It is time for yet another NXT pay-per-view event, as the transition between the 2.0 era and the return of the black and gold continues.
I tried a new format for covering these shows back at Extreme Rules, switching from a Running Diary to a Pros & Cons recap. I’m not sure if this is going to be the format I use permanently moving forward, but for now, it’s a lot easier for me to watch the shows this way, so it stays.
Now that we’ve cleared all that up, I have a question for all of you.
Are you ready?
Because I’m ready.
So… if you’re ready, and if I’m ready, then there’s only one thing left to do. Say it with me, folks…
LESS DEW EET!!!
Wes Lee vs Carmelo Hayes vs Von Wagner vs Nathan Frazer vs Oro Mensah – Ladder Match for the NXT North American Title
Pros: – Even before the match has started, it’s a Pro that this is how the show gets started. A Ladder Match is a beautiful way to open a wrestling show, with all of the excitement, high spots, and drama. Good call here.
– Nathan Frazer hitting a Spanish Fly from the middle rope, DRIVING Carmelo Hayes into a ladder on the mat. That looked gorgeous.
– Von Wagner with a Gorilla Press on Wes Lee, tossing him from inside the ring all the way onto the announce table at ringside. Not quite through the table, but that might be worse for Lee. Wow.
– The right man won. Wes Lee has done such a great job as a singles competitor after having his successful tag team blown up through no fault of his own. The “you deserve it” chant rang out almost immediately after the match is over. Yes, he does.
Cons: – Whenever you see a Ladder Match, you always hear at least one commentator mention the largest person in the match being the “odds-on favorite” to win. Why? Since when? You rarely ever see the largest competitor in a Ladder Match win the damn thing, so why continue pushing that weird narrative?
– Nathan Frazer, billed at 5’10” tall, attempting to reach for the title while he was several rungs away from the top of the ladder. Really, bro? You might as well just stand on the mat and reach up at that point.
– As Oro Mensah climbs a ladder, Trick Williams comes in and does the whole “I’m gonna lift the ladder and dump you off of it” routine. Mensah jumped a bit too early as he attempted to dive onto the rest of the competitors at ringside and he damn near killed himself.
Match Rating: 4.25 Stars. Every bit of the spotfest you need matches like that to be. An insane pace from start to finish. You could definitely make a case for Nathan Frazer winning here, but the story that has been told with Wes Lee has been going on for longer. As for Carmelo Hayes, you have to wonder if he’s main roster bound soon.
Mandy Rose vs Alba Fyre – NXT Women’s Title Match
Pros: – The match wasn’t very long, so I guess there’s that.
Cons: – Starting the match with the unnecessary addition of more cinematic bullshit. I was REALLY hoping we were done with that nonsense. To make it even worse, Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolin might be the two worst actresses in all of wrestling, and this is forcing them do to considerably more “acting” than they would usually do. To make this whole thing even worse, the cinematic start to the match is happening now, and the actual match itself is happening later. Sigh.
– It took like 90 minutes for Alba Fyre to drive Mandy’s SUV back to the arena. Did they stop for dinner on the way back? Why the fuck would it have taken that long? Was Mandy just handling the DJ duties in the car from the backseat? She wasn’t even restrained or anything. Are we to believe she just sat in the backseat for 90 FUCKING MINUTES while Alba drove back to the arena?
– In the early stages of the actual match itself, this is the quietest that the live crowd has been all night.
Match Rating: 2.25 Stars. There just wasn’t a lot to it. The cinematic part of the match was longer than the in-ring portion of the match. Interference from Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne helped Mandy Rose pick up the pin and the win. More of the same. Say whatever you want about Mandy’s performance as champion, but I miss when NXT Women’s Title matches were actually good. Too many below-average-to-average matches in this reign. Let’s move on to something different, shall we? Unless Mandy drops the title on television this week, she will officially reach the one-year mark as champion. That’s insane.
Apollo Crews vs Grayson Waller – Casket Match
Pros: – The sheer level of athletic ability in this match. Crews and Waller are easily two of the best overall athletes under WWE contract today, capable of doing just about anything in the ring at any given time.
– Someone in the crowd has “Waller Likes Anime Women” sign. On one hand, that seems like it would be an insult, but on the other hand, it doesn’t come across as one. It’s funny, either way, though.
– The right man won. Apollo’s return to NXT has largely been wasted, and hopefully, he can move beyond this silly storyline and get to bigger and better things.
Cons: – It sure seems like using him in a storyline that involves bloody eyes and psychic premonitions is a waste of Apollo’s abilities.
– As they brawl on the middle rope, Waller sends Crews crashing through the lid of the casket. Per the rules of the match, you have to put your opponent in the casket and then close the lid to win. Because there’s no lid on the casket now, the match continues. The lights go out, and when they come back on, Crews is no longer in the casket. Instead, he’s five feet away, standing in the entranceway as a group of druids wheel out a second casket. Come on, man. This shit isn’t necessary.
