Date: May 4, 2021
Location: Capitol Wrestling Center, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Beth Phoenix, Wade Barrett, Vic Joseph
The big story this week is the return of Finn Balor for the first time since he lost the NXT Title to Karrion Kross back at Takeover: Stand & Deliver. That alone should be interesting as we get to see what is next for him. In addition, the Women’s Tag Team Titles are on the line as Ember Moon/Shotzi Blackheart defend against the Way. Let’s get to it.
The opening recap sets up tonight’s Women’s Tag Team Title match, plus Isaiah Scott vs. Leon Ruff.
Isaiah Scott vs. Leon Ruff
Falls count anywhere. Ruff charges into an elbow to the face to start but he’s right back up with a failed crucifix bomb attempt. Instead Scott knocks him down but the JML Driver is countered with Scott being knocked to the floor. The suicide dive is blocked as well and Scott slams him back first into the apron. Scott sends him into the barricade and hits a heck of a delayed top rope superplex for two (Ruff being small can make for some great crashes).
Ruff is sent outside where he counters a kick from the apron to tie Scott’s legs in the ropes. That means a running dropkick to knock Scott to the floor as well, but Scott is fine enough to chop Ruff out of the air. Scott whips out a toolbox and we take a break. Back with Ruff hitting a flip dive off the stage to take Scott down again. They go back into the ring with Scott reversing another superplex into the super crucifix bomb for two.
To get even scarier, Ruff busts out a poisonrana off the apron to the floor. Scott catches him against the barricade though and hits the Confidence Boost on the floor for two. Ruff comes back with a toolbox shot to the knee and puts on a kneebar with I believer a wrench to crank on the leg even more. That’s broken up so Ruff hits the great looking spinning cutter out of the corner. Scott it sent outside again and another diving cutter connects but Ruff climbs up onto the set. The big dive lands on…..AJ Francis, who catches Ruff and throws him down rather hard. Back in and the JML Driver finishes Ruff at 15:24.
Rating: B. This got some time and had the right result, with Ruff getting in everything that he could for a long time. Ruff is someone who has made the absolute most out of his TV time as he has gone from a guy who was just there to a former North American Champion who can put on some rather good matches. I had fun with this and Ruff got to showcase himself again before the right person won.
Post match, Ruff celebrates with his entourage, including Francis and an unnamed man and a woman.
The Way comes in to see William Regal, but he’s busy talking to Scarlett. Austin Theory looks at her and says those are the biggest he’s ever seen and knows they have to be real. Her nails of course.
Asher Hale vs. Cameron Grimes
Hale is Anthony Henry of Evolve fame. Grimes runs him over to start and goes to the hard strikes in the corner. Hale’s kick to the leg earns him an uppercut back down but a dragon screw legwhip slows Grimes down. A missile dropkick gives Hale two but Grimes knees him down. The swinging sitout Side Effect sets up the Cave In to finish Hale at 3:04.
Rating: D+. Not quite a squash here but what matters here is Grimes getting more TV time and capitalizing on his momentum from the Ted DiBiase stuff. I’m not sure what is coming next from the two of them but at least Grimes is getting to do something great. I love NXT making something for him and turning it into something interesting, which you don’t get to see very often.
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro aren’t worried about Tian Sha because they want the Tag Team Titles. Frankie Monet comes in and thinks they’re so adorable.
Cameron Grimes celebrates with Ever-Rise. They aren’t thrilled when he goes to the VIP room. NXT has a VIP room?
Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Timothy Thatcher/Tommaso Ciampa
Before the match, the Veterans rants about how much they don’t like Thatcher or the shoes off deal. Thatcher and Ciampa interrupt the catchphrase though and we’re ready to go. Ciampa and Drake lock up to start with Ciampa taking him down for a headscissors. Thatcher comes in to send Drake into the corner for the tag off to Gibson, who comes in to lock up for a bit.
That means Thatcher can take him to the mat and start working on the shoulder before switching to a chinlock. Drake’s save is cut off and Ciampa takes him down, meaning the rapid fire forearms to the chest put the Veterans on the floor. We take a break and come back with Drake pulling on Thatcher’s ear and handing it off to Gibson for a cravate. That’s broken up and it’s back to Ciampa for the chops in the corner (with Thatcher holding the tag rope in the air and standing on the apron like a statue).
Ciampa hits a running knee to Drake’s head for two, steps on and bites his finger, and hands it back to Thatcher. Everything breaks down again with Drake and Thatcher crashing out to the floor. Thatcher wins a strike off with Gibson but can’t get the Fujiwara armbar. Instead, Gibson plants Thatcher with a DDT for two but someone steals Barrett’s shoe somewhere in there and throws it inside. Ciampa offers a distraction and Thatcher hits Gibson in the head, setting up the Fujiwara armbar for the tap at 14:27.
