We have arrived at the go-home episode of NXT for TakeOver and it has been quite the build. This actually is among my favorite builds for a TakeOver and they have done a good job in promoting the matches for each night. Enough intro, let us see what NXT had for us in the final NXT that will be on Wednesdays since they are moving to Tuesday nights following Wrestlemania.
Roderick Strong vs Cameron Grimes
This was a solid opener to NXT this week and I loved how Grimes continued to pitch taking over the Undisputed Era and making it his own so he can make money off of merchandising. It totally fits his character and he pulls it off so well. Strong would have enough of that and go after Grimes. This was a nice match and that shouldn’t be a surprise because both are great workers. Good back and forth and Strong really laid into Grimes with some strong chops. Strong has some of the best chops in the business right now and Grimes’ chest showed it. Strong looked primed and ready to win but Grimes would pull something from his trunks and it would be an Undisputed Era armband. That would freak out Strong enough for Grimes to hit him with his finisher for the win. Good opener and Strong clearly isn’t over the Undisputed Era disbanding.
Karrion Kross Training
Solid montage here of Kross training in preparation for his title match with Finn Balor. He is training in everything because he wants Balor to know the extent of what he is capable of. Good stuff and he and Scarlett seem confident that he will regain the title he never lost.
WALTER vs Ciampa Hype Package
Another solid hype package for a match that will be taking place at TakeOver. This one was about the WALTER/Ciampa match and WALTER was doing the narrating for it. Some nice clips of Ciampa were played but WALTER does not think Ciampa is as good as him. His highlights would play after and he is confident he will beat Ciampa because he is much better than he is.
Santos Escobar vs Tyler Breeze
Escobar would issue an open challenge because he wants to show Jordan Devlin why he is the true king in the Cruiserweight division. Santos really knows how to sell his swagger and confidence so well. Breeze would be the one to answer and he would tell him that he had to fight for his spot whereas Santos was born into it via his father. The match itself was really solid and Breeze continues to show why he is really one of the best wrestlers in NXT. There is a reason why he has a wrestling school with AEW’s Shawn Spears and why he takes pride in it. Great back and forth in the match but Santos would end up being too much and would come out on top. A nice note as well was that I noticed that Tyler Breeze had “LRLR” on his boots and the color scheme was that of LeftRightLeftRight of UpUpDownDown fame on YouTube.
After the match, Legado would try to beat down Breeze but MSK would come out to make the save before they could. Grizzled Young Veterans would then come on the tron and talk about how they will beat Legado and MSK at TakeOver to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions. Good ring work and good post-match stuff here.
The Way Backstage
I really do love the Way and they all really nail their characters so well. Johnny is still displeased over the battle royal and gauntlet match because he thinks it is a dumb idea. He would then ask Theory as to why he is in it and his logic was actually pretty reasonable. He wants to win so he can ensure Johnny retains by laying down for him. Johnny was fine with that and then Candice and Indi had some things to say. Candice is ready to prove in their match tonight why they should be getting the next title shot and they would leave.
The title for this segment is something I never thought I would type out when reviewing NXT. A dog was seen running towards the CWC and I was wondering what was up. More will be made clear later and I will speak on that when we get to it.
Io Shirai Trainer’s Room
Io has no regrets about picking Raquel as her opponent because she wants the toughest opponents NXT has to offer. You got to love a fighting champion that will not only take on all comers but will also challenge anybody as well.
The Way vs Gigi Dolin & Zayda Ramier
Pretty standard one-sided match here and you knew how much of a squash it would be when the graphic for Dolin and Ramier was a “blink and you miss it” type of fast. I had to go in slomo in order to be able to see Ramier’s name. Dolin is great and so far hasn’t had a chance to really show what she can do. I was unfamiliar with Ramier but she is one of Booker T.’s former students and she looked good in there. You can see the raw talent that Ramier has and it will be interesting to see her development. Indi and Candice would end up regaining the advantage and got the win.
Candice would grab a mic after the match and she wants herself and Indi to be next in line for the tag titles. She feels like those titles should be theirs and they want a match at TakeOver. Shotzi and Ember would come out and pretty much agree to the match in their unique way. These two teams have met in the past and I am sure their match at TakeOver will be a good one.
Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai Backstage
Raquel and Dakota were walking backstage towards the ring when Io Shirai would appear. She would get right in Raquel’s face and start a fight. Io wasn’t backing down but Raquel would end up getting the better of the exchange and would continue her walk to the ring with Dakota. Again, Io does not back down from anybody and that is so much fun to see.
Doggy Vignette Part 2
NXT cut back to the dog and this time it found its way through an open door and is now inside the CWC. I have no idea where this is going and that makes me intrigued as to what this means.
Roderick Strong Backstage
I know Strong gets a lot of gripe from people over his lack of acting but he did this well here. He was caught leaving the CWC and he was asked about it since he was supposed to be in the battle royal in the main event. Strong would simply say that he is done and seems like the man named “Strong” isn’t so strong right now.
Zoey Stark vs Raquel Gonzalez
I know I have said this before but Raquel really has been built into a proper dominant force in NXT. She is what Nia Jax should be on Raw but sadly isn’t because she just isn’t Big Mami Cool. This match was plenty of fun as Raquel used her size advantage and Zoey would use her speed advantage. I know Lew commented in the DD that Zoey needs to start winning and I do agree but I see that winning coming after TakeOver when they can cool her off of the top tier and move her slightly down to build her as a truly credible threat. Again, really good back and forth in the match and Zoey continues to look good in the ring with the top tier of the division. Her gutsy effort wasn’t enough though as Raquel would end up winning with her one-armed powerbomb.
