Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. The next Takeover event on WWE Network is on Sunday, February 14 and there’s nothing official for that show as of this writing. I’m doing the usual NXT format with summaries of the matches and then play by play for the main event. Let’s see what the NXT crew has for us this week.
This is episode #441 of WWE NXT. It took place at NXT’s home called the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Check out my past WWE NXT reviews right here.
The opening video package showed highlights of Timothy Thatcher beating Tommaso Ciampa in the grueling Fight Pit match from last week. They teamed up together on 205 Live to pick up a win in the Dusty Cup tournament. They also promoted the main event tag team match.
The commentary team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were there to call the action. Beth is in the arena just like last week.
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Killian Dain and Drake Maverick vs. MSK (Wes Lee and Nash Carter)
Lee took down Maverick in his corner and Carter hit a corner splash. Quick tags by MSK with each guy hitting senton splashes. Dain tagged in and threw Maverick into Carter. Dain hit a back splash and slammed Maverick onto Carter for a two count. Lee tagged in as MSK did some double team moves including kicks and a double stomp to the back. When Lee went to the ropes, Dain shoved him off the ropes to the floor leading to break.
Dain was in full control with a senton splash on Lee. Carter took control against Maverick with kicks, a running knee and a dropkick that sent Dain off the apron as well. MSK did the spot where Lee shoved Carter onto Maverick for the tag team moonsault for two. Dain got involved, so Carter took him out with a moonsault on the floor. Maverick got a nice nearfall with a rollup on Lee for two. Lee with an uppercut to Maverick, Carter in and he held up Maverick for a Blockbuster/Spinebuster combo with Carter pinning Maverick to win after about 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: MSK (Wes Lee and Nash Carter)
Analysis: ***1/4 This was very good tag team action as MSK continues to impress as an exciting babyface team. When this tournament was announced, I thought Dain and Maverick might get a really big push out of it, but that didn’t happen. I liked the way the team was formed. It’s understandable why MSK got the win, though. They’re new and fun to watch. The double team moonsault and the finisher are really cool.
MSK moves on to the Semifinals of the Dusty Cup and will face Lucha House Party or Legado del Fantasma. I think MSK will be in the finals.
There was an interview with Curt Stallion with Mckenzie Mitchell conducting the interview. Stallion talked about his journey in pro wrestling saying that the road he’s traveling down represents the light he wants to be and represents freedom. Stallion said he’s on his way to becoming the NXT Cruiserweight Champion.
Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez vs. Aliyah and Jessi Kamea
Kai has a different hairstyle with more pink/purple in it. I think it’s new, but I’m not in charge of keeping track of women’s hair color in wrestling. Kamea got a bit of offense on Gonzalez, but it didn’t last as Gonzalez hit a clothesline to the back. Aliyah rocked Kai with a forearm and a neckbreaker. Aliyah hit two moves with Wade saying this was the best she has ever looked. Gonzalez saved Kai from an attack leading to Kai hitting a pump kick on Aliyah for two. Kai and Gonzalez worked over Aliyah for a few minutes with quick tags including a nice spot with Gonzalez lifting Kai up with Kai stomping on the ribs of Aliyah. After Aliyah hit a DDT, Kamea got the tag, but Gonzalez crushed her with a clothesline. Gonzalez hit her huge Powerbomb for the pinfall win after about six minutes. There was not much of a hot tag there.
Winners by pinfall: Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez
Analysis: ** An easy win for Kai and Gonzalez. I thought it would have been quicker than this. This team could certainly be the winners of the Women’s Dusty Cup since they are a dominant heel duo. Aliyah and Kamea bumped well, but they really didn’t get much offense here.
The win by Kai and Gonzalez means they move on to the Semifinals next week against Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro. I’d like to see Kayden and Kacy win, but I don’t like their chances.
The Way group was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell were confident they would win again in the Women’s Dusty Cup. Austin Theory mentioned Kushida, Johnny Gargano didn’t like that and Johnny said just because he (Kushida) has two wins over him, does not mean he should get a North American Title shot. I think it does, but heels disagree with logic. The Way left and Dexter Lumis emerged to stare at them.
Scarlett was in some darkened room looking at some tarot cards. Scarlett ended it with the “fall and prey” catchphrase. No sign of Karrion Kross there in that segment.
There was a clip of currently injured NXT superstar Tegan Nox doing a workout with actress Brie Larson. Cool.
Tyler Rust vs. Dante Rios
Last week Rust lost to Bronson Reed, so this week he faced a guy that is not really known in NXT because Bivens set up the match. Rust was aggressive including a move where he stomped on the left arm and then Rust did a takedown grabbing the left arm. Rios got a backslide pin for a two count, but then Rust drove him into the turnbuckle. Rust with an uppercut, boot to the face and a flipping neckbreaker. Rust did a submission pulling back on the arms and Rios quit after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tyler Rust
Analysis: * A quick match to put over Rust by picking up a win over a guy that isn’t thought of as a big deal by WWE fans. Rust has a lot of cool looking moves, so it’s just a matter of working on his character and building him up more.