Match Rating: 2.75 Stars. With the mid-match casket switch, and with a lot of the usual “no action as we spend 30 seconds trying to close the casket lid on each other” stuff that Casket Matches have, there just wasn’t enough action to take the rating to a higher level. That’s a shame. There was a lot of potential here. When they were actually wrestling, things were fun. I just wish there was more of it.
Roxanne Perez vs Cora Jade – “Weapons Wild” Match
Pros: – Roxanne’s new red and white ring gear looks amazing.
– Even though both of these women are teeny, tiny things, they’re working a physical style. That’s good. This is supposed to be a bit of a blood feud. They should be hitting each other as if they hate each other, and so far, that’s what they’re doing.
Cons: – Roxanne Perez being so much of a “white meat babyface” that Cora Jade continues to get face pops and chants from the NXT fans.
– As both women brawl atop the elevated stage platform, Perez has a chance to knock Jade off and send her crashing through two tables below. She hesitates, and then she kind of just… gently grabs Cora and they both go falling from the stage. That was so awkward looking.
Match Rating: 2.75 Stars. It was physical, but it was also really clunky in spots, especially at the end. I have no problems with Roxanne Perez winning the match, but the whole “OMG Y U DO DIS, WE WUZ BESS FRENZ” storyline was stupid. They knew each other for like 20 minutes before Cora Jade turned heel, but the story continually tries to present it as though they went to elementary school together. That takes so much of the drama out of things. The spot where they both fell from the elevated platform was just silly.
Julius Creed vs Damon Kemp – Ambulance Match
Pros: – Before the bell even rings, Creed is just chucking pumpkins at Kemp like prime Randy Johnson fastballs. One of them catches Kemp clean in the head. It was definitely a gimmicked pumpkin, but at least it looked cool.
– Only a few minutes in, Creed has welts and bruises on his arms and back. This has been physical from the start.
– Several minutes later, the level of physicality hasn’t gone down. These two are beating the hell out of each other.
– Creed using his fingers to stop Kemp from slamming the ambulance door shut and winning the match. Multiple times. That had to HURT. Shows how much he wants to win, though. That’s a great touch.
– The right man won. Having Julius Creed win means that his brother, Brutus, remains a member of the NXT roster. Now they can continue terrorizing the NXT tag team scene.
Cons: – The fact that this isn’t The Creed Brothers vs Damon Kemp & Gable Steveson. Sure, we might get that match at some point in the future, but to quote the great philosopher Veruca Salt, I want it now.
– One fire extinguisher spot is fine for these types of brawls. We’re at two fire extinguisher spots now, and it’s still at ringside, so maybe we’re not done.
Match Rating: 4 Stars. That was a lot of fun. A lot of violent, physical fun. It is crazy how much Kemp has improved in such a short amount of time. He just gets it, and he seems to have a world of potential. I’m already on record in saying that the sky is the limit for both of the Creeds. Their future is ridiculously bright.
Bron Breakker vs Ilja Dragunov vs JD McDonagh – Triple Threat Match for the NXT Title
Pros: – Ilja Dragunov is so good in the ring. He’s fantastic, in general, but he just excels as the undersized, yet badass, babyface. His offense is easy to cheer for.
– As expected from two European-style wrestlers and a brute from the football world, this has been a physical battle. Insane strikes from all three men are leaving marks all over everyone’s bodies.
– The “Wrestler A tries to hit Wrestler B with a German Suplex, but Wrestler C comes along and sends both of them flying with a German Suplex of their own” spot is always fun. This time, it was Dragunov trying to hit McDonagh, only for Breakker to come along and send both of them floating through the skies.
Cons: – JD McDonagh remains one of the weirdest looking people in the business. He looks like he has shorter arms and smaller hands than my four-year-old daughter, but he has a Lego head that is way too big for his body. It looks like he should have permanent neck pain.
– A lack of character development might be hurting Bron Breakker. He seems to be getting more and more heel heat on a weekly basis. The NXT crowd isn’t quite ready to turn on him yet, but he’s definitely not getting the reactions he once did. The crowds haven’t been given any reason to cheer (or boo) him. He’s just… there. Sure, he looks like a million bucks and he’s able to mow through his opponents, but crowds often need more than that these days.
– Surprisingly enough, this match has now seen the quietest crowd reaction. On multiple occasions, cameras have caught fans looking at their phones and not even watching the match.
– Not sure that the right man won. Unless we’re about to get a heel turn, or at least something different, for Bron Breakker, this was the perfect opportunity to move the title off of him. The Triple Threat format opened the door for a title change without Bron actually taking the pin. We’ll have to see what the future holds for him. Earlier commentary seemed to hint at Apollo Crews possibly being next-in-line for a title shot. That could work.
Match Rating: 4.5 Stars. That might be underselling it a bit, too. What a match. It earns its way on to a short list of the best NXT matches in 2022. Wildly physical, with all three men getting ample opportunities to shine and look like legitimate threats to win it all.
Six matches on the show. Three of them were great, and three of them were hovering around the “average” range. Bit of a mixed bag of a show, but overall, I can’t complain too much when I gave three different matches a rating of 4 Stars or higher. I’ll see you all again on Wednesday in my normal spot. Be good to each other.