SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
MAY 11, 2021, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY NATE LINDBERG, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me & Tom Stoup to break down the episode:
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QUICK NOTE: The NXT Hits & Misses column will be written by Kevin Cattani this week!
-The show opened with a recap of all of the title matches last week and hyped both Gonzalez vs. Martinez and Kushida vs. Escobar tonight. After, they replayed the Gargano/Theory vs. Kross angle before cutting to Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory already standing in the ring.
(1) AUSTIN THEORY (w/ Johnny Gargano) vs. KARRION KROSS (w/Scarlett)
-Karrion Kross made his way to the ring accompanied by Scarlett. Gargano stood nearby Theory and pumped him up, as he looked petrified to get in the ring with the NXT Champion. The bell rang and Theory was able to get Kross backed into the corner, and land a dropkick. Kross no sold the dropkick and big booted Theory right in the face. Kross picked Theory up and threw him by his head from corner to corner. Theory tried retaliating with a clothesline, bouncing off of Kross who knocked him down with a lariat of his own. Kross backed Theory back into the corner and wrenched his arm before kicking him in the stomach and again in the head.
Gargano was standing ringside encouraging Theory as he was getting manhandled by Kross while Scarlett looked on with glee. Kross gave Theory a massive Saito suplex and went for a second, but Gargano distracted the ref allowing Theory to rake the eyes of Kross and escape. The fight spilled outside the ring and Theory managed to DDT Kross on the mat at the ref’s count of 7 but got back to the ring before the 10. Theory threw a series of strikes and kicks to a prone Kross, who stood right up and knocked the young Theory down. Theory retailiated with a hangman off of the rope and a cover for not even a one count.
Theory hit a corner clothesline and then a Fall Away Slam on Kross, with Gargano getting super excited that Theory was getting the upper hand. The NXT champion stood up and delivered two Saito Suplexes followed by a forearm to the back of the head. Kross continued to beat Theory on the ground with his forearms before locking in a sleeper hold. Theory was already “knocked out” by the forearms before the sleeper, forcing the ref to, kayfabe, stop the match.
Winner: Karrion Kross in 6:18
(Lindberg’s Analysis: I was actually surprised this match lasted as long as it did considering that there was minimal interference by Scarlett or Gargano. Some, but minimal. Theory got more offense in than I expected, but still came across looking like a dweeb in the end. Kross and Theory didn’t have the best chemistry either, as parts of the match seemed to almost be moving in slow motion, choreographed.)
-Gargano helped Theory to the back and Finn Balor appeared in the ring next to Kross. The two stared each other down before Finn said “I don’t wait in lines, but I want my rematch.” Kross said he wanted it as bad as Balor did, “Let’s do this”, he said. He and Balor shook hands, and Balor walked off as they cut to commercial.
(Lindberg’s Analysis: We’re supposed to believe Kross didn’t see Balor walk into the ring and then stand mere inches from him before the Camera panned over? The actual dialogue between the two seemed forced. It just seemed awkward from every direction.)
-After commercial, Kushida was shown showing up at the arena. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez were showed walking in next.
-An “Earlier Today” segment played where Regal was backstage and Leon Ruff approached him asking to compete tonight. Regal said that he would not be competing tonight after the beating he took last week. He in good faith couldn’t allow him to compete, even though he was medically cleared. Ruff threw a tantrum and threw Regal’s belongings all over the room demanding a match. Regal, grew incredibly angry and demanded Ruff leave immediately.
(2) BREEZANGO vs. MSK
-Breezango made their way to the ring first followed by MSK.
-The bell rang and Tyler Breeze and Wes Lee kicked things off. They circled each other around the ring for about 20 seconds before locking up. Breeze monkey flipped Lee and then flipped up onto the top rope doing his signature pose. The two squared off again with a drop down leap frog spot into a dual suplex reversal. Both men went for Superkicks and kicked each other in the knees. They tagged their partners in and Fandango and Nash Carter locked up.
Carter arm dragged Fandango and then whipped him to the corner. Fandango reversed and dropkicked Carter. Carter retaliated and dropkicked Fandango. Breeze got a blind tag but when he made his way into the ring he and his partner clumsily ran into one another in a very sloppy spot. Fandango flopped out of the ring and Carter whipped Breeze across the ring. The ref got in the way but rather than taking a bump, the ref did a drop down and leapfrog too before cutting to commercial.
After the commercial break, Fandango and Lee were the legal men with Lee in control. Lee backflipped across the ring to hit Fandango but he used his momentum to launch Lee into the corner turnbuckle. He covered Lee for a two count. Lee made the tag to his partner and the two double teamed Fandango with the pushing standing moonsault. Carter covered and Breeze broke up the count at two.
All four men were fighting in the middle of the ring without the ref counting the illegal men out. Eventually Breeze tagged Fandango in but Carter knocked him off his balance on the top rope. Carter looked for a superplex but was knocked down. He then delivered a running knee to Fandango’s face who fell to the ground in front of the announce team. Carter rushed to the top and moonsaulted his opponent. He picked him up and threw him back into the ring before tagging in Wes Lee. Dango made it to Breeze who looked for the Unprettier on Lee but MSK retaliated with their finish, the Transmission, for the win.
Winners: MSK in approx 11:30
(Lindberg’s Analysis: I accidentally fast forwarded through the commercials, so I didn’t have an exact time — sorry! I think this match might be divisive. Some may like it, some may dislike it. I personally liked it. I didn’t love it, but it was enjoyable. The comedy was sprinkled in just enough where it didn’t go too over the top for me. I think that NXT looks to Breezeango as a gatekeeper team, and having them job to MSK was NXT’s way of building up the newly crowned tag champs.)
-After the match, MSK and Breezango shook hands in the center of the ring, showing sportsmanship in their defeat. MSK looked into the camera and called out Legado del Fantasma. They said they aren’t hard to find, so if they want the titles to come get them.
-Gargano barged into Regals office, upset that he apparently had a match against Reed next week. Regal didn’t back down and when Gargano turned to leave he stopped and asked for Regal’s pencil. Regal handed it to him and Gargano snapped it in half over his knee before storming off like a child.
-Mercedes Martinez was shown getting ready for her match.
-NXT Takeover: In Your House 2021 was announced, hosted by Todd Pettengill.
(3) PETE DUNNE (w/ Oney Lorcan) vs LEON RUFF
-Before the match, Pete Dunne cut a promo on Kross giving a match to Balor. He then made an open challenge, answered by Leon Ruff. The announcers said that Regal couldn’t prevent Ruff from answering an open challenge, so the match was made official.
The bell rang and Ruff rushed Dunne who immediately took him down and started hammering him with rights and lefts. Ruff kipped up and attempted to get an upper hand but was caught by Dunne in a finger lock while prone on the ground. Dunne then worked the shoulder and arm of Ruff who made his way to his feet and hit a springboard top rope hurricanrana on Pete Dunne for a near fall.
Dunne wasn’t having any of it, immediately putting Ruff back into the shoulder lock. Ruff made it to his feet and the two got into a chop fight before Ruff finally did get the upper hand and nailed a missile dropkick on Dunne. Dunne recovered quickly with an enziguri and then locked Ruff into a headlock. He then started pounding Ruff with forearms, knocking out Ruff and forcing the ref to stop the match.
Winner: Pete Dunne in 3:08
(Lindberg’s Analysis: Why couldn’t Regal have stopped Ruff? Regal is in charge, he could have stopped that match at any point. That was a lazy storytelling point in my opinion. But not as lazy as reusing the same finish from earlier in the night where the heel won due to ref stoppage.)
After the match, Dunne assaulted Ruff again using the finger lock.
-Legado del Fantasma was shown backstage with Mendoza and Wilde first hyping their leader before Escobar talked and declared that he will defeat Kushida later tonight for the Cruiserweight title.
-A vignette for Franky Monet aired, showing that she will debut in two weeks.
(4) NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP – RAQUEL GONZELEZ (w/ Dakota Kai) vs. MERCEDES MARTINEZ
-Martinez made her way to the ring first, followed by Gonzalez and Kai.
-The ring announcer made introductions after entrances like most NXT Title matches.
-The bell rang and Martinez immediately clotheslined Gonzalez out of the ring, and then cannonballed her from the apron. She slammed the champion into the barricade before getting back in the ring and exiting to break the ref’s count. She threw Gonzalez back into the ring as they went to a picture in-picture commercial.
Gonzalez was in control throughout the break, using rest holds for most of it. Nothing of note really happened until the break was over. Martinez got the upper hand about 5 seconds before coming back from commercial, but was thwarted by the champion with a clothesline for two. She whipped Martinez into the corner followed by a corner splash for a two count. She picked Martinez up by the hair and locked her into a front face chin lock. Martinez overpowered Gonzalez and hit a flurry of forearms to the face. Martinez knocked Gonzalez to the mat, mounted her and threw punches to the midsection before ducking out of the ring. She allowed Gonzalez to recover before reentering the ring and locking in a sleeper. Gonzalez wouldn’t go down and slammed Martinez into the corner.
