4/20 NXT TV results: Moore’s review of Kushida’s NXT Cruiserweight Championship open challenge, Sarray vs. Zoey Stark, LA Knight vs. Dexter Lumis, Kyle O’Reilly returns to action, Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. Zack Gibson and James Drake

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

NXT TV 
Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired April 20, 2021 on USA Network

[Hour One] NXT debuted a new intro theme and video (we haven’t gotten a regular intro theme for NXT in about a year). It a female vocalist replaced SlipKnot in providing the intro theme…

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

Kyle O’Reilly opened up the show, making his entrance wearing a denim jacket and casual look. He sorta looked like he could pass for Orange Cassidy’s hippy cousin. Wade Barrett mocked O’Reilly for doing air guitar on his way to the ring. O’Reilly talked about being happy that Adam Cole is behind him. He even threw in the Lloyd Christmas “I like it a lot” line from Dumb and Dumber. O’Reilly said it was time to move on now that Cole is behind him. O’Reilly said that Takeover taught him that you need a killer instinct to thrive in NXT.

O’Reilly started getting emotional, talking about how he wants to reach his goals with this new killer instinct. He said he can set his sights to go after the “workhorse title”, the North American  Championship. He said he can also take his killer instinct to go after the top championship. He was about to call out Karrion Kross, but was interrupted by Cameron Grimes. Grimes congratulated O’Reilly and said that he made a killing on Draftkings betting on O’Reilly to win because O’Reilly was the underdog in the betting lines.

Grimes said O’Reilly has a new look and is looking like a “cool Kyle” persona. Grimes said that O’Reilly can even make his own cryptocurrency and take things “to the moon”. O’Reilly mockingly thanked Grimes and thanked Grimes for the tip on the “Doggy” coins. O’Reilly joked around a bit saying he was looking for a new opponent. While Grimes was distracted, O’Reilly said his next opponent “is you”. O’Reilly left Grimes lying in the ring after a haymaker punch…

Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix checked in from the commentary table. They cut to Sarray walking to the Performance Center from the Parking Lot. William Regal and Zoey Stark welcomed Sarray to NXT. Stark talked about having a lot of respect for Sarray and would be honored to be Sarray’s first opponent. Sarray agreed and Regal booked the match…

LA Knight was shown cutting a promo in the hallway of the Performance Center. Knight cut a promo to hype his match against Dexter Lumis. He ended his promo with his “fact of life” catchphrase…[c]

John’s Thoughts: Very interesting and a bit of a jarring promo. It wasn’t bad or anything, it was just jarring to see O’Reilly move on from a blood feud (that felt like it was just getting started) over to being laidback and quirky. I’m willing to see where this goes because O’Reilly has done these quirky shifts in the past in Ring of Honor and has made things work. Another thing that’s standing out is O’Reilly’s fashion choices. He’s moved on from being mini-Hunter to being WWE-brand Orange Cassidy.

LA Knight made his entrance to the Performance Center ring. His opponent is another former NWA and Impact alum, Dexter Lumis. The commentators recapped the budding love story between Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell…

1. LA Knight vs. Dexter Lumis. The match started off with a collar-and-elbow which Knight dominated. Knight took down Lumis with a shoulder tackle and got a two count off a jackknife pin. Joseph noted that Knight eliminated Lumis with a jackknife pin at Takeover. Knight tried to trash talk Lumis, but Lumis pulled Knight in for his submission finisher. Knight rolled to ringside to regroup. Knight hit Lumis with a jawbreaker on the top rope followed by a slingshot shoulder tackle. Lumis quickly recovered and chased Knight around the ring.

Lumis landed a throat punch on Knight. Knight recovered and hit Lumis with a neckbreaker. The show cut to picture-in-picture.[c]

Lumis planted Knight with a spinebuster when the show cut back to full screen. Lumis rallied against Knight with throat punches. Lumis hit Knight with a Belly to Back Suplex and twisting leg drop. Lumis hit Knight with a rebound suplex for a two count. Knight got a moment of respite by sending Lumis into the barricade and apron. Knight gained a bit of momentum after a right hand, but was distracted by Indi Hartwell, who was in the crowd area on the hard camera side. Lumis and Hartwell started at each other for a while.

