Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. I’m doing the usual NXT format with summaries of the matches and I’ll go play by play for the title matches.
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 were videos shown of Finn Balor and Adam Cole arriving to the building earlier in the day. They also showed Toni Storm and Io Shirai arriving earlier in the day.
Big NXT Announcements with NXT GM William Regal
The NXT General Manager William Regal was in the ring for some big announcements. Regal cued up a video for his first announcement.
It was the official announcement of NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver taking place on two nights: Wednesday, April 7th on USA Network (and wherever you watch NXT) and Thursday, April 8th on Peacock (and WWE Network).
Analysis: This was reported by some websites in the last week. It means it’s going to be a very busy WrestleMania week. I’m fine with it because it will make it a longer Takeover than usual since it’s taking place over two nights.
Regal asked the women’s wrestlers to join them on the stage. Regula said that they are the greatest women in the wrestling business. Regal put over how special they are week in and week out. Regal called Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai to join him in the ring since they won the Women’s Dusty Cup. Regal was standing in front of a table with something. Regal said due to the controversy from last week, the NXT team have decided to create the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles. Regal told Dakota and Raquel they are the new NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. There were “NXT” chants for that.
Dakota and Raquel were excited about the news. Dakota said that this really is the most talented division in the world and they bragged about beating them all. Raquel said that this will lead to them taking over the entire world while adding that they will carry those championships for a very long time.
Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon stepped up to talk to the champions in the ring. Moon said that if we are going to have champions, they need challengers. Moon noted that their finals matchup could have gone either way, so she wanted a title shot and Blackheart said tonight. William Regal made the match official.
Analysis: I mentioned the possibility of NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles last week after the controversial finish. It just seemed like a logical next step since the women’s division in NXT is so deep, so why not add titles? I’m fine with it because I trust the NXT booking team to make those titles matter and for the women’s wrestlers to put on good matches whenever they get the chance. It also made sense to make Raquel and Dakota the champions since they won the Women’s Dusty Cup recently. I like Ember and Shotzi as a babyface team as well.
The announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were at ringside to call the action. Barrett said he thinks Stand & Deliver will be the best Takeover of all time.
Io Shirai entered for her NXT Women’s Title defense.
Toni Storm made her entrance as the challenger. The wrestlers stood in the ring as ring announcer Alicia Taylor introduced them.
NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm
They started out brawling as they exchanged punches and then Storm hit a kick to the face. Storm hit a running hip attack on Shirai, but then Shirai got back into it with a forearm. Shirai with a double knee attack against the turnbuckle. Shirai with chops, Storm missed a kick and Shirai got a rollup into a dropkick. Shirai slapped on an abdominal stretch, then she let go and chopped Storm. Shirai sent Storm to the apron, then to the floor and Storm countered a springboard attempt. Storm whipped Shirai into the steel steps leading to a break.
The match returned with Storm hitting a backbreaker, then she missed an elbow and Shirai hit a flapjack. Shirai with the 619 kick against the ropes followed by a springboard dropkick for two. Shirai countered a move by Storm, rolled through and did a double stomp to the chest. Storm with a superplex off the middle rope. Storm with a running clothesline and then a bridging German Suplex for two. Storm countered a Shirai move with an elbow drop. Storm hit a sliding clotheslines by the ropes. They battled on the ring apron with Shirai giving Storm a back body drop on the apron. Shirai hit a moonsault press off the top onto a standing Storm. Back in the ring, Shirai was up top, Storm got a hold of her and hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Shirai with a palm strike leading to a Crossface submission, but Storm crawled to the rope quickly. Shirai with a running double knee attack. Shirai went up top, she jumped off the moonsault and Storm moved, so Shirai hit the mat. Storm hit the Storm Zero powerbomb for just two. Storm went up top, she jumped off with a headbutt, but Shirai moved. Shirai slapped on the Crossface submission and Storm tapped to give Shirai the win after 12 minutes.
Winner by submission: Io Shirai
Analysis: ***1/2 This was a very good title match with the great champion Shirai reminding us just how talented she is. Storm had plenty of moments where she looked like she could keep up with Shirai. Those final few moments were great with Shirai kicking out of the Storm Zero, then she avoided the headbutt and Shirai slapped on the Crossface to win by submission. It showed that Shirai can beat women in other ways since she didn’t need to win by pinfall here – it was submission. Storm really impressed me here. I think sometimes she might be overlooked, but when she is given a chance to have a meaningful match like this, Toni is going to deliver in those big matches.
Finn Balor did a backstage promo talking about how he and Adam Cole are the two best wrestlers in NXT. Balor said that there will no blindsides, no cheapshots and they’ll meet face to face. Balor said that he beat Cole for that NXT Title and he’ll beat him again.
LA Knight was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell backstage. Knight said that next week, he’ll make his NXT in-ring debut and that’s a fact of life. Bronson Reed showed up to grab Knight around the throat. The fight was broken up by officials. Knight told Reed it isn’t his time, it is LA Knight’s time.
Pete Dunne (w/Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan) vs. Jake Atlas
Dunne was in control with some grappling and controlling Atlas on the mat. Atlas hit a nice hurricanrana followed by an arm drag off the ropes, but then Dunne took control with a hard kick to the ribs. Dunne worked over Atlas with strikes to keep Atlas down. Atlas was able to come back with a combo of a German Suplex, kick and standing moonsault for two. Dunne blocked a cartwheel DDT and then stomped on the head of Atlas. Dunne pulled back on the right arm of Atlas, who tapped out to give Dunne the win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Pete Dunne
Analysis: **1/4 A dominant win for Dunne, who is a main event level player in NXT and it’s important for him to win matches like this from time to time. I like Atlas a lot as a guy with a bright future. I just think they need to find the ring story for him to help him become a bigger star. Dunne was vicious towards the finish as he got the submission win.
Pete Dunne did a promo saying that this is the time of year where everybody wants to step up their game. Dunne said that he made a name for himself in the UK. Dunne said he is the best technical wrestler in the entire world and he dares somebody to try to prove him wrong.
Analysis: Dunne has a lot of confidence and he should. I’m not sure who he might be feuding with next. Maybe Kushida? I’d love to see him go after Johnny Gargano, but they are both heels right now.
There was a backstage promo with Imperium members Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner and Alexander Wolfe. Barthel and Aichner had a message for Timothy Thatcher as they tried to recruit him into the group. They said that they were taking over.
There was a backstage promo from Leon Ruff telling Isaiah “Swerve” Scott that he busted his ass to get there. Ruff mentioned beating Swerve a few weeks ago. Ruff fired back at Swerve’s recent comments and said that he’ll beat Swerve again next week.
It’s time for the second title match of the night for the first-ever NXT Women’s Tag Team Title match.
NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships: Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs. Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon
Blackheart was aggressive early with a Cloverleaf submission on Kai. Blackheart had Kai in the submission hold for about one minute or more until Kai could get to the bottom rope to break the hold. Kai and Blackheart kicked eachother at the same time and they each did back bumps. The show went to break there.
