The John Report: WWE NXT 03/17/21 Review

The John Report: WWE NXT 03/17/21 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. It’s the St. Patrick’s Day edition of NXT, which really doesn’t mean anything because it’s just a made up “holiday” where most people have no idea what they are celebrating. Anyway, this week’s NXT apparently dealt with some changes after reports that some wrestlers that were going to be on the show have been dealing with COVID-19, so they’re not here this week. We don’t know who they are, but I’m sure the wrestling fans/detectives on Reddit and Twitter will spend all their time trying to figure it out. Me? I’m here to write about the show. It’s going to be hard to top last week’s outstanding show that had three title matches that saw Finn Balor retain the NXT Title against Adam Cole in the main event. That was followed by Kyle O’Reilly getting revenge on Cole while Karrion Kross stepped up to Balor to let him know that he was next.

We also learned last week that there will be a two-night NXT Takeover event on Wednesday, April 7 (USA Network or wherever you watch NXT) and Thursday, April 8 (Peacock/WWE Network) that should produce some outstanding matches. Prior to NXT beginning this week, WWE announced Balor vs. Kross for the NXT Title at NXT Takeover: Stand & Deliver. 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. Please follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s roll.

The show began with a recap of Balor/Cole in the main event last week as well as the post match interaction.

Let’s Hear from Finn Balor

The NXT Champion Finn Balor was in the ring wearing street clothes including a leather jacket with the NXT Title on his shoulder. Balor said St. Patrick’s Day 2021 and Finn Balor is still NXT Champion. Balor mentioned beating Kyle O’Reilly, Pete Dunne and Adam Cole. Balor told Karrion Kross he’s next at Stand & Deliver.

Karrion Kross made his entrance with the lovely Scarlett. Kross said this was never going to happen until they finished their other business, but now they can focus on eachother. Kross said that THEY (the fans) need to know who the real champion is around here. Balor said that everybody wants to be the champion until the real champion walks into the room. Balor said that Kross walks like a champion and talks like a champion, but the problem is that Finn Balor is the champion. Balor told Kross that he doesn’t have what it takes to be in the main event and beat Balor. Kross told Balor that he will know exactly what it feels like he chokes the oxygen out of his skull. Balor told Kross he’ll know what it feels like to be in the main event of Takeover and choke. Scarlett said that she has seen this in a vision claiming it all happens for a reason.

Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch showed up with the NXT Tag Team Titles. Burch and Lorcan told Balor he should be fighting Pete Dunne. Lorcan said he knows Dunne can beat Balor. Lorcan told Kross that they know that Dunne can beat him too. Lorcan said that sooner or later, Dunne will become NXT Champion. Scarlett said that there are moments in time that lead us to an inevitable future. Scarlett wanted Burch and Lorcan to put their Tag Team Titles on the line against Balor and Kross. Scarlett left the ring, then put her hands on them saying they are confident, they know what they want and they know what they bring to the table. Scarlett said they wouldn’t want to be associated with being cowards. Burch said she’s right, they’re not cowards, so Burch said that they will put the titles on the line against Kross and Balor tonight. Scarlett told Balor that every moment happens for a reason and he can’t change fate. Balor just stared at Kross and Scarlett.

Finn Bálor’s heated confrontation with Karrion Kross: WWE NXT, March 17, 2021

Analysis: That sets up a big match for later. It’s the show format we have seen on Raw and Smackdown many times over the last twenty years. NXT doesn’t do it that often, but once in a while it’s okay to set up matches this way.

The announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were at ringside to welcome us to the show and call the action. Barrett put over how big of a match it is for Balor to face Kross at Stand & Deliver. There were fans behind the barricades as usual at NXT shows.

Austin Theory was on an iPad talking to Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae at home telling Theory he can do this. I don’t know why Johnny and Candice were not there, but they looked like they were at home.

Dexter Lumis vs. Austin Theory

Theory managed to send Lumis out of the ring and then into the announce table as the show went to break early in this match.

