Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. 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.
The opening video package set up what’s coming up during this week’s show.
They were at the Capitol Wrestling Center with some fans behind the plexiglass as usual. The announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were ready to call the action. Wade wasn’t in the building.
The first match was set up one day earlier after a discussion at the WWE Performance Center. Wes Lee of MSK is out with a broken hand injury. As Ciampa made his entrance, Thatcher was shown talking to Marcel Barthel of Imperium, so that could be teasing something.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher
This is not for the Tag Team Titles held by Lorcan and Burch. Thatcher worked over the left arm of Burch. Thatcher and Burch exchanged forearms, Ciampa tagged in for the first time and he left some hair on his head rather than the total bald look. Lorcan tagged in as he exchanged strikes with Ciampa. After Lorcan was sent to the apron, Ciampa hit him with a knee to knock him to the floor. Lorcan charged right into a discus clothesline by Ciampa with a great sell by Lorcan. Thatcher hit an impressive uppercut for two. Thatcher fought out of the heel corner, but Burch decked Thatcher with a clothesline leading to Thatcher rolling to the floor.
Lorcan was in control of Thatcher with a single-leg crab, then Burch was in, Thatcher kicked him away and brought in Ciampa. That led to Ciampa on fire with repeated clotheslines on both guys plus a leaping clothesline. Thatcher and Ciampa made quick tags leading to chops/forearms repeatedly on Burch. They did a spot where Ciampa and Thatcher were each in the ring delivering forearms to their opponents. Burch and Lorcan went for a double team move, Thatcher avoided that, Ciampa kicked Lorcan and Lorcan hit a Half N Half Suplex on Thatcher. Ciampa with a kick, headbutt by Burch to Ciampa and then Thatcher hit a jumping kick on Burch. All four guys were down after that sequence. Thatcher reached out for a tag while noticing three Imperium members on the stage. Lorcan knocked Ciampa off the apron and the champs did an elevated double team DDT for the pinfall win over Thatcher. It went about 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good with a lot of cool spots including that sequence where all four guys hit the big moves, which is what led to the finish shortly after. Thatcher being distracted by the presence of Imperium is what cost his team the match, so Ciampa will likely want revenge on Imperium. I like that NXT books champions like Burch and Lorcan to win matches. That’s how it should be.
After the match, Ciampa was asking Thatcher what was going on.
Analysis: Based on Thatcher talking to Barthel earlier, it could be a tease that Imperium wants to recruit Thatcher to their group.
Roderick Strong was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
Let’s Hear from Roderick Strong
Strong called out Adam Cole. Strong was in the ring saying that if any single one of them meant anything to Cole, he should get out there right now.
Finn Balor showed up with the NXT Title. Balor said that Cole wasn’t going to go out there for him. Strong told Balor that the Undisputed Era was going fine until Finn showed up and said this whole thing is Finn’s fault. Finn told Roddy that the reason the brotherhood fell apart is because of this title. Finn said he knows how to get Adam Cole out there. Finn looked into the camera: “Next week, Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole for the NXT Championship!” Yes!
Balor told Strong that he’ll never be a leader, he’ll always be a follower. Balor told Strong until he gets a killer instinct, he’ll never…and Strong punched Balor to stop the trash talk. Balor and Strong punched eachother in the ring until they were separated by referees and officials including Sonjay Dutt. The scene ended there.
Analysis: Balor vs. Cole next week is awesome. Strong wanting to face Cole made sense, but Balor made a great point in saying that the reason Undisputed Era broke up is because of the NXT Title. That’s because Cole was jealous of Kyle O’Reilly getting multiple NXT Title shots in the last few months while Cole did not. Anyway, the brawl set up Cole against Strong later.
It was off to the Central Florida Psychiatric Center with a woman named Linda talking to them. It was The Way’s Johnny Gargano, Austin Theory, Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell. Theory thought that being kidnapped by Dexter Lumis for three days was like a vacation. Linda asked if something happened to Austin, but Austin said nothing happened. Indi Hartwell was doodling on a piece of paper because she has a crush on Dexter Lumis. It said “Ms. Indi Wrestling Lumis.” Johnny said that she ruined her Christmas now. Gargano told Linda that Lumis should be in jail. Lumis claimed that Gargano had some deep-rooted issues of his own. Johnny was told to be calm, he was yelling at Linda and Linda kicked him out of the office. Johnny was out of the office with more to come.
Analysis: It had some funny moments. Johnny’s ridiculous heel character is entertaining to me.
It’s Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole for the NXT Title next week. It’s official. I’m all for it. That’s going to be awesome.
