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WELLS’S NXT TAKEOVER: VENGEANCE DAY REPORT
FEBRUARY 13, 2021
LIVE IN WINTER PARK, FLA. AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
Tonight after NXT TakeOver, join me, Bruce Hazelwood and Nate Lindberg as we take over “Wrestling Night in America” live to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.
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-Live show hype man Josiah Williams wrote a lo-fi rap track that opened the show that worked in the five matches for tonight and a little NXT TakeOver history. Very cool and not overlong. According to the screen it was called “NXT, will you be my valentine?”
(1) SHOTZI BLACKHEART & EMBER MOON vs. RAQUEL GONZALEZ & DAKOTA KAI – Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic final
Moon and Blackheart, introduced second, had matching jumpsuits and rode Blackheart’s tank to the ring. Gonzalez and Blackheart opened. Blackheart was flattened by an early body block, then worked into a sleeper until Gonzalez tossed her off. Moon tagged herself in and went for a waistlock but got hit with a back elbow. Moon tried to work into an octopus but Gonzalez turned it into a sidewalk slam. Faces made the tag and still couldn’t ground Gonzalez, who trapped Blackheart into a cover for two. Gonzalez blocked Blackheart into a corner, then another, then tagged Kai, who hit a pump kick and covered for two. Irish whip and a face wash attempt by Kai, but Blackheart moved and slammed Kai to the mat and hit a Texas Cloverleaf, broken as Kai reached the bottom rope.
Moon tagged in and she hit a springboard splash for two. Another face tag, and they wrenched Kai’s legs in opposite directions. Blackheart set up Kai in the face corner but Kai kicked her way out of trouble, but then fell into a single-leg crab by Blackheart. Blackheart dragged Kai back to the corner and tagged Moon, and the two worked an interesting tandem takeover that left Kai in a Moon leglock. Kai, who’s essentially playing heel in peril in this unconventional affair, dragged her way to the heel corner but Moon dragged her away twice. Kai reared back and hit repeated kicks to Moon’s head and yet again it wasn’t enough for a tag. Moon dragged Kai to the corner and made the tag, but Gonzalez distracted the ref and he didn’t allow the tag. Rather than tag now, Moon jawed at the ref as Kai nearly reached Gonzalez. Moon finally went over to Kai and stomped her to stop the tag. Bizarre.
Kai finally escaped a move and made the tag, and Gonzalez shoved Moon into a neutral corner a few times, then hit a fall-away slam from another. Gonzalez also manhandled Blackheart with one just for fun, then covered Moon for just one. Moon made the tag and Blackheart hit a headscissors to take Gonzalez outside, but Gonzalez caught her on a Thesz press attempt and splashed her into the Plexiglass. Moon became legal and got caught between the heels and Gonzalez booted her down for a two count. Kai tagged in and she hit a face wash in the corner and covered for two. Gonzalez tagged in and Kai held Moon, but Moon ducked and Gonzalez hit a lariat on Kai. She repeatedly used the heels against one another and then hit the Eclipse on Gonzalez, but Kai distracted the ref long enough for it to be just a two count. Moon hit a missile dropkick and a scissor kick on Gonzalez, getting two both times.
Kai and Blackheart made tags. Blackheart dominated and slammed Kai to the mat, then hit a cutter onto her knee for two. Blackheart wanted 619 but Kai put on the brakes and made the tag. Blackheart hit a step-up enzuigiri and then took Gonzalez up the corner, where she hit Sliced Bread. Kai broke up the pin and Moon cleared her out, then Blackheart hit a tope through Moon’s legs onto Kai, nearly hitting her head on the announce table. Yikes. Back in the ring, the faces hit Gonzalez with repeated moves, again for just two. Moon went up the buckle but Kai held on, but Blackheart held up Kai in the electric chair on the outside and Moon splashed her to the floor. Gonzalez got involved outside and Moon kicked her into the steps.
