The John Report: WWE NXT 02/17/21 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT review here on TJRWrestling. I’m doing the usual NXT format with summaries of the matches and then play by play for the main event.

This episode 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 show began with highlights from NXT Takeover Vengeance Day on Sunday. They showed the highlights of the matches along with Adam Cole hitting a superkick Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor to end the show.

The announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were at ringside to welcome us to the show.

Let’s Hear from Kyle O’Reilly

Kyle O’Reilly walked out to the ring saying he needed Adam Cole to explain himself for what he did at the NXT Takeover Vengeance Day. During the promo, Kyle talked about how the Undisputed Era was a different kind of group because they weren’t going to end up like other groups in wrestling history. O’Reilly said he’ll probably punch Cole in the face, but he is willing to hear him out.

Roderick Strong showed up doing a promo saying that Cole did that out of emotion. Strong said that Cole regrets what he did. O’Reilly didn’t want Strong to be out there on this peacekeeping mission to try to talk for Cole. Strong kept on saying that they have been through so much. O’Reilly said he didn’t know who he trusts right now. O’Reilly told Roddy he didn’t need to hear shit from Strong and O’Reilly called Cole to get his ass out there.

Finn Balor, the NXT Champion, was the next man to join the promo party. Balor said that if you want to hear from Cole, get behind Finn. Balor said that on Sunday, O’Reilly offered Balor his hand and we all saw what happened. Strong told Balor that he had nothing to do with what happened. That led to Pete Dunne and NXT Tag Team Champions Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan showing up for a cheap attack against the three wrestlers that were out around the ring. Dunne was going after Balor while Burch and Lorcan went after O’Reilly and Strong. Referees showed up to break it up, but Dunne was relentless in his attacks on Balor. The referees managed to get the heels to get out of there.

Analysis: It was a smart way to begin the show since the Adam Cole attack was fresh in everybody’s mind. Good promos by everybody. No point in giving away Cole’s explanation in the opening segment of the show. Save it for another time.

The NXT General Manager William Regal shared a message from Santos Escobar, who did a video saying that Karrion Kross can’t threaten him. Escobar said that he is going home and that match with Kross only happens on his time. Regal said that the match will be next week. Regal said if Escobar doesn’t have that match next week then he’ll be suspended indefinitely and be stripped of the NXT Cruiserweight Title. Regal noted it’s not a title match (since Kross is too big to be a cruiserweight), but Escobar would still be stripped of the title.

The main event will be Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Finn Balor, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong.

The Way group made their entrance with sheets that said “Missing” on it with images of Austin Theory, who was attacked by Dexter Lumis at Takeover on Sunday. NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano handed the Missing papers to the announcers and joined commentary for this women’s tag team match.

Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell vs. Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon

Moon and Blackheart were aggressive with running dropkicks as the match went to break one minute into it.

Moon and Blackheart continued on offense with Moon jumping over the top with a splash. The heels got control after LeRae got in a cheapshot on Blackheart and then Hartwell hit a boot on Moon, so that made Moon the face in peril. There was a mysterious white van that was shown arriving in the parking lot that belongs to Dexter Lumis as we have seen before. The heels continued to work over Moon with Hartwell hitting a sidewalk slam for two. More quick tags by the heels leading to LeRae hitting a springboard attack off the ropes onto Moon on the floor. Gargano left to check on the van in the parking lot. That led to another break.

The match returned with Shotzi Blackheart getting the tag after Moon was the face in peril for several minutes. After forearm from Blackheart, Hartwell hit a clothesline. Meanwhile, Gargano was in the parking lot trying to find Austin Theory in the white van. LeRae got a superkick on Blackheart for a two count. Moon tagged back in leading to a double knee attack to the face for a two count. Moon and Blackheart were each knocked off the top rope. Gargano found Austin Theory and showed up with him on the stage. Candice left the ring and celebrated with Gargano. Theory had his hands tied, feet tied and in his underpants for some reason. Anyway, Moon did a rollup on Hartwell and covered Hartwell to win. Not a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! since Moon also covered with her body on Hartwell. This went about 16 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon

Analysis: **3/4 It was just an average match that went too long because they wanted to tell the story of Gargano leaving to get Theory, which led to Candice abandoning Indi and then Moon got the win. I think a more decisive win for Moon would have been nice where maybe Blackheart hit a move to stun Hartwell there and then Moon could have hit the Eclipse to win. Something like that would have worked better than what they did here.

