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NXT recap & reactions (June 8, 2021): The last step to In Your House

NXT returned last night (June 8) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

A fatal five-way face off!

Before we leave this house and knock on a few new doors at Takeover, there’s business left to settle inside the CWC. The five men who will battle for the NXT championship on Sunday were set to have a “face off” on Tuesday, although how that could have turned out less chaotic than last week was anybody’s guess. Scarlett’s warning certainly seemed ominous.

Despite her deck of cards it was Adam Cole who dealt the better hand. He let all of the other challengers come down to the ring to state their case in Karrion Kross’ face, then appeared on the Titantron to say he was too smart to play this game — especially since he had already beaten Kross last week (verbally). O’Reilly said since Cole’s too much of a bitch to get in this ring, someone else has to show who they are. Kross: “And who are you exactly?” I’ll answer that question with another question for you all: what did the five fingers say to the face? “SLAP.”

Everyone brawled as security tried and failed to calm things down, but just when Kross had gotten the better of his foes, Cole snuck in to superkick Kross and hit a flying knee from behind. He posed with the belt as the show went off the air in a very nice teaser for Takeover on Sunday!

Austin Theory and Oney Lorcan settle the score

Speaking of last week, we were supposed to get a new #1 contender to the NXT title in the triple threat match that opened last week’s show. Instead we got an Adam Cole run-in that left us with no winner and set the tone for a night of non-stop chaos. This included a debate turned fight when Austin Theory claimed “Papa” Johnny Gargano would have won the match if not for Cole, while Oney Lorcan said the same on behalf of “Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne. The only way these kind of debates ever get settled in pro wrestling is in the ring, but both sides were already brawling on the premises before the show!

This was a physical affair from the opening bell. Uppercuts, chops, slams, and a leg sweep on the apron that led to Theory taking a flat back bump on “the hardest part of the ring.” He got his revenge later after the commercial break by smashing Lorcan into the plexiglass barricade twice. By this point both Pete Dunne and Johnny Gargano had come down to ringside to watch, and when their proteges hit a double clothesline for a double down, Gargano and Dunne started a brawl and had to be escorted out. Security!!

This distraction worked in Lorcan’s favor, as he regained his composure and made Theory lose his by smashing him face first into a ring post. The match was over moments later, giving us a very solid opening to this week’s show.

Ember Moon vs. Dakota Kai

Having gotten fed up to here with Raquel González’ lackey Dakota Kai running interference for the women’s champion, Ember Moon vowed to take matters into her own hands with a two step plan — beat down Kai live on NXT, then march straight to a title shot at Takeover. Of course the ability to progress to part two of her master plan depended entirely on her performance Tuesday night. How did she fare? Not well as they went to commercial.

Moon found her offense to get a near fall right after we came back from the break. When Kai rolled out of the ring to recover right near her bestie, Ember Moon gave chase and Raquel González took it upon herself to throw a big boot... and miss. Moon decked her with a punch and wiped out both women with a suicide dive. She threw Kai into the ring to hit an Eclipse but González hit her with the boot right in front of the ref for a disqualification. Instead of making Moon look weak as a challenger by having her take a two on one beating before Sunday, Moon got the better of González by blocking the one arm slam and hitting González with the Eclipse instead! That’s how you build up a contender the right way.

Killian Dain gets “Swerved”

After a parking lot altercation on last week’s show that seemingly went nowhere, we finally got a payoff to the war of words between Hit Row and the team of Killian Dain and Drake Maverick. You might have expected this to lead to a tag match between opposing forces (I’m sure Top Dolla and Ashante “Thee” Adonis would be a fine team) but instead we got a singles match on the last show before Takeover.

