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NXT recap & reactions (Mar. 17, 2021): The champ takes the fall

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

Finn Bálor has something to say

Moments before NXT went live on USA Network it was revealed that NXT champion Finn Bálor would make a statement to open the show. What did “The Prince” have on his mind? The lights went up and the champ had the belt over his shoulder and a mic in his hand. To make a long story short Bálor said he had already beaten every worthy contender to the throne on NXT thus far, and that Karrion Kross was the only man left standing. He also mocked the “tick tock” by saying that at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver his time was UP.

This brought out Karrion Kross and Scarlett, with the latter vowing that “everything happens for a reason.” In fact she’s had a vision that she’s seen “in the cards” of two champions draped in gold. As she’s looking at both her man and Bálor, the tag team champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch interrupt, saying that the person who really deserves a title shot isn’t Karrion Kross — it’s “the best technical wrestler in the world” Pete Dunne. Scarlett uses the interruption as an excuse to seduce Lorcan and Burch into putting their titles on the line against Bálor and Kross, thus fulfilling her own prophecy. That would be tonight’s main event!

Karrion Kross single-handedly dominated the tag team champions before the first commercial break, leaving Finn Bálor nothing to do but stand on the ring apron and applaud his efforts. Unfortunately that domination meant putting Danny Burch into extended bear hugs to wear him down, which isn’t the most exciting thing to watch. Maybe the applause was sarcastic.

Either for storyline or legitimate reasons, Danny Burch was down on the outside for the remainder of the match [Editor’s Note: early reports are Burch suffered a legitimate shoulder injury during the match] after Kross hit a double suplex, selling an injury and being tended to by medical personnel. This led to the awkward booking of Finn Bálor as the face-in-peril as Oney Lorcan worked him over and Bálor kept looking for the hot tag. When he was about to get it, Lorcan knocked Kross off the apron, but that was the start of Bálor’s comeback anyway. He ran Lorcan pillar to post, clotheslined him out of the ring, and hit the Slingblade on the floor. His next move was a missile dropkick, but that only sent Lorcan backward into Scarlett, which made her fall down and made Kross STEAMING MAD. He beat up his own partner and threw him back into the ring to be pinned in short order by Lorcan.

Scarlett played it up like this was her plan all along, both to trick the tag team champs into taking the match, and to trick Bálor into teaming with her man just so she could take a bump. That seems like an incredibly convoluted way to get from point A to B though, and it also results in the NXT champion losing by pinfall to one half of the tag team champions, so why would Oney Lorcan even advocate for Pete Dunne at this point? He’d have a better case that HE deserves a shot at Finn Bálor at TakeOver now. I know that’s not the direction they are going, so the whole thing is just dumb if you ask me.


The dark Knight rises

The artist formerly known as Eli Drake and currently known as LA Knight announced on last week’s show that he would make his official in-ring debut in seven days, but almost as soon as those words escaped his lips he was jumped by an irate Bronson Reed. Would Knight get an opponent NOT of his choosing, or would the dark Knight find a way to keep Reed at bay?

In a word NO but Reed apparently decided it would be more fun to humiliate Knight by doing the “fat man in a little coat” bit (rest in peace Chris Farley) and ruining it. This didn’t distract LA Knight from picking up the win over “205 Live standout August Grey” but it did mean he’d need to get a new outfit.


Imperium vs. Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa

WALTER’s crew of European heavies known as Imperium has been looking to bring former associate Timothy Thatcher into their ranks, but his current tag team partner Tommaso Ciampa has been standing in their way at every turn. In fact after their latest pitch to Thatcher, Ciampa upped the ante by saying he’d answer their offer with a FIGHT, and the Capitol Wrestling Center would be the venue for that fracas. Unfortunately Thatcher may have been part of the COVID-19 outbreak because Ciampa said Imperium “took matters into their own hands” and that Thatcher was missing. He vowed to McKenzie Mitchell that she could ask Imperium about Alexander Wolfe, and they’d find out HE had taken matters into his own hands too. By night’s end he vowed to be the last man standing.

