The John Report: WWE NXT 05/25/21 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. There’s an NXT Title match on this week’s show, so that’s a strong main event to look forward to. We know the next Takeover is coming soon with NXT Takeover In Your House on Sunday, June 13.

This episode is taking place at the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Check out my WWE NXT review archive here. Let’s get to it.

The opening video package focused on the main event NXT Title match between champion Karrion Kross and challenger Finn Balor.

The announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were at ringside to welcome us to the show as well as rundown some of the things advertised for this week. There were fans in the crowd behind the barricades making some noise.

Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart vs. Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai

Both teams are former NXT Tag Team Champions with Moon/Blackheart taking the titles from Gonzalez/Kai, who were the first champions. Gonzalez is also the NXT Women’s Champion.

Blackheart tried doing moves to Gonzalez, it didn’t work and Moon tagged in. Moon hit a hurricanrana on Gonzalez and then a crucifix pin attempt. Moon also got a rollup for two. Moon ran around the ring, Gonzalez caught her in the ring and hit a body slam. Kai tagged in with a double foot stomp on Moon for two. Gonzalez whipped Moon into the turnbuckle. Kai missed a kick when Moon moved and Blackheart tagged in with a corner splash and a bulldog. Blackheart hit a splash on Kai against the ropes. Blackheart with an elbow drop followed by Moon hitting a standing moonsault for two. Blackheart was back in, she pulled Kai off the ropes and Blackheart applied a Texas Cloverleaf submission. Gonzalez pulled Kai’s arms to save her from the submission. Gonzalez was back in with elbow drops.


The match returned with Blackheart hitting a move on Kai leading to Moon tagging in against Gonzalez. Moon with a forearm and a dropkick to the ribs. Moon jumped off the ropes with a double knee attack. Moon ducked a cheapshot from Kai and then Gonzalez hit a kick to the head of Moon. Kai back in with a kick on Moon for two as Blackheart broke up the pin. Blackheart was back in with an enziguri kick, a spinning forearm, a kick to the head and Blackheart hit a fireman’s facebuster for two. Moon tagged in, Gonzalez saved her partner and Blackheart hit a cross body block on Gonzalez. Kai with a kick on Blackheart. Moon with a submission on Kai, but Gonzalez saved her partner. Gonzalez went for a Powerbomb, but Moon hit the Eclipse (Stunner) on her. Blackheart was back in for a double team Dominator slam for the pinfall win with Moon pinning Kai. It went 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart

Analysis: *** A good tag team match between two talented teams that work well together. I thought Moon stood out in this match especially with Gonzalez while Ember was doing all these high-flying moves and counters. It’s no surprise that Gonzalez was kept strong by not being the one to take the pin because as soon as this match started, I figured Kai was getting beat if her team lost.

Post match, Gonzalez attacked Blackheart and Moon after the match. Gonzalez gave Blackheart a Powerbomb into the barricade, the ring post and the barricade again. Gonzalez sent Blackheart across the top of the barricade. Kai was holding Moon against the turnbuckle to make her watch.

Analysis: They always want to make Gonzalez strong especially after losing a tag team match.

Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher did a backstage promo. They talked about Grizzled Young Veterans winning round one, then Ciampa/Thatcher won round two and Ciampa said that there will be a round three. Thatcher said that he’ll enjoy breaking their limbs. It looked like Thatcher had a chipped tooth.

A video aired about how Bobby Fish was back after Pete Dunne injured him in the WarGames match in December. That match is up next.

There was a commercial for Mick Foley’s A&E Biography on Sunday night. That should be awesome. Mick is one of my favorite WWE superstars ever. Unlike some of the subjects they have chosen, there aren’t a lot of bad things or dark clouds in his life.


Finn Balor was shown arriving at the CWC earlier in the day. They also showed Karrion Kross arriving with Scarlett earlier in the day.

Pete Dunne (w/Oney Lorcan) vs. Bobby Fish

Fish had a black armband on his right arm after triceps surgery in the WarGames match last December. Fish attacked with a running knee, then kicks to the body until Dunne got to the ropes. Dunne came back with a forearm to the face. Dunne twisted the left ankle of Fish, then Dunne mounted Fish and punched him along with a stomp to the face. Dunne drove the arm of Fish into the mat. Fish countered a move with an armbar submission of his own. Dunne with two forearms, but then Fish sent Dunne arm first into the top rope. Fish kicked Dunne out of the ring to the floor.


