June 1, 2021

NXT Review 25/05/2021

NXT are keeping up the momentum of recent weeks with yet another huge title match. This week NXT Champions Karrion Kross gives Finn Balor his rematch. Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon face Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez in what is effectively a number one contender’s match. Franky Monet makes her in-ring debut. Bobby Fish has his first match since returning from injury, against Pete Dunne, one of the men who caused it. New North American Champion, Bronson Reed, will address the NXT Universe. And Cameron Grimes is going to have a face to face with Ted Dibiase… because 2021 is a bit odd in places.


Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon def. Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai

Pete Dunne def. Bobby Fish

Mercedes Martinez def. Zayda Ramier

Franky Money def. Cora Jade

Karrion Kross def. Finn Balor




Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon vs Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai

Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon struggled to figure out how to deal with Raquel Gonzalez in the early going. They had slightly better luck with Dakota Kai. Gonzalez had to rescue Kai from a cloverleaf by pulling her out of the ring.

All photo credits: wwe.com

This whole match was a testament to the evolution of women’s tag team wrestling in WWE. There have always been a ton of women’s “tag matches”, but not like this. Those were three minutes or less with no real rhyme or reason and no consistency. And, let’s be honest, a lot of the wrestling left a lot to be desired. This was a fast-paced, high skill, ten minute plus opening match that set a high bar for the rest of the night.

Ember Moon turned Gonzalez’ single-arm powerbomb into a modified Eclipse. That left Gonzalez down long enough for Moon and Blackheart to pin Kai with a double team.

To say Raquel Gonzalez didn’t take it well is an understatement. After attacking Moon and Blackheart, she had Kai hold Ember Moon still while she hoisted Blackheart up and smashed her into the plexiglass then dropped her on the barricade.


Tommaso Ciampa said they made a mistake not acknowledging GYV’s grudge against them when they challenged MSK. But that’s ok because their path to the titles now runs through them. They’ve won one round each and there will be a round three. Timothy Thatcher added that he’s going to enjoy breaking their limbs.


I still fail to understand the fascination with showing video of people arriving, but you’ll be happy to know that both champion and challenger arrived safely at work for tonight’s main event title match.


Pete Dunne, with Oney Lorcan, vs Bobby Fish

Bobby Fish being all alone might have been a mistake, and probably a bit of a shock to the system for him after all this time (pun unintended but welcomed). But that’s the thing, Bobby Fish is one of the most experienced wrestlers on the roster, but the WWE/NXT only crowd have really only seen him in the context of Undisputed ERA. Much like they were with Kyle O’Reilly, those fans are in for a surprise.

I enjoyed this match. I love a bit of technical brutality. Fish was going all out on that payback for Dunne putting him on the shelf. There’s probably quite a lot of wanting to prove he’s back on top of his game and can still cut it at 44 years old to Pete Dunne’s 27. Dunne is still determined to prove he’s the baddest man in NXT. Dunne smacked his face and cut or grazed it. I believe it was falling out of the ring going into a break and it was quite swollen for the rest of the match.

Double knees to Fish’s recently healed triceps had Fish rolling out of the ring. He tossed Dunne over his head when he followed, and took a few moments to gather himself before barrelling into Dunne against the barricade. Fish’s suplex into the ropes saw a nasty-looking landing for Dunne and had him holding the back of his head for a while.

Fish had a credible attempt at submitting Dunne at the end of the match. Sadly for him, it was the Bitter End Dunne countered the hold into before he pinned him.

As expected, there was a post-match beatdown from Oney Lorcan, focused heavily on Fish’s surgically repaired arm. Officials pulled Lorcan away but he and Dunne exchanged a look. Dunne shrugged and Lorcan went back to kick Fish’s arm. He caught a ref as well, but I think that was accidental.


Mercedes Martinez said she took Raquel Gonzalez to her limit. She didn’t win, but she learned and tonight is night one of her road back to the title. As she walked out of shot, Boa appeared to be following her.


