By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired February 10, 2021 on USA Network
[Hour One] Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary…
1. “MSK” Wes Lee and Nash Carter vs. “Legado Del Fantasma” Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza in a Semi-final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Lee and Wilde started off the match. Wilde called for a Test of Strength and dominated the initial sequence with a grounded wristlock. Wilde did a kip up during Lee’s escape. Lee kept striking Tae Kwon Do defense poses to keep his guard up. Lee and Wilde reversed each other’s armbars. Carter tagged in and kicked Wilde into the corner. Carter hit Wilde with a Bronco Buster for a two count.
Carter used flips to escape Wilde’s wristlock into his own armdrag. Mendoza tagged in. Mendoza and Carter were at a stalemate during a chain wrestling sequence. Lee tagged in and the former Rascalz used some of their signature double team strikes, ending in a Carter double stomp. Lee was whipped into the heel corner and the heels traded tags to keep Lee in their corner to be pummeled with many strikes. The Legado dup hit Lee with a double suplex. Mendoza rebound suplexed Wilde onto Lee for a two count.
Carter tagged in and hit Mendoza with knees from many corners. Carter hit Mendoza with a PK for a two count. Wilde tagged in. Wilde took Carter off the apron with a high dropkick.[c]
Lee tagged himself in and nailed Mendoza with a CQC combo. While the setup was clunky, the execution was fun as Carter hit Legado with a Hot Fire Flame from the apron. Lee followed up with a beautiful Tope Con Hilo where Lee cleared a lot of ground. Mendoza recovered and nailed Lee with a dropkick. Wilde hit Lee with a Poisonrana. Mendoza tagged in and hit Lee with a Final Cut Suplex. Carter broke up Mendoza’s pin. Wilde then jumped off Carter’s back (who was in a Fireman carry) to hit Lee with a 450.
Carter pulled Mendoza outside to prevent Legado from hitting their finisher. MSK end up hitting Wilde with their Hart Attack Blockbuster for the victory.
MSK defeated Legado Del Fantasma via pinfall in 9:34 of on-air time to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The LED board showed that MSK will be facing the winner of the other semi-final at NXT Takeover in the finals…
A hype video aired to hype that Xia Li will be appearing after the commercial…[c]
John’s Thoughts: While not necessarily a Takeover level worked match, this was still a really good television match with a good pacing to it. There’s a lot of pro wrestling on TV and in other companies high speed spotfests are a dime a dozen to the point you get numb to it. Even separating this from MSK’s other two matches in NXT, it was fun to see the match start off with holds and methodical buildup. There was a bit of no-selling in the latter part of the match, but it was covered up well by the rush of solid high spots that popped up at the end of the match. The nearfalls are something that NXT’s tag division has pulled off well for years. MSK went over, as expected, and it’s fun seeing WWE bring in the former Rascal team and immediately push them to look strong out of the gate.
A Mercedes Martinez promo aired. Martinez talked about how important Takeover is for her. She said it’s her destiny, her goal, to get the NXT Women’s Championship. Martinez called Toni a little girl and said that it’s going to take a lot more from Io to take her out. Martinez said she’s walking out as NXT Women’s Champion and you can bet on that…
Tian Sha, Boa, and Xia Li had their highly produced, and epic entrance. Boa still looks like he just came from the Matrix while Li performed another one of her Wushu Katas. This time it was a traditional sword Kata…
2. Xia Li (w/Tian Sha, Boa) vs. Cora Jade. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter showed up at ringside to ask Li about her sudden transformation. Li was distracted initially, but then easily took down Jade with a few kicks. Li won after a spin kick.
Xia Li defeated Cora Jade via pinfall in 0:45.
