SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
APRIL 27, 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 Nate Lindberg & Bruce Hazelwood to break down the episode:
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-Poppy’s theme music played over a mostly new(?) set of graphics.
(1) MERCEDES MARTINEZ vs. DAKOTA KAI (w/Raquel Gonzalez)
Collar and elbow to start. A few reverses on arm wrenches led to Kai working a headscissors briefly. Martinez slapped Kai to break. A rope run leapfrog went badly awry and the two crumpled awkwardly. They reset quickly and Martinez hit a spinebuster for two. Martinez threw hands in the corner and had to break. Kai hit a quick DDT for two. Irish whip and a face wash in the corner by Kai for two. Kai worked a cravat over the second rope until the ref counted her near DQ. A quick shot exchange led to a backbreaker by Kai for two. Gonzalez tried to hype up Kai.
Kai wrenched back Martinez’s right arm on the mat and Martinez hit an inside cradle to break. Back kick by Kai and she missed a boot in the corner and got hug up. Martinez threw fists from the apron and then went up the corner with Kai and the two jockeyed for position. Martinez hit a cliffhanger for two. Martinez hit a couple of shots in the corner but Kai put her down with a drop toehold and hit a big boot in the corner as the match went to split-screen commercial just under six minutes in. Kai dominated throughout the commercial segment.
Back to full screen, Kai dumped Martinez out on the ramp side. She followed out but Martinez blocked Kai into the apron and tossed her back in. Kai kicked Martinez as she tried to reenter and hit a lungblower with Martinez hung up on the ropes, then brought her in for a two count. Kai kicked dismissively at a grounded Martinez, who got to her feet during a shot exchange. Kai ran the ropes right into a discus forearm. Martinez took Kai to a corner for a shot combination, then hit a double underhook suplex and rolled through for a second and a third, which was a deadlift. Martinez yanked down Kai by the arm and Kai rolled to the outside.
Martinez went out after Kai and Gonzalez got in her way. Kai got back inside and Martinez blocked a shot by Gonzalez and got back inside. She set up her finisher but Gonzalez charged in and hit a big boot for the DQ.
WINNER: Mercedes Martinez by disqualification at 12:28.
After the decision, Gonzalez destroyed Martinez around the outside and put her into the Plexiglass. Gonzalez’s music played.
(Wells’s Analysis: Outside of one very ugly moment where the two clearly had different spots in mind, this was a pretty good opener. Martinez’s run toward a championship match wasn’t done any favors with Kai dominating almost the entire affair, though)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to the Women’s Tag Team Champions. They’ve got Indi and Candice next week and this week they face the Robert Stone brand. The two of them accepted them and Franky Monet popped into frame and acted excited for them, and she took a card from one of the bouquets and said “From Dexter Lumis?” and laughed, then left as quickly as she came. Ember and Shotzi argued over which was getting the attention from Lumis (they both insisted it was the other girl) and the show went to commercial.
(Wells’s Analysis: The champs turned it up to a slightly lesser volume and acted in a much more likable manner tonight after getting pretty irritating over the past month or so)
-Earlier today, Cameron Grimes entered a jewelry store and said he was there to get something for a special somebody – himself. He wanted the shiniest, blingiest, most extravagant watch in the city. The jeweler started to look into something and Grimes complained about it taking too long. To be continued…
-Grizzled Young Veterans were in the ring in a pair of plaid suits. They complained about MSK and the main event six-man tag. Zack Gibson said MSK were a couple of “knobheads.” Gibson started up with his catchphrase, then got annoyed as Tommaso Ciampa’s music played, bringing Ciampa and a returning Timothy Thatcher to the ramp. Ciampa said he hated to interrupt, but Toothless Timmy and he knew a thing about being leaders and everyone wants to face MSK. The crowd picked up a “Toothless Timmy” chant quickly. Both times Ciampa said it, Thatcher smiled hugely. Thatcher said he found a lot of strengths as he watched GYV, but remember TakeOver Cardiff? He made reference to the fun, bonkers anti-Gibson chant in the UK, “If you hate Gibson, shoes off” while holding up a shoe. Ciampa attacked Gibson with a shoe and GYV scattered.
