SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
APRIL 13, 2021, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me, Tom Stoup & Nate Lindberg to break down the episode:
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-Black and white camera came up on Karrion Kross & Scarlett’s entrance. We just can’t get rid of the lip-synching for some reason. Kross took the mic. He said time always comes full circle. It was only a matter of time before he was standing in his ring with his title. As for Mr. Balor, one of the greatest to ever step in the ring, he went on a tear and thought Kross’s emotions were a weakness. He said anything could be a driving force if one learns how to control it, and he controls everything. He said he was in command of NXT until he says so. He said that no one would outwrestle him (snicker). He said he was starving and he’s insatiable, so if you want the championship, roll the dice. He said in the end, everybody pays the toll. His music played.
-We got a rundown of TakeOver’s two nights interspersed with Poppy performing “Stand and Deliver.” There were a lot of tweets shown on the screen as well, though they were all from the WWE family so it didn’t have the usually-intended effect of making the show seem like a social media event.
-Alicia Taylor introduced MSK. Their reception wasn’t nearly as negative as last week at TakeOver, but it was still mixed at best. They really needed more time to connect with people before they won the titles.
(1) MSK (c) vs. KILLIAN DAIN & DRAKE MAVERICK – NXT Tag Team Championship
Carter and Dain opened. Waistlock takedown for a one count by Dain. Suplex for two. Tag to Maverick. Rope run and a tandem trip/elbow. Maverick covered for two. Lee tagged in to boos. He threw fists down on Maverick. Rope run and a trip by Maverick. Maverick hit a back elbow and a moonsault for two. Maverick wanted the tag but Lee held him in place and tagged Carter. Tandem spot and a bronco buster by Carter. Carter booted Maverick and Lee tagged in. Maverick rolled through a suplex and tagged. Dain went outside and Lee got caught on a tope and Dain charged Lee into the apron heading into commercial. This crowd is getting tiresome. Booing things as simple as a tag is all about trying to be the show. I’d really like to see what a full crowd would do with this act (and NXT in general right now), because the invite-only crowd is detracting from the show.
Maverick tagged in and Lee made the “hot” tag to Carter upon return. Carter was booed on every move and MSK got another “You suck” chant as he worked his offense. Dain tagged in after a pin save and MSK chopped him down and Lee hit a corkscrew from the top for two. Carter tagged in and he and Lee tried to take him down but Dain threw Lee on Carter and covered for two. Maverick got involved again and he and Dain double-teamed Carter. Powerbomb by Dain. Dain tried to powerbomb Maverick onto Carter but Lee made the save. The illegal men got dumped and MSK shortly after hit their finisher on Maverick.
WINNERS: MSK at 10:30.
(Wells’s Analysis: The announcers are aggressively ignoring the response to MSK, but they can’t do it forever if it goes on like this. The live crowd is acting a fool right now, but if this is the only crowd we’ve got right now, MSK may need to consider a heel turn)
-After MSK left, Imperium (minus Walter) hit the ring and decimated Dain and Maverick. We’ve seen that mini-feud before, but maybe we’re passing that way again – or maybe it’s just to continue selling Imperium as the main heel faction going forward.
-Backstage, Robert Stone was talking to the camera as Aliyah mugged like she was on Instagram. Mercedes Martinez stormed in demanding her money from her job a couple of weeks ago, and Stone said he didn’t have it. Martinez attacked Aliyah and Jessie Kamea popped into frame and broke it up and got in Martinez’s face. Martinez asked if she wanted to step up to her, and Kamea said “No…I want to step ON you.” Mercedes said she could try tonight.
-As we went on the air tonight, Roderick Strong arrived with his wife Marina Shafir. He’ll have something to say tonight.
-Recap of the Unsanctioned match between Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole from TakeOver. It feels like there’s a real attempt to catch up new or lapsed fans with the product tonight, now that they’re unopposed. We got an exclusive shot of both guys being run down a hallway on gurneys – next to each other for some reason – and Cole kept on making loud threats as both were pushed by “medical staff.” It looked as contrived as it sounds.