Hit Row told us a little more about what their agenda is in NXT. I can’t put it as eloquently as they do, so here, watch this.


Mercedes Martinez vs Zayda Ramier

Martinez has nearly as many years in the business as Ramier has had matches – ok, that’s a slight exaggeration but Martinez has been wrestling twenty years and this was Ramier’s thirtieth match, so I stand by it.

Booker T trained Ramier is better than her experience level would suggest and she gave Martinez a solid match and a lot more trouble than she might have anticipated. Nonetheless, Martinez finished it with an air raid crash.

After the match, the lights went off then went red. When they came back up, Martinez’ hand had been marked with a cross. Tian Sha are back.


Cameron Grimes didn’t get to say anything before Ted Dibiase joined him for the Million Dollar Face Off. Grimes sounded like a sad child as he asked Dibiase why he’s been so mean to him. He hasn’t always been rich and he looks up to him. He saw through him that with money he could treat people terrible and they would still like him. He guesses it’s true, you should never meet your idols.

Dibiase said he likes Grimes and the reason he put him through all that is because he sees himself when he looks at him. He’s out there because he’s looking for that special someone to carry on the Million Dollar legacy. That one in a million person who embodies everything the Million Dollar Man stands for. It’s not all about the money or humiliating people, it’s about performance in the ring. And Cameron Grimes has got it, he’s seen it. But since he’s become rich he’s lost his focus and he needs to regain it.

LA Knight came to join them at that point. He sees Dibiase as a Million Dollar opportunity and made his case for being the chosen one. He can talk and Dibiase was impressed with him. Grimes got upset with Knight trying to muscle in on his opportunity and threatened to kick his ass to the moon if he didn’t get out of the ring. LA Knight made him eat canvas then left.

Dibiase told Grimes he was never going to get it, then laughed and left with LA Knight.


NXT Superstars are still encouraging people to get vaccinated. With everything opening up at an alarming rate, it is better advice than ever.


On her search for Dexter Lumis, Indi Hartwell interrupted Ever-Rise recording a show. Martel seems to have a thing for being hit by women, because he offered her a swing at him like he did with Gonzalez last week. Drake Maverick arrived before she could knock him on his ass and directed her to a room he’d seen Lumis in. It was full of pictures of Lumis with a knife through his heart, hearts being thrown in the rubbish bin, and broken bleeding hearts. Really very creepy.


Franky Monet vs Cora Jade

She might be Franky Monet now, but she’s still every inch the Taya Valkyrie we know and love, still #WERALOCA. Cora Jade hasn’t had the chances some of her cohort have had yet. Her time will come, but it wasn’t going to be tonight.

I would have preferred to see Monet go straight into a proper program with someone because that would signal their intent to use her properly. The hype has been great, but she’s too good to be in a holding pattern. This was more of an introduction to Franky Monet than a match, but it was a fun few minutes. She finished it with the double chicken wing facebuster Beth Phoenix used to call the Glam Slam and Taya Valkyrie called the Road to Valhalla. Phoenix said it looked familiar.


Grizzled Young Veterans aren’t interested in Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher. Costing them the win wasn’t personal and they’re now done with them. They’re after MSK. They don’t believe MSK are suitable champions, so they’re going to fix that. I’m not sure how much choice they’re going to have about facing Ciampa and Thatcher.


WALTER spoke to Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner by video. He said Alexander Wolfe had been kicked out of Imperium because he doesn’t have what it takes. A bit of a low blow considering Wolfe was actually one of a number of releases last week, possibly the most confusing of them as he was on tv the day before. It’s time for Aichner and Barthel to right the wrong and get back the tag titles.


