NXT – February 24, 2021

NXT
Date: February 24, 2021
Location: Capitol Wrestling Center, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix, Vic Joseph

It’s time for a night focusing on revenge, as Karrion Kross is going to get to destroy Santos Escobar for Escobar running his mouth, plus the fallout from Adam Cole attacking Kyle O’Reilly last week. The latter is likely to be a much bigger story but both have my interest. Let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at Karrion Kross being ready to destroy Santos Escobar.

Dexter Lumis vs. Johnny Gargano

Non-title. The Way fires up Gargano in the back before the match and Austin Theory doesn’t quite get it. The rest of the team is here with Gargano so the numbers advantage is strong. Gargano bails straight tot he floor to start and his slingshot back in is knocked out of the air without much effort. The rest of the Way accidentally distracts Gargano and it’s a Thesz press into some right hands to give Lumis two. A rather delayed suplex drops Gargano again and he heads outside for a breather.

This time a shot to the ribs staggers Lumis and Gargano sends him head first onto the floor. That just earns Gargano a hot shot onto the apron as much like almost everyone else, Lumis is just too confusing. Theory and Indi Hartwell try to offer a distraction and get stared down, leaving Candice LeRae’s hurricanrana off the apron to be blocked with ease. Gargano uses the distraction to nail a suicide dive though and we take a break.

Back with Lumis fighting out of a camel clutch and driving Gargano into the corner. Lumis punches him down a few times and nails a slingshot suplex. A belly to back into a nipup into a legdrop gets two on Gargano, who misses his rolling kick out of the corner. The Gargano Escape is countered into the Silence which is countered into a crucifix to give Gargano two.

They trade shots to the face and Lumis snaps off a spinebuster for two more. The top rope double stomp misses so Gargano nails him with a superkick for two. Gargano orders Theory to send in a chair but Lumis steps on it to cut that off. A kick to the head knocks Lumis down and while he gets his leg checked out, Theory grabs the chair to hit Lumis…but gets stared down instead. Gargano is sent into Theory and the Silence knocks Gargano out at 13:36.

Rating: C+. And yes the story will continue as NXT pushes Lumis for whatever reason they have. With so many other talented people they have sitting around, this is the best that they can do? I’m not sure what to expect from the story going forward, but hopefully it doesn’t wind up with Gargano dropping the title to him, because…just no.

William Regal looks for someone in the parking lot but no one is there.

Video on MSK, who started as opponents and then came together as a team and won the Dusty Classic. Nash Carter’s dad passed away in high school and he wanted to make his dad proud, which is why he has “Legacy Lives On” tattooed across his chest. Now they wan the Tag Team Titles.

MSK is ready for an interview but gets jumped by the Grizzled Young Veterans. Wes Lee’s hand is crushed with a chair and referees come in to break it up.

Earlier today, Leon Ruff was cleared to wrestle when Malcolm Bivens popped up from his hiding place in the trainer’s room. Bivens wants Ruff to face Tyler Rust tonight and you know Ruff is game.

Tyler Rust vs. Leon Ruff

Malcolm Bivens is here with Rust and says Ruff is in trouble. Ruff comes out but here’s Isaiah Scott to jump him from behind. After ranting about how he is sick of people like Ruff getting a chance, Scott hits a nasty AA onto the apron, with Ruff’s back bending in a rather scary visual. Bivens declares Rust the winner despite the lack of a match.

Yesterday, William Regal offered Zoey Stark a non-title match with Io Shirai. Sure.

Stark is ready to….have her promo cut off by technical difficulties that leave us looking at Shirai.

Cameron Grimes watches clips of Ted DiBiase offering people money for various tasks. Grimes likes the idea and tries the same thing with a guy standing nearby….who does it just fine and gets $1000. The guy says it was easy when Grimes didn’t cheat like DiBiase. Grimes knew he should have watched the whole thing! This is as gold as you can get around here.

We see stills of Adam Cole attacking Kyle O’Reilly last week, which will put O’Reilly out of action with herniated discs. He should be out for 4-6 weeks at the moment.

Io Shirai vs. Zoey Stark

Non-title. They lock up to start with Shirai grabbing the arm with Stark flipping up, only to get armdragged back down. A kind of weird looking backdrop sets up a bit of miscommunication as they seem to be trying to figure out what to do. The Octopus has Stark in trouble and Shirai takes her down for the running basement dropkick. the 619 is blocked and Shirai is sent to the apron, where she blocks a charge with a kick to the face. One heck of a running kick to the head knocks Shirai off the top though and we take a break.

