WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 24
After having their fight postponed last week, Karrion Kross and Santos Escobar met for their No Disqualification match on Wednesday's episode of NXT.
This week's show also saw former friends Xia Li and Kacy Catanzaro do battle after Li attacked Catanzaro and Kayden Carter and left them battered and bruised.
The Grizzled Young Veterans were looking to avenge their loss in the Dusty Rhodes Classic when they took on Killian Dain and Drake Maverick.
Dexter Lumis faced Johnny Gargano and Io Shirai faced Zoey Stark in two non-title matches, and Adam Cole promised to explain his actions at TakeOver: Vengeance.
Let's take a look at everything that happened on this week's episode of NXT.
Johnny Gargano vs. Dexter Lumis
After a promo from Scarlett and Kross, Lumis made his way to the ring to start the show with his match against Gargano. Austin Theory, Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae were all there to support the leader of The Way.
Lumis got into Gargano's head early and backed him up. Lumis snuck under the ring so he could get behind him and take control. He planted Johnny Wrestling and delivered a flurry of punches.
The North American champion lured Lumis out of the ring and drove him into the apron to turn the tide in his favor. The Artist recovered and dropped him into the side of the apron. Theory and Hartwell were going to interfere, but Lumis scared them into stopping. LeRae tried to hit a hurricanrana, but Lumis blocked it.
Gargano used the distraction to hit a suicide dive as the show went to a break. We returned to see Lumis building up a head of steam. Gargano wrestled him down into a crucifix pin for a two-count before Lumis planted him with a spinebuster for another near-fall.
Theory was going to hit Lumis with a chair, but The Artist sent Gargano into him before putting him in a chokehold for the win.
Lumis is a unique Superstar with an interesting gimmick, but WWE has failed to utilize him effectively for months. His feud with Gargano is the first step toward building him up again.
As usual, Gargano was clean in the ring. His heel run has had its ups and downs, but he has always been a joy to watch no matter who is working with him.
This was a good opener, and it left plenty of room for them to improve in the eventual rematch for the North American Championship.
Zoey Stark vs. Io Shirai
Malcolm Bivens accompanied Tyler Rust to the ring for what was going to be a match against Leon Ruff. The former North American champion took a beating at the hands of Isaiah Scott last week and was looking to get back on the right track.
As Ruff made his entrance, Scott appeared out of nowhere and beat him down again. Swerve said he is going to keep doing stuff like this until he gets some opportunities. NXT moved on to the next match with Shirai and Stark.
They locked up, and Stark overpowered Shirai with ease to push her up against the ropes. She brought the champ down with some chain wrestling, but The Genius of the Sky kept her on her toes with counters and reversals.
As the match went on, both competitors came close to winning several times. Shirai scored the win, but Stark earned her respect in the process. They shook hands and hugged before Toni Storm came out to rain on their parade.
The quick beatdown by Scott was good but did nothing more than what he did to Ruff last week. If he had taken out both Rust and Ruff, he would have made a much bigger impact.
A technical glitch cut Stark's interview short, so we don't know what she was going to say about facing the NXT women's champion. It was clearly going to be a babyface promo.
The match was competitive and helped Stark show off some of her skills to the members of the NXT Universe who are not familiar with her work outside of WWE. They had a few sloppy moments, but that tends to happen with people who have never worked together before.
Stark's performance here will likely ensure we see more of her in the coming weeks.
Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro
Li and Catanzaro used to be friends, but after undergoing some kind of training regime, Li has been a much different person. She is more focused, brutal and dangerous than ever before.
Her entrance before the match included a martial arts demonstration that could potentially be turned into some kind of epic group routine at a future TakeOver.
Li tried to attack Catanzaro before the bell, but the former American Ninja Warrior used her speed to dodge the hit. Li quickly caught up with her and dropped her onto the top turnbuckle.
Catanzaro made a comeback, but when she went outside the ring, Li drove her into the chainlink wall. She stomped on her opponent's leg and dragged her back into the ring by her hair. The ref called for the bell when it was clear Catanzaro was unable to continue.