Gonzalez attempted to hit a Big Boot but Martinez blocked and hit a high impact neckbreaker from the second rope for a two count. The two rolled to the apron and Martinez speared Gonzalez, both women crashing to the floor. The ref started her count and the two made it back in the ring before the count of 10. Martinez tried to cover but only managed a two count. Martinez got to her feet and fed fists to Martinez’s face. Martinez went to run the ropes but was flipped over Gonzalez into a top rope hangman. Martinez fell to the ground and was thrown into the barricade. Gonzalez picked Martinez up and bounced her face off of the ring post, rolled her in and covered for two.
Martinez got the upperhand and hit a botched something which Gonzalez sold, but got back to her feet quickly. She looked for a chokeslam on Martinez but Martinez rolled out of it. She hit a fisherman buster and got a near fall. Martinez continued to beat down the champion who rallied with a big boot to Martinez, getting the advantage. She hit a massive powerbomb on Martinez to retain.
Winner: Raquel Gonzalez in 12:12
(Lindberg’s Analysis: For the tenure of Martinez, she seemed to have a bit of an off night tonight. Three times I saw her botch basic moves, granted the fault could have been on the more green Champion. While not a bad match, this was certainly not quite exactly what I hoped it was. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but something just seemed off about the whole match to me.)
-After the match, Swerve and his entourage showed up at the arena.
-Austin Theory & Johnny Gargano were being thrown out of the building, and it was then shown that Reed was attacked backstage. Bronson Reed said “Johnny is a deadman!”
-Swerve and his entourage made their way to the ring. One of them put a red chair in the center of the ring and Swerve sat down. Swerve said that he made a lot of mistakes in NXT and the biggest one was trying to be a hero in NXT. It wasn’t him. But he is savage. Disrespectful. A dangerous man. So he recruited people that were like him. First he introduced “Top Dollar” AJ Francis. Top Dollar hit a freestyle rap before Ashante Adonis introduced himself and said he had three rules. First, the details are crucial. Second, don’t try him. Third, if you come around you might get worldstar… before Top Dollar cut him off. The four of them continued riffing off of one another before Swerve announced that they are Hit Row, and if you didn’t know – Now you know.
(Lindberg’s Analysis: I absolutely love this. These four are heat magnets. While the name Top Dollar sounds like something out of Retribution, I’m going to give it a pass for now. The rest of the act is just so good for that stupid name to ruin the rest of it for me just yet.)
-An auction was shown at an expensive looking house. The bidding started at $2 Million when Grimes stepped out of a nearby Rolls Royce and declared that they couldn’t have an auction, and for $2 million, to put him down. Not realizing that’s how an auction worked, he couldn’t figure out what the paddles and fast talking meant. He kept bidding as the price went up and up, getting angrier at the person bidding him up to $8 Million. “$20 Million!” you hear from the back of the crowd with that notorious laugh. “TED DIBIASE! You’re ruining my life! You and me, let’s go!” DiBiase said to him, “Everyone has a price for the million dollar man. And you are not the million dollar man.” before walking off.
(Lindberg’s Analysis: I really did not think this DiBiase one off cameo a few weeks back would culminate into a weeks long thing, but I was hoping that it would. Glad to see it play out. DiBiase looks great for his age. While I don’t think he’s anywhere near ring shape… or ring… age… he still looks great and is pulling off the Million Dollar Man character very well.)
-A video package for Zoey Stark vs. Toni Storm played, recapping their feud over the past month or so and hyping their rematch for next week.
(5) ONEY LORCAN (w/ Pete Dunne) vs. KYLE O’REILLY
-They showed an “earlier today” segment with Oney and KOR in the parking lot verbally fighting like schoolkids to set this match up.
-The two men locked up and jockeyed for position for a few moments before Lorcan took KOR down and managed to get him into a triangle leg choke. KOR rolled out of it and locked Lorcan into a crossface but Lorcan was able to get to his feet. KOR backed him into the corner and then locked in a standing headlock. Lorcan shot him off the ropes but was knocked down by a shoulder tackle. Lorcan retaliated with one of his own and then whipped KOR hard into the corner, the momentum sending KOR to the mat.