Back with Stark kicking the leg out to cut off a comeback and hitting a sliding kick to the head for two. Stark jumps to the top but misses a 450, meaning stereo crossbodies put them both down. A half and half suplex gives Stark two and we hit the chinlock. Shirai blocks a kick and nails a flapjack, followed by the 619 into the missile dropkick. There’s a double underhook backbreaker for two and Shirai can’t believe the kickout. Stark is right back with a German suplex for her own two but Shirai sends her face first into the corner. The running knees set up the Over the Moonsault to finish Stark at 12:50.

Rating: B-. Stark has come off like a complete star in her two matches so far and I think NXT knows what they have with her. Having her in a non-title loss like this where she made the champ sweat is a good thing and more importantly it’s a positive sign for her future. Hopefully we get to see more of her in the future because she has done rather well so far.

Respect is shown post match but here’s Toni Storm to interrupt. She’s no Zoey Stark because last week she kicked Shirai’s head off and Shirai did nothing about it. Shirai had to pin Mercedes Martinez at Takeover because she can’t beat Storm. Shirai says she’ll fight Storm anywhere anytime but Storm says she’s scared. Storm tells her to go find William Regal and get the match made, which seems to work for Shirai.

The Way is leaving before Dexter Lumis finds them. Johnny Gargano asks Austin Theory why he didn’t hit Lumis with the chair. Theory says Lumis is just misunderstood, sending Gargano over the edge into a rant about how crazy Lumis is for kidnapping multiple people. Indi: “I think he’s kind of hot.” Candice: “WHAT THE…..” Gargano has to cover her mouth and promises to fix this because Theory is going to therapy. Ok a Dr. Shelby cameo could help a lot.

Video on Xia Li marking Kacy Catanzaro.

Cameron Grimes has finished the Ted DiBiase video and now he’s ready to try this again. He tries it with three people but one of the women (who seems to be former WNBA player Anriel Howard) accuses him of copying DiBiase. She stands up and is a good bit taller than him, which doesn’t bother her. The dribbling begins but she dribbles between her legs at eight to win the money. Grimes: “TED DIBIASE! THIS AIN’T OVER!” These things are gold.

Kacy Catanzaro vs. Xia Li

Kayden Carter is here with Catanzaro and Boa is here with Li, as Tian Sha watches from the stage. Catanzaro starts fast with a headscissors but gets dropped face first onto the turnbuckle. Li stomps her down in the corner and there’s a snap suplex for two. The chinlock goes on but Catanzaro fights out and grabs a sunset flip for two. A kick to the ribs sets up another chinlock but Catanzaro fights out again.

The stomping in the corner has Li in trouble and there’s a flipping kick to the back. They head to the floor with Catanzaro going into the barricade. Catanzaro’s leg winds up on the steps and Li stomps down HARD on it, with the knee going in a VERY wrong direction. Screaming ensues but Li throws her back inside anyway, where the referee stops it at 4:41.

Rating: C. I know the story is completely over the top but it is also one of the more interesting things that NXT has done in a while. I’m curious to see where this is going to go and that is more than I can say about a lot of things that take place in NXT these days. Li is a completely different kind of star and I want to see how things continue. Nicely done, though hopefully Catanzaro isn’t gone for a long time because she was getting better.

Post match referees check on Catanzaro as Carter goes up to yell at Sha. With Boa standing in the way, Sha signals to Li, who kicks Catanzaro in the head.

Regal is still waiting in the parking lot. It seems that he is waiting on Santos Escobar, which does make sense.

Video on Raquel Gonzalez/Dakota Kai vs. Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler for the Women’s Tag Team Titles next week. Jax and Baszler don’t seem intimidated.

Cameron Grimes finds someone else to try the basketball idea, which the guy thinks is like Ted DiBiase. After one dribble, Grimes punches him n the face and says DiBiase can kiss his grits. He throws the money around and leaves it on the ground because Grimes is a goof. An entertaining goof, but a goof.

Kacy Catanzaro might have a broken leg.

Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Killian Dain/Drake Maverick

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll only refer to James Drake as Drake and Drake Maverick as Maverick. Before the match, the Veterans announce that Wes Lee has a broken hand and they have been fined, but it’s cool because they know they’re the better team. Dain dropkicks Drake into the corner to start and it’s off to Maverick to work on the arm. Everything breaks down and Dain shoves both Veterans over the top and out to the floor. Then he throws Maverick onto both of them and we take a break.

