NXT – February 3, 2021

NXT
Date: February 3, 2021
Location: Capitol Wrestling Center, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix, Vic Joseph

It’s still tournament time because that’s what we’re doing around here at the moment. Tonight we have more tournament matches, but we also have an appearance from Edge, who has never been on this show before. I’m not sure what he is going to do, but the star power alone is worth a look. Let’s get to it.

Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Dakota Kai/Raquel Gonzalez vs. Kayden Carter/Kacy Catanzaro

Catanzaro and Carter say they’re ready to shock the world again. Kacy walks the ropes for an armdrag to Kai to start so it’s quickly off to Gonzalez, meaning everything breaks down. We settle down to Catanzaro being caught in a front facelock but fighting up for a messed up version of Private Party’s Silly String. Carter comes in for a running forearm to Gonzalez in the corner and a low superkick gets two. Gonzalez shoves Carter off the apron and into the announcers’ table though as we take a break.

Back with Carter rolling away from Kai and making it over to Catanzaro for the hot tag. Everything breaks down with Catanzaro cleaning house before handing it back to Carter. Gonzalez is sent to the apron for a kind of hanging Pedigree, setting up Catanzaro’s hurricanrana driver. Catanzaro hits the inverted Black Arrow but Kai is a hair late on the save so Gonzalez has to kick out anyway. Gonzalez powerbombs Catanzaro for the pin at 13:03.

Rating: C. This tournament is starting to feel more and more like Impact’s women’s tournament as there is little drama as to who is winning, which doesn’t exactly make for the best set of matches. There were only so many ways to present the whole thing because there are only so many regular teams. This was only so good because of some of the botches and messiness, but there was enough energy to carry the thing.

Toni Storm is ready for Io Shirai because she is the only one to get to her in months. Mercedes Martinez can’t stop her either.

Edge and William Regal have a chat in the back.

Leon Ruff vs. Austin Theory

Johnny Gargano is here with Theory. Ruff starts fast but his crossbody is countered into a fall away slam….which doesn’t work as Ruff lands on his feet. Theory drop toeholds him face first into the middle buckle and there’s a belly to back suplex. A crossface shot to the face rocks Ruff but he hammers away at the ribs to slow Theory down. The sunset flip doesn’t work so Ruff forearms away and kicks the leg out. Ruff goes to the apron and nails a superkick on Gargano, followed by a missile dropkick to Theory.

An exchange of shoulders put both Theory and Ruff down, with the latter falling out to the floor. Cue Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae to help Gargano up but Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart run out to jump them. Ruff plays the Eddie Guerrero card by dropping to the floor and grabbing his face, causing another referee to eject Gargano. Back in and a middle rope spinning cutter gets two on Theory, who had to put his foot on the rope. That’s enough for Theory, who grabs the ATL for the pin at 6:18.

Rating: C. Theory winning is nice to see as the guy has all the tools in the world to be a star and giving him a win is a good sight to see. I know he’s Gargano’s lackey but at least he beat someone with a bit of a resume. Ruff is still doing well after his fluke title reign, with that spinning cutter looking great again.

Post match Theory hits another ATL and grabs the bell, but here’s Dexter Lumis to rip out part of Theory’s hair. Why? Because for some reason NXT thinks this is interesting. I don’t know who else does, but they certainly seem to.

Video on Legado del Fantasma.

Video on Tian Sha, who seems to be the one behind Boa and Xia Li’s transformations. It’s about an old woman who had two children and met a dragon who agreed to teach the children. The teacher ascended to the throne and survived for generations, where we see Boa and Li standing around her throne. So yeah, the ancient woman is thousands of years old.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Lucha House Party vs. Legado del Fantasma

Dorado starts fast with a Lionsault press for two on Mendoza. A double spinebuster puts Dorado down for two though and it’s off to Metalik for a springboard. An enziguri knocks him to the floor though and Wilde adds a big dive off the apron. We take a break and come back with Metalik hitting a sunset bomb on Mendoza and getting over for the hot tag to Dorado.

A dropkick hits Wilde and Dorado’s high crossbody gets two. Wilde is back up with half of a double springboard DDT, as he can’t quite hook Metalik’s head. The half that hits Dorado gets two but House Party is back up with Dorado helping Metalik hit a rope walk hurricanrana to send Wilde into Mendoza. Dorado moonsaults onto both of them but it’s the Russian legsweep/running kick to the face to finish Dorado at 10:17.

Rating: C+. The action was good and all four were working hard but it’s getting harder and harder to care about these tournament matches. The thing feels like it has gone on for months now and it’s going to continue all the way up to Takeover. The action was good (with the understandable botches) but it’s kind of hard to get excited about these matches when there are several every week.

Post match Legado points at the brackets but here’s MSK to say they’re going to win.

Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch and Pete Dunne arrive to go Finn Balor hunting.

Post break here are Lorcan, Burch and Dunne for a chat. Dunne says he wants the title so here’s Finn Balor to interrupt. Balor says Dunne is hiding behind Lorcan and Burch, which Dunne denies. Burch and Lorcan head to the floor so Balor gets in and says the title match is on for Takeover.

Cue Edge, who says this place is about the W rather than the E, because he sees the passion and the hunger in their eyes. This place helped him find his passion, which helped him win the Royal Rumble. That lets him challenge any champion in this company, meaning it’s time to look at the NXT Title. Edge says Balor is on another level so he’ll be watching Takeover and it might influence his decision. He has never had the NXT Title and that is intriguing, so the fight at Takeover might help him make his choice.

I know that the chance of Edge picking the NXT Title is about one in three hundred and eighty two trillion, but just paying lip service to the idea makes the title seem that much more important. Balor is a big star in WWE at the moment, but Edge is that much bigger, meaning this was a nice rub to the title, even if Edge never appears again.