There was a video featuring Pat McAfee on a plane doing a promo about how you are realizing that Adam Cole is a scumbag just like how McAfee said. McAfee said he’ll accept all apologies while adding that he was on his way to a beach. McAfee said Cole’s a bum and wanted people to hashtag #PatWasRight since he was right about Cole.

Analysis: McAfee remains a great promo. Hopefully he’s back in NXT soon because I have enjoyed his work. I watch his weekday sports show regularly as well although now that NFL season is over I’ll probably watch it a bit less. He does a lot of good interviews too.

Kushida was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell while getting looked at by a trainer. Kushida said he was honored to be at Takeover, but he’s not done with Johnny Gargano. Bronson Reed showed up to say he was not done with Johnny either while noting that he was gunning for the NXT North American Title too. Malcolm Bivens was seated nearby, said he knew the perfect opponent for Kushida tonight, the trainer said that Kushida was cleared and Bivens said he’d talk to Mr. Regal about it.

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Leon Ruff

Ruff was aggressive early, he avoided Scott’s attempts at doing moves and Ruff hit an armdrag. Scott hit an impressive backbreaker where he hit a Powerbomb into the knee so it was like a backbreaker. While Scott was on the apron, he kicked Ruff to knock him down and that led to a two count. Ruff made a comeback with a clothesline along with a Cutter off the ropes for two because Scott got his hand on the bottom rope. Ruff avoided some moves from Scott, then a double stomp, but Scott hit a clothesline leading to a flip bump on Ruff. When Scott was going for a move, Ruff hooked the arms leading to a crucifix pin to win the match after five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Leon Ruff

Analysis: **1/4 It was like some Ruff matches we have seen in the past where he takes a beating for most of the match and then finds a way to win. Scott got plenty of offense here. I like Scott’s heel persona. However, he tends to lose too much for my liking and that prevents him from really getting to that next level where he needs to be.

Post match, Scott was laughing about what happened, then a handshake and Scott did the heelish thing with a hard slap to the face. Scott stomped on Ruff repeatedly. Scott whipped Ruff back first into the turnbuckle. Scott trash-talked Ruff getting everything handed to him while Scott has to fight for what’s his. Scott left angrily.

Analysis: This was one of those booking situations where even though Scott lost the match, he got in the cheap attack and he was the one standing tall. That means the loss doesn’t really hurt him that much.

Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter vs. Aliyah and Jessi Kamea (w/Robert Stone)

Kacy and Carter did a double team kick to Kamea for a two count. Kacy hit an impressive headscissors takedown. When Carter tagged in, the heels managed by Stone took over with a double team neckbreaker for a two count. Kacy got a flip into a leg drop on Aliyah. There was a double-team move from Kacy and Carter that was like a splash/neckbreaker combo for the pinfall win after about three minutes. Kamea didn’t even try to make the save.

Winners by pinfall: Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter

Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to put over Kacy and Kayden since they were impressive in the tag team tourney and they have the story with Xia Li now. I think Robert Stone could be doing a lot more in NXT, but they don’t let him work with bigger name talent for some reason. Maybe Aliyah and Kamea will do well later in the year. Right now, they are just prospects that are there to put over others.

Post match, Xia Li showed up with Boa. Kacy and Carter tried to talk to her with Kacy saying they were her friend. Li grabbed Kacy’s hand and put her fingers on the hand so there were two black marks on the hand. Li told Kacy that next week she’s going to hurt Kacy.