(Commercial)

Theory remained in control after the break with a body slam and elbow drop. Lumis got some momentum with a spinebuster. Lumis hit some more moves including a belly-to-back suplex and a jumping leg drop. Lumis rocked Theory with an uppercut along with a slingshot suplex. Theory avoided a top rope attack leading to Theory hitting a cradle suplex into the knee for a two count. Lumis rocked Theory with a clothesline. Lumis picked up Theory, so then Theory hugged him because he thought it was genuine and Lumis tried to lock on his submission, but Theory got out of it. Theory went for a slam, Lumis got out of it and hit a uranage slam. Lumis slapped on the Silence submission for the victory. It went about ten minutes.

Winner by submission: Dexter Lumis

Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match. Lumis doesn’t really have great matches because of his style and character. The win for Lumis made sense since Theory is the guy that wrestlers beat before they go after Gargano’s North American Title. Lumis challenging Gargano for the North American Title at Stand & Deliver would make sense.

Mckenzie Mitchell was doing a report by William Regal’s office with Tommaso Ciampa showing up to issue a warning to Imperium.

Adam Cole was shown walking backstage for a promo up next.

A commercial aired for WrestleMania tickets on sale this Friday with a presale on Thursday. We have more info on that here (that info was provided by WWE earlier on Wednesday) if you’re interested in going to WrestleMania this year.

(Commercial)

Adam Cole was in the ring saying that Kyle O’Reilly made a big mistake. Cole told Kyle he cost him the NXT Championship. Cole said that Kyle was jealous of Cole because he knows he will never be as successful as Cole and said that Kyle wrote his death warrant. Cole called out Kyle, but NXT GM William Regal appeared on the stage. Regal said that Kyle wasn’t even medically cleared last week.

Kyle O’Reilly did a promo on a cell phone talking about how he wasn’t cleared probably for Cole’s own safety. Kyle said he will not rest until he gets revenge because Cole tried to end Kyle’s career. Kyle said that they were friends for 11 years. Kyle said that he’ll do whatever he has to do to end his career.

Cole left the ring and got in Regal’s face saying that Kyle can say he can try to end Cole, but not if Cole finds him first.

Analysis: I like this rivalry a lot. It has a very personal feel to it since they have been best friends in the Undisputed Era group and they also were together in other wrestling companies before WWE, so there’s a long history there. I think we can pencil in Cole vs. O’Reilly at NXT Stand & Deliver as well.

A replay was shown from last week with Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart beat Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez to win the brand-new NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles. It was cool to see Shotzi’s dad was there last week to share the moment with her.

Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. They talked about how happy they were and they were going to take care of business. Robert Stone showed up with Aliyah and Jesse Kamea, so they challenged the champions to a title match next week. The champs accepted with Moon telling Robert his suit sucks, which pissed off Stone.

Analysis: That’s fine for a match next week.

Jordan Devlin showed up in a car with his version of the NXT Cruiserweight Title.

(Commercial)

The Legado del Fantasma trio of NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza entered for a tag team match. They’re up against Breezango.

Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango) vs. Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza) w/Santos Escobar

Fandango was on fire to start the match and Breeze came in with a double team kick for two. Mendoza hit an impressive knee to the face of Breeze and Wilde hit a cross body block. Wilde took over for his team with a headlock on Fandango. Mendoza was in for his team with a jumping kick that knocked Fandango off the turnbuckle to the floor.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Fandango tossing Mendoza over the barricade at ringside. Breeze tagged in against Wilde with a lot of offense including a forearm smash in the corner and then a single leg crab submission. Breeze did a catapult that sent Wilde out of the ring and a supermodel kick got a two count as Mendoza made the save. Mendoza made the tag, choked Breeze across the top rope and Legado hit a double team jumping kick/legsweep combo. Mendoza pinned Breeze to win after about ten minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza)

Analysis: *** It was a well-worked tag team match featuring two talented teams. Neither team is really going anywhere or pushed that much, so I couldn’t tell who was going to win the match. Nice teamwork by Legado picking up the win. I feel like Breezango should be on Raw or Smackdown at this point because those shows need babyface teams and they would fit in well on either show right now.