Johnny Gargano is rather pleased with The Way things are going but McKenzie Mitchell brings up Gargano’s North American Title defense against Kushida at Takeover. Gargano says he’s getting her fired and we take a break. Back with Gargano taking Mitchell over to William Regal’s office where he finds Kushida. The brawl is on with Kushida beating him down and kicking him in the arm until referees and agents break it up.

Toni Storm vs. Jessi Kamea

Kamea is officially in the Robert Stone Brand and takes Storm down for an early two. Storm gets in a shot of her own but here’s Mercedes Martinez. Kamea yells at her and gets decked for the DQ at 1:21.

Post match the brawl is on as Io Shirai comes out to sit on the top and watch.

Curt Stallion has worked hard to get here and it’s time to get his chance at the title. Place your bets.

Cameron Grimes is back next week. That’s always good to hear.

Cruiserweight Title: Curt Stallion vs. Santos Escobar

Escobar is defending and has Legado del Fantasma with him. They lock up to start with Escobar hammering him down in a hurry. Stallion’s chops don’t do much good as it’s a cravate into a seated abdominal stretch to put him down. Back up and Escobar hits a dropkick for two as Scarlett is watching from the perch. Something light a dragon sleeper goes on, followed by the armbar as Escobar finally sees Scarlet. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker cuts off Stallion’s comeback attempt but Scarlett’s presence is quite the distraction.

Stallion clotheslines him out to the floor and we take a break. Back with Escobar cranking on the arm on the mat, which is switched into a half crab and then something like an STF. Stallion fights up and slugs away to put Escobar on the floor, setting up the suicide dive. Back in and Stallion gets suplexed into the corner to give Escobar two. The Phantom Driver into the double underhook knee to the chest retains the title at 13:22.

Rating: C. We waited since November to set up this much of a squash? Stallion barely got in anything outside of a brief flurry and the Scarlett distraction didn’t mean a thing. I’m not surprised at Escobar retaining, but could we have gotten a little more drama here? Escobar vs. Kross could be something, though it isn’t likely to do the title much good.

Post match here’s Karrion Kross to wreck the rest of Legado and have the big staredown with Escobar. Kross gets in the ring and tells Escobar he’s giving him the gift of time. Now run along. Ok so maybe it was a tarot card last week.

Post break Edge runs into Karrion Kross in the parking lot, who says he hopes Edge chooses wisely. No matter who walks out of Takeover as champion, Kross is coming for the title. Edge sees that as motivation to come back here, and Kross might not like that.

Takeover: Vengeance Day rundown.

Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Undisputed Era vs. Tommaso Ciampa/Timothy Thatcher

Ciampa headlocks Cole down to start but it’s too early to go with the Fairy Tale Ending. Instead Ciampa goes with the headlock again to keep things slow early on. Back up and Ciampa blocks a superkick but can’t hit a running knee as we have a standoff. Thatcher and Strong come in with Thatcher taking him to the mat with an armbar. A punch to the ribs gives Thatcher two but Strong gets up to bring Cole back in.

Thatcher gets caught in the corner so he fights out and brings in Ciampa to take over on Strong again. This time it’s Strong getting caught in the corner for a beating as everything breaks down. The big four way staredown takes us to a break. Back with the bow and arrow keeping Strong in trouble and Thatcher adds a knee to the ribs. The cross armbreaker doesn’t work so Thatcher slaps on the guillotine, sending Strong to the ropes.

Thatcher chokes away in the corner but Strong goes up with him for a top rope superplex. They’re both down for a bit until it’s a double tag to bring in Cole and Ciampa. Cole knocks him down for two and then nails the jumping enziguri. The brainbuster onto the knee connects but Cole can’t get the Figure Four. Everything breaks down and it’s a Figure Four to Thatcher, with Strong not quite being able to get the Stronghold on Ciampa. Instead Ciampa kicks him away and makes the diving save and we settle back down again.

Thatcher’s release German suplex into a running knee to the face hits Strong for two but he blocks the Fairy Tale Ending. The Angle Slam drops Ciampa again and it’s back to Cole. A superkick gets two on Ciampa and Cole is getting frustrated. Strong comes back in and everything breaks down but Thatcher pulls Cole to the floor. A jumping knee from Strong rocks Thatcher on the floor but Strong walks into Willow’s Bell to give Ciampa the pin at 17:04.

Rating: B+. This got time and was built up well. The Undisputed Era has long since established that they can go in the ring with anyone and Ciampa/Thatcher have shown a rather nice chemistry as well. That set up a heck of a tag match here as everyone worked hard and I wasn’t sure who was going to win until the ending. You don’t get a much better feeling than that in wrestling and it was strong here so good stuff all around.

Post match the Grizzled Young Veterans come out to brawl with Ciampa and Thatcher to end the show.

Overall Rating: B-. The main event was easily the best thing on the show with Edge’s appearance a close second. I’m curious as to where some of these things go, but I’m more impressed by the Takeover card being set up almost in one week. There are three title matches set and the two Dusty Classic matches will flesh out the card. I’m still not feeling the huge amount of tournament matches, but it is nice to have a great match to close the show out.

Results

Raquel Gonzalez/Dakota Kai b. Kacy Catanzaro/Kayden Carter – Powerbomb to Catanzaro

Austin Theory b. Leon Ruff – ATL

Legado del Fantasma b. Lucha House Party – Russian legsweep/kick to the face combination to Dorado

Jessi Kamea b. Toni Storm via DQ when Mercedes Martinez interfered

Santos Escobar b. Curt Stallion – Double underhook facebuster

Timothy Thatcher/Tommaso Ciampa b. Undisputed Era – Willow’s Bell to Strong

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