NXT – March 31, 2021

NXT
Date: March 31, 2021
Location: Capitol Wrestling Center, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett, Vic Joseph

It’s the go home show for Takeover and that means we should be in for one of NXT’s specialties. They know how to hype up a show rather well and they can do it in a hurry, which is what they have to do here. I’m not sure how well that is going to work as they have to do it for two shows at once, but NXT has pulled off almost everything else. Let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at the headline matches for Takeover.

Cameron Grimes vs. Roderick Strong

Strong’s heart does not entirely seem to be in this one, which is fallout from Grimes offering to restart the Undisputed Era and getting dropped by Strong as a result. Before the match, Grimes says strong is leaving a lot of money on the table with that Undisputed Era intellectual property out there. This time Grimes is ready though, complete with a GRIMES THE SYSTEM shirt. We also get a GRIMES THE SYSTEM intro but Strong runs him down to start the brawl in the aisle.

They get inside with Strong taking him down and hammering at the ribs at the opening bell. Back up and Grimes gets chopped in the corner but grabs the eyes for a breather. Strong isn’t having any of that and puts Grimes against the rope for a heck of a chop. A clothesline puts Grimes on the floor and Strong rams him into a few things, only to get distracted by an Undisputed Era shirt in the crowd. Grimes rams him into a light post and we take a break.

Back with Grimes cranking on the neck and hitting a running forearm for two. Strong fights out of an armbar and grabs a Rock Bottom backbreaker. Grimes is sat up top for a top rope superplex but Strong needs a second to follow up. Now it’s the running forearms against the ropes but Grimes is right back with the flipping belly to belly (that thing always looks cool) for two. Strong suplexes him down again but Grimes (intentionally) drops an Undisputed Era elbow pad. The distraction lets Grimes hit the Cave In for the pin at 11:46.

Rating: C+. I liked this one a good bit, though it was better a few years ago when Johnny Gargano had the exact same problem about letting go of DIY. Still though, years between an angle is better than the days that WWE goes at times so I’d call it an improvement. Grimes winning is good, even if it required a bit of cheating. Strong needs to get his head on straight and that could be an interesting way to go for a bit.

Video on Karrion Kross training, including a variety of martial arts. Kross is ready to end Finn Balor by cutting the ring off and hitting him really hard. Balor can’t run forever.

Walter is ready to end Tommaso Ciampa.

NXT is moving to Tuesday!

The WWE Network is moving to Peacock!

Here is Legado del Fantasma, with Santos Escobar issuing an open challenge because he wants to prove his greatness to Jordan Devlin. Cue Tyler Breeze to say Escobar has had everything handed to him but Breeze has worked for everything. Challenge accepted.

Santos Escobar vs. Tyler Breeze

Non-title. Escobar wastes no time by sending him into the corner, only to have Breeze come back with a dropkick. Breeze knocks him into the corner as well and then out to the floor for a crash. Back in and Escobar drops him onto the ribs, only to have Breeze come back with an enziguri. Breeze has to take out the rest of Legado but stays on the ground as we take a break.

Back with Escobar hammering away and slapping on a surfboard. That’s broken up and Breeze manages a hurricanrana. Breeze works on the leg for a bit, including a spinebuster into the Sharpshooter. That’s broken up as well and Escobar counters the Unprettier. A leg lariat sets up the Phantom Driver to finish Breeze at 10:40.

Rating: C. Just a match to give Escobar some momentum going into Takeover and that is fine. I’m curious to see which way they go there but either option is a possibility. Then you have Breeze and….my goodness I’m not sure what to do with him. He has just been so far down for so long and there is no reason to believe things are ever going to get any better. It’s a shame as I’ve always liked him, but how much further can you really go?

Post match here’s the returning MSK to go after Legado del Fantasma and clear the ring. The Grizzled Young Veterans come up on screen to say they’re winning the Tag Team Titles at Takeover.

Johnny Gargano goes on a rant about the Gauntlet Eliminator and calls William Regal Cuckoo Bananas. Austin Theory is way too happy and suggests the Fingerpoke of Doom. Gargano: “That killed the business.” Theory: “But we’re still here.” Gargano: “LET’S DO IT!” The women want their Women’s Tag Team Title shot and are ready to earn it tonight.

And now….a dog is walking and looks at the Performance Center. That dog looks rather familiar.

Last week Raquel Gonzalez took out Io Shirai, who hates Gonzalez as a result.