Dunne was in control pulling back on the legs of Fish along with strikes. Fish came back with a tackle into the turnbuckle, Fish kicked the legs and hit a leg whip. Dunne charged with Fish catching him with a spinebuster. Dunne had a cut under his left eye, but it wasn’t bleeding much. Dunne pulled on the fingers on the injured right arm and Dunne did a double knee drop onto the right arm of Fish. Dunne charged into a back body drop from Fish. Running knee attack by Fish on Dunne against the barricade. Back in the ring, Dunne with a step up enziguri kick and then Fish did an overhead suplex into the ropes for two. Nice counter there. Fish worked over Dunne with repeated knees to the ribs. After Fish stepped back, Dunne hit a German Suplex, stomp on the heads and a kick to the head. Dunne charged and Fish hit a jumping knee to the head for two. Dunne went for the armbar on the right arm, then Dunne pulled on the fingers and Fish rolled out of it. Fish went for an armbar of his own, Dunne rolled out of that and Dunne hit the Bitter End slam for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Pete Dunne

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a very good technical wrestling match. I liked the intensity shown by both guys with Fish wanting revenge. Dunne getting the win was obvious since he’s a pushed singles wrestler while Fish has really just been a tag team wrestler in NXT. They were going for submissions a lot early and then they started hitting some bigger moves/strikes as the match went on. The first half of the match was a bit too slow, but the second half after the break was really good.

After the match, Lorcan went into the ring and beat up Fish with punches. Lorcan whipped Fish into the turnbuckle. Lorcan stepped on Fish’s right arm while against the turnbuckle. There were referees that showed up to try to stop it. Dunne did his shrug and then Lorcan kicked the arm of Fish. The referees made the heels back away.

Analysis: That should set up a Fish vs. Lorcan match on a future NXT episode. Fish should beat him since Lorcan isn’t pushed much as a singles guy.

A video aired about Bronson Reed winning the NXT North American Title last week with some media clippings from his home country of Australia.

Mercedes Martinez was shown walking backstage saying she was on the road back to the title. Boa was behind her and watching her, so maybe Xia Li will target her.


The Hit Row group was backstage in their recording story. B-Fab talked about how NXT is the land of opportunity and it’s time for them to go for gold. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and the group talked about the champions in NXT to let them know they are coming.

Mercedes Martinez vs. Zayda Ramier

Ramier with a dropkick, then a running forearm and an enziguri kick to the head for two. Martinez hit a rolling elbow to the face. Martinez hit three double underhook suplexes for a two count. Ramier got a rollup for two, but then she ran right into a spinebuster by Martinez for a two count. Ramier with a takedown into a chinlock, but then Martinez drove Ramier to the turnbuckle. Ramier up top, Martinez with a slam off the top and Martinez hit a running knee to the face. Martinez hit the Air Raid Crash slam for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Mercedes Martinez

Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to give Martinez a win after she failed to win the NXT Women’s Title recently. Ramier has a lot of potential and she has a lot of athleticism, so I think she has a bright future in NXT.

The lights went out in the building, then they came back on with red lighting and smoke filling the ring. Martinez had a black mark on the top of her right hand. It was the symbol of the mysterious Tian Sha, so it means that Tian and Xia Li are targeting Martinez now.

Ted Dibiase was shown talking to Toni Storm. Ted walked towards the ring, Robert Stone went up to his with his group and Ted threw money at him to go away.


Million Dollar Faceoff

Cameron Grimes entered wearing a suit without a shirt and a brown hat. That led to the legendary WWE Hall of Famer “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase making his entrance to join Grimes in the ring. What an epic theme song. There were “Dibiase” chants.

Grimes wanted to know why Dibiase keeps getting involved in his life. Grimes said he wasn’t always rich, but now Ted shows up and Ted embarrasses him. Grimes told Ted he looks up to him. Grimes said that because of Ted, he can treat people terribly and they would still like me. Grimes mentioned the famous Dibiase skit making people dribble a ball and then kick it away.

Dibiase said that they have more in common than Grimes thinks. Dibiase said when he looks at Grimes, he sees a little bit of himself. Dibiase said he was looking for that one individual that embodies everything that the Million Dollar Man stands for. Dibiase said it’s about the performance in the ring. Dibiase told Grimes that he’s got it, he’s seen it, but since Grimes has become rich he has lost his focus and needs to regain his focus.

LA Knight showed up for the interruption. “Let me talk to ya” started the promo as usual. Knight said he sees a million dollar opportunity and he introduced himself. Knight said that he’s a man that gets the job done and he’s personified, walking, talking gold. Grimes said that this is for millionaires and Dibiase said they should listen to what Knight has to say. Knight said that with Dibiase by his side, he can take the Million Dollar legacy to new heights. Dibiase said he’s well aware of Knight, he’s traveled the world and Knight has a shot of becoming a megastar in NXT. Dibiase said that Knight has a million dollar body and mindset. Grimes interrupted that saying that the guy is jacked, but he’s no Grimes, who said that this was a Million Dollar Faceoff. Grimes told Knight to get out of the ring or he’ll kick his ass…to the moon. Grimes turned his back, Knight him from behind and hit the neckbreaker on Grimes. Dibiase to Grimes: “Kid, you’re just never going to get it, are ya?” Dibiase laughed at Grimes.

Dibiase left up the ramp with Knight as they laughed at Grimes in the ring.

Analysis: This was interesting because I didn’t expect LA Knight to get involved, but I think it can work. Dibiase did okay for an older guy that isn’t doing promos regularly anymore. I doubt that this means Dibiase is going to be around every week or be some manager for Knight, who is a great talker. I just think maybe a way to add more to Knight to say he’s being funded by Dibiase and to make Knight look like even more of a star. That may lead to Grimes becoming a babyface now. The fans chanted the “to the moon” catchphrase for him, so that’s something that could work for Grimes. I have liked Grimes as a heel, but maybe he’ll be even better as a face. Anyway, I like Knight and Grimes as two of the better characters in NXT, so I think when they have a match it should be pretty good too.

There was another plug for the NXT Championship match between champion Karrion Kross and Finn Balor.

Franky Monet was shown backstage and she handed her dog to some woman standing there. Franky’s NXT debut is next.

A commercial aired for NXT Takeover In Your House on Sunday, June 13. No matches are official yet.


Indi Hartwell was shown wearing the NXT Women’s Tag Team Title and she was looking for Dexter Lumis. Hartwell walked up to the Ever-Rise guys recording their show. Drake Maverick walked up to them saying he saw Dexter in a room and he pointed to it. Indi went into the room, the lights were on and there were some creepy images about how Dexter had a broken heart and Indi called him a “loser” in the past.

Analysis: The story was that Indi was fooled by her friend/tag team partner Candice LeRae into thinking that Dexter didn’t like Indi, but that was false. Indi found out the truth, so she was looking to find Lumis.

Franky Monet made her entrance for her first match. She had a big robe/gown as part of her entrance. Barrett claimed it was worth 35,000 Euros. Heels lie. It was definitely a star entrance for Monet.

Franky Monet vs. Cora Jade

Monet blocked a body slam attempt and hit an elbow to the back. Monet with a hard chop to the chest. Monet with a double knee attack against the turnbuckle and then a running hip attack as well. Monet with a running double knee attack again. Monet with a chop, a kick to the ribs, a knee lift and a clothesline. Jade with punches, then a Russian legsweep and that got a one count. Monet was back up with a Spear. Monet hit a Blue Thunder Bomb like slam. Monet hit the Glam Slam for the pinfall win after about three minutes. Beth Phoenix said “that looked familiar” since it was Beth’s finisher.

Winner by pinfall: Franky Monet

Analysis: *1/4 A strong showing by Monet in her NXT debut. I think using the Glam Slam as a finisher will work well for her. Lots of intensity shown by Monet as well. I am very familiar with her work from her run as Taya Valkyrie in Impact Wrestling. She is a fellow Canadian that’s also married to John Morrison. Monet will be a big deal in NXT for sure.

The Grizzled Young Veterans did a backstage promo. James Drake said that they are done with Ciampa/Thatcher. Zach Gibson said that they are not done with MSK are coming for the NXT Tag Team Titles. Gibson did his usual bit saying they are soon to be NXT Tag Team Champions.

They showed Bronson Reed celebrating his win last week and doing some media interviews with people in his homeland of Australia.

Bronson Reed was backstage taking photos with Kushida. They are both international champions in NXT.


There was a video featuring NXT UK Champion Walter talking about how Alexander Wolfe’s weakness cost Imperium for the last time. Wolfe was out of the group (and no longer in WWE). Walter told Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel to right the wrong by winning the NXT Tag Team Titles again. Walter said that they are professional wrestlers that will be restoring honor in the sport and a reminder that the mat is sacred. The point was that failure is not an option.

Analysis: Walter is back in Europe, so it was more of a video message, but I think it worked well as a short promo.

Let’s Hear from Bronson Reed

Bronson Reed made his entrance wearing a suit and he had the NXT North American Title with him. Reed won the title from Johnny Gargano last week on NXT. It was a great match. The fans cheered for Reed and gave him a nice ovation. Reed was greeted with “you deserve it” chants.

