Reviews

The John Report: WWE NXT 02/10/21 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. The next Takeover event is this Sunday, February on WWE Network is on Sunday, February 14. I’m doing the usual NXT format with summaries of the matches and then play by play for the main event. Let’s see what the NXT crew has for us this week.

This is episode #443 of WWE NXT. It took place at NXT’s home called the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Check out my past WWE NXT reviews right here.

The show began with a shot of the Capitol Wrestling Center with MSK entering for the first match of the show. Legado del Fantasma entered as the opponents. The announcers were Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix as usual.

Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: MSK (Nash Carter and Wes Lee) vs. Legado del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza vs. Joaquin Wilde)

Lee was in control of Wilde against the turnbuckle and then Carter hit a bronco buster. Carter did an armdrag that sent Wilde into the corner, so Mendoza tagged in, which led to MSK hitting some quick kicks to the body and a double foot stomp by Carter got a two count for Lee. Wilde and Mendoza did their quick tag combination leading to repeated clotheslines on Lee followed by a double suplex and Mendoza tossed Wilde onto Lee for a two count. Carter got a nearfall after some kicks to the chest of Mendoza. Wilde hit an incredible dropkick to sent Carter into the barricade. That led to a break.

Lee got the hot tag when the match returned from break and sent both opponents out of the ring. Carter jumped off the apron with Lee shoving him onto both guys! That’s a nice creative spot using their double team move that they usually do in the ring. Very impressive. That move needs a name. Lee hit an incredible somersault dive over the top to the floor. Mendoza managed to rock Lee with a kick and hit a missile dropkick. Wilde jumped off the ropes leading to a reverse rana! That was sweet. Mendoza hit a twisting neckbreaker into a slam for two with Carter saving his partner. Wilde hit a 450 Splash onto Lee off his partner’s shoulders while Mendoza was holding Carter. Mendoza was pulled out of the ring by Carter, Lee hit a superkick on Wilde and Carter was back in. Carter lifted up Wilde leading to a double team neckbreaker/spinebuster for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: MSK (Nash Carter and Wes Lee)

Analysis: ***3/4 This was an awesome match with a lot of action. Four very talented wrestlers that had instant chemistry and plenty of exciting moments in the match too. There were plenty of cool moves from Wilde throughout the match as well. I loved the double team moonsault by MSK onto the opponents on the floor. That was very unique. I think MSK are already great as a team (I saw them plenty in Impact so I knew that before their NXT debut) with potential to be so much more as they develop as characters that are featured in major storylines.

The win means that MSK will go on to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Classic. The finals will be at Takeover Vengeance Day on Sunday against whoever wins the other semifinal match later.

Mercedes Martinez did a promo talking about how it took her 20 years to reach this point. Martinez said that the NXT Women’s Championship is her goal. Martinez talked trash to Toni Storm and champion Io Shirai ahead of their title match at Takeover on Sunday. Martinez told us she’ll be walking out of NXT Takeover as the NXT Women’s Champion. Martinez: “Bet on that.”

Xia Li vs. Kora Jade

Li did her mysterious entrance with her master trainer watching on. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter were at ringside as Boa tried to talk to them. Jade attacked from behind when the bell rang. Lee sent Jade into the ropes throat first and Li hit a jumping spin kick to the head. It was around 20 seconds.

Winner by pinfall: Xia Li

Analysis: No point in rating that. It was just a squash match to show that Li is a dominant warrior now.

Post match, Carter and Catanzaro tried to talk to Li. Carter went up to the ramp to master Mei Ying seated in a chair asking what they did to Li. Carter said this is not like Li. That led to Li grabbing Carter and tossing her off the ramp to the floor. Li talked to Mei Ying. Boa got close to Mei Ying, who grabbed him by the throat. Li beat up Catanzaro with punches and a spin kick. Li saluted Mei Ying, who let go of Boa. That ended it.

Analysis: It’s still in the early stages of this angle. For right now, I’m not that interested in it, but I do think Xia Li has a lot of potential in the ring.