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Drake Maverick and Killian Dain. Dain got them a match with Imperium tonight. Maverick said he was onto Dain, and he was afraid Dain was leaving him for Imperium. Dain said “In the words of a great man, you gotta have faith.” He left, and Maverick said “Did you just quote George Michael at me?!”
-Tian Sha segment. Xia Li and Boa’s faces showed up on an otherwise black screen and Li spoke in her native language. I assume they’re up next?
-Make-a-Wish segment. A young Make-a-Wish alumni, Daniel, was featured. Backstage scenes were shown of him at WrestleMania 34. No Way Jose sighting!
-Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vignette. Swerve admitted he was impressed by Leon Ruff’s attack. He said the ring couldn’t hold them anymore. He called for a Falls Count Anywhere match. He said if Ruff wanted to play games, they’d play…for Ruff’s life. A corner graphic hyped the match for next week.
(2) ZAYDA RAMEER vs. TONI STORM
Storm took the mic. She said Zoey Stark owed her a thank you for making her famous at TakeOver. She said the next chapter was about Stark losing her career.
Stiff shot, rope run and a boot by Storm. Hair mare by Storm, and another. Sliding lariat by Storm against the ropes. Backbreaker by Storm, who held Rameer over her leg looking for a submission. Storm broke and stomped Rameer in the corner, then hit an uppercut to put her down. Rameer elbowed out in the corner and threw some shots until Storm pushed her off. Storm ducked a rewind kick and hit a German suplex. Corner uppercut and a corner hip attack by Storm. Storm set up Storm Zero, then tossed Rameer away and smiled. She put up Rameer in a corner and threatened to hit Storm Zero from the top. Zoey Stark showed up and Storm got distracted. Rameer tossed Storm off the corner and hit a Shooting Star Press to win.
WINNER: Zayda Rameer at 3:27.
Stark laughed at Storm from the ramp.
(Wells’s Analysis: With Storm dressing down “the rookie,” it seemed like we were primed for this upset. Rameer has an intriguing moveset but will have to work on building speed on her offense, which looked a bit tentative. She could be very interesting down the road)
-Legado del Fantasma vignette. They made some threats related to tonight’s main event.
(3) BRONSON REED vs. AUSTIN THEORY (w/The Way) – If Reed wins, he gets a future North American Championship match against Johnny Gargano
Reed ran into Gargano and Candice LeRae in the back. They stared at him, arms folded. After Reed made his entrance, Theory went up to Gargano and LeRae trying to hype them up for the match they never wanted. Commercial.
Back to the show, McKenzie was with LA Knight. He said everyone was talking about his win over Dexter Lumis. He said there was a twinkle in her eye and maybe a tingle in her loins when she looked at him. He said that was just a fact of life. He left, and Ever-Rise barged in with coffee mugs stating that Ever-Rise rules. They asked if McKenzie had any questions about their new YouTube show, and she said “No. Guys, back to you.”
Indi Hartwell was looking depressed with all of the recent developments. The Way left the ring and the bell sounded. Reed backed Theory into a corner and made a clean break. Reset. He backed Theory into another corner, and Theory reversed and shoved Reed’s head. Reed got annoyed and put on a headlock. Reversal by Theory. Theory ran the ropes and went for a block but Reed just shoved him away across the ring. Theory hit the apron and Reed hit a hip attack. Theory was holding on by his toes on the bottom rope. Gargano tried to help him back up, but Reed charged in and blasted Theory with a clothesline to put him down.
Theory went into the ring and hit a dropkick. Reed charged and Theory lowered the top rope, then feigned injury to distract the ref. Superkick by Gargano and Theory hit a tope. Theory stomped Reed on the outside, then baited Reed into the ring steps as the match went to commercial.
Back to action, there were a few reversals. Theory missed a dropped elbow. Reed lifted him for a press slam. He took down Theory with a couple of chops and blocked Theory to the mat. Chokeslam by Reed got a two count. Reed missed in the corner and Theory hit a blockbuster for two. Rope run and Reed hit a Samoan drop for two. Theory hit a superkick, then wanted a suplex but Reed hit one instead. Both guys sold on the mat.