Back with Maverick being thrown into the wrong corner to keep him from getting over to Dain. Maverick knees Drake in the back though and crawls between Gibson’s legs for the hot tag. House is cleaned in a hurry with Dain getting annoyed at Drake for jumping on his back. That means a Samoan drop/fall away slam combination to the Veterans at the same time, setting up a backsplash for two on Drake.

There’s a double suplex to the Veterans again and it’s off to Maverick for a high crossbody. Some dropkicks have the Veterans in trouble but a blind tag sets up a middle rope dropkick/Downward Spiral combination. Dain is taken to the floor and knocked down but Maverick hits Gibson with a bulldog. Gibson pulls him off the top though and Ticket To Mayhem finishes Maverick at 8:22.

Rating: C. Maverick and Dain are still a fun odd couple but you can only have them lose so many times. The good thing is that the Veterans won because I never get tired of those guys. They work so well together and it’s great to see them doing their thing and hopefully moving back up the ladder sooner rather than later.

Legado del Fantasma arrives.

Post break, Killian Dain carries Drake Maverick to the trainer’s room but they run into Alexander Wolfe, who says Dain used to be a monster. Dain ignores him and gets help for Maverick. Was it that bad of a beating?

Karrion Kross vs. Santos Escobar

Non-title and no DQ but we cut to the parking lot where Kross attacks Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde. That brings Escobar out of his car and the brawl is on. They fight over to a truck with Escobar managing to drop the door onto Kross’ shoulder to make him scream. Kross fights back but the rest of Legado comes in to keep up the brawl. Escobar hides in the truck’s cab so Kross fights off the goons and finds a pickax to swing at the door.

That’s enough to bring Escobar out and the three on one beats Kross down again. The arm is sent into the truck and they head inside, with Escobar heading to ringside while Kross throws the other two through the Plexiglas. The staredown is on and Escobar realizes that he’s in major trouble. They get inside with a big boot dropping Escobar for one but Kross has to deal with Wilde. That’s enough for Escobar to get in a chair shot, followed by rams into the post and steps.

We take a break and come back with Escobar hitting a running basement dropkick in the corner as Scarlett is not pleased. The shoulder is wrapped inside of a chair and sent into the post to put Kross down again. A DDT onto the chair is good for two back inside and there’s a dropkick to the arm. They’re already back on the floor with Kross trying to fight back but getting knocked down by the arm again.

Back in and the armbar goes on before Escobar tries Three Amigos. The first two connect but the third is countered into some suplexes from Kross. They’re outside again but this time, Kross pulls him hard into the post. A suplex and a powerbomb get rid of Wilde and Mendoza, leaving Kross to Doomsday Saito Escobar through the announcers’ table. Another Doomsday Saito sets up a running forearm to the back of the head to finish Escobar at 15:36.

Rating: B. This took a bit longer than it needed but Kross as the unstoppable monster was the right way to go. There’s something interesting about him as the monster face rather than a villain and while that wasn’t quite the case here, he was definitely feeling different than usual and I was digging where they were going. Throw in Escobar being treated like a star as well and this was a very different main event which worked rather well.

LA Knight says he’ll debut on his time.

Here’s Adam Cole to look at a clip of his attack on Kyle O’Reilly last week. Now that footage makes him sick to his stomach. At first he was mad at O’Reilly for getting title shot after title shot but now he is ashamed. He knows O’Reilly can’t be here but he should be, and Cole promises to do everything he can to make it better. Cole sounds near tears but here is Roderick Strong to say Cole wrecked everything.

The Undisputed Era was based on trust and Cole broke it. Strong says O’Reilly is going to heal and Cole might not survive what is coming for him. Cue Finn Balor for the brawl with Cole but Strong tries to break it up, allowing Cole to hit a superkick. Strong and Cole head back inside, where Strong runs him over with a clothesline. Cole begs off and asks for mercy, with Strong dropping to his knees and saying he loves Cole too. They hug….and Cole hits him low. Cole calls Strong stupid to end the show. This was rather good and Cole sold the heck out of it.

Overall Rating: B+. This one was a bit of a different kind of show but I liked almost everything they did. Between Kross looking like a monster, the Veterans winning, the great closing segment and Grimes rapidly becoming the most entertaining thing in wrestling, I liked a lot more of this than I didn’t. Awesome show this week and they have a lot of different ways to go on the way forward.

Results

Dexter Lumis b. Johnny Gargano – Silence

Io Shirai b. Zoey Stark – Over the Moonsault

Xia Li b. Kacy Catanzaro via referee stoppage

Grizzled Young Veterans b. Killian Dain/Drake Maverick – Ticket to Mayhem to Maverick

Karrion Kross b. Santos Escobar – Running forearm to the back of the head