By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired January 6, 2021 on USA Network
The show started off with Dexter Lumis walking up to a production console in an empty WWE Performance Center. Lumis flicked some lights on and off to test out the equipment. They then cut to him pulling a fuse box switch which turned on the lights at the PC revealing the crowd and show graphics…
Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, and Wade Barrett were on commentary. Vic and Wade checked in from ringside…
1. Damian Priest vs. Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett). Scarlett wore a sleeved and skintight leotard at ringside. Vic Joseph noted that this match would be shown commercial free. Priest and Kross dragged a collar and elbow lockup to ringside. Kross and Priest then traded footsies, keeping their distance with Tae Kwon Do strikes. Priest landed a clean blow, which enraged Kross. Kross closed the distance and planted Priest with a front cradle suplex. Kross hit Priest with corner lariats and an Exploder Suplex. Priest powered out of a butterfly stretch. Kross dumped Priest to ringside with a lariat.
Kross tossed Priest, knee first, into the steel steps. Priest kicked Kross to avoid getting hit by the steel steps in Kross’s hands. Kross gave Priest shortarm gut punches, with Priest giving Kross a defiant smile. Priest then no-sold Kross’s punches. Priest managed to stagger Kross a bit with a kick. Priest hit Kross with an ear clap and elevated Flatliner. Priest went for a suplex, but his ribs gave up on him. Priest managed to ring Kross’s bell with a lariat. Priest got a two count after a Broken Arrow.
Kross blocked a Cyclone Kick. Priest blocked a Doomsday Saito. Priest turned Taekwondo kicks into Muay Thai Clinch knees. Priest slammed Kross’s shoulder to the mat. Priest locked Kross in a Butterfly Submission. Kross escaped with a pin attempt. Kross gave Priest’s ribs some elbows. Priest and Kross then traded fighting spirit boots. Both men traded CQC combinations, which turned into Tae Kwon Do combinations. Priest hit Kross with a springboard cannonball. Priest got momentum back after a lariat, leading to a two count.
Kross gave Priest boots while Priest was in the Tree of Woe. Kross dropped the kneepad and drove his knee into Priest’s ribs. Priest held on to the ropes to block a Super Doomsday Saito, which Barrett noted Kross used to win the NXT Championship. Priest escaped and managed to plant Kross with a delayed Razor’s Edge. Kross and Priest brawled between the ropes. Priest sent Kross to ringside with a spinning roundhouse. Priest hit Kross with a springboard Tope Con Hilo.
Priest hit Kross with a Spinning Heel Kick. Priest hit Kross with the South of Heaven for a two count nearfall. Kross reversed a Reckoning with an Overhead Suplex. Kross planted Priest with a Jackknife Bomb for a two count. Priest hit Kross with a cyclone kick. Kross powered through and lifted Priest, ramming his ribs into the steel pillar at ringside. Kross hit Priest with a suplex on the steel steps. Priest then glared and allowed Priest to stand up. Kross hit Priest with a roundhouse to the temple. Priest no-sold Kross’s Doomsday Saito, but Kross followed through with a Northern Lariat for the win.
Karrion Kross defeated Damian Priest via pinfall in 15:27.
Kross and Scarlett posed at the top of the ramp…
Vic Joseph hyped Santos Escobar vs. Gran Metalik for after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: An entertaining match between both men. It confuses me sometimes when critics criticize Kross’s matches as “boring”. Kross is methodical and practical which leads to moves that look painful and realistic. Kross was solid here, and I’m still telling ya’ll that you’ve haven’t seen the best of Kross still. The dude can be very violent with good martial arts fundamentals. Speaking of Martial Arts, Priest was very good too and I really like his usage of Tae Kwon Do strikes which I feel is a underutilized and very flashy martial art that needs to be utilized more often. Good story told too, with the rib injury. Going into this match, it seemed like this might be Priest’s last match in NXT given who they pulled him quickly into this big match. I sure hope not. Priest is a very versatile badass that can wrestle, talk, and look like a badass. The main roster doesn’t really know how to sell badasses not named Brock Lesnar and even they marginalize Lesnar’s from his potential.