(2) MERCEDES MARTINEZ vs. JESSIE KAMEA (w/Robert Stone & Aliyah)
Kamea charged right away. Kamea was wearing gear that was half-pink and half Holstein. Really. Kamea beat down Martinez with forearms and slammed her to the mat and dropped an elbow. Kamea missed a cross-body from the second rope and Martinez hit a running knee. Her Air Raid Crash finished.
WINNER: Mercedes Martinez at 1:51.
After the match, Martinez charged Stone and demanded (and got) her payment. She got in Vic Joseph’s face to make a challenge to Raquel Gonzalez. She was booed.
-The Way talked to McKenzie Mitchell. They have an eight-person mixed tag later in the show. Candice said they would take care of business. Indi Hartwell said she wanted to end up in the ring with Dexter Lumis so she could take care of her business. Johnny Gargano said The Way was the most dominant four-person intergender faction in NXT history. They all walked off, but Austin Theory walked the wrong way.
-Isaiah “Swerve” Scott spoke to us from his music studio. He said he had a star-making performance at TakeOver but he wasn’t done with Leon Ruff. He said after their next meeting, he was done. Once again, Swerve was very good here and I hope big things are in mind for this push.
-Legado del Fantasma was introduced. Santos Escobar said a year ago, the Cruiserweight Championship was the symbol of a forgotten division. He said he saved the division and now he’s the Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion. El Campeon – just like his father was, and just like his son will be. He said luchadors always fight, so this is an open challenge. Kushida’s music played.
(3) KUSHIDA vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR (c) (w/Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) – Cruiserweight Championship match
Kushida dropkicked Escobar from the ring and he regrouped with his cronies. He hit the ring and the bell rang. Quick offense and reversals to start. Kushida tried to put on the Hoverboard Lock and got blocked. Escobar bailed and Kushida did a Jushin “Thunder” Liger taunt as the match went to split-screen.
Back to full-screen, Escobar hit a corner lariat and Kushida spilled outside. Escobar picked up Kushida and slung him into the stairs. Escobar worked a Walls of Jericho on the top of the steps using the post for torque. Action went back inside and Kushida kicked out of a cover at two. Escobar held Kushida in a brief stretch and then kicked at Kushida and taunted him. Corner running knees by Escobar. Escobar took Kushida up and hit a huracanrana for two.
Bow and arrow by Escobar. Kushida elbowed out and hit a couple of chops. He ran the ropes but a single-leg dropkick took Kushida down. Phantom Driver was blocked. Kushida with an inverted atomic drop and a cartwheel dropkick. PK by Kushida. Corner palm strike by Kushida. Escobar tried to set up something on top but Kushida hit a double-underhook suplex from the top and held on for a second one. Escobar put his foot on the ropes to break. Enzuigiri by Escobar. Pele kick by Kushida.
The two exchanged shots on their knees. They got to their feet and exchanged kicks. Kushida tried a slingshot move but got hit with a backstabber. The two exchanged a few quick rollups and Kushida trapped Escobar for the win and the title.
WINNER: Kushida at 11:11.
(Wells’s Analysis: Well, his big championship win was in a match that wasn’t booked and had no build, but it’s something. Kushida needed a big win after yet another high-profile loss and Escobar needed to step away from the division to move on to something else, so it was a win all around. The match was good but I wouldn’t have turned down ten more minutes.)
-Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher talked from their chairs backstage. Ciampa talked about being tested in new and different ways. Thatcher said there was a new NXT Champion and new NXT Tag Team Champions. Which path to choose? Ciampa said “MSK…we’re coming” and threw his chair and stormed off. Thatcher smiled his wonderful toothless grin.
