Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. The next Takeover event on WWE Network is on Sunday, February 14. We found out on Wednesday night that they are calling it “NXT Takeover Vengeance Day” on Valentine’s Day. It’s also the return of the Vengeance PPV name, I guess. 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 #442 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.
There was a video reminding us about last week’s show and promoting what’s coming up this week including Edge appearing on NXT for the first time ever.
The announcers were Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix with all three of them in the arena.
Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez vs. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter
Kacy and Carter did some nice double team work with a dropkick/neckbreaker combo. Kai hit a backbreaker on Carter to take over and then Gonzalez tried to use her power, but Carter used her speed to her advantage. When Kacy tagged in, Gonzalez overpowered her and Kai hit a stomp. There was this spot with Kacy and Kai that it looked they messed up with Kacy knocking Kai down. Carter tagged in against Gonzalez with Carter hitting a hurricanrana. After a Kai distraction, Gonzalez sent Carter into the announce table heading into the break.
The match returned with Kacy getting the hot tag with a corner clothesline and headscissors on Kai. Kacy hit an impressive flipping leg drop to the back of Kai as well. Kacy climbed up a part of the set and hit a cross body block on both women. Gonzalez back in for a double team assisted Pele Kick for a two count after Kacy made the save. Gonzalez was sent to the apron, Carter with double knees and Kacy hit a missile dropkick. Kacy with a basement rana sending Gonzalez to the mat. Kacy went up top leading to the twisting splash for a two count with Kai saving her partner. Kai sent Carter into the steel steps. Gonzalez got a hold of Kacy with a one-armed Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez
Analysis: *** This was a good match. I would have liked to see Kacy and Kayden do better in the tournament because they’re a likable babyface underdog team. However, going against Gonzalez in the tournament was a bad draw since you know NXT wants to keep pushing Gonzalez. Kai and Gonzalez have been a formidable doo for over a year now. I like how much offense Kacy and Carter got in the match to show that they belong as a women’s tag team. Kacy’s aerial skills are impressive.
The win by Kai and Gonzalez means they will face either Blackheart/Moon or LeRae/Hartwell. I assume that it will be Blackheart/Moon since they’re a babyface team.
There was a shot of the announcers talking about how Wade Barrett is now an American citizen. Wade posted about it over the last week. Wade said he’s been in America for 13 years and now he’s a citizen. Vic and Beth gave him a framed photo of Hacksaw Jim Duggan and some apple pie. That’s good.
Toni Storm was interviewed by Alyse Ashton, who mentioned Storm gets an NXT Women’s Title shot against Io Shirai and Mercedes Martinez. Storm said that Shirai and Martinez are not going to stop her from winning the NXT Women’s Title.
There was a backstage scene with NXT GM William Regal talking to Edge.
Leon Ruff vs. Austin Theory (w/Johnny Gargano)
Ruff used his quickness early by getting in a kick to rock Theory, but then Theory sent him into the turnbuckle. Theory took over with a belly to back suplex. Theory continued on offense as Barrett made a prediction that Theory would one day be an NXT Champion. That’s certainly a possibility down the road. After a few minutes of Theory offense, Ruff did a counter into a pin attempt. Ruff hit a forearm, Gargano tried to get in a cheap shot, Ruff took care of him and hit a missile dropkick. The wrestlers did a double shoulder tackle spot that sent Ruff out of the ring. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell checked on Gargano, so Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart got into a fight with them. The referee checked on them as Ruff faked as if Gargano hit him. Gargano was ejected from ringside. Ruff hit a Cutter off the ropes for a two count as Theory got his foot on the bottom rope. Theory caught Ruff doing a dive and sent Ruff into the barricade. Theory with an ATL (Austin Theory Launch) for the pinfall win after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Austin Theory
Analysis: **1/2 This was okay with Theory using his power advantage to pick up the win. Ruff is fun to watch because he’s so quick in the ring and great at selling. It’s a break from a show full of tag team matches too. Theory has a very bright future as a guy in his early 20s that keeps improving.
