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NXT recap & reactions (Aug. 24, 2021) : At odds until we’re even

The plot thickens around the entire CWC as NXT resets after TakeOver 36

Culture Clash with The Culture

You all know I love Hit Row probably as much or more than Kyle loves The Blade. They are my wrestling Wu-Tang Clan, and I truly believe they ain’t nothing to F’ with. But there are moments when this beef with Legado Del Fantasma feels like it might go off the rails. The feud plays around with race and ethnic traditions to reinforce the differences between the two factions.

We’re not in cringeworthy territory yet, and I hope we never get there, but I have to acknowledge the giraffe in the room before even digging into the wrestling. Cool? Cool.

Remember a couple weeks ago when I juxtaposed Hit Row’s unity with Legado Del Fantasma’s lack of unity? Yeah that’s not a thing anymore. Santos Escobar’s group worked like a Swiss watch in this match, dishing out punishment to their main target, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, and cutting the ring off in the process. It was a thing of beauty if you’re a fan of tag team wrestling. Eventually, courtesy of Top Dolla, Hit Row took the upper hand because, well, you’ve seen Top Dolla.

At one point in the match, the man had all three members of Legado Del Fantasma on his shoulders and dropped them. A grown man picked up three other grown men and dropped them like they were infants.


But then the momentum was riding with Escobar and crew once the big man tagged out and they continued working their tag team magic. That said, it still wasn’t enough to put away the Row. And if we know anything from groups with the word “Row” in their names, you need to have an army of equal size to even compete. Which brings us to the finish.

B-FAB is always the uncommon demoniator here. She looks out for the boys whenever chicanery is afoot. So, in typical B-FAB fashion, she intervened when it looked like Santos didn’t want to play fair. Well, Santos, Joaquin Wilde, and Raul Mendoza can count and they know four beats three every single time.

Enter Elektra Lopez.

Elektra Lopez took a lead pipe to B-FAB’s stomach and that’s when things got weird. After admiring her handiwork—B-FAB rolling around in agony—Lopez tossed the pipe to Swerve, who caught it for...reasons. Then, while arguing with the referee about the lead pipe he wasn’t going to use but didn’t want to drop, Santos rolled him up for a semi-long 1-2-3.

The show, and the match, ends with a four-on-four staring contest.

This was a great match and a dope way to end a fantastic night of television. These two crews hate each other and bringing in another woman to even the odds and give B-FAB something to do is a great idea. But that ending landed like a ton of bricks.

If there’s one thing I hate in anything I watch, it’s when normally smart characters act dumb because the story needs them to. Instead of finding an intelligent way to get from point A to point B, someone acts out of character for necessity. It’s a tad lazy.

It doesn’t ruin the match since clearly this is a new wrinkle, and it definitely doesn’t ruin the show. But there’s a better way to give Legado Del Fantasma the W, add Elektra to the equation, and not make the North American Champion look better equipped for a dunce cap than a championship belt.

That King...He’s Such a Savage

Samoa Joe...I’m sorry, NXT Champion Samoa Joe, is such a poet. The man came out to the ring, grabbed a microphone, and spun a tale of savages, kings, cold stares and colder shoulders. It’s the type of Hip Hop energy I can get behind.

But Pete Dunne, Kyle O’Reilly and LA Knight clearly can’t. Joe wanted a new challenger and these three cats stepped up. And they each have fair points.

Pete Dunne: He and Joe tangoed in the past and he’s ready to dance again.

LA Knight: He’s a smart ass loudmouth rocking my favorite Air Jordan 12 color variants.

Kyle O’Reilly: Not only did he beat Adam Cole 2-1 at TakeOver 36, but he called that man Samoa Joseph, which gave me several chuckles.

Before Kyle could get serious for a moment, the man currently in possession of the best hat in WWE, Ridge Holland, attacked an ailing O’Reilly. Pete Doone Dunne attacked Joseph during the commotion, which brought out Mr. Ciampa from the back to finish the job on Dunne that he didn’t finish earlier.

It’s wrestling, so a brawl ensued. When the dust cleared, Joe and Ciampa engaged in an intense stare down with Pete and his muscle.

Hey, NXT, please choose violence and give me this match. Thanks.

Carmelo Hayes Starts His Own Iliad

Carmelo Hayes says when he comes for the king, he doesn’t miss. The NXT Breakout tournament final was Hayes fighting the mountain of a man and heavy favorite, Odyssey Jones. In a tale as old as time, NXT gave us the David x Goliath story because it always works. Especially when David is so much fun to watch. But in this case, Goliath isn’t a jerk or raving lunatic.

These are two likable cats just fighting for a shot at a title. Hayes didn’t have a slingshot, but he gave the giant everything he had, even his top rope scissor kick. But nothing, not a single thing, kept the big man down. Even when Jones hit the mat, he rose quicker than a kid on Christmas morning.