William Regal was interviewed outside his office by Mckenzie Mitchell. When Regal walked into his office, the lovely Scarlett was seated there. Scarlett wanted Karrion Kross to face Santos Escobar and Regal agreed to it. Scarlett left. She is a fine-looking woman.

Let’s Hear from The Way

The Way foursome of Johnny Gargano, Austin Theory, Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell were in the ring for a promo. Johnny Gargano, the NXT North American Champion, had a sling on his left arm and he was in a wheelchair, which basically told the audience that he was faking this injury because of how much he was milking it. Gargano did a promo from the wheelchair in the ring. The crowd was chanting “Johnny Wheelchair” at him with Johnny saying that was insensitive.

Gargano said that his injury is because of a cheap attack from Kushida last week. Fans chanted “you deserve it” at Gargano. A clip was shown from last week when Kushida “broke” Johnny’s arm as we saw a clip of Kushida kicking the left arm of Gargano during a backstage fight. Candice was covering her husband Johnny’s face, which was funny. Gargano claimed he can’t swing his arm when he walks and he complained about this because he hates wheels as another “Johnny Wheelchair” chant started up. Gargano said that now he can’t defend his North American Championship against Kushida at Takeover. Gargano claimed that Regal should suspend Kushida indefinitely.

William Regal, the NXT GM, appeared on the stage. Regal said that the NXT Medical team cleared Gargano yesterday afternoon, which Johnny knows. Regal called this a charade while pronouncing it in a unique way, so Johnny made fun of it. Gargano had an x-ray about his broken arm. Regal said he knows it wasn’t his x-ray. Gargano claimed it was real. Regal said he has two options with Theory defending the title for Gargano against Kushida or the second option is Gargano can forfeit the title right now. Gargano suggested a couple of weeks or a few months. Kushida was in the ring standing behind Gargano, so then Kushida punched Theory and pulled the title from Gargano, who showed that he was fine. Kushida punched Gargano, who did a comedic bump onto the wheelchair. Hartwell held LeRae back and it was time for the women’s match.

Analysis: That was the classic fake injury angle for the heel North American Champion Gargano. There were some good lines in the segment. That kind of thing works better with a bigger crowd, but I did like the chants from the crowd that was there. Anyway, it’s nice to have a babyface GM like Regal to expose the heel that was lying and Kushida got in a couple of shots on Gargano as well.

Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell vs. Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart

The winners of this match get to face the team of Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai in the finals of the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team Tournament. The finals take place this Sunday at Takeover Vengeance Day.

Blackheart and Moon started aggressively, but then the heels took over by isolating Blackheart for several minutes. There were a lot of quick tags from LeRae and Hartwell as they continued to work over Blackheart. When Blackheart broke free with a jawbreaker, Moon got the hot tag. Moon hit an impressive dropkick on LeRae and Blackheart was in for some double team moves including a double knee from Moon into a kick to the head from Blackheart for a two count. LeRae and Blackheart got into a fight on the floor with LeRae sending Blackheart into the announce table. LeRae hit an impressive hurricanrana on Moon off the apron onto Blackheart. That led to a break.

The match returned with Blackheart getting the hot tag against LeRae, which is a long rivalry going back to late last year. Moon and Blackheart did a double team bulldog into the knees. Hartwell sent Blackheart out of the ring. LeRae and Hartwell hit a double team moonsault on Moon and LeRae didn’t jump far enough on a suicide dive, but Blackheart sold it anyway. After Moon fought back, Blackheart tagged in and Hartwell hit a top rope elbow for two as Moon saved her partner. Moon and LeRae took eachother out on the floor. Blackheart hit a second rope-assisted DDT on Hartwell. Blackheart kicked LeRae and Moon hit the Eclipse on LeRae. Blackheart hit her senton bomb onto Hartwell, who was on top of LeRae to protect Candice and Blackheart pinned Hartwell for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart

Analysis: *** A good match, but not at the level of the guys earlier in the show. They got a lot of time at nearly 15 minutes, which probably was too much, but I’m fine with wanting to go longer like the men’s matches. Hartwell is not at the level of the other women in the match although she is improving. The finish saw Hartwell save Candice, yet also costing her team the win because Hartwell took the senton as well. Moon and Blackheart work really well together as a fun, energetic babyface team. It was obvious that Moon and Blackheart would win to set up a face vs. heel finals at Takeover.

