Karrion Kross and Johnny Gargano go one on one for the NXT Championship in tonight’s main event, with Samoa Joe as Special Guest Referee. Ember Moon, alone once again now Shotzi Blackheart moved on to SmackDown with Tegan Nox, faces Dakota Kai. Toni Storm may have turned down Sarray’s suggestion of a match, but Sarray received a challenge of her own, from Gigi Dolan. Sarray accepted. Dexter Lumis has a match against Santos Escobar. Cameron Grimes begins his duties as LA Knight’s butler. And the NXT Breakout Tournament 2021 begins with Ikemen Jiro versus Duke Hudson.
Dakota Kai def. Ember Moon
Tyler Rust def. Bobby Fish
Sarray def. Gigi Dolan
Santos Escobar def. Dexter Lumis
Duke Hudson def. Ikemen Jiro
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter def. The Robert Stone Brand (Aliyah & Jessi Kamea)
Karrion Kross def. Johnny Gargano
Ember Moon vs Dakota Kai, with Raquel Gonzalez
Commentary showed Ember Moon’s congratulatory tweet to Shotzi Blackheart during her entrance, describing her as having ‘Proud sister vibes’. She could have done with Blackheart at ringside to counteract the threat of Raquel Gonzalez.
An interesting match because Moon needs the win to give her new singles’ run some momentum. Kai is currently focused on the tag titles because she doesn’t want to have to take on her only friend, but she’s also Gonzalez’ gatekeeper.
A Moon suicide dive bounced Kai off the barricade, and Kai turned immediately around and shoved Moon into the apron. We went to a break with Kai laid out on the floor seeing tweety birds from an Ember Moon kick.
Moon took a horrible looking fall off the turnbuckle. Not high, she just slipped down, but she appeared to smack her head at least once. She still kicked out of Kai’s pin attempt and, with Gonzalez yelling that she’s nothing without Shotzi, revived and got herself a two-count moments later.
The finish looked messy because it was so close to the ropes, but Kai delivered the GTK and Moon didn’t kick out. Not the be
Xia Li came to the ring and challenged Raquel Gonzalez after the match. Gonzalez accepted the challenge.
Malcolm Bivens soliloquy about Diamond Mine was interrupted by Bobby Fish answering the open challenge Bivens had talked about them putting out. He wants Roderick Strong, but Bivens have him Tyler Rust instead. Fish was fine with that, he’ll take them all and doesn’t mind who goes first.
Ikemen Jiro is funny. He was trained by Tajiri and Great Muta. Ikemen apparently means handsome, and he’s looking forward to fighting the big guys in NXT.
LA Knight organised Cameron Grimes a makeover to make him look more professional. It backfired on him because Grimes loved it.
Bobby Fish vs Tyler Rust, with Diamond Mine
Roderick Strong obviously had no confidence in Rust’s ability to beat Fish on his own. He got up on the apron to cause a distraction and held Fish’s attention until Rust chop-blocked him. After that, a kick in the head was all it took for Rust to finish it.
Kushida prevented a three/four on one beatdown after the match.
I’m not sure where Bobby Fish goes from here without Undisputed ERA. I don’t see him hitting the main title picture. He’d be a great fit for the SmackDown roster, so maybe a fresh start on the main roster would work.
Karrion Kross tried to ignore Samoa Joe’s reminder of the rules and just keep punching the bag. Joe kicked the bag out of the way to get his attention and asked for a second time if he understood. Kross said if Joe screws him out of this match, he’s the one who’ll get dealt with. Joe said he’d take that as a yes.
Johnny Gargano refused an interview on his way in earlier in the day. Beth Phoenix stopped Indi Hartwell to ask about Dexter Lumis. Hartwell said nothing had happened because it wasn’t the right time. Phoenix advised her to just take the chance.