Kayden Carter went up the ramp and asked Tian Sha what she did to Li. Carter talked about Tian corrupting Xia. Xia tossed Carter off the ramp. Li pleaded something to Tian. Boa told Tian and Li to not worry, in Mandarin. Tian Sha ended up choking Boa. Li then punt kicked Kacy Catanzaro (there was a bit of a rough edit). Sha let go
McKenzie Mitchell interviwed William Regal backstage. Regal talked about how he was proud of MSK and is looking forward to the Dusty Classic finals. Regal then left the interview to enter his office. Scarlett [Bordeaux] was in a black dress and doing a sexy pose on Regal’s desk. Scarlett said that Santos Escobar’s time is up next week. Regal agreed to book Kross in a match against Escobar next week…
Johnny Gargano, Austin Theory, Candice LeRae, and Indi Hartwell were shown heading to the ring. Gargano was in a wheelchair…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Poor Boa can’t catch a break. All we really see this guy do is get beat up by the women of the NXT roster (so far by Xia Li, Tian Sha, and Raquel Gonzalez). At least this time he got attacked by the female David Lo Pan (for some reason, when I think of a 1000 year old demi-god, I think of David Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China). Anyway, so far, I’m really liking the Tian Sha, Boa, and Li stuff and they do a good job adding layers to this act every week. I feel a bit bad for Catanzaro and Carter though. They finally catch a break with a big win in the Dusty Classic, and now they’re presumably going to be fed to The Terminator in the leveled-up Xia Li.
Vic Joseph thanked Bring Me to the Horizon for providing the song “Obey” as a theme for NXT Takeover…
The Way made their entrance to the PC arena. Gargano kept selling his arm injury (and the joke is that he’s also in a wheelchair). Gargano said he has unfortunate news, the result of Kushida’s cowardly attack last week. Gargano said he was just minding his own business and trying to get “not-McKenzie” fired. Gargano said that Kushida broke his arm during that attack. A replay aired of the brawl between Kushida and Gargano. The slo-mo showed that Kushida ended up punting Gargano in the arm.
Gargano claimed that he has four fractures in his left arm, and he’s a left arm. Gargano said he can’t power walk anymore. Gargano said this is made worse because he hates wheels and he’s in a wheel chair. Gargano sarcastically said the worst part is he can’t defend the title at Takeover. Gargano said Regal should suspend Kushida indefinitely for taking out the most beloved person on the NXT roster. Regal then made his entrance, telling Gargano and The Way to get out of the ring for the next match of the Dusty Classic.
Regal then told Gargano that he’s been cleared by the doctors and that he should give up this charade. Gargano mocked Regal’s pronunciation of the word “charade” by saying “Dennis Char-Rodman”. Regal then had the production team post a picture of his x-ray. Regal pointed out that it was fake because the picture said that it was from a right arm. Regal then demanded that either Kushida vs. Austin Theory be for the North American title with Theory as a surrogate, or Gargano wrestle his match as advertised. Theory was pleased at wanting to be the surrogate but Gargano didn’t like that and begged Regal for more time to think and recover.
Regal told Gargano to ask Kushida for his thoughts on the situation. Kushida ended up showing up behind Theory, catching him with a haymaker punch. Kushida tried to pull the title belt away from Gargano. Gargano got to his feet and played tug-of-war with Kushida over the title while standing, showing that Gargano was faking his injury. Kushida ended up clearing Theory and Gargano from the ring. Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart made their entrance for their match against Indi and LeRae…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A bit cheesy, but Gargano has gotten very good and witty in delivering cheesy comedy. They’ve been hyping up on social media that Gargano is too injured for his Takeover match, but I’m guessing at this point it was WWE doing a solid job working social media, which is not bad.
3. “The Way” Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell vs. Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart in a Semi-final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Blackheart caught LeRae with an elbow drop to start the match. Hartwell tagged in and hit Blackheart with Snake Eyes and a sidewalk slam for a two count. Joseph noted that Blackheart has been feuding with The Way for months. LeRae tagged in and slammed Blackheart to the mat by the hair for a two count. Hartwell and LeRae traded tags and methodical offense to keep Blackheart away from Moon.