Reed said it was 14 years to get there. Reed said it wasn’t an easy road. Reed said that it was 14 years of falling, getting back up, climbing up that mountain and doing that over and over again. Reed said he had a lot of doubters along the way. This title is proof to any kid out there that you don’t need to take no for an answer. Reed said you can become a champion. Reed said now that he has this, good luck trying to take it from him. Reed said that whoever tries to challenge will have a “colossal” mountain to climb.

Santos Escobar made his entrance with his Legado del Fantasma buddies Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde. Escobar said that he’s got a great story. Escobar said that Reed brought tears to their eyes, so Santos mocked wiping tears away. Escobar said that he can’t relate to Reed. Escobar said he was born a champion, and he said that this business belongs to him. Escobar said that something caught his eye last week – the North American Title. Escobar said that he is the “Emperor of Lucha Libre” which is why he took the Cruiserweight Title. Escobar sees the North American Title, he sees USA and Mexico, which led to Wilde asking: “What about Canada?” Escobar said Canada doesn’t count, which was funny and I guess I’m offended, but not really. Canadians know how to laugh.

Escobar said that the North American Title represents Mexico, which means it belongs to Escobar. Santos said that the celebration is over because he’s about to take what is his. That led to MSK running out to the ring to stand beside Reed. MSK hit a double superkick on Wilde. Reed hit a running body attack on Escobar as well. The heels retreated while the champions were standing tall in the ring.

Analysis: It was fine as an angle to celebrate Reed as the new North American Champion and set up a rivalry with Escobar. When Escobar lost the Cruiserweight Title to Kushida I wrote about how I thought that would mean Escobar is out of the cruiserweight because he’s so gifted that he would be believable wrestling anybody. MSK saving Reed made sense they have a rivalry going with the Legado boys, so that was booked well too. They could go with that as a six-man tag team match in the future as well.

Finn Balor was shown seated backstage ahead of his match.


William Regal, the NXT GM, announced that next week there will be a triple threat match. Here’s the announcement.

Next week on NXT:

* Kyle O’Reilly vs. Pete Dunne vs. Johnny Gargano in a #1 Contender’s Match for the NXT Title. The winner challenges the NXT Champion at NXT Takeover In Your House.

* MSK defends the NXT Tag Team Titles against Legado del Fantasma

Karrion Kross was shown walking down a hallway with Scarlett by his side. Finn Balor was shown walking backstage and up the steps for his entrance.

Finn Balor made his entrance to a good ovation from the fans in attendance. This remains one of the coolest entrances in wrestling with the arm posing during the music. I can remember being at multiple shows and the visual of everybody doing the pose at the same time was so cool. Speaking of cool entrances, Karrion Kross made his “fall and pray” entrance with the lovely Scarlett and it looked impressive as usual. The wrestlers stared at eachother as ring announcer Alicia Taylor did the championship introductions.

NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Finn Balor

The fans were cheering for Balor early on. Kross with a shoulder tackle, Balor to the floor. Balor went back in and hit a dropkick to the knee. They went to break one minute into the match.


The match returned with Kross getting out of an armbar and hitting a body slam. Kross with clotheslines and elbows on Balor against the turnbuckle. Kross was doing a lot of heel mannerisms in terms of taunting the crowd. Kross with a suplex. Kross with a clothesline, but then Balor came back with an abdominal stretch into elbows to the ribs and Balor delivered more strikes to wear down Kross a bit. Kross came back with repeated shoulder tackles to the lower back of Balor followed by a running kick to the back. Kross with a hiptoss across the ring leading to a snap German Suplex. Balor took down Kross by the arm leading to a Crossface submission, Kross got out of that, Balor with a kick, Kross blocked that and Balor hit a double stomp to the ribs. Kross with a forearm to the lower back and then he sent Balor out of the ring. Balor pulled the ring apron to trap Kross in a Fit Finlay move and then Balor stomped on Kross repeatedly. Balor with a running kick to the chest.