Cameron Grimes was shown talking to some technicians saying he wanted to rename the building the Cameron Grimes Auditorium. William Regal showed up put his hand Cameron’s shoulder with Regal reminding Grimes he hit somebody on the staff. Grimes had a lot of money in his hands. Regal said he had a contract for tonight with Grimes facing Bronson Reed, but Grimes was not happy about it.
Ember Moon (w/Shotzi Blackheart) vs. Aliyah and Jesse Kamea (w/Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea)
Moon was in control with repeated arm drags. Aliyah did a slap to the face, so Moon dared her to do it again and Moon hit a spinebuster. They did a tumbling spot that led to a distraction from Stone on the floor. Moon still managed to kick Aliyah on the floor. Aliyah got her first nearfall with a kick to the face. Moon with a clothesline and a running dropkick followed by a spinebuster. Moon with a front suplex off the turnbuckle and then Shotzi took out the heels on the floor. Moon jumped off the top with the Eclipse for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ember Moon
Analysis: ** A decent match where Moon controlled most of the match, then Aliyah got a bit of offense and Moon was able to come back to win. Moon is the bigger name, so it wasn’t a surprise that she won.
There was a backstage interview with Mckenzie Mitchell asking Timothy Thatcher about what happened with Imperium. Tommaso Ciampa said that the past was in the past and they’re moving on from it.
The Women’s Tag Team Title match was next. Both teams were shown warming up backstage.
There was a video featuring Toni Storm and NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai. It featured storm saying that Shirai can’t beat her while the champion Shirai was confident she can beat Storm. Next week they are having the title match.
Analysis: That’s pretty huge putting the NXT Women’s Title on the line next week with Io Shirai defending against Toni Storm.
The Women’s Dusty Cup winners Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez entered for their title match that was earned for winning the tag team tournament. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler entered as the Women’s Tag Team Champions that can appear on any brand. They stood in the ring as ring announcer Alicia Taylor did the introductions.
Analysis: Congrats to all the fans excited about seeing Jax wrestle twice in a week. I am not one of those fans.
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai
I’ll go play by play here since it’s a title match. They are both heel teams. Jax and Baszler focused on Kai to start the match with Baszler about to stomp on the arm, but Kai moved. Kai with a bit of a hiptoss across the ring, Baszler caught the foot and slammed Kai into the mat. Gonzalez went over to Kai to help her on the floor while Baszler and Jax stared at them. That led to a break.
The match continued with Gonzalez whipping Baszler into the turnbuckle and Kai hit a running kick. Baszler blocked a running kick by Kai on the apron and then sent Kai to the mat. Baszler stomped on the left knee of Kai. Jax tagged in with a Stretch Muffler type submission putting Kai’s knee around Jax’s head. Jax with a headbutt. Jax stretched the knee again and then sent Kai face first into the middle turnbuckle. Baszler in, Jax with a press slam and then Baszler hit a running knee on Kai for two as Gonzalez made the save. Kai kicked Jax off the apron, Kai with a kick to the leg of Baszler and a kick to the head. Gonzalez got the hot tag with a dropkick, clothesline, fallaway slam and another fallaway slam on Baszler. Gonzalez with a running splash on Baszler. Gonzalez with a spinning slam on Baszler for two. Baszler with a knee to the face. That led to the showdown between the taller women with Jax facing off with Gonzalez. They exchanged strikes, Baszler distracted and Jax knocked Gonzalez down. Baszler back in, she got a nearfall and went for a sleeper, but Gonzalez got out of it. Gonzalez with a boot to the face. Kai tagged in, Gonzalez lifted up Baszler and Kai hit a jumping kick on Baszler with Jax breaking up the pin. Jax with a clothesline over the top on Gonzalez. Kai lifted Baszler, Kai went for a jumping kick, but Baszler rolled through and Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch. Kai fought out of it briefly for a two count. Baszler had the Kirifuda Clutch locked on Kai, Gonzalez got the tag and Gonzalez kicked Jax, but that led to the referee bumping to the mat. Gonzalez faced off with Jax on the floor where Gonzalez tackled Jax over the announce table. Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch on Kai again (Kai was not legal), then WWE Official Adam Pearce showed up, he waved Raw referee Shawn Bennett down to the ring and Bennett claimed that Kai tapped out even though Kai did not tap out. The match went 14 minutes.
Winners by submission: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
The announcers pointed out that Gonzalez was legal here, so Baszler beating Kai shouldn’t have counted. They wondered what was going on.