Dexter Lumis started down the ring, and Johnny Gargano held off Candice LeRae from attacking him. Lumis tried to approach Hartwell, who tried to get away, thinking Lumis had other women in mind. She said “Shut up! You talk too much.” Hartwell almost got hit in the ring by a rope run but Lumis moved her so he could take the bullet instead. Reed hit the Tsunami to finish.
WINNER: Bronson Reed at 12:25.
(Wells’s Analysis: Like many matches involving The Way on TV, it was more angle than match, but it’s working as we took steps in two different storylines as a result. The action was fine when it was actually happening)
-McKenzie talked to Kushida and MSK. MSK thanked Kushida for taking them under his wing and helping their transition. They said three was better than one. Kushida said tonight it’s “MS Kushida.” They all slapped hands, then slapped them with McKenzie, did their hand symbols and fired up for their match later on.
-Gargano complained to Theory in a hallway, with LeRae and Hartwell. Gargano blamed Lumis, and LeRae blamed the Women’s Tag Champs for their “mind games.” Hartwell stormed off.
(4) DRAKE MAVERICK & KILLIAN DAIN vs. IMPERIUM (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) (w/Alexander Wolfe)
Maverick wouldn’t let Dain out of his sight as his paranoia consumed him. Dain and Aichner started the match. Dain fought off a German suplex and shoved Aichner to the mat. Aichner ran the ropes and Dain fought off another shot. After a few rope runs, Dain hit a cross-body. Fireman’s carry and Aichner made a blind tag. Imperium tried to double-team but Dain fought them both off and clotheslined Barthel to the outside. Uppercut by Dain. Body slam. Dain tagged in Maverick by slapping his chest and he hip-tossed Maverick onto Barthel.
After a couple of reversals, Maverick hit two dropkicks. Barthel put up Maverick, who hit a huracanarana. Maverick went up but Barthel tossed him to the mat and made the tag. Barthel distracted the ref and Dain so Aichner could get a cheap shot in leading to commercial.
Back to action, Aichner had Maverick dominated. Maverick fought his way to his feet in a corner and Aichner hit a European uppercut. Maverick had to fight off a double-team in the Imperium corner. Aichner made the tag and Maverick fought him off but Barthel laid out Dain. Backbreaker and an elbow by Aichner for two. Aichner picked up Maverick by the seat of his pants, twirled him around and dropped him. Maverick nearly made the tag but Aichner bodyslammed him. Again, Maverick crawled for a tag. Barthel tried to interfere but Dain flipped him to the floor. Maverick backed up slowly for a tag but couldn’t see in the corner. Barthel yanked Dain to the floor and Maverick turned around, clearly thinking he’d been abandoned. Imperium double-teamed him until Dain finally stormed into the ring and destroyed both members of Imperium. He went outside after Barthel, who hit a big boot.
Barthel went back inside, and he ordered Alexander Wolfe to hit Dain with a chair. Wolfe put it up but couldn’t do it. Barthel got in his face and in the confusion, Dain took them all out. Back into the ring, Maverick hit a high-cross body, but Barthel rolled through, made the tag, and Imperium hit their finisher.
WINNERS: Imperium at 12:12.
(Wells’s Analysis: There was a lot going on here with the Dain and Wolfe saga and Maverick’s paranoia, but it added up to a decent TV match that likely continues the feud, or at the very least gives both teams some meat to sink their teeth into)
-Pete Dunne hype segment. He wants some opportunities. He said he beat Kushida and can take that title anytime, or he can hop on a plane back home and take the title he made famous. Prove him wrong…he dares ya.
-Make-a-Wish segment starring Bianca Belair, Drew McIntyre and Naomi.
-Cameron Grimes was looking at the watch that was offered to him. He said it wasn’t even going “tick tock,” and Karrion Kross would hate it. The store owner convinced him it was the one. He looked at it and someone offscreen said “It’s a fine watch…but not a MILLION DOLLAR watch.” He cackled, and of course it was Ted DiBiase. The audience popped hard for his appearance.
(x) SHOTZI BLACKHEART & EMBER MOON (c) vs. ALIYAH & JESSIE KAMEA – NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Before the bell, Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae attacked the champs and destroyed them near a catering table. Robert Stone, Kamea and Aliyah cheered like they were the new champions.