Ciampa got a one on one match with Marcel Barthel, and took out Fabian Aichner before the match even started to try and even the odds. He’d eventually get the better of Barthel and hit the Willow’s Bell for the pin, but this only led to the appearance of WALTER at the Capitol Wrestling Center. Ciampa begged the NXT UK champion for a fight, but this allowed Aichner and Barthel to jump him for a two-on-one attack, which quickly turned into a THREE on one beatdown. Imperium stood tall over Ciampa... well, everyone except for Wolfe.


Austin Theory is fed up, and he’s not taking it any more!

Johnny Gargano has spent weeks filling Austin Theory’s head with lies about Dexter Lumis. Theory was told by both Gargano and the therapist he paid that Lumis thinks he’s a terrible dresser, a sloppy eater, and that his abs are pathetic. Theory fell for Garganos BS hook, line and sinker and last night at NXT he was OUT, FOR, REVENGE.

Unfortunately for Theory, Lumis was smarter than all of The Way combined. He tricked Theory into accepting a hand to pull him back to his feet, then put him in the Silencer. Theory tried to escape and go for a slam, but Lumis put him in the Silencer AGAIN and this time he was unable to break free — going out cold to give Dexter Lumis the win!


Zoey Stark vs. Dakota Kai

A singles match between rising prospect Zoey Stark and former tag team champion Dakota Kai was a late addition to this week’s NXT. Would Stark be able to capture a big singles win and climb further up the ladder, or would Kai get back on track after a devastating loss to Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon right after she and Raquel González became champs?

The looming presence of Raquel González on the outside may have been too much for Stark to overcome — well, in storyline at least — as she eventually succumbed to Kai’s offense courtesy of going airborne and landing on the Kai-Ropractor for three. After the match Io Shirai came out and slapped a contract into González chest, then helped Stark get up and make her way to the back. Presumably if González signs the contract, it’s on for TakeOver: Stand & Deliver next month!


Breezango vs. Legado del Fantasma

And speaking of mythical ladders, two teams who aspire to challenge Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch for the men’s tag team titles were booked for competition at the Capitol Wrestling Center. If they could avoid any interference from the aforementioned champions they could get that much closer to a title shot at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver next month. During the match Joaquin Wilde couldn’t help but mock Fandango’s penchant for dancing.

Santos Escobar kept running interference for his “league” and it paid off at the end when they were able to hit a double team finish on Breeze before Raul Mendoza covered him for three. This was all a prelude to Jordan Devlin coming out to confront Escobar, telling him that the REAL champion was back in town. Escobar retorted that the only reason Devlin was still a champ was because nobody could even remember that he WAS the champ. He told Devlin to “finish his business in the UK” and meet him at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver to settle their issue once and for all! How did Devlin take this challenge? By landing a headbutt to the face of the smug Escobar, leaving him with a bloody lip in the process!


Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly are NUTS

The ongoing war of words and actions between former friends Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly led William Regal to barring O’Reilly from the building “for his own health,” but that just caused Adam Cole to leave the Capitol Wrestling Center in search of his arch-enemy. The two got into a fracas outside the building where O’Reilly ALLEGEDLY tried to run Cole over with his car, causing Mr. Regal to vow he’d settle it in the building NEXT WEEK.


All of this and Sarray too!

The “Warrior of the Sun” is soon to make her WWE NXT debut.


Grade: C

It’s very clear that due to the recent viral outbreak among the NXT roster this show had to be rebooked on the fly. They did the best they could under the circumstances but it’s hard to follow up “TakeOver Lite” with three title matches even if you don’t have an outbreak. Seeing WALTER in the Capitol Wrestling Center did bring things up a notch, but seeing Karrion Kross do a long bear hug in the main event brought them back down. Last week’s confrontation between Kross and Bálor to end the show was the perfect build to a title match at TakeOver, and now they’re throwing the cart AND the horse away to add more where nothing needs to be added. If anybody got it right this week it was Santos Escobar and Jordan Devlin. Each one thinks he’s the better man, and they’ll have a fight to prove it. No extra malarkey required.

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