NXT returned last night (Jan. 13) from the Capitol Wrestling Center (CWC) in Orlando, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.
The NXT title scene is getting interesting.
Finn Bálor followed up his hard fought win against Kyle O’Reilly last week by calling out whomever is next this week. He showed some respect to KOR, but he did it in the same breath that he said Kyle is out of his league. Finn is not humble.
Pete Dunne stepped up to the champ. Despite losing to O’Reilly in the #1 contender’s match that led to last week’s main event, Dunne had no desire to wait in line. And why should he? He has the muscle behind him in Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. Maybe he still has Pat McAfee’s payroll. There’s no time like the present to try to seize the gold.
The Bruiserweight showed the power he wields by delivering a three on one beatdown on the champion. Kyle O’Reilly actually tried to assist the champ, but the numbers still weren’t in their favor and the attack continued. Adam Cole & Roderick Strong finally tipped the scale and ran off the Kings of NXT.
This sets up an intriguing situation. Kyle O’Reilly has used up his title shots. Was his assist an attempt to finagle another championship match? Probably, though there’s likely a measure of respect in there too. Maybe this leads to a tenuous alliance between Finn & Kyle. But maybe this leads to O’Reilly snapping. All the while Dunne will be on the attack and likely getting a title shot sooner than later.
This delays the inevitable Karrion Kross title match, though Scarlett was featured in a video this week stating that they have the Prince in their sights as well.
The issues from that segment bled into the main event match. It was a Dusty Classic match between Adam Cole & Roderick Strong, with Kyle in their corner, against Breezango.
The match was enjoyable, but the focus was really entirely on the events outside the ring as the match took place. The Kings of NXT used this opportunity to attack a prone Kyle O’Reilly. And their goal wasn’t just to hurt but to maim. They set up O’Reilly with his head against the scaffolding so Dunne could kick his jaw right off.
Fortunately, Finn Bálor made the save, returning the favor from earlier in the night. But like earlier in the night, it was still 3 on 2 and the Kings maintained their advantage.
Adam Cole finally was in a position where he could see what was going on outside the ring, but the events of the match prevented him from making it outside. He and Strong defeated Breezango to advance but O’Reilly and Bálor were left beaten.
The closing segment reinforces that there are three men with issues with each other surrounding the NXT title, Dunne, O’Reilly, and Bálor, with the long shadow of Karrion Kross looming over all of them. Meanwhile, ERA will be advancing in the Dusty while poor Breezango couldn’t even capitalize on all the distraction to score a win. Tough break for some pretty boys.
The Way is the Way
This week’s episode kicked off with a match between Candice LeRae, wrestling her first match since WarGames, and her rival Shotzi Blackheart.
There’s nothing to complain about when two good wrestlers kick off the show. This was a good match where the heel won due to some significant but not over-the-top interference from Indi Hartwell.
It felt rather sudden to blow off this feud, which the WarGames match was built around, with a match that was announced late in the day with minimal build or fanfare. Maybe it’s not the end. Shotzi was cheated out of the win (and this feels like a program that she should win in the end). But heels cheat to win. That’s a perfectly normal way for LeRae to pick up the victory and move on.
It is likely they match up again during the Dusty Classic, given Shotzi alluded to that when revealing her partner for the tournament is Ember Moon. That could set up the actual final match to this program, a match that could anchor an episode of NXT or find a spot on the Feb. 14 TakeOver.
A Good Night All Around
The strong night for the Way continued with Johnny Gargano picking up a win over Dexter Lumis.
Much like Candice, it was a Way protege that was the deciding factor. Austin Theory got involved until Johnny could steal the victory. Though, unliked Candice, it didn’t end well fo Gargano.
He and Theory tried to continue the attack on Lumis, which drew out Kushida to get some licks in on the North American champion. Kushida will team with Leon Ruff against Theory & Gargano next week so the Way will have a chance to get their revenge.
Much like with Blackheart, this is a tough loss for Lumis. The man should be owed a North American title shot given an injury removed him from the TakeOver 30 ladder match. This L sets that back. He’ll likely be fine in the end, but will need to get some comeuppance to get back on track.
The new team of MSK, formerly two thirds of the Rascalz Dez & Wentz (now Wes Lee & Nash Carter), debuted this week in the Dusty Cup.
They faced off against foes turned partners Jake Atlas and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, who worked well during the match, but came to blows backstage afterwards. MSK’s style is very high energy and athletic. While there are plenty of athletic teams in NXT, MSK has a more “throw caution to the wind” feel to them that allows them to stand out from the rest of the pack.
Probably a little reigned in from their Impact days, and maybe rightfully so, they still whipped out some incredible moves the showcased why they were a big signing. It was a very impressive first showing from a team that can go deep, if not all the way, in the 2021 Dusty.
– Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher took part in a Wade Barrett mediated sit-down interview ahead of their FIGHT PIT match next week. That match should be really good, but unfortunately, I’ve never gotten into this feud. Ciampa’s abrupt character shift to locker room policeman isn’t clicking. Thatcher accused his opponent of doubting himself, which is an angle I wish they explored more during this feud because it’s more interesting than what they went with.
– The Grizzled Young Veterans defeated Ever-Rise in a first round match this week. Ever-RIse was very competitive, more so than usual on NXT, though predictably they took the L. They’re very entertaining so hopefully they find spot soon where they can actually, I dunno, win a match.
– Xia Li squashed another woman this week, this time quicker than the last. Then she was signaled by her mysterious master to lay in a couple post-match cheap shots.
Tonight was a solid episode of NXT. The title scene remains intriguing. A couple up and comers lost to some veteran talent, but it remains to be seen how that will affect them.
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