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NXT Halloween Havoc 2021 recap & reactions: The king stay the king

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NXT’s spookiest night of the year sees titles change hands, a haunted house, and a long-awaited main event,

It’s spooky season, ghouls and goblins, so you know what that means: Halloween Havoc!

Read Claire’s play-by-play for dead on coverage, then walk like a zombie back here for NXT’s scariest night of the year.


Return of the Living Dead

Before we dig into this match, allow me to commend NXT for referencing the fact Chucky and Bron’s dad, Rick Steiner, have history. From the little doll showing up in the big man’s locker room and them exchanging familiar pleasantries, to Chucky alluding to making Rick’s life a living hell in 1998. Props, people. Props.

Youth and exuberance vs. age and wisdom. Tommaso Ciampa—dressed like Kratos—doesn’t believe Bron Breakker is ready for the moment. Ciampa believes Bron’s inexperience is his weakness and wanted to keep the match going as long as possible. Why? The longer the match, the better chance Bron makes a mistake.

Ciampa wrestled a slower pace than normal, opting to blunt Bron’s explosiveness. The champ went for submissions, body blows, and every tool in his arsenal to extend the match and weaken the challenger’s confidence. Ciampa even DDT’d the man onto exposed concrete.

Bron caught a couple second winds, but this was a different situation for the the young cat. His usual dominant moves, like the Frankensteiner, didn’t yield the same results.

But then it happened. Breakker survived Fairy Tale Ending and Ciampa, incensed, shifted to another gear. After a flurry of knee strikes and another Fairy Tale Ending, Bron finally went down for the count, bloody forehead and all.

This was a good enough main event for Halloween Havoc, showcasing Bron can hang with the best when his name is called. Of course, it also showed why Tommaso is the champ.

No shame in Breakker’s lost since Ciampa threw everything at him for the W. Breakker will get his time to shine but he’s not ready for Goldie yet. That said, he will get there.

Ask yourself if he’s ready to do for someone else what Ciampa did for him. If the answer is no—and it should be—then you know the right man won. The rumors of Ciampa’s demise were greatly exaggerated, and his particular brand of violence isn’t ready to die.


Trick R’ Treat

Oscar nominated actor Brad Douriff through his alter ego, Chucky, announced the NXT Women’s Championship would be on the line in a “Trick or Street Fight.” I love everything about that sentence.

The story going into this match Charles Lee Ray announced is Mandy Rose’s transformation and desire to rule NXT. Raquel González is a bit of a bystander. With that in mind, the street fight format enabled Ms. Rose to showcase this more vicious side to compete with Raquel’s noted mean streak.

Mandy trapped Raquel in an chair using a kendo stick, and then repeatedly bashed her opponent with said stick out of frustration. She tried to yank the champ’s shoulder out of the socket, she survived eating a face full of chair, and a spear through a table.

But Raquel gave as good as she got because of course she did. For several moments in the match, she was firmly in the driver seat but just couldn’t put it to bed. Mandy held on just long enough for Dakota Kai, revealing herself as the masked figure we kept seeing in promos, to hit Raquel in the back with a shovel. One running knee later from Mandy, and we got ourselves a new NXT Women’s champ.

Street fights are almost always normally fun. This one was no different, so let’s all thank Chucky and his infinite wisdom. We’re going to see if Mandy is the right choice for champion. She’s no slouch in the ring but she’s not top notch either; her character work is taking her over the top right now. If she can marry the two, it creates a very different dynamic for the women in NXT 2.0.

It was only a matter of time before Dakota got her revenge and she waited for the right moment to strike. That story didn’t feel done and I’m happy she and Raquel are going to tango at least one more time.


The Hills Have Eyes

A Lumberjack-O-Lantern match! Half of the locker room left their Halloween party to survey the damage these two teams planned to do to each other.

It didn’t take long for the lumberjacks to make their presence known, issuing a perfectly legal beatdown to Fabian Aichner x Marcel Barthel, who just so happened to get tossed to the outside. I recently mentioned MSK is pushing themselves too hard to prove their merit as champs and they’re cruising for a bruising. If there’s one thing that might help them keep the belts, it’s having a bunch of meaty men ringside to pound on Imperium a bit every now and then.

As always when these two teams face off like Cage and Travolta, the styles clash. Nash Carter x Wes Lee did didn’t alter their strategy; they stuck with high risk moves even with the lumberjacks around the ring. Eventually, Lee and Carter’s collective crazy scared away the lumberjacks! Seriously, those cats left ringside, which is something I didn’t know was a thing until this week.

