5/11 NXT TV results: Moore’s review of Raquel Gonzalez vs. Mercedes Martinez for the NXT Women’s Championship, Kushida vs. Santos Escobar in a best of three falls match for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, NXT Champion Karrion Kross vs. Austin Theory in a non-title match

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

Orlando, Florida at Capitol Wrestling Center (WWE Performance Center)
Aired May 11, 2021 on USA Network

[Hour One] The teaser for this week’s matches aired…

Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary. Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory were already in the ring, both wearing Marvel themed gear. Gargano was Punisher themed while Theory was X-Men themed…

1. NXT Champion Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Austin Theory (w/Johnny Gargano) in a non-title match. Theory landed a dropkick on Kross, but Kross shrugged it off. Kross hit Theory with a Yakuza Kick and then tossed him around the ring. Kross dominated Theory for a stretch. Theory tried to make a comeback after a boot, but Kross hit Theory with a Doomsday Saito. Kross went for another Saito but Theory raked Kross’s eye when Gargano distracted the Referee. Theory tossed Kross into the barricade and spiked Kross into the ground at ringside.

Theory pushed Kross into the ringbost. Theory gave Kross a high knee in the ring. Theory got a one count on Kross. Theory hit Kross with a fallaway slam, which Kross no-sold. Kross came back with two consecutive Doomsday Saitos. Kross gave Theory his Northern Forearm finisher. Instead of go for the pin, Kross pummeled Theory and gave Theory mounted elbows. Kross made Theory pass out to the Kross Jacket while also glaring at Johnny Gargano who was at ringside.

Karrion Kross defeated Austin Theory via pinfall in a non-title match in 6:03. 

While Kross was standing tall in the ring, the camera panned to show that Finn Balor was behind him. Balor told Kross that he doesn’t wait in line and he wants his rematch. Kross told Balor that he also wants the rematch and “let’s do this”. Balor responded with “done”…[c]

John’s Thoughts: Good stuff from Kross, who continues to sell more than you expect and be working more babyface these days. The guy is good at selling and pretty cool, so that isn’t the worst thing in the world. I really liked Kross’s ending sequence with the rapid fire moves and violent elbows. I wouldn’t mind seeing Kross resort to more of the MMA strikes because he is really good at delivering those more realistic strikes. Looks like Kross vs. Balor is being set up as the next Takeover main event.

Kushida was shown entering the WWE Performance Center. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez were also shown entering the PC…

Leon Ruff was shown begging William Regal for a match this week on NXT with Regal showing concern for Ruff’s well being. Regal told Ruff to get out of his office after Ruff started to toss stuff off of Regal’s desk…

Entrances for the next tag match took place…

2. NXT Tag Team Champions “MSK” Nash Carter and Wes Lee vs. “Breezango” Tyler Breeze and Fandango in a non-title match. Breeze did the tranquilo pose in the corner. Lee took down Breeze in the next sequence and then rolled off Breeze’s back for a bit of showboating. Lee and Breeze both threw superkicks into each others’s foot for a stalemate. Carter and Dango tagged in. Dango gave Carter an armdrag and then swang his Dango around. Carter returned the favor with a hip toss and Dango swing.

Breeze tagged in and accidentally ran into Dango. Breeze ran the ropes and the referee showed off his agility by doing some leapfrogs. The referee got fired up with the crowd liking the shows of athleticism from the ref. The show cut to commercial.[c]

Dango reversed Lee’s waterfall kick with a hip toss into the turnbuckle. Dango hit Lee with a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Vic Joseph noted that the Alexander Wolfe vs. Killian Dain match was canceled due to Wolfe having a “stomach flu”. MSK hit their fast offense on Breeze ending with the Hot Fire Flame. Dango shoved Lee into Carter to break up Carter’s pin attempt on Breeze. Breeze took out MSK with consecutive superkicks. Dango was crotched on the top rope with a uppercut from Carter.

Carter took Dango off the top rope with a knee. Carter took out Breezango at ringside with a Triangle Moonsault. Lee tagged in and tossed Carter into Dango in dropkick form. Breeze tagged in and went for an Unprettier on Lee but Carter broke up the move. MSK hit Breeze with their Hart Attack Blockbuster with Lee picking up the pinfall win.

MSK defeated Breezango via pinfall in a non-title match in 7:22 of on-air time. 

Breeze and Fandango had a show of sportsmanship with MSK after the match before leaving.