Vic Joseph hyped up the Dusty Classic starting next week…
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong were interviewed about wrestling Breezango next week in the Dusty Classic first run. Cole hyped up Cole and Strong bringing back the UE “Golden Prophesy”. Strong talked about Breezango being a bit goofy but being good wrestlers. Cole talked about Kyle O’Reilly starting off the Golden Prophesy tonight by beating Finn Balor…
James Drake and Zack Gibson were shown standing in the crowd…
Lucha House Party made their entrance. Gran Metalik was dressed as a Blue Power Ranger with Lince Dorado dressed up as the Mighty Morphin’ Megazord (Metalik is an avid Super Sentai fan, Japanese Power Rangers. He even came out to one of his bigger matches dressed as Gokai Silver). Santos Escobar made his entrance in Gladiator gear. He was flanked by Wilde and Mendoza…
2. Santos Escobar (w/Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza) vs. Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado) for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Escobar and Metalik started out the match with lucha chain wrestling. Metalik taunted Escobar with a Tope fakeout. Metalik used his agility to avoid Escobar’s strikes. Metalik hit Escobar with a tightrope huracanrana. Metalik nailed Escobar with an Asai Suplex. Metalik hit Escobar with a step up slingshot senton for a two count. Escobar avoided a moonsault with Metalik landing on his feet.
Escobar blocked a huracanrana, looked a bit ugly but it was effective, on the apron. Escobar slammed Metalik into the plexiglass heading into the Picture-in-picture commercial.[c]
Escobar carried Metalik to the top rope. Escobar gave Metalik a Military Press on the top turnbuckle. Wade Barrett noted that before Escobar was champion, the Cruiserweight Title was defended on WWE Pre-shows and he brought the title to be defended on Takeovers. Metalik got a two count on Escobar after a Sunset Bomb. Escobar slammed Metalik to the mat and got a two count. Metalik sent Escobar to ringside with a dropkick and Metalik hit Escobar with a step up Tope Con Hilo.
Metalik hit Escobar with a slingshot splash. Metalik got a two count. Metalik hit Escobar with a gamengiri. Escobar hit Metalik with a knee to send Metalik to ringside. Escobar hit Metalik with the Arrow from the Depths of Hell at ringside. Metalik kicked out at two in the ring. Metalik fended off Escobar from taking his mask off. Dorado did a dive to prevent Wilde and Mendoza from interfering. Metalik hit Escobar with a diving tackle for a two count. Escobar knocked Metalik off the top rope. Escobar hit Metalik with the Phantom Driver for the win.
Santos Escobar defeated Gran Metalik via pinfall in 12:27 to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Rhea Ripley was shown working out backstage in preparation for her match…
A vignette aired of Xia Li doing weapon training. It said she would be returning to NXT after the break…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A wonderful Lucha Libre style match with both men being allowed to wrestle the way they know how to wrestle. Metalik on the main roster is a 50 second jobber which is a bit of disrespect to how smooth and good he is as a luchador. This was one of Escobar’s better matches in WWE too, with a good bell-to-bell story, which is paramount in Hijo Del Fantasma matches. So far, this NXT show is very Takeover-y, which is what you would hope with such a card. O’Reilly vs. Balor should definitely take this show up to another level once we get to those brawlers.
Mercedes Martinez cut a promo backstage where she talked about Io Shirai not looking too badass after she put her through the bottom of the table. Martinez said she doesn’t care about having the title of being “badass” she only cares about the women’s title…
The lights darkened as the mystery woman in the Xia Li and Boa training vignettes got a huge and elaborate entrances. Xia Li and Boa were flanking the throne of the mystery woman. Li was wearing Wushu Garb with Boa looking like he was Neo from the Matrix (good look). Li ended up doing a Wu Shu Sai demo at ringside. Li then entered the ring in her new and badass ring gear…
3. Xia Li (w/Boa, mystery woman) vs. Katrina Cortez. Li took down Katrina with kicks. Li bowed down to the mystery boss. Li continued to kick Katrina. Li no sold Katarina’s strikes. Li hit Katarina with a spinning kick for the easy victory.
Xia Li defeated Katrina Cortez via pinfall in 1:27.
The commentators talked about how Li’s transformation is complete. The commentators then wondered about who the mystery woman was?
John’s Thoughts: A really good showing for Li after her and Boa’s training/torture cinematics. Those were good cinematics, but they would have been for naught if she didn’t deliver in the ring. Li has been a fast learner in NXT and is finally getting a chance to put all that learning to work (I’m actually more weary of Boa, who has looked very green the few times we’ve seen him in the ring).