The win means Moon and Blackheart will face Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai in the Women’s Dusty Cup Finals at Takeover Vengeance Day on Sunday. Gonzalez and Kai walked out for a staredown.

William Regal showed up to announce that the winning team will win the Dusty Cup and also receive a future Women’s Tag Team Title match.

Analysis: I think that will be a win for Gonzalez and Kai as a successful heel team. Gonzalez has been on a major winning streak for several months now. Then again, the current champions are a heel team with Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler, so that could mean a win for the faces.

The team of Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa did a backstage promo talking about their main event match later. Ciampa said that they’re about to whip the Grizzled Young Veterans asses and ended with “class dismissed.” Thatcher smiled because that was his catchphrase.

Santos Escobar was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell with Escobar talking about his match with Karrion Kross. Escobar told Wilde and Mendoza they don’t have to apologize for losing. Escobar told them to pay someone a visit, which means Karrion Kross. Escobar was confident about it.

There was a video about NXT Champion Finn Balor defending his title against Pete Dunne at NXT Takeover Vengeance Day this Sunday.

Analysis: I think they’ll have a great match. However, I think they could have done more to build this match. Dunne is getting the match because he and his friends attacked Balor. I think they should have had Dunne win some kind of Number One Contender’s match in order to build up Dunne more. Normally NXT does that.

Kushida vs. Austin Theory (w/Johnny Gargano)

They did not get televised entrances. Theory used his size difference to overpower Kushida with repeated shoulder tackles. Kushida with some strikes and then the lefty armbar takedown. Kushida continued to work on the left arm of Theory including some hard kicks to the left arm. Theory managed to stop Kushida on the apron and Theory hit a lefty forearm to knock Kushida off the apron to the floor. That led to a break.

Theory was in full control with a backbreaker for two. Theory with a fallaway slam on Kushida. Barrett was pretty funny as he kept on talking about Gargano’s arm injury even though we knew it was fake. Kushida did the big babyface comeback with big moves like a German Suplex and a kick to the head. Kushida continued to wrench on the left arm of Theory. There was a running tackle from Theory to Kushida, but then Kushida slapped on an armbar on the left arm on the apron. Gargano did a superkick to Kushida for the DQ finish after 12 minutes. The referee saw it, so he called for the disqualification.

Winner by disqualification: Kushida

Analysis: *** This was pretty good with Kushida picking up the win going into his NXT North American Title match at Takeover on Sunday. The way Kushida focuses on the arm in every match makes sense based on the moves that Kushida does. I really liked that babyface comeback from Kushida. As long as Theory is associated with Gargano, Theory is going to put over the guys that Gargano is feuding with. In this case, it was a DQ finish.

Post match, Gargano punched Kushida repeatedly using his “injured” left arm. Gargano and Theory stomped on Kushida. Theory said that they should mess Kushida’s arm up. Theory tossed Kushida into the ring, but then he was grabbed by somebody under the ring. It was Dexter Lumis from under the ring. When Theory got up, he was scared of Lumis, so Theory went into the ring and Kushida slapped on the Hoverboard Lock armbar on Theory. Kushida slapped on the Hoverboard Lock on Gargano and Lumis put on the Silence chokehold on Theory at the same time. Kushida held up the North American Title to end it while Lumis stared at Kushida as well.

Analysis: This worked as a final segment for this feud. It’s certainly possible that Kushida wins the title on Sunday. I’m leaning more towards Gargano retaining the title and feuding with Lumis after. I’ll save an official prediction for the preview on Saturday.

There was a video featuring Toni Storm talking about how she was going to become the next NXT Women’s Champion.