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a really good tag team match with Kai/Gonzalez as the faces even though they are usually a heel team. The finish was a bit of a screwjob since Adam Pearce showed up with a Raw referee, so they are probably going to do a story where the Raw guys don’t want the women losing the titles to NXT women. Baszler was in there for most of the match for her team, Jax was fine in her limited role and I liked Kai’s selling a lot. Gonzalez was also positioned to look like a star since she wasn’t beat up that much. Perhaps they will do the match again down the road since Baszler beat the wrong woman as the announcers pointed out, which is WWE’s way of telling the audience that’s a key part of the story.
The Way was shown talking to the psychiatrist again. Candice was reading texts from Johnny, the doctor figured it out and she opened the door to reveal Johnny was there. The doctor kicked Candice and Indi, so it was just Theory left to talk to the doctor. The doctor told Theory to trust her and it’s to be continued.
LA Knight was shown walking backstage because he was next.
There was a clip of Isaiah “Swerve” Scott talking about how Leon Ruff is lucky while Scott has to claw, grind and scratch just to get no opportunities. Scott warned Ruff that he is dangerous. Scott said it’s just different and he just doesn’t care anymore.
Let’s Hear from LA Knight
LA Knight made his entrance in street clothes including a jacket, so there’s no match yet. There were some “LA Knight” chants for him.
Knight said he has waited too long to step into this ring and he started with his line: “Let me talk to ya.” Knight said he won’t be talking about childhood dreams. Knight said this is business. Knight called himself a one-man revolution that changes the game. Knight claimed that Tom Brady wishes he was half the man that Knight was. Knight said he’ll be the guy setting trends, setting records. Knight mentioned guys like Johnny Gargano, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, Finn Balor and every single one of them has their flips, kicks and dives. Knight said that he won’t beat them with flash or pizazz, he’ll beat the hell out of them. Knight said that he won’t do anything fancy, but he’ll get the job done. Knight said he’s the last of a dying breed. Knight said don’t call him “the goat” because that’s overplayed. He wants to be called LA Knight. He said it’s his game, that’s not an insult because that “that is just a fact of life.” That’s his other catchphrase.
Analysis: A strong promo from Knight. He’s talented in the ring, but I think his biggest strength is his promo ability and he showed it there. Knight used some of the catchphrases that worked well for him during his successful run in Impact Wrestling as well.
Bronson Reed made his entrance for his match with Knight still in the ring. When Reed got into the ring, Knight left without any confrontation. Cameron Grimes made his entrance with handfuls of money.
Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed
Grimes tried to give Reed money instead of fighting him, but Reed rejected that and punched him. Reed sat on Grimes to counter a sunset flip.
Grimes got some offense going with a step-up enziguri and then Grimes hit the running cross body block into a pin attempt. Grimes with kicks, Reed no sold those and Reed ran over Grimes with a running body attack along with a corner splash. Grimes left the ring to get away at one point, which led to Reed hitting a suicide dive onto Grimes on the floor. LA Knight threw Grimes’ hat into the ring, then the referee put the hat out of the ring, Knight pulled on Reed’s arm and Grimes capitalized with the Cave In double foot stomp for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cameron Grimes
Analysis: **1/4 A cheap win for Grimes. I’m a bit surprised by the outcome because I figured Reed would be booked strongly since he recently came back. It wasn’t a clean loss for Reed, though, so I guess he won’t be hurt that much. It also sets up LA Knight with feuding with Reed, which should be good for both guys.
There was a conversation shown between NXT GM William Regal and WWE Official Adam Pearce. We could not hear them.
Kayden Carter was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Kacy Catanzaro has a partially torn LCL in her right. Carter said Xia Li took out Kayden’s best friend, so she will take Lee out. Carter said she’ll take out Xia Li next week.
There were highlights shown from last week’s NXT when Karrion Kross beat Santos Escobar in dominant fashion.
The third therapy session was shown featuring The Way’s Austin Theory with the doctor. Theory said he had a great time with Dexter Lumis with windows that were boarded up. Theory said he watched cartoons and ate cereal all day while adding that Lumis was a nice guy. The doctor Linda claimed she couldn’t get Lumis to stop talking when she called him. Linda claimed that Lumis said that Theory is obnoxious, his fashion sense is atrocious and he was disgusted by Theory cutting his shirts to show off his abdominal section. Theory left the room in tears. Gargano called Dr. Linda a monster, then Theory left the room and Gargano told the doctor she did a great job. Gargano gave her some money, said she did a great job and left. Dr. Lind: “What a bunch of idiots.”
