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NXT recap & reactions (Sept. 14, 2021): I now pronounce you 2.0

NXT’s favorite couple starts their new journey on the same night the brand gets a fresh start.

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Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages! Welcome to the Capital Wrestling Center WWE Performance Center brightly-lit home of NXT 2.0! I don’t know about you, but when I look at that logo and that arena, I think of Zumba pants and the mid-1990s. The show looks more like an independent wrestling promotion now than it did before, which is certainly a choice.

The weirdest thing about the show is the “NXT 2.0” title and constant references. It doesn’t make sense, it’s weird branding, and once again, evokes the ‘90s. Do you remember dial-up modems, parachute pants, and cassette decks? NXT 2.0 remembers.

Not sure if Claire remembers any of that but do yourself a favor and follow her blog.

Let’s talk NXT...2.0. Ugh.

The Greatest Love of All-Time

Let’s not bury the lede: Dexter Lumis spoke.

I saw it with my own two eyes and heard it with my ears. While he didn’t have much to say by way of vows—a thumbs up goes a long way apparently—he did muster the brain power to say “I do.” It was a great payoff and character moment, while also proving me wrong in the process.

Anyone who reads this space on the regular knows I believed this wedding was doomed because it’s wrestling. Also, that was the buildup right? