2/24 NXT TV results: Moore’s review of Adam Cole’s explanation, Santos Escobar vs. Karrion Kross in a non-title No DQ match, Io Shirai vs. Zoey Stark in a non-title match, Johnny Gargano vs. Dexter Lumis in a non-title match, Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro

By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

NXT TV 
Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired February 24, 2021 on USA Network

[Hour One] The show started off with a recap package of the Karrion Kross and Santos Escobar feud that started a few weeks ago…

Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, and Wade Barrett were on commentary…

1. NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano (w/Austin Theory, Indi Hartwell, Candice LeRae) vs. Dexter Lumis in a non-title match. The commentators talked about how Austin Theory has been acting pretty strange for a guy who was kidnapped for multiple nights. Gargano quickly retreated to the apron. Gargano went for a slingshot move, but he was punched out of the air. Lumis avoided a Slingshot Spear by going under the ring and coming out on the other side to blindside Gargano. Lumis hit Gargano with a delayed vertical suplex. Gargano went for a comeback, but he was given snake eyes on the apron (nice bump by Gargano).

Austin Theory tried to chat with Lumis at ringside for the distraction. Indi Hartwell flirted with Lumis, even telling him to “call me”. LeRae went for a huracanrana on Lumis in front of the referee, but Lumis caught her and gently placed her back on the apron. Gargano dove under LeRae’s legs to hit Lumis with a suicide dive. The show cut to picture-in-picture.[c]

Lumis hit Gargano with a Bulldog and rebound suplex. Lumis did a kip up into a leg drop for a two count on Gargano. Lumis and Gargano trade counters for each other’s submission finishers. Lumis hit Gargano with a spinebuster once they got up. Gargano avoided a stomp and Silence attempt. Lumis hit Gargano with a throat punch, but Gargano rebounded into a superkick for a two count on Lumis. Gargano tried to use a steel chair on Lumis, but Lumis stepped on the chair.

Gargano feigned a leg injury. LeRae ordered Theory to hit Lumis with the steel chair but Theory frooze and acted friendly to Lumis. Gargano tried to tackle Lumis was Lumis sent Gargano into Theory. Lumis locked Gargano in the Kata Gatame to make Gargano pass out.

Dexter Lumis defeated Johnny Gargano via submission in 13:37.

John’s Thoughts: I’m not sure how much milage NXT has in Dexter Lumis as the serial killer babyface, but at least we can count on Gargano to carry his end of the program. I still feel that Lumis is better served as a heel given his current character. Given the interaction with Theory and Lumis, they might be pulling Theory away from the Gargano act. Maybe not? And I hope not, because I get a kick out of man-child Austin Theory.

Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix checked in on commentary. Vic introduced Wade Barrett as their remote correspondent for this week. Barrett joked that he was trapped in Dexter Lumis’s basement…

An MSK introduction video aired. Wes Lee talked about how they both are living the dream and they’re both from Dayton Ohio. Nash Carter was emotional over winning the Dusty Classic. They showed a clip of Carter’s family at home who cheered when MSK won the Dusty Cup. Carter talked about how is father passed away while he was in high school and it was his father who introduced him to pro wrestling. Carter said he became a pro wrestler to honor his father. They talked about how they are going to be the best tag team in NXT…[c]

John’s Thoughts: Again, NXT has done a stellar job introducing the world to the MSK tag team. NXT has done more in one month that Impact has done in multiple years of having them under contract (but you can argue that with a lot of former Impact wrestlers like Cameron Grimes). I also give NXT credit for not holding back on introducing these guys as big deals and this MSK duo can have Hardy Boyz like potential in WWE, maybe even becoming great singles stars down the road. Heck, Jeff Jarrett once was pushing Wes Lee as the next AJ Styles, and Jarrett is currently working for WWE now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lee ends up with a big push down the road given his immense talent. Carter’s damn good too and NXT has done a good job showcasing his real life story.