Before this match could get underway though we had Legado del Fantasma coming out to the ring so Santos Escobar could bitch about his team losing last week thanks to Bronson Reed’s interference. Reed responded and came out to mock him by playing the video of Escobar getting squished into the plexiglass over and over again. An infuriated Escobar dared Reed to get in the ring and do it again — he said yes. MSK ran out to have his back, Legado took a powder, so Escobar’s next tactic was to challenge them to ALL the titles at Takeover in one match on Sunday — winner take all. They accepted and The Row finally came out for Swerve’s match with Dain, but not before they stared down BOTH groups as they sauntered their way to (and into) the ring.

Hit Row used constant interference to get the upper hand on Dain, but he’d continue to power up and take control of the match no matter what they did. As he was going to climb the ropes for a potential finisher, the Row attempted another distraction and Drake Maverick had finally seen enough. He got destroyed by “Top Dolla” AJ Francis for his trouble, and Swerve kicked Dain in the head for the pin. This is one of those cases where I don’t care much for the match thanks to the constant chicanery, but I like what it DID in terms of establishing Hit Row as complete and utter dicks, so I give this segment a thumbs up. They even emphasized it by stepping over Maverick’s carcass after Swerve got the win.

A “Priceless” announcement

Ahead of an In Your House battled between wannabe Ted DiBiase acolytes L.A. Knight and Cameron Grimes, “The Million Dollar Man” promised a priceless announcement for this week’s edition of NXT. What did the devious DiBiase have up his sleeve?

If you were expecting Mr. DiBiase to announce that his Million Dollar Title would be on the line between Grimes and Knight on Sunday, you’d be absolutely right. To up the stakes though both figuratively and literally he announced they’d fight for it in a ladder match!

Poppy returns to NXT

Candice LeRae’s least favorite singer is back with a vengeance. Poppy has already made an impact on the NXT brand this year with theme music, but nobody knew before Tuesday night what she had in store next — or if one half of the tag team champions could resist renewing her rivalry with the famous singer.

To make a long story short, Poppy “pushed a button” on her phone as William Regal and Triple H gawked, instantly releasing her new album on Spotify and Apple Music.

She wasn’t done though. Candice LeRae came down to the ring to complain about Poppy’s presence, blaming her for ruining Indi Hartwell’s life by hugging Dexter Lumis earlier.

LeRae demanded satisfaction for sinking the ship that says the In-Dex seas. Poppy came out with a mic and said “I don’t wrestle, but I know someone who does.” Io Shirai returned! She did a double leg takedown, hit a 6-1-9 and a top rope missile dropkick, and LeRae took a powder from the beating as Poppy and Shirai celebrated in the ring. That’s a fun way to use a celebrity cameo on a wrestling show and a good one to boot — a perfect excuse to re-introduce Shirai after her recent absence. I wholeheartedly endorse this segment!

What else do you need to know?

There were two unannounced squash matches on this show. Xia Li attempted to take out Mercedes Martinez before her match, but Martinez fired up and knocked Li over a barricade and told the referee to ring the damn bell. Her poor opponent never even got introduced before eating an Air Raid Crash for the pin. We learned later that her name is Amari Miller. I think this tweet sums up my feelings about the match nicely.

We also got the Grizzled Young Veterans having a tag team match with this week’s 205 Live representatives in August Grey and Ikemen Jiro. This was little more than an excuse for Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher to watch from ringside, throw chairs at the ring after the match, and goad GYV into a fight. Before the night ended it was made official that the two sides would have a tornado rules fight on next week’s NXT!

Ever-Rise also announced they’d be doing a “pre” pre-show on Sunday. I won’t be tuned in.

Grade: A

Like a fresh dozen eggs straight from the grocery store, this show was all grade A start to finish. Were it not for Ever-Rise wasting our time I would have given it a perfect A+. Every segment made sense, every match had the right finish, everything built perfectly to our Takeover event on Sunday. Congratulations to everyone involved in getting things back on track this week. Karrion Kross told William Regal that he wasn’t running NXT and that it was completely out of control, but ironically that would have been more true last week instead. This show ran like a well oiled machine for two straight hours.

Get up from your cageside seats and sound off below. See you Sunday!

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