Finn Balor was standing backstage for an interview with Kyle O’Reilly showing up to ask if he is ready. Balor said he’s always ready, Kyle asks if he can trust him and Finn asked “what do you think?” Kyle said he didn’t have to trust him as long as they’re on the same page. They said “see ya out there” to eachother and had a staredown.
The Grizzled Young Veterans were in a tag team match, so Zack Gibson talked about how their team has been together 15 years instead of five minutes that their opponents have been together.
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) vs. Kushida and Leon Ruff
The GYV boys were in control against Kushida early on with Drake hitting a spinning heel kick to knock Kushida down. When Ruff tagged in, he took down Drake with a kick to the back of the leg. Ruff hit a dropkick on Drake. The faces were on offense against Drake for a few minutes including a hurricanrana off the top on Drake. The heels took over briefly, but then Ruff hit a Cutter off the middle ropes on Gibson for a two count. That led to a break.
The match returned with Ruff trying to battle back after taking a lot of punishment as the face in peril. GYV did a double team backbreaker on the floor. After Ruff hit a neckbreaker on Gibson, Kushida got a tag into the match. Kushida was on fire with an atomic drop, neckbreaker and a dropkick to the arm. The heels got some momentum back with the Doomsday Device clothesline off the turnbuckle for two. Kushida hit a cool handspring elbow to knock down both opponents. Ruff tagged back in with dives onto both heels on the floor. Ruff missed a Senton Bomb on Gibson because Drake pulled Gibson out of the way. Drake knocked Kushida off the apron and then GYV hit the Ticket to Mayhem double team move with Drake pinning Ruff for the win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)
Analysis: ***1/4 This was an exciting tag team match with the actual team beating the team of singles competitors as they should. Gibson and Drake work together as any team in WWE while also being crafty heels. I like the team of Ruff and Kushida because they both wrestle an exciting style. They’re not a long term team, though, so it’s okay that they lost. Kushida wasn’t pinned because he’s going after the North American Title held by Johnny Gargano. Also, Ticket to Mayhem is one of my favorite finishers in WWE.
The team of Grizzled Young Veterans move on to the semifinals where they will face the winners of Undisputed Era vs. Ciampa/Thatcher. That’s a tough call.
After the match, Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory attacked Kushida and Leon Ruff. Gargano hit the One Final Beat DDT on Kushida while Theory held Ruff. Gargano talked trash to Kushida and then Dexter Lumis appeared behind Theory, who ran away and Lumis stared at Gargano.
Analysis: It makes sense to do Gargano vs. Kushida for the North American Title at the next Takeover, but maybe Dexter Lumis will be the next challenger. I’m not sure who is next exactly.
There was a backstage scene with Curt Stallion on the ground selling an injury with officials and doctors checking on him. When NXT GM William Regal showed up, Stallion told him that Legado attacked him.
When the show returned, it was announced that Stallion can’t compete against Santos Escobar. William Regal stormed into the interview, Legado del Fantasma said they had nothing to do with it and Regal said next week Stallion will get his title match. Regal said if Stallion is attacked again then the three of them will suffer serious consequences. Escobar found a card on his bag saying “The End is Near” so that means Karrion Kross may be targeting him.
Let’s Hear from Toni Storm
Toni Storm did a promo calling out Io Shirai saying when she wants something, she makes it happen. Storm bragged about taking the NXT UK Title from Rhea Ripley and beating Shirai to win the Mae Young Classic. Storm complained about Shirai costing her the Women’s Dusty Cup match. Storm said she wants to take the NXT Women’s Championship from Shirai, so that led to Shirai’s entrance.
Shirai told Storm she’ll fight her anywhere and said that she didn’t like Toni. That led to a brawl between the two women as they exchanged punches and Shirai hit a dropkick to knock Storm out of the ring. Mercedes Martinez showed up with a forearm to the back of Shirai and then a spinebuster. Martinez held up the NXT Women’s Title. Toni Storm got into the ring to argue with Martinez, so Shirai hit a missile dropkick and a double knee attack on Martinez. Storm tripped up Shirai on the top rope, she attacked Martinez on the floor and Storm hit three running hip attacks against the turnbuckle. Storm held up the NXT Women’s Title.
Analysis: The logical step for these three women is to have a triple threat NXT Women’s Title match at NXT Takeover on February 14. Good segment to show that they have issues with eachother.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell with Swerve talking about how people always seem to blame him for everything. Now he has to face Bronson Reed.
There was a video about the Imperium stable saying they were isolated in different parts of the world. While they have been apart, Walter continues to dominate as the NXT UK Champion. There was a promo from Alexander Wolfe, Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner talking about how their strength is unity with Wolfe saying his arrival is only the beginning.
The Undisputed Era’s Adam Cole and Roderick Strong talked about how they know they have their hands full against Ciampa and Thatcher. Cole talked about how confident they were. Strong said that they are tougher than them and they have more experience as a team. Strong said that there is no way that those two dorks can beat them.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Bronson Reed
Reed tossed Scott over the top to the floor with Scott landing on his feet. Reed blocked a Scott kick and flipped him upside down on the apron. With Scott on the floor, Reed ran the ropes and hit a suicide dive on the floor. That was impressive by the big man.
