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NXT recap & reactions (Nov. 9, 2021): Who shot ya?

Toxic Attraction wants to dominate while Carmelo Hayes is obsessed with proving he’s the face that runs the 2.0 place.

Hola, people! Welcome back to another week of your favorite 2.0 splatter brand. Claire’s handling play-by-play with her blog, while I’m your color commentator for the proceedings this evening. Or whenever you’re reading.

Let’s talk NXT 2.0!


Protect Ya Neck

Carmelo Hayes is hellbent on proving he’s THAT dude on NXT 2.0. He’s willing to take on any and all challengers to get that message across and prove the North American Championship is the “A championship” on the splatter paint brand. That’s why he got in Pete Dunne’s face this week when Dunne was minding his business and looking for Tony D’Angelo after the former sanitation worker popped all that trash last week. Melo and Trick Williams are writing a lot of checks lately and so far, not a single one was declined for insufficient ass whooping funds.

Pete Dunne is a different breed.

Melo knows Dunne’s pedigree—holla at the pun—and is on a mission to knock members of NXT’s old guard off their respective perches. The problem with that idea? He and Trick still aren’t finished with Johnny Gargano x Dexter Lumis. The former hilariously showed up on commentary during this week’s main event. Dexter, like the rest of us, watched a good, physical, bruising contest between Melo x Dunne. Like most matches, it was a battle of wills, but with the added mystery of whether Melo’s ego would lead to his downfall or the slasher psycho sitting ringside.

Every week, or every other week, I note that NXT 2.0 is all about the numbers. You need backup if you want to win anything and for a second, it looked like Carmelo having a number two man on his side would pay dividends, just like last week. But one thing led to another, and Trick got his best laid shoe plans uprooted by, surprise, Dexter. And with Melo distracted by all the chicanery on the outside of the ring, he Gargano appeared from under it and got his revenge for last week. One Bitter End later, and Pete Dunne gets a W over the champion of all of North America. That means you too, Canada.

I like this story. It’s simple and easily leads to matches. Carmelo is going to take a lot of shots as he sets out to prove he’s top dog. He better not miss because the rest of the pound is hungry and rabid. Judging by the amount of sexual references on this show, they’re not neutered either.


Extracurriculars

Let’s Get Dirty

Toxic Attraction battled Io Sharai, Kacy Catanzaro, x Kayden Carter to assert their dominance over NXT’s women’s division. Mission accomplished, as once again, the Toxic trio proved they’re smarter than everyone else. Fun opening match with the right finish.

Public Service Announcement

For the past few weeks, Kay Lee Ray told anyone with an ear that she didn’t come to NXT for giggles; she wants to dominate. Sarray, as dope as she is, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. NXT is building Kay Lee up and illustrating a picture of domination for those who sat in the cheap seats during her NXT UK run. Sorry, Sarray. But hey, you made KLR look like a million and one bucks. Kay wants Mandy—foreshadowed!—and it looks like that’s the eventual destination.

Been Around the World

With Carmelo poking out his chest about the “A title” one wonders where the NXT Heavyweight Champion is. We heard from Tomasso Ciampa and his latest challenger, Bron Breakker, in two separate video packages. Ciampa’s feet have to be tired because he’s the only thing running through Breakker’s mind. The young phenomenon is doing all he can to obtain his “PhD” and work his way back to the top. The champ? He’s doing what he does best and not sweating it.

Diary of a Madman

Joe Gacy x Boa. Yeah, I’m still not into Gacy and wasn’t feeling the match much because they didn’t mesh well. But then the lights flickered and Boa, seemingly possessed, choked out Gacy and got himself disqualified. That’s at least potentially interesting. Gacy enjoyed getting the W. He also relished bringing that side out of his opponent? I think? I wish I had something smart to say here but unlike that 4th grade book report I ad-libbed and smooth talked my way through, I got nothing here.

Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down

Every week, Wade Barrett is right at least once. This week, his observation about Jacket Time being the worst name ever for a tag team is 1000 percent correct. Julius and Brutus Creed battled...Jacket Time (Ikemen Jiro x KUSHIDA) because the latter team was aggrieved one time too many.

What I LOVED about this match is the moment Jiro’s jacket got pulled off, he took the L. It was like watching Samson’s locks get cut off and all of his strength getting sapped away. Beating Jiro x KUSHIDA isn’t exactly a high bar for the Brothers Creed. BUT, adding Odyssey Jones to that equation? That’s a horse of a different color. Finally, someone evens the odds with the Diamond Mine.

Somebody’s Gotta Die

Raquel González wants Mandy Rose. But at first, she wants Dakota Kai for a little payback. Guess who else wants a piece of Ms. Kai? Cora Jade. Is Cora willing to wait her turn behind the former champion? This is wrestling so it’s more interesting if she doesn’t, putting her squarely in Raquel’s sights while Dakota reaps the benefits.

Back in the Game

This poker thing between Duke Hudson and Cameron Grimes is still happening. It’s dumb and needs to be killed with fire. I get it. Duke doesn’t believe someone of Grimes’ “class” should compete with him on any level. We can do that without a...poker showdown. What in the world is a poker showdown? Are they going to play poker in the ring? Wrestle for poker chips? Try to call bluffs on the microphone? Just challenge each other to a spelling bee and call it a day.

Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy)

Grayson Waller and LA Knight were crash test dummies for Solo Sikoa. No way was the young Uso Sikoa losing his second match. Especially against two guys who don’t like each other and couldn’t stay out of each other’s way to look remotely competent.

Roman’s Revenge

During her match with Erica Yan, there was a major question. Was Elektra Lopez recruiting Xyon Quinn to Legado del Fantasma or, to quote a certain Street Fighter dictator, her personal chambers? After she barely lifted a pinky finger to defeat Yan, Lopez invited Quinn to do what they do on Price is Right and come on down! Lopez shot her shot and invited Xyon to join LDF. Quinn, while clearly feeling Ms. Lopez, just isn’t down with her crew. Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza weren’t feeling that, resulting in a quick brawl followed by a tease of sexual tension between Quinn and Lopez.

This is something that would’ve really moved me if it was on Raw in 1998. But here, because there’s no real investment in anyone involved, it’s merely eyebrow raising instead of truly engaging.

Criminology

Tony D’Angelo actually sent Dexter Lumis a Sicilian message. For those of you who don’t speak Godfather, that means he gave Indi Hartwell a dead fish and told her to give it to her husband. Translation? Next week. Lumis sleeps with the fishes. I chuckled as a Godfather nerd.


NXT 2.0 is Attitude Era-lite. That’s not a diss, just an observation. The sexual references, the soap opera storylines, the brash characters, and even the lengths of some matches harken back to an era where WWE sat atop the pop culture mountain. The problem, however, is that we’re not getting anywhere close the same amount of time and development of characters for that to fully blossom. At least not yet.

The show provided segments with MSK, Grizzled Young Veterans, and a stellar Chase U to rectify that whole “who are these people?” thing. But there’s no depth there. We know what NXT 2.0 wants to be—younger, brasher, edgier—but they’re still figuring out the best mode of travel to get there.

Grade: B-

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