The Way vs. Gigi Dolin/Zayda Ramier

That would be Candice LeRae/Indi Hartwell for the Way, with Gigi kicking Indi around to start. A side slam gets Hartwell out of trouble and Candice comes in for some shots of her own. Hartwell comes back in but gives up the hot tag, allowing Ramier (Booker T. student) to come in and pick up the pace. A spinebuster cuts Ramier down and it’s the Wicked Stepsister into a springboard elbow to the back to give Hartwell the pin at 3:08.

Rating: C-. I’m sure this is going to set up the Way for a title match but as usual, it isn’t a good sign when a single win is enough to warrant you a pretty big title shot. It isn’t like there is anything to the division at this point so the Way is good enough for the shot, though I’m not sure how much drama there is going to be. Dolin and Ramier looked fine in defeat here, but it wasn’t about them here.

Post match Candice rants about how no woman deserves to be a champion more than her. The Way is coming for the titles at Takeover…..so here are Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart in the tank to interrupt. Trash talk ensues and the challenge is accepted, leaving Shotzi to shoot a foam missile at Hartwell. That’s rather violent.

Io Shirai comes up to Raquel Gonzalez in the back and says Gonzalez can’t kill her. The brawl is on and Shirai gets dropped in a hurry.

The dog has made it inside and runs in slow motion. Beth: “Ok what’s with the dog?”

Roderick Strong leaves, saying he is done. He seems to be out of the battle royal tonight too.

Raquel Gonzalez vs. Zoey Stark

Dakota Kai is here too. Gonzalez powers her around to start but Stark manages to flip over her out of the corner. There’s a dropkick into the corner but Gonzalez counters a monkey flip with straight power. A faceplant gets two on Stark and we hit a fairly lengthy chinlock. Back up and Gonzalez charges into a superkick, allowing Stark to hit a running knee. Gonzalez is sent outside but pulls the dive out of the air.

That earns Gonzalez a posting but a Kai distraction….earns Kai a clothesline over the barricade. Back in and another knee gives Stark two more but she gets caught on top. The powerbomb out of the corner is blocked though and Stark hits a spinning Blockbuster for two more. Gonzalez has had it though and tosses Stark down, setting up the powerbomb for the pin at 4:54.

Rating: C+. This is a tricky one as this match did a great job of making Stark look competitive, but I’m not sure how good of an idea that was at this point. Do you really want your #1 contender having trouble a week before the biggest match of her career? It certainly was an entertaining match but I’m not sure if it was the smartest.

Post match Io Shirai comes in for another brawl and Gonzalez has to bail.

The dog goes upstairs and runs through one of the training rooms.

Kushida is ready to win to go to Takeover but Pete Dunne comes in to say prove it. That seems fine with Kushida.

We get the Prime Target video on Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly. Cole says they have fifteen minutes and sits down. O’Reilly talks about how they have known each other for about eleven years and knew there was a connection. Cole says they have been either friends or opponents since then, complete with a New Japan photo of them kicking each other in the face.

We see the Undisputed Era forming and all of their success and O’Reilly talks about how much better they all became. Cole however is the same evil man who walked into NXT three and a half years ago and O’Reilly has to convince himself that the last three years meant nothing. If there was the slightest chance that they could be cool again, O’Reilly wouldn’t put Cole down. Cole talks about how O’Reilly is a lapdog and we see William Regal making this an unsanctioned match at Takeover. They both promise to end each other. A lot of this was made of clips from last week but DANG WWE knows how to nail these things.

Kayden Carter/Kacy Catanzaro vs. Xia Li

This is supposed to be a tag match but Li is on her own. Kayden hammers away to start and takes Li into the corner so Catanzaro can get in her own shows. The running corner clothesline gets two but Li takes Catanzaro to the floor for rams into various hard objects. Back in and Catanzaro manages a spinning Codebreaker (that’s a new one) but hold on as Carter goes up to the throne, where she is quickly choked out by Mei Ling. (Well what else was she expecting?). That leaves Li to kick Catanzaro in the head for the pin at 3:08.

Rating: D+. The match was just there as a backdrop for Ling to show her power off. I’m not sure where this is going but it has certainly been one of the more unique stories NXT has had in awhile. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Carter join the evil now, because WWE likes having people join the dark side. Still though, good enough angle to go with a not very good match.

Io Shirai goes after Raquel Gonzalez again but this time gets thrown through a wall (for a great visual). Gonzalez: “STAY DOWN!”

The dog finds a woman in high heels and a message saying “See You April 13, Franky.” That’s an interesting way to set up a reveal.