Li was a midcard player in NXT for quite some time, but after this recent transformation, she has turned into one of the most imposing and intimidating forces in the division.
Catanzaro plays a great underdog and sold the stomp to her leg well with what looked like real tears. All of this was designed to make Li look like a beast, and it worked brilliantly.
This wasn't a technical masterpiece or high-flying spot fest. It was a glorified squash match to get one competitor over. Sometimes, that kind of match is the best option.
The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Killian Dain and Drake Maverick
Earlier in the show, James Drake and Zack Gibson attacked MSK and injured Wes Lee. They bragged about it on the way to the ring for their match with Dain and Maverick.
After sending both Grizzled Young Veterans out of the ring, Dain threw his own partner over the top rope like a weapon to take them out.
After a commercial break, Maverick got a hot tag and went wild on both opponents. A blind tag allowed the Grizzled Young Veterans to stop his momentum, but Dain was there to help his partner immediately.
After taking out Dain at ringside, Gibson and Drake hit their finisher on Maverick to pick up the win.
Dain and Maverick have a good dynamic, but their entrance music needs to change. They are funny enough without needing an obvious comedic theme song.
Drake and Gibson are a solid team, but their pre-match promos are not as effective as WWE wants them to be. They would benefit from having a manager to do their talking for them so they can just focus on beating people up.
The match was a little overbooked but had some good spots from both teams. They would have benefitted from slowing down a bit because they had plenty of time.
Santos Escobar vs. Karrion Kross
The final match of the evening was a No Disqualification bout between Escobar and Kross. Instead of waiting for Escobar to get to the ring, Kross went after him in the parking lot.
They fought near a production truck, and Escobar shut the back door on Kross' shoulders. The cruiserweight champ tried to hide in the truck's cab while Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde tried and failed to help their boss. It took a shot from a trash can to finally take Kross off his feet.
They made their way into the building and Kross threw Wilde and Mendoza through the plexiglass wall at ringside. Escobar hit him with a chair a few times to take control.
We returned from a break to see Scarlett trying to will a comeback from Kross. He countered the Three Amigos from Escobar and kept Wilde and Mendoza at bay. After a three-on-one fight, Kross was able to put Escobar away for the win.
Starting the match in the parking lot helped add some chaos to the match, but it wasn't necessary in the end. These two did more interesting things in and around the ring than they did outside.
It's hard to say why WWE would book one of its champions to lose like this, but seeing as Kross cannot compete for the cruiserweight title, it won't affect Escobar's reign.
Mendoza and Wilde did a great job bumping for Kross, and Escobar put up a good fight. This was good, but it could have been better had they focused more on each other with less interference.
Adam Cole Explains Himself
Cole came out and said he was going to explain his actions, but seeing a replay of what he did to O'Reilly made him ashamed of who he has become. He looked into the camera and addressed his friend directly.
He said he made a stupid mistake and he hates himself for it. Cole apologized and said he would do everything he can to fix the situation. Roderick Strong came out and said Cole should feel bad because he changed the group forever with his actions.
Finn Balor ran down and pushed past Strong to tackle Cole. When Balor turned his attention back to Roddy, Cole nailed him with a superkick. Strong turned around and hit Cole but stopped after that.
Cole apologized again and said he just wants things to go back to the way they were. He broke down crying in the middle of the ring and Strong called him his brother. They hugged and then Cole hit him with a brutal low blow and a superkick.
We all knew this would end with Cole turning heel, but a lot of people expected it to end up being Fish and O'Reilly vs. Cole and Strong. Seeing Cole go solo is an unexpected twist.
The Undisputed Era would have been great on Raw or SmackDown, but maybe it's better they break up before they wear out their welcome. Every stable has a shelf life.
Cole was as convincing as he could be under the circumstances and did a great job playing his part. The eventual war he will have with O'Reilly should be epic.