The commentators sent it over to William Regal who announced that Thatcher suffered an injury and will not be able to wrestle in the Fight Pit on this episode. Regal announced that Thatcher vs. Ciampa in a fight pit will happen once Thatcher is recovered…
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Bronson Reed in the crowd. Reed said he’s putting the roster on notice. He then put his money on Rhea Ripley winning the last woman standing match…
4. Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Gonzalez in a Last Woman Standing match. Gonzalez dominated early on, trash talking Ripley during her onslaught. Beth noted that Raquel was taunting Ripley over their longtime friendship, even with both of them getting matching Rhea and Raquel tattoos. Ripley made a bit of a comeback. Ripley went for a running dropkick off the step but she was swatted out of the air with a chair for a Home Run Strike. Ripley regained control and handcuffed Gonzalez to the chain link fence. Ripley hit Gonzalez with a kendo stick, but Gonzalez fought Ripley off with boots. Gonzalez then ripped off the fence to escape. Gonzalez then used the chain fence piece as a weapon, punching Ripley.
Ripley and Gonzalez continued to brawl. Gonzalez slammed Ripley into the ring bell. Gonzalez cleared the announce table and backdropped Ripley through the table. Ripley’s back spiked the corner of the table. Gonazlez piled up the announce chairs on Ripley to pin her down. Ripley beat the count at 8. The show cut to Picture-in-picture.[c]
Gonzalez used steel steps as a battering ram several times into Ripley on the ramp. Gonzalez then gave Ripley a running big boot to send her off the stage. Gonzalez followed Ripley to the locker area near the PC halls. Ripley tackled Gonzalez through a glass door to leave her lying in the WWE PC hallway. Gonzalez and Ripley beat the ten count. Both women made their way back to the locker area, with Ripley tossing Gonzalez into the lockers. Ripley womanhandled Gonzalez. Ripley put Gonzalez on a snack table. Ripley climbed to the top of the lockers, told Raquel to “suck it”, and she dove off, hitting Gonzalez through the table with a Cannonball.
Ripley beat the ten count. Dakota Kai ran out and wailed on Ripley with kendo stick shots. Ripley fended off Dakota and Raquel with kicks and punches. Ripley slammed the locker doors into Dakota”s head several times. In a creative spot, credit to Dakota, Ripley stuffed Dakota Kai into a four foot locker. Ripley dragged a crate in front of the locker to trap Dakota in it. Ripley and Gonzalez brawled back to the stage. Ripley locked Gonzalez in the Reverse Cloverleaf, which became an elevated STF when Ripley choked Gonzalez with a chair.
Gonzalez escaped. Ripley gave Gonzalez a Death Valley Driver into the giant NXT LED X. Gonzalez tripped up Ripley, who was trying to dive from steel steps set up at the stage. Raquel Gonzalez then elevated Ripley and planted her through the stage floor with a Chokeslam. The referee started to count both women out. Gonzalez beat the count at 8 with Ripley not being able to recover.
Raquel Gonzalez defeated Rhea Ripley in a last woman standing match in 17:27.
Vic Joseph said this was the biggest win in the career of Raquel Gonzalez…
The show cut to drone shots of Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae driving to the Performance Center with “police” escorts (?) while the Garganos were posing through the top of the convertable of the car they were in. Austin Theory was driving the car with Indi Hartwell riding shotgun…[c]
John’s Thoughts: An amazing hardcore match. It didn’t need the blood, but blood would have helped add more story to the match. That’s just a small disappointment. This was amazing stuff. Bonus points to Dakota for flexing and fitting her body in that tiny locker. Both women put in a lot of work and made this match very entertaining and violent. Let the speculation begin again weather or not this is Rhea Ripley’s swan song in NXT. I think she might actually get called to Raw or Smackdown. I hope she doesn’t get called to those shows because of the chance that they screw things up with her. Look at what they did to Shayna Baszler!
Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett checked in from ringside. They were forced to stand due to their announce table being destroyed. Joseph welcomed Korean viewers who were now able to watch NXT. They then cut to the Gargano’s driving into the PC. Gargano, LeRae, Hartwell, and Theory made their entrance to the WWE PC arena area. Gargano said “That’s the ‘way’ you make an entrance”. There was an easel in the ring with a cloth over it. Gargano talked about how like the Browns breaking their playoff-less curse, he broke his title defense curse. Gargano then started to swing his hips around.
