NXT Aug. 10, 2021: Listing 2 things the brand got wrong

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Well, if changes are coming, this week’s episode of NXT made sure to prepare you for them. To be fair, this past Wednesday’s episode of the black and gold brand’s eponymous television show featured matches and angles that fit right in with the usual tenor of the product, but there were also some puzzling decisions that are commonplace on Raw or SmackDown.

It’s part of what makes watching this era of NXT so frustrating. The brand almost always nailed the no-brainer booking moves, so to experience such a regression since the show moved to the USA Network is disappointing, to say the least.

So, how did the NXT creative team mess up this week? Well, let’s look at a couple of moments from the show and determine where those screw-ups happened.

These are the two things that went wrong on the Aug. 10 episode of NXT.

You know, you’d think every wrestling promotion would understand the importance of not having top contenders lose before their bog title shot. The NXT creative team apparently concluded that this didn’t apply to Ilja Dragunov.

The number one contender to WALTER’s (you know, the guy who has only been pinned once in his WWE career) NXT UK Championship faced the initial holder of the title, Pete Dunne, in an impromptu TV main event match.

Now, using the words “impromptu TV main event match” to describe Pete Dunne vs. Ilja Dragunov is already starting off on the wrong foot, but the bookers would compound the issue with a WWE favorite: the mid-match distraction via entrance music.

That’s right, the single-minded Dragunov couldn’t resist the gravitational pull of Symphony No. 9, and it led to him eating a Bitter End and a pinfall from Dunne. Why would anyone want to get behind someone who gets distracted so easily? And if WALTER’s mere presence at ringside throws Dragunov off so easily, what chance does he have against the champion in an actual match?

Clearly, the NXT writers didn’t factor that in. They were clearly more concerned with giving Dunne a big win to convince him to re-sign with the company and also figured that the loss would make Dragunov “more of an underdog”.

They miscalculated. Sure they gave Dragunov some shine over WALTER after the match, but they could’ve done that AND booked Dragunov to win. Instead, we got more 50/50 nonsense.

The Way and Dexter Lumis

At this point, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see NXT open up with a ’90s sitcom intro featuring Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, Indi Hartwell, and Dexter Lumis. At least then, skits like this would make more sense.

So, despite losing the “right” to date Hartwell, Lumis did just that in three segments that were likely pulled straight from ABC’s old TGIF lineup (so glad they dedicated a main event slot to a match that we can officially classify as “filler”).

This had all the silly tropes that (good) shows today make fun of via ironic usage or precise deconstruction: Gargano and LeRae as the overprotective parents, Gargano giving Lumis the “stern” talking to, Gargano and LeRae following Hartwell and Lumis to the restaurant to sabotage their date, and a tussle over food that ends up in someone else’s face.

The segments weren’t without their redeeming qualities. Hartwell saying she didn’t need “protection” as a former women’s tag champ was an admittedly funny line. A disguised Gargano saying he had a “waiter’s license” was pretty good, too. And LeRae’s facial expressions were a highlight throughout.

But there were plenty of headscratchers, too, like when none of the extras in the restaurant didn’t react to the commotion Gargano and Hartwell caused. Or when Hartwell could hear the walkie talkie LeRae and Gargano were using several feet away as if it were right next to her (in a crowded, noisy restaurant, to be clear).

Also, with Hartwell acknowledging the camera was there by putting her hand over it while she and Lumis kissed, who sent the camera crew. Was it NXT? Did Gargano and/or LeRae set it up? Was it Indi’s doing? There were a lot of camera cuts in these skits; were there multiple camera people?

Next. WWE NXT: Pete Dunne defeats Ilja Dragunov in main event. dark

Look, a lot of people like this angle, and for those who do, none of these criticisms will matter. For those who don’t, though, it will make an already ridiculous story even more aggravating.

Also, Gargano and LeRae are right about Lumis!