Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. It has gotten easier for me to watch this show on a weekly basis because NXT is now live in Canada on Sportsnet 360 just like Raw and Smackdown. In the past, I had to download the show off a website or else I’d have to wait a full day to get it on WWE Network. This will make it easier for me. I’m doing the usual NXT format with summaries of the matches and then play by play for the main event.
This episode 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.
There was a video package about the match between Karrion Kross and Santos Escobar.
Dexter Lumis was already in the ring for a match because NXT can start shows without a promo unlike some other WWE shows. The announce team is Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix as usual. Wade wasn’t there in person this week.
Johnny Gargano (w/Candice LeRae, Austin Theory and Indi Hartwell) vs. Dexter Lumis
This is not for Johnny’s NXT North American Title. There was some intimidation from Lumis leading to Gargano leaving the ring. Lumis did a diving attack, then went under the ring and attacked from the other side of the ring. Lumis was in control for a few minutes including a delayed vertical suplex. Gargano got some offense going with a head whip onto a NXT logo on the floor after Johnny left the ring to buy some time. Lumis did an impressive kip up leading to Lumis sending Gargano into the side of the ring. After Candice jumped onto Lumis, Gargano dropkicked Dexter and hit a suicide dive leading to a break. Here in Canada, we don’t get the action in the Picture in Picture break. That’s fine with me.
Gargano was in control of Lumis with submission holds and then Lumis hit a backbreaker. Lumis continued the attack with a clothesline, slingshot suplex and a belly to back suplex followed by a leg drop for two. Hartwell was smiling at Lumis a lot as if teasing the idea that she has a crush. Gargano and Lumis battled over submission holds and Lumis hit a spinebuster for two. Gargano came back with a superkick for two. Lumis prevented Gargano from using a chair, then Johnny faked a knee injury to distract the referee and Theory was too scared to attack Lumis. That led to Lumis dropping Gargano with a side slam leading to the Silence submission hold with Johnny passing out to give Lumis the win after about 12 minutes.
Winner by submission: Dexter Lumis
Analysis: *** A big win for Lumis against the NXT North American Champion Gargano because Theory was too scared of Lumis to attack him with the chair. Lumis isn’t known for having the best matches, but Gargano makes everybody better, so they had a pretty good match here. Gargano did come close to winning a few times. They seem to be teasing that Indi has a crush on Dexter or something like that, so that will likely grow as the story continues. This kind of booking doesn’t happen that often in NXT where a champion loses non-title, but it’s fine if you only do it once in a while.
William Regal was out in the parking lot asking a camera guy to let him know when Santos Escobar arrives.
There was a video package that aired about Men’s Dusty Cup winners MSK with Wes Lee and Nash Carter talking about how much the win meant to them. They showed a cool clip of Nash Carter’s reacting in a big way. Nash Carter spoke about how he watched wrestling with his dad and his dad died when Nash was in high school, so Nash has a tattoo that says “The Legacy Lives On” on his chest. Wes talked about how they are in the history books now. They are up next.
There was a video showing some Shotzi Blackheart highlights. I’ve been impressed by her over the last year. She might be a NXT Women’s Champion later this year.
MSK were about to be interviewed, but they were attacked by the Grizzled Young Veterans before they could say a word. It looked Zack Gibson of GYV hit Wes Lee in the hand with a chair, so Lee was grabbing his hand while on the ground. Referees were there quickly and the scene ended.
There was a clip from earlier in the day where Malcolm Bivens challenged Leon Ruff to a match against Tyler Rust, so that set up this match.
Malcolm Bivens did a promo in the ring with Tyler Rust. Bivens claimed that Leon Ruff going against Rust is an opportunity of a lifetime and ended with the “Diamond in the Rust” catchphrase.
Ruff made his entrance, but then Isaiah “Swerve” Scott showed p with a running boot to the face. Scott told the announcers he wanted some opportunity and said there should be less handouts for Ruff. Scott tossed Ruff back first onto the edge of the ring apron. The crowd booed Scott, who left with a smile on his face. Bivens raised Rust’s hand as if he won the match.