Post match, Theory hit the ATL on Ruff again. It’s basically a Cutter off the shoulders. Dexter Lumis showed up to prevent Theory from doing more and Lumis pulled off some of Theory’s hair. That was weird.
There was a promo from Santos Escobar about his NXT Cruiserweight Title defense.
There was a video about Tian Sha as the master that Xia Li and Boa were taking orders from. They told some ancient Chinese story about Tian Sha being a fighter that learned from a master. When the video ended, Beth wondered if we are supposed to believe that Tian Shi is hundreds of years old. It’s a strange storyline.
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza) vs. Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado
The heel side of Wilde and Mendoza made a lot of quick tags as they isolated Dorado on their side of the ring. Metalik got the tag with a springboard cross body block, but then Mendoza kicked Metalik off the turnbuckle to the floor. Wilde hit a suicide dive on Metalik leading to a break.
The match returned with Metalik hitting a Sunset Flip Powerbomb on Mendoza. Dorado with a dropkick, armdrag, and a cross body block off the top rope. Wilde with a jawbreaker, but then Dorado bounced off the ropes into the Stunner. Mendoza broke up a pin attempt by Metalik. Wilde did a double DDT on both opponents although it looked a bit sloppy. It’s a tough move to do, though, so I think we can give him a break. They did a crazy spot where Metalik walked the ropes to give Mendoza a hurricanrana onto Wilde! That was followed by Dorado hitting an incredible moonsault off the top onto both opponents. It looked a lot better than when Charlotte Flair does that, no offense to her. Dorado got a nearfall in the ring after a hurricanrana. Wilde with a boot, Mendoza tagged in and Legado did a running kick into a legsweep combo with Mendoza pinning Dorado to win the match after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza)
Analysis: ***1/4 Good tag team action here. It took a while for them to really get going, but then the action picked up and it was fun to watch. I really liked some of the high spots by Dorado and Metalik. The finish was a bit rushed after the big spots on the floor because all it took was one kick to weaken Dorado and then Mendoza/Wilde got the win at that point. I figured LHP would lose in this spot.
The win by Legado puts them into the semifinals against MSK.
The MSK duo of Wes Lee and Nash Carter did a promo by the Dusty Cup trophy. MSK talked about how they would beat Legado next week.
Analysis: I think that will be a win for MSK. It makes sense for them to make the finals and even win the whole tournament.
The heel group of Oney Lorcan, Pete Dunne and Danny Burch were shown arriving at the arena. Dunne said he wanted to find Balor.
The team of Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher were shown getting ready for the main event still to come.
Let’s Hear from Pete Dunne (Plus Appearances by Finn Balor and Edge)
Pete Dunne made his entrance with NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch with all of them in street clothes rather than wrestling gear. Dunne told Finn Balor to his face that he wasn’t waiting anymore, but Balor didn’t listen, so Dunne slapped his fingers last week. Dunne told Balor not to force him to make it any more clear than that.
Finn Balor, the NXT Champion, made his entrance with confidence. Balor said that Dunne claimed he was done waiting, but it looks like he’s hiding behind those two clowns. Dunne said that he doesn’t hide behind anybody. Balor questioned that, so Dunne told his buddies to leave. Balor got into the ring with Dunne.
Dunne told Balor that the first chance he gets at that title and it’s his. Balor told Dunne he’s got his chance at Takeover Vengeance Day – Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne for the NXT Championship.
“You think you know me…” and it’s Edge appearing at the CWC to join the festivities in the ring. It was nice hearing that great song on an NXT show. Beth Phoenix did not comment about seeing her husband and the Royal Rumble winner in the ring.
Edge joined Balor and Dunne in the ring to say that this feels good. Edge said that in WWE sometimes they put the focus on the E a lot, but here in NXT, the focus is on the second W (WRESTLING~!) and that’s fun. Edge said for years he’s watched this show as a fan like everybody else. Edge sees passion, hunger and fire in their eyes. Edge said that this show, this place helped him find his passion. Edge said that it helped him find the passion to get his career back after nine years. Edge said by winning the Royal Rumble, it allows him to challenge any champion in this company.