The match returned with Gonzalez in control with a clothesline on Blackheart. Kai was back in with a double foot stomp to the ribs for a two count. Kai grounded Blackheart on the mat with a submission, then Kai hit a jumping kick and Blackheart nearly broke free. Blackheart with a step up enziguri, Moon tagged in and was on fire with clothesline. Moon with a lifting spinebuster on Kai, then a senton splash and a kick. Moon spun Kai off her shoulders into a knee lift. Moon with the double knees on Gonzalez that sent both women out of the ring. Blackheart hit a suicide dive onto Gonzalez on the floor. Moon tripped up Kai with a pin for a two count. Kai pulled the tights of Moon to send her into the middle turnbuckle. Gonzalez tagged back, lifted Moon off the shoulders and Kai hit a jumping kick with Gonzalez getting a two count. Gonzalez had Moon on her back and flipped her over into a slam for two with Blackheart making the save. That looked like a rough landing, but I think Moon was okay. Kai back in, Moon avoided a kick and Blackheart tagged in with a cross body block off the top on both women. Blackheart with a headscissors on Gonzalez and then a bulldog sending Kai to the mat. Blackheart with a knee to the jaw, forearm, a kick to the head and Blackheart with a high angle belly to back suplex on Kai for two. Moon held Kai so that Blackheart could hit a splash to the back and Moon hit a knee followed by a splash over the ropes for two. Moon and Blackheart lifted up Kai for a double team slam. Blackheart with a jawbreaker on Gonzalez, Moon went for the Eclipse off the top, but Gonzalez caught her. Gonzalez held Moon and Blackheart sent Kai into Gonzalez/Moon to knock them both out of the ring. Blackheart rolled up Kai for a bridging jackknife pin with her full body on top of Kai for the one…two…and three. Blackheart pinned Kai to win the titles. It went about 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions: Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a great tag team match just like their Takeover match was. I think doing a title change is a way to get people talking about the new titles because it’s not like fans would expect a title change in the first defense of the champions, but that’s what we got here. Blackheart and Moon work really well as a team, they have a lot of chemistry and they showed it here. Kai taking the loss for her team isn’t a surprise since Gonzalez is protected in every match, so she is almost never beaten in a match like this. My guess is that Gonzalez is going to focus on singles competition and that we may see her go after Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Titles.
Adam Cole was shown in the locker room. He spoke to the camera said that a couple of weeks ago, Kyle O’Reilly stepped out of line, so Cole put him in his place. Cole beat Strong where he stood. Cole reminded them that he’s the leader. Cole noted that the Undisputed Era is only dead when he said and he said he got rid of dead weight. Cole said he played Finn Balor like a fiddle because it’s always been about the NXT Championship. Cole mentioned his 403-day reign as NXT Champion and tonight he becomes a two-time NXT Champion. Cole told Balor that if he thought his first reign as champion was something special then you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Xia Li vs. Kayden Carter was next.
A commercial aired plugging WrestleMania tickets on sale next Tuesday. WrestleMania is back in business.
The show returned with Blackheart and Moon walking with the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles. The other NXT women were standing backstage and applauding them on their title win. It was most of the women (I noticed Taya Valkyrie there, which is great) except for Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell, who were watching, but then they walked away. Johnny Gargano was there with Austin Theory with Johnny admitting to Theory that he paid off the therapist last week, but Theory was too dumb to realize he was played for a fool. Gargano mentioned that Dexter Lumis mocked Theory’s abdominal region, so then Theory got mad about that and ripped his shirt. The group left.
Analysis: It would make sense to have Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell as the next heel challengers to Blackheart and Moon. That could be a match at the next Takeover.
A video aired promoting WWE’s work with Girl Up.
Xia Li vs. Kayden Carter
Li went after Carter, who came back with kicks and then Li with a back elbow. Li with a knee strike to the ribs. Carter with a jawbreaker, three clotheslines and Carter rolled through a pin attempt leading to kick to the head. Carter with a running boot to the face while Li was against the ropes. Li kicked Carter in the right knee. Kacy Catanzaro showed up with crutches after suffering a right knee injury. Li with a hiptoss that sent Carter into the turnbuckle. Li stomped onto Carter’s right leg and wanted to do more, but Catanzaro hit Li with a crutch for the DQ finish after two minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Xia Li
Analysis: *1/4 A quick match to further the story of Li against Carter/Catanzaro with Kacy saving her friend before Li could hurt Carter badly. It’s fine because it fits the angle they have been doing.
The women went into the ring with Catanzaro hitting Li with the crutch two more times. Boa went into the ring, grabbed the crutch of Catanzaro and threw it out of the ring. Carter hit Boa with a crutch and Carter left with Catanzaro. Li and Boa showed respect to their master on the stage.
