JUNE 7, 2020

Watch: WWE Network


Sean Sedor: While Sean would normally say he’s ready to go for this review, he’s hoping that the NASCAR race in Atlanta finishes before this show starts (it’s going to be VERY close). You can follow Sean on Twitter @SASedor2994, and you can also check out his Twitch channel, which is very much in its infancy.

Steve Case: Member of the @Midcard_Matinee podcast on movies starring wrestlers. Looking forward to seeing if this In Your House nostalgia Takeover can live up to the show’s stellar history. Follow Steve @Coachcase44

Mia Yim, Shotzi Blackheart, & Tegan Nox def. Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, & Raquel Gonzalez

Sean Sedor: Well, thanks to the Code Orange performance at the start of the show, the NASCAR race finished before the match started (congrats to Kevin Harvick!). In addition to the Code Orange performance, we got a classic opening with Todd Pettengill and a version of the classic In Your House set. The heel side gained the edge early as Gonzalez showed off her strength. From there we got some solid back and forth action for several minutes, which included a series of dives that looked somewhat contrived. Eventually, Candice LeRae and Mia Yim brawl backstage, which left it as a two vs. two affair in the ring. Tegan Nox ultimately pinned Dakota Kai after some miscommunication between Kai and Gonzalez. This was a pleasant addition to the card, and I was glad to see that it pretty much met my expectations. I wasn’t looking for this to steal the show, but I was going to be happy as long as they had a solid match. In the end, that’s exactly what they did. ***1/4

Steve Case: Todd Pettengill introducing the show to classic graphics and a modernized take on the old school In Your House set already has me smiling. This already feels different than any NXT/WWE show with the fun opening/set, as well as genuine excitement from the PC trainee crowd.

This was a real high energy, fast-paced tag match from the jump between these women. They even took turns with the coordinated dives and everyone was caught! Things got a little sloppy towards the end with Raquel in the ring. She looked impressive with her power, but missed a few spots and her timing was a bit off. Things broke down with Candice and Mia brawling to the back. Dakota then accidentally took out Raquel with a kick, leading to Nox hitting her with the Shiniest Wizard for the win. Fun opener. ***

Finn Balor def. Damian Priest

Sean Sedor: I’m not a huge fan of this “Shooty McShooter” gimmick that Finn Balor’s got going right now. His whole character seems to be “Look at me! I use insider wrestling terms in my promos!”. I bet Vince Russo would love this version of Finn Balor. It’s a little off-putting, at least for me. That complaint aside, I was looking forward to this match, and when the dust settled, I can safely say that these two delivered.

Balor jumped Priest to get this one started, but Priest gained the advantage after using the steel steps. This included a cool spot where Priest set up the stairs next to the ring apron, and gave Balor a sidewalk slam from the stairs onto the apron. Once they got back in the ring, we saw some great action from both guys, including a great closing stretch that featured some close nearfalls. That all led to a big spot where Balor knocked Priest right onto the edge of the stairs that were still positioned next to the apron. What a rough spot that was. This gave Balor the opening he needed, and he hit the Coup de Grace for the win. This was an awesome match that probably would’ve been a lot better in front of a full arena crowd. Balor getting the victory wasn’t a huge surprise, but I thought Damian Priest had one of his best outings in NXT to date. I hope that they do more with Priest, but sadly, it seems like he’s destined to be stuck on the NXT mid-card treadmill, going nowhere fast. ****

Steve Case: Give me Bugenhagen (if he’s still going by that) shilling WWE Ice Cream bars forever. Balor started out hot with a John Woo dropkick to Priest before the bell and really dominated the first minute of the match, taking it out to the floor. They played up Finn wanting revenge for the attack, so this was all good stuff. Priest would take control eventually and dropped Finn on the apron from the ring steps before sending the action back into the ring.

As hot as the start of this match was, this continued to escalate with some GREAT work back and forth in the ring. Balor brought his tremendous viciousness he’s conveyed as a heel and, quite frankly, Damian Priest turned in the match of his career. The end came after Priest teased a Razor’s Edge off the apron onto the steps. Balor wiggled out of it and kicked him onto the steps to a sickening thud. Balor would then hit two double stomps on Priest for the win. Finn looked great again as he’s been on fire, and Priest looked the best he ever has. He can absolutely be a player if they shuffle things up after this show with call ups as the rumors are suggesting. ****

NXT North American Title – Keith Lee (c) def. Johnny Gargano

Sean Sedor: Gargano came out through the door of the In Your House set, while carrying the key that he used to injure Keith Lee on NXT TV back on Wednesday. I’m sure this comment has been made by many others after that most recent show, but it’s interesting to see the difference between AEW and NXT when it comes to handling storyline injuries (especially since AEW did a couple of eye-stabbing angles during the Chris Jericho/Jon Moxley build).

Keith Lee had Black Lives Matter printed on the back of his tights. They had a fun opening exchange where Gargano was just unable to overcome Lee’s power advantage. Gargano tried to escape through the house door, but Lee slammed his face into it and brought him back to the ring. However, once they did get back inside, Gargano was able to gain control, as he went after Lee’s injured eye as well as his injured hand. The match slowed down to a crawl as Gargano continued to work over Lee, but fortunately, the pace picked up again once Lee started to make his comeback. We got some cool spots between the two before the action spilled to the outside, as Gargano connected with a Tornado DDT on the floor, followed by Lee pouncing Gargano through the plexiglass on the outside.

Candice LeRae tried to distract Keith Lee at this point, but Mia Yim came out to brawl with her. This led to a false finish where Gargano nearly won after using the key on Lee’s eye. Gargano continued to punish Lee with a series of superkicks, but Lee kicked out every time. Lee powered up, and retained his title after a Spirit Bomb and the Big Bang Catastrophe. There were aspects of this match that I enjoyed, but on the whole, it was entirely too long. I don’t know how long it went as I type this, but it felt like it went a half-hour. That, along with the control segment by Gargano in the middle that really slowed things down, hurt the match for sure, but again, it had enough solid wrestling for it to still be very good. I have no doubt that these two would have a better match if they just wrestled, but it’s a Johnny Gargano match, so you knew the melodrama was coming. ***3/4

Steve Case: ICO PRO!!! LOL at Johnny Gargano looking at his photo of Doc Hendrix and adjusting his house’s temperature to 69 degrees. Keith Lee has Black Lives Matter on his trunks. Tremendous. These two started by establishing Keith Lee’s power by Lee catching Gargano’s dives and throwing him around the ring. They also established Gargano’s new heel persona, using his speed to avoid Lee, as well as trying to escape through the door on the entrance set. Gargano would take control and start…a really long and boring heat segment. Johnny displayed good heel aggression, but heel or not, I don’t want to see Gargano work like Black Bart in 1986.

From there, they did a good job of Johnny needing many shots to match the power of one from Lee. There were a few sequences that were a bit sloppy due to Lee being SO MUCH bigger than Johnny. A sunset flip, Johnny transitioning to a Gargano Escape, and a rollup attempt out of Keith’s finisher. It seemed they were hitting the closing stretch here, but this match just kept going. We got a pounce through the protective crowd glass, a Candice and Mia run in, a car keys to the eyes spot, and several superkick kick outs. Lee would finally hit a series of spirit bombs, followed by the Big Bang Catastrophe for the win. Not a bad match, but pretty disappointing when you know what these two are capable of. Shave off five minutes and I think this is much better. Keith Lee feels stuck, and if this is what Gargano’s matches are going to be now, I’m not excited. **3/4

NXT Title – Last Chance Backlot Brawl – Adam Cole (c) def. The Velveteen Dream

Sean Sedor: I was very surprised to see that this was going on third from the top, but I guess this meant that the women’s Triple Threat would be main eventing, so I couldn’t complain too much. Adam Cole came out in an Undisputed Era monster truck, just to confirm that WWE has indeed turned into WCW. Meanwhile, Velveteen Dream drove in with a fancy sports car.