There was a video about the Imperium group of Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner and Alexander Wolfe. Their leader Walter is in NXT UK as their champion. Together, they are Imperium. There wasn’t much more to it.

There was a backstage scene of Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza looking like they were beaten up. Karrion Kross said that next week, he’ll do to Santos Escobar what he just did to them.

Let’s Hear from Cameron Grimes

There was a parking lot scene with a Lamborghini pulling up to the building. It was Cameron Grimes in a suit jacket and a brown hat. Grimes had some money and he paid some parking lot attendants to park his car. Grimes walked into the arena and was handing some $100 bills to everybody including the camera guy.

Grimes did a promo letting us know he is back. Grimes said that two months ago, he laid outside this ring because Timothy Thatcher took him out and he left Grimes laying. Grimes said he thought about how was going to Cave In Timothy Thatcher. Grimes said that he found out things called video games, they’re cool and he found this place called Game Stop. Grimes talked about how he put some money into a fine establishment like Game Stop. Grimes bragged about being in the right place at the right time and saying that it went “to the moon” that was his catchphrase. Grimes talked about being rich, he talked about DogeCoin as well and he said he is so rich now. Grimes said that he is richer than Elon Musk, the guy who makes the rocket ships. Grimes said that he is so rich there is nobody that can tell him anything now. Grimes said “kiss my grits” repeatedly to anybody that wants to order him around. Grimes pulled out stacks of bills and did some “swimming” in it.

Analysis: I miss the old Cameron Grimes “to the moon” gimmick, but I like him as a performer overall. They obviously paid attention to current events with the stock market news over the last month. I don’t know if every fan is going to understand it or like it. I just have faith in Cameron being able to pull it off because he’s good at being an over the top character.

Johnny Gargano was interviewed backstage saying his match with Kushida is happening and it’s a dream match for a lot of people. Gargano said that he is Johnny Freakin’ Takeover. Gargano said when it’s time for Takeover, nobody can hang with him and he welcomed Kushida into his world.

There was a video from Io Shirai talking about how she’s going to remain the NXT Women’s Champion at Takeover. Shirai spoke in Japanese for the promo with the English words appearing on the screen. I think she will remain champion too.

It’s main event time as Timothy Thatcher entered first for his team followed by partner Tommaso Ciampa. Instead of the fully bald look, Ciampa left the hair on the back of his head grow and there was a bit of a black hair/grey hair look to him.

The Grizzled Young Veterans duo of Zack Gibson and James Drake entered their match. Gibson did one of his strong heel promos saying that the trophy belongs to them. Ciampa and Thatcher attacked the heels outside the ring. Thatcher and Ciampa were aggressive as they attacked their opponents against the barricade. They got into the ring to start the match.

The winning team will face MSK in the Dusty Cup Finals on Sunday at Takeover.

Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)

Ciampa wrenched on the left knee of Gibson. Thatcher tagged in with a knee strike to the left side of the ribs. Drake saved his partner from a whip into the turnbuckle and Drake tagged in with some punches. Thatcher tried fighting out of the heel corner with uppercuts that rocked both guys. Drake pulled Ciampa to the floor and sent him into the steel steps. Drake with a running back elbow, Gibson with a clothesline and Drake with a spinning kick that rocked Thatcher. GYV went after Ciampa on the floor with Drake hitting a Powerbomb on the apron on Ciampa. They went to a picture in picture commercial break.

The match returned with a belly to belly suplex on Drake across the ring. Ciampa was down on the floor because of the attack before the break. Gibson with a spinning slam for a two count. Gibson slapped on a chinlock leading to an uppercut. Gibson had Thatcher on his shoulders, Thatcher got out of it and Thatcher hit an uppercut on Drake, who jumped off the ropes. Ciampa got back into it with the hot tag as he unleashed on both opponents with clothesline and a leaping double clothesline. Ciampa with German Suplexes on both guys. Ciampa with a slam on Drake onto Gibson. The heels managed to get Ciampa in their corner, Gibson tagged in and exchanged strikes with Ciampa. Gibson with a double chop to the throat leading to a twisting suplex into a slam. Drake tagged in, jumped off Ciampa’s back and kicked Thatcher off the apron to the floor. Gibson lifted Ciampa up leading to Drake jumping off the top with the Doomsday Device clothesline on Ciampa for two as Thatcher made the save. Thatcher was sent out of the ring, he slapped Gibson hard in the face and Drake got in a forearm on Thatcher. Gibson saved Bell from taking the Willow’s Bell DDT, Gibson tagged in and GYV hit the Ticket to Mayhem double team move as Gibson pinned Ciampa and Drake stopped Thatcher from making the save. It went about 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)

