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NXT recap & reactions (Apr. 27, 2021): Adam Cole is back, bay bay!

NXT returned last night (Apr. 27) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Adam Cole is back (bay bay)

The former “Undisputed” ruler of NXT Adam Cole finally recovered from the injuries he suffered battling Kyle O’Reilly at Takeover: Stand & Deliver. Never at a loss for words, the loquacious Lothario had a litany of complaints upon his return to the venue.

He certainly wasn’t at a loss for words speaking to Arash Markazi, including berating him for making him wait outside in the hot baking sun to do the interview. Cole implied that despite his win at Stand & Deliver, O’Reilly was far from ready to be a main event player in NXT.

He then declared that where he went next or what he did next was NOBODY’S DAMN BUSINESS, because wherever he went, he’d be the best damn Adam Cole that anybody has ever seen. Kyle O’Reilly watched on from the Capitol Wrestling Center in disgust.

KUSHIDA and MSK vs. Legado Del Fantasma

Following a successful title defense against Oney Lorcan last week, KUSHIDA was immediately jumped by Legado del Fantasma and their leader Santos Escobar sauntered down to the ring. Their plans of a three-on-one beatdown were thwarted by the arrival of tag team champions MSK, leaving the faces standing tall and setting up a three-on-three match for tonight’s show!

Both sides made repeated quick tags to try to maximize a three-on-one advantage, with KUSHIDA clearing the ring (and the ring apron) before the break to put the faces in control. Legado del Fantasma regained the advantage during the picture in picture, and slowly but surely things unraveled for the babyfaces. KUSHIDA got driven through the announce table by Escobar. Carter got posted into the steel steps. Lee had to survive three on one for a LONG time until Carter finally got back to the tag rope. He tried to clean house on the hot tag but was quickly put down again, and when KUSHIDA stumbled into the ring selling his injuries he was hit with a Phantom Driver by Escobar. No one was left to save Carter in the end and Legado del Fantasma left smiling and smirking at the destruction they caused.

In “Theory” Bronson Reed could earn another title shot

The Way’s resident lunkhead Austin Theory told General Manager William Regal that Bronson Reed didn’t deserve another short at North American champion Johnny Gargano without going through him first in singles competition. Over “Papa” John’s objections the match was signed and Reed would get a second chance to give Theory a Tsunami splash.

Reed entered before the break and was waiting for Theory (and The Way) when they all came out afterward. He was playful and respectful at first until Theory slapped him after a go behind switch, and then the match began in earnest. Theory kept bouncing off of Reed like a pinball until he was finally able to stun Reed with a dropkick, and pull down the ropes to send him tumbling to the floor. Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae hit the stereo superkicks and Theory dives to the outside to wipe Reed out, then posted him ribs first into the steel ring steps for good measure, taking full control as NXT went to commercial.

The second half of the match saw a surprise appearance by Dexter Lumis, who startled Gargano and LeRae, while Hartwell slowly backed away thinking she had been betrayed. She rolled into the ring and yelled “SHUT UP! YOU TALK TOO MUCH” as Lumis stared at her unblinking, not saying a word. Theory came flying her direction and Lumis shoved her out of the way, taking the collision in her place. Reed capitalized by going to the top rope to hit the Tsunami splash on Theory and pick up the North American title shot with the win! Here’s a little example of Reed showing off his power before that climactic finish.

Dakota Kai vs. Mercedes Martinez

After a tense exchange between Raquel González and Mercedes Martinez on last week’s program, with Martinez accusing González of being little more than Kai’s puppet, William Regal (as always) came up with a solution to the brewing problem — have Martinez face Kai in singles competition. A win could put Martinez one step closer to getting her title shot.

This match actually opened the live broadcast. Despite generally being known as a bad ass, Martinez was forced to play the face-in-peril this time, selling for the smaller Kai as the “Captain of Team Kick” booted her in the face repeatedly. The most impressive move before the commercial break though was Martinez lifting Kai off the top rope and carrying her to the center of the ring for a Cliffhanger. Her spinebuster looked pretty damn good too.