Analysis: It was a cheap attack by Scott to further the storyline that he’s had with Ruff. Scott attacked Ruff because he’s jealous of Ruff having more success and Ruff beating Scott as well. I think Scott is doing a nice job of getting over as a heel. It’s a solid feud so far. As for Rust, no match this week, but Bivens is going to celebrate it as a win.
A clip aired from yesterday showing NXT GM William Regal telling Zoey Stark she’ll face Io Shirai on NXT.
Zoey Stark was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell, she was doing a promo and then it cut away with some technical difficulties. Oops. Stark made her entrance after that. That led to a break.
There was a backstage video with Cameron Grimes laughing at a Ted Dibiase video from about 30 years ago. Grimes asked a backstage NXT worker if he can dribble the ball ten times, then the guy did it and Grimes paid him money. Grimes was mad at himself for not watching the whole video.
Analysis: Grimes is a dumb rich guy that isn’t smart enough to know that Dibiase kicked the ball before the tenth dribble. Grimes makes me laugh.
Adam Cole will be on later. There was a summary of Adam Cole’s attack on Kyle O’Reilly, who did a stretcher job on the steel steps. The announcers said O’Reilly will be out of action for four to six weeks.
Io Shirai vs. Zoey Stark
This is not for Shirai’s NXT Women’s Title with Joseph noting it was over 260 days for Shirai as the NXT Women’s Champion. It looks like they had a miscommunication spot early and then Shirai slapped on an abdominal stretch into a sunset flip and a dropkick. Shirai’s 619 kick was blocked by Stark, but then Shirai stopped a charging attack. Shirai went up top, so Stark kicked her off the ropes to the apron to the floor.
The match continued with Stark on offense with a sliding knee to the face. Shirai avoided a top rope move leading to a double cross body block to knock both women down. Stark hit an impressive half n half suplex for two. Shirai got some offense going with a 619 kick and a missile dropkick off the top for two. Shirai got another two count after a double underhook backbreaker. Stark with a German Suplex for two. Shirai sent Stark into the turnbuckle, double knees and the Over the Moonsault for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Io Shirai
Analysis: ***1/4 Really good match with Stark getting plenty of offense and coming close to beating the champion Shirai several times. I don’t know that much about Stark, but she looked impressive in her second NXT match. A big reason for that is because of how well Shirai sold for her and it told the audience that Stark could compete with the champion. The finish was Shirai making the big comeback with signature moves leading to the great moonsault finish.
Post match, Shirai helped Stark up and they hugged so Stark is starting out as a babyface.
Toni Storm showed up for a promo saying that Io will fight anybody but her. Storm reminded Shirai that she kicked her head off last week. Storm pointed out that Shirai beat Mercedes Martinez at Takeover (not Toni) and told Shirai that she can’t beat Toni. Shirai said that she’ll fight Toni any time, any place and anywhere. Storm told Shirai to go find Regal to make the match happen.
Analysis: It’s possible that Storm is the next champion, but I think Raquel Gonzalez is more likely to be the next NXT Champion.
The Way group was shown leaving with Mckenzie Mitchell there to interview them. Johnny Gargano complained about how Austin Theory not hitting him with the chair. Theory said that Lumis didn’t deserve that, he’s just misunderstood. Gargano called Lumis a psychopath. Indie said she thinks Lumis is kinda hot. Gargano wondered what is happening to Hartwell and Theory. Gargano told Theory he’s going to therapy and they left.
Analysis: I guess that means some comedic therapy sessions are coming next week.
Xia Li faces Kacy Catanzaro up next.
Cameron Grimes was shown earlier in the day saying he’s got it all figured out now. Grimes bragged about his money. Grimes told a woman that if she can do ten dribbles then he’ll give her $1,000. She mentioned the Ted Dibiase gimmick back in the day. The woman stood up and she was taller than Grimes. When Grimes tried to kick the ball, she dribbled through her legs. Grimes gave her the money. Grimes: “Ted Dibiase, this ain’t over! This ain’t over!” Barrett pointed out the woman was a WNBA player (Anriel Howard, who was signed to a WWE deal recently).
Analysis: Grimes makes me laugh. His gimmick is different and fun, so I enjoy the segments.
