IF I HAD THE PENCIL: WWE NXT Halloween Havoc 2021

Andre Chase vs Solo Sikoa: Singles Match (1 min)

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen. It seems, if reports are accurate, that these live specials for NXT will replace TakeOvers going forward. And as sad as that is for an OG NXT fan like myself, there’s no reason we can’t still be excited for these too. And that is why I thought I’d give this a go and show you how I’d handle good old Halloween Havoc. All of the magic and allure of an old TakeOver, on free television. The past two months have felt like the build and set up of the new NXT 2.0, and Halloween Havoc, in my opinion, needs to be where we hit the ground running and give NXT it’s edge back. Surprises, classic matches, title changes etc. We see you NXT 2.0, you won me over after a while of trying, now let’s really showcase what you’re capable of. So the show starts with all the pyro and ballyhoo that the NXT arena can handle, and we start off with our host: LA Knight.

He comes out as smug as ever, dressed to the nines, and as he does, he runs his mouth. He wants Havoc to be all about him as he promises that this will be the greatest rendition of this show that wrestling fans have ever seen. And that’s when he is interrupted by none other than Andre Chase of Chase University. He is absolutely outraged that NXT could hold such a major event and not include Andre Chase. He demands answers and he demands respect, and he says if he doesn’t get what he wants then he will happily show the world what he can do at Knight’s expense. Knight, with a smile ear to ear, promises Chase that if he wants a match then he’s got one. But it’s not going to be against him, and then he smugly points to the entrance stage. A new theme song hits, there’s a whole lot of mystique, and out comes Solo Sikoa for the first time in the WWE.

The crowd is going crazy in Orlando as a new member of a historic wrestling family hits the ring, and Chase looks absolutely panicked. Chase begins berating Knight at ringside for making this match, demanding he cancel it at once, and then he turns around into a brutal super kick from Sikoa. A fierce homage to his brothers The Usos. Sikoa mounts Chase on the mat and just beats the hell out of him with rapid forearms straight to the skull, bouncing his head off the mat. Sikoa gets to his feet and lets out a mighty roar to the audience while Chase tries to hobble to his feet. This almost insults Sikoa who turns the guy inside out with a wicked lariat. He lifts him up once more, tosses him to the ropes, and catches him with a thunderous pop up Samoan Drop. He gets the three count, and a star is born. Sikoa takes center-ring, and he slowly raises his finger in the air, striking the very pose of The Bloodline on SmackDown. Acknowledge him.

Result: Solo Sikoa

Imperium vs MSK(c): Steel Cage Match: NXT Tag Team Championship (25 min)

Now we’ve started ourselves off with a squash, a meaningful squash, but a squash match nonetheless. It’s time for some real freaking wrestling. Something that I feel has fallen off in NXT, not even just since the start of 2.0, but since the pandemic in general, is tag team wrestling. There were several years straight that NXT was the number one brand in pro wrestling when it came to it’s tag team division. Somewhere in 2020 that unfortunately faded away, it seemed to spark up again with this year’s Dusty Classic, but it’s back in the background. I want to change that. I want real tag team wrestling back on the rainbow(?) brand. That starts tonight. The two teams hit the ring with all the intensity in the world, and as we know, LA Knight must spin the roulette wheel to determine the stipulation of this championship match. The feud between these two teams has been pretty chaotic as of late, so it’s pretty convenient that the wheel lands these four men inside of a steel cage; and the crowd is going freaking crazy.

We saw The Lucha Brothers challenge The Young Bucks inside of a cage at All Out last month, and that was simply the best damn match of 2021; fight me on that. I’m not saying that this match is supposed to compete with that or try to copy it in any way, it’s just a way for NXT to prove that they’re still the same damn brand they’ve always been. Let these four men beat the hell out of each other. As the cage slowly lowers, Imperium takes advantage and cheap shots the champions, starting the match off in their favor as they stomp them into the mat. This match is used to really win some fans back in the favor of MSK. They’re positioned as the underdogs here, and they fight from beneath here in an epic story. Midway through the match, Imperium Irish whipped Nash Carter towards the ropes, but he shockingly hops straight onto the cage wall, and fires off with a beautiful moonsault laying out the challengers below.

