April 1, 2021

NXT Review – 31/03/2021

Tonight is the go-home episode for the biggest TakeOver in NXT history, two nights, starting next Wednesday. Next week’s NXT TakeOver Stand and Deliver Night 1 will also be NXT’s final Wednesday night show. The long-rumoured move to Tuesdays was confirmed this week. It’s a big show as well. Johnny Gargano’s Night 2 TakeOver Challenger will be decided in a Gauntlet match on Night 1. The competitors in the gauntlet match will be decided tonight. They’ll be the last six in a battle royal featuring Dexter Lumis, Bronson Reed, Kushida, Leon Ruff, Cameron Grimes, Roderick Strong, Jake Atlas, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Austin Theory, LA Knight, Tyler Rust, and Pete Dunne. Raquel Gonzalez warms up for Io Shirai by going one on one with Zoey Stark. Roderick Strong makes his first foray into post Undisputed ERA life against Cameron Grimes. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell will face unnamed opponents. And Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter take on Tian Sha… but I’m not completely sure how that’s going to work yet.




Cameron Grimes def. Roderick Strong

Santos Escobar def. Tyler Breeze

Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell def. Gigi Dolan & Zayda Ramier

Raquel Gonzalez def. Zoey Stark

Tian Sha def. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter

LA Knight won the Battle Royal. Dexter Lumis, Cameron Grimes, Bronson Reed, Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott, and Leon Ruff also qualified for the gauntlet match




Roderick Strong vs Cameron Grimes

Roderick Strong looks like the breakup of the Undisputed ERA is still weighing heavy on him. Cameron Grimes came out and pitched some ideas for him taking over the Undisputed ERA merchandising. Strong got out of the ring to throw him in and get the match underway.

Cameron Grimes and Roderick Strong
All photo credits: wwe.com

Cameron Grimes character is tediously annoying, but the match was great. He spends so much time trying to get out of doing anything it’s easy to forget that he can go when he has to. The rehabilitation of Roderick Strong without the rest of the group will be interesting. He’s come across as quite a whiny character recently, not helped by him having a moment on seeing an Undisputed ERA armband Grimes dropped, and getting pinned off a Cave In. I’m not sure where he goes from here.


We got a look at Karrion Kross’ training regime in the run-up to his title match against Finn Balor. It sounds intense, there’s a lot of it, and Balor is in for a rough night.


NXT Superstars are encouraging people to go and get vaccinated. It’s good advice.


WALTER thinks Tommaso Ciampa has other priorities now and wrestling is no longer his everything. As a result, he believes Ciampa is a shadow of his former self. He, however, is the longest-reigning NXT UK Champion in (an admittedly short) history. He is the one who respects the sport more than any other and at TakeOver he’s going to prove what he means when he says the mat is sacred.


Santos Escobar issued an open challenge so he could show Jordan Devlin what was going to happen at TakeOver. He also made a long speech about it being in his blood and being born a champion. Tyler Breeze answered the challenge and said Escobar is entitled but he had to work his ass off to get there, so he’d take an open challenge if it’s on offer.

Santos Escobar vs Tyler Breeze

Nice, if unexpected, match and a good one too. It’s always good to see Breeze in single’s action. I hope Fandango’s not injured again, because he wasn’t with him. Escobar spent a long time in a Sharpshooter towards the end of the match, but he prevailed with a Phantom Driver.

Tyler Breeze kicks Santos Escobar in the head

Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde grabbed Breeze after the match, but MSK arrived before anything more could happen. Grizzled Young Veterans appeared on the big screen before anything could happen there either, and said they’re laser-focused and they’re going to be the tag team champions.


Johnny Gargano is still outraged that he won’t know his opponent until 24 hours before his match. Austin Theory thinks it’s great because it might be him. Gargano calmed down when Theory promised to lay down for him if he won. Indi Hartwell is still hung up on Dexter Lumis, and Candice LeRae just wanted to get onto their match so they can show Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart what real champions look like.


A small dog was shown arriving at the Performance Center as we went into a break. I think we might be about to meet a Valkyrie, but I could be wrong.


Io Shirai was asked if she was worried she might have bitten off more than she can chew by picking Raquel Gonzalez, after Gonzalez left her laying last week. Shirai said, ‘That’s why I picked her’.


Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs Gigi Dolan and Zayda Ramier

There was an issue with the ident for LeRae and Hartwell’s opponents and it didn’t flash up properly. They did get a bit of talking up from commentary though, so that’s something. Dolan is a ‘technical brawler’ and Ramier was trained by Booker T. Best of all, they both got a bit of time to show what they’ve got, mostly against Indi Hartwell. LeRae left Hartwell to do most of the work, but it was her Wicked Stepsister on Ramier that left her open for the springboard elbow from Hartwell that got her the pin.

Gigi Dolan and Candice LeRae

After the match, LeRae said there isn’t a woman in the locker room who deserves to be a champion more than she does, which means they deserve to be tag team champions. She’s coming for what’s hers and it will on her time on her stage, her way, and that will be at NXT TakeOver Stand and Deliver.

Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart came out in the tank and said LeRae and Hartwell if they think they deserve their titles, but they accept. They shot the tank’s missile at Indi Hartwell to seal the deal.

EEmber Moon and Shotzi Blackheart on the tank


Io Shirai attacked Raquel Gonzalez as Gonzalez was on her way through the backstage area to the ring. Kai left Gonzalez alone when Shirai approached. Worryingly, for Shirai, Gonzalez left her laying again.


The dog from the previous ad lead in ran through the employees only door and into the Capitol Wrestling Center.


Roderick Strong left the building saying he’s done with all of it. He’s supposed to be in the battle royal.


Zoey Stark vs Raquel Gonzalez, with Dakota Kai

I don’t think Raquel Gonzalez was expecting Zoey Stark to give her as much of a match as she did. Dakota Kai got involved once. She punched Stark in the face while the ref was checking on Gonzalez because Stark had shoved her into a post. Stark tipped Kai over the barricades in response. Stark came closer than most people do to pinning Gonzalez, and she did it several times. But, like most of the others, the single-arm powerbomb kept her down for the three.

Raquel Gonzalez and Zoey Stark

Io Shirai ran to the ring, limping a little and brawled with Gonzalez. They went to the outside and Gonzalez threw her into the plexiglass barrier. That’s the third time in a row Raquel Gonzalez has left the NXT Women’s Champion in a heap. Next week they fight for the title.

Raquel Gonzalez stands over Io Shirai


That dog was back. It has a designer collar.


Kushida said nothing will stop him winning tonight. Pete Dunne interrupted to say he heard Kushida say he’s the best technical wrestler, but that’s his crown, and dared Kushida to prove him wrong. Kushida said they should try each other out in the battle royal.


We got a Prime Target video package for Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly. I’m not going to sum it up. Watch it. If the match lives up to its potential, it’s going to steal TakeOver. I’d like to see O’Reilly run Cole off all the way to the main roster, but I suspect I’m out of luck. I’m still not a fan of the unsanctioned match, but I have faith they’ll make it work.


Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs Tian Sha

Xia Li showed off her sword skills on the way to the ring this time. Very impressive, but still confusing. Li was on her own, despite it being billed as a tag match. The no longer veiled figure Mei Ying is still in her chair, and Boa accompanied Li as far as her sword fighting, but she was alone facing Catanzaro and Carter.

Carter marched up the ramp to get Mei Ying into the ring. Instead, Mei Ying grabbed her by the throat and held on until she was unconscious. Now one on one, Xia Li kicked Kacy Catanzaro in the head and pinned her. Carter was still out on the ramp when the segment ended.

Mei Ying chokes out Kayden Carter


Io Shirai decided to have one more go at Gonzalez while Gonzalez was being interviewed. This time Raquel Gonzalez put her through a boarded-up window and yelled at her to stay down. I’m not sure she had that much choice.


He found his owner. Either the dog’s name is Franky, or Taya Valkyrie’s new name is. The ‘mystery’ owner wears red spike-heeled boots and we’ll get a proper introduction on April 13th. The first night in the new Tuesday slot. I’m really interested to see what they do with her.