There was a locker room promo with Tyler Rust and Malcolm Bivens, who talked trash about Kushida ahead of their match.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Trophy Presentation

Beth Phoenix was in the ring with the big Dusty Rhodes Cup trophy in the ring. Beth said that every single team in the Men’s and Women’s Dusty Cup stepped up in the tournament. That led to a video package showing Women’s winners Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez along with Men’s winners MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee). Both matches were very good at Takeover, but I thought the men’s tag team match was outstanding.

The MSK duo of Nash Carter and Wes Lee made their entrance wearing some MSK shirts. Lee noted they were the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Champions. They had a list of names on the trophy that have won in years past. Nash Carter said that on March 3rd they get to challenge Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Wes said that it’s going to sound great when they are announced as the new NXT Tag Team Champions.

Analysis: Good promo by MSK, who are very likable as exciting babyfaces that are enthusiastic about everything that they do. We still don’t know what MSK actually stands for, though, so that’s something they should tell us at some point in the near future. This USA Network tweet seems to say their name is Must See Kids, but that hasn’t been confirmed on TV.

Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai made their entrance as Barrett reminded us that they were his pick to win the tournament. Gonzalez is taller than the MSK guys, who were in the ring. There is apparently one trophy for both teams rather than two trophies. Kai said that they feel awesome and moments like this are why they do this. Kai said it was no surprise that they….and here are the Women’s Tag Team Champions.

Shayna Baszler and Nia “Hole” Jax appeared with the Women’s Tag Team Titles around their waists. Baszler said that they were on the right side of history winning the first-ever Women’s Dusty Cup as the champs entered the ring. Baszler said that when they face Jax/Baszler they will be on the wrong side of history. Kai introduced Raquel to Nia, who is big and Jax said that Kai beat her up. Kai said that Baszler ran away after Rhea Ripley beat her ass. Gonzalez mentioned beating Ripley in a Last Woman Standing Match. MSK and Beth were eating popcorn watching this, so that was funny. Baszler said that Kai was scared just like when Shayna broke Dakota’s arm. Kai said she is not the same person she was and she will kick Shayna’s head off. Gonzalez said that a lot has changed since Shayna left because Raquel/Dakota run things now. Gonzalez said that they are going to take the Women’s Tag Team Titles in two weeks. Jax said that Dusty Rhodes used to call her a “big, bad, beautiful bitch.” Jax said that she was right and Shayna/Jax are the most dominant force in WWE. Gonzalez stepped up to Jax saying that Dusty never met her. Baszler said that in two weeks on March 3rd, they will come here on their home turf to humiliate them.

After Baszler/Jax left the ring, Gonzalez told Jax that she’s going to take that boot (from the Dusty Cup) and shove it so far up Nia’s hole that she’ll never get it out. Jax and Baszler left looking angry about the “hole” joke. MSK sold it by laughing a lot to end this.

Analysis: This was well done. I was hoping that there would be separate trophies for the Men and Women Dusty Cup winners, but I guess they have just one trophy where they are going to list the names on it. It’s not like the talent gets to take home the trophies anyway. I think the women’s promos were fine there with Kai showing a lot of confidence towards Baszler, who was a dominant NXT Women’s Champion. Jax had a solid run in NXT as well, but Gonzalez has been even more impressive, so it was nice to see Raquel step up to her. Both of these women’s teams are heels, though. When they have the match in two weeks, it’s hard to really root for anybody to win although I think if WWE wanted to make history by putting the titles on an NXT Women’s team then Gonzalez/Kai are a good choice.

There was a parking lot conversation with Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong, but we couldn’t hear what they were saying since it was shot from a distance.

The Cameron Grimes music video aired about how Cameron Grimes has a lot of money based on stock investments. This video ended with Grimes crashing an expensive sports car, so he said he was going to get another one.

There were still shots shown of Toni Storm attacking Io Shirai during a photoshoot. They only showed still shots instead of video footage of the attack.