Moon tagged in and hit LeRae with a series of lariats. Moon then hit LeRae with a shotgun dropkick. Hartwell took a kick from Moon. Moon hit Hartwell with a Magnum. Blackheart hit Indi with a Question Mark Kick for a two count. Blackheart held Indi in place for a Moon dropkick to give Moon a two count. Blackheart was dumped to ringside. LeRae went to the top rope and huracanrana’d Moon off the apron and onto Moon. The show cut to picture-in-picture.[c]
Blackheart caught LeRae with a draped reverse senton for a two count. Blackheart tagged out and bulldogged LeRae onto Moon’s boot to give moon a two count. Hartwell tagged in and draped Moon on the ropes for LeRae’s lionsault. LeRae then barely hit Blackheart with a suicide dive, because she tripped on the second rope.
[Hour Two] Moon sidestepped a tackle by LeRae in the corner. Moon tagged in Blackheart for the hot tag. Blackheart tagged in and hit LeRae with a Scorpion Kick. LeRae recovered and hit Blackheart with a Wicked Stepsister. Hartwell hit Blackheart with an impressive slingshot elbow. Moon broke up the pin. Blackheart recovered and hit Hartwell with a rope-assisted DDT. Moon caught LeRae with a Eclipse. Shotzi went for her diving Senton on LeRae, but Hartwell took the bullet for LeRae by covering up LeRae during Shotzi’s finisher. Hartwell took the finisher and was legal, so she also took the pinfall.
Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon defeated The Way via pinfall in 14:19 to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The graphic showed that Blackheart and Moon will face Gonzalez and Kai in the finals. William Regal then stood in-between a standoff between Kai and Gonzalez and Blackheart and Moon. Regal announced that in addition to being for a cup, the Dusty Tournament will also be for a future title shot at the WWE Women’s Tag team Championship…
The show cut to Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa backstage, cutting a promo. Thatcher talked about how the last round was brutal and painful, but that’s how they like it. Ciampa said Ciampa and Thatcher are about to whoop the asses of the Grizzled Young Veterans. Ciampa ended his promo by marching off after saying Class Dismissed. Thatcher let out a grin, showing off his broken teeth…[c]
John’s Thoughts: I like the finish with Hartwell taking the bullet for LeRae. On one hand it continues her playing the role of LeRae’s spiritual daughter. On the other, they can have fun with it by having LeRae berate Hartwell for the bad decision because she was the legal woman. As expected, Moon and Blackheart advance to the finals to set up the heel vs. babyface matchup. Totally the right decision because Heel vs. Heel never really works. My hope is that they put Gonzalez and Kai over in the end. Kai and Gonzalez have been a dominant team for over a year and now they finally have something to wrestle for. I feel like it would be a waste to put the credibility behind Moon and Blackheart when I can see WWE easily moving immediately towards Moon and Blackheart as standout singles acts right after being put together as a makeshift tag team.
A Black History Month video aired…
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Santos Escobar about facing Karrion Kross next week. Before Escobar could finish his thought, Mendoza and Wilde went into the room. Escobar told Wilde and Mendoza not to apologize because Escobar doesn’t apologize to anyone. Escobar said if Wilde and Mendoza want to make it up to him then they should pay “someone” a visit. Escobar said to make sure “he” (Kross) doesn’t make it to NXT next week…
A Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne hype package aired…
4. Kushida vs. Austin Theory. No televised entrances for this match. Kushida dominated Theory early on. Gargano got on the apron and distracted Kushida for Theory to nail Kushida with a dropkick. Kushida regained control with a big boot and forearms. Theory blocked a Kushida hip toss, but Kushida followed up with the hip toss and dropkick. Kushida hit Theory with a haymaker. Kushida hit Theory with a shoulder slam. Kushida stomped on Theory’s back while putting him in a butterfly stretch. Beth Phoenix noted that Kushida put Velveteen Dream and Arturo Ruas on the shelf in recent months.
Kushida continued to use his strikes and submissions to manhandle Theory around the ring. Theory got a bit of control after tripping Kushida off a slingshot move. The show cut to regular commercial.[c]
Theory hit Kushida with a backbreaker for a two count. Theory dominated Kushida with power moves for a stretch of the match. Kushida got a two count off a small package. Kushida took down Theory with a handstand into an elbow followed by a Flatliner into the buckle. Kushida used his shoulder as fulcrum to bend Theory’s elbow. Theory retreated to ringside and avoided a seated senton. Theory grounded Kushida with a pounce.