Edge told Balor and Dunne that they are two of the damn best. Edge sees so much of himself in Dunne and Dunne shrugged his shoulders at him. Edge said he would have done the same thing ten years ago. Edge told Balor he sees a guy operating at a totally different level. Edge told Balor he is in a zone that is special to watch. I agree.
Edge said he would be watching their match at Takeover because he’s never had that (points to NXT Title). Edge said no matter who wins their match at Takeover, that title is intriguing. Edge said if he hasn’t made his choice by Takeover, this fight may cause him to make his choice. There was a staredown to end it.
Analysis: That was really good by Edge. I don’t think there’s any chance that Edge is going to challenge for the NXT Title since we know it’s likely to be the Universal Title held by Roman Reigns, but it was smart of WWE to put Edge on NXT to have him tease the possibility of it happening. It’s also smart to have Edge really put over Balor and Dunne in a big way because if Edge says it then the audience is going to be more likely to believe it too. I also think Balor vs. Dunne is going to be an awesome match at Takeover as well. I’ll probably pick Balor to win, but I certainly wouldn’t mind if Dunne left as the champion.
Johnny Gargano was interviewed backstage by Alyse Ashton, who asked how The Way was feeling after Austin Theory’s win. Gargano was happy about Theory and threatened Dexter Lumis for getting in their way. Gargano said that Candice and Indi are going to win the Dusty Cup. Alyse informed Gargano that he’s defending the NXT North American Title against Kushida at NXT Takeover Vengeance Day and Johnny didn’t like her saying the “k-word” meaning Kushida’s name. Gargano said they had to go talk to Regal, so that led to a break.
Back from break, Gargano knocked on Regal’s door and Kushida said that you need an appointment. Gargano said he didn’t need an appointment, so that led to Gargano fighting Kushida in the hallway and Kushida sent Gargano into a room. The fight was broken up.
Analysis: It was obvious that Gargano would defend against Kushida next and I like that a lot. They’re two of the best in NXT. Kushida is on fire in terms of having great matches lately while Gargano is one of the best in WWE, so that’s going to be one of the best matches at Takeover. No doubt about that.
Toni Storm vs. Jessi Kamea (w/Aliyah and Robert Stone)
Kamea is part of the Robert Stone Brand now. Storm with a kick followed by a clothesline. Kamea with a jumping kick on Storm against the turnbuckle. Kamea hit a running kick. Mercedes Martinez went into the ring, Kamea grabbed her, so Storm punched Kamea and that’s the DQ.
Winner by disqualification: Toni Storm
Analysis: DUD. Nothing match here. It was more about the post match angle.
Martinez was targeting Storm since they’re in the NXT Women’s Title match at the next Takeover, so they got into a brawl. Io Shirai, the NXT Women’s Champion, made her entrance as Storm hit a German Suplex on Martinez. Shirai sat on the top rope as Storm hit a headbutt on Martinez. Shirai went up top and hit a moonsault on Storm/Martinez on the floor. Shirai stood tall in the ring.
Analysis: It was okay as a quick segment to hype up this storyline. I think Shirai will likely keep her title and drop it to Raquel Gonzalez down the road rather than lose it at the next Takeover.
Curt Stallion did a promo earlier in the day about how this is the biggest opportunity in his career. Curt said he’ll make everybody in Texas proud.
A video aired about Cameron Grimes returning to NXT next week. Good. I have missed him. He’s an interesting character that is skilled in the ring.
Curt Stallion was in the ring for his title match. Why not show his entrance? I don’t know. It’s a title match. They should show the guy’s entrance. Anyway, he’s getting a Cruiserweight Title shot here.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar (w/Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde) vs. Curt Stallion
This was Stallion’s first match on NXT since he is usually just on 205 Live. Escobar was in full control with an armbar to ground Stallion. Escobar with a dropkick as we got a shot of the lovely Scarlett watching the match from a stage in the building. Escobar with a double knee attack into a suplex and then Escobar looked at Scarlett on the platform. Escobar and Karrion Kross have started a feud in recent weeks. Stallion got some momentum going with a clothesline to the floor leading to the break.
The match returned with Escobar in full control as he hit a backbreaker like move and a single leg crab submission leading to other submission attempts. Stallion got some offense going with a German suplex along with multiple punches to the face followed by Stallion hitting a suicide dive on the floor. Stallion hit a Superfly Splash for a two count. Escobar came back with a suplex into the turnbuckle. Escobar hit a Phantom Driver followed by a cradle into a backbreaker called Legado for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar
Analysis: **1/2 This was just an average match that went too long. I think if they shaved off a few minutes it would have helped. The match was mostly about Escobar getting a lot of offense to show how dominant he is. The comeback by Stallion wasn’t that exciting. Escobar remains a dominant champion that has found a way to beat every challenger that has come after him.
Post match, Karrion Kross made his entrance. Kross beat up Wilde and Mendoza easily. Kross got in Escobar’s face with Kross saying it seems like they have a problem. Kross gave him the gift of time and that will give him time to think about the inevitable. Kross told him to run along and said “Tick Tock” to end it. Scarlett was in the ring beside her man Kross, who was staring at Escobar.
Analysis: This rivalry is a bit strange because Escobar is a heel and Kross is a heelish too. Kross is obviously not a cruiserweight also. I assume they’re just doing it to give Kross some experience working with a good wrestler because Escobar can do it all. That’s fine with me.
The Undisputed Era was shown walking backstage since Cole and Strong were in the main event coming up.
There was a backstage scene with Edge walking out to the parking lot after talking to Bronson Reed. The camera guy asked Edge about if he was going to make a decision on what he’s going to do. Karrion Kross walked up to Edge telling him he had a big decision to make while noting that in the end, it won’t be Finn Balor or Pete Dunne, it’s going to be him (Kross) taking back the title that he never lost. Edge said words like that could be motivating to make Edge come back there, but he doesn’t know if Kross would like that.
Analysis: A few weeks back I thought that Kross would win back the NXT Title, but now I think he’ll be on Raw or Smackdown within a few months. I would guess right after WrestleMania. Edge, as noted earlier, is likely headed to be a Smackdown guy as soon as this Friday.
There was a rundown of NXT Takeover Vengeance Day matches on February 14:
NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Pete Dunne
NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Toni Storm vs. Mercedes Martinez
NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Kushida
Plus, the two Dusty Cup Tag Team Finals are on that show.
It’s main event time with plenty of time left in the show for this match. Tommaso Ciampa left some hair on the back of his head to show how bald he is rather than shaving his head off.
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher vs. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole and Roderick Strong)
Ciampa and Cole started with some mat wrestling leading to counters by both guys as Ciampa grounded Cole with a side headlock. They did a sequence of moves going for kicks and knee strikes, but both guys managed to avoid moves, so there was no contact. Strong tagged in against Thatcher as they battled over holds on the mat. Strong did a leg scissors around the throat of Strong leading to a punch to the ribs. Thatcher with uppercuts, Strong with a jumping kick and Cole tagged in with some forearms. Thatcher with a front facelock on Strong, Ciampa tagged in and hit a hard chop o strong followed by a knee to the back. Ciampa with a running back elbow. Thatcher with a body slam on Strong and Ciampa tagged in with repeated stomps to Strong’s chest. Strong fought out of the corner with forearms, then all four guys faced off in the ring and they did a picture in picture break.
