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NXT recap & reactions (Apr. 13, 2021): The landscape has changed!

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NXT returned last night (Apr. 13) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Karrion Kross didn’t drown after all

Even though Finn Bálor promised to take Karrion Kross into the deep waters and let him sink beneath the surface, it was Kross who prevailed at night two of Takeover: Stand & Deliver. Having successfully completed his quest to become NXT’s world champion for a second time, Kross (and Scarlett) decided to open the show and let the world know what the future holds now that he’s back on top.

To summarize what he had to say in about half as many words: Finn Bálor tried and failed to stop me from taking what was mine, I run NXT now until I decide not to any more, and if any of you are man enough to take this championship from me COME AND TRY. Even if that was scripted for him to say from start to finish, I give him the credit due for delivering it well.


Santos Escobar’s open challenge

Let’s make this simple — in the words of John Cena, cruiserweight champion Santos Escobar said “If you want some, COME GET SOME.” His ladder match victory over Jordan Devlin unified the titles and solidified his claim to be royalty in lucha libre. Now it was time for a new usurper to lay a claim to the throne and try to become king.

KUSHIDA was the man who stepped up to answer his challenge, knocking Escobar out of the ring with a dropkick before the match could officially get underway, then working over the arm and shoulder looking for the hoverboard lock. That makes sense right? But that’s not how the match ended. Escobar had spent the majority of the commercial break and return from it softening up KUSHIDA. Escobar hit the backstabber and went for the phantom driver, seemingly having the match won, but after a series of reversals on the mat KUSHIDA hooked the legs and Escobar was down for the 1-2-3. We have a new champion!

Backstage Jordan Devlin told KUSHIDA he was in luck because “the travel Gods” had intervened to send him home, but when he returned... he’d take back what was his. KUSHIDA had a two word response: “ANY, TIME.”


The arrival of Franky Monet

The artist formerly known as Taya Valkyrie has been letting her little dog run around the Capitol Wrestling Center for weeks. I’m going to be honest with you all — I prefer big dogs that shake the room when they go WOOF. That’s actually a good description of Franky Monet. She’s a big dog with a loud bark and an even meaner bite. Despite her ridiculous new name I was anxious to see her debut on the NXT brand.

Monet used her TV time to interrupt the championship celebration of Raquel González and proclaim that the “GUERA LOCA” is here to rule NXT. They exchanged taunts in both English and Spanish, with González promising that if Monet interrupted her again, she’d shove that little puppy straight up her CULO.

Once Monet departed Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair arrived, each getting their own entrance and a chance to show González respect.


MSK vs. Drake Maverick & Killian Dain

WWE wasted no time booking a title defense for MSK on NXT’s first Tuesday night show. Thankfully it was an easy choice who they would face since Drake Maverick & Killian Dain won a #1 contender’s match on the pre-show of Takeover night two. I found it highly implausible that MSK would lose less than a week after winning a triple threat for the vacant titles, but let’s be real — that’s exactly why Maverick & Dain were their first challengers.

It was a valiant effort from the challengers, so much so that MSK actually had some heat for cutting off the ring to give Maverick a two-on-one beatdown. Perhaps this was the wrong team for MSK to face if you don’t want them to turn heel. Example — here’s Nash Carter giving Drake Maverick a bronco buster in the corner.

If you’re going to do the big moves at least do them to the big man — like THIS.

At the end of the day though Dain was unable to save his buddy from MSK’s double team finisher, and to make matters worse Imperium hit the ring to lay him out afterward.


Leon Ruff and Isaiah Scott aren’t done yet!

They battled before the gauntlet match. They battled in the gauntlet match. Now they will battle AFTER the gauntlet match. The feud between Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and Leon Ruff is far from over. At this rate the two of them could battle each other for the rest of 2021 — not that I would be complaining that much if they did.

Even though Scott picked up the win with his JML driver, it settled nothing between the two men whatsoever, as Ruff jumped him during an interview with McKenzie Mitchell and rammed him in the head with a rolling cart (presumably production equipment) until officials dragged him away. THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE!


What’s next for North American champion Johnny Gargano?

I’ll tell you what — an eight person tag team match on Tuesday night! The Way would take on Dexter Lumis, Bronson Reed, and women’s tag team champions Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart in a match where more people were looking to settle grudges with each other.

This was the main event and it didn’t need to be since it was a cluster. Even though it was ostensibly mixed tag rules, that didn’t stop the men from working with the women at all times, and the referee had little to no control over the proceedings. This was mostly an excuse for comedy spots so if that’s not your bag, don’t go looking for highlights or a replay. If on the other hand you enjoy seeing Candice LeRae dangle in the air while she tries unsuccessfully to give Bronson Reed a suplex off the top rope, this is perfect for you. Indi Hartwell laid herself out on purpose multiple times just to get Dexter Lumis to swoon and carry the helpless damsel to the back, and when he took the bait, she winked at the camera.

Just like that a four-on-four match became a three-on-three, and Reed got his revenge after a failed title challenge at Takeover, hitting his Tsunami splash onto a prone Gargano to pick up the win for his team. The Way left in disarray as the show went off the air with the women’s tag team champions and their hulking partner celebrating in the ring.


Mercedes Martinez vs. Jessi Kamea

This was a literally LAST SECOND addition to an already stacked show. Here’s a video clip to show you how it was put together.

This was a squash match. Don’t be fooled by the fact Jessi Kamea took the first minute of the match on offense. Once Martinez hoisted Kamea onto her shoulders in a fireman’s carry and slammed her down to the mat, it was immediately over with a decisive F, U.

Martinez chased down Robert Stone and strangled him until he coughed up the other half of the fee he promised her, then stormed to the announce desk to deliver a message to the new NXT women’s champion.


A few miscellaneous notes

A video package aired putting over William Regal signing Sarray “Warrior of the Sun” (a/k/a Sareee) to a contract with NXT after “years of negotiation.”

Roderick Strong handed William Regal a sealed manila envelope and said he was done. Regal expressed his regrets it had come to this but welcomed him to come back any time.

Tommaso Ciampa said that while he and Timothy Thatcher hadn’t won every fight, they had their heart tested in battle and came out stronger, so now they were coming for MSK.

Last but not least Pete Dunne reminded us that he had a win over KUSHIDA at Takeover, proving he was the best technical wrestler in all of WWE, daring anyone to prove him wrong. What’s next for the Bruiserweight? Getting back to championship gold.


Grade: B

I understand that the post-Takeover show needed to accomplish a lot of things, but at times it felt like they were trying to herd cats with so many angles going on. They largely succeeded but (arm chair quarterback time) I would have done this a little differently. Mercedes Martinez didn’t need a squash match on a show this busy. If it was absolutely necessary to do, I would have cut a couple of the Takeover highlight packages to give her and Jessi Kamea more time. I don’t believe an eight person tag was necessary for Reed to get a non-title pinfall. A simpler two on two with Theory & Gargano vs. Reed & Lumis could have achieved the same result, but they can’t resist putting Hartwell on camera (you can’t blame them for that). There was just a little too much talking and slightly too little pro wrestling, but Escobar and KUSHIDA had a hell of a match that brought the whole show up. That’s the last thing I would have changed — that should have been the night’s main event.

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