A sponsored video package aired to showcase Shotzi Blackheart…

McKenzie Mitchell tried to interview Wes Lee and Nash Carter, but Zack Gibson and James Drake ran in and beat down the babyface duo. Referees ran in to run off the Grizzled Young Veterans…

They cut to footage from “earlier today” where Malcolm Bivens was asking Leon Ruff if he was medically cleared so he can challenge Tyler Rust. Ruff accepted the challenge…

John’s Thoughts: Is Malcolm Bivens just hanging out in the trainer’s office every week, just challenging injured wrestlers to matches against Tyler Rust?

Malcolm Bivens and Tyler Rust made their entrance. Bivens called Rust the son he never had. Bivens talked about how Ruff is getting an opportunity against Rust and Rust will prove that he’s a Diamond in the Rust. Leon Ruff made his entrance. Before Ruff could get in the ring he was beat down by Isaiah Scott, who left Ruff lying. Bivens held up Rust’s hand in the ring like it was a victory for Rust…

The show cut to William Regal awarding Zoey Stark a non-title match against Io Shirai, who was excited for such a high profile match…

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Stark about her match against Io Shirai. Stark was super excited, but the show had technical difficulties and cut of the Stark interview…

Zoey Stark made her entrance before the commercial break…[c]

Cameron Grimes was shown watching Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase videos on his tablet. Grimes tried to recreate the famous scene where challenged a kid to dribble a ball for cash, except Grimes did it with a backstage staff member. Grimes forgot the part where DiBiase kicked the ball away and ended up giving the staff member free cash. Grimes was livid over not watching the rest of the video…

Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix checked in on commentary. Joseph noted that Kyle O’Reilly will be out 4-6 weeks after getting attacked by Adam Cole…

2. NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai vs. Zoey Stark in a non-title match. Joseph noted that Io Shirai was attacked from behind last week, but she’s medically cleared to wrestle. Shirai and Stark started the match with a lockup and chain wrestling. Shirai tied up Stark into a octopus hold. Shirai hit Stark with a slingshot meteora in the corner. Stark blocked a 619 and hit Shirai with a pump kick. Shirai blocked a suicide dive with a double boot gamengiri. Stark used a roundhouse to knock Shirai off the top rope. The show cut to regular commercial.[c]

Shirai avoided a 450 by Stark. Shirai and Stark took each other out with a high cross body. Stark gave Shirai a half-and-half suplex for a two count. Shirai caught Stark’s kick and gave Stark a rising palm. Shirai hit Stark a flapjack and 619. Shirai hit Stark with a Missile Dropkick for a good nearfall. Shirai set up and hit Stark with a Frankensteiner. Shirai hit Stark with a butterfly backbreaker for a nearfall. Shirai sent Stark into the buckle and hit Stark with a meteora. Shirai hit Stark with the moonsault for the victory.

Io Shirai defeated Zoey Stark via pinfall in 8:15 of on-air time. 

Toni Storm made her entrance and called out Io Shirai, claiming that Io is ducking out on her. Storm said Shirai did nothing after Storm kicked Shirai’s head off. Storm said Shirai pinned Martinez at takeover because Shirai knows she can’t beat Storm. Shirai said she’ll fight Storm at any place and any time. Storm claimed that Shirai is scared because Shirai could ask Regal for a match whenever she wants. Storm told Shirai to prove her wrong and get Regal to book the title match. Shirai said, “you’re on”…

John’s Thoughts: Stark looked good her 2nd singles match on NXT and it looks like WWE might be high on her given how she got to look very credible against the top female wrestler on the brand. Stark looks very vanilla at the moment, but she’s just started in WWE and we’ve seen a lot of successful repackages come from vanilla characters. This included the transformation of Rhea Ripley and more recently Xia Li. I like Toni Storm’s logic after the match because it makes the finish of the oddly short Takeover match make some sense. It’s good heel logic from Storm. Storm also still has that win over Shirai from a few years ago that she can reference.