Xia Li (w/Boa) vs. Kacy Catanzaro (w/Kayden Carter)
Li was in control by sending Kacy into the turnbuckle followed by a suplex for two. Kacy came back with a sunset flip and then Li hit a kick to the ribs. Boa was standing beside Mei Ying sitting on the stage. Kacy kicked Li repeatedly, Li pushed back and Kacy hit a dropkick along with a flipping leg drop for two. Lee got a hold of Kacy on the floor with Li whipping her into the barricade. With Kacy’s leg against the steel steps, Li stepped on the right knee of Kacy, who was screaming in pain. Kacy told the referee she was hurt, so the referee called for the bell. It went about five minutes.
Winner by referee’s decision: Xia Li
Analysis: ** That was a competitive match for the time given with an ending that put over Li’s viciousness. You don’t see many matches ending due to a violent move like stomping on a knee like that, but it was effective as a match finish. It puts over Li in a big way without even winning by pinfall or submission. Kacy sold the knee injury well.
After the match, Kayden Carter left the ring and tried to talk to Mei Ying with Boa standing in her way. Back in the ring, Li hit a spin kick to the head of Kacy. Li told Carter that she was next. Kacy was getting checked on in the ring.
Analysis: The dominance of Xia Li continues.
William Regal was in the parking lot again looking for Santos Escobar, but was told still nothing. Escobar wasn’t there yet.
A video aired about the team of Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez winning the Women’s Dusty Cup last week. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax are the Women’s Tag Team Champions with Shayna saying the women’s division now is made up of the scraps that are left from when Shayna was there. Dakota and Raquel talked about how they were going to win the titles next week.
Next week on NXT: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez for the Women’s Tag Team Titles.
Cameron Grimes was in the parking lot of the building with a basketball. Grimes told a random guy to dribble a basketball ten times. Grimes said he’ll give him money if he can do it and the guy said is it like the Ted Dibiase thing? Grimes was frustrated by people bringing that up all the time. The guy started to dribble, so Grimes punched him in the face! Love that! Grimes celebrated that, tossed the money around and left.
Analysis: That was hilarious. Grimes is a ridiculous over the top to the character and seems to be enjoying it.
The Grizzled Young Veterans duo of Zack Gibson and James Drake did a pre-match promo. Gibson said that Wes Lee of MSK has unfortunately broken his hand. Drake said that they were given a fine for it. Gibson said that they are destined for tag team glory while trashing Dain and Maverick calling them “Shrek and Donkey.” I’m all for Shrek references.
Drake Maverick and Killian Dain vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)
Maverick and Dain did some double team moves including Dain body slamming Maverick onto Drake for a two count. Gibson took over against Maverick with a clothesline, but then Dain saved his partner and sent the heels out of the ring. Dain tossed Maverick onto both opponents on the floor.
The heels were in control with of Maverick, who broke free and Dain got the hot tag. Dain was on fire with power moves including a slam on both guys at the same time. Dain got a two count with a senton splash on Drake when Gibson made the save. Dain hit a double suplex on both heels. Maverick tagged back in with repeated dropkicks on Drake, Gibson made a blind tag and GYV hit a double team dropkick into a flatliner. Drake took out Dain on the floor with a suicide dive. Maverick hit a bulldog on Gibson. Gibson with an armdrag on Maverick off the ropes and GYV hit the Ticket to Mayhem double team move for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)
Analysis: **3/4 The GYV team did very well recently as the runners up in the Men’s Dusty Cup, so it’s no surprise that they were winners here. Dain was booked to be dominant beast, but once GYV were able to take care of him briefly, they were able to finish off Maverick with their cool finisher. When Dain and Maverick lose, it is usually Maverick as the guy that loses the match, so that was no different this week.
The trio of Santos Escobar, Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde arrived in the parking lot. That Escobar match is next.
There was a backstage scene with Killian Dain carrying Drake Maverick. Alexander Wolfe of Imperium walked up to them wondering what was this? Wolfe told Dain that he used to be a monster, but now he was doing this. Dain called for a doctor for Maverick.