-Kushida got taped up and William Regal congratulated him. Jordan Devlin, no longer paying lip service to being a babyface, clapped mockingly and said anyone could run up a ladder faster than someone, but he was the best wrestler in the world under 205 pounds. He said Kushida was lucky because he was going home for a while, but he’d be back.
-Dakota Kai stood in the ring and she introduced your new NXT Women’s Champion, Raquel Gonzalez. Gonzalez took the mic. She said a year and a half ago NXT went live and she was supposed to make her big debut, but she “wasn’t ready.” She made sure that didn’t happen again, and a year and a half later, she stands here as your Women’s NXT Champion. She said the one person who recognized her dedication was Dakota Kai. Kai cheered her on. Kai said for 14 months they dominated. Gonzalez said Io Shirai was a great champion, but the Raquel Gonzalez era has officially begun.
The lights went out. They came up on Franky Monet (the former Taya Valkyrie) holding her dog from the segments the last couple of weeks. She also held a mic. She congratulated the champ and introduced herself as Franky Monet. She said the best division on the planet has gotten shinier, bougier and a whole lot better. She said now that Raquel is on top of “her” division, she’ll see a whole lot more of her. Raquel said she was lucky she was in a good mood, because next time she’d shove that “poodle” straight up her (ass). Monet said she’d see her every Tuesday.
Rhea Ripley’s music played(!) and the new Raw Women’s Champion walked to the ring. Ripley went face to face with Gonzalez and they bumped belts and hugged. Bianca Belair’s music played(!!!!!!) and the new SmackDown Women’s Champion walked down to the ring and joined the group. She stood between the other two champs and behind them, there was a much older picture of the three of them on the tron in their NXT days. The three shared a very real moment in the ring.
(Wells’s Analysis: I don’t know who decided to run that segment, but it was startling, energizing and surprisingly touching to see the three of them having that moment in the ring.)
-Pete Dunne talked to us from the back. He said he was the best technical wrestler in NXT and if anyone wanted to prove him wrong, they should step up to him. He reminded everyone he’s there for championship gold.
-William Regal said he’d long had connections with Japan, and he’s been hearing about Sarray for a long time. He said she was very special and the best women’s division was only going to get better with the addition of “the warrior of the sun” next week. McKenzie Mitchell asked him about her and he said he was very excited but he had business to attend to. He entered his office, and Roderick Strong and Marina Shafir were there. Strong offered a manila envelope and said he was done. Regal asked if he was sure, and then said he was welcome back there anytime.
(4) LEON RUFF vs. ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT
The two jawed to open. Forearms by Ruff and a takedown. Big press slam by Scott, but Ruff countered a shot and dropkicked Swerve to the outside and stabbed his right arm from the apron. Back inside and Ruff ended up getting flipped to the apron and Swerve hit a back elbow. Swerve slammed Ruff and hit an uppercut to his back from the second buckle for two. Ruff hit a dropkick and ran the ropes for an axhandle. Running boot by Ruff. The two reversed a few times in the corner and Swerve hit a Russian leg sweep. Swerve hit a PK from the apron and the match went to commercial.
Swerve controlled in a corner upon return with some chops. He leaned on Ruff in the corner. Another chop. Swerve got in Ruff’s face and said they were done from here on out. He chopped again and Ruff fired up and hit some chops. He went up but jumped into a submission. He broke quickly and then hit a cutter from the second buckle. Swerve bailed and Ruff went up a corner and hit a rolling senton. Back inside for a missile dropkick by Ruff for two. The two went up a corner and fought for position. Ruff jumped up and hit a great-looking huracanrana from the top for two. The two exchanged some shots and Swerved caught Ruff, but Ruff reversed and hit a headscissors into a buckle. The two had a few more reversals and Ruff got an extremely long two on a trap pin. The two went up another corner and Ruff wanted another rana but Swerve blocked and dropped Ruff on the top and finished with a slam like Shingo Takagi’s Last of the Dragons, if you can dig that.
WINNER: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott at 11:03.