McKenzie Mitchell caught up with The Way to ask Gargano about his match. Gargano berated Theory for not hitting Lumis with the chair. Theory said the chair wasn’t necessary because Lumis is a misunderstood man. Gargano said that Lumis should go to jail for kidnapping and chloroforming Theory. LeRae asked Hartwell to convince her “brother” that Lumis should go to jail. Hartwell surprised Gargano and LeRae by saying that she thinks Lumis is hot. Gargano said they are going to send Theory to therapy…

Vic Joseph hyped Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro for after the commercial…[c]

[Hour Two] Grimes was walking around the parking lot, pleased that he finally watched the whole Million Dollar Man challenge video. Grimes walked up to three people and tried to challenge a random woman to the dribble challenge. The woman stood up and intimidated Grimes. Grimes was intimidated by the taller woman but said he’ll still pay the lady $1000 if she can dribble the ball 10 times. The woman did a crossover under her legs to avoid Grimes trying to kick the ball away, which forced Grimes to pay her $1000. Grimes was pissed off that DiBiase was successful at this challenge and not him…

Entrances for the next match took place, which included Xia Li, Boa, and Mei Ying’s highly produced entrance. Li’s Wushu demo for this week was a fan dance…

3. Xia Li (w/Boa, Mei Ying) vs. Kacy Catanzaro (w/Kayden Carter). Catanzaro was aggressive out of the gate, using her agility to avoid Li’s heavy strikes. Li slowed down Catanzaro with a snake eyes. Li hit Catanzaro with a high stomp and a vertical suplex for a two count. Catanzaro escaped a sleeper with a armdrag. Catanzaro hit Li with a lot of punches and a Liger Kick. Li regained control after whipping Kacy into the plexiglass barricade. Li stompped on Kacy’s leg, forcing the referee to break her count and check on Kacy. Xia dragged Kacy by the hair, back to the ring. Referees got between Li and Kacy. The referee called off the match.

Xia Li defeated Kacy Catanzaro via ref stoppage in 4:41. 

Kayden Carter tried to approach Mei Ying, but was cut off by Boa. Xia Li surprised Kacy Catanzaro with a back kick to force Kayden to go back and check on Kacy. Xia told Kayden “you’re next”. Xia Li’s theme played to close the segment…

William Regal was pacing in the parking lot, looking for Santos Escobar, who still hasn’t arrived to the show yet…

A video package aired to hype up Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Shayna Baszler said NXT’s women division is just the leftovers of when she was last in NXT. Jax said Kai and Gonzalez are a joke. Kai and Gonzalez said they are taking the titles to NXT. The tag team title match will happen next week…

Vic Joseph hyped Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Drake Maverick and Killian Dain for after the break…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A good showcase for Xia and I really like it when pro wrestling utilizes the ref stoppage spot to end the match. I’m surprised we don’t see it happen more often with some of the bigger main event wrestlers because ref stoppages go a long way in establishing dominant wrestlers.

Cameron Grimes is still trying to do his dribble challenge in the PC parking lot. Grimes tried to get another guy to do the dribble challenge. Before the guy could start the challenge, Grimes punched out the man. Grimes left the guy lying with a bunch of money right next to him…

Killian Dain and Drake Maverick made their entrance. Dain ripped of Drake’s shirt because it had Dain’s face printed on it. Zack Gibson and James Drake made their entrance. Gibson talked about how Wes Lee’s hand is broken and Regal fined GYV. Drake said they did NXT a favor by stopping MSK from acting like children in NXT. Gibson called Maverick and Dain, Shrek and Donkey. Gibson did his “soon to be recognized” bit…

4. “Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. Killian Dain and Drake Maverick. Dain body slammed Maverick onto James to give Maverick a two count. Gibson tagged in and tried to knock Dain off the apron, but Dain no sold the shove. Dain saved Maverick from a Doomsday Device. Dain tossed the GYVs to ringside. Dain then tossed Maverick on the GYVs. The show cut to commercial.[c]

Dain got the hot tag and cleaned house. Dain tossed Gibson into James. Dain lifted James and Zack and hit both of them with a fallaway slam. Dain hit James with a Wasteland and Senton for a two count. Maverick tagged in and hit James with a crossbody. Maverick hit James with two basement dropkicks. Gibson got a blind tag. James dropkicked Maverick into Gibson’s STO. Dain broke up Gibson’s pin. James hit Dain with a suicide dive. Maverick caught Gibson with a Bulldog. Gibson pulled Maverick off the top rope. The Grizzled Young Veterans hit Maverick with Ticket to Mayhem to give Drake the pinfall win.