Lorcan knocked KOR over the top rope and on to the apron. Kyle locked in an armbar using the ropes and broke it before the refs count of five. He landed outside the ring next to Pete Dunne and the two locked eyes. Lorcan attacked KOR from behind as he was looking at Dunne as they cut to commercial.
Back from commercial, Lorcan was in control of KOR in the center of the ring. He hit Kyle with a series of chops before KOR hit one of his own. They traded chops and forearms for a bit until Lorcan backed KOR into the corner and ran for an offensive move but was hit by a running knee from KOR. KOR hit a series of martial arts strikes and kicks and then a forearm to Lorcan’s face. A belly to back suplex and locked in a leg lock. Lorcan got the rope break and escaped.
KOR looked for a front face guillotine and then hit a brainbuster in the center of the ring. Rather than cover, he went to the top and hit a knee to the back and covered for the win.
Winner: Kyle O’Reilly in 8:20
(Lindberg’s Analysis: KOR really needed a solid win and even though it was over Oney Lorcan, I think this was a good direction for KOR’s character. Oney has been booked better lately and credible, so he did present a very small hurdle for KOR to overcome.)
-After the match Dunne and Lorcan attacked KOR including a punt to the face. Bobby Fish came out from the audience and came to the aid of his former partner, taking Lorcan and Dunne out. KOR and Fish stood tall as “NXT” chants broke out. KOR said it was good to see him back and thanked him. But he said he was doing it solo. Fish said it was all good, he had his own scores to settle and he’ll see him down the road.
-A vignette for the new Women’s Tag Champs aired, a cartoon-esque video for The Way.
-Bronson Reed was shown backstage cutting a promo on Gargano and Theory for attacking him and that next week their match is for the North American title in a cage.
(6) 2/3 FALLS, NXT CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – SANTOS ESCOBAR (w/ Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) vs. KUSHIDA
-The bell rang and Escobar immediately threw Kushida out and distracted the ref allowing Legado to take out Kushida. MSK came out to defend Kushida and both they and Legado were thrown out of the match as they cut to commercial.
Back from break, the two were in the center of the ring squaring off. Escobar hit a dropkick and covered for two. He then locked Kushida into a modified single leg crab before releasing it and backing him into the corner. He carried Kushida to the top and then dropped Kushida right onto the turnbuckle, stomach first. He then put another modified crab onto Kushida on the steel steps before the ref broke it up. Escobar stayed in control and then locked in a mexican surfboard submission, followed by a camel clutch.
He picked Kushida up and backed him into the corner again. Kushida started firing up but Escobar immediately regained control and started choking Kushida on the bottom rope. Escobar hit a double knee to Kushida in the corner followed by a series of chops. Kushida tried getting out of the corner, but was brought right back. Escobar hit the old-school corner 10 punch on Kushida and carried him to the top. He hit a hurricanrana but Kushida rolled through and rolled Escobar up for two. Kushida fired up and hit a dropkick on Escobar before Escobar hit the Phantom Driver for the first fall, setting the score 1-0 in favor of Escobar.
Escobar hit another double knee into a codebreaker and an armbar for a second fall only seconds later. They went to a picture-in-picture commercial where both Kushida and Escobar traded offense, Escobar in the first half and Kushida in the second half of the break.
Back from break, Kushida was in control before getting hangman’d on the top rope, falling to the floor. Escobar hit a tope through the top and middle ropes onto Kushida before rolling him back in for a near fall. Kushida hit some incredible offense that I would have trouble describing to regain control of the matchup. He climbed to the top and hit a flying knee to the wounded elbow of Escobar. The action spilled outside the ring and Kushida hit a shoulder separator on Escobar and rolled him back into the ring. Kushida rolled Escobar up for a two count. He went for the hoverboard lock, but Escobar blocked it. Kushida reversed that into a rollup for two. The two then traded pin attempts back and forth until they both went for a clothesline, taking each other out.
They fought to the top rope and Kushida managed to lock the hoverboard lock in from the top rope, flipping to the mat. Escobar flipped him over to try and escape, but Kushida rolled through that almost looking like he might be victorious but Escobar managed to get the ropebreak.
Kushida hit a suplex into the turnbuckle and then a fisherman suplex for the win.
Winner: Kushida in 21:06
(Lindberg’s Analysis: What a match! The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation can be a difficult match to pull off but I feel like they did effectively. Kushida needed this win, as he was booked so poorly before winning the title. By beating Escobar again, it tells the audience that Kushida is the real deal and his win wasn’t a fluke.)
After the match, Kushida celebrated as Escobar pouted sitting on the floor as the show ended.