity for me to gain an appreciation for what he means to the company now, and how he compares to those who historically came before him. He ended with a bit of a manifesto on pure wrestling, and it makes me wonder if we could see a pure wrestling vs. non pure wrestling feud of some kind. Not sure it would work.

Honestly my reaction to the Yuta and Gresham promos makes me think I was too hard on the Jay Lethal and Dalton Castle promos. The goofy music didn’t matter as much to me, because I was engaged in both talents. I am literally sold on both after these not-so-short promos.

Pure Championship Tournament Block A First Round: Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta

Love the storytelling of Jonathan Gresham coming to the ring without his World Tag Team Championship, when Lethal did. Gresham was the one campaigning for this title to return, and he is fully focused on it. I love Wheeler Yuta already, but dude we gotta talk about your footwear. You stopped wearing a shirt, and look more like a wrestler. Get some boots! I knew Gresham was shorter, but didn’t realize that was 5’4″. I am going to assume that’s not worked at all, even though many heights are.

I don’t love the amateur wrestler in the background, this is pro wrestling. You don’t want to associate this tournament with a regression in the product–because despite this being a return of a championship after being gone for 14 years, it’s not that.

Wheeler Yuta is 6 feet tall, the tallest of all four competitors featured on this episode. And at 23 years old, he’s already a fantastic storyteller. If he adds size, he can be a big time star–not only for ROH, but in the wrestling business in general.

If you think the first match of this show told a good story, then this one told a phenomenal in-ring story. I can’t even describe the finishing sequence of this match, a punch of rolling pinfall combinations that ended with Gresham pounding Yuta’s knee into the mat until he tapped.

Winner and advancing to the Block A Semifinals – Jonathan Gresham
Rating – ****
Impression: Match of the night, which sounds silly when we only had two matches. But if there were more, this would still likely be on top.

Wheeler Yuta belongs in ROH, and he proved that here. Jonathan Gresham is one of the best in-ring wrestlers in the world today. Hopefully he sticks around.

Overall Impression – 8/10

Ring Of Honor is still a little too “goofy” for my tastes outside the ring, but they more than make up for it in the ring. I am not 100% sure others will agree. It makes me wonder who is producing the non-in-ring elements of the program, and what we have to do to replace them. The in-ring action honestly holds up against any in the world, but the other elements remind me of a high school media project. The talent deserves better.

I do want to talk about the environment. It reminds me of WWE NXT at Full Sail or the Performance Center. Outside of the WWE Thunderdome, I think it’s one of the best environments anyone has created during this “COVID era” of wrestling. I wouldn’t be opposed to piping in some crowd reactions to go along with this action, as there were some great moments in both matches that didn’t land as well without the crowd noise.

Ian Riccaboni makes a great point about how the fans would “come alive” when Lethal and Castle were both down, and he was exactly right. Caprice Coleman, being a wrestler himself, is really underrated as a color commentator. He does a great job adding to the story by adding the wrestlers’ perspective, as well as explaining the technical elements. Riccaboni sounds like a fan who has learned from commentators (not his fault, he’s not a wrestler) when getting technical. Coleman sounds 100% credible and legit.

Putting aside the goofiness of some non-in-ring elements, the only thing I would change here is adding a middle match that is designed to give us a break from the Pure Rules, and introduce (or reintroduce) us to other ROH talent. My 8/10 rating is propped up by the in-ring action, which has to make up for the goofiness otherwise.


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Greg DeMarco

Greg DeMarco’s NXT Takeover XXX Real Time Review

Pat McAfee and Adam Cole shock the world, and NXT Takeover XXX delivers like Takeovers do. What does Greg think?

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WWE NXT Takeover XXX Adam Cole Pat McAfee Chairshot Edit

Pat McAfee and Adam Cole shock the world, and NXT Takeover XXX delivers like Takeovers do. What does Greg think?

Welp, another Takeover is upon us, and I am going to compile my thoughts in real time. Right now the Kickoff Preshow hasn’t started, but I am excited about this event. I am friends with someone works in production for NXT, and he said excitement is at a peak level in the building as of this morning. The set-up is rumored to be cool, and I think this event–which I look at as a rebuilding effort for NXT–could still steal the weekend.

Before we get going, I will give you some “pre-thoughts.” I’ll leave them here and we’ll see how dumb I look when this is over:

  • I am surprised by the lack of an Undisputed Era vs. Imperium match. Given the nature of the finish, I can see the justification of a rematch. At the same time, you can use that result as part of a future issue within Undisputed Era. So we’ll see. Sucks for Imperium to be NXT Tag Team Champions and not have a match at Takeover.
  • I am really excited for Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee. Cole has been at this for a decade, and I bet her never imagined wrestling a former NFL Pro Bowler at Full Sail. Yet here we are. If this match is great, that is a HUGE feather in the cap of Cole, who you know I regard as the best damn wrestler walking God’s green earth.
  • I would have added Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez to this show, BUT we also need matches for the weekly TV show on the USA Network. That said, we are also getting Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher, which could be the match of the night.
  • While I think Bronson Reed should win, I expect Damian Priest to become North American Champion tonight. He is a star on the rise.
  • Lastly, I have to admit I don’t have high hopes for Karrion Kross vs. Keith Lee. Kross has been dominant, and now we will see how he fares in an even match-up. I hope I am wrong in these hopes.