Moon and Gonzalez got back into the ring and Moon worked a submission on the inside until Kai interfered with a pump kick. Kai and Blackheart both tagged in and Kai hit a scorpion kick and Kai-ropractor for two. Kai tagged Gonzalez, who held up Blackheart for an assisted GTK, with Moon breaking it up. Gonzalez slammed Moon onto the ramp outside, then blocked her off of the stage. Gonzalez got back into the ring and Blackheart hit a DDT for two. Gonzalez got dumped, then Kai was dumped into her. Blackheart went up but Gonzalez threw her off. Gonzalez splashed Kai onto Blackheart, then laid out Blackheart with her finisher. She covered and Kai got on top as well, and it was good for the win.
WINNERS: Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai at 17:39.
Gonzalez and Kai celebrated with pyro and confetti at the top of the ramp near the Dusty Cup as William Regal clapped politely.
(Wells’s Analysis: Fast-paced, but with psychology throughout as the faces continued to try to find new ways to finish Gonzalez, who continues to be very protected as a monster. The heat segment on Kai early on was the opposite of normal tag wrestling, but with Gonzalez being the huge unbeatable threat, I get it. Very good opener.
-Pete Dunne arrived, flanked by the tag champs. Elsewhere, Balor arrived as well.
-A video package hyped the North American Championship match.
(2) KUSHIDA vs. JOHNNY GARGANO (c) – NXT North American Championship match
Kushida was introduced first, then The Way hyped themselves up backstage. As they walked through Gorilla, Dexter Lumis appeared behind Austin Theory (who was walking behind the others) and took down Theory with ether. Vic pretended he didn’t see it, which was silly. The women took off to look for Theory. Gargano’s jacket was inspired by Wolverine of the X-Men.
Rope run and a block by Gargano, but Kushida put on an early Hoverboard Lock. They were right by the rope and Gargano made it to break. Quick mat reversals early, as expected with these two. The two went vertical and traded wristlocks and Kushida took down Gargano with a headlock. Beth commented that Gargano had to be the favorite because of his TakeOver pedigree, as always conveniently omitting that Gargano nearly always loses at TakeOver. More quick reversals and Gargano nearly slapped on GargaNo Escape, but Kushida reversed and Gargano reached the rope for a break and a reset.
The two traded some blows and Gargano dumped Kushida. Both missed shots and Gargano hit a PK, then shoved Kushida into the steps. Kushida tossed Gargano into an armbar on the outside, then broke the count, threw off his shirt and went back to work. He tied up Gargano and hit a chicken wing suplex on Gargano’s nagging left arm. The two went back into the ring and Kushida dropkicked Gargano’s left elbow, then slammed Gargano’s arm to the mat. Kushida tied up Gargano again and took some shots to Gargano’s ribs, then wrenched Gargano’s left wrist. Gargano ran into a back elbow but hit a neckbreaker through the ropes to catch a breather, then hit a basement dropkick to put Kushida on the floor outside.
Gargano stomped Kushida a couple of times, then draped him over the apron and drove his chest into the edge. He had to use his right elbow thanks to the injury to the right, and the announcers helped tell that story. Back inside, Gargano covered for one. Gargano went for a neckbreaker, but Gargano reversed to a backslide. Gargano reversed again and hit a face plant, then hit a running kick to Kushida’s left arm, which Barrett framed as a receipt for Kushida’s attack two Wednesdays ago. Kushida sold on the mat in a corner. Gargano worked a standing headlock but Kushida reversed to an octopus. The two exchanged cover attempts for two counts, then one counts. Crucifix by Kushida got two, and then the two laid each other out with running lariats and sold on the mat for an “NXT” chant.
Gargano threw lefts but then sold the pain. Kushida took control with an inverted atomic drop, a dropkick and a punch to lay out Gargano. Kushida did his arm-holding stomp, then wanted another chicken-wing suplex but Gargano blocked. The two exchanged shots and Kushida hit a German suplex and a stiff kick and covered for two. Both sold on the mat. The two reversed some spots and Kushida hit a butterfly suplex with a bridge for two. The small crowd had a dueling chant that was pretty even; there was one annoyingly demonstrative Gargano fan in the front who wanted to make sure every other fan saw he was cheering for Gargano. Whatever makes him happy!