Imagine the Eddie Guerrero vs. John Cena Parking Lot Brawl from an episode of SmackDown in 2003, but with a ring. That’s essentially what the setting for this was. The wrestlers are fighting in a circle of parked cars with their lights on, but there just so happens to be a ring there. Unlike that bout from 2003, the wrestlers actually left the circle, and brawled around the streets and buildings that encompassed this setting. This was pretty much a walk-n-brawl for ten minutes until ladder came into play. Even though Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish distracted Dream long enough so that he couldn’t hit a diving elbow off the ladder onto Cole, it was Cole who still fell off the ladder, and onto a car windshield moments later. The Undisputed Era interference was neutralized when Dexter Lumis crawled out from under the ring and straight up kidnapped Fish and Strong, as he threw them in the trunk of a car and drove off.

Cole and Dream eventually made their way back to the ring, and had a decent little exchange before Cole ultimately won after hitting Dream with a Panama Sunrise onto a pile of chairs in the center of the ring. Thankfully, this was better than the Money In The Bank/Climb The Corporate Ladder nonsense. That being said, it wasn’t exactly compelling either. I’ll give it credit for at least being mostly realistic, but what made stuff like the Final Deletion, the Boneyard Match, and the Stampede Stampede so much fun was the camp. This was on the serious side of the spectrum, and serious doesn’t work out nearly as well with this type of stuff. **3/4

Steve Case: The placement of this match tells you all you need to know about how far Dream has fallen. Cole shows up in a UE monster truck and Dream shows up in a sports car wearing a Negan/Rodman cosplay. The cars surrounding the ring providing the lighting is a nice touch. So, of course, we start this match…in the ring with rollups and backslides. Cole then gets the upper hand and…says he’s leaving. He gets into a car, but Dream uses his baseball bat on the car prompting Cole to ditch the car. Then an Uber driver shows up, because humor, and they lose me.

Here’s the thing, I really liked the Boneyard match and Cena/Wyatt. Neither were really framed as matches, and you were meant to suspend your disbelief. The MITB match was atrocious and done poorly in every conceivable way. Gargano/Ciampa and this didn’t need to be cinematic. They could have just been regular matches. They brawled on cars, a ladder got brought out, Cole cut his arm on a windshield, and the UE showed up and threw a bunch of chairs in the ring, until Dexter Loomis popped out from under the ring and kidnapped them. Dream would take control in the ring and talk trash to Cole, but Cole hit him with a low blow. He’d then hit a Panama Sunrise on the chairs and win. This is below the Boneyard and Cena/Wyatt match, but above MITB and Gargano/Ciampa. **½

Karrion Kross (with Scarlett) def. Tommaso Ciampa

Sean Sedor: If you think the Karrion Kross/Scarlett entrance sucks….well, they made it even worse with the small crowd of wrestlers in Full Sail doing the “Fall and Pray” chant. It just made the entrance so….embarrassing? I think that’s the word I’m looking for? Anyway, Ciampa got in some offense early, but Kross just dominated early. The highlight of this beatdown was a massive two handed chokeslam right onto the edge of the apron, which looked devastating. Despite taking a ton of punishment early, Ciampa mounted a quick, but awesome, comeback with slaps, a number of knee strikes, and his draping DDT. Unfortunately for Ciampa, this wasn’t enough, as Kross forced Ciampa to pass out with the Kross Jacket a short time later.