Tommaso Ciampa said his wife and baby girl gave him the necklace WALTER ripped off when he went in for neck surgery. WALTER didn’t know that and that’s ok. It reminded him of his journey and his story. Sometimes we need to be reminded who we are. He’s asked himself if he’s changed from the 2018 Ciampa and in some ways he has. Now he thinks about all the people who have stuck with him, who mean something, his family, lost friends, colleagues and inspirations, even the fans who still believe in him. He sees it, he feels it, and at TakeOver he’s going to remind the world. He’s been at the top and he’s fallen to the bottom and he knows what it’s like to climb back up again. He’d rather be a man who really fights for something than a man with nothing to lose. WALTER wants to know whether the Black Heart is still there, if the psycho killer is still there. In seven days he’s going to find out and it’s going to cost him the NXT UK Championship.


Finn Balor has been expecting Karrion Kross for a long time. It was always when not if. TakeOver has a different energy, but it doesn’t wear Finn Balor down. His stamina has always been his strength and Balor doesn’t get gassed out. Kross might try to dictate the pace of the match, but that’s fine. The longer they go into the match the deeper they get, that deep water is where Kross drowns. There will be no fairytale ending for Kross. He’ll choke and Balor will remain champion.


Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Dexter Lumis, Bronson Reed, Kushida, Leon Ruff, Cameron Grimes, Jake Atlas, Austin Theory, LA Knight, Tyler Rust, and Pete Dunne – Battle Royal to decide who enters the gauntlet match on TakeOver Night 1

The last six competitors will be in the gauntlet match and they will enter the gauntlet in the order of elimination, so the winner will enter last.

Leon Ruff attacked Swerve on his way to the ring and they had a brawl heading into a break. Swerve backed off and hid behind the announce desk. Pete Dunne was making his entrance as the final competitor by the time we came back, and things got underway. Roderick Strong did not take his place in the match, so we were down to eleven.

Jake Atlas was out first, partially due to a distraction from Malcolm Bivens on the outside. Tyler Rust was out next. Karma’s a bitch. Austin Theory fell out of the ring on his back, but eliminated himself by kipping up. Kushida was destroying everything that moved, then got into it with Pete Dunne. They traded submissions, pointless in a battle royal, and eliminated each other by tumbling over the top rope with Dunne still in the hoverboard lock.

Bronson Reed throws Swerve at Leon Ruff

That left the final six, Dexter Lumis, Leon Ruff, Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes, and LA Knight to decide which order they will enter the gauntlet. William Regal set Pete Dunne versus Kushida for Night 1 of TakeOver during the break, saying he wants to see a technical masterpiece. Johnny Gargano joined commentary and bitched through most of the rest of the match.

Ruff went out first, courtesy of Bronson Reed. He threw Swerve at him a few seconds later. They will start the gauntlet match. Dexter Lumis eliminated Reed, possibly the first time he moved all match, so Reed will be number three. Cameron Grimes tried to pay LA Knight and Dexter Lumis to jump over the top, so they threw him out together to make him fourth.

Down to LA Knight and Dexter Lumis and LA Knight got it. He had Lumis on the apron and charged at him, but Lumis shifted and Knight went through the middle and top ropes. He pulled Lumis to the floor from the outside then got back in the ring to be declared the winner. He had a trash-talk with Gargano after the match, but he still has to win the gauntlet match to get to him.

LA Knight pulls Dexter Lumis off the apron


Io Shirai took to the ring and yelled a lot. Gonzalez answered the call and the entire women’s division (undercard) arrived to try to keep them apart. They did a spectacularly poor job of it and the show finished with Shirai taking down half a dozen or more people, including Raquel Gonzalez, with a dive off the top rope and standing over her yelling.

Io Shirai stands over the fallen locker room




Final word

The TakeOver card looks incredible on both nights. If it follows the usual form, it will outstrip WrestleMania in terms of match quality, and it’s unlikely to even be close.

Night 1

Pete Dunne vs Kushida

Number One Contender Gauntlet Eliminator for a North American Championship match

Legado del Fantasma (C) vs MSK vs Grizzled Young Veterans – NXT Tag Team Championship match

WALTER (C) vs Tommaso Ciampa – NXT UK Championship match

Io Shirai (C) vs Raquel Gonzalez – NXT Women’s Championship match

Night 2

Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon (C) vs Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell – NXT Women’s Championship match

Johnny Gargano vs TBC – NXT North American Championship match

Santos Escobar vs Jordan Devlin – NXT Cruiserweight Championship Unification Ladder match

Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole – Unsanctioned match – Co-main Event

Finn Balor (C) vs Karrion Kross – NXT Championship match  – Co-main Event

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