Johnny Gargano barged into William Regal’s office to complain about facing Bronson Reed next week. Regal said that he believes in Gargano and even had the marketing team produce Johnny Gargano headbands for merchandise, but at the same time Gargano isn’t getting out of his match with Reed. Gargano teased picking up Regal’s Power of the Punch brass knuckles, but after Regal threatened him Gargano settled for Regal’s pencil, which he snapped before leaving…[c]

John’s Thoughts: That was a very fun television match and MSK got me to be invested in a Breezango match for the first time in a long time. Breezango still are in serious need of repackaging, but this match was a good showcase of Breezango’s in-ring ability and an overall showcase of one of WWE’s top tag teams in MSK. It’s been a long road, but NXT has slowly and surely built up a pretty decent tag team division over the span of two years. Ultimately, it took MSK coming in and giving NXT that sensation that the tag team division was missing.

Mercedes Martinez was shown doing pushups and shadowboxing backstage…

Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix checked in on commentary and announced that the next Takeover will be In Your House themed. They announced Todd Pettingill as the host of the show…

Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan made their entrance. Dunne continued to claim that he’s the toughest matchup in NXT. Dunne said Kross can keep ducking him but one day they will face. Dunne set up an open challenge. As Dunne was waiting for someone to step up, Leon Ruff showed up and attacked Dunne from behind. Dunne put in his mouth guard and the match started…

3. Pete Dunne vs. Leon Ruff. Dunne used a Magistral setup to get into his usual Joint Manipulation. Ruff managed to land a few shots and escape, but he was taken down to size with a lariat. Dunne went back to the joint manipulation. Ruff escaped and managed to get Dunne down with a missile dropkick. Ruff caught Dunne with a rebound lariat. Ruff went for a dive, but he was swatted midair with an elbow from Dunne. Dunne trapped Ruff in a legscissors while pummeling him with elbows. The referee called for the bell due to Ruff not being able to fight back.

Pete Dunne defeated Leon Ruff via ref stoppage in 3:05. 

Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, and Raul Mendoza cut a promo backstage where all three men hyped up Escobar as the next Cruiserweight Champion…

Dakota Kai was psyching up Raquel Gonzalez backstage, who was doing resistance band bicep curls…[c]

John’s Thoughts: NXT is starting to get his swag back in terms of being “the toughest matchup” in NXT. The guy was losing so matches so his recent badass streak was needed. I wonder that if WWE manages to resign Daniel Bryan, if they’re going to have Bryan take Dunne up on his open challenge offer. That’s up in the air though and NXT can always continue to build up Dunne for another moment. Dunne vs. Kross or Dunne vs. O’Reilly wouldn’t be a bad match down the road either.

A Franky Monet vignette aired which hyped up Monet’s “world premiere” in two weeks. Joseph noted that it’s going to be Monet’s in-ring debut…

Entrances for the women’s championship match took place. Alicia Taylor handled the formal in-ring introductions for the championship match…

4. Raquel Gonzalez (w/Dakota Kai) vs. Mercedes Martinez for the NXT Women’s Championship. Martinez tackled Gonzalez and both women took each other out at ringside. Martinez tackled Gonzalez into the plexiglass while also scaring off Kai into the hard camera area. The show cut to picture-in-picture. [c]

[Hour Two] Gonzalez took down Martinez with a lariat. The replay showed that Gonzalez was dominating during the picture-in-picture. Gonzalez hit Martinez with a delayed power slam for a two count. Barrett noted that Martinez is usually the dominant powerhouse against her opponents. Martinez managed to get Gonzalez down with a double leg takedown, allowing for some ground and pound. Martinez put Gonzalez in a Sleeper. Gonzalez ran into the corner a few times, but Martinez wouldn’t let go.

Gonzalez got out of the hold, but Martinez continued to dominate. Martinez hit Gonzalez with a twisting Tower of London for a two count. Martinez hit Gonzalez with a spear on the apron. Gonzalez kicked out of Martinez’s pin after Martinez took a while to get into position. Martinez was about to reverse Gonzalez’s power bomb, but Gonzalez adjusted and threw Martinez into the ropes with a backdrop. Gonzalez gave Martinez a lawn dart toss into the ringpost.

Martinez staggered Gonzalez with a jawbreaker. Martinez stomped a mudhole on Gonzalez. Gonzalez came back with a lariat for a two count. Martinez reversed Gonzalez’s finisher with a Sunset Flip and high knee. Martinez hit Gonzalez with a Fisherman Buster for a two count. Martinez hit Gonzalez with a few Kamigoyes. Gonzalez reversed Martinez into her Uranage finisher for the victory.

Raquel Gonzalez defeated Mercedes Martinez via pinfall in 11:55 to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.

Isaiah Scott and his entourage were shown exiting a car and entering the WWE Performance Center. They were shown shoving around the cameraman…[c]

John’s Thoughts: A really good battle between two powerhouses. Mercedes may be the best overall wrestler in the stacked NXT women’s division, being able to tell really good stories against a variety of opponents. The only thing that held this match back was the rushed build. Did they really have to burn through this feud so quickly without establishing Martinez as a veteran babyface? Maybe it’s similar to the Toni Storm rushed championship build, where NXT creative wants to quickly pivot to their Takeover matchup. Why not build Gonzalez vs. Martinez as the Takeover match because the quality of this match showed that these women can carry a Takeover worthy matchup, and I don’t think anyone had to question that. It also looks like NXT might be going with another one of those “experimental” main events by presenting the Cruiserweight title in the main event slot.

Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory were shown being chased out of the locker room by NXT trainers and referees. Bronson Reed was laid out in the locker room, presumably by Gargano and Theory. NXT trainers like Scotty 2 Hotty and Steve Corino were shown checking on Reed…

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott was standing at the top of the stage. He said it was about to get a little bit scary in NXT. New entrance music played that featured the words “Hit Row”. AJ Francis, Ashanti Adonis, and the unnamed female made their entrance with Isaiah Scott. Scott sat in a fancy office chair in the ring. Scott talked about how he made the mistake of trying to be what people wanted him to be. He said that he’s not about “Swerve’s house” or “Swerve is confidence” (Thank you! I’ve been saying that about Strickland for years). Scott said that Swerve is savage.

Scott introduced “Top Dollar” AJ Francis. Top Dollar rapped about his NFL and television career. Ashanti took control of the mic and then rapped and threw in a World Star Hip Hop beatdown reference. The female said her name was B Fab. She did a poem as well. Scott talked about how he and his crew produce hits and are called “hit row” and if you didn’t know “now you know”…

John’s Thoughts: Shane F’n Strickland has finally figured it out! Good work and good transformation! I’m really excited for this faction. Top Dollar in particular stood out in a good way with his rapping and rhyming ability. Good delivery. Ashanti looks like he might need a little work, but he’s solid in the ring and can be covered up by the talent of the rest of his faction mates. B Fab had a good look and good promo delivery herself as well.

The show cut to a cinematic skit where an old man was presenting a home auction. Cameron Grimes got out of a car and put up $2 million as the first bid for the house. Grimes couldn’t keep up with the auctioneer, saying that he was going too fast. Grimes kept getting outbid by a man covering his face with the paddle, with grey hair and beard. Grimes got outbid by a man bidding $20 million.

Of course, it was Ted DiBiase who did his Million Dollar Man laugh. DiBiase told Grimes that “Everybody Has a Price for the Million Dollar Man” and that Grimes is no Million Dollar Man. Grimes continued to throw a fit over DiBiase continuing to one-up him…

John’s Thoughts: A highlight every week. Grimes vs. DiBiase has been a very fun feud and neither man has to step foot in the ring. I’m curious as to how this pays off for Grimes in the end. WWE is clearly high on Grimes, always allowing him to look credible against the main eventers, while also giving him the fun feud with the legendary Million Dollar Man.

A vignette was shown, which set up Toni Storm vs. Zoey Stark for next week. Vic Joseph hyped up WrestleMania Backlash for this Sunday…

Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan made their entrance. The camera cut to a picture-in-picture to show Kyle O’Reilly and Oney Lorcan arguing in the parking lot which set up the upcoming match. Kyle O’Reilly made his entrance…

5. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Oney Lorcan (w/Pete Dunne). Beth Phoenix noted that Oney Locan lost for his team in War Games after O’Reilly hit him with his signature diving knee. Lorcan took down O’Reilly with chain wrestling. Lorcan dominated O’Reilly with his holds and stiff strikes. O’Reilly escaped a hold by dragging Lorcan’s arm across the top rope. O’Reilly and Dunne had a face off. The distraction allowed Lorcan to blindside O’Reilly heading into commercial.[c]

O’Reilly caught Lorcan with a running knee, followed up by Muay Thai clinch strikes. O’Reilly used a Fisherman Buster to lock in a heel hook. Lorcan quickly rolled to the ropes for a break. O’Reilly made Lorcan crumple with a running knee to the chest. O’Reilly hit Lorcan with a Brainbuster and diving knee for the victory.

Kyle O’Reilly defeated Oney Lorcan via pinfall in 5:41 of on-air time. 

Dunne and Lorcan put the boots to O’Reilly after the match. Suddenly a man in street clothes ran out and cleared the heels from the ring with martial arts strikes. This was the returning Bobby Fish. Fish and O’Reilly cleared the heels from the ring. O’Reilly and Fish traded words with Fish acknowledging that

John’s Thoughts: A fun return for Bobby Fish and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with Fish given his older age and fact that O’Reilly is getting a push as a singles wrestler now. Maybe bring back the Fish Tank talk show? (probably not due to NXT not really doing the talk show thing on the regular). The jury is still out on O’Reilly, who is trying to get over his laid back hippy persona. It has gotten over in the past so maybe it’s just dependent on time and acclimation.