Sarray vs Gigi Dolan
The clip of Gigi Dolan challenging Sarray played during Dolan’s entrance. I’m not sure what the character is, but I’m interested. Sarray is pure joy in a wrestling ring and she initiated a respectful handshake on the bell to set the tone.
Weirdly, Mandy Rose turned up mid-match and stood on the stage watching. She got to see a short but fun match and a Sarray victory via a massive dropkick and a suplex. She nodded and left without saying anything.
Santos Escobar and the rest of Legado del Fantasma are not impressed with Hit Row (which puts them in a very small minority), and they’re not impressed by Dexter Lumis either. Escobar called him a loser in love and the ring.
Santos Escobar, with Legado del Fantasma, vs Dexter Lumis
In person, Escobar is far more creeped out by Lumis than he made out, which is fair enough really. Lumis disappeared under the ring at one point and tried to pull Escobar under with him. Mendoza and Wilde saved him, but they all looked scared when Lumis reared up from under there.
The numbers game messed things up for Lumis and robbed us of a clean ending to a good match. After Mendoza pulled Escobar free of Lumis’ anaconda vice, he held the ref’s attention so Wilde could drag Lumis’ arm back into the ringpost. With Lumis neutralised, a Phantom Driver sealed the win for Escobar.
Hit Row heard what Legado del Fantasma had to say and confronted them on the stage.
Indi Hartwell tried to carry Dexter Lumis out of the arena from the apron like he did to her last week. She got him up, but dropped him after a couple of steps. They almost kissed but Candice LeRae ran down the ramp and shoved Hartwell away at the last second.
Duke Hudson thinks a lot of himself. Like Miz levels of arrogance. We’ll find out later if he can back it up.
Wade Barrett sat down with Kyle O’Reilly to talk about last week. O’Reilly said losing is part of life, but he doesn’t know where his killer instinct was. It was missing in that match and he doesn’t understand. He’s said in the past that he sold his soul to the Undisputed ERA and he wants it back, but he’s questioning whether he needs it back. He was successful with them. He might have done things a little differently, but he won titles… there was some ambiguity in what he actually meant there. He needs to get his groove back, but he’s going to be the guy who finishes Adam Cole.
LA Knight’s second attempt to break Cameron Grimes also failed. He got Grimes mowing a huge lawn with a hand mower, but Grimes did it cheerfully and with an anecdote about his grandma.
Duke Hudson vs Ikemen Jiro – NXT Breakout Tournament Round 1
Ikemen Jiro wrestles in his jacket and likes to have fun. Duke Hudson is a lot more business-like and efficient. It made for an intriguing combination of styles rather than a clash, and the match was highly entertaining.
They both look great, and they’ll slot right into the NXT roster. Efficiency won on this occasion with a huge slam keeping Jiro down for the three.
Duke Hudson progresses to round 2 of the tournament.
Pete Dunne doesn’t care who wins the title match tonight. They both know he can beat them because he’s the best technician in NXT. He told McKenzie Mitchell to ask Johnny Gargano who the baddest man in NXT is.
Timothy Thatcher arrived, alone, and asked Dunne to clarify whether he’s the best technician on NXT or the baddest man in NXT. Dunne asked, ‘Who’s asking’, and got floored by a blow to the head from Tommaso Ciampa as his introduction to the conversation. There was a brawl. I’m sure there’ll be a match.
We got a quick celebratory vignette for NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Zoey Stark and Io Shirai to lead into the women’s tag match.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs The Robert Stone Brand
Catanzaro and Carter look polished and together and ready for bigger matches than this. Not that it was bad. It was fine, but no more than that. Aliyah, once again, nearly got pinned because Robert Stone was talking to her. Jessi Kamea saved her that time, but thanks to a dive from Catanzaro that put her down at ringside, she was unable to protect her from the Catanzaro and Carter double team for the win.
Aliyah finally snapped. She yelled at Stone that she’s done more for him than he has for her, then she beat the crap out of him. The crowd chanted for her as she kicked him while he was down. Honestly might have been the biggest crowd response she’s ever had. She left blowing kisses to a crowd giving her a ‘You Deserve It’ chant.