(Wells’s Analysis: These two mesh extremely well. Ruff will get his unlikely wins down the road, but right now Swerve is hot and it’s wise to ride it out. At this moment, I think I’d predict that he’s the next Cruiserweight champion)
-McKenzie talked to Zoey Stark, who was fired up. She said she was coming off her biggest win against Toni Storm. Mercedes Martinez stormed in and asked why McKenzie was wasting time on a rookie. “Rookie? We’ll see about that,” Stark said.
-Walter hype segment. He said Imperium was here to stay, and everyone in NXT would learn the mat is sacred.
-Isaiah Scott got an interview near the lockers and he laughed off his match that just ended and said it was all over. Leon Ruff attacked and destroyed Scott using the lockers and said it wasn’t over until he said it was over. The announcers said it was a side of Ruff they’d never seen.
(5) BRONSON REED & DEXTER LUMIS & EMBER MOON & SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. JOHNNY GARGANO & CANDICE LERAE & AUSTIN THEORY & INDI HARTWELL
I can’t remember the last time there was an eight-person match on NXT TV, though I suspect it involved Undisputed Era. Lumis and Theory opened. Theory took Lumis to a corner and after a couple of reversals, Lumis hit a Thesz press. Hartwell tried to tag in but LeRae intercepted and tagged in instead. Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon made quick tags to team up on LeRae. Gargano tagged in and tried to help LeRae and the Women’s Tag Champs beat him down. Moon tried to tag Lumis, who wouldn’t extend a hand, so Moon tagged him anyway. Lumis cleared house and zeroed in on Hartwell in the heel corner. They locked eyes and LeRae yanked Hartwell from the apron to break her trance. The match went to split-screen commercial.
Back to full screen, Reed took over and hit a backdrop on both male members of The Way. Everyone got involved and the ring filled up. LeRae hit a flying axhandle on Reed, which he no-sold, but Theory hit a dropkick and then Lumis took out Theory. Things spilled outside and Candice hit a tope DDT on Lumis. Shotzi told Reed to use her as a dart and Reed tossed her from inside to the pile of humanity on the ramp side of the ring. Reed wanted a tope but Gargano intercepted. Lumis trapped Gargano in the Silencer and Hartwell could have attacked to break, but instead she played dead next to Lumis. Lumis checked on her and Theory attacked. Hartwell again played dead on the apron and Lumis picked her up and carried her to the back. Hartwell winked at the camera. Inside the ring, Reed dominated Theory and hoisted Moon to hit the Eclipse on Theory. LeRae and Gargano got involved but Reed fought them off. Reed went up and Candice tried to hit a superplex on Reed, amusingly. Blackheart grabbed LeRae and slammed her onto Theory, then dumped LeRae. Reed hit the Tsunami on Theory to finish. Reed held one women’s champion on each shoulder as they celebrated the win. The show ended at five past the hour.
WINNERS: Reed & Lumis & Blackheart & Moon at 10:32.
(Wells’s Analysis: A bonkers main event that doesn’t seem like the kind of goofy diversion that would have gotten time in the past, but as difficult as this was to recap, it was a lot of fun and had room to tell a story because it wasn’t all about counterprogramming or working toward a TakeOver. I wouldn’t call it a great match by any stretch, but it certainly entertained and the visual of Reed and the Women’s Champs was a fun and unconventional ending, and the show also ended with the question of what was going on with Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis in what’s easily Lumis’s most interesting storyline to date)
FINAL THOUGHTS: While the pace remains quick, the move to an unopposed night seems to have had an immediate impact on the approach to writing, as this show had the lowest amount of in-ring time (44:07) in many weeks. That’s a nice place for it to be, as there’s more time to build to things outside the ring. It’s just one episode, but this felt like a step in a better and more sustainable direction. With any luck, both NXT and AEW Dynamite will become better shows because they aren’t constantly worried about throwing the greatest thing ever on the screen at all times. Here’s hoping.
Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight live at half past the hour or stream tomorrow. Cheers.