The Grizzled Young Veterans defeated Drake Maverick and Killian Dain via pinfall in 4:50 of on-air time. 

Dain carried Maverick to the back with a fireman carry…

The camera cut to Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza standing guard in front of a SUV door, presumably with Santos Escobar inside…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A good tag team match with NXT doing a decent job over the past few months establishing the Grizzled Young Veterans as a credible tag team. Their start in NXT US has been a bit rough, but with Gibson being given consistent mic time along with the Dusty Classic finals, the GYVs are finally starting to catch on in NXT. I wouldn’t mind seeing Dain and Maverick showcased more. Dain’s criminally underutilized and Drake Maverick can take whatever you give him and turn it into a million bucks. That said, they are fine as a gatekeeper tag team for now and I can see them getting their day to shine down the road.

An ad aired to advertise NXT UK…

Killian Dain carried Drake Maverick to the trainer’s room . Alexander Wolfe showed up and told Dain “what is this!?! You used to be a monster!”…

Karrion Kross and Scarlett were supposed to make their entrance, but the camera cut to outside where Kross attacked Wilde and Mendoza in front of Escobar’s SUV. Escobar got out of the SUV and attacked Kross, but Kross quickly got the upper hand.

5. NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar (w/Raul Mendoza, Joaquin Wilde) vs. Karrion Kross in a non-title street fight. Kross tried to beat up Escobar in the back of a Semi truck. Escobar got the upper hand after slamming the truck gate on Kross’s back. Kross recovered and Escobar hid in the front seat of the truck. Kross started hitting the door with a pickaxe. Mendoza and Wilde blindsided Kross, which allowed Escobar to get the upper hand. Escobar staggered Kross after slamming him into the trailer. Mendoza and Wilde dragged Kross to ringside. The piped in fake cheers were cheering for Kross while booing Escobar. [c]

Kross recovered and tossed Wilde and Mendoza from the crowd area to ringside, through the plexiglass. Kross got a two count after hitting Escobar with a big boot. Escobar caught Kross in the back with a steel chair after Mendoza distracted Kross. Escobar tossed Kross into the steel steps. The show cut to picture in picture.[c]

Escobar hit Kross with a dropkick in the corner. Escobar wrapped a chair around the neck of Kross and tossed him into the ringpost. Escobar then DDT’d Kross on a steel chair. Wilde and Mendoza distracted Kross again, which allowed Escobar to hit Kross with his signature Arrow from the Depths of Hell (Suicide Dive). Escobar worked on Kross with methodical offense, focusing on Kross’s left arm. Escobar gave Kross a meteora to the chest. Escobar went for the 3 Amigos, but Kross reversed the 2nd suplex with an overhead suplex.

Kross tossed aside Escobar’s stooges. Kross yanked Escobar into the ringpost. Kross gave Mendoza a big boot to cause him to drop a chair. Wilde pulled Escobar away from a Kross chair shot. Kross tossed Mendoza aside and power bombed Wilde into the plexiglass. Kross gave Escobar a Doomsday Saito through the announce table. Kross dragged Escobar in the ring and gave Escobar another Doomsday Saito. Kross gave Escobar a Northern Forearm for the victory.

Karrion Kross defeated Santos Escobar via pinfall in about 15:00. 

Highlights from the match aired…

Adam Cole was shown heading to the ring from backstage for his segment…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A solid match on Escobar’s side, but I have to say that this was underwhelming, mostly due to Kross. You guys know I’m one of Kross’s biggest defenders, but I have to say that I expected more from him given some of the violent matches I’ve seen the guy have in other promotions. I wouldn’t say NXT is holding him back, because NXT has had great hardcore matches involving people like Gargano, Ciampa, Thatcher, Cole, and the list goes on-and-on. Some people might have liked this, but I felt like this was a pretty tame match for a hardcore match. At least Escobar got to look good and the match played more into his more methodical and technical style. Another problem I see here, is NXT also presenting Kross as a random babyface with no real turn. Damian Priest played the role of the tall monstrous babyface who knows martial arts and he looked way better than Kross has looked so far.

