3/31 NXT TV results: Moore’s review of the 12-man battle royal to qualify for a gauntlet eliminator for a shot at the NXT North American Championship at Takeover, Roderick Strong vs. Cameron Grimes, Raquel Gonzalez vs. Zoey Stark

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

NXT TV 
Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired March 31, 2021 on USA Network

[Hour One] Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary…

Entrances for the opening match took place. On his way to the ring, Cameron Grimes continued to try to pitch to Roderick Strong that he wants to buy all of Undisputed Era’s IPs. He revealed a “Grimes the System, Undisputed Era” shirt as well as a Cameron Grimes and Undisputed Era themed video wall. Roderick Strong attacked Grimes on the ramp…

1. Roderick Strong vs. Cameron Grimes. Strong had the advantage in the outside brawl. Things got more 50-50 once it got in the ring. Strong took down Grimes with a strong chop to the chest. The commentary team stressed that the Undisputed Era split hurt Strong the most. Strong dumped Grimes to ringside with a lariat and followed up with a wrecking ball kick. Strong continued to beat down Grimes at ringside.

Strong was them distracted by some fans at ringside who were wearing UE shirts (they were looking so stonefaced, that they looked like plants). This allowed Grimes to take control as the show cut to picture-in-picture.[c]

Strong ended the momentum of Grimes with a backbreaker. The commentators continued to stress that Strong seems distracted due to the UE breakup. Strong hit Grimes with a Superplex for a nearfall. Strong hit Grimes with a series of drive-by elbows. Grimes came right back with his Spanish Fly Powerslam. Grimes pulled out something from inside of his tights. Strong hit Grimes with an Angle Slam. Strong then picked up the foreign object and it was an Undisputed Era armband. Strong started to have an anxiety attack. Grimes then caught a distracted Strong with a Cave In Stomp for the victory.

Cameron Grimes defeated Roderick Strong via pinfall in 11:46. 

Highlights from the match took place with the commentators talking about being surprised that it wasn’t a weapon. Strong left the ring looking crestfallen…

A Karrion Kross training video aired. Kross was shown doing martial arts training. He talked about training in catch, Judo, and strikes. Kross said he’s going to cut the ring off on Balor and shower Balor with shots. Kross said you’ll end up seeing a prince dethroned at Takeover. Scarlett ended the promo with a few ominous words…

A WWE COVID vaccination PSA aired…

John’s Thoughts: Strong tends to overact a bit when asked to act and it showed here, but at the same time  this is much better than the old dull Strong from his ROH days and he isn’t putting in the worst performance in the world. A pinfall after a wrestler suffers an anxiety attack, that’s something you don’t see often, but I’m willing to see where this ultimately leads because they are definitely trying to tell a meaningful story with Strong that’s separate from Cole and O’Reilly. Either that or Strong ends up playing into the Strong vs. Cole unsanctioned match and the no-dq stipulation was put in place to they can write Strong into the feud?

A WALTER vignette aired where he talked about Tommaso Ciampa being a shell of his former champion self. WALTER talked about being the longest reigning UK champion. WALTER said at Takeover he’s going to prove what he means when he says “the ring is sacred”. Wade Barrett then hyped up the WALTER vs. Ciampa match for the UK Championship…

Beth Phoenix hyped up NXT’s move to Tuesdays on April 13th. Vic Joseph hyped up the WWE Network move to Peacock and he plugged a QR code that will give you 50% off…

Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, and Raul Mendoza were already in the ring. Escobar said he was making an open challenge because he wants to leave an example for Jordan Devlin. Escobar talked about representing 100 years of lucha libre tradition. Escobar said he’s the best cruiserweight in the history of NXT. Tyler Breeze ended up making his entrance. Breeze said that Escobar comes off as entitled, while Breeze worked his ass off to be here. He accepted Escobar’s challenge…

John’s Thoughts: Breeze doesn’t wrestle singles matches too often these days to the point where I forgot that he dropped the Zoolander accent a long time ago (which he used when he was a singles wrestler).

2. NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar vs. Tyler Breeze in a non-title match. Escobar dominated early on with boots and knees in the corner but Breeze came back with boots of his own. Breeze slammed Escobar’s leg several times into the ringpost. Breeze took out Wilde and Mendoza at ringside. Breeze was standing tall heading into commercial.[c]

Escobar locked Breeze in a Surfboard Hold back from the break. Escobar worked on Breeze with his usual methodical offense. Breeze came back with a huracanrana and mounted punches. Breeze planted Escobar with a spinebuster. Breeze locked Escobar in a sharpshooter. Breeze went for an Unprettier, but Escobar escaped and hit Breeze with a dropkick. Escobar hit Breeze with the Phantom Driver for the win.

Santos Escobar defeated Tyler Breeze via pinfall in 5:45 of on-air time in a non-title match.

Legado Del Fantasma were about to triple team beatdown Breeze after the match but they were run off by MSK, Wes Lee and Nash Carter, who stromed the ring. Zack Gibson and James Drake appeared on the LED fan screen where they called out both of their opponents at Takeover. Gibson ended up doing his usual “soon to be recognized…” bit. Vic Joseph then hyped up the MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado Del Fantasma for the Tag Team Championships at takeover…

John’s Thoughts: A good match that showcased Escobar’s really good methodical style. I did hope a bit that it would have been a 2 minute squash of a developmental guy, but at the same time Escobar wasn’t hurt too much by having Breeze look competitive. Breeze actually looked really good and you forget how good he is in the ring after all of the dumb comedy he’s done over the years. Breeze always shines when separate from Fandango to the point where I just hope that these guys stay the hell away from each other. I wouldn’t mind a Dango heel turn if it means the end of his dumbass male stripper entrances.

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Johnny Gargano who was with the Way. Gargano ranted about Regal’s booking of his next North American title defense. Austin Theory said that it was actually a good idea. Gargano wondered if Theory was trying to get back at him. Theory reminded Gargano about “the finger poke of doom”. Gargano said he was weary because that move “killed the business”. Gargano then agreed to go with Theory’s plan of winning the match so Gargano can poke theory. Hartwell said she expected Dexter Lumis to win, which left the others speechless. McKenzie then talked to Candice LeRae, who said that she and Hartwell would show Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart what real champions look like…

The camera cut to a random tiny dog (might be a mixed Pomeranian) looking at the WWE Performance Center?[c]

John’s Thoughts: I can see a few people gawking at the “killed the business” line, but Gargano’s timing is good enough to cover up for that and a little 4th wall humor isn’t bad in small doses. As long as the whole show isn’t trying to be ironic, little bits like this is fine.

A replay video aired of Raquel Gonzalez’s attack on Io Shirai last week. McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Io Shirai and asked Shirai if she bit off more than she could chew. Shirai said that’s exactly why she picked Gonzalez as a challenger (for the difficulty)…

3. “The Way” Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell vs. Gigi Dolan and Zayda Ramier. Dolan started off with a headlock and snapmare on Hartwell. Hartwell came back with a sidewalk slam. LeRae tagged in but Doland sidesteped and LeRae fell into the buckle. Zayda tagged in and dominated a bit. LeRae got control and tagged in Hartwell. LeRae hit Zayda with the Wicked Stepsister. Hartwell hit Zayda with a springboard elbow for the victory.

The Way defeated Gigi Dolan and Zayda Ramier via pinfall in 3:08. 

Candice LeRae took a mic and said that nobody in the locker room deserves to be a champion more than her and that The Way deserve to be NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. LeRae said they are coming for the titles and it will be on their time, their stage, and their way. LeRae said that stage is going to be at Stand at Deliver. Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart made their entrance on Blackheart’s toy tank. Moon said that The Way have lost their damn minds of thinkign that they will win the titles. Blackheart said they will take the way to the ball pit. Blackheart shot the nerf cannon at Hartwell (and I think she no sold the canon because it hit her “low”)…

The show was about to cut to commercial with Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai heading to the ring, but she was attacked by Io Shirai in the hallway. Gonzalez ended up getting the upper hand over Shirai. Sonjay Dutt and a trainer showed up and separated Gonzalez and Shirai (I think the trainer might have been Scotty 2 Hotty?)…

The camera then cut to the random tiny dog entering the WWE Performance Center…[c]

John’s Thoughts: Yo! This tiny dog is hype! Anyways, as expected, it’s going to be The Way vs. Blackheart and Moon. Should be a solid match and the history is there with Blackheart and The Way. Gigi Dolan is someone to look out for. Dolan worked as Priscilla Kelly on the indies. She is famous for the weird tampon memes on the internet, but she’s really good as a wrestling character. She did some really good work in enhancing Jimmy Havok’s act in MLW. I’m curious to see if they allow her to utilize her sex appeal which was a huge part of her act in promotions like MLW. They haven’t toned down Scarlett so maybe they aren’t going to tone down Gigi.

[Hour Two] McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Roderick Strong in the hallway who was still looking crestfallen. Strong had his head down and told McKenzie that “I’m done”…

John’s Thoughts: My guess, the same reason why Austin Theory also quit at one point, is that this depression is caused from PTSD from being trapped in Sam Shaw’s murder basement.

4. Raquel Gonzalez (w/Dakota Kai) vs. Zoey Stark. Stark had the advantage early on and landed a (rough looking) huracanrana on Gonzalez. Gonzalez took control after a release slam. Gonzalez hit Stark with a series of elbows and then locked in a cravate. Stark was dumped to ringside and gave Kai a lariat over the barricade. Stark hit Gonzalez with a kick to the knee and a running knee for a two count. Gonzalez went for a Uranage but Stark held on to the top rope. Stark hit Gonzalez with a nice looking Moonsault Neckbreaker for a two count. Gonzalez recovered and quickly dispatched Stark with a Uranage.

Raquel Gonzalez defeated Zoey Stark via pinfall in 4:54.

Io Shirai ran to the ring and attacked Gonzalez after the match. Shirai dumped Gonzalez to ringside with a shotgun dropkick. Gonzalez recovered and then tossed Shirai into the ringside plexiglass to leave her lying again.

John’s Thoughts: They’ve been doing a good job with Gonzalez and Shirai in the last few weeks. Shirai has consistently tried to attack Gonzalez only for Gonzalez to get the upper hand every single time. Possible callups make the match outcome up in the air (even though you home neither women get called up due to Raw and Smackdown bad booking). Another note, Zoey Stark continues to get a lot of national TV time and they’ve consistantly put her on TV every week since she signed with WWE. She looks green at points but you could tell WWE is high on her and is putting her through trial by fire.

They then cut to the tiny dog running across a NXT logo which had lines next to it (football sidelines?)…

John’s Thoughts: WWE Puppy bowl? I don’t know what to think if that case. If it’s not a puppy bowl, as a dog fan, I’m all for the tiny dog getting a huge push in NXT!

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Kushida. Pete Dunne cut Kushida off and said he took exception to Kushida calling himself the best technical wrestler in the world. Dunne said he’s the best technical wrestler in the world. Kushida told Dunne to prove it in the battle royal.

John’s Thoughts: Well, it’ looks like Kushida and Dunne aren’t challenging Gargano and they are most likely setting up a grudge match on Night 2.

The “Prime Target” video package aired for Kyle O’Reilly vs. Adam Cole. They showed O’Reilly and Cole in separate interrogation rooms where they were getting recorded. O’Reilly said that after meeting Cole, Cole was both the biggest blessing and biggest curse to his career. Cole talked about how he’s always been attached to Kyle O’Reilly by the hip either as opponents or as allies. Clips from last week’s contract signing aired, which Undisputed Era clips spliced in…

Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter made their entrance. Good to see Cantazaro recovered…[c]

Vic Joseph plugged Peacock again (with the discount QR code) as well as hyping up NXT’s move to Tuesdays. This was followed by Tian Sha’s highly produced entrance. Mei Ying was wearing red and white facepaint. Boa still looks like he came straight out of the Matrix. Xia Li did a demo with a Chinese Straightsword this week. The match started when Li entered the ring and Beth Phoenix assumed it was a handicap match…

5. “Tian Sha” Mei Ying and Xia Li vs. Kazy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter. Catanzaro and Carter traded quick tags to overwhelm Li with strikes. Catanzaro hit Li with a Liger Kick for a two count. Li halted Catanzaro’s momentum by tackling Kacy into the apron. Li went for a suplex, but Catanzaro reversed with a small package for a one count. Catanzaro hit Li with an innovative Corkscrew Codebreaker. While both women were left lying, Kayden

Carter tried to walk up to Mei Ying. Mei choked out Kayden. Kayden ultimately fell asleep after Mei Ying blew some smoke in her face (chloroform?). In the ring,  Li hit Catanzaro with a knee and spinning roundhouse for the victory.

Xia Li defeated Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter via pinfall in 3:04. 

Li and Boa were standing tall over Kayden Carter while Mei Ying was sitting on her throne.

John’s Thoughts: Chinese sleep gas. Can’t say we see much sleep gas used in wrestling, but I’m okay with this. I’m also really liking this chinese Tian Sha faction (I’m guessing Tian Sha is the faction name). Mei Ying kinda reminds me of David Lo Pan from the movie Big Trouble in Little China. I’m all for a reference to one of my favorite movies of all time.

McKenzie Mitchell tried to interview Raquel Gonzalez, who addressed Io Shirai constantly trying to attack her. On queue, Shirai attacked her again and again was overwhelmed by Gonzalez’s power. Gonzalez lifted up Shirai and chucked her through some drywall into the PC hallway. Gonzalez yelled at Shirai to stay down as she walked away…

The tiny dog appeared again. This time the dog walked in front of a person wearing high heeled boots. “See you on April 13th, signed Franky” appeared on the screen (Taya Valkyrie?)…

John’s Thoughts: Oh shoot! That’s Taya’s doggo (not Mr. Mundo because Mundo is an actual toy John E Bravo carries around)! I can’t believe I couldn’t think of what NXT was trying to hype with the dog (I almost thought it was a Puppy Bowl). I was getting Impact Wrestling vibes from the valley girl aura the last vignette was giving, and I was right on that one. Maybe it’s someone else, but it looks like Taya Valkyrie is about to make her NXT debut. I have no qualms in saying this, Taya Valkyrie is one of the best women wrestlers in the world on the mic, in terms of effort, and in the ring. NXT is in store for one hell of a talent. Did John Morrison and Taya’s dog also get a NXT contract too? I’d be all for doggos getting TV time.

Tommaso Ciampa cut a promo from his usual garage door location. Ciampa talked about how he’s a changed man these days after all his surgeries. Ciampa said he agrees with Walter that he’s change, but he’s changed for the better. Ciampa named off everyone important to him and said he hears their voices, he sees them, he feels them with him.

He said he’s chasing the dragon, going to meet him on the mountain, and chop his damn head off. Ciampa said he knows how it feels to get to the top of mountain, and how it feels to fall off. Ciampa said he wants to show that he’s a man that fights for something. Ciampa said Walter wants to know if the Psycho Killer and Blackheart are still here and Walter will get the answer at Takeover. Ciampa said it’s a long long fall from the top of the mountain and Walter should buckle up…

John’s Thoughts: The best promo Ciampa has cut in probably a year. We need more of this main even level Ciampa more often please.

The commentary team ran through the Takeover Stand and Deliver cards…

A Finn Balor training video aired where Balor talked about his endurance and how he’s not going to gassed out. Balor was shown doing endurance exercises with tires and ropes. Balor reiterated that he’s going to make Kross drown in the metaporical waters he mentioned last week. Balor said Kross is going to choke next week…

Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett ran through a powerpoint presentation that laid out the rules for the battle royal and eliminator match…

Isaiah Scott was making his entrance for the battle royal, but he was blindsided by Leon Ruff who attacked him before the bell…[c]

Most of the wrestlers were already in the ring. Pete Dunne got a televised entrance…

6. 11 Man Battle Royal to qualify for the Eliminator Match for a shot at the North American Championship. Joseph noted that it was an 11 man battle royal at this point. A massive brawl ensued. The one person not taking a part of the brawl was Dexter Lumis, who was doing his cold star while standing in the corner. Tyler Rust was the first one eliminated. Austin Theory was wearing X-Men colored tights and he was the next person tossed over the top rope. He landed on his back on the mat to avoid elimination. Because Theory is a stupid man-child, he did a kip up to eliminate himself.

John’s Thoughts: Ok. That cracked me up. Theory continues to win me over with this this man-child son thing he’s doing with Gargano.

Kushida and Dunne ended up elimiating each other when Kushida went for a hoverboard lock. Kushida locked in the hoverboard as he went over the top rope and the referees came out to take Kushida and Dunne to the back. Joseph noted that six wrestlers were in the ring and they have all qualified for the Eliminator. The remaining wrestlers were Cameron Grimes, Leon Ruff, Bronson Reed, LA Knight, Dexter Lumis, and Isaiah Scott. Lumis continued to do nothing in the match. The show went to picture in picture. [c]

The commentary team hyped up Kushida vs. Pete Dunne at Takeover. Johnny Gargano joined the commentary table. Gargano joked about how Barrett pronounces Banana differently than Americans. Reed got Scott and Ruff into a fireman carry. Reed dumped off Ruff to eliminate him. Reed gave Scott a military press to elimiate him. Reed caught Knight into Fireman Carry but he quickly escaped. Knight, Grimes, and Lumis eliminated Reed with Lumis moving for the first time.

[Overrun] Cameron Grimes tried to bribe LA Knight and Dexter Lumis. Knight said it wasn’t a bad idea. Knight and Lumis ended up tossing Grimes out to eliminate him. Wade Barrett said he just made $3000 due to catching the money that was flying in the air. Knight got Lumis on the apron. Lumis went for a suplex, but Knight pulled Lumis’s head into the rope.

Leon Ruff, Isaiah Scott, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes, Dexter Lumis, and LA Knight have all qualified for the Eliminator Match and will enter the match in that order. (Match Time: 12:57)

LA Knight got in Johnny Gargano’s face and told him that Gargano has 8 days. Gargano called Knight a dummy and said that Knight has no chance. Io Shirai then made a random entrance with her entrance music. Shirai said something in Japanese. My guess is that she wants Raquel Gonzalez to come out. Gonzalez came out and the two women brawled. The referees and women’s locker room ran out to separate both women. Shirai took out the women’s roster at ringside with a diving crossbody. An NXT chant ensued…

John’s Thoughts: I almost thought they were setting up Roderick Strong to run out and eliminate the last person in the match, but the whole “gauntlet” thing would have made it contrived and I’m glad they just decided to go with a straightforward finish. I actually thought the way LA Knight fell through the second rope and tripped up Lumis was a creative battle royal finish. My guess at this point is that Strong gets involved in the Cole vs. O’Reilly match, either during or around the match time. They’ve also made the eliminator gauntlet 50-50 in terms of heel-babyface so that should keep things interesting. LA Knight and Bronson Reed are my favorites to come out of that match to face Gargano.

This was a really good go-home show for the two day Takeover event. Most of the time was spent telling a really good story between Io Shirai and Raquel Gonzalez. Gonzalez came out looking like an absolute monster in stopping Io Shirai every time Shirai got her hands on her. Shirai even got her moment to stand tall in the end by wiping out the women’s roster with the crossbody. Kross vs. Balor was pushed well with their training videos. O’Reilly and Cole also had a stylish Prime Target video package. On top of all that, they randomly gave Mr. Mundo the doggo a lot of meaningful TV time to hype the debut of Taya Valkyrie. This was a strong weekly NXT.

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