Gargano and Kushida went up a corner and Kushida was dumped inside, but then charged in and hit a kick. Gargano blocked the Hoverboard Lock and hit a twisting suplex, then a tornado DDT for two and another “NXT” chant. Reset and Gargano worked an armbar but Kushida escaped and nearly got an armbar. The two impressively traded armbar attempts. Cross-armbreaker by Kushida and Gargano broke, and the two once again took each other out with clotheslines for another “NXT” chant.
The two met in the center of the ring and exchanged shots. Kushida went for his springboard elbow but fell into GargaNo Escape. Kushida crawled toward the rope, but used Gargano’s injured arm to roll through and hit a Kimura Lock. Gargano nearly reached the ropes but Kushida held him off and rolled him up for two. Superkick by Gargano. Big punch by Kushida. Gargano hit a lawn dart in the corner on Kushida and both guys crumbled. Brief “fight forever” chant. Wade said “Nobody deserves to lose this one – it’s that simple.”
After a couple of reversals, Kushida hit his chicken-wing suplex into the corner. Kushida took Gargano up a corner and took town Gargano with his armbar. Gargano fought it by locking his arms together but Kushida took some shots to break. Gargano rolled over but couldn’t quite reach the rope. He finally repositioned and got to the ropes with his feet. Both guys went to the outside and Gargano droved Kushida into the barricade twice to finally break Kushida’s lock.
Gargano started crawling up the ramp, but Kushida was at the top of the ramp and he ran and kicked Gargano’s leg. Back inside, Kushida worked an armbar but Gargano broke it by tying up Kushida in the ropes. Gargano hit One Final Beat from the inside to the ramp outside, then rolled Kushida into the ring. Slowly, Gargano got up and stalked Kushida. He hit One Final Beat again and covered for the win.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 24:51.
(Wells’s Analysis: No NXT North American Championship match in history immediately comes to mind as being better than this one. There was some real doubt here and the two had several false finishes that were clever and didn’t rely on simply constantly kicking out at two every few seconds. An unbelievably good wrestling match that will be hard to top by the rest of the card)
-Brief hype for the Women’s Championship, then hype for the Men’s Dusty Classic final, apparently up next.
(3) MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zack Gibson & James Drake) – Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic final
Gibson did his mic work on the way to the ring, telling MSK not to smile because they wouldn’t enjoy any of this.
Carter and Gibson to open. Collar and elbow went to the corner, and Carter walked backward up the corner and came down with brief control. Mat stuff ensued and Gibson worked an armbar. Quick reversals and Drake tagged in and laid out Carter with a couple of rights, then a headlock takeover. Rope run and Carter hit a springboard spinning senton. Tag to Lee, and the two teamed for a bronco buster by Carter. Drake blocked a suplex, worked a headlock and then tagged to Gibson. Lee took out Drake with a pump kick and took down Gibson with a head scissors. Tag to Carter and the two hit quick shots. Double stomp by Carter. GYV went to the outside and Lee hit a spinning plancha from the top. Carter then hit Drake with the same, but Gibson flew in with a lariat.
Back inside, Gibson threw some elbows at Carter, then hit a neckbreaker for two. Carter reached a rope to break a mat hold and Gibson took Carter to the GYV corner and tagged, then held Carter for a Drake corner splash. Drake covered three times, getting more frustrated each time. Drake hit a running back elbow for two and briefly glared at the ref. Tag to Gibson. Rope run and GYV hit a tandem clothesline. Gibson tried a few different types of covers, getting two each time. Drake tagged in and Carter booted Drake, but Drake took him down with a lariat soon after for two and again got frustrated that it didn’t finish. Drake took Carter to the heel corner and Carter tried to elbow both guys to get out of trouble, and he hit a suplex on Drake. Gibson ran to the face corner and tried to take Lee from the apron. Gibson’s distraction caused Lee to get fired up and the ref didn’t see a tandem move by GYV, but counted the two just after.
Drake elbowed Carter into oblivion as Lee stewed and walked back and forth on the apron. Whip in the heel corner and Gibson tagged, but Carter was able to flip himself forward and make the tag. Lee destroyed both of GYV and sent them to the outside, where he hit a somersault splash on both guys over a corner. “This is awesome” chant. Lee went into the ring and hit an overhead kick and covered Gibson for two. Lee went up the corner, but Drake held him long enough for Gibson to dump Lee to the mat. Gibson wanted a powerbomb but Lee planted him and made the tag. Monkey flip by Lee into a superkick by Carter. Carter dumped Drake to the floor to take out the possible interference. Carter fired up in the ring; did he drop an f-bomb? Not sure if I heard that or not. Carter took down Gibson and covered for two.
Carter stomped Gibson a couple of times and made the tag. Gibson fought off both guys and hit his double neck chop, but missed in the corner and Lee tried to explode back with an overhead kick. Gibson instead hit a running knee. Tag to Drake, Helter Skelter by Gibson, frog splash and a cover by Drake for a convincing near-fall. Drake tagged Gibson and the two went for the Doomsday Device, but Lee rolled through and covered. Drake broke up the cover. Tag to Drake and the two went for Ticket to Mayhem, but Carter finally woke up and broke it up. Carter and Lee both hit top rope moves near their corner on Drake and Lee covered for a long two. Lee and Carter set up a team move but Gibson dumped Lee by yanking down a rope. He held up Lee on the outside for a tope Doomsday Device to turn Lee inside out.
GYV stalked Nash Carter and Gibson tagged in. They wanted Ticket to Mayhem but Carter fought them off as well as they could. They hit a different tag finisher for another believable near-fall. Gibson slapped the kneeling Carter and tagged Drake. They set up Ticket to Mayhem yet again but Lee got involved and cleared them out. They isolated Drake and hit their MSK finisher for the three count. Lee immediately broke down with some real emotion.
WINNERS: MSK at 18:26.
MSK posed with the Cup at the top of the ramp.
(Wells’s Analysis: Yet another match tonight comes off as best case scenario, as all four men repeatedly delivered at every turn, and rather than be a simple spotfest, there were some long heat segments and old-school tag spots as well. GYV again are the bridesmaids of the tournament as MSK position themselves as the next major challengers for the tag team championships; with their momentum I’m pretty sure I’d bet on them to win in their first attempt)
-Several superstars narrated a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote for Black History Month.
-Josiah Williams apparently wrote another rap track, this one for Cameron Grimes. It referenced Beverly Hillbillies subtly and had a twangy backbeat. He’s stackin’ money and goin’ to the moon. Another pretty catchy tune here, and Grimes was hilarious in the video with his joy over his large amount of money.
-Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch hyped up Pete Dunne. Elsewhere, Finn Balor sat with his belt and taped himself up.
-Hype for the Women’s Championship.
(4) IO SHIRAI (c) vs. TONI STORM vs. MERCEDES MARTINEZ – Triple threat match for the NXT Women’s Championship
Order of introduction was Martinez, Storm, Shirai. Alicia Taylor tried to do formal intros but the heels attacked Shirai and the bell sounded. Thanks for coming, Alicia. Shirai stormed back in shortly after and dumped Martinez. Storm blocked SHirai, then ran the ropes and ran into a flapjack. Shirai cleared out Martinez again and stomped Storm, then went for her springboard stomp in the corner but Storm caught her and set her down for a boot and a running basement clothesline. Martinez, from the outside, took Storm and hit a twisting slam to the outside. Shirai missed a moonsault to take her out of the match momentarily. The heels went into the ring and Martinez took down Storm for two. Suplex by Martinez, who held on and went for Three Amigos. Storm blocked but Shirai came off the top with a missile dropkick. Double knees for Martinez. Storm caught her and hit a Bossman slam and then a hip attack on each in opposite corners, but Martinez caught her and slammed her for two. Martinez tied up Storm in a submission and Shirai dropkicked Martinez away, then worked a crossface on Storm. Martinez put a dragon sleeper on Shirai as Shirai held Storm, then after the break, missed a running boot and Shirai hit 619 and a missile dropkick to dump Martinez.