Jessi Kamea started talking to Stone while he was laid on his belly on the mat. Franky Monet arrived and said hi. Kamea left with her. Stone followed.
Johnny Gargano and Auston Theory started a Joe chant when Samoa Joe gave him the rules reminder and offered him a t-shirt. As he left, without the bribe, he came face to face with Pete Dunne and they exchanged a long look.
Cameron Grimes was lounging by the pool when LA Knight returned. He’s delegated his jobs to a kid. LA Knight told him off and stopped him paying the child. The kid kicked him in the shins and Grimes ‘accidentally’ pushed him in the pool with his rake.
Adam Cole had some stuff to say to the NXT Universe, starting with, ‘I told you so’. He won, he’s the greatest etc. He beat O’Reilly and proved he’s better than him and O’Reilly’s previous win over him doesn’t count because it was an unsanctioned match and therefore not on his record.
But what he actually wanted to do was have a go at Samoa Joe, calling him nothing more than an overpaid security guard in a suit. He’d ask him to come and face him but he knows he won’t. He knows there’s no one man enough to face him in the dressing room.
Bronson Reed disagreed. He’s a man with nothing to lose and all eyes are on him waiting for him to make his next move. Cole is NXT’s golden boy and Reed’s golden opportunity. Cole tried to throw a superkick. Reed caught it. Cole slipped out of the ring to escape after running into Reed once, but Samoa Joe’s music played and Joe arrived for referee duty.
Joe had a Long look at Cole and gave Reed no more than a cursory glance.
Backstage, Franky Monet was asked if tonight meant Aliyah was no longer part of the brand. She said, ‘Let’s just say we’re not going to have to worry about her anymore’. They ran into Mandy Rose, who commented the brand seems to be under new management.
Next week Bobby Fish & Kushida face Roderick Strong and Tyler Rust. And Raquel Gonzalez defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Xia Li.
Karrion Kross (C), with Scarlett, vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Championship Match – Samoa Joe, Special Guest Referee.
Samoa Joe adds another interesting element to this. As does Kross featuring on Main Event and being primed for a main roster relocation (you can’t call them call-ups when they’re moving away from the superior show).
A set of steps to the shoulder, courtesy of Gargano ducking, gave Johnny Gargano something to work with. He got dumped on the announce desk before he had chance to start though, and we went for a break.
Gargano worked hard to make this an exciting match and almost managed it. It was a good match, it just lacked something for me. Kross is very good at what he does, but he can be a bit one-note at times. Gargano was all over the ring, flying about like two men to keep Kross moving.
The first Kross Jacket didn’t work and left Kross needing to power out of a Gargano Escape. The second Kross Jacket had Gargano almost pass out just make it to the ropes
Samoa Joe called things down the middle, as you’d expect, but he had to pull Kross off of Gargano in the ropes and Kross took offence. They got up face to face and they both want that fight so much, but Kross went off to smash Gargano into the barricades a few times. Joe took the steps off him before he could squash Gargano’s head and the resulting confrontation left Kross open for Gargano’s suicide dive DDT. One Final Beat straight after got Gargano two and pissed Kross off.
A blow to the head, three powerbombs and a Doomsday Saito Suplex made Joe ask Gargano if he was done. He wasn’t, but it only took one more blow to the back of the head to change that.
Joe raised Kross’ arm in victory and they argued again. As Joe turned to leave the ring, Karrion Kross put him to sleep in the Kross Jacket yelling about having to provoke him to make him fight. It was Samoa Joe, not Johnny Gargano, who Kross and Scarlett stood over to end the show.
I think it’s safe to say that Karrion Kross has now provoked Samoa Joe. If Kross is leaving NXT as expected, then a showdown with Samoa Joe would be a hell of a way to go.
Busy show tonight, but a decent one. Far more questions raised than answered though.