Post match, Santos Escobar went on the headsets asking where Jordan Devlin was. That led to Devlin making his entrance with his version of the NXT Cruiserweight Title.

Devlin was in the ring saying that Escobar has claimed he was the champion, but he was what a champion looks like. Devlin said he didn’t jump him from behind, he told Escobar he was coming. Escobar was on the announce table and then he told his guys that he’s got this. Devlin told Escobar that the real Cruiserweight Champion is back. Escobar laughed at Devlin while telling him he has redefined what it means to be a cruiserweight. Escobar said he’s made history as the Cruiserweight Champion and he’s proven it time after time after time. Escobar told Devlin that everybody forgot that Devlin had the title in the first place. Escobar challenged Devlin to a match at NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver and they’ll settle this once and for all. Devlin hit Escobar with a headbutt and then a suplex. Devlin left as the Legado boys got into the ring. Escobar was bleeding from the mouth.

Jordan Devlin lays out Santos Escobar: WWE NXT, March 17, 2021

Analysis: Good segment here. While both wrestlers are heels in theory, Devlin is more of the babyface in this scenario and I think he’s very confident in his abilities as well. Escobar has been an awesome Cruiserweight Champion as he said while Devlin was on NXT UK. Devlin is back after travel limitations due to COVID-19, so the cruiserweight division is a lot stronger now.

Adam Cole was asked by Mckenzie Mitchell about Kyle O’Reilly. Cole said he will find Kyle, he’s going to end him and that’s not undisputed, that is a promise.

(Commercial)

There was a video about Japanese wrestler Sarray coming to NXT soon.

They showed a silly tweet from Cameron Grimes in some edited photos with Grimes claiming he was on vacation.

Zoey Stark vs. Dakota Kai (w/Raquel Gonzalez)

They spent the first couple of minutes doing some mat wrestling and reversals with Stark slapping on an armbar on the left arm. Kai got the advantage with a hair pull takedown, a corner whip and a running kick to the face. Stark got back up, Kai tripped her up, Stark kicked Kai while on the floor and Stark jumped over the top onto Kai on the floor.

(Commercial)

When they returned from break, Kai remained in control. They did a double clothesline spot leading to Stark getting some offense. After Stark got a nearfall after a suplex, Kai hit a jumping kick to the face while Stark was on the apron. Stark jumped off the top rope with Kai hitting her with a superkick because I guess they watched that famous Shawn Michaels/Shelton Benjamin spot recently. Kai got a two count after another kick to the head. Stark made a comeback with a knee to the face, then a rolling senton and Kai got another kick to the face. Kai hit the Go to Kick for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dakota Kai

Analysis: ***1/4 This was a fun match that Kai surprisingly won clean because I figured with Gonzalez there, it might have a cheap finish. Instead, Kai won clean probably because Stark is still a “rookie” in NXT and Kai doesn’t have to cheat to beat her. Stark continues to impress as a newcomer that was able to hang in there with a veteran like Kai, but she wasn’t able to get the big win. It’s early in Stark’s career in NXT, so they’ll probably book her to be close to winning matches like this for a few weeks until she does pick up a big win.

Zoey Stark vs. Dakota Kai: WWE NXT, March 17, 2021

Post match, NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai entered the ring with a contract in her hand. Shirai walked right past Kai and gave the contract to Gonzalez because Shirai wants to face her. Shirai left with Stark, so we could see that as a tag team match soon. (We found out later that the tag match is next week.)

Analysis: I have written for months that I think Gonzalez will be the one to beat Shirai for the NXT Women’s Title. It makes a lot of sense.

William Regal was about to be interviewed backstage and then was told something happened to Adam Cole, so Regal left.

(Commercial)

There was a backstage from the Grizzled Young Veterans duo of Zach Gibson and James Drake. They were talking trash towards MSK with Zach Gibson having a taped hand. GYV threatened MSK and said that they won’t like where this is going next.