Rating: C+. Good fast enough paced match here with both teams looking good, even if the shoe thing was a bit of an eye roll inducer. I could go for Thatcher/Ciampa as a high level team as it isn’t like they can’t hang in the ring. There are enough teams out there to make things interesting and hopefully both of these teams get some more TV time in the near future.
Joseph to Barrett: “Your shoe’s off! YOU HATE GIBSON!”
The Way yells at William Regal about the upcoming North American Title defense against Bronson Reed. It’s still on, as is Austin Theory vs. Karrion Kross next week.
Isaiah Scott and company brag about his win and leave the building.
Video on Sarray and Zayda Ramier.
Here are Karrion Kross and Scarlett for a chat. Kross says he isn’t going to be afraid of anyone and wants to give the people what they want. Let’s give them a fight so we’ll start next week against Austin Theory. Cue Kyle O’Reilly to say Kross is the NXT Champion and that is the match O’Reilly wants. He thinks Kross wants it too….but here is Pete Dunne to interrupt. Dunne asks if they are having a laugh and starts to throw his hat in the ring but here is Finn Balor to cut him off as well.
Balor goes after Kross and gets knocked down so Dunne goes after Kross as well. Kross sends him outside and kicks O’Reilly into the corner. Balor shotgun dropkicks Kross into O’Reilly in the corner as security comes in. A Kross clothesline drops Balor and a security guard gets suplexed. Kross is left alone but here is the Way to jump him from behind. Theory gets suplexed but some superkicks put Kross down for a few seconds. Gargano adds a belt shot to finally leave Kross laying. This did a rather nice job of making Kross look like a monster and lining up the challengers.
During the break, Gargano and Theory (favoring his shoulder) left, despite Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae having a match later.
Zayda Ramier vs. Sarray
They trade headlocks to start with Sarray knocking her down off a running dropkick. Back up and Sarray gets pulled into an STF to put her in some trouble. That’s broken up and Sarray pulls her into something like a Muta Lock. Since that can’t last long, Sarray hits a running dropkick against the ropes and a missile dropkick puts Ramier down again. Sarray snaps off a hard t-bone suplex for the pin at 4:39.
Rating: C. This was a much more impressive match from Sarray, who didn’t exactly impress me last week. They had more of a squash this time around with Ramier only getting in a little offense before getting crushed in the end. What matters is Sarray looked better, though there is still a long way to go with making her a star around here.
Walter yells at Imperium via video in German. Alexander Wolfe isn’t happy and walks off.
The Diamond Mine is still coming.
Sarray checks on Zayda Ramier when Toni Storm and Zoey Stark get in a staredown. Storm storms off and Stark checks on Ramier as well.
Jake Atlas vs. LA Knight
Knight says the fans just saying his catchphrase doesn’t make them cool. As for Atlas, Knight is going to hit him so hard that Atlas is going to need an atlas to tell him where he is. Knight gets taken down into an armbar to start but sends Atlas into the corner for some stomping. Atlas nails a running dropkick to send Knight outside but the suicide dive is cut off with a forearm. A slingshot shoulder drops Atlas but he is back with a German suplex for two. Atlas kicks away but Knight ducks a big one and hits the bulldog driver for the pin at 3:05.
Rating: C-. Not much to this one but Atlas got in some offense before Knight won, as he should have. Knight has all of the charisma that you could need and he is backing it up well enough in the ring. All they need to do is having him talking and doing well enough with the wrestling, which is what we got here. In addition: NXT is smart enough to put people on shows like this and keep them in fans’ minds until they have something to do. That can be rather important long term and it doesn’t happen enough today.
Indi Hartwell is panicking over not getting Dexter Lumis back but Candice LeRae hides a drawing he has left her. She also closes the blinds because Dexter is looking in (into the women’s locker room that is).
Toni Storm talks about how Zoey Stark is the flavor of the month but she is rapidly losing that flavor. Storm bought her into this business and now she is going to take her out. I miss these “talk to the camera” promos as they don’t happen enough these days.
Here is Legado del Fantasma for a chat. Santos Escobar talks about tradition and says last week was part of a premonition. He is going to regain his Cruiserweight Title and he’s doing it soon. Joaquin Wilde says MSK won the Tag Team Titles but they didn’t beat Legado del Fantasma. Raul Mendoza issues the title challenge but here is Kushida on screen to issue a challenge to Escobar for a Cruiserweight Title match next week. Escobar says he’s on. It’s great seeing Kushida finally getting to do something.