Candice LeRae handed Johnny a plaque that signified the end of the curse. Austin said Johnny is like a real life superhero. Theory and Hartwell then unraveled what was under the easel. It was a Marvel themed cartoon of the Way members with Gargano as War Machine, Theory as Hulk, Hartwell as Black Widow, and LeRae as Thor. Gargano announced that he and Theory were entering the Dusty Rhodes Classic. Shotzi Blackheart made her entrance in her tank.
Theory called Blackheart “Mike Wazowski” and was walking up to Shotzi. Shotzi then shot the nurf cannon at Austin’s balls. Barrett yelled “she shot him in the goolies!”. Kushida showed up as Blackheart’s backup. Dexter Lumis then revealed that he was booking an impromptu tag match, which he announced via caricature drawing…
5. Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae (w/Indi Hartwell, Austin Theory) vs. Kushida and Shotzi Blackheart in a Mixed Tag Match. Johnny and Candice were wrestling in street clothes. Kushida always wrestles in street clothes. Blackheart cleared LeRae from the ring. The show cut to picture-in-picture. [c]
Dexter Lumis joined Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett at ringside, but of course he doesn’t talk. LeRae had Blackheart in a sleeper hold. Blackheart escaped and tagged in Kushida. Kushida hit Gargano with a dropkick. Kushida hit Gargano with a smooth power bomb into a Juji Gatame. Gargano got his foot to the bottom rope to break the hold. The commentators talked about Kushida’s solid win-loss record to end the year. Kushida and Gargano traded strong style strikes. Kushida hit Gargano with a haymaker. LeRae stood between Gargano and Kushida to protect Gargano.
Gargano almost accidentally hit LeRae. This allowed Kushida to nail Johnny with a Haymaker and allowed Shotzi to hit Candice with an assisted Sliced Bread. Kushida hit Gargano with double boots to knock Johnny off the apron. Shotzi hit LeRae with a suicide dive. Austin Theory shoved Kushida off the top rope. Kushida dragged Theory to the ring. Kushida then used a drop toehold to send Johnny’s face into Austin’s junk. Kushida defeated Johnny after a jackknife pin.
Kushida and Shotzi Blackheart defeated Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae via pinfall in 8:57.
An ad aired for the next NXT Takeover on Valentines Day…
Finn Balor was shown heading to the ring for his title match. O’Reilly was also shown backstage, hugging his Undisputed Era teammates. Vic Joseph noted that the Balor vs. O’Reilly match will be commercial-free.[c]
John’s Thoughts: This match kinda felt like filler, but I wouldn’t blame them for throwing this random match together because of having to scratch the Fight Pit from the card. It was okay, and there was some progression from it. Blackheart gets to continue to terrorize the Garganos. Kushida gets another win, even though NXT doesn’t know what to do with Kushida and all his wins.
Undisputed Era vs. Breezango and Ever Rise vs. Grizzled Young Veterans was announced as next week’s first round Dusty Classic matches. They then cut to McKenzie Mitchell and William Regal where Regal announced that this year in addition to the men’s Dusty Classic, NXT was holding a Women’s Dusty Classic due to the depth of the NXT women’s roster…
John’s Thoughts: Given that NXT’s women’s division is way stronger than NXT’s men’s tag team division, this should be a very fun tournament that can maybe outshine the men’s tournament. I hope this also ends up leading to the winners getting a shot at the WWE Women’s Championship.
Entrances for the main event took place. Alicia Taylor handled the formal in-ring introductions…
6. Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly for the NXT Championship. O’Reilly took down Balor with a shoulder tackle. Balor checked his jaw to see if it was rocked. Vic Joseph asked Beth to provide thoughts on Balor’s injury because Beth had a jaw injury before. Beth noted that a jaw injury can rock your equilibrium. Balor got a takedown and worked on O’Reilly with a crossface. Balor kept O’Reilly under control with a side headlock. O’Reilly countered into a triangle headscissors. Balor escaped and O’Reilly quickly got to his feet.