Later in the match, Imperium lays out Carter with their own Doomsday Device (Marcel Barthel uses a flying European uppercut instead of a flying lariat), and right at the count of two, Wes Lee dives to break up the pinfall. An enraged Imperium now pounces on Lee to give him the same treatment. Fabian Aichner raises Lee in position for a Doomsday Device of his own, and when Barthel flies for the European uppercut, Lee dodges it on the shoulders of Aichner and smoothly transitions into a poison-rana, bringing the crowd to their feet. With the three other competitors down, Lee begins scaling the cage as the crowd rumbles as it seems he is attempting his escape. Once he makes it to the very top, you see something click in his head, and he turns around and flies with a Swanton Bomb, wiping out both members of Imperium below in an amazing moment.

He scurries to help up Carter, they connect with the pop up moonsault on Aicher, and we see MSK retain their championships once again after a major classic. The cage raises in the air and we look on as all four men sit exhausted and beat up after a grueling match, and while we don’t see any hands shake, you can tell there is a mutual respect in the air. And that’s when the music of the infamous Diamond Mine hits and trouble has entered the building. Malcolm Bivens guides The Creed Brothers, Haichiman, and Roderick Strong down to the ring, and all four men begin pounding on the four exhausted competitors. The Diamond Mine is being showered with boos, when a very familiar theme song hits. "The Ring General" Walter has arrived to the US NXT, and he is here to stay as the crowd blows the roof off the place. He hits the ring and lays out both Creeds with absolutely violent knife edge chops.

Haichiman charges the big man and gets laid out with a brutal powerbomb. And lastly, Strong tries to get the upper hand by striking Walter with a chop of his own, and Walter responds with a decapitating lariat from Walter. MSK slowly gets back to their feet and fearfully look on as we’re wondering if we’re seeing a strange new alliance. And Walter quickly shuts that down by flooring Carter with a big boot, and sending Lee hurtling with a wicked beal. Imperium takes the ring and strikes their pose. NXT has just changed forever.

Result: MSK (Still NXT Tag Team Champions)

Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta vs Io Shirai & Zoey Stark(c) vs Toxic Attraction: Ladder Match: NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship (15 min)

Let’s keep this momentum rolling, shall we? I truly meant it when I said I wanted this show to re-establish tag team wrestling in NXT. And I’m not just talking about the men, it’s about time that women’s tag team wrestling gets some true respect in WWE as a whole. NXT’s women’s tag division started out pretty hot this year, but it’s certainly fallen to the wayside over the months. But with the announced stipulation of a ladder match, and a talent the calibre of an Io Shirai, this is a match made in Heaven. And lord knows what a beautiful mix that tag team wrestling and ladders have been over the decades. So the moment this match begins, it’s all out anarchy. A chaotic brawl ensues between five of the women, causing them all spread throughout ringside, leaving Gigi Dolin alone in the ring, shockingly looking up at the titles above.

Dolin quickly scurries out of the ring and gets herself a ladder and positions it right under the titles. She quickly sprints up the ladder as confident as ever that she’s about to end this thing before it even starts, but right as she gets a hand on the title, she is met at the top by Zoey Stark herself. Stark begins teeing off with vicious forearms, and follows up with an astonishing superplex from the top of the ladder, straight to the mat below. This sets the tone for the rest of this match. A little later in the match, Persia Pirotta has Dolin laid out on the announce table, and she begins climbing a ladder at ringside and the crowd is on the edge of their seats. Jacy Jayne stops Pirotta when she’s about halfway up. She helps Dolin off the table, and they double powerbomb Pirotta off the ladder and right through the table below. At the end of this chaotic battle, we have a moment where five of the women are going at it at ringside.