Kai was in charge during and after the break, but Martinez quickly recovered and started attacking with forearms, chops and clotheslines. She picked Kai up for three straight double underhook suplexes and seemed ready to send her opponent to oblivion. Instead she snapped the arm and Kai rolled out of the ring in pain, where González was waiting for a confrontation. She missed — Martinez didn’t. An infuriated González got in the ring to boot Martinez right as she was about to FU Kai, so Martinez picked up the win by DQ but got a huge beating for her trouble.

Aliyah & Jessi Kamea vs. Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon

In a non-title match, the proteges of the Robert Stone Brand — Aliyah & Jessi Kamea — looked to earn a future title shot against champions Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon. Rather than just tell you about it, I’ll let you explain why they deserved it in their own words.

The match never even happened. Moon and Blackheart were jumped by Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae before the bell rang. Robert Stone tried to present the tag team belts to his ladies like they had done something or won something, but that just wasn’t the case.

William Regal announced that Blackheart & Moon would face Hartwell & LeRae in a STREET FIGHT on next week’s show.

Killian Dain & Drake Maverick vs. Imperium

Somebody forgot to tell Drake Maverick that he had a match Tuesday night.

Maverick feared the worst, thinking Dain would immediately turn on him to rejoin Imperium for a three-on-one beating, or that Maverick would reach out for a hot tag and Dain would jump off the ropes and leave him hanging.

Neither of those things happened in the first half of the match, which saw Dain dominating the action until he tagged (then threw) Maverick into the ring. Imperium did as they are prone to do (cheat) and beat Maverick up two-on-one to send us to a commercial break. That beating continued after it too, and when Maverick finally went for the hot tag, Barthel yanked Dain off the apron so he wasn’t there to receive it. An enraged Dain hit the ring to clean house on everybody in sight. As the action spilled outside Barthel knocked Dain down and ordered Alexander Wolfe to hit him with a chair... but Wolfe refused to pull the trigger!

This didn’t change the eventual outcome (Maverick was hit with a Euro Bomb and pinned) but it was the first sign of dissension we’ve seen from Imperium, and even in their victory pose after the match, Wolfe stepped in front of Barthel and Aichner — and they immediately looked at him and took two steps forward to stand in front of him. Well well well!

What else do you need to know?

Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart got flowers backstage... from Dexter Lumis?

Dexter Grimes went shopping for the “most bling” gold watch he could find.

Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher sang a song for the Grizzled Young Veterans.

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott announced a Falls Count Anywhere match with Leon Ruff for next Tuesday’s show!

In an unannounced match, Zayda Ramier hit Toni Storm with a shooting star press to pick up a win, thanks to a distraction from Zoey Stark.

All kingdoms will fall to Tian Sha.

Pete Dunne declared himself to be the baddest man in NXT, “prove me wrong.”

Ted DiBiase proved to be the payoff to Grimes buying a watch, showing off what a REAL million dollar watch looks like as he was telling the cashier to ring up his purchase!

Grade: B-

This show was very heavy on interviews, video packages, vignettes and angles. It was almost as much filler in a two hour show as you’d find on a Monday night with an extra hour to spare. The bell to bell action was good, save for the non-match that was Aliyah & Jessi Kamea’s non-title opportunity. It’s undoubtedly sour grapes on my part to complain about a match they weren’t going to win even if it took place, but why promote it on social media and YouTube and then not deliver it? Even if it SUCKED that doesn’t matter — I tuned in expecting to see it and got shortchanged. It’s telling that in the end the most memorable things about this show were promos from Adam Cole, Tommaso Ciampa and Pete Dunne. I came within a hair’s breadth of going anywhere from C+ to C-, but in the end the frantic action of the six man tag and the Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory match saved the show. Like a lot of other people I’d like to know whose gym bag Toni Storm did her business in to not only not be announced for a match but to lose yet again to a “rookie” of the roster.

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

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