Knight tossed Lumis aside and tried to flaunt himself in front of Hartwell. Lumis took down Knight with a dive to ringside. Lumis continued to lock his glare at Hartwell while entering the ring. The distraction allowed Knight to nail Lumis with a face driver (the move EC3 used to call the One Percenter) for the pinfall win.

LA Knight defeated Dexter Lumis via pinfall in 9:50.

Knight ended up leaving the ring. Hartwell got up on the ring apron. Lumis’s and Hartwell’s lips were slowly moving towards each other. Before any kissing could occur, Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, and Austin Theory showed up and pulled Hartwell away. Theory put Hartwell on his shoulder while Hartwell was still in a loving trance…

Leon Ruff cut a promo backstage about still being pissed off as Isaiah Scott…

Former NXT Women’s Champion, Io Shirai, was shown being mic’d up backstage for a sitdown interview…[c]

John’s Thoughts: The expected result from this match that forwards both men’s stories. Knight gets a needed win while Lumis is protected under the guise of his love story with Indi Hartwell (which may be Lumis’s most entertaining storyline in his WWE career so far). Knight is someone I can see NXT heating up for a North American Championship program down the road. Knight’s promos have gotten back to his old solid form in recent weeks and I still go back to that surprise Eli Drake vs. Alberto El Patron match back in the day as a showcase of LA Knight being a strong workrate wrestler (I think he also had a standout match against John Morrison).

Beth Phoenix left the commentary table and joined Io Shirai at a Performance Center board room for an interview. Phoenix talked about how Shirai’s title win was the biggest moment of Shirai’s life. Shirai agreed and said that having the title means you’re the best in the world. Phoenix then recapped some highlights from Shirai’s title loss at Stand and Deliver. Phoenix then talked about Shirai’s 300+ title reign ending. Shirai said it was tough, but she was coming back for a title rematch down the road. Shirai tried to talk about her road to recovering from the brutal match, but Frankie Monet and her cute Pomeranian walked into the interview to interrupt.

Monet joked that she used to watch Beth Phoenix as a kid. Monet tried to introduce herself to Shirai, who responded by speaking angerly in Japanese. Monet noted she couldn’t understand Shirai. Shirai then said “I like cats” before walking off…

John’s Thoughts: Good to hear that Shirai is sticking around in NXT for the time being (though it could be similar to what Rhea Ripley did when she put over someone before heading out the door). I hope Shirai is sticking around for longer than just a feud with Monet because the main roster most likely will screw up Shirai’s stardom and mystique. While we are here though, Monet vs. Shirai can be a killer feud between two gritty wrestlers. Many people will argue that Monet and Shirai are two of the top female wrestlers in the world over the past decade or so, so their talent level alone should set high expectations.

Breezango’s weekly stripper cosplay of the week was of British Queen’s guards, ugh. Zack Gibson and James Drake made their entrance. Drake mocked Breezango for being cosplayers as he cut his usual “soon to be recognized” promo to the ring…

2. “Breezango” Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. “The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake. Vic Joseph noted that Cameron Grimes vs. Kyle O’Reilly was booked for later in the show. Joseph also noted that Kushida was holding an open challenge defense of the Cruiserweight Championship. After being even to start, Dango hit the GYV’s with a flip dive to ringside heading into regular commercial. [c]

James Drake feigned a leg injury to force referee Drake Younger to hold back Dango and Breeze. This allowed the GYVs to get in a few cheap shots on Breezango. Gibson worked on Dango with a Cravate hold. Breeze got the hot tag and hit Drake with a Russian Legsweep for a two count. Drake snuck in a rollup for a two count. Gibson tagged in with a blind tag which caught Breeze by surprise. The GYVs hit Breeze with Ticket to Mayhem to give Gibson the pinfall win over Breeze.

The Grizzled Young Veterans defeated Breezango via pinfall in 5:30 of on-air time.