Shirai drags herself in the ring and realizes she has a ladder to herself and could win this thing right now. But we know "The Genius of the Sky", and she’s damn hardcore. She drags the ladder towards the ropes, she climbs to the very top, and soars with a Godly Joshi Moonsault, crashing onto all five women below in an all time ladder moment. Shirai scratches and claws her way back to the ring and positions the ladder. With the crowd rumbling, she climbs to the top, when she is suddenly stopped by a reemerging Pirotta, who pulls her straight into a horrid powerbomb right through a ladder bridge that was set up at ringside in a damn ugly spot. Indi Hartwell now drags herself into the ring, and Pirotta assists her up the ladder, and we have new NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. I know a lot of people want to see Toxic Attraction takeover NXT, and that will certainly happen in due time, but this is a beautiful underdog moment to make the fans happy.

Hartwell and Pirotta celebrate their way up to the stage, and out comes a pregnant and elated Candice LeRae to raise these women’s hands in victories. "The Poison Pixie" has been avenged from last year’s Halloween Havoc. And believe me, Toxic Attraction will be putting a spoil on this party in a matter of weeks.

Result: Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta (New NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions)

Carmelo Hayes(c) vs Johnny Gargano: North American Championship (30 min)

This match is not officially announced for this event, but we have planted the seeds already. And if we want to give Havoc a real TakeOver feel, then we desperately need none other than Johnny freaking Wrestling. And if you think this feels a bit rushed, don’t you fret, this story certainly doesn’t end tonight. We could get a true classic rivalry out of these two men. And as we saw last week, Johnny Gargano robbed Carmelo Hayes of his North American Championship. And he walks out first for this match with Hayes’ own title wrapped around his waist and he is as confident as ever. He has of course held this title on three separate occasions in the past, and he’s looking to solidify his fourth tonight, which is damn history making. Next comes Hayes who is of course flanked by his boy Trick Williams, and they mean business as they are not wasting any time.

They both jump onto opposite ring aprons, surrounding Gargano on both sides. Hayes wants what is literally his. Gargano stays with a cocky smile on his face to their confusion, when his son-in-law Dexter Lumis suddenly appears right next to Williams on the ring apron, who shrieks in terror. Lumis immediately locks him in his sleeper hold and drags him off the apron. Williams breaks free with a back elbow and runs off in terror back to the backstage area. Lumis turns and gives his classic thumbs up to Gargano and he walks off as well. The odds have been evened to one-on-one, and this is destined to be a classic. The referee raises the title in the air as they normally do before a title bout, and Hayes proceeds to tear the title out of the ref’s hands and he finally gets his baby back, but Gargano immediately cracks him with a super kick, sending the title flying out of the ring.

The bell rings, Gargano quickly moves to the ring apron, and fires off with a shockingly early One Final Beat DDT on Hayes, who just barely kicks out at two. He immediately pulls himself to the outside to catch his breath as his title reign just flashed before his eyes, but Gargano isn’t giving him a break and catches him with a fiery suicide dive, and the NXT arena is absolutely electric. Later in the contest, Gargano has Hayes on his knees in the middle of the ring, in prime position for one of his classic maneuvers. As Hayes took a shot at Gargano’s old buddy Tommaso Ciampa last week, it’s only fitting that he signals for his vintage #DIY Super Kick. But when he goes to strike, Hayes catches him flush with a pump knee to the jaw. Hayes quickly rushes to the top and flies for his finishing Guillotine Leg Drop, but Johnny Kick Out shocks the world with a near fall.

For the finish, Gargano catches Hayes with the slingshot spear, and once again has him in position for the #DIY Super Kick, except this time he actually connects. Instead of going for the cover however, he gets a little over zealous, and he sets up for one more. This time, Hayes pulls the referee into harm’s way and Gargano accidentally knocks out the official. While staring down in shock, Hayes looks to take advantage by attempting a low blow from behind. But if you watched Gargano’s rivalry with Ciampa, he knows a thing or two about low blows, and he senses it and catches Hayes’ arm right in time. And with a smile on his face he immediately transitions into the Gargano Escape with the NXT Arena on their feet as Hayes almost immediately taps out… but there is no referee to make the call. A frustrated Gargano breaks the hold to go tend to the referee, and as he does this, Hayes slinks to the outside to retrieve the title that flew out there earlier.