And you know what? Maybe that was their downfall. Without the extra help on the outside, it was just too much power for MSK to overcome. A fantastic match ended with an Imperium Bomb and new tag champs.

This was the only way it could end for MSK. And the rematch—if we get one—should be a bit of a banger.


Child’s Play 3

The NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships were on the line in a Highway Scareway to Hell ladder match. Io Sharai and Zoey Stark defended against two thirds of Toxic Attraction (Gigi Dolin x Jacy Jayne) and Indi Hartwell x Persia Pirotta.

In typical Halloween fashion, there were a couple frightful bumps, both courtesy of the champs. Zoey misjudged a 450 splash from the top rope and damn near bent her knee. Minutes later, her partner was launched from the top of one ladder onto a ladder bridged between the ring and the commentary table. Io looked like an animation from a WWE video game rather than an actual human being when she made impact with the steel apparatus.

Hopefully both women are okay because none of that looked fun in the least bit.

As for the match itself, the ladies got about 17 minutes to get as physical and as nasty in the ring as possible. Besides the aforementioned bumps, there were springboards onto the outside, spinebusters onto the ladder, oh and a Frankensteiner onto a ladder. It’s a Frankensteiner because it’s Halloween, duh.

Ultimately, it came down to the champs getting out of the paint. They were the most dominant team in the match, always on top of everyone and kept momentum on their side for as long as possible. The reason they’re no longer champs is because for one brief second, Io took her eye off the prize. She hesitated with the belts in her grasp and paid a heavy price of sweat and pain.

In the end, it was Toxic Attraction who did what they said they would do: takeover. With the champs out of commission, they seized the moment and the belts in a hot opening match.

Indi x Persia can still go after the belts but I’m not sure if Io x Zoey ask for a rematch. It feels like we’ve come to the end of their tale as 2.0 looks to the future.


Extracurriculars

The House on Haunted Hill

The only reason I knew this segment would tickle my fancy is because Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes would make it work. The haunted house thing had all the makings of going off the rails and being too silly, but they—especially Trick—saved it.

Over the course of two segments, we saw the pair travel through “Dexter’s house” filled with zombies, mummies, vampires, Andre Chase, and dead kids. Yup, that last part is not a typo. And no, they weren’t actual dead kids. NXT 2.0 is “edgy” but it’s not necromancy edgy.

In the end, Melo and trick retrieved the North American Championship and screamed their way home after avoiding all of the psychos inside of the actual psycho’s house. The highlight was Trick seeing a portrait of a ghostly woman and proudly proclaiming “Oh, she’s fine!”

The perfect Halloween fun and I approve.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Roderick Strong and the Diamond Mine wanted a lot of smoke tonight. They issued an open challenge and guess who answered? No, not Chucky, but Odyssey Jones. Malcolm Bivens, rightly, noted Jones isn’t 205 lb. But hey, a challenge is a challenge and smoke was asked for.

Of course, the problem for Jones is the same as it is for most cats these days: Diamond Mine rolls deeper than the Dungeon Family and the Wu-Tang Clan combined. Until someone learns how to count, then beating any member of the Mine is impossible. The only thing one can do is succumb. Strong spent most of the match bringing the big man down to size, but it was interference by the Mine that sealed the deal.

It was an okay match but on an event of this magnitude, it feels pointless and weird.

Halloween II

Joe Gacy came to the ring to disparage Halloween for not being an inclusive holiday. It’s all about exploiting the women. No comment from your friendly neighborhood smart ass.

Anyway, he, with the help of Harland dressed like Michael Myers, quickly defeated the man known as Malik Blade.

Dracula

Grayson Waller took over hosting duties tonight when LA Knight suffered a bout of “car trouble.” When Knight finally showed up, also dressed like a vampire, he and Waller argued until Solo Sikoa showed up to clean house. If you didn’t know he was related to Rikishi and The Uso’s, you definitely know now.

Don’t Look Now

Kay Lee Ray made a brief cameo to tell the world she deserves her flowers now! And if we don’t give them, she’s coming to take them.


Halloween Havoc was a fun two hours. Every title changed hands except one, and few matches disappointed. Any show with a fun haunted house segment will always get my thumbs in the up position. Next week? Trick x Melo tag against Dexter x Johnny, Tony D’Angelo finally sits down with Lash Legend, and more surprises as we pave the road to Survivor Series.

Grade: B+

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