The match with Scott in control after he shoved Reed into the ring post during the break. Scott worked over Reed’s right arm a bit. Reed ran over Scott a few times leading to a senton splash and a Death Valley Driver that could definitely be a finisher, but it only got a two count. Scott went after the shoulder again and a kick to the head. Scott with an armbar takedown off the turnbuckle was a cool spot. Scott hit a 450 Splash off the top for a great nearfall. Reed with a massive clothesline, then he went up top and hit the Tsunami splash for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bronson Reed
Analysis: **3/4 This was okay as a match with a bigger face like Reed against a smaller heel like Scott. I understood why Scott worked on the arm to try to wear the big man down, but it did not lead to much in terms of false finishes. Scott has a lot of cool moves and he’s an interesting character, yet he seems to lose more than he wins. I’d like to see Scott pick up some big wins.
Tommaso Ciampa was backstage doing a promo saying sometimes you have fights you win and sometimes you have fights you lose, but then you have fights that you remember. Timothy Thatcher showed up with Ciampa talking about the fights you respect. Thatcher said that the Fight Pit changes a man. Thatcher said out of anguish and struggle, respect grows, so that’s why he accepted the offer. Ciampa said that next week with Undisputed Era it’s going to be a war.
Analysis: That will be a great match next week. I think Cole/Strong win, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Ciampa/Thatcher got the win either.
Next week on NXT:
* Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Lucha House Party vs. Legado del Fantasma and Undisputed Era vs. Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher.
It was main event time with Kyle O’Reilly of Undisputed Era making his entrance. That led to a break.
Finn Balor made his entrance as the NXT Champion. The NXT Tag Team Champions Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan entered as the opponents. This was not a title match.
Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly vs. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan
Balor and Lorcan locked up early, then it led to tags out of the match. Kyle took down Burch with an armbar, but Burch managed to take Lorcan to the heel turnbuckle. Lorcan rocked Kyle with two uppercuts. Burch back in with an uppercut along with a side headlock. Barrett did a good job of putting over Burch and Lorcan for targeting the jaw injury of O’Reilly. Balor tagged back with an armbar, Kyle with an armbar on Burch and a shoulder tackle. Balor and Kyle kept making quick tags with elbow smashes to Burch. The Balor/Kyle team knocked Burch and Lorcan out of the ring as the show went to break.
The match returned with Lorcan hitting an uppercut on Kyle, but then Balor tagged in with a trip to Lorcan along with a double stomp to the body. Burch and Lorcan managed to outsmart Balor leading to some double team attacks on Balor and Lorcan hit an armbar takedown on Balor. Burch with an armbar on Balor pulling on the left arm and then Burch hit a running clothesline against the turnbuckle. Burch and Lorcan hit a double atomic drop into a Russian legsweep on Balor for a two count. Balor got some momentum back with a Pele Kick to the head of Lorcan. Balor had to fight his way out of the heel corner as he hit a Slingblade on Lorcan and Kyle got the hot tag. Kyle with kicks to the head of Burch, knee to the ribs of Lorcan and a spin kick on Burch. Kyle with an arm wrench to the shoulder, Burch with a punch to the jaw that O’Reilly was selling well and Burch with a boot to the face. Burch went for a move off the middle ropes, Kyle caught him and slapped on a kneebar submission with Burch tapping to give Kyle’s team the win after 12 minutes.
Winners by submission: Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly
Analysis: ***1/2 That was some awesome tag team wrestling as you would expect from four veterans that can work so many different styles. I liked how the heel champions targeted the jaw of O’Reilly for most of the match, Kyle managed to keep fighting and his team found a way to win. Balor is performing at such a high level right now. The finish was cool with O’Reilly using a counter move to slap on the kneebar submission to win.
Post match, Pete Dunne showed up for an attack. The three heels outnumbered Balor and O’Reilly as Dunne hit Balor with a running forearm to the face. Dunne snapped on the fingers of Balor while Adam Cole and Roderick Strong went down to the ring to make the save. When Cole and Strong got into the ring, the heels left.
Balor stood tall in the ring with Undisputed Era guys as they all looked at eachother wondering if they could trust Balor. Finn left the ring while Undisputed Era stood together and the heels were on the ramp. That was the end of the show.
Three Stars of the Show
- Finn Balor/Kyle O’Reilly
- Danny Burch/Oney Lorcan
- Grizzled Young Veterans
This week: 7.25 out of 10
Last week: 7.75
2021 Average: 7.63
It was a good wrestling show with four tag team matches, which is probably too much in one night. However, that’s what happens when there are Men’s and Women’s Dusty Cup tournaments at the same time. The key thing was that Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly managed to work together in the main event.
I don’t think there was anything must-see on the show, but nothing was bad either. That’s why it’s another fun episode of NXT. To some fans, this kind of episode may not seem like a big deal. I just like the consistency of the NXT brand. It’s easy to watch and enjoy. I just think casual fans may not be into NXT at all because of a lack of excitement sometimes. It’s great to me, but not for everybody that watches WWE.
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