Shirai went up the corner but Storm went up as well. Martinez went up and Shirai fell to the floor outside. German suplex by Martinez on Storm in the corner, and held on in the Tree of Woe. Shirai went up the corner and hit a double stomp on the hanging Martinez. All three sold for a moment. Martinez went out and Shirai went after her. Martinez slammed Shirai against the Plexiglass and Storm then laid out Martinez. Storm started taking stuff off of the desk to set up a move, but amusingly, the desk collapsed prematurely and Storm just looked at it, annoyed. Storm tried to set up Storm Zero on the laid-out table on Martinez, but she blocked. The heels fought on their feet but Shirai had climbed far up the steel structure and hit a cross-body on both. All three laid on the ground outside the ring.
Martinez got to her feet first and she threw Shirai into the steel steps. She slammed Storm’s face into the apron, then tossed her into the ring and hit a running knee to Storm’s jaw. More knees to the jaw. Martinez hit a fisherman buster on Storm for a long two. Martinez set something up but Storm blocked and hit Storm Zero. Martinez kicked out! Storm went up the corner and hit a diving headbutt to Martinez’s stomach but Shirai flew in with her lightning-quick moonsault and pinned Martinez.
WINNER: Io Shirai at 12:13.
(Wells’s Analysis: By a long shot, the shortest match of the night. Shirai was probably involved the least of those in the match, which makes sense if the bookers want to continue focusing on these two heels and possibly prepare one or both for solo feuds with Shirai. An okay spotfest)
-Elimination Chamber spot.
-WrestleMania spot. 55 days away.
-Earlier today, L.A. Knight (fka Eli Drake) signed a contract with NXT. This is a weird signing, as Drake is an okay wrestler – a little generic – but he’s a pretty fiery talker so he can be a boon to the midcard to upper midcard. Unless he makes some tweaks to his acts, a lot of people will notice how much he emulates The Rock in promos. NWA loses yet another of their highest profile guys as I question whether Billy Corgan really thinks the company is coming back.
-Hype for the main event.
(5) FINN BALOR (c) vs. PETE DUNNE
Challenger entered first; each got a lot of time. Alicia Taylor handled formal introductions and wasn’t interrupted this time. Referee Darryl Sharma held up the belt.
Staredown to open. Collar and elbow, to the ropes, then the buckle. Clean-ish break by Balor with a bit of a shove. Dunne went for the wrist and Balor reversed to an armbar. Dunne escaped and the two reset. Balor caught Dunne in another wristlock and held on as Dunne tried to toss Balor over. Balor worked another armbar on the mat and then wrenched Dunne’s arm. Monkey flip by Dunne but Balor still held on. Dunne tried to reverse and Balor reversed right back. Dunne kipped up and finally worked his way out and went at Balor’s wrist, but Balor quickly yanked it away.
Headlock takedown by Balor. Rope run and a shoulderblock by Balor. Another headlock takeover as Balor has totally dominated the early minutes. Rope run and another shoulder tackle and Balor covered for one, and Dunne finally caught Balor in a head scissors on the mat. Quick reversal and another reset just past the five minute mark. For some reason they piped in an “NXT” chant that was a little early, and the crowd didn’t play along with this one.
The action went to a corner and Dunne trapped Balor’s head and then worked the digits on Balor’s left hand. Backdrop by Balor, but Dunne held on. Balor reversed and worked an armbar, this time on the right. He tried to roll up Dunne but Dunne trapped Balor with his legs, wrenching one back against Balor’s ailing jaw. Dunne stood on Balor’s face and arm, then wrenched back Balor’s left arm and Vic went crazy, sure that Balor had no way out. Balor rolled through and escaped. Dunne tied up Balor on the mat again and wrenched back Balor’s fingers. Dunne trapped Balor’s right arm this time and applied pressure to his arm, then stomped on him once. Balor stomped Dunne’s toes to steal a quick advantage and trapped one of Dunne’s legs on the mat. He rolled Dunne over into a sort of cloverleaf and Dunne searched for an escape and found it by going after Balor’s left hand. Balor jumped to his feet and sold the pain to his hand.
Balor worked a half-crab and tied up Dunne’s leg, and Dunne tried to take shots at Balor’s back to break. Dunne turned it into a front chancery and then a guillotine, and finally a release suplex for two; Dunne seemed to legit hit his knee hard on the mat on the way down. Action went to a corner and Balor stomped on Dunne’s left knee. Balor tripped Dunne and went for a leg hold but Dunne rolled him up for two. Enzuigiri by Dunne. Lariat by Balor for two.
