NXT returned last night (February 24) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find all the results on the live blog here.
Adam Cole: He’s still an idiot.
This week’s episode closed with the explanation of Adam Cole’s betrayal. But we never really get it. Instead, it was Cole pretending he was sorry only to reveal unsurprisingly that he definitely wasn’t.
Kyle O’Reilly, who we were told is out for 4-6 months (but will likely be back sooner), did not show up tonight. It was too early for any of that. Instead, Roddy Strong took on the former Undisputed ERA leader. At first, he didn’t buy Cole’s BS. But after an interlude in which NXT Champion Finn Bálor tried to confront Cole but was put down by a brief alliance between Roddy and Adam (a bit reluctant on Strong’s behalf), the Panama City Playboy ignited the water supply, tricked Roderick and hit him. in the walnuts.
All of this generated enough drama that it was fun to follow, but it didn’t make a lot of 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 just to attack him? Would he have kept up the ruse until he had a chance to hit someone in the balls if Strong hadn’t intervened?
We’ll see what he does next, if he keeps pretending to regret his decisions or if this week was something unique. It feels like the kind of segment that was entertaining but doesn’t stand up to any real scrutiny. But that will depend on how they play it as you go.
I’ve never seen Karrion Kross sell as much as he did this week.
I don’t watch Triple A, but I saw his entire run on Impact and obviously everything he’s done on NXT, and this match had more sales than maybe all of them combined.
Okay, that’s obviously hyperbole, but Kross spent maybe 90% of the game without DQ tonight having Santos Escobar work his left shoulder. It started with their fight in the parking lot when the cruiserweight champion dropped the door of a truck. Combining that with a constant three-on-one threat, Karrion found himself in a situation that rarely occurs.
Even though it was often a handicap match, he still left the lasting image of Santos Escobar doing something that no one had ever done to this dangerous man. The reason does not matter. What matters is that it happened, that Santos dominated Kross at times, even though Escobar ultimately lost this match.
The fight itself was … good. There were some fun spots, like Kross throwing Joaquín Wilde and Raúl Mendoza through a fan pod barrier and staring at a concerned Escobar. But mostly, it was a one-sided beating. Then when Kross finally fired again, he didn’t really sell the arm that was worked the previous 20 minutes. Sure, you can dismiss some of that as he’s superhuman, but if that’s the case, it undermines the idea of Santos working the previous injured shoulder.
In the end, they got what they needed. Kross beat the odds to assert his dominance, while Santos gave the great man the biggest run for his money he had ever had. It just felt like crawling to get there.
The rebel stage
El Camino is experiencing some problems.
Dexter Lumis has begun to drive a wedge between parents and children. Austin Theory hasn’t been right since Lumis kidnapped him in TakeOver: Day of Vengeance. It sounds like a pretty obvious statement. Being kidnapped for days is going to upset anyone. In this case, he is closer to Stockholm Syndrome, as he feels like he had a great time with Uncle D (my nickname, not his).
It is also off in general. Tried high-fives Johnny Gargano with the wrong hand. He always played the clueless member of The Way, but it’s more so now that he went on vacation with Dex.
This possibly cost Johnny his match against Lumis this week. After a fun match (Gargano has great matches with almost everyone), the Camino leader distracted the referee. Candice ordered Theory to attack Dexter with a chair. But when the creepy Lumis made eye contact, Austin smirked and said “What’s wrong?” and not use the chair as a weapon. When Gargano tried to rush his enemy from behind, he accidentally struck his protégé and then got caught in Silence, losing by submission.
Interestingly, Indi Hartwell also has a bit of a crush on Dexter. Announcers made sure to point out that he was smiling during a moment when Lumis was beating Johnny Wrestling. And backstage later, he admitted that he found the distant fighter “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 in NXT on a weekly basis.)
All in all, the Camino is still tremendously entertaining. I certainly appreciated that they sang “That’s Right (I Like It)” before Johnny’s game. Hope this continues. May I suggest “Honey, I love The Way”? as your next tune? I’m also impressed with how well Theory has adapted to the group. At first, he felt like the stranger. But then they leaned towards it, making him the fool. It is a role that he plays well, making the whole group feel complete.
NXT is very excited about Zoey Stark.
Not everyone gets a competitive two-segment match with the best woman on the list in their second NXT match. That’s what Stark got this week. And she more than defended herself against Io Shirai.
We will see if it is up to the push they are going to give it. But tonight we have an exhibition match for Io Shirai, something we don’t see often. I will take seeing one of the best fighters in the world work any day of the week. It is not something we should see often, but when we do, it is a pleasure.
After the match, Toni Storm came out on stage to accuse the champion of dodging her. It was simple, but probably my favorite Storm heel promo. It’s a smart angle given that Toni has a track record of beating Shirai in a high-profile situation.
This should be a really fun show. The title fight is already scheduled for two weeks from now, but that might just be one chapter in the longer story.
Xia Li had his first real match since joining Tian Sha’s ranks.
She confronted her “former friend” Kacy Catanzaro. The game itself was fine. Both women are still relatively new to the business and look great. But the closing angle when Li entered character work as a brutal fighter was very good.
When Kacy was face down against the ring steps, Xia stomped her arm hard. He then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the ring. Li did not have a chance to finish off his opponent because the referee decided that Catanzaro could no longer go and called the match.
Kayden Carter once again tried to confront Mei Ying, which was a bad move. Mei nodded to Li, who was still in the ring, and Xia kicked Kacy in the head while the officers were already tending to the former Ninja Warrior.
This will lead to Carter against Li, which will likely be more of the same. That works. What happens after that will be interesting. Maybe it leads to something physical from Mei Ying?
All the rest
– MSK had a video package that told us a bit more about them. Which is good because when they were going to do a live promo with McKenzie Mitchell, the Grizzled Young Vets attacked them. This lets us know that the actual show below for the Dusty Cup winners is a rematch with GYV. His fight for the tag title next week is more likely to set him up even more.
– The Young Vets followed this up with a tag team win later in the night against a game by Killian Dain and Drake Maverick. There was intrigue when Dain confronted his former SAnitY teammate Alexander Wolfe while carrying Maverick. The current member of the Imperium questioned what Dain had become. Is this the beginning of the end for Drake and Dain?
– Another segment that did not happen due to a brutal attack was a Tyler Rust match with Leon Ruff. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott hadn’t gotten over his loss to Ruff last week. He attacked the former North American champion and delivered a Death Valley Driver to the ring platform. That move seemed … wait for it … hard.
– Cameron Grimes is still fantastic. This week, he tried to do the part of basketball that the Million Dollar Man did back in the day, but he was too stupid to do it. I would definitely enjoy it if this led to a Ted DiBiasi cameo.
This was a pretty good show, but none of the big segments really felt riveted. It’s still nice overall.