-Adam Cole segment. He was with Arash Markazi, who interviewed him at poolside. Cole said he’d fought through worse. He said he didn’t want to carry Undisputed Era. Markazi asked what Cole thought of people saying Kyle O’Reilly was the face of NXT. Cole said Kyle got real lucky at TakeOver and he’s been here for four years and now he’s just starting to be looked at as a main event player. He said Kyle’s feeling insecurities because of it. Markazi asked about the NXT Championship picture. Cole said Karrion Kross was good, but he didn’t know if he was great yet. Was his injury a mistake, or was he not ready yet? Cole said his next move is nobody’s business, but he’s pissed off that people think Kyle O’Reilly can replace him. He complained to Markazi about making him wait outside in the heat. He went on and on with his diva stuff and elsewhere, Kyle O’Reilly was shown watching the scene and shaking his head at Cole.
-Breaking news! Next week’s Women’s Tag Team Championship match will be a Street Fight. After the Falls Count Anywhere announcement for the Ruff-Swerve match, it seems NXT isn’t done running “very special” episodes on a regular basis after all.
(5) KUSHIDA & MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Santos Escobar & Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza)
Order of introduction was LdF, MSK and Kushida. Kushida and Wilde opened. Wilde charged but Kushida evaded him. Grappling reversals and Wilde yanked down Kushida by his hair, but Kushida took advantage of a taunt and attacked. He tagged Carter, who then tagged Lee, as they took shots on Wilde. Wilde made the tag to Mendoza and the two double-teamed Lee to the mat with a slam. Tag to Wilde, who kicked Lee in their corner. Lee dropkicked Wilde from the ring and it was bonzo gonzo for a minute as both teams made quick tags and the faces dumped the heels as the match went to split-screen commercial.
Back to full screen, Escobar had Carter on the mat in a submission hold. Escobar released and made a tag to Mendoza, who threw a kick and then yanked Carter’s arm before charging it into a corner. A corner graphic promoted Finn Balor returning next week. Inside cradle by Carter got two, but Wilde put him down and mocked him. Tag to Mendoza again, who stomped Carter in the corner. Mendoza tagged Wilde and the two kept up with the beatdown in the corner. He covered for two. Tag to Escobar, who stomped a mudhole in the corner. A corner graphic promoted Mercedes Martinez challenging Raquel Gonzalez in two weeks. Escobar tried to suplex Carter, who rolled through and tagged Kushida. Wilde tagged in but Kushida took down both illegal men, then tagged Lee. The faces dumped the heels and MSK hit topes in stereo on the cronies. On the outside, Escobar slammed Kushida on the announce table. Carter went to check on him and Mendoza put him into the steps.
Lee tried to flip backwards into a splash, but Wilde cut it off with a dropkick and made a tag to Mendoza, then Escobar, who took turns hitting corner lariats. More tags and lariats. Double knees by Escobar. Suplex by Escobar, followed by a double-team move by Mendoza and Wilde. Wilde covered for a believable near-fall. Lee used Mendoza to clear out Wilde, then dumped Mendoza also. Escobar missed a top rope splash. Lee threw kicks to take down all three members of LdF and Nash Carter finally showed up on the corner to receive the hot tag. Carter took out Wilde and Escobar, but Mendoza took him down. Kushida fought his way into the ring after the announce table spot but Escobar hit him with the Phantom Driver. The other two members of LdF hit their finisher on Carter to win. LdF held up all of their opponents’ championship belts as they stood above Kushida as the show ended.
WINNERS: Legado del Fantasma at 13:46.
(Wells’s Analysis: Wacky six-man tags and champions losing were things that at one point weren’t common in NXT, but tonight we got both. The match was mostly a mess of spots, with an overlong heat segment that primarily was made up of kicks in the corner (a surprise given the talent involved). It did do the job of setting up challengers for both championships, though)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was another mostly decent show as NXT continues to find new footing in a post-head-to-head world. The show is still probably paced too quickly, and I can’t tell if that’s because they’re acclimating to a new stasis or if this is really what they want. Next week we’ve got two gimmick matches (and they’re awfully similar to one another, which isn’t ideal) and the show continues to feel like it would be better with longer build toward things, but this is the way it is for now. Join Nate Lindberg and Bruce Hazelwood for PWT Talks NXT tonight, and most likely, Tom Stoup and I will be back next week. Cheers.