Balor stomped Dunne near the ropes, then hit a knee to the back of Dunne’s next. Dunne took shots at the back of Dunne’s neck and held on with the trapped leg. He turned it into an STF and Dunne broke it by spiking Balor’s fingers into the mat. Both guys hit their feet and Balor hit a chop in the corner. Another chop. Balor whipped Dunne to the opposite corner and leaned on him there. Anoter chop by Balor and Dunne threw three of his own. Dropkick by Dunne. Both blocked signature setup holds and Dunne hit a headbutt. Powerbomb by Dunne, who held on for two. “This is awesome” chant, and it is, but they’re not showing the crowd so I’m not sure if they went along with the piped-in chant.
Both guys sold until Dunne reached his feet and stomped Balor’s left arm. Snap German by Dunne, who stomped Balor’s arm. Dunne missed a boot and Balor hit a backstabber and clothesline, then a shotgun dropkick. Balor went up for Coup de Grace but Dunne caught him in a triangle choke. Balor got close to the bottom rope but Dunne rolled him further inside. Balor dragged himself back to a rope and was passing out as he reached the rope. Dunne argued that Balor was out, but the ref wasn’t having it. Dunne wanted Bitter End but the ref got involved because he had to check on Balor. By the time Dunne went for Bitter End, Balor was able to reverse to a leg scissors. Dunne snapped the fingers to break. Balor stomped on Dunne, who was able to hit Bitter End for an extremely long two that had me guessing.
Dunne stomped on Balor’s hands twice in the middle of the ring and went for a powerbomb, but Balor rolled through and hit a DDT. Enzuigiri by Dunne, then one by Balor. Dunne went for another Bitter End but Balor turned it into his own slam for two. Dunne held Balor’s hands and snapped the fingers, but Balor hit a quick double stomp on Dunne. Balor “accidentally” ripped out Dunne’s mouthguard, then hit a double dropkick and Coup de Grace. He hit 1916 to finish.
WINNER: Finn Balor at 25:10.
As Finn did his finger guns on the ramp, Lorcan and Burch stormed in from behind and attacked. All three attacked Balor in the ring and Darryl Sharma tried to break it up and got bumped. The three continued to stomp Balor until Undisputed Era’s music played, bringing Adam Cole, Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly out for the save. O’Reilly talked to Balor as the other two jawed with the guys outside.
O’Reilly helped Balor to his feet and the two held a long handshake. The four were about to hit poses, but Cole superkicked Balor. Roddy and Kyle argued with Cole, who then superkicked Kyle as well. Strong, stuck in the middle, didn’t walk out with Cole but didn’t help O’Reilly and Balor either. The camera focused on Strong’s internal struggle as the show went off the air.
(Wells’s Analysis: This one was deeply psychological and I loved every second of it as a result. NXT’s weekly show is at such a feverish pace right now, it’s nice to see wrestlers get the time and the green light to have their best match. This one is probably slightly hurt by the fact that nobody was picking Pete Dunne to win, as he seemed so transitional for Balor. What it was missing in that manner it gained in the post-match angle, which will be the enduring moment from a very good but seemingly transitional show)
FINAL THOUGHTS: An incredible night of wrestling that still could have been very forgettable if not for the final angle; all champions were expected by most to retain and they all did. MSK were likely the pick of most to win their tournament as well. I myself had the most doubt about the women, as I think it works very well for an actual heel unit to be able to brag about their eventual championship match, but with heel WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, I figured if the match was imminent the babyface women would go over.
Rather than belabor the point about the excellent action, I’ll focus on the angle. Much has been said about Adam Cole’s potential as a babyface centerpiece of NXT, but instead it looks like he’ll be the top of the food chain as a heel once again. This was not just a big moment in and of itself but also sets up a lot of questions for TV – where does Roddy go? What about Bobby Fish when he returns? Will the Undisputed Era name continue to be relevant?
Now I head off to the Triple H media call, after which I join Nate Lindberg and Bruce Hazelwood (time permitting) to talk about tonight’s show. See you Wednesday.