Analysis: There is a bit of history there with Dain and Wolfe as members of the Sanity group that was together for a couple of years. Maybe this leads to something interesting for Dain where he joins Imperium or it could be Dain showing loyalty to Maverick, which leads to them feuding with the Imperium guys.
No Disqualification Match: Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Santos Escobar (w/Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde)
The Legado del Fantasma guys were out in the parking lot when Karrion Kross showed up to attack them. Cross tossed Mendoza into a garage door. There was a referee out there as Escobar emerged from the car and Kross sent him into the side of a truck. They were in the back of the truck with Escobar slamming the back of the truck door onto the arm of Kross. Kross hit his forearm against the truck when Escobar moved. Kross used a pickaxe to go after Escobar, who was in the car, so Escobar left. Kross sent Wilde and Mendoza into the truck. Escobar hit Kross with a steel trash can two times. Escobar and friends slammed Kross back first into the truck two times in a row. The Legado boys walked Kross into the arena, but Kross fought back and Kross whipped Mendoza/Wilde into the fiberglass at ringside, which broke it open.
Kross got into the ring with Escobar with Kross hitting a boot to the face. Kross sent Escobar out of the ring into the barricade. Mendoza was back up, Kross sent him into the barricade and then Mendoza hit two chair shots to the arm. Escobar drove Kross’ arm into the ring post and shoved him into the steel steps.
The match returned with Escobar hitting a sliding dropkick while Kross was favoring the left shoulder. Escobar wrapped a chair around the left arm and then drove Kross left shoulder first into the ring post. Escobar hit a DDT on a chair that was in the seated position, which led to a two count in the ring. Escobar sent Kross out of the ring again. Kross fight back against Mendoza and Wilde, but Escobar hit a cross body block to send Kross into the barricade. Escobar grounded Kross with an armbar leading to a knee strike. Kross blocked a second suplex attempt and hit an overhead suplex. Kross with an overhead suplex again. When Kross left the ring, Escobar sent him into the steps and Kross countered a whip into the ring post. Kross hit Escobar with a chair shot to the ribs. Kross destroyed Mendoza and Wilde again. Kross with a kick that sent Escobar out of the ring. Kross hit a Saito Suplex through the announce table. Ouch. They landed fine, but still a big bump on the head/neck area. Kross with another Saito Suplex, this time in the ring. Kross with the running forearm to the back of the head for the pinfall win at around 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Karrion Kross
Analysis: ***1/2 I thought it was a very good match featuring two guys that brawled for over 15 minutes to put on an entertaining match. Kross sold the arm injury for most of it and it was probably one of Karrion’s best matches in NXT. That’s not a surprise to me because Escobar is so great and always has awesome matches. Neither character is really a face right now, but this rivalry was built up for several weeks, so it felt personal and like a fight. I enjoyed the presentation of the match. It wasn’t a surprise that Kross won since he’s the bigger name here. I wonder if Escobar drops the Cruiserweight Title soon and then becomes more of a top heel in NXT. He has all the tools to be a major player with his group.
Kross celebrated the win with the lovely Scarlett. This feud is over for now, so it’s onto other things for Kross.
Adam Cole was shown walking backstage for a main event promo.
LA Knight did a promo in his car. Knight said that when he debuts it will be on his time and his terms. That means he could debut next week, the week after that, three months after that or whenever he wants. Knight ended with his “fact of life” line.
Next week on NXT March 3: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler defend the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles vs. Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai.
In two weeks on NXT March 10: Io Shirai defends the NXT Women’s Title against Toni Storm.
Analysis: You may recall last week that they said MSK would face Burch/Lorcan for the NXT Tag Team Titles next week, but with MSK doing the injury angle now, that’s been delayed.
Let’s Hear from Adam Cole
Adam Cole made his entrance alone right before the end of the second hour. That meant they were going to have an overrun this week. When Cole got into the ring, they showed clips of Cole destroying his best friend Kyle O’Reilly last week on NXT. Cole gave Kyle a brainbuster on the steel steps and Kyle was taken away on a stretcher.