The match returned with the two men exchanged strikes, then Kross hit running powerslams into both turnbuckles and a powerslam got a two count. Kross continued to work over Balor’s lower back. Balor delivered an elbow drop to the chest into a one count. Balor with a trip into a double foot stomp. Kross applied the Straightjacket sleeper, but Balor was able to get to the bottom rope to break the hold. They were past the top of hour two. Kross sent Balor out of the ring, so Kross rammed the back of Balor’s head into the barricade repeatedly. Kross delivered a Powerbomb into the barricade! Ouch. That was brutal. They got back in before the ten count. Kross went for a Powerbomb, but Balor countered with a DDT. Balor charged with a Slingblade neckbreaker, then a clothesline over the top to the floor and Balor hit a somersault dive over the top onto Kross. While Balor was posing after that, Kross got up quickly and delivered a spinning slam onto the announce table. The table didn’t break, but it sounded painful as Balor took another shot to the back. As Kross got into the ring, Balor kicked and punched. Balor with a trip into a double foot stomp. Balor charged in with a running dropkick to send Kross to the turnbuckle. Balor went up top, jumped off with the Coup de Grace, but Kross moved. Kross sent Balor into the turnbuckle. Kross hit another German Suplex. Kross hit a Saito Suplex as the fans booed him. Kross charged, but Balor was ready and used his legs for a forward roll for a two count. Balor hooked the arm of Kross for a submission, then Kross powered out and delivered forearms to the back. Balor came back with his own forearms to the back. Balor went for his own version of the Straightjacket submission, but Kross fought out of it. Balor applied a triangle choke submission, it looked like Kross was fading and then Kross came back with a Powerbomb to get out of it. That was a cool spot. Both guys got back up with Kross delivering a clothesline, a shot to the back and another forearm to the back. Kross stomped on Balor repeatedly. Kross applied the Straightjacket submission and Balor sold it like he was passing out, so the referee called for the bell. It went 23 minutes.

Winner by submission: Karrion Kross

Analysis: **** This was an awesome match. Balor continues to deliver great performances in these long matches. I think Kross has improved in these longer matches. That’s not a surprise because as he gets more chances working with a guy that’s as good as Balor, it makes sense that he’s going to get better. They did a lot of near submissions in this match, which I thought was smart because there were moments where it looked like Balor might make Kross tap out like in that triangle choke spot. It was really cool how Kross held onto the referee to get out of it and then after that, Kross hit a Powerbomb. Kross ended up hitting a few big moves after that to get the win. I liked the way that Kross worked over the lower back of Balor throughout the match to wear him down, which played into the finish of Kross weakening Balor, who eventually passed out from the pain. I didn’t expect Balor to win, but in telling the story of this match, Balor showed a lot of heart as a fighting babyface that kept coming back for more until Kross was able to put him away.

The win by Kross means that at NXT Takeover In Your House, he’ll face the winner of next week’s triple threat match between Johnny Gargano, Kyle O’Reilly and Pete Dunne.

Analysis: Since O’Reilly is the only babyface in that trio, I think he should probably win since Kross is more of a heel now.

Kross and Scarlett posed over a fallen Balor, who was down selling the beating he took in the match. Kross and Scarlett made their menacing faces. That was the end of the show at around eight minutes past the top of the hour.

Analysis: This could be the end of Balor in NXT. I don’t know if he needs to be in NXT anymore after this run. Balor wrestled most of the top guys, he held the NXT Title, he put over Kross twice now and I think he could be a fresh babyface on Raw or Smackdown soon. Balor did an interview recently where he talked about how going to NXT was done to kind of freshen his character and give him a reset in his carer. They thought it might be three months or six months, but it ended up being over 18 months. I think there’s a need for babyface wrestlers on Raw and Smackdown right now, so Balor could fit in well on either show. I could definitely see Balor as a main event title challenger against Bobby Lashley or Roman Reigns. Both shows could use a guy like him. Balor is a better character and worker after this run because this character he has been doing has worked really well for him.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Finn Balor – I know Kross won, but I thought Balor’s performance was more outstanding.
  2. Karrion Kross
  3. Pete Dunne


The Scoreboard

This week: 7.5 out of 10

Last week: 7.75

2021 Average: 7.52


Final Thoughts

The main event was great and I enjoyed it a lot. The rest of the show wasn’t as good as the better NXT episodes in terms of match quality. It’s still a very good show. The Kross/Balor match was a long match getting over 20 minutes, they had a lot of near submissions and in the end, Kross got the win as expected. I’m not sure if that loss was Balor’s NXT farewell or what is next for him. We’ll find out Karrion’s next challenger next week after a triple threat match with Kyle O’Reilly, Johnny Gargano and Pete Dunne. I’m going with Kyle in that match.

I did like some of the storyline advancements as we head towards the Takeover In Your House show next month. I didn’t expect LA Knight to get involved in the Grimes/Dibiase segment, but I like Knight a lot, so it’s important to give him a rivalry. It looks like Grimes is going to be a face now. Knight doesn’t need Dibiase to talk to him, but Knight being associated with Dibiase could help Knight be a bigger star. Bronson Reed feuding with Santos Escobar should be pretty good. I thought Franky Monet’s debut was impressive in terms of giving her a spectacular entrance and then she got an easy win.

NXT continues to be a consistently good wrestling show with fun matches and they do a nice job of mixing in so many different characters as well. I haven’t rated an NXT episode under 7/10 since mid-March. I enjoy the NXT brand a lot.


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John Canton


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