Hit Em’ Up
Hip Hop is littered with generational battles, directly or indirectly. There’s always a tug of war between an older generation and a fresh crop of talent who want to remake the game in their images. It’s the law of the theoretical jungle that LL Cool J and Canibus beefed. And those same rules apply to Team 2.0 vs Team Black and Gold.
Now, calling the team consisting of Tomasso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, LA Knight, and Pete Dunne “Black and Gold” says to me that the writing is on the wall. In case you haven’t noticed, black and gold aren’t NXT’s colors anymore soooo yeah, kinda weird for the victorious team to hold up a flag the brand itself doesn’t even wave anymore.
But let’s not put the cart before the horse on its way to the glue factory.
Team 2.0 took their turns listing every reason they have for not liking their older counterparts. Some want championships, some want respect, some want spots. Ultimately, Team 2.0 just wants Team Black and Gold outta here. And the first step to accomplishing this ultimate dream is a ladder match between Bron Breakker and Johnny Gargano. The winner gains an advantage at WarGames, psychologically and physically.
It’s not lost on me the symbolism of Bron needing to go through Ciampa’s former partner and Mr. NXT himself. Bron fashions himself the big dog on the block—couldn’t help it—and 2.0’s heart and soul. Gargano and all he stands for is just another old ass obstacle in his way.
And it showed during the match.
What made this work is the fact Bron kept coming. No matter what Johnny did, no matter how he did it, Bron never stopped. The man ate a ladder, took a briefcase to the head, and got thrown onto the commentary table. Let’s not forget the moment where his back got introduced to the ladder in a way that won’t make his chiropractor happy. In short, Bron took a licking and just. kept. ticking.
Bron’s relentlessness seemingly caught Gargano by surprise. There were two moments where he had the match won but lacked a sense of urgency going up the ladder. Either because he was in pain or just figured he had the time, Johnny Wrestling couldn’t hit the next gear when he needed all the gears. Bron? Well, his engine never stops. One beautiful press into a powerslam later, and Bron’s going to Disney World! Well, eventually, but for winning the match he earned Team 2.0 the best position possible going into WarGames.
A brawl erupted in the end between both teams because, duh, creating a hot ending to a pretty good show.
We talk about the future of NXT a lot in this space. I’m betting that future gets a lot clearer when the past and present collide at WarGames and we witness the fallout.
Ladders, Oh My
I love the sense of urgency in NXT. Always have. No matter what iteration the brand takes, 1.0, 2.0, iOS 15.2, there’s always a rawness—pun intended—that the main roster shows lack. Proof? This week’s show started mid-beatdown as Kay Lee Ray and Dakota Kai couldn’t wait to kill each other. It grabbed me by my sweater collar and never let go.
The very physical ladder match—props to Kai for bumping like some sort of bumping machine—showed just how important WarGames is to both of these women. Neither wanted to come up short for their respective teams. At the end of the (very brutal) day, Ray was victorious. WarGames should be just as physical and I can’t wait.
Andre Chase’s role is comedy talent enhancement. And that’s cool! Not everyone can be the champ. But his persona is strong enough where no matter what happens in that ring, he remains entertaining outside of it. Unfortunately for Chase, he ran into a very pissed off and motivated Cameron Grimes this week.
You know how this went. You don’t even need me to spell it out.
Chase’s early dismissal meant a visit from Duke Hudson, who continues to not entertain me but does make me want to see Grimes cut his hair at WarGames. Hudson got under Grimes’ skin so bad, Grimes almost cut Andre Chase’s hair! Just because! Luckily for the Dean of Chase U, a student saved him.
I bet it wasn’t Steve. He’s a dumbass.
Kyle Von Wagner!
Legado del Fantasma can’t show their faces around these parts anymore. Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza have no business losing to Kyle O’Reilly x Von Wagner. None. But they did. And you know why? They took those two cats lightly and then played themselves like Parker Brothers.
Just when it looked like Von Wagner’s inexperience might cost his team a shot at the tag titles, the big man showed some character growth in a fantastic way and stopped a potential match-ending double team by LDF. As a result, he gets a shot at NXT gold at WarGames. Imperium now has one more thing to think about.
We also got a bit of business between Xyon Quinn and Santos Escobar, who we found out are going on-on-one at WarGames. Interesting to see where Elektra Lopez’s loyalties lie during and after their match.
Time to keep it real for a moment: I abhor Black and Brown wrestlers getting the “from the streets” background. Besides the fact that it’s stereotypical and not representative of all minorities, it’s also played out. I don’t doubt the truth of Edris Enofe’s story either. And I thank him for his service. I just wish both he and Solo Sikoa got to play different notes other than the same song.
Whew, okay, with that out of the way, this was an enjoyable match between two men who will probably become a tag team. Solo got the win but a post-match attack from Boa—he don’t want none—and a sign of respect between Enofe and Sikoa means there’s more to come.
So the news here is Dexter Lumis is on the loose. Lumis escaped the hospital like the slasher he is, and now Indi Hartwell is worried. So worried in fact, she almost took an L for her team. Persia Pirotta, as per usual these days, picked up the slack and got them to the pay window.
I’m still interested in the story because I want to see what breaks first: Indi’s will to continue or her jaw when Persia hits her out of frustration.
The Farce is Strong with This One
Gotta give Beth Phoenix props for this headline. Joe Gacy is clearly hustling everyone and getting what he wants. To prove how progressive he is, Gacy gave a preview of what his Cruiserweight title reign might look like. He lined up a short wrestler, a woman, and a super heavyweight. Right before we got to an intergender match, Diamond Mine made their presence known. Roderick Strong was tired of talking and just wanted to fight. Some people are saved by the bell but Gacy was saved by the Harland.
Gacy’s character is clicking with me but I’m not sure he’s the guy who needs a belt. Cruiserweight or otherwise.
There was a lot more wrestling on this show than I assumed, but every actual match we got was purposeful. We’re hopefully, finally, mercifully getting to the end of MSK’s search, and got a few more vignettes of new 2.0 talent. WarGames is filled with matches with bigger steaks than Texas, with the two big actual namesake matches being the most important storyline-wise and from a meta standpoint.
WarGames is the proverbial fork in the road. This week’s episode did a good job establishing why.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.