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Indi Hartwell backstage. Johnny Gargano, Austin Theory, and Candice LeRae quickly ran in to stop the interview. Bronson Reed walked in saying that Johnny Gargano is looking like he doesn’t “like love”. Gargano and Reed bickered a bit. Austin Theory showed up and said that Reed isn’t getting his hands on “Papa John”. Theory said he talked to Regal and Regal said that Reed has to get through Theory to get to the North American Championship. Reed liked the idea of beating Theory en route to Gargano. Reed left the interview set and Theory was selling rib injuries from his match at Takeover Night 1…

Zoey Stark made her entrance. Sarray was shown walking through the hallways on the way to the ring. There was red lighting in the hallway for Sarray…[c]

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Cameron Grimes, who was excited to be winning an auction for Ja Morant memorabilia. Grimes ended up getting furious over getting outbid by Ted DiBiase…

[Hour Two] Sarray made her entrance to the WWE Performance Center. Vic Joseph dropped his usual line about NXT having the best women’s division in the world and he said it got better. Beth Phoenix name dropped Japanese legends that have endorsed Sarray.

3. Sarray vs. Zoey Stark. Stark and Sarray started the match with mat wrestling. Phoenix noted that Sarray is at a size disadvantage by only being 5 feet tall. Sarry got the upper hand and worked on Stark with rapid foot stomps. Sarray locked in a modified Muta Lock on Stark. Stark got to the ropes for the break. Stark hit Sarray with a basement lariat and got a few pin attempts in. Stark used her power advantage to beat up Sarray around the ring. Sarray got a breather after dumping Stark to ringside.

Sarray and Stark traded forearms. Sarray hit Stark with a flurry of forearms, but Stark came back with a knee to the gut. Sarray came back with a few running dropkicks. Sarray got a two count after a Fisherman Suplex. Stark hit Sarray with a cross kick and half and half suplex. Stark hit Sarray with a sliding knee for a two count. Sarray avoided a 450. Stark hit Sarray with another cross kick for a few nearfalls on Sarray. Sarray hit Stark with a spinning heel kick. Sarray got the pinfall win after hitting Stark with a Saito Suplex.

Sarray defeated Zoey Stark via pinfall in 7:12. 

Stark congratulated Sarray after the match and walked away. Stark was then blindsided by Toni Storm who put the boots to Stark. Storm retreated and Sarray checked on Stark…

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Raquel Gonzalez who said she’s going to be a more dominant champion than Io Shirai. Dakota Kai said that Gonzalez beat Shirai so bad that she’s on a vacation now. McKenzie addressed Mercedes Martinez coming after the title. Gonzalez said that the division can line up in front of her and one by one she’s taking them down…

Vic Joseph hyped up Kushida’s Cruiserweight Open Challenge for after the break…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A solid debut for Sarray that actually also went a little ways in helping Zoey Stark get over a bit too. A lot of times you don’t want to have a longer debut match, but Stark’s size and power advantage had Stark looking dominant and showcasing Sarray’s pluckiness. I always talk about NXT eventually putting a coat of paint on the Stark character, but I also feel that Sarray could use a character implant too. Maybe she can make the happy-go-lucky plucky babyface thing work, but the ceiling is very low on the highly hyped white meat babyface. I used to talk about Io Shirai being overrated until she finally developed her badass crazy girl persona in NXT.

Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell approached Shotzi blackheart and Ember Moon. LeRae was doing all the trash talk and was on camera. Moon pointed out that Hartwell deserted her. Moon and Blackheart dragged LeRae into a random closet and beat her up (that was a bit cruel)…

A video package aired to spotlight Kushida’s title win last week. They showed news articles from Japan that spotlighted Kushida’s title win. Steve Corino also congratulated Kushida on winning the title…

Alicia Taylor introduced Kushida as the new Cruiserweight Champion. Kushida made his entrance wearing his MMA shorts (which said “Time Splitter” on it, which I believe is an ode to his tag team with Alex Shelley). In a rare occurrence, Kushida didn’t wear his Marty McFly gear to the ring. Wade Barrett pointed out that Kushida was barefoot. Kushida noted that he was offered an open challenge opportunity last week and will offer an opportunity for the title himself. Oney Lorcan made his entrance to accept the challenge…