Tommaso Ciampa attacked Fabian Aichner with a steel chair and threw him over the barricade. That led to Ciampa having a match.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Marcel Barthel

Ciampa was aggressive with some chops and then Barthel took over with a headlock that grounded Ciampa. They exchanged forearms followed by Barthel hitting a suplex across the ring. Ciampa came back with a jumping knee strike. Ciampa went for the DDT off the apron, but then Aichner was back up to stop that. Barthel took over with a dropkick. Ciampa made the comeback with an impressive German Suplex on Barthel followed by the Willow’s Bell DDT for the pinfall win after about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa

Analysis: **1/4 A fun match for the time given to tell the story that Ciampa was very aggressive in going after Imperium since they targeted his buddy Timothy Thatcher. I like how this was booked with Barthel trying to wear down Ciampa, getting some help from Aichner and then Ciampa was able to make the comeback to get the win.

The music of Imperium played and then the NXT UK Champion WALTER was back! Yes! Walter is awesome. Walter has been NXT UK Champion for 712 days, which is nearly two years. Walter faced off with Ciampa, who had to fight off Aichner and Barthel. Walter decked Ciampa with a hard chop to the chest. Ouch! Walter hit Ciampa with a stiff Powerbomb as Imperium stood tall.

Analysis: This is likely going to set up Walter vs. Ciampa at NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver. That will be an awesome match. I’m not sure if this means Walter will remain in the US for the next few weeks or how his travel will work, but it will probably mean Walter is on NXT until Stand & Deliver takes place. Walter has said in the past that he wants to live in Europe, so the trips to US are only occasionally.

There was a scene outside where police officers arrested Kyle O’Reilly and put him in a car. The cars were on the side of the road. Adam Cole claimed that O’Reilly tried to run him off the road. Cole told O’Reilly that he’s going to play.

Analysis: It’s just another way to make this a personal rivalry.

LA Knight was shown walking backstage ahead of his first NXT match. As Knight did his promo, Bronson Reed was shown walking in the background since they have had issues. Knight’s match was after the break.

(Commercial)

LA Knight entered for his first match. The entrance didn’t look that special or anything, but he carries himself like a star with a lot of experience.

LA Knight vs. August Grey

Knight was aggressive with a running knee followed by a shoulder tackle with the announcers saying that Knight had main event potential. Knight hit a powerslam to counter an attack from Grey while Bronson Reed showed up with an LA Knight jacket. The jacket was too small, so Reed ripped the jacket. Barrett: “That’s a custom-made Gucci!” Grey got a rollup for two. Grey hit a sweet neckbreaker. Grey jumped off the top, Knight moved and Knight hit a knee to the head. Knight hit a front forward neckbreaker into the mat for the pinfall win. It went about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: LA Knight

Analysis: *1/4 It was exactly what it needed to be for Knight’s debut match in NXT. After Reed ripped the jacket, he left, so Knight was able to make the comeback after Grey got a bit of offense. I think Knight can be a pretty big star in NXT and he can be one of the better heels that they have.

LA Knight makes his in-ring debut against August Grey: WWE NXT, March 17, 2021

Raquel Gonzalez was interviewed backstage by Mckenzie Mitchell. Raquel said once she signs the contract, the title reign has an expiration date. Dakota Kai showed up to say that she got them a match against Io Shirai and Zoey Stark. Raquel wasn’t sure about that, but Dakota said that they had to get back to their winning ways as a team.

The main event was up next after a break.

(Commercial)

There was a brief Xia Li video.

William Regal was interviewed in the parking lot saying he wants Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly to be at the CWC next week. Regal said he’ll have a solution to their situation. That should mean Cole vs. O’Reilly at NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver. It’s obvious we’ll be getting that match.

The introductions took place for the main event with the challengers Karrion Kross and NXT Champion Finn Balor up next. The NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch were already in the ring.