Analysis: ***1/2 I liked this match a lot. Great work by GYV attacking Ciampa while he was out of the ring to weaken him, so when Ciampa got back in there, he was able to get some offense, but he was never the same again. They told the story that the GYV team had more experience working together compared to Ciampa/Thatcher, which is true, so that’s why it made sense as the story of this match. I liked how it was booked. The execution was terrific as well with GYV continuing to put on good matches with every team they are in the ring with. The result here was pretty obvious going in since there was already a face team in the finals with MSK, so it made sense for GYV to prevail here.

The win meant that Grizzled Young Veterans were in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals against MSK. That match will be at NXT Takeover Vengeance Day on Sunday.

The team of MSK showed up on the stage to trash talk GYV as the four men stood in front of the Dusty Cup trophy. The winners get an NXT Tag Team Title match.

Analysis: That match is going to awesome. I’m leaning towards a win for MSK and I think they’ll win the titles soon after as well.

There were two minutes left as the announcers appeared on camera talking about the matches at NXT Takeover Vengeance Day on Sunday. The wrestlers appeared on the ramp to have a staredown and trash talk ahead of their matches. They went in this order.

NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Kushida

Finals of Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs. Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Toni Storm vs. Mercedes Martinez

NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Pete Dunne

They didn’t mention the Men’s Dusty Cup there, but we just saw that matchup before this final segment.

Balor and Dunne were in the ring for a face off as a graphic was shown about the match. The announcers were excited about it. Balor stared at Dunne some more and that was the end of the show.

Analysis: I think the show could have used a bit more from Balor and Dunne to get us ready for their match. A quick interview or promo exchange would have helped.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. MSK (Nash Carter and Wes Lee)

2. Grizzled Young Veterans

3. (tie) Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon

3. (tie) Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza

 

The Scoreboard

This week: 7.25 out of 10

Last week: 7

2021 Average: 7.46

 

Final Thoughts

It was a pretty good show full of tag team action with three Dusty Cup Semifinals (two men, one women since the other women’s semifinal match was last week) and all three matches got plenty of time. I thought the MSK vs. Legado del Fantasma opening tag team match was the best match on the show. Since there was so much time dedicated to the tag teams, they didn’t give much time to promote Balor vs. Dunne at Takeover Vengeance Day, so I think that was a bit of a mistake. I would have liked to have seen more from Balor/Dunne going into their NXT Title match on Sunday.

There were some interesting promos with Johnny Gargano faking injuries to try to get out of his match with Kushida at Takeover, but William Regal revealed that Johnny was cleared. I did like most of the Gargano/Kushida interaction that also involved Austin Theory and the mysterious Dexter Lumis. I’m not sure what to think about Cameron Grimes returning as some genius stock investor that is rich now, but I have faith in him as a performer to make it work.

I’m looking forward to Takeover on Sunday. It’s not the best card overall, but there will be some great matches and Takeover shows rarely disappoint. We’ll have a preview up on Saturday and then I’ll do a live review on Sunday night.

NXT Takeover Vengeance Day takes place on Sunday, February 14. Here’s the lineup so far:

NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Pete Dunne

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Toni Storm vs. Mercedes Martinez

NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Kushida

Finals of Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Grizzled Young Veterans vs. MSK

Finals of Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs. Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon

We will have a preview up by Saturday on TJRWrestling and I’ll have a live review on Sunday night as well.

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John Canton

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