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NXT recap & reactions (Oct. 12, 2021): Kidnaps, straps, and a new North American Champ

NXT 2.0 moved with the speed of a centipede this week with a title on the line, a spot at Halloween Havoc up for grabs, and a whole bunch of toxicity.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends! Unless those suits at USA get fidgety. Before you dive in to the recap, read Claire’s blog because smart people do that.


Let’s talk NXT! NXT 2.0!

Swerve, Indeed

Santos Escobar and the rest of Legado del Fantasma kidnapped—yes kidnapped—B-FAB and Top Dolla. They committed a crime—WWE labeled it as such—on camera and Santos still wrestled for the North American Championship.

Professional wrestling. It’s fantastic.

This match between Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and Santos was a long time coming. Now that the former is headed to SmackDown, someone in a suit decided it was finally time for them to get it on. And thankfully, for a feud of this caliber that’s gone on for this long, and escalated to the point of an actual felony, Swerve didn’t wait for the bell to ring. I hate when blood feuds start with collar and elbow tie-ups. Swerve is angry and a wounded animal, so he should act as such.

Once the bell rang, it was two men doing their best to decimate each other. Lariats, elbows, submissions, chokeholds, high-risk maneuvers, and a firemen’s carry onto the apron. Swerve and Escobar know each other well, so it was all about catching someone off guard for a millisecond. After about 15 minutes of neither one giving in, along came Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams.

Trick and Melo evened the odds, took care of Escobar’s boys when they thought about interfering, and distracted Santos long enough for Swerve to get a win nobody expected.

That’s it, right? We all go home happy and Swerve takes the belt to SmackDown? Carmelo Hayes had other thoughts in mind, as he used this moment to cash in his Breakout Tournament contract.

You know what happened at that point. Isaiah put up a fight but it was moot.

Melo shot and he didn’t miss.

We got a hell of a match between two old rivals in Scott x Escobar, a surprise finish, then another finish and the last sentence on the story that was Carmelo Hayes’ cash-in. And it all made sense.

Melo has no love for Legado del Fantasma, Trick pushed him to get his swagger back, and Scott wasn’t going to lose to the man who kidnapped his friends. Going forward, Hayes x Escobar can tango—with Trick waiting in the wings—while Hit Row moves to bluer pastures.

All Tricks, No Treats

How does one bring transparent inclusivity to a...championship belt? This was always the issue with WWE doing a character like Joe Gacy’s current incarnation. They’ll give him random buzzwords to say that they read on the Twitter machine and just prescribe them to him sans context.

Anyway, Gacy promised to bring that word salad to the NXT Championship with a win over Tommaso Ciampa and pack his costume for Halloween Havoc. I don’t know about you, but Ciampa getting the W was never in doubt. Gacy showed he can hang with the champ, but since he didn’t beat the man, he isn’t ready to be the man.

Ciampa left a few openings for Gacy to gain the advantage, but like a kid learning cursive writing for the first time, it was hard for him to capitalize. Ciampa is just too good. If you don't take the cat down when he gives you a shot, then you never will.

After Gacy was denied his fairy-tale ending thanks to the actual Fairy-Tale Ending, sh*t got weird. And I don’t mean weird for wrestling, I just mean weird.

Harland was in the crowd, standing in the same spot as last week. He locked eyes with Gacy when the match started and it was sort of brushed aside. But as Ciampa made his way to the locker room with Goldie in hand, Harland attacked the NXT champ! With Ciampa out of the picture, he went to put Gacy in a yoke and then...didn’t. Joe, like all cult leaders, apparently has the power to change moods by laying his hands upon thee. Harland backed off, looking like he had an actual come to Jesus moment.

Good first match and opening segment if only because it raised my curiosity and my eyebrow.

Strange things are afoot at NXT 2.0.


Xyon on a Roll

Poor Malik Blade. Once again, love his name. Love his look too. But you know who has a better name and a doper look? Xyon Quinn. Xyon manhandled Malik, as he’s clearly someone NXT wants to establish Xyon as another big thing. Not quite as big as Mr. Breakker, but semi-big.

Speaking of Bron...

Young Breakker came to Ciampa’s aide when the Grizzled Young Veterans stepped to him. Bron told Ciampa he has his back for now because he wants him at his best at Halloween Havoc.