Tommaso Ciampa talks about how Walter has reminded him of his own journey. Sometimes you need to be reminded of who you are, because people have been saying he has changed. And yeah, he has, and he still feels all of his supporters. At Takeover, he is chasing his dragon and climbing to the top of the dragon’s mountain to chop the dragon’s head off. Ciampa has been there before and knows what it is like to fall all the way back down. That changes a man and he knows what it takes to get back. The Blackheart still lives and he is taking the United Kingdom Title so Walter can learn how far of a fall it is. Intense stuff from Ciampa.

Takeover rundown.

Finn Balor knew he would face Karrion Kross one day and the time is now. The ring is his life and his stamina has always been his strength. He doesn’t get worn down and no matter how much Kross wants to keep the pace, Kross is drowning in the deep water.

Barrett and Joseph are in the ring to explain the rules of the main event.

Battle Royal

Isaiah Scott, Dexter Lumis, Leon Ruff, LA Knight, Bronson Reed, Pete Dunne, Kushida, Austin Theory, Cameron Grimes, Tyler Rust, Jake Atlas

The final six will be the six in the Gauntlet Eliminator on night one, with the order of elimination determining the order of entrance (the winner here comes in #6, the runner up comes in #5 etc.). The winner of that gets a North American Title shot on night two. Scott comes out first but Ruff jumps him from behind and the fight is on outside. We take a break and come back with the start of the mat, meaning it’s time to have everyone (save for Lumis) fight on the ropes early on.

Scott dropkicks Atlas out and Rust follows him to clear the ring out a bit. Kushida works on Grimes’ arm near the apron and Theory is knocked to the floor but he lands on his back. He can’t get up….until he nips up…..to his feet for the elimination. Reed throws Kushida over the top but can’t get him out. Grimes and Knight can’t get rid of Reed, so Kushida hits a double handspring elbow to Grimes and Knight.

Dunne grabs Ruff’s arm and Kushida kicks Grimes’ arm, meaning it’s time for Dunne vs. Kushida. They slug it out until Kushida cartwheels out of a cross armbreaker. The Hoverboard Lock goes on but they fall over the top for the double elimination. That leaves us with the final six, meaning that Knight, Scott, Lumis, Ruff, Reed and Grimes are moving on to the Gauntlet Eliminator.

We take a break and come back (with Dunne vs. Kushida being added to night one) with Lumis still having barely moved as Johnny Gargano is on commentary. While Gargano makes references to Edge’s theme songs, Reed dumps out Ruff and then Scott to get us down to four. Knight and Grimes get together to go after Reed, with Lumis finally moving to help get rid of him.

Lumis stands in the middle now…and Grimes busts out some money to try and buy them off. Knight thinks it’s a good idea but Lumis hits Grimes in the face and it’s a double toss to get rid of him. We’re down to Lumis vs. Knight and Knight isn’t sure what to do here. Some right hands have Knight in trouble and a backdrop puts him down. Knight sends Lumis to the apron and a neck snaps rocks him again. A missed charge sends Knight through the ropes (not an elimination) and he pulls Lumis down for the win at 13:00.

Rating: C. This was a battle royal and I’m not sure what else to say about it. Knight winning is fine as it’s not like this is going to be the big definitive result that determines the gauntlet. This makes as much sense as any other heel winning and Knight needed a little something for his first big win around here.

Post match Knight gets in Gargano’s face but here’s Shirai AGAIN to call out Gonzalez one more time. The brawl is on and the women’s locker room is here to break it up. Shirai beats more of them up and the springboard dive takes out Gonzalez and more. A lot of yelling at the downed Gonzalez ends the show.

Overall Rating: B. This show had a heck of a trick to pull of and it worked well enough….I think. It certainly wasn’t a great night and they have had better go home shows before, but the made me want to see Shirai vs. Gonzalez through sheer will power. Throw in what should be an amazing fight between O’Reilly and Cole, plus the rest of the cards looking fine and I think they’ll be good to go, though the double shows are taking away some of the spark.

Results

Cameron Grimes b. Roderick Strong – Cave In

Santos Escobar b. Tyler Breeze – Phantom Driver

The Way b. Zayda Ramier/Gigi Dolin – Springboard elbow to Ramier’s back

Raquel Gonzalez b. Zoey Stark – Lifting powerbomb

Xia Li b. Kayden Carter/Kacy Catanzaro – Spinning kick to Catanzaro’s face

LA Knight won a battle royal last eliminating Dexter Lumis

 

 

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