Analysis: I don’t mind the storyline because it has made Xia Li look like more of a threat. Carter and Catanzaro work well together, so it’s fine to keep the story going.
There was a promo from Jordan Devlin talking into a camera. Devlin said he didn’t like the Irish weather. Devlin said it would be a shame if Takeover didn’t have the Cruiserweight Champion on the card. Devlin said that his travel ban was lifted, so he called out NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar. Devlin said he’s coming to NXT next week and we’ll find out once and for all who the real NXT Cruiserweight Champion is.
Analysis: It’s good to know Devlin will be back on NXT next week. Devlin’s a really talented wrestler just like Escobar is, but the only reason they have two Cruiserweight Titles is because Devlin has been in Europe due to travel bans. Now that Devlin can travel back to NXT, we can get a resolution about who the real Cruiserweight Champion is.
There was a video about Zoey Stark talking about how she had a rough childhood, but then pro wrestling was her escape and what she looked forward to. Stark talked about training to wrestle since she was 18 years old. Stark said being there every day is amazing and she’s so blessed. Stark said that she knows this is where she belongs. Stark talked about how she can wrestle any style and that there is no limit to Zoey Stark.
Analysis: I was really impressed by Zoey Stark in the last few weeks. She did great against Io Shirai recently. I think Stark is a wrestler to keep an eye on as the year progresses because she can be a future champion in NXT.
Santos Escobar was backstage talking to William Regal with Escobar complaining about Jordan Devlin thinking he can show up there. Regal tried to reason with him. Legado Del Fantasma members Wilde and Mendoza went up to Escobar, who told them to go have their match because he has to handle his business.
The Grizzled Young Veterans showed up to taunt Wilde and Mendoza with some trash talk.
Grizzled Young Veterans (Zach Gibson & James Drake) vs. Legado Del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde)
The Legado boys were in control early in the match with some cool double team moves including a suplex into a splash onto Drake for a two count. While the match was going on, the MSK duo showed up as astronauts. Wes Lee had a brace on his left hand since he’s got a broken hand. Drake and Gibson were distracted, so Wilde did a sunset flip pin on Drake for the pinfall win in just under two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Legado Del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde)
Analysis: 1/2* That was quick. I don’t love the distraction during the match leading to a finish, but it was payback for GYV attacking Wes Lee in the past. Wilde capitalized by pinning Drake to win the short match.
Post match, Wes Lee and Nash Carter got some payback on GYV with Lee smashing a helmet onto the hand of Gibson. That led to Breezango showing up in the ring to beat up Legado Del Fantasma. MSK went into the ring to celebrate with Breezango and that was it.
Analysis: It’s nice to see some depth in the men’s tag team division now. That was an issue at times last year, but things have improved a lot in the last few months.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez were interviewed backstage by Mckenzie Mitchell. Kai complained about what happened out there. Gonzalez said that they made history as the first champions. Io Shirai showed up with her NXT Women’s Title and told Gonzalez that she wants her next. Gonzalez told Shirai to be careful what she wishes for.
Analysis: There’s the tease of Shirai/Gonzalez feuding for the title. I assume that they’ll do that tag at the two-night NXT Takeover event and I think Gonzalez is going to win the title.
Finn Balor and Adam Cole were shown walking in separate parts of the building. That led to a break.
Timothy Thatcher was about to be interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell about how Imperium was trying to recruit Thatcher, but Tommaso Ciampa showed up. Ciampa spoke about how he was intrigued by the General of the Imperium (Walter). Ciampa suggested that he teams up with Thatcher against Imperium next week on NXT.
Next week on NXT:
* Dexter Lumis vs. Austin Theory
* Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Leon Ruff
* LA Knight’s in-ring debut
It seems like they have some other matches they have set up too, but they aren’t official yet.
Adam Cole made his entrance to the Undisputed Era theme song. It was pointed out by Joseph that Cole was wearing the same ger that he had on when he won the NXT Title in 2019. Cole has the longest NXT Title reign in history at 403 days while Finn Balor’s second with a 286-day title reign.
Finn Balor made his entrance as the confident NXT Champion. Both of these guys have really cool entrances in terms of Cole shouting “Adam Cole bay-bay” and Balor doing the arm posing during his song. I just wanted to point that out because it helps complete the act of these guys as two of the best wrestlers in the business.
Balor and Cole faced off in the ring for the championship introductions.
NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole
They were both very aggressive leading to shoulder tackles into two counts. Balor was in control with a tight headlock, Cole countered into a wristlock and Cole took over with a headlock. They got back up to their feet, Cole teased a superkick, Balor stepped back to avoid and they faced off again.
The match returned with Balor coming back from a sunset flip with a low dropkick. Balor with a wristlock, Cole sent Balor out of the ring and then Cole hit a pump kick on Balor on the apron. Cole whipped Balor into a barricade at ringside. Cole with a hard whip that sent Balor into the turnbuckle. Balor came back with a running dropkick to the left knee and then Balor kicked the back of the left knee. Balor with a kneebreaker followed by a trip into a double stomp to the chest. Cole came back with an enziguri kick, Cole went for a slam off the shoulder and Balor hit an elbow drop into a reverse DDT for two. Balor was stomping on Cole, who went to the floor, the referee made Balor move back and Cole hit a pump kick by the apron. Cole teased a suplex onto the steel steps, but Balor countered with a suplex onto the bottom of the ramp. That sounded painful.
The match returned with Cole and Balor exchanging strikes as the crowd was chanting “NXT” for them. Cole with a pump kick, Balor with a Pele Kick and then Cole hit a brainbuster into the knee for a two count. Cole jumped off the ropes, Balor moved and Balor hit a Slingblade. Balor with a running dropkick that sent Cole into the turnbuckle. Balor jumped off the top wit the Coup de Grace, but Cole moved and Cole hit a huge superkick for a two count. Balor was favoring his previously injured jaw. Cole slapped on a Crossface submission, Balor was near the ropes, Cole spun back towards the center of the ring and Balor found his way out of it. Cole avoided a submission and went right back to the Crossface. Balor nearly tapped out, but he was able to get his hand on the bottom rope to break the hold. Balor tripped up Cole with punches followed by a clothesline with a great sell by Cole. Balor lifted Cole, who landed on his feet and Cole kicked the knee of Balor. Cole ran the ropes leading to the Last Shot knee to the face for two. Great nearfall right there! Wow. Cole jumped off the middle ropes with the Panama Sunrise (flipping piledriver) for the one…two…and no! Wow, that was an even better nearfall. Cole was stunned that Balor was able to kick out of that because those are finishing moves for him. Barrett had a great line that if that didn’t put Balor away then you’re going to have to run him over with a Mack Truck. Cole ran the ropes, Balor was back up and Balor sent Cole over the top to the floor. Cole was over by the barricade where Kyle O’Reilly showed up to stare at his former best friend. Balor hit a somersault dive over the top onto Cole on the floor. Balor hit the lifting 1916 DDT on Cole on the floor. Balor sent Cole back into the ring, Balor up top and Balor hit the Coup de Grace double foot stomp on Cole for the pinfall win after 21 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: ****1/4 This was an awesome title match. Loved it. Balor and Cole are so good at building up to the big moments, making everything seem important and delivering in terms of believable nearfalls throughout the match. I liked all the great counter wrestling as well as the creativity of some of the spots. It wasn’t all about nearfalls either because Cole was relentless in terms of attacking the jaw of Balor, which led to that smart sequence with Cole slapping on the Crossface submission multiple times towards the finish. That tells the audience that not only does it weaken Balor in terms of his previous jaw injury, but it shows how smart Cole is to keep going for that submission. Going into the match, I figured Balor would win although there were certainly moments where it looked like Cole would win when he hit the Last Shot and Panama Sunrise back to back. After that, Balor was able to send Cole to the floor leading to Cole getting thrown off his game by the presence of Kyle O’Reilly. Even though Kyle did nothing to Cole, it gave Balor the momentum that led to some patented moves from Balor for the win. Tremendous overall presentation in terms of performance from both men, believable nearfalls, submissions that made sense and a strong story to end it.
