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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 17, 2021): The Cole Enchilada

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NXT returned last night (Feb. 17) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

“I’m gonna punch you in the face”

Kyle O’Reilly opened the broadcast looking for answers after Adam Cole kicked him in the face at Vengeance Day. Roderick Strong tried to play peacekeeper for The Undisputed Era, but O’Reilly wanted no part of his “heat of the moment” explanation.

O’Reilly warned Strong not to step into the ring when he was already in a sour mood, but he needn’t have bothered as Finn Bálor interrupted them both. He too was unceremoniously booted by Adam Cole, so he informed O’Reilly that if he wanted to punch Cole in the face, he’d have to go to the back of the line. Roderick Strong took exception to Bálor butting into their business, but while they were jaw jacking back and forth Pete Dunne attacked, and Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan ran out to join the ambush! Mud holes were stomped into every ass and walked dry, with Bálor getting the worst of the bunch.

As the commentary team talked about the unraveling of an Era right before their eyes, the focus shifted to a video package of Santos Escobar (and his shades) sitting in his car and refusing to face Karrion Kross tonight. William Regal informed us the match would now take place next week, promising to suspend Kross indefinitely if he didn’t show up ready to work.

Regal also used the promo time to set up a blockbuster six-man tag main event for later in the evening — Finn Bálor, Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly would face off against Pete Dunne and NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. This wasn’t the answer to the questions everyone had about Adam Cole, but it did offer a chance at revenge for the dastardly attack to open the show.

“Have you seen this man?”

Two tag teams went to war in the Capitol Wrestling Center as Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon faced off against Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell. NXT North American champion Johnny Gargano came out to support his wife’s team on commentary while handing out missing person fliers for Austin Theory, who wasn’t missing for very long. The arrival of a mystery van outside caused Gargano to leave the broadcast position and head to the parking lot looking for his kidnapped friend, pounding on the vehicle and yelling his name.

Action continued unabated inside the building until Gargano brought Theory to the entrance ramp, pulling a hood off his head even though his hands were still zip tied. Unfortunately this proved to be a distraction for Gargano’s family, as Ember Moon rolled up Indi Hartwell to get the pin. Shotzi and her partner celebrated in the ring while The Way reunited at the top of the entrance ramp, trying to figure out why Theory was half dressed and a whole ass mess.


Pat McAfee couldn’t resist returning to the NXT brand to rub salt in everyone’s wounds. In a pre-taped video he informed us that Adam Cole was a scumbag, is a scumbag, and always will be a scumbag. He gloated gleefully and taunted the fervent faithful by telling them to make #PatWasRight trend on social media. Having made his point from his private jet, McAfee vowed to head to the beach for some drinks “while you bums sit at home.” What Cole did on Sunday night may have been despicable, but two wrongs still don’t make Pat right, no matter how hard he tried to convince us otherwise.

This took us to a commercial break, and when we came back, a whole lot of people were getting up in Kushida’s business while his Vengeance Day injuries were being tended to. He told McKenzie Mitchell it was an honor to compete with Johnny Gargano but that their business was far from done. Bronson Reed interrupted. Reed says he wants a piece of Gargano too, and if they have to face each other for the right he’ll do it, but he wants Kushida to heal up and be 100% first. Kushida reluctantly accepted a fist bump from Reed. Malcolm Bivens (sans Bell and DeVoe) pops up from the back and tells Kushida he has a GREAT idea, and he leaves to talk to William Regal about it.

Scott gets “Swerved” — but so does Ruff

Isaiah Scott should have had an easy time with former North American champion Leon Ruff, but the transitional champion stepped up his game looking to get back into contention. With a counter into a crucifix, Ruff pinned Scott the same way he did Johnny Gargano, earning the upset when and leaving Scott trying to laugh off his stunning loss. He offered the victor a handshake but it was only a ruse, leaving Scott to attack Ruff post-match and deliver a warning. “I’m tired of you getting handed everything. Where’s MY North American title shot?” Ruff was left laying in a heap drooling after Scott had viciously made his point.

Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro appeared in a pre-taped package voicing concern for Xia Li being brainwashed. They’d go on to defeat Aliyah & Jessi Kamea in what was honestly a nothing match, because it was all a set up for Boa to show up during and Li to come out from behind him afterward. Catanzaro tries to tell Li “It doesn’t have to be this way,” but Li grabs her arm and inks a mark on her hand. Li promises to HURT HER on NXT next week. That’s not ominous.

“Trophy time! One last call to take it all”

Pour MSK a whiskey or beer, but pour one for Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez too. These two teams emerged victorious in the Dusty Rhodes Classic, and it’s time for Beth Phoenix to present the winners with their rewards. The former Rascalz from Impact celebrate the victory and lay out a challenge for Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch on March 3rd, noting that just like the trophy in front of them, the world titles will also carry their names.

Pat McAfee wasn’t the only one gloating on Wednesday as Bad News Barrett said #WadeWasRight before Kai and Gonzalez hit the ring to admire their trophy and prove him correct. Before Kai could gloat too, she was interrupted by Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.

MSK tried to do the gentlemanly thing and hold the ropes open, but the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions scared them away. Dakota Kai made fun of Baszler for losing to Rhea Ripley. MSK and Beth Phoenix munched on popcorn and enjoyed the show. Gonzalez says “You don’t run this place any more chiquita, we do.” Nia Jax claimed Dusty Rhodes used to say she was one “big bad beautiful bitch.” Gonzalez said the only reason Dusty talked that way about Jax was “God rest his soul, he never met ME.” Interesting theory. As the champs were leaving Gonzalez promised Jax she’d put a boot so far up HER HOLE it would never come out. Mama MIA!

Stonks and Bonds

Having made a fortune in GameStop and AMC on Robinhood, Cameron Grimes now has so much money that he wrecked his expensive foreign car on TV and channeled N.W.A, saying he’ll just “go out and buy another.” Malcolm Bivens returned along with Tyler Rust, having gotten William Regal to agree Kushida is medically cleared to compete in a match. Kushida wrings out his left arm during said match, while the viewers are left wondering how Grimes isn’t hurting worse than Kushida based on the awful state of his auto. Vic Joseph asks Wade Barrett if Tyler Rust’s “stock is rising.” It’s all about those STONKS and bonds on NXT!

Even though Tyler Rust is surging in after hours trading, Malcolm Bivens decided to “protect his investment” when Kushida put on the Hoverboard Lock, getting the referee to stop the match as surely as if he had thrown in the towel. Bivens learned a thing or two from Grimes about knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. I hope he never counts his money when he’s sitting at the table. Meanwhile Shaun Ricker a/k/a Eli Drake a/k/a LA Knight told an uninvited cameraman outside his home that it’s his world and we’re all just living in it.

Scheduled for ONE fall

Zoey Stark and Valentina Feroz had a singles match. The wrestlers in the CWC tried to make a little noise to convince us that it mattered. It did not. Stark hulked up and flipped her opponent inside out for a knee to the face in what was a glorified squash. The announcers don’t even have a name for it. It’s not a Go 2 Sleep... maybe a Go 2 the Back for an ice pack? Feroz was certainly thrown around with ferocity. This was followed by a “tick tock” video package from Karrion Kross and Scarlett Bordeaux reminding Santos Escobar his time is ALMOST up.

Speaking of time remaining, there was one match left on NXT, scheduled for ONE fall. The reluctant team of Finn Bálor, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong faced off with Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Burch caused a ref bump and Adam Cole ran out from the back to hit O’Reilly with ANOTHER boot to the face before destroying him with a suplex on the ring steps. Strong tried to pick up the title belt left laying in the ring and tell Bálor what happened, but Bálor gave him a reverse kick to the head thinking it was the opposition about to attack. Dunne took advantage of the distraction and hit the BITTER END to score a victory over the NXT Champion. Cole was far from done, giving Bálor one more boot to the face to make the ending even more bitter.

It truly is the end of an Era.

Grade: B-

The show had the forward progression you’d want for the important stories — Adam Cole’s heel turn, the Dusty Rhodes Classic winners getting title opportunities along with their trophy cup, and Kacy Catanzaro learning that there’s no redemption for Xia Li. On the other hand there was no shortage of filler material and video packages in place of actual matches, and Zoey Stark vs. Valentina Feroz was the kind of bout best left to a house show in Winter Park, Florida in pre-pandemic times. I can’t decide if Cameron Grimes being a rich man is a good thing or too silly to handle. It would probably be better if the announcers didn’t oversell it to the point of ruining the comedy, but that’s WWE announcing for you in general.

Get up from your cageside seats and sound off below. See you in seven days!