O’Reilly got Balor back to the mat after a roundhouse and armbar. Balor got to his feet, but O’Reilly twisted Balor back into the armbar. Balor got to his feet and locked O’Reilly in an abdominal stretch. O’Reilly countered the move into a hip toss and armbar. Balor got to his feet and put O’Reilly in the ab stretch. O’Reilly used his teeth to get the rope break due to Balor trapping his arms. Balor then punted the ropes into O’Reilly’s jaw.
A doctor showed up to ringside to check on O’Reilly’s jaw. After O’Reilly confirmed he was okay, Balor took down O’Reilly right into a side headlock. O’Reilly tossed Balor to the apron, while also selling his jaw. O’Reilly dragon screwed Balor’s arm into the top and bottom rope. Balor crossface O’Reilly on the top rope for a few seconds. Balor then broke the hold and Camel Clutched O’Reilly’s back into the second rope. Balor hit O’Reilly with a basement dropkick for a two count. Balor hit O’Reilly with a back suplex right into a Crossface.
Balor grinded his forearm into O’Reilly’s jaw in the corner. Balor hit O’Reilly with a running clothesline for a two count. Balor then went back to grinding his elbow into O’Reilly’s jaw. O’Reilly clotheslined Balor in the gut with a knee lift. O’Reilly hit Balor with Muay Thai knees and a back sweep kick. O’Reilly hit Balor with a back suplex for a two count. Balor hit O’Reilly with a Pele Kick. O’Reilly locked Balor in a heel hook which Balor escaped. O’Reilly then took himself out of the ring with his momentum after a PK to Balor’s chest.
[Overrun] O’Reilly beat the 10 count. Barrett noted that O’Reilly could end up getting knocked out if Balor lands a clean jaw strike. O’Reilly locked in a body scissors to get a Guillotine Choke. O’Reilly turned the move into an armbar an then into a heel hook when Balor tried to escape. Balor broke the hold by hitting O’Reilly with a right hand to O’Reilly’s jaw. Balor gave O’Reilly forearm drops to O’Reilly’s head. Balor hit O’Reilly with a side slam.
Balor hit O’Reilly with a reverse Bloody Sunday. Balor locked O’Reilly in a crossface. O’Reilly escaped by punching the arm of Balor. O’Reilly blocked a Yakuza Kick and gave Balor a few roundhouses. Balor gave O’Reilly a Sling Blade and Double Stomp. Balor caught O’Reilly with a Shotgun Dropkick in the corner. O’Reilly crotched Balor on the top rope when Balor went for the Coup De Grace (which Barret pronounces as Coup De Grass). O’Reilly got a few two counts after a suplex and Brainbuster. O’Reilly locked Balor in a Juji Gatame. Balor got to the bottom rope for the break.
Vic Joseph noted that O’Reilly is targeting Balor’s injury from a few years ago. Balor gave O’Reilly a roundhouse to the liver to rock O’Reilly. Balor locked O’Reilly in a modified Koji Clutch. O’Reilly tapped out.
Finn Balor defeated Kyle O’Reilly via submission in 17:25 to retain the NXT Championship.
Finn Balor stood up, bleeding from the forehead area. Highlights from the match aired. Beth noted that the liver kick was the turning point of the match. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Roderick Strong showed up to check on Kyle O’Reilly who looked crestfallen in the corner, while favoring his jaw. Balor stood tall in the center of the ring, glaring at Kyle O’Reilly. The WWE Signature appeared to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: As expected, the match lived up to the hype and talent level. This match was hard hitting and brutal. The match also developed a good story of both men targeting the bulls-eye injuries of the opponent. In the end it was Balor clutching it out, but O’Reilly continues to be elevated as O’Reilly makes his ascent to being an NXT main event player. He’s already entertaining in the main events, but they’re telling a story of him eventually getting the world title. It’ll be an interesting path though, because what does NXT do with Kyle O’Reilly when he’s not feuding with Balor who should be on a WrestleMania weekend collision course with Karrion Kross (Because if I had to book a fantasy main event, Balor vs. Kross in a violent brawl would be where I would put my money).
This was a Takeover worthy show top to bottom with The Way vs. Kushida and Blackheart seemingly put there to replace the cancelled Fight Pit match. This match would have been even greater if they had Thatcher vs. Ciampa and we would have yet another brutal match on this show. The takeaway from this show is brutality, in all different and positive ways. Even the finesse match was damn good with Escobar and Metalik being able to put on a good lucha libre style match without WWE holding them back. Overall, a good show.