A vignette aired for Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell (featuring Austin Theory and Johnny Gargano) hyping up the tag team champions. It was comic book themed complete with the words “…in a world” starting out the vignette…

Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed was announced as a steel cage match for next week…

Legado Del Fantasma made their entrance. Escobar wore a pre-match sombrero instead of his usual Hijo Del Fantasma mask to the ring. Escobar also wore cowboy boots. Kushida was out next, wearing his usual pre-match Marty McFly cosplay. Kushida tried to attack Escobar before the bell, but the referee got in the way so that Alicia Taylor could handle the formal in-ring introductions for the championship match…

6. Kushida vs. Santos Escobar (w/Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza) in a Best of Three Falls Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Mendoza and Wilde tried to get involved early on, but Wes Lee and Nash Carter dove out from the hard camera area to equalize the heels. The referee ejected Mendoza, Wilde, Lee, and Carter from the arena. The show cut to regular commercial.[c]

An Asian American Haritage Month aired which featured WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns…

The show cut back from commercial with Escobar giving Kushida a power bomb into the plexiglass. The show had a scoreboard at 0-0 graphic on the screen. The scoreboard was also featured on the LED fan screens. Escobar worked on Kushida with his usual methodical offense. Kushida made a comeback with punches, but Escobar put him back in place with kicks and punches. Escobar went back to the grinding offense.  Joseph noted that Finn Balor was rooting for Kushida on Twitter.

John’s Thoughts: Can we get our “Battle between the former Junior Aces of New Japan” already?

Escobar went for a Frankensteiner but Kushida reversed it into a rollup for a two count. Kushida hit Escobar with a cartwheel dropkick. Escobar recovered and hit Kushida with the Phantom Driver for the first pinfall at 7:22. Vic Joseph tried to send things to picture-in-picture, but Kushida quickly rolled up Escobar into a Juji Gatame for the submission at 8:07. [c]

Escobar and Kushida brawled at ringside back from the picture-in-picture. Escobar sent Kushda to ringside with a jawbreaker on the top rope. Escobar hit Kushida with his signature Arrow from the Depths of Hell Suicide Dive, leading to a few two counts. Kushida reversed a Tilt-a-whirl slam into a side Pile Driver. Kushida gave Escobar’s elbow a diving knee. Kushida hit Escobar with a Haymaker and PK.

Escobar ducked a baseball slide, but Kushida bulldogged Escobar’s shoulder into the ringside floor. Kushida did a victory roll on Escobar for a nearfall. Escobar used an inside cradle on Kushida for his own nearfall.

[Overrun] Kushida escaped a Phantom Driver attempt. Both men traded different pins. Kushida got a close nearfall in 2 and 2/3rds seconds. A “this is awesome” chant ensued. Escobar dragged Kushida to the top rope. Kushida adjusted and took down Escobar with a Spanish Fly, seamlessly connected into the Hoverboard Lock. Escobar was rolled to the center of the ring at first, but he managed to get to a bottom rope for the break. Kushida hit Escobar with arm trap knees and a hammerlock suplex. Kushida hit Escobar with another Hammerlock Suplex for the victory.

Kushida defeated Santos Escobar 2 falls to 1 in 18:39 of on-air time to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. 

Kushida celebrated by doing his Time Splitter watch pose on the top rope. Vic Joseph hyped Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed in a cage match for the North American Championship for next week’s NXT as Joseph closed the show…

John’s Thoughts: A really good match that went about 25 minutes when you included regular commercials. I’m usually not a fan of rapid fire falls in best-of matches, but I thought they had a good amount of time to build and Kushida picking up the quick submission made sense due to him not giving Escobar a breather. I liked Escobar picking up the clean initial fall because it protects him and shows that he would have won clean in a regular match. The finish seemed a bit weird, but good at the same time. Weird in that it looked like the referee expected a kickout, but at the same time I may just be overreading that.

Weird finish or not (and again, I liked the finish because it’s refreshing when a match doesn’t end in a cliche finisher), Escobar and Kushida have really good chemistry. Escobar in particular is money and the complete package. His best matches are when he can slow down the action against speedy high flyers. let’s not forget that this guy is great on the microphone. I’m curious as to the viewership though given their decision to go with the work-in-progress cruiserweight division as opposed to the women’s title match (to WWE’s credit, WWE has pulled Santos Escobar off the hell known as 205 Live for a while, now focusing that show on things like Ever Rise and Mansoor’s winning streak).

As good as Escobar and Kushida are, I still would have gone with Gonzalez vs. Martinez in the main event spot because that match was just as good and NXT has the clout of having the objectively best women’s division in all of wrestling. Its similar to how TNA used to draw huge numbers with their Gail Kim main events. This was still a fun show nonetheless with the other stuff happening too like the Cameron Grimes and Ted DiBiase feud as well as The Way anchoring that mid-card. I’ll have more thoughts in a bit with my NXT Audio Review, exclusive to Dot Net Members.

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