Kushida vs. Tyler Rust (w/Malcolm Bivens)

They were each going for submissions in the first couple of minutes of the match. Kushida with an armdrag off the ropes and then a bridging pin attempt nearly won it. Kushida targeted the left arm as usual, but Rust took control by tripping Kushida when Kushida was on the top rope. They went to break.

The match returned with Kushida making his comeback by doing a running armbar on the left arm. Rust worked over Kushida by focusing on the neck with a tight suplex and an ax kick to the back of the neck for two. When Kushida tried a pin attempt, Rust countered it into multiple submission attempts. Kushida kept on going after the left arm, Kushida slapped on the Hoverboard Lock submission on the left arm and Bivens went on the apron to submit on behalf of his investment, so Kushida won by submission after 11 minutes.

Winner by submission: Kushida

Analysis: *** This was a good match with a different kind of ending. Kushida gets the win back after losing at Takeover while Rust pushed a talented wrestler to his limits by nearly winning the match. The story was that Bivens only wanted the match because Kushida was hurt going into it, but then when Kushida had it won, Bivens decided to end the match on behalf of Rust. I really like Rust’s offense while Kushida is tremendous at being the babyface that has a lot of energy when making the big comeback. I’m all for Kushida getting a solid push again.

Post match, Bivens told Rust he had to protect his investment. Bivens encouraged Rust that he will live to fight another day at another time. Kushida celebrated the win.

There was a brief video about Zoey Stark debuting in NXT after a break.

A clip was shown from the NXT Takeover Vengeance Day pre-show when LA Knight (former Eli Drake) made his debut saying he’s coming after the wrestlers in NXT.

There was an Earlier Today promo from LA Knight at his home. Knight said that he was going to claim his perch at the top of NXT while adding that nobody is going to stop him. Knight dropped his “fact of life” line and said that it is LA Knight’s game now.

Analysis: The “fact of life” bit was a nod to his Eli Drake days. He’s a really elite-level talker that will be one of the best promo guys in NXT immediately. That’s his biggest strength for sure, but he also carries himself like a star, so that helps a lot too.

Zoey Stark vs. Valentina Feroz

Stark was known as Lacey Ryan in the indies and she signed in January. Stark was dominant with a clothesline. Feroz got a bit of offense with a dropkick and judo throw takedown. Stark took over from there by hitting a superkick followed by a suplex across the ring. Stark hit a sliding knee to rock Feroz as well. Stark flipped Feroz over leading to a knee lift to the face for the pinfall win after about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Zoey Stark

Analysis: * A squash match to put over Stark. That finisher looked great. She won’t be able to do that against a bigger woman most likely, but it’s very creative. Stark looked very impressive in this match.

There was a video featuring Karrion Kross and Scarlett, who told Santos Escobar that time is not his forte while adding that there’s no pause button on this nightmare. Kross said that Escobar’s destiny has already been decided. Kross ended with “Tick Tock” while Scarlett looked gorgeous as usual.

The entrances took place for the main event with Pete Dunne joined by NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. This trio doesn’t have a group name, but they have been together going back to late last year before WarGames when they teamed with Pat McAfee. Barrett credited McAfee for being right about Adam Cole.

Finn Balor, the NXT Champion, made his entrance. Balor had some fingers taped on both hands to sell the Takeover match when Dunne worked over Dunne’s fingers repeatedly. Undisputed Era member Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly entered although Kyle didn’t want to do the UE poses on the stage. That entrance led to a break.

Finn Balor, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan

Kyle started with Lorcan with a running knee to the ribs. Kyle didn’t trust Strong, so he tagged in Balor, who punched Lorcan and brought Kyle back in with an elbow smash. Balor back in with an elbow drop to the arm. After Balor slapped on an armbar, Strong tagged in with an armbar of his own. Dunne with a wristlock, Strong broke free and hit a dropkick. Dunne with a lefty clothesline. Dunne with a knee to the ribs and then tossed Strong out of the ring. Dunne with a kick to the gut, Strong slipped out of a slam leading to a backbreaker. Kyle unloaded on Lorcan with kicks, then Burch tagged in only for Kyle to get a sweep kick. Kyle wrenched Dunne’s lee against the ropes and he did it to Lorcan as well. Kyle jumped off the apron, Lorcan moved and Dunne hit Kyle with a forearm to the face. That led to a break.