The match returned with Thatcher in control with a surfboard submission. Ciampa and Strong exchanged some hard chops to the chest with Ciampa hitting a running forearm to the face for a two count. Thatcher was back in with a chinlock, then Thatcher went towards the ropes for leverage and Thatcher slapped on a tight headlock choking Strong. However, Strong came back quickly with a perfect looking suplex into the ring. There were “NXT” chants from the fans in attendance. Cole got the tag in with a jumping kick and a backstabber for a two count on Ciampa. Cole lifted up Ciampa, Cole with a jumping kick to the face and Cole hit a suplex into the knee for a two count. Ciampa blocked a Panama Sunrise attempt and kicked Cole into the corner, so Thatcher tagged in. Cole slapped on a Figure Four Leglock on Thatcher while Strong slapped on the Strong Hold submission and when Ciampa broke free, he hit Cole to save Thatcher. Strong tagged in, Thatcher shoved Strong into Ciampa and Thatcher went for an armbar, but Strong countered it into a pin for two. Thatcher got back with a hard slap to the face. Ouch. Thatcher with a German Suplex, then Ciampa with a German Suplex and Thatcher was back in with a third German Suplex. Ciampa with a running knee on Strong for a two count. That was a great nearfall as Thatcher sent Cole out of the ring. Strong countered Ciampa’s slam attempt with an Olympic Slam. Cole was back in with a superkick on Thatcher on the apron and a superkick/knee combo on Ciampa for just two. Another great nearfall right there! Strong with a slam into the knees, but then Thatcher pulled Cole out of the ring. Thatcher with an uppercut to Cole and then Strong slammed Thatcher onto the barricade leading to Thatcher bumping onto the floor. Back in the ring, Ciampa hit the Willow’s Bell DDT on Strong for the pinfall win after 17 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher
Analysis: ***3/4 This was a great tag team main event match. A slow pace to start because they got a lot of time, but then the action really picked up from there. The last five minutes were excellent especially after Cole started his flurry of offense. Going into the match, I thought Cole and Strong were going to win since Cole hasn’t had that much to do in the last few months, but this new alliance of Ciampa/Thatcher continues to move on in the tournament. The finish was very creative with Thatcher taking out Cole, then Strong taking out Thatcher, but that allowed Ciampa to recover and finish off Strong. An action-filled tag team match, that’s for sure.
The win by Ciampa/Thatcher means that they will face the Grizzled Young Veterans in the semifinals next week. Replays aired of the final moments of the match.
Ciampa and Thatcher stared at the Dusty Cup trophy that was on the stage. That led to the Grizzled Young Veterans duo of Zack Gibson and James Drake showing up for a staredown. That led to referees showing up to pull them apart. End show.
Analysis: That match can go either way. Since a babyface team MSK is going to be in the finals most likely, they can go with the obvious choice of the heel team of Grizzled Young Veterans. However, I think this push of Ciampa/Thatcher could lead to them winning the whole thing. I’m intrigued to see how it is booked.
Three Stars of the Show
- Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher
- The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole and Roderick Strong)
This week: 7 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2021 Average: 7.63
This week’s episode of NXT was a good wrestling show with a lot of in-ring action. Edge made a point in his promo saying that in NXT they emphasize the second “W” in WWE and he’s right about that. There was a lot of tag team wrestling due to the two Dusty Cup tournaments going on at the same time. Those kinds of matches can get repetitive, but the good thing is that the main event with Ciampa/Thatcher beating Cole/Strong was the best match of the night. I loved the final few minutes of that match.
The NXT “debut” of Edge was interesting. It might be the only time we ever see him on the show, but they did float the possibility that he might challenge Finn Balor or Pete Dunne. Obviously, that’s unlikely although I like that they at least mentioned it. Also, Karrion Kross getting in Edge’s face is a nice sign of a future feud on Smackdown or Raw.
I like most of the lineup for the NXT Takeover Vengeance Day show on February 14. Like most Takeover shows, I expect several great matches. Gargano/Kushida might be my favorite, but the Balor/Dunne match will be a classic too.
NXT Takeover Vengeance Day takes place on Sunday, February 14. Here’s the lineup so far:
NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs. Pete Dunne
NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs. Toni Storm vs. Mercedes Martinez
NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Kushida
Finals of Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Winner of Tommaso Ciampa/Timothy Thatcher vs. Grizzled Young Veterans will face Winner of MSK vs. Legado del Fantasma.
Finals of Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai will face Winner of Shotzi Blackheart/Ember Moon or Candice LeRae/Indi Hartwell.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.