NXT Takeover XXX Kickoff

  • Pat McAfee is easily a better heel villain than 95% of the those playing that role on the WWE roster today.
  • I can’t shake the feeling that Karrion Kross is better suited for the “main roster” shows than NXT. But if the plan is to take NXT on the road for TV after this pandemic is over, then I can see him staying. Either way, I can’t see him winning tonight.
  • Correction — I can’t see Keith Lee losing tonight. I think Kross eats his first loss in WWE tonight.
  • Booker T sees a “pro” in Dakota Kai and that’s why he’s picking her. Does that mean he doesn’t see a pro in Io Shirai?
  • I love that Imperium is holding gold across multiple brands.
  • Digging the set with the XXX. Not loving Breezango in this match. It’s hard to take them seriously as a tag team contending for anything.
  • Still surprised we can’t get a NXT Cruiserweight Championship match at Takeover. Santos Escobar has made this championship important–treat it that way!
  • The white ropes with the longer XXX stage/set make this “look bigger.” It’s Full Sail with the fake fans, but it comes off like a bigger deal.
  • Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch might go down as one of the most underrated teams in wresting history.
  • Oh look, Breezango won. Hopefully the match will be good, but I hope they don’t unseat Imperium.

Kickoff Match: Breeango beat Legado del Fantasma and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch when Tyler Breeze pinned Lorcan to earn an NXT Tag Team Championship match

  • Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher is a hell of a match to start the show. Love that announcement.
  • I know William Regal said McAfee’s buddies (and we’re not focusing enough on them, they have name value) and the rest of Undisputed Era can’t get involved. I really hope they do. This match needs shenanigans.
  • If Adam Cole loses to Pat McAfee, there better be a rematch. Otherwise, what does that say about NXT, WWE, and the business in general? Especially when McAfee, in character, has buried it.

NXT Takeover XXX

  • No one does video packages better than WWE. No one.
  • We got some pyro in Full Sail!
  • Love seeing Corey Graves pair up with Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix tonight. I am guessing Mauro had another gig.

Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher

  • Finn Balor is a great example of what I’ve been saying about faces and heels not mattering anymore, and it instead being heroes and villains. Thatcher is the villain tonight, and Balor is the hero. But both are heels. And that’s okay.
  • Not gonna lie, I miss the NXT crowd. Even at Full Sail. But imagine this in Boston?
  • Timothy Thatcher might not be the only person in WWE who likes to utilize this style, but he damn sure is the best.
  • Thatcher works a style that could really work on the “main roster.” I know he’s already 37, but I could actually see him pulling off a huge WrestleMania match someday, even as a show closing talent.
  • Starting a single-leg crab, and Thatcher just lays kicks into Finn instead. Damn, dude is SO GOOD. I really hope more people take notice in this match.
  • On the flip said of the Thatcher-WM comments, you have Finn Balor who damn well better close a WrestleMania before he’s done. I hate to say he’s wasted in NXT, but I can’t think of a better word.
  • Balor going over and Thatcher doesn’t even kick out of a finisher–not that he would want to–seems like a missed opportunity. Is losing to Balor really a break-out opportunity like they want us to think?

Finn Balor pinned Timothy Thatcher following 1916

  • Love that Sasha Banks and Bayley are in the crowd, fangirlling, tonight.

North American Championship Ladder Match: Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream

  • Cameron Grimes strikes me as someone who should be residing in WrestleHouse. I don’t mean he shouldn’t be in NXT, but when he goes home, it should be to WrestleHouse.
  • Beth unintentionally making the comparison between Damian Priest and Razor Ramon is one I can’t disagree with. If he can have that type of WWE career, he will have done well.
  • Also makes sense since I picked Priest, and the North American Championship really is the modern day Intercontinental Championship.
  • “Johnny Gargano calls himself the hero that NXT deserves.” See, Gargano already knows–it’s Heroes vs. Villains!
  • I really wish they had kept Bronson Reed with Malcolm Bivens.
  • I want to love Priest mimicking Razor Ramon, Reed honoring Bam Bam Bigelow and Velveteen Dream channeling Scott Steiner, but let these characters stand on their own.
  • Damian Priest selling that DDT by….crawling out of the ring? Roll Damian. Roll.
  • I know I just criticized him, but Damian Priest could be the best striker in NXT, possibly in WWE.
  • That split spot for Cameron Grimes was creative. And it’s hard to do that in a Ladder Match in 2020.
  • Corey Graves on an NXT broadcast just feels right.
  • This might be the most blueish-purple in any NXT match in history.
  • Bronson Reed really adds an element that NXT has been missing.
  • That was a creative Tower Of Doom spot. And it’s hard to do that in 2020.
  • I really feel for these guys, doing this without a crowd–a crowd that would be on their feet going nuts for this.
  • THICCBOI gonna fly!
  • Cameron Grimes worked really hard to get a ladder into the ring…which already had a ladder in it.
  • A splash from Bronson Reed is bad enough. Throw 110 pounds of Candice LeRae on the back? Ouch.
  • Velveteen Dream is a dumb ass for not realizing the title was up there, and then going LOWER on the ladder before trying to grab it.
  • I feel bad for Damain Priest, having to sell Dream’s superkick that didn’t come within a foot of hitting him.
  • Honestly, Velveteen Dream is the least impressive person in this match.
  • I really wanted someone to stop Cameron Grimes, which means he’s done his job.
  • And despite the weird finish, the right guy wins.