After the match, Balor locked eyes with O’Reilly and Balor pointed to Cole as if to tell O’Reilly to get your revenge on him.
Kyle got in Cole’s face with Cole trying to beg off. Cole tried a low blow punch, but Kyle blocked it and Kyle pulled the Undisputed Era armband off Cole’s arm. Kyle beat on Cole with punches, but the referee pulled Kyle back. Cole got in a shot to the head, left the ring, and then Kyle went after Cole. Kyle shoved the referee on his ass and then whipped Cole into the barricade. Kyle trash-talked Cole for trying to end Kyle’s career and called him a “piece of s**t” which got bleeped. Kyle teased giving Cole a brainbuster on the steel steps like Cole did to him, but then referees showed up to break it up. Cole went up the ramp and then Kyle went after him with punches. The referees pulled Kyle off, so then Cole ran to the back and then Kyle chased after him.
Analysis: This was great. It was Kyle O’Reilly’s payback after missing several weeks of action due to Adam Cole’s attack on him. It leaves us wanting more while knowing there’s a two-night Takeover event coming in about four weeks, so that’s where they will settle it. I hope the NXT creative team doesn’t put these guys in the same match before Takeover. Don’t let them have a tag team match or anything like that. Keep them apart. Make us wait for that match. It’s worth it.
The camera focused on Balor in the ring, it wheeled around from his left shoulder to his front. Balor turned his head to the left side and goes: “What took you so long?” It was former NXT Champion Karrion Kross. Balor and Kross had a staredown, Kross said: “Tick Tock.” They stared at eachother some more and that was the end of the show at about seven minutes after the top of the hour.
Analysis: This has been brewing for a while. We knew that Kross was going to go after the NXT Title at some point and now that’s his main focus. Once again, with the next Takeover in four weeks it makes a lot of sense. The story is pretty simple with Kross wanting to reclaim the title he never lost while Balor has been an impressive champion that doesn’t back down from any challenger. I feel like Balor will win their match with Kross going to Raw or Smackdown soon after, but it could go the other way too because Kross might win. This Balor performing at this high level could be a big deal on Raw or Smackdown again. I’m interested to see what happens.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Finn Balor
2. Adam Cole
3. (tie) Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon
3. (tie) Io Shirai
This week: 8.5 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2021 Average: 7.53
This was an excellent episode of NXT. One of the best episodes of the year so far. There were three title matches on the show and all of them were very good with the Balor/Cole main event delivering an amazing match as you would expect from them. Cole hit all of his big moves, he nearly won by submission and Balor kept coming back. The presence of Kyle O’Reilly did distract Cole a bit, but he didn’t touch Cole at all and that led to Balor hitting his big moves to remain as champion. I liked the brawl with O’Reilly going after Cole too. As for Balor, that line he delivered to Kross was great: “What took you so long?” Well played.
Both of the women’s title matches were very good with Io Shirai continuing to remind us just how great she is. Toni Storm put up a hell of a fight. The first-ever NXT Women’s Tag Team Title match was also fun to watch with Blackheart/Moon beating Kai/Gonzalez to make it a very short title reign for the heels. I’m fine with it because it’s obvious they are going with Shirai/Gonzales next, so Raquel doesn’t need a tag team title. Everything else on the show was solid in terms of advancing storylines to set up matches for next week and beyond. The main focus was on the three title matches.
It’s pretty clear there are three big matches coming up at the two-night Stand & Deliver Takeover shows next month:
* Finn Balor vs Karrion Kross for NXT Title
* Adam Cole vs Kyle O’Reilly
* Io Shirai vs Raquel Gonzalez for NXT Women’s Title
They aren’t official yet, but they are clearly the direction. It should be another excellent Takeover during WrestleMania week. We’re spoiled with great matches all the time. We really are.
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