I’m not sure where Ciampa goes from here, but the objective here was very clear. They wanted to put Karrion Kross over in a big way, and I would say they were very successful. This was pretty much an extended squash for Kross, but they gave Ciampa just enough offense so that he managed to keep his credibility. Given the situation, this was exactly how they should’ve booked this. Kross gets an emphatic victory over a former NXT Champion, and his megapush in NXT continues. ***1/4

Steve Case: Scarlett just won’t stop the lip-synching huh? These two got in there and hit each other really hard, which is exactly what I wanted. Kross had control for most of the match, including a sick looking two handed choke on the outside to an apron bomb high on the shoulders. When you think of Ciampa’s neck issues, it was nasty. Kross suplexed and threw Ciampa all over the ring for several minutes. Ciampa would have one high octane, high impact series of slaps, knees,  and a rope assisted DDT for a two count that absolutely ruled. Kross would quickly take control again with an F5 and choke Ciampa out for a referee stoppage win. Kross looked great here, even if he may want to tone down the crazy eyes just a bit. Exactly what it should have been. ***1/4

NXT Women’s Title – Triple Threat Match – Io Shirai def. Charlotte Flair (c) & Rhea Ripley

Sean Sedor: Happy to see that the women got this main event slot. It’s actually the first time that a women’s match has main evented a NXT TakeOver since NXT TakeOver: Respect in 2015 (Bayley vs. Sasha Banks in an Iron Man Match headlined on that night). Charlotte had the edge early after pulling the heel trick that every heel pulls in WWE Triple Threats – roll to the outside and demand the other two fight each other. After Charlotte tossed Ripley into the plexiglass on the outside, it turned into a singles bout with Charlotte and Shirai for a minute or two. 

Once Ripley came back in, Charlotte finally lost control of the bout, and it became a more even affair between the three as the pace picked up. At one point, it looked as though Charlotte was about to lock on the Figure Eight, but Ripley pulled her to the outside, and the three started brawling around the In Your House set. Shirai got thrown through the giant window, but this was just a setup for Shirai to climb to the top of the roof above the door for a massive crossbody on both Charlotte and Ripley!! That was the coolest spot of the night for sure. Once they got back in the ring, Rhea nearly beat Charlotte with the same Super-Rip Tide that she used to beat Shayna Baszler, but Io broke up the pin. Charlotte then brought out the kendo stick, and beat up both Ripley and Shirai with it, which led to Charlotte locked in the Figure Eight on the former. However, this allowed Shirai to hit a very-botched moonsault on Ripley to win the NXT Women’s Title. Since Charlotte still had the Figure Eight locked in, she couldn’t break up the pin.

First of all, I hope Ripley is ok, because it looked like Io came down right on her head. The camera angle they used certainly made the botched finish way more obvious, and as a whole, that finished put a damper on what was otherwise a very strong triple threat match. I wasn’t feeling it in the first few minutes, but it got a lot better as things progressed. I’m happy that Io Shirai got the win here, but again, it sucks that the finish came off so poorly. At least her victory leads to a lot of intriguing possibilities with that title moving forward. Is Charlotte still in the picture? Where does Ripley go from here, since she got pinned in a NXT Women’s Title match yet again? Some very interesting possibilities coming out of this show, but aside from the botched finish, this was a great main event. ****

Steve Case: My old ass loves when the main event starts before 9pm EST. This was always the true main event of this show, regardless of placement. I’m glad they are closing the show. 

These three put on a show tonight. They largely avoided the WWE, 2 in 1 out formula. Charlotte took control of most of the match, with Rhea using her power to overcome at times and Io, despite her clear size disadvantage, used her speed and athleticism to get the upper hand. This really kicked into high gear with all three on the outside later in the match. Charlotte threw Io into the window on the set, leading to some intense brawling (and houseplant throwing) between her and Rhea. Io would then hit a beautiful splash onto both of them from the top of the set. 

We’d come back to the ring with some intense sequences, including Rhea turning an Io pin attempt into her standing cloverleaf. Charlotte would regain control with a kendo stick, and lock Rhea in the Figure 8 for what looked to be the win. That is, until Io KILLED Rhea (legit looked like her knee smashed Rhea’s face) with a moonsault and broke up the hold. She would immediately pin Rhea to become the new champion. This absolutely ruled. Match of the show. ****1/4