NXT Tag Team Championships: Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Finn Balor and Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett)

I’ll go full play by play for this match. All four guys are in black wrestling gear. It’s a popular color. Kross hit Lorcan with a shoulder tackle followed by a belly to back suplex across the ring. Kross with a shoulder tackle followed by a clothesline. Kross slapped on a bearhug, Burch broke free with punches and Kross hit a huge body slam. When Kross went for a suplex, Lorcan went into the ring to break it up. Kross ended up hitting a double suplex on both guys. Burch had a rough landing and was grabbing his right shoulder as the referee checked on him. The match stopped at that point as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Lorcan in the ring for his team with Balor hitting a dropkick to the face followed by an armbar. Lorcan rocked Balor with uppercuts and a whip into the turnbuckle. Lorcan stomped on Balor against the turnbuckle and Lorcan hit a suplex for two. Burch was at ringside getting checked on by a doctor with Burch dealing with an injured right shoulder. Lorcan with more uppercuts to knock Balor down to his knees. Balor hit a jawbreaker and then a Pele Kick to the head. Lorcan knocked Kross off the apron to prevent a tag. Balor chopped Lorcan three times followed by a double foot stomp to the chest. Balor with a clothesline that sent Lorcan over the top to the floor. Balor hit a Slingblade neckbreaker on the floor. Balor hit a running dropkick on Lorcan, who bumped back into Scarlett, who bumped on the floor. Scarlett is a trained wrestler, so she knows how to bump. Balor sent Lorcan into the ring, then he checked on Scarlett on the floor and Kross didn’t like that. Kross sent Balor into the barricade. Lorcan hit a running uppercut on Balor for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch

Analysis: **3/4 The match was good enough with the challengers having issues and the champions retaining even though Burch suffered a legit shoulder injury. Things obviously had to change after Burch was hurt (PWInsider said it’s possibly a separated shoulder), but they managed to improvise a bit and make it through the match. I don’t remember the last time Balor was pinned in a match on NXT. I wouldn’t have guessed that Oney Lorcan would be the one to do it, but there it was.

Post match, Kross hit a Saito Suplex on Lorcan and then another Saito Suplex on Lorcan, who bumped out of the ring.

Kross went after Balor with clotheslines and elbows. Kross hit a Saito Suplex on Balor that sent him across the ring. Kross slapped on his submission choke hold and then Scarlett made him let go. Scarlett helped up Balor as if to say it’s okay, but then she had an evil grin and Kross decked Balor with a forearm to the back. Scarlett put the NXT Title on Balor and she said: “Everything happens for a reason. You can’t escape fate. Balor and Scarlett stood tall over the fallen Balor as Karrion’s music played. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: I think this was done to further establish Kross as the heel in this storyline. Kross was a bit of a tweener type character while Balor had been a heel last year, so now the roles are more clearly defined. Balor is the babyface champion trying to keep the title that means so much to him while Kross is there to take it from him. The cheap attack from Kross makes him more heelish going into the title match.

Bálor & Kross w/Scarlett vs. Lorcan & Burch – NXT Tag Team Title Match: WWE NXT, March 17, 2021

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Finn Balor
  2. Karrion Kross
  3. Dakota Kai/Zoey Stark

 

The Scoreboard

This week: 6.75 out of 10

Last week: 8.5

2021 Average: 7.45

 

Final Thoughts

This was below average from what we usually get from NXT. That’s okay because last week’s show was outstanding with three title matches and most of those matches were long. There was some good storyline progress here with Karrion Kross turning on Finn Balor in the main event to make Kross the heel when they have their NXT Title match at the next Takeover Stand & Deliver. Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly didn’t get physically involved, but it’s clear that they’ll have a Takeover match. We also saw Io Shirai hand Raquel Gonzalez a contract to set up their Takeover match.

I liked seeing WALTER show up to face off with Tommaso Ciampa, who is going after the Imperium group. WALTER facing Ciampa is another match to look forward to at Takeover.

I think the show was probably hurt by the fact that some wrestlers were missing due to the reported COVID-19 outbreak. We didn’t get some advertised matches like Leon Ruff vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. It happens in 2021. Things change all the time. Best wishes to all dealing with it.

The next WWE NXT Takeover is called Stand & Deliver on April 7 & April 8. Here’s what we know so far:

NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Karrion Kross

I think we can pencil in Io Shirai vs. Raquel Gonzalez, Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly, Devlin vs. Escobar as well. Walter vs. Tommaso Ciampa seems likely too.

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John Canton

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