A quick segment that did some character development for Bron, moved the story forward between he and Ciampa, and was, logical. Bron doesn’t want any excuses or an asterisk next to the W he believes he’ll get. And next week, we’ll find out how true to his word he is as he and Ciampa will have their hands full with the Grizzled Young Vets in a tag match.

Ivy Nile is a Beast

Ivy Nile made her in-ring debut this week and, of course, she squashed her competition. But it was the way she did it that impresses. She squatted another human being. For fun. It was a version of the Torture Rack that looks infinitely more painful than the original because the spine just shouldn’t bend that way.

Diamond Mine is legit, people. Get familiar.

Give Mandy Her Flowers

Last week, I sang Mandy’s praises. This week? I bellow them from the top of the mountain. She was the best part of Toxic Attraction’s promo this week, commanding the ring and the audience while convincing me the NXT Women’s Championship might look better on her than on Raquel González’s. She called her shot, issued a challenge, and at Halloween Havoc, the champ will spin the wheel and make a deal to determine the stipulation for their championship match.

Go Mandy!

Friends. How Many of Us Have Them?

NXT is telling a story with Kyle O’Reilly that I like. This is a guy who, understandably, doesn’t want to trust anyone and be a part of anything anymore. Very similar to what another company did with a certain angsty cowboy. Von Wagner is doing all he can to open up Kyle’s heart let him in just a little bit. This match was about more than just exorcising the Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland demons; Von Wagner needed to prove his loyalty and reliability to Kyle.

And that’s exactly what he did. Wagner said he has Kyle’s back and not only did he save O’Reilly multiple times during the match, but he was Kyle’s number one fan as well! Good match, better story.

The Dumbass Class

Chase U is exceptional. Andre Chase explained how he “schooled” Odyssey Jones last week. He then sonned a hapless student who had the audacity to accuse Chase of cheating. Brandon was sent to join Steve in the “dumbass class.” Red Foreman would be proud.

Wrestlers and Guns

Arn Anderson, at this point in his career, is still setting trends, After he talked about Glocko Pop a couple weeks ago, Julius Creed followed suit. This week, the Diamond Mine member told Ikemen Jiro—and us (!)—that he “stays strapped.” Of course, it was a clever double entendre referencing the straps on his wrestling attire and how he’s always ready for a fight, so points for wordplay. But still, wrestlers talking that street sh*t is definitely a choice.

Another choice? Jiro thinking it was a good idea to challenge Creed as his beef with the Diamond Mine continues. After Creed bodied the main the fancy jacket, Kushida stormed to the ring to save his friend from a beat down. Kushida x Ikemen are going to need a lot more guns if they want to take on Bivens’ crew and actually survive.

Indi Isn’t Focused

Indi Hartwell x Persia Pirotta made quick work of Amari Miller x Sarray. Pirotta said she wants the tag champs. The tag champs obliged and Toxic Attraction followed. A fight broke out with Io Shirai and Zoey Stark standing tall.

But before we got to that point, Hartwell was giving Dexter Lumis all the attention in the world. Something tells me she’s not ready to go after tag titles.

Do Kids Love Poker?

Time to keep it real: I don’t understand the Duke Hudson poker player gimmick. Why is a poker player interested in wrestling? What does he gain from it? It reeks of Duke “The Dumpster” Droese or Issac Yankem. But he got the win over Grayson Waller, so hooray?

Body in the Trunk, Stay in Line, Punk

Lash Legend’s talk show didn’t work for me this week. The point was to further whatever is going on between her and Tony D’Angelo. D’Angelo wanted to guest on the show and she said nah. Her producer also said nah. Fast forward and it turns out, shocker, D’Angelo wasn’t too thrilled with being told nah.

He stuffed Lash’s producer in the trunk of his Benz. NXT is throwing segments and matches at us so fast this week that it’s easy for some of this stuff to either blend together or possibly ignore what doesn’t work. Not so fast, WWE.

I don’t get where we’re going here unless Lash and Tony are going to wrestle each other or the latter plans to manage the former.

This show moved with the speed of a train going downhill with no brakes. Every segment moved a story forward, and NXT continued its formula of showcase matches with shorter ones in-between to get over specific wrestlers. Some of it still doesn’t work for me, but most of what they did this week spoke to me.

To quote a certain long-haired half-human half-Atlantean, I dig it.

Grade: A-

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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