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NXT recap & reactions (Dec. 28, 2021): Mandy Rose’s not so mastermind plan

The penultimate show before New Year’s Evil has a lot going on in two hours. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

One more week ‘till New Year’s Evil and NXT 2.0 is doing its best to get us excited. How will they fill out the rest of the card? Will Harland kill someone? Will the show pause to take a breath? God bless Claire for typing with the speed of a centipede for her blog.

Let’s talk NXT..2.0!


Cora x Raquel in Disarray

NXT, I have several bones to pick with you. Your initial main event of the night, Cora Jade & Raquel González vs. Toxic Attraction, made sense. The champ’s two partners soften up her opponents before their triple threat match. Cool.

For undisclosed reasons, Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne weren’t around this week. We can speculate as to why but we won’t. Bottomline, NXT needed a plan B. I’m sympathetic to that and understand. If 2020 and 2021 taught us anything, it’s the value of plan B. Or plan Z in some cases.

But why is that plan to put Cora and Raquel against Kay Lee Ray and Io Sharai with their title shots on the line? And by that, I mean why would Raquel and Cora agree to that? I needed to see the work here. I needed to see why these two women, who fought their asses off mind you, are suddenly cool with this stipulation. This is when an authority figure like, oh, I don’t know, William Regal, comes in handy.

There needs to be someone forcing someone else to do things they don’t want to do but have to do. Or else. And I really don’t need to go into the “or else’s” at this point. As it stands, Mandy Rose made the match and her two challengers bent the knee to her will. For basketball reasons?

The match itself was fine! It wasn’t anything to write home or anywhere else about, but it showed why all four women belong in a championship match. The ending though is where things got sloppy and weird.

Raquel hits her finisher and the momentum backs her into Cora, constituting a tag in the ref’s eyes. They argue, they bicker, until Raquel tosses a high-flying Io out of the ring. Cora pins KLR but only gets a two count. The problem here is Raquel was late on the breakup. From what I saw, NXT, you wanted Big Mami Cool to break up the two count and get into a shoving match with her partner. Instead, she was a second late and things got discombobulated.

And after all that, KLR, a future contender for the title, or so I thought, takes the clean pin to KLR anyway. Why her? Io can take a pin at this point, she’s freaking Io Sharai. Her crew is solid enough. So why not let her? But then again, maybe you want Io back in the title picture. I’m not mad at that, just confused a bit.

Post-match, while Cora and Raquel are still arguing, Mandy appears via poolside, informing her opponents that this was her plan all along. Cue maniacal laugh. Mandy says their collective obsession over her title will be their undoing. She also wants her words marked. To which I say, duh.

We already know this part of the story. Cora and Raquel formed an uneasy alliance at best, with both women making it clear as crystal the NXT Women’s Championship is all that matters. So, help me out NXT.

To be fair, I’m sure this wasn’t the plan when the day started. Plans change, right? So a modicum of slack is cut for getting over the finish line at all. That said, the narrative behind the match along with the finish left me more than a tad puzzled.

This ends my bone-picking session. Thank you for listening.


Extracurriculars

S-C-I-N-T-I-L-L-A-T-I-N-G

Malcolm Bivens figured Carmelo Hayes can’t spell “scintillating” in one of the many hilarious side comments during the contract signing. Melo and Trick Williams were fashionably late as Malcolm and the Diamond Mine looked ready for war. Trick came out talking a lot of slang that Roderick Strong didn’t understand, leaving the Diamond Mine manager to interpret for him and the audience at home. Hilarious.

For a second, it looked like a contract signing might end peacefully. But then Bivens remembered this is professional sports entertainment. Michael got underneath Trick’s skin, causing the big man with eight abs, three chains, two women, and two feet to overstep his bounds.

The cats in the Mine didn’t like that, and the Brothers Creed powerbombed Trick through a table.

Phenomenal Attention

Grayson Waller, easily the cat with the most heat on the brand at the moment, ran his mouth. Odyssey Jones came out to shut it, but unfortunately couldn’t quite get the job done. Waller cheated of course, but a W is a W for the clout-chasing Waller. Fun match and Waller continues his job as the brand’s main heat magnet.

So why phenomenal? AJ Styles made an appearance via the NXT-tron, stating Grayson will get all of his attention at New Year’s Evil, one-on-one.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Solo Sikoa got a huge W over Santos Escobar. How? Two words: Xyon Quinn. Quinn didn’t interfere, but his pursuit of one Elektra Lopez is really getting under Escobar’s skin. The only reason we got this match is because Escobar was in his feelings and got extra aggy when Solo accidentally interrupted LDF’s conversation. Escobar needed someone to aim his frustration at, and he almost had it right. But Xyon showed up, Escobar lost focus, and Solo remains undefeated.

Good match with the right finish as the wheels keep tightening with this story of family vs. love.

Shaman x The General

Let’s skip through all the talk: Riddle is joining MSK to fight Imperium—including WALTER—at New Year’s Evil.

That is all.

Chasing a Nightmare

Remember last week when Brian Kendrick challenged Harland? Of course you do. If not, I just reminded you. Well, yeah, that didn’t happen. We didn’t get a reason, but we did get Andre Chase stepping in for another “teachable moment.” Problem is, Chase was the one getting a lesson in that it hurts when your head is repeatedly banged against the mat. The ref stopped the match and Harland, that psycho. got the W. One of Chase U’s star pupils came to the ring to save their lead administrator, but, to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way, he picked the wrong day.

Harland knocked him out and carried him to the back and for a second, looked ready to throw him off of the Performance Center’s roof. Gacy talked him down and Harland won’t get arrested for murder. At least not tonight.

Dinner at Tiffany’s

After weeks and weeks, NXT finally sent Stratton. Tiffany Stratton got her first NXT victory, dominating Fallon Henley. I like Stratton’s persona as the “Buff Barbie” thing might have legs in NXT. The match itself wasn’t much to write home about, with a couple rough spots. Emphasis on a couple because it wasn’t anything worth damning her out of the company. Hopefully she gets some mic time to further that persona while she works on some of the in-ring stuff.

Von’s Payback?

Von Wagner is mad he lost to Edris Enofé last week. This week, Wagner took out his frustration on Malik Blade. Blade is apparently a friend of Enofé’s, so I get the “why” of it. The match was okay, but something about Wagner still isn’t clicking for me. Enofé came to his friend’s rescue once Wagner looked ready to get extra dirty after the ding ding, so a larger feud between these two is on the horizon.


The New Year’s Evil go home show was solid. A LOT happens on this show in two hours and it happens at a break neck pace. Even more so this week with apparently a bunch of people missing. But NXT pulled it off with the cats in attendance, so points for that. The logic of the main event is still kicking my brain, but it doesn’t sully the whole show. Plus, New Year’s Evil sounds like a lot of fun.

Grade: B

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