Damian Priest retrieves the belt in a Ladder Match to become the new NXT North American Champion

  • That was one hell of a spot for Velveteen Dream, one you can’t do outside of this environment. I feel like it didn’t get sold long enough–that was a crazy spot!

Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee

  • Why is the main event going on third?
  • This is when we see just how damn good Adam Cole is. (He’s really damn good, btw.)
  • Pat McAfee not entering vi the backdoor is a missed opportunity.
  • Pat McAfee didn’t have to read his promo. Take that Dominik Mysterio!
  • Matt PacAfee?
  • Having this match start as catch-as-catch-can wrestling kinda proves that Pat McAfee is playing wrestler, AMIRIGHT?
  • War Games 2020?
  • Not gonna lie, Pat McAfee ain’t bad at this.
  • Okay, LOVE Corey Graves pointing out that McAfee has friends to teach him some tricks. Considering one of those main friends is COREY GRAVES.
  • And now Corey Graves is calling out Beth Phoenix contradicting herself. Damn I miss Corey Graves on NXT.
  • PAT MCAFEE CAN PUNCH BETTER THAN MOST OF WWE!
  • Pat McAfee > Dominik Mysterio. Some things can’t be taught.
  • I love seeing Twitter do a complete 180 on Pat McAfee. Great job Adam Cole!
  • Pat McAfee is a goddamned pro wrestler.

Adam Cole pinned Pat McAfee following the Panama Sunrise

  • One thing to keep in perspective here: Corey Graves added SO MUCH to this match on commentary. He’s really grown into one of the best.
  • And you, Adam Cole? Still the greatest wrestler walking God’s green earth.

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (champion) vs. Dakota Kai (with Raquel Gonzalez)

  • Sucks for these talented women to have to follow that match.
  • I feel bad, I am watching this match (which is good) thinking about how much money Triple H and Vince McMahon need to throw at Pat McAfee.
  • Dakota Kai could be a star. Not sure what she needs to take this to another level, but she’s right on the cusp of stardom.
  • No, not STARDOM. Stardom.
  • Io Shirai might be the best women’s wrestler in the entire world. Might be the second best in the world overall (behind Adam Cole, BAY BAY.)
  • Maybe this match is bringing out what Dakota Kai needs to be a star. She’s killing it.
  • REF BUMP!
  • Could we see Bayley and Sasha here?
  • Nope, just Raquel.

Io Shirai pinned Dakota Kai following a moonsault to retain the NXT Women’s Championship

  • Damn good match that won me over–and that’s saying a lot considering I was still reeling from Cole-McAfee.
  • We gonna use Rhea Ripley to build Raquel Gonzalez now?
  • Tommaso Ciampa returns Wednesday? I guess he’s not seeking retribution after all…
  • Look at Damian Priest stealing Joey Janela’s girl!

NXT Championship: Keith Lee (champion) vs. Karrion Kross

  • Imagine a Karrion Kross entrance at WrestleMania.
  • Glad to see Scarlett finally has the timing of the words down.
  • Karrion Kross’ pyro went off before the match. Using the Kane Principle, that means he’s losing.
  • Can you see The White Rabbit as NXT Champion?
  • I really love how they use the guard rails in this new, Plexiglas environment.
  • This is very much a “main roster” match right here, and that’s appropriate since both men could do well there–if they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  • Keith Lee has been really…..helpful in this match.
  • Keith Lee for “main roster?”

Karrion Kross pinned Keith Lee following a Doomsday Siato Suplex from the second rope to capture the NXT Championship

  • Don’t love taking the NXT Championship off of Keith Lee this fast, making him a transitional champion. But that might have been the plan all along. Sometimes the title win is someone’s peak, and that might have been it for Keith Lee.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this NXT Takeover. It was really a rebuilding show, but it will be remembered for the Pat McAfee appearance no one saw coming.

 


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