The show came back with about seven minutes left. Kyle with a leg whip on Dunne, then Burch tagged in with forearms, but Kyle got a backslide pin for two. Dunne was back in with a stomp to the back. Kyle with a boot to the face, then Kyle hit a clothesline on Burch while fighting out of the corner. Dunne knocked Strong off the apron to prevent a tag. Dunne with a forearm, Kyle avoided another move and Balor got the tag. Balor with a dropkick to the left knee, then Balor took out the tag champions and Dunne grabbed an inside cradle for two. Balor with an elbow drop into a slam for two. Strong, Kyle, Burch and Lorcan were on the floor. Balor with a kick leading into a Slingblade neckbreaker. Burch handed Dunne the tag team title, the referee saw it, but then Balor dropkicked Dunne into the referee for a ref bump. Balor went up top and Adam Cole shoved Balor off the top into the referee. Cole hit a bicycle kick on O’Reilly. Cole hit a brainbuster onto the bottom half of the steel steps. Cole protected Kyle really well there with Cole’s body hitting most of the steel steps, but Kyle sold it like he was out of it. Cole went to the back. Strong wit ha knee strike on Lorcan. Strong picked up the NXT Title, touched Balor and Balor hit a Pele Kick to Strong even though Balor didn’t see who it was. Dunne went back in and hit the Bitter End on Balor, the referee crawled over to count and Dunne pinned Balor for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Pete Dunne, Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good main event match. There was a lot of action from start to finish. The referee bump led to the cheap win for the heels, but it’s also a big win for Dunne since he got beat Balor by pinfall to show that he can do it. The other story is that Cole took out O’Reilly with the vicious kick along with the brainbuster onto the steel steps. I thought it was booked very well. I know most fans don’t love seeing referee bumps, but as long as you don’t do them often and book smart finishes, it’s perfectly fine with me. I don’t think the match was hurt by the referee bump at all. I think it builds up Dunne after he lost at Takeover, so now Dunne can say that he definitely can beat Balor and it might lead to Dunne getting another title shot against Balor. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Post match, Balor stood up with the NXT Title, but then Adam Cole snuck up behind him and dropped Balor with a superkick. Cole left up the ramp earlier, but then he entered in a different part of the building. It’s not a big building, though. The referee Drake Wuertz called for help from the back. Cole grabbed the NXT That he used to hold and then he held it above his head for some final posing. Kyle was still out on the floor. The fans booed as the show ended there.

Analysis: Strong ending to the show. It shows that Cole is targeting the NXT Title again, but there are others in the picture before we get to Cole vs. Balor. I’m interested to see how that gets booked when they get there.

Analysis x2: Regarding O’Reilly, there were reports that he may have been legit hurt. That’s not the case. He’s fine. It was just an angle.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Finn Balor
  2. Pete Dunne
  3. Kyle O’Reilly


The Scoreboard

This week: 7.25 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2021 Average: 7.43


Final Thoughts

This was a pretty good episode of NXT where it felt a bit like Raw or Smackdown where they used the first segment to set up the main event later in the show. They didn’t have as many long matches as usual on NXT, but I thought the matches were fine, even the shorter ones.

The big story was that Adam Cole attacked Kyle O’Reilly again and then when Finn Balor lost in the main event (Pete Dunne pinned Balor in a tag match), Cole attacked Balor too. I liked how it was booked. Cole hasn’t said a word since turning on Undisputed Era on Sunday and I like that we have to wait to hear his thoughts. I’m ready for heel Cole against Balor and/or O’Reilly at any time.

Most of the rest of the show was about building angles. Some are going at a very slow pace while others are picking up the pace. Solid storytelling in NXT as usual.


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John Canton


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