4. Kushida vs. Oney Lorcan for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. The commentators talked about how Kushida has a MMA background and that’s probably the reason bethind the lack of ring boots. After a ground exchange, Kushida put Lorcan in a bow and arrow hold. Lorcan escaped and both men continued to trade advantage on the ground. Kushida used a gamengiri to knock Lorcan off the top rope. The show cut to regular commercial.[c]

Kushida and Lorcan traded strikes. Lorcan came back with a running European Uppercut for a two count. Lorcan got another two count after a running knee. Kushida ended Lorcan’s momentum with a running haymaker. Kushida hit Lorcan with training dummy strikes in the corner. Kushida hit Lorcan with a diving knee on the pivot point of Lorcan’s elbow. Lorcan recovered and hit Kushida with a blockbuster for a nearfall.

Kushida and Lorcan traded stiff strikes with Kushida getting the upperhand. Kushida dragged Lorcan to the mat and locked in a modified Hoverboard Lock for the victory.

Kushida defeated Oney Lorcan via submission in 6:02 to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. 

Santos Escobar appeared at the top of the ramp after the match. This distracted Kushida which allowed Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza to drag Kushida to ringside and beat him down. Wes Lee and Nash Carter, MSK showed up to even the odds. The babyfaces cleared the heels from the ring. MSK’s theme played to end the segment with the babyfaces standing tall…

Mercedes Martinez cut a promo backstage and said that she thinks that Raquel Gonzalez is ducking her. Mertinez pointed out who Dakota Kai is the one who seems to be talking on behalf of Gonzalez in interviews while Gonzalez throws out empty words. She noted that it looks like Kai is the boss while Gonzalez is the loyal lapdog. Martinez said she’s going to teach Kai a lesson and come after Gonzalez next…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A nice short match that gives Kushida a win as champion. I wonder if they changed the segment from “championship celebration” to “open challenge” because they weren’t confident in Kushida’s mic ability. That isn’t a bad thing. Hide the weaknesses and accentuate the positives. My endgame to this is hopefully a Junior Ace of New Japan battle between Kushida and Finn Balor. Not because I really care about the dream match, but ain’t nobody want to see the return of Grinning Finn Balor on the main roster. That gimmick sucked! I do like MSK in the role as Kushida’s backup. It puts them in a story that isn’t just a standard challenger of the week. This allows them to feud with Wilde and Mendoza too.

Candice LeRae walked to Austin Theory and Johnny Gargano looking beat up. Indi Hartwell showed up and said she not only got to see Dexter Lumis backstage, but she also got to see William Regal who agreed to give LeRae and Hartwell a title shot against Moon and Blackheart. Gargano and Theory were excited while also ignoring that LeRae was looking like she was suffering a bit from Moon and Blackheart’s beatdown…

Entrances for a tag team match took place…

5. “Imperium” Fabien Aichner and Marcel Barthel (w/Alexander Wolfe) vs. “Ever Rise” Matt Martel and Chase Parker. Imperium used quick tags to isolate Parker from his partner. Killian Dain showed up at ringside to trash talk Wolfe. This distracted Aichner enough to eat a two count from Parker. Barthel broke up the rollup. Barthel tagged in and hit Parker with an assisted top rope uppercut for the victory.

Imperium defeated Ever Rise via pinfall in 1:55.

Drake Maverick had run out to help out Killian Dain, but Dain didn’t want Maverick to get attacked. Dain ended up dragging Maverick to the back…

Kyle O’Reilly was shown on his way to the ring. In the Gorilla Position, NXT Champion Karrion Kross and Scarlett were shown standing. O’Reilly had a staredown with Kross before making his entrance. The show cut to commercial…[c]

John’s Thoughts: Well? There’s quite the tease? Can this ultimately lead to Kross vs. O’Reilly in the fight pit like I proposed in the Boom podcast with Jason Powell from a few weeks ago?