Gargano now turns around into a wicked shot to the face by the North American Title from Hayes. The referee comes to, and the champion gets a sneaky three count. With the obvious assist from the title, this story is far from over, but we sure did witness a classic on our hands as Hayes smugly celebrates with a re-emerging Trick Williams on the stage. Sneaky bastards.

Result: Carmelo Hayes (Still North American Champion)

Mandy Rose vs Raquel Gonzalez(c) vs ???: NXT Women’s Championship (15 min)

Now there’s one thing NXT has had pretty consistently for the last eight years, and that is one of the absolute best women’s divisions in the entire game. I very much so worried that I would see that change with the introduction of the 2.0 era of NXT, and this is really their first shot to prove that it won’t change for a second. We saw it with how I booked the women’s tag division earlier in the night, and we will see it here, NXT’s women’s division is here to stay. Both the champion and challenger come down to the ring with all the intensity in the world, and they stare each other down in the middle of the ring. It comes time for LA Knight to spin the wheel and choose the stipulation, and that’s when we witness quite the unexpected. The wheel lands on a mystery opponent, causing this match to become a triple threat match. Both Mandy Rose and Raquel Gonzalez turn to Knight in rage and shock, looking for answers, and that’s when the lights go out and the crowd begins to buzz.

Our attention now turns to the tron where we witness yet another vignette the likes of the ones we’ve seen in recent weeks with a woman in a graveyard, speaking about starting over. The woman says her rebirth begins tonight, and we go on to witness the long awaited return of "The Kiwi Buzzsaw" Dakota Kai as the arena goes crazy. Both women are in absolute shock of Kai’s arrival, and when the bell sounds, Kai doesn’t even hesitate and immediately cracks Rose across the jaw with her running Kiwi Kick in the corner. This leaves Kai across the ring from her former partner and current champion. The history between these two ladies doesn’t need to be spoken, the intensity is in the air. They immediately pounce on each other and begin trading blows in the middle of the ring. Gonzalez attempts to take advantage by lifting her up for the Chiquita Chokeslam, when Kai escapes with a quick hurricanrana.

She strikes the dazed champion with a shining wizard knocking her out of the ring, and Kai soaks in the adoration from the fans for her epic return. Later in the match, Gonzalez finally connects with her Chiquita Chokeslam on Kai, but before she can go for the cover, she turns directly into a Kiss the Rose pump knee from Rose, and we see a lightbulb go off in the head of "God’s Greatest Creation". She quickly looks to steal Gonzalez’s pinfall over Kai, who manages to kick out at two. A frustrated Rose now dives to cover Gonzalez, who also gets the near fall. Rose begins throwing a tantrum in the ring, not looking like her usual sexy personality, when both Kai and Gonzalez slowly rise to their feet with fire in their eyes. It’s looking like we’re getting a brief reunion of Two Women with Attitude as they stare down Rose, and that’s when the remaining two members of Toxic Attraction, still beat up from their ladder match, begin marching their way down the ramp to even the odds.

Kai and Gonzalez exit the ring and begin brawling with the two at ringside; it is absolute chaos. When Rose looks to prove she is more than just a pretty face and climbs to the top rope, and dives to the outside with a flying crossbody, wiping everybody out. In the end, Gonzalez looks for her chokeslam once more, this time on Rose, who escapes by raking the eyes. She manages to successfully connect with the Bed of Rose, but at the count of two, Kai breaks the fall with a sliding knee to Rose. Rose retreats to the corner, and gets rocked once more by the Kiwi Kick. Kai dives for the cover, and she finally claims the NXT Women’s Championship for the first time. With Orlando on their feet, Kai celebrates full with emotion as she is given the world championship. As I said, Toxic Attraction’s time to take over NXT is in the very near future, so this Cinderella story will not last forever, but it’s a beautiful moment to relish in.

And along with that, there is an enraged Raquel Gonzalez sitting at ringside, with a whole lot of revenge on her mind. The NXT women’s division is alive and thriving.