Kushida used punches to escape a power bomb. Kushida locked Theory in the Juji Gatame on the apron. Gargano superkicked Kushida to invoke the DQ.
Kushida defeated Austin Theory via DQ in 8:39 of on-air time.
Gargano and Theory put the boots to Kushida. When Gargano went to the ring to follow up on Kushida, Theory was pulled under the ring. Gargano then thought he was pulling Theory out from under the ring, but he pulled out Dexter Lumis. Gargano then sprinted to the back. Theory got from under the ring and ran right into the Hoverboard Lock by Kushida. Gargano ran back and pulled Kushida off. Kushida put Gargano in the Hoverboard Lock. Lumis put Theory in the Kata Gatame. The segment ended with Kushida posing over Gargano. Lumis did a blank stare at Kushida while cradling Theory’s head like a baby…
A promo package aired for Toni Storm. Storm talked about keeping her promise form months ago where she talked about going for the championship. Storm bragged about beating Io Shirai for the Mae Young Classic. Storm said people should be talking about that, but they will after Storm picks up the title. Storm said Shirai will have to move to the back of the line, because it’s Toni Time…[c]
An Imperium promo package aired where each member laid out their roles in the group. They even laid out Walter’s role as the leader of the group. The promo ended with them saying that “The mat is sacred”…
The show cut to Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza laid out backstage. Kross then went to the camera and said that he’s going to do what he did to Wilde and Mendoza to Escobar next week. Kross ended his promo with a “tick tock”…
The commentators were checking in on commentary, but were quickly cut off by a Lamborghini pulling up to the PC parking lot. Cameron Grimes emerged from the driver seat. He was shirtless, but also wearing formal slacks and a sports coat. Grimes handed money to security guards to park his car. Grimes then made his entrance to the PC arena, handing money out to random people along the way. Grimes gloated about being back.
Grimes talked about how Timothy Thatcher is a “MCL snatcher” when he laid him out during his last appearance. He said he went home and thought about how he was going to cave in Timothy Thatcher. Grimes said he found out about video games during his downtime. He said video games are pretty cool. Grimes said he then ran out of games and discovered that you can find more games at Game Stop. Grimes then said buying games there inspired him to invest in Game Stop stocks. Grimes then talked about how the stocks went to the moon and it got him so much money.
Grimes then said he invested some money in crypto currency called “Dogecoins” and he’s even more richer (I never thought I would ever hear a Doge reference on a pro wrestling show). He pronounced Dogecoins as “Dog Coins”. Grimes said he pulled up in a rocket ship, his new Lamborghini. Grimes continued to gloat in the ring. Grimes said Regal can kiss his grits if he’s going to try to make Grimes wrestle people like Lumis or a zombie. Grimes then did snow angels in a pile of hundred dollar bills…
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Johnny Gargano about what Kushida did to him. Gargano said his match against Kushida is happening. He said it’s an opportunity to show people what Gargano is about. Gargano said Kushida better be ready to wrestle the match of his life if he wants to take the NA title. Gargano said no one can hang with Gargano in the ring…
The Grizzled Young Veterans and Thatcher and Ciampa were shown backstage heading to the ring…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Grimes came back goofier than ever, and I’m still waiting for the day when he becomes a serious badass. That said, Grimes every now and then finds a way to do good comedy character work. This segment may not appeal to all, but it was topical and current in terms of referencing the Game Stop stock story. I thought it was a nice touch for him to throw in the crypto currency reference. So is he “rich” Cameron Grimes now? Big Money Grimes? Just like his spiritual uncle, Big Money Matt?
Io Shirai cut her version of the hype promos in Japanese, with subtitles. Shirai said that it’s been 3 years since Toni Storm defeated her for the Mae Young Classic trophy, and Shirai is a different person now. Shirai said she respect’s Martinez’s 20 year journey for a main stream women’s title, but sadly that journey will go on forever and ever because Shirai ain’t dropping the Women’s title. Shirai said she will walk out of Takeover as champion, still…
Entrances for the main event took place. Zack Gibson cut a promo on his way to the ring calling his opponents goofs. Gibson referenced Ciampa’s last partner breaking up with him. Gibson then said that Thatcher can stick his fake friendship up his ass. Thatcher and Ciampa then beat up the GYV’s during the “Soon to be recognized…” part of Gibson’s usual promo…
John’s Thoughts: Good on NXT creative for finally giving Gibson promo time. Not only that, but he’s also digging into his favorable opponents as opposed to him just doing his signature “soon to be recognized…”template.
5. “The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher in a Semi-final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The match started once Gibson and Thatcher singled out in the ring. Thatcher and Ciampa then kept control over Gibson, utilizing quick tags and isolation. Gibson ended up sneaking in a two count via a rollup. Drake tagged in and the GYV’s got the advantage by pummeling Thatcher with quick corner moves. Gibson and Drake then hit Ciampa with a double team power bomb on the apron. The show cut to picture-in-picture.[c]
Thatcher and Drake had a fighting spirit exchange with trading forearms in the center of the ring. Thatcher hit Drake with a hip toss, but couldn’t tag in Ciampa, who was recovering at ringside. Gibson tagged in and slammed Thatcher to the mat. Gibson got a few pin attempts in while also grinding his elbow into Thatcher’s face. Thatcher used elbows to try to fend off Gibson and Drake, but the numbers game won over.
[Overrun] Thatcher escaped a Doomsday Device and caught a flying Drake with a uppercut. Ciampa caught Gibson at ringside with a right hook . Ciampa then cleaned house after getting the hot tag in the ring. Ciampa hit both opponents with a double lariat. Ciampa hit both opponents with German Suplexes. Ciampa Air Raid Crashed Drake onto Gibson. Drake kicked out at two. Drake blocked a Fairy Tale Ending by dragging Ciampa to Gibson’s corner. Gibson tagged in.
Ciampa and Gibson traded right hands. Ciampa made Gibson crumple to a high knee. Gibson recovered and hit Ciampa with a Final Cut Suplex. Drake tagged in, ran off Ciampa’s back and hit Thatche with a Poetry in Motion dropkick. The GYVs hit Ciampa with a Doomsday Device. Thatcher broke up Drake’s pin. Drake tackled Thatcher over the barricade and almost fell for the same trick as Ciampa’s opponent last week, but Gibson held on to Drake to prevent him from getting nailed by the Willow’s Bell. The Grizzled Young veterans hit Ciampa with the Ticket to Mayhem. Drake pinned Ciampa while Gibson held back Thatcher from breaking the pin.
The Grizzled Young Veterans defeated Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher via pinfall in 11:37 to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Vic Joseph noted that the Grizzled Young Veterans are making it to the finals of the Dusty Classic for the 2nd year in a row. The graphic then showed MSK vs. GYV at Takeover for the Dusty Cup. The camera cut to a face off between MSK and GYV.
The camera then cut to Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix running down the Takeover Vengeance card. Clips of all the match participants facing off at the top of the ramp aired when each match was announced. The show closed with Finn Balor facing off against Pete Dunne…
John’s Thoughts: A bit of a surprising finish because I didn’t expect the Grizzled Young Veterans to advance with a clean win. I actually would have preferred Ciampa and Thatcher moving on to the finals because of the star power, the multi-month build, and the surprisingly good chemistry between Thatcher and Ciampa as a tag team. MSK going over Thatcher and Ciampa would have put over MSK huge. It’s not a guarantee that they would have won though and I don’t think it’s a lock for MSK to beat the Grizzled Young Veterans either, especially with Vic Joseph throwing in that line about the GYVs making it to the finals a 2nd year.
Last week’s matches were overall hotter, but this week was a solid episode of NXT as usual. The show focused on being a go-home show and did a good job hyping up all the Takeover matches. The only match that that seems like a foregone conclusion is the Balor vs. Dunne match only because it wouldn’t make sense to put the title on Dunne (Unless they have something REALLY creative to put the belt on Dunne, but I don’t seem them taking that risk heading into WrestleMania season).