We get a sitdown, split screen interview between Raquel Gonzalez and Mercedes Martinez. Raquel says the title means she is the baddest woman in this division and she has pure power. Martinez talks about how she has been around for a long time but Gonzalez isn’t intimidating her (Gonzalez: “Not yet.”).
They promise to beat each other up next week and Martinez says she paved the roads that Gonzalez has come down. Gonzalez: “Am I not gritty?” Martinez calls her cookie cutter but Gonzalez says she has accomplished in a year than Martinez ever did. Gonzalez says Martinez is the next challenger, but she won’t be the last. That was a good closing line and Gonzalez sounded a lot more natural than Martinez here.
Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon find Frankie Monet’s dog in their tank. The dog is sent on but the tank is now unusable due to, uh, various things now in it.
Cameron Grimes is going to the VIP room but he isn’t on the list. The entire room has been rented out, and here’s a long white limo. Ted DiBiase gets out and says he has bought the whole club. DiBiase hits the catchphrase and laughs before going inside. Grimes: “THAT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY!” It was a little funny.
Next week: Kushida vs. Santos Escobar for the Cruiserweight Title in a 2/3 falls match, plus Raquel Gonzalez defends the Women’s Title against Mercedes Martinez.
Women’s Tag Team Titles: The Way vs. Ember Moon/Shotzi Blackheart
The Way is challenging in a street fight so they start fast, with Barrett saying where we’re going with this one, we don’t need rules. They go straight for the weapons, with LeRae pulling out a bunch of chairs but Moon (in street clothes for some reason) kicks her down. Some trashcans are thrown in and Indi is double teamed in the corner. A basement dropkick sets up Blackheart’s running backsplash and Moon puts a trashcan over a seated Indi.
That sets up the stereo basement dropkicks for two with LeRae making the save. Candice gets dropped with a double trashcan lid shot and it’s time for another table. Hartwell breaks that up and drops Blackheart onto the apron before setting up four chairs at ringside. Moon puts her face first into the chairs and Hartwell is set in a chair on the four chairs. Blackheart’s dive is cut off with a blast from a fire extinguisher though (as it could have been rather nasty otherwise) and we take a break.
Back with Moon dropkicking LeRae down and sending her shoulder first into the post. The Dominator/sliding neckbreaker combination gets two on Hartwell and LeRae is laid onto a ladder bridged between the ring and apron. Blackheart’s top rope backsplash drives her through, leaving Moon to drive Hartwell through a table in the corner for two. Back up and Hartwell kicks a ladder into both champs and then holds up a ladder with Blackheart laid across.
That lets Candice hit a Lionsault onto Blackheart onto the ladder but Moon is back up to kick away. A spinebuster onto the ladder plants Moon for two but Blackheart is back up to send Hartwell into the barricade. Hartwell is put onto the announcers’ table for the BIG splash off of the tower and they’re both done. LeRae plants Moon back inside and Hartwell is somehow back up to put Moon through a table on the floor. That leaves LeRae to hit Blackheart with brass knuckles. The Wicked Stepsister onto a chair finishes Blackheart for the pin and the titles at 15:38.
Rating: B. This was a wild fight and that’s what they needed to do here. The women’s tag team division isn’t a strong one in the first place so going with the title change here was the right move. Moon and Blackheart were thrown together for the tournament so there was no need to keep them together long term. The Way at least feels like a regular team (they even have a name) so let them get a bit more established to build up the titles somewhat. Also, well done on not having Dexter Lumis involved here. He and Hartwell are kind of interesting, but this wasn’t about that story.
Overall Rating: B. The opener and main event were both very good, stuff was announced for later, and the two not so great matches were about three minutes long each. This is where NXT tends to shine: building up a lot of different stuff, almost like a buffet, rather than one big main course and hoping that’s enough. Nothing stands out above the rest, but it makes for a better show with a solid average throughout rather than being so up or down. Rather effective effort here, as they used the tried and true NXT formula.
Isaiah Scott b. Leon Ruff – JML Driver
Cameron Grimes b. Asher Hale – Cave In
Tommaso Ciampa/Timothy Thatcher b. Grizzled Young Veterans – Fujiwara armbar to Gibson
Sarray b. Zayda Ramier – T-bone suplex
LA Knight b. Jake Atlas – Bulldog driver
The Way b. Ember Moon/Shotzi Blackheart – Wicked Stepsister onto a chair to Blackheart
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