NXT returned last night (Feb. 24) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find all the results at the live blog here.
Adam Cole: Still a prick.
This week’s episode closed with the explanation for Adam Cole’s betrayal. But we never really got it. Instead it was Cole pretending he was remorseful only to predictably reveal that he most definitely was not.
Kyle O’Reilly, who they told us is out 4-6 weeks (but surely will be back sooner), did not show up tonight. It was too soon for any of that. Instead Roddy Strong confronted the former leader of Undisputed ERA. At first, he didn’t buy Cole’s BS. But after an interlude where NXT Champion Finn Bálor tried to confront Cole but got put down by a brief alliance between Roddy and Adam (a bit reluctant on Strong’s behalf), the Panama City Playboy turned on the waterworks, suckered Roderick in, and punched him in the nuts.
This all made for enough drama that it was fun following along, but it didn’t make much sense to me when I really thought about it. Who was Adam trying to fool? He knew Kyle wasn’t there. Was he trying to lure Roddy out just to attack him? Would have have kept the ruse up until he had the chance to punch someone in the balls if Strong didn’t interject?
We’ll see what he does next, if he continues to pretend he regrets his decisions or if this week was a one time thing. It feels like the type of segment that was entertaining but doesn’t hold up to any real scrutiny. But that’ll depend on how they play it as this goes forward.
I’ve never seen Karrion Kross sell as much as he did this week.
I don’t watch Triple A, but I watched his full run in Impact and obviously all he’s done in NXT, and this match featured more selling then maybe all of those combined.
OK, that’s obviously hyperbole, but Kross spent maybe 90% of tonight’s no-DQ match getting his left shoulder worked over by Santos Escobar. It started with their brawl in the parking lot when the Cruiserweight champ dropped a truck door on it. Combine that with a constant three on one threat, Karrion found himself in a situation he rarely ever does.
Even though it was often a handicap match, it still left the lasting image of Santos Escobar doing something no one has done to this dangerous man. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is it happened, that Santos dominated Kross at times, despite the fact Escobar eventually lost this match.
The bout itself was... fine. There was some fun spots, such as Kross tossing both Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza through a fan pod barrier and staring at a worried Escobar. But mainly, it was a one sided beat down. Then when Kross did eventually fire back up, he didn’t really sell the arm that was worked the prior 20 minutes. Sure, you can write some of that off as him being superhuman, but if that’s the case, it undercuts the idea of Santos working the prior injured shoulder.
In the end, they accomplished what they needed to. Kross over came the odds to assert his dominance while Santos gave the big man the biggest run for his money he’s had. It just felt like it dragged to get there.
The Rebellious Stage
The Way is experiencing a bit of trouble.
Dexter Lumis has started to drive a wedge between the parents and the kids. Austin Theory has not been right since being kidnapped by Lumis at TakeOver: Vengeance Day. That sounds like a pretty obvious statement. Being kidnapped for days is going to mess with anyone. In this case, it’s closer to Stockholm Syndrome as he feels he had a great time with Uncle D (my nickname, not his).
He’s also off in general. He tried to high five Johnny Gargano with the wrong hand. He always played the clueless member of the Way, but it’s more now that he went on vacay with Dex.
This possibly cost Johnny his match against Lumis this week. After a fun match (Gargano has great matches with pretty much everyone), the leader of the Way distracted the referee. Candice instructed Theory to attack Dexter with a chair. But when the creepy Lumis made eye contact, Austin smiled, pretty much saying “What’s up?” and not using the chair as a weapon. When Gargano tried to rush his foe from behind, he accidentally hit his protege and then got caught in the Silence, losing by submission.
Oddly enough, Indi Hartwell is a bit infatuated with Dexter as well. The announcers made sure to point out she was smiling during a moment where Lumis was beating Johnny Wrestling. And backstage later, she admitted she found the aloof wrestler “hot.” No matter what, Johnny and Candice need to get their house in order.
(Said backstage segment is embedded above because backstage segments with the Way are one of the best things on NXT weekly.)
All in all, the Way are still wildly entertaining. I certainly appreciated them singing “That’s the Way (I Like It)” prior to Johnny’s match. I hope this continues. May I suggest “Baby, I love The Way?” as their next tune? I’m also impressed with how well Theory has adjusted to the group. At first, he felt like the odd man out. But then they leaned into that, making him the dumb one. It’s a role he plays well, making the entire group feel whole.
Quite the Rollout
NXT is really high on Zoey Stark.
Not everyone gets a competitive two segment match with the top woman on the roster in their second ever NXT match. That’s what Stark got this week. And she more than held her own against Io Shirai.
We’ll see if she lives up to the push they’re going to give her. But we got an exhibition match from Io Shirai tonight, something we don’t see often. I’ll take watching one of the best wrestlers in the world work any day of the week. It’s not something we should see often, but when we do, it’s a treat.
After the match, Toni Storm walked out onto the stage to accuse the champ of ducking her. It was simple, but probably my favorite heel promo from Storm. It’s a smart angle given Toni has a history of defeating Shirai in a high profile situation.
This should be a really fun program. The title match is already set for two weeks from now, but that could just be a chapter in the longer story.
Xia Li had her first real match since joining the ranks of Tian Sha.
She faced off against her “former friend” Kacy Catanzaro. The match itself was fine. Both women are both still relatively new to the business, and they put on a solid match. But the closing angle when Li went into the character work as a brutal fighter was very good.
When a prone Kacy was laying against the ring steps, Xia delivered a nasty stomp to her leg. She then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the ring. Li didn’t get a chance to finish off her opponent because the referee decided Catanzaro could no longer go and called the match.
Kayden Carter once again tried to get into the face of Mei Ying, which was a bad move. Mei nodded to Li, who was still in the ring, and Xia delivered a kick to the head of Kacy as the former Ninja Warrior was already being tended to by the officials.
This will lead to Carter vs. Li, which will probably be more of the same. That works. What happens after that will be interesting. Maybe it will lead to some physicality from Mei Ying?
All The Rest
- MSK had a video package telling us a little more about them. Which is good because when they were going to give a live promo with McKenzie Mitchell, the Grizzled Young Vets attacked them. This lets us know that the real program up next for the Dusty Cup winners is a rematch with GYV. Their tag title match next week is more likely going to set that up further.
- The Young Vets followed this up with a tag team victory later in the evening against a game Killian Dain and Drake Maverick. There was intrigue when Dain was confronted by his former SAnitY mate Alexander Wolfe while he was carrying Maverick. The current Imperium member questioned what Dain’s become. Is this the beginning of the end for Drake and Dain?
- Another segment that didn’t happen because of a brutal attack was a Tyler Rust match with Leon Ruff. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott was not over his loss to Ruff last week. He attacked the former North American champ and delivered a Death Valley Driver onto the ring apron. That move looked... wait for it... rough.
- Cameron Grimes continues to be fantastic. This week, he tried to pull off the basketball bit that the Million Dollar Man did back in the day, but he was too stupid to pull it off. I would definitely enjoy it if this led to a Ted DiBiase cameo.
This was a pretty good show, but none of the big segments felt like they really nailed it. Still enjoyable overall.
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