Analysis: That means Gargano paid the doctor a lot of money to claim she talked to Lumis in order to fool Theory. Now we have to assume Theory doesn’t watch this show or else he would know what happened.
Ever-Rise were in the ring. Legado del Fantasma’s Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza attacked Breezango on the stage during their entrance. Breezango were dressed like astronauts. They whipped Fandango into the barricade. Tyler Breeze was sent into the ring post. Ever-Rise was happy with the Legado boys for the help. When Ever-Rise left the ring, Santos Escobar attacked them from behind and sent them into the barricade. Escobar sent Chase Parker into the steel steps repeatedly. Escobar joined Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza in the ring.
Santos Escobar, the Cruiserweight Champion, said do not mistake last week’s events for weakness. Escobar said if you do mistake it for weakness, this is what awaits you. End promo.
Analysis: It was a way to put over Escobar and his guys one week after Escobar lost to Kross. The attacks were cheap, but very effective.
Next week on NXT:
* Xia Li vs. Kayden Carter
* NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Toni Storm
* NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Adam Cole
Analysis: I don’t think either title will change hands, but if one of them does then maybe it’s Cole winning. I think Shirai will drop the title to Raquel Gonzalez in a few months.
Finn Balor was shown walking backstage for the main event.
William Regal, the NXT GM, was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Regal said because of what happened in the Women’s Tag Team Title match tonight, he’ll make an announcement that will change the landscape of NXT.
Analysis: I’m not sure what it is. My guess is that maybe they introduced NXT only Women’s Tag Team Titles because they have enough women’s wrestlers in NXT to do it. I don’t know for sure, though. I’m just guessing.
Finn Balor made his entrance as the NXT Champion for this non-title match. Roderick Strong entered without the Undisputed Era music or gear. It was just his own gear because Undisputed Era is finished for now.
Finn Balor vs. Roderick Strong
Strong rocked Balor with a forearm to the face and Balor came back with a trip for a rollup. They battled over submissions some more with Balor going for a crucifix pin, but Strong got out of it. Strong hit a full nelson backbreaker as the show went to break.
Strong was in control with punches, forearms and chops. Balor with an arm wringer that sent Strong into the mat. Balor stomped on Strong. Balor continued working on the left arm/shoulder of Strong by wrenching it behind the back. Balor with another armbar with Roddy hitting a powerslam to get out of that. Strong with one of his patented backbreakers for a two count. Strong with another backbreaker. Strong went for a running knee, Balor moved and Balor with an armdrag into a submission on the left arm/shoulder, but Strong got his foot on the rope to break the hold. Balor with two running chops to the chest. Balor told Strong he’s in there with the champ as Strong ran at Balor and hit a clothesline. Strong with a lifting slam that sent Balor face first into the mat. Strong did the four running forearms and an Olympic Slam. Strong with a double underhook Powerbomb for a two count. The fans were cheering them for the great match along with some “NXT” chants. Balor countered a Strong charge with the Slingblade neckbreaker. Strong blocked a dropkick, then Strong slapped on the Strong Hold submission and Balor countered, so Balor got a cover for two. Strong lifted up Balor for some kind of move, but Balor countered with a double foot stomp. Balor with a Pele Kick followed by the elbow drop into the mat. Balor with the running dropkick. Balor went up top and hit a Coup de Grace double foot stomp. That is not Balor’s finisher anymore, so he did the 1916 lifting DDT for the pinfall after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: ***1/2 Great match. Strong worked on the back the whole match, Balor was working on the left shoulder, then that went away and Balor hit is signature spots in the last couple of minutes to finish off Balor. I don’t think anybody expected Strong to win just based on his status level in NXT right now. Balor winning to give him more positive momentum going into the title match next week was the right way to book this. I enjoyed it.
Adam Cole appeared on the stage while Finn Balor was in the ring. They did some staring and hand gestures. That was the end of the show.
Here’s a post-match video of Balor and Cole trash-talking eachother.
Three Stars of the Show
- Finn Balor
- Roderick Strong
- LA Knight
This week: 7.25 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2021 Average: 7.42
It was the usual good NXT episode. I don’t think there was any standout match, but I liked the Finn Balor match with Roderick Strong main event even though the outcome was obvious. There was some controversy with the Women’s Tag Team Title match, so we’ll see how they follow that up. I thought the storylines involving guys like LA Knight/Bronson Reed and Timothy Thatcher/Imperium were interesting as well.
They are loading up next week’s NXT with Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole for the NXT Title, Shirai vs. Toni Storm for the NXT Women’s Title and teasing an announcement from William Regal.
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