The former Eli Drake, LA Knight, cut a selfie promo from his car. Knight said he was going to make his debut on his time and his terms. Knight said he may debut next week, or even three months from now. Knight said everyone on the roster will get the opportunity to be stomped out by LA Knight. He said “that is not an insult, that is just a fact of life”…

Vic Joseph hyped Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm for the NXT Women’s Championship for two weeks from now. Beth hyped Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships for next week…

[Overrun] Adam Cole made his entrance to the Performance Center arena. He still uses the Undisputed Era music and he still did his “boom” thing. Cole then stood in the ring, watching a replay of Kyle O’Reilly’s stretcher job from last week on the LED screen. Cole’s face sold that he might be remorseful. Cole said he wanted to explain his reasoning for why he attacked Kyle, but the video he just watched made him sick. Cole said he didn’t like the man he became in the past few weeks due to him really wanting the NXT Championship.

Cole said he’s ashamed for himself and his greed doesn’t excuse him from what he did to O’Reilly. Cole said he wants to tell this to O’Reilly to his face, but he can’t; and they can’t because of Cole. Cole said that O’Reilly knows that Cole hates to admit that he’s wrong and he’s admitting that he’s wrong. Cole said he made a stupid mistake and he hates himself for it. Cole got up the camera and apologized to Kyle O’Reilly. He said he’s going to do anything his power to fix this. The crowd booed.

Roderick Strong walked out and berated Cole for betraying Kyle and Strong. Strong said the Undisputed Era was built on trust, love, and a brotherhood. Strong said they were supposed to have each other’s back no matter what. Strong said Cole shattered that trust just like that. Strong said Cole needs to understand that Kyle is gonna heal, but when Kyle heals he can’t save Cole from what Kyle will do to Cole. Finn Balor bade his entrance and then shoved Strong aside.

Balor tackled Cole and then did some ground and pound. Strong tried to pull Balor off, but Balor recovered and put the boots to Strong. Cole pulled Balor away and knocked out Balor with a Superkick. Adam Cole told Roderick Strong to speak with him in the ring, but Strong clocked him with a clothesline. Strong went back to being conflicted as he paced in the ring. Cole got on his knees and apologized to Strong. Cole then started crying with his head down. Strong told Cole that he’s his brother. Strong and Cole hugged.

During the hug, Cole gave Strong a low blow and called him stupid. Cole ripped off Strong’s necklace and then superkicked him. Cole had an evil look as he stood over the prone body of Strong to close the show…

John’s Thoughts: Really good and compelling stuff to close the show. NXT has really been missing out on the talents of Cole, Strong, and O’Reilly over the past few months. Yes, O’Reilly got the main event push, but Undisputed Era has been gone for stretches of time during that push, even O’Reilly at points. The Undisputed Era were the strongest stars in NXT since the move to USA and Cole’s performance here showed that he hasn’t missed a beat now that he’s back to being a top heel.

Cole’s fake-remorse promo was stellar. Everyone knew that Cole was disingenuous, but Cole did a great job at least planting a seed of doubt that he might be honest (and if you’ve ever seen his “The Chugs” persona on Twitch, you would know that the guy comes off as one of the most wholesome guys in the world in real life). Strong is still rough on the mic, but he played his role well as the innocent bystander stuck in the middle of the war between O’Reilly and Cole. Cole’s prime moment, was when he got on his knees and won over Strong by crying. Personally, I would have had Cole betray Strong next week to milk out a cliffhanger and leave Cole’s intentions in the dark, to leave the viewers lingering with a hook for next week, but I can also understand if WWE wants to get to where they want to with Cole as a heel too. I also trust Cole to take whatever WWE gives him and make it work.

This was a solid episode of NXT that breezed by, which is a good thing. The only thing really disappointing was the hyped up Kross vs. Escobar match, and I’m only disappointed in that because I set my expectations high (a combination of WWE’s promotion of that match along with seeing them work together in AAA and Lucha Underground over the years). I’m intrigued to see the ratings over the next couple of months if NXT decides to promote ROH golden era guys like Strong, Cole, and O’Reilly back in their main events again. One thing can see pushing the needle is Cole being prominent because he does push the needle. Look at the work he did last year on Smackdown on last minute notice when the Smackdown roster was stranded in Saudi Arabia?

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