Cole said he was going to try to explain why he did what he did to Kyle. Cole said after watching that footage, he feels sick to his stomach. Cole noted that everybody knows the NXT Championship is important to him, but he doesn’t like the guy that he has become the last few weeks. Cole admitted he was pissed off that Kyle got opportunity after opportunity at the NXT Title and he continued to fail, but that does not excuse what Cole did. Cole said after watching that footage, he’s ashamed of himself right now. Cole looked into the camera talking to Kyle saying he wishes they could be having this conversation face to face, man to man, but they can’t do that. Cole said that Kyle knows him better than anybody and Kyle knows that Cole hates admitting he was wrong, but Cole was dead wrong last week. Cole said that he made a stupid, stupid mistake and he hates himself for it. Cole looked into the camera telling Kyle he’s so sorry, he’ll do everything he can to fix this and if he can’t then at least he’ll try.
Roderick Strong showed up to talk to his Undisputed Era ally. Strong complained about what Cole did to Kyle and to the group. Strong said that this whole Undisputed Era was built on trust, love, a brotherhood and they would do whatever it took to have each other’s back. And just like that, Cole shattered that trust. Strong said that Kyle is going to heal and when Kyle heals, Strong doesn’t know if he can save Cole from what he does to Cole.
Finn Balor, the NXT Champion, walked out there and shoved Strong aside. Balor went after Cole with punches since Cole also attacked him. Strong went after Balor, so Balor tackled Strong out of the ring. Cole shoved Balor into the barricade and Cole hit a superkick on Balor.
Cole went into the ring where he was greeted by a clothesline from Strong, who was confused about what he just did. Cole told Strong he didn’t want this anymore and he said he was sorry. Cole was on his knees saying it was all his fault because he screwed everything up. Strong said he shouldn’t have hit him. Strong told Cole he’s his brother and he loves him. They hugged in the ring. Strong stood up, then Cole hit him with a low blow punch and Cole had an evil look on his face. Cole told Roddy he was stupid, took off his necklace and said Roddy was dead to him (Cole). With Roddy on his knees, Cole hit a superkick to knock him out. The crowd booed heavily. Cole stood over a fallen Strong and that was the end of the show about eight minutes past the top of the hour.
Analysis: I thought this was excellent. Cole’s promo was heelish in that he said he wanted to say sorry and try to get past this, but the old phrase I love to use (“heels lie”) applies here. Cole was bullshitting so that he could get Strong to come out there to try to trust him and that led to Cole getting in that cheap shot. I thought it was booked perfectly with Cole and Strong fighting together to take out Balor, then Cole attacked Strong to show that Cole only cares about himself now. Cole isn’t about the Undisputed Era anymore. It’s all about heel Adam Cole now.
As far as where it is going, I think they should probably have Cole beat Balor for the NXT Title at some point soon. Then they can have O’Reilly go after Cole as the NXT Champion and O’Reilly finally beats his former best friend to become the NXT Champion for the first time. It would be similar to the Gargano/Ciampa feud from a few years ago in some ways, but it works and they’ll deliver several great matches along the way. Another option is they do a Cole/O’Reilly feud where the loser leaves NXT, then Cole loses and is off to Raw or Smackdown. That’s how you can do it without involving the title. There are many ways they can go here.
Three Stars of the Show
- Adam Cole
- Karrion Kross/Santos Escobar
- Io Shirai/Zoey Stark
This week: 7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2021 Average: 7.44
It was a pretty good show this week with an interesting main event angle that furthered Adam Cole’s heel turn. Fans might have been wondering if Roderick Strong would sign with Cole during the Undisputed Era split, but Cole made it clear he’s on his own by attacking Strong after Cole dropped Finn Balor with a superkick. Building up Cole as this selfish heel is going to get him some heat and make fans care whenever he faces all of his enemies.
The in-ring was pretty good all night long. I was impressed by Zoey Stark in her match with Io Shirai, who makes everybody better, but Stark more than held her own. The fight between Karrion Kross and Santos Escobar was very entertaining going from the parking lot to inside the building with Kross selling an arm injury the whole way before picking up the win. I like how the Lumis/Gargano match was booked to further that show.
I also cracked up at the Cameron Grimes segments as he continues to make me laugh. It was a fun show overall.
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