Carmelo got the W by simply out maneuvering his opponent. Jones was spent and through his exhaustion, he got a little lazy on a cover. Hayes reversed the pin, used Jones’ momentum against him in the crucifix, and now gets a shot at the title of his choosing.

All it took was three seconds of Jones not being at his best for Hayes to prove his cunning can win him a lot of matches. It’s that same attribute that made him refrain from picking a champion to face. Carmelo Hayes is going to pick his spot. Smart man.


Married in a Hurry!

Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis set a wedding date, and Wade Barrett can’t stand it! Barrett’s distaste of this entire enterprise remains one of the most entertaining things on Tuesday nights. I’ll shed a tear on September 14 when that running gag meets its tragic end.

Wrestling weddings never end well so what type of shenanigans can we look forward to in three weeks? Especially with Indi’s dad Johnny Gargano asking Commissioner Regal to intervene. I guess he wants Regal to schedule a match during the wedding? Or...yeah, I don’t know how he thought that conversation would end.

Either way, look for Johnny Wrestling to do all he can to avoid becoming Johnny Father-In-Law.

Also? New shirts! If I wasn’t against the name of the couple, I’d cop one.

Ridge Holland Finally Gets His Wish

Ridge Holland finally got what he wanted tonight. Timothy Thatcher had his moments, most definitely. but this was the Ridge Holland show. Holland is too strong, too big, and a whole bunch of other adjectives one uses to describe someone who looks like Ridge.

Ironically. the thing that revitalized Holland when Thatcher had him on the ropes, was his hatred for Tommaso Ciampa. Rather than focusing on the pain his reconstructed ankle felt while in a submission, he focused on Ciampa and channeled his rage into a mini shouting match.

One Emerald Flowsion later and it was goodnight, Timothy. Oney Lorcan x Danny Burch, back from the dead, showed up to join in on the reindeer games as Holland, Pete Dunne, Lorcan and Burch issued the standard post-match beatdown on the good guys.

Which is a real shame, because I really wanted to see Holland put that hat back on and stroll to the locker room like a true gentleman.

As a result of the violence, Thatcher is out “indefinitely,” inspiring Pete Dunne and his boys to focus their sights squarely on Ciampa. If only he had a Joseph to watch his back...

Kacy Catanzaro x Kayden Carter Are Looking Past the Competition

Kacy and Kayden made quick work of Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne. Once the two high-flying ladies got the W, they immediately took to the commentary table and reiterated they want a shot at the NXT Women’s Tag titles. Which makes me wonder, what in the name of Wu-Tang is NXT doing with those tag titles? I want to know, and so do Kacy and Kayden.

They barely broke a sweat and once those tag titles come out of timeout, or whoever they are, I hope they get to wear them.

As for the losing team? Mandy Rose, looking like a cult leader, consoled them and told them to come with her if they want to live. Hooray for indoctrination.

Too Much for Her to Bear

You know those matches where someone established is fighting someone who barely gets an entrance? I always feel bad for the person who is clearly cannon fodder. Valentina Feroz played that role tonight as Kay Lee Ray ripped through her like a blow torch through butter. Kay’s dominance in NXT UK makes her a legend, so she needed to make a statement in her first match on Tuesday nights. Consider the statement heard.

Kay Lee Ray toyed with Ms. Feroz until finishing her with a Gory Bomb. Poor, Valentina. Maybe next time?

Here Comes a New Challenger!

Raquel González must feel like the most popular girl in school. First Kay Lee Ray wants a piece of her, now Franky Monet wants some too! Me thinks a triple threat match is in the immediate future.

Diamond Mine is..Doing Stuff

Roderick Strong is doing another open challenge next week. Meh

Surprise, Boa. You Lose!

Boa took his eye off the prize to get directions from Mei Ying, and ate a fist from Xyon Quinn. Sucks to be him. I suppose this is going somewhere. I just hope they let us know where that place is and soon because I’m losing interest.

Monopoly Money Man

Le sigh. So this entire feud between LA Knight and Cameron Grimes over the Million Dollar Championship was all for nothing? Long story short, Grimes returned the belt to Dibiase, only for Dibiase to insist Grimes keep it. Except, it turns out he gave Grimes a replica belt, then cackled off into the Florida night. Nah, this ain’t it.

Grade: A

This was a dope show from top to bottom. I’m not sure how NXT will look in a few weeks—although it will be brighter—but I hope this energy and pace remains. The matches that needed to tell longer stories went long, while the shorter matches served their purpose as well. We even got Kyle O’Reilly into a new feud with Duke Hudson for good measure.

NXT set the table really well coming out of TakeOver 36. As per usual, show Claire some love for her live blog.

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

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