Io would come out after the match to attack Raquel but much like before, Raquel was able to fend her off and sent her into the plexiglass. This seems like it will be a running theme tonight and I am all for it.
Doggy Vignette Part 3
The dog is now running around inside the CWC and it was at this moment when it clicked what this all might mean. There is a recent signee that has a dog like that and that is Taya Valkyrie. This totally seems like NXT’s way of promoting her for her debut and I will continue to believe that until proven otherwise.
KUSHIDA was being interviewed backstage about the battle royal when Pete Dunne would show up. Dunne told him he heard him call himself the best technical wrestler and took issue with it. Dunne says he hold that mantle and KUSHIDA would tell him he will prove why he is in the battle royal and the stare down these two had was plenty intense.
Prime Target: Cole vs O’Reilly
Very well-done video package here for the Cole/O’Reilly unsanctioned match. This did a good job of highlighting both men and how they came together to be in the Undisputed Era. Both shared thoughts on their former friendship and what is next. I love how NXT does these because they are unique to the brand and not something you see on either Smackdown or Raw. Good stuff and did a good job in getting me hyped for their match on night 2.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs Tian Sha
This was advertised as a tag match but that is not what we got. Instead, we got a handicap match that saw Xia Li take on both women while Boa and Mei Ying watching from the entrance ramp. Good work by all three women here and it was nice to see Kacy back in the ring after a short time away. Xia looked great as well and then Kayden would make a fatal mistake by going to confront Mei on the entrance ramp. Mei would grab Kayden by the throat and would blow smoke in her face that would knock her out cold. Xia would gain the advantage and hit Kacy with her spinning kick for the win. This was pretty much the most we have seen Mei do so far and I am curious when we may possibly see her in the ring.
Raquel Gonzalez Interview
Raquel was being interviewed backstage over what happened earlier when she would be jumped again from behind by Io. Io got a bit more shots in but that was short lived as Raquel would grab her and throw her through the wall. Io is looking like someone that won’t back down but Raquel is looking like the most dominant force NXT has seen in the women’s division. I gave this an extra bump in the ratings for that spot of Raquel throwing Io through the wall.
Doggy Vignette Finale
This is when my suspicions of Taya making her debut were almost completely made true. The dog would run to an entrance ramp and would greet some woman that was there. All you saw were her legs and boots she had on and a message would appear. They will see us on April 13th, which is the day NXT moves to Tuesdays and it was signed “Franky.” There is no word as to if Franky is Taya’s new name or is that is the name of the dog. Either way, I am happy that Taya’s debut is near.
Tommaso Ciampa Promo
Ciampa really brought the intensity here and I can really see why fans want him to face Randy Orton someday. The current version of Orton that nails in every promo would work so well with Ciampa. Ciampa spoke on why he snapped when WALTER snatched his necklace and explained it was a gift from his wife and child. It means much to him and he spoke on WALTER saying he is not the man he once was. He agreed that might be the case but he is also ready to bring out the side he once was. This was great and I am totally excited for their match because it has possible match of the year written all over it.
Finn Balor Promo
Finn cut a promo on Kross and how he is ready to drag him into the deep waters that come with main eventing a TakeOver. He knows he can handle it and believes that Kross is unable to. He is willing to test that and is confident he will retain next week. I am hyped for their match and I am not sure we needed this promo so late in the show. I think airing it a bit closer in time to Kross’ promo would have worked better but that is just a nitpick really on a solid promo by Finn here.
Battle Royal For Gauntlet Match
Battle royals are really hard to grade because so much happens in them and they don’t always land. This one had the extra stipulation of the last six being the ones to earn spots in the gauntlet match next week on night 1 and the order in which they would be eliminated would determine their spot in the gauntlet. Sounds like a bit of a mouthful but not the most complicated battle royal rules I have seen. This was fun and it was nice seeing Ruff attack Swerve prior to the match to remind us that they do not like each other. Plenty of eliminations happened and my favorite one was probably KUSHIDA eliminating himself with Dunne so he could lock in the Hoverboard lock. Though as I say that my favorite one was actually Theory’s because he was so certain a kip up would work and prevent him from being eliminated when he landed on his bum on the outside. A match between those two would be made official for night 1 and that should be a banger. We would eventually get down to the final six and they would be: Swerve, Ruff, Knight, Lumis, Grimes and Reed. Swerve and Ruff were the first to go so they will enter first in the gauntlet. Reed was next so he takes the next spot in the gauntlet and then would be followed by Grimes. Knight would eliminate Lumis and earn the final entry spot in the gauntlet and Lumis will be the second to last. Knight would get in Johnny Gargano’s face at ringside since he joined commentary and that was a nice exchange. Speaking of Johhny, I loved how he worked in lyrics from Edge’s theme songs when talking smack to Beth. This seemed like it was it for NXT this week but there would be more.
Io Shirai Calls Out Raquel
Io would come out again and call out Raquel because she just is not satisfied with Raquel dominating her. Raquel would oblige her and another brawl would take place. Referees and women from the locker room would try to hold them back but it would not work. Both would break free and continue the brawl but it did look like Io would keep the upper hand when she sent Raquel to the outside. That is when she would so a springboard crossbody onto Raquel and the women from the locker room and she would stand tall as NXT came to a close. I love a chaotic ending to a show and this was a fun one.
Kiss My Grits!
This was quite the fun go-home and final Wednesday episode of NXT. NXT did a great job in hyping up the matches for both nights of TakeOver next week and even added a few. The matches were great and so were the promos. I loved seeing the dog running around and all reports say this is leading to Taya’s debut on the Tuesday debut of NXT. All in all, great stuff from NXT as usual. Make sure you join us next week as we will have Dignified Discussions for both nights of TakeOver and they should be a blast.