Bronson Reed looked so happy addressing the NXT Universe as NXT North American Champion for the first time. It’s taken him 14 years to get to the top of the mountain, and that’s 14 years of falling down and getting back up. He’s had a lot of doubters along the way but the title is proof to any kid out there they don’t need to take no for an answer, if they work hard and grind it out they can do it. He wished anyone in the locker room who wanted to take it from him good luck. They’ve got a colossal mountain to climb.

Legado del Fantasma showed up. Santos Escobar congratulated him and said it was a telenovela story that brought tears to their eyes (they even had a box of tissues as a prop) but he couldn’t relate to any of it because he was born a champion. It’s not even that he was born to belong in the wrestling business, the business belongs to him. After Reed’s victory, something caught his eye, the North American Championship. He’s the Emperor of Lucha Libre, he runs the bingo. He’s already had the Cruiserweight Championship, and he feels the North American title represents Mexico and the USA (they’ve agreed Canada doesn’t count for whatever reason), so that means it’s his… which is a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

As he spoke, they wandered around the ring and fanned out. Reed ended up with Escobar stood in front of the announce desk and Wilde and Mendoza on opposite sides of the ring. They started to get in the ring as Escobar told Reed his celebration is over and he was about to take what’s his. Help came from the unguarded ramp side in the form of MSK.

Mendoza got away. Wilde was dragged into the ring and double superkicked by MSK. Escobar decided to try his luck and ran into Reed with the same result as running into a wall. He thought better off it and joined the others while MSK and Reed invited them back for more.


William Regal has set a triple threat – Kyle O’Reilly vs Pete Dunne vs Johnny Gargano – to become the number one contender for the winner of Karrion Kross vs Finn Balor at NXT TakeOver: In Your House


Karrion Kross (C), with Scarlett, vs Finn Balor – NXT Championship match

Finn Balor casually sat on the corner watching Kross’ entrance was a nice touch. There were all the theatrics and effects and at the end, just Balor sat there observing.

It was an excellent match, but I’m not feeling the chemistry in this pairing the way I have for some of Balor’s recent feuds. There’s little intricacy in Kross’ style so the match becomes brutality versus the avoidance or countering or brutality. It’s hard to get invested in a run of momentum by the challenger when it’s likely to be ended with a single swipe.

Balor resorted to trapping Kross in the ring skirt, a la Nikki Cross so he could stamp on him, and it was as effective as anything else he’d done to that point. It’s not like Balor didn’t have his chances, or didn’t make the most of everything he did get. He landed all his best stuff with increasing disbelief as it didn’t work. He almost lost in a straitjacket, but somehow got to the ropes while semi-conscious and passed out while Kross was running out the referee’s break count.

He was still semi-conscious when Kross slammed him against the barricades a few times, but countered Kross putting him on his shoulders into a DDT when they got back in the ring. A dive over the top rope saw Balor looking fired up, but seconds later he was splayed out on the announce desk courtesy of a Kross slam. He didn’t even clear it first.

Balor went for the double stomp, dropkick, Coup de Grace combo, but Kross avoided the Coup de Grace, and was immediately back in control. Balor’s final and best chance came from a submission. I looked, albeit briefly, like Kross would fade away, but instead, he held onto the ref’s hand to shift his bodyweight and powerbombed Balor to make him let go.

Angry after coming that close to losing, Kross clubbed Balor to the mat and almost got disqualified for refusing to stop stamping on him. He choked him out instead.




Final word

The word floating around is that Balor will return to the main roster, the place where a solid 80% of careers go to die. The source appears to be Balor himself. I’d hoped he’d stay in NXT, but who’s to say what will happen over the next few years. In all honesty, I still think Kross has the more main roster gimmick. Much like Damian Priest has, I think he’d slot straight in. Also, if Balor returns to the main roster, we won’t get Balor versus O’Reilly three, and I want to see O’Reilly get one back on Balor. I had hoped Balor would take the title tonight and drop it to O’Reilly down the line. But, IF that was Balor’s last NXT match this run, he went out on a hell of a match.

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