Result: Dakota Kai (New NXT Women’s Champion)

Bron Breakker vs Tommaso Ciampa(c): NXT Championship (20 min)

And it is now time for your main event. The sole purpose of this match is to make Bron Breakker. WWE clearly has some major intentions for this man and his future, and headlining the first live special of the 2.0 era is a pretty massive way to kick things off. And there’s nobody better in NXT today than Tommaso Ciampa, so you know he will take this task with pride. The two men come down to the ring with all of the usual championship introductions, and they stare absolute bullets through each other. There is a mutual respect between the men, but there is no doubt this is the biggest match of Breakker’s short career. And we all know how much pride Ciampa holds in that NXT Title, and he’s not looking to let it go so soon. When the bell rings, a respectful champion extends his hand for a handshake, and Breakker obliges to a round of applause for the proper sportsmanship.

But the young man isn’t here for pleasantries, as he pulls Ciampa right into a brutal exploder suplex. Ciampa rebounds and runs right into a beautiful belly-to-belly suplex across the ring. He once again comes back for more, and now runs into a stiff German suplex from Breakker, who bridges into the cover, and gets a very early near fall in this contest. Ciampa rolls out of the ring as quick as he can, shook as can be at what this rookie is capable of. Meanwhile, Breakker holds the ring and beats his chest, as confident as ever. Later in the match, Ciampa has Breakker in prime position for the #DIY Running Knee, but he gets caught in the middle of the ring, pressed right into the air for the Breakker Powerslam. Ciampa counters into a backslide, and smoothly transitions right into his own powerbomb position. He powers Breakker up and connects with a spine crushing Project Ciampa.

The powerhouse Breakker rolls right back onto his knees and roars right in the face of the champion. This man just took two knees to the spine and didn’t give a damn. Ciampa doesn’t hesitate to immediately crack him in the mouth, finally connecting with his #DIY Knee, and Breakker still kicks out at two. Later on, Ciampa sets up for the Fairytale Ending, and Breakker escapes with a back body drop. He quickly transitions into the Recliner in the middle of the ring, and it seems like the end has arrived for "The Psycho Killer". We know Ciampa will never tap out, so he slowly begins to fade in the middle of the ring, and a smile begins to cross the face of the challenger. When a sudden burst of life hits the champion, he powers his way to his feet, turning the Recliner into a devastating Air Raid Crash. Ciampa is pissed now and he’s not going for the cover just yet.

He instantly rushes Breakker to the ropes, and plants him with a stiff Willow’s Bell DDT, and Breakker freaking kicks out at ONE. This man refuses to die, if anything he’s getting stronger. It’s like the pain inflicted from Ciampa just gave him more life. A shocked and desperate champion proceeds to floor the challenger with not one, but two consecutive Fairytale Endings to retain his championship. You can see the exhaustion in the champ’s face as he celebrates his victory, and he knows he just went to war. He helps Breakker to his feet, they now properly shake hands, and a new star is born. The rookie didn’t go over, but he certainly got over here. He leaves the ring to Ciampa to celebrate what looks to be a positive send off for the evening, when very familiar music hits once again tonight. Walter is back again and Ciampa is shaken. He marches down to the ring and stands face to face with his old rival and the crowd is going absolutely crazy over the idea of this rematch, when yet one more song hits.

"The Bruiserweight" Pete Dunne has arrived to the NXT Arena. He’s got his own history with Walter, and his own interest in the NXT Title, and now he’s throwing his name into the hat. Dunne enters the ring as we get a three-way staredown. The end of show logo hits the corner of the screen looking to end the night, when yet one more song hits. "The Samoan Submission Machine" Samoa Joe has finally returned to reclaim his throne and the building is literally rumbling. Joe hits the ring, and we go off the air with all four men staring bullets through each other. The four new pillars of NXT. You can introduce all the new talent in the world, but we are going off the air looking at the four constants of this brand moving forward. The future of the main event scene is so damn bright.

Result: Tommaso Ciampa (Still NXT Champion)

And that’s my show! I hope you enjoyed. If you’d like you can follow me on Twitter @braydenfanti. I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section below!

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