During the commercial, a Car Insurance ad aired where LA Knight ended up getting chopped by Ric Flair…

The commentary team advertised the following matches for next week’s NXT: MSK and Kushida vs. Legado Del Fantasma in a six person tag, Mercedes Martinez vs. Dakota Kai, and Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory. The commentators noted that if Reed wins he gets a future NA title shot per the stipulation that William Regal set up.

Cameron Grimes made his entrance. O’Reilly had new ring gear that looked very bright, blue, and a mix between Tie Dye and Camouflage.

John’s Thoughts: O’Reilly is really going all out with a plethora of fashion changes isn’t he? Not sure if this is a bad or good thing. Let’s see how he rocks it.

6. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Cameron Grimes. O’Reilly and Grimes started the match trading positions in the ground game. O’Reilly got control after taking down Grimes with a chop block. O’Reilly locked Grimes in a standing armbar. O’Reilly locked Grimes in a Juji Gatame. Grimes escaped and hit O’Reilly with an impressive Sunset Deadlift German Suplex. The commentators stressed that O’Reilly was cleared to wrestle, but may still have lingering effects from his match against Adam Cole. The show cut to picture-in-picture.[c]

Vic Joseph reiterated that O’Reilly is medically cleared after suffering injuries at Takeover two weeks ago. Grimes took down O’Reilly with a stiff lariat. Grimes tossed O’Reilly into the ringpost and then locked in a crossface with a knee driven in the lower back of Kyle. Kyle got to a vertical base and hit Grimes with a few gut punches. Grimes came back with a shoulder tackle. O’Reilly came back with a running knee. O’Reilly dodged a strike and hit Grimes with Muay Thai clinch strikes.

O’Reilly hit Grimes with a Blue Thunder Bomb into a Heel Hook. Grimes got to the bottom rope for the rope break. Grimes went for a twisting body slam, but O’Reilly reversed it into a Guillotine Choke. O’Reilly hit Grimes with a roundhouse to the chest. Grimes hit O’Reilly with a Black Hole Slam for a two count. Grimes rolled up O’Reilly for another two count. O’Reilly and Grimes traded standing strikes. Grimes reversed O’Reilly’s rebound lariat with a Spanish Fly Power Slam for a two count.

O’Reilly caught Grimes with a pump kick. Grimes came back with a superkick to O’Reilly’s jaw. O’Reilly turned Grimes inside out with a lariat. O’Reilly hit Grimes with the axe and smash, followed by a brainbuster. O’Reilly hit Grimes with the diving knee for the victory.

Kyle O’Reilly defeated Cameron Grimes via pinfall in 13:27. 

Vic Joseph closed the show questioning who Kyle O’Reilly will go after next now that he’s moved past Adam Cole…

John’s Thoughts: The outcome of the match was never in question, but the goal of this match was to establish Kyle O’Reilly as the presumed top babyface of NXT. The jury is out on weather he lives up to the push, but getting a dominant win is a decent first step towards that main event status. NXT continues to count on Grimes to put on high-workrate matches at the same time he’s playing a comedy goofball. Daniel Bryan was a comedy goof at times during his career too, and Grimes is coming off as the North Carolina version of DB. The dude’s a great technical wrestler and hopefully his day will come when he will start wrestling in main events.

NXT was a solid show as usual. In the past two weeks, we’ve seen less hot-shoting in segments and more slow build towards characters (I don’t think WWE would go head-to-head against Dynamite with a Grimes vs. O’Reilly main event, for example). Is this something we have to look forward to now that NXT doesn’t have AEW competition? So far so good and you can see this as NXT building up a new Tuesday audience slowly and surely. At the same time, it would help if NXT could bring in a celebrity or main roster callback to pop interest for a week so that new viewers can sample their product. I’ll have more thoughts on NXT in my members-exclusive audio review.

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Readers Comments (4)

  1. Anybody notice O’Reilly’s new music sounding a bit like Billy Kidman’s old theme?

  2. Sounds like the new NXT theme might be Say Cheese that poppy performed at S&D

    • That was my thought too, as it really sounded like Poppy. Since I’m doing a live transcription of the show, it makes it hard to look up references during the show.

  3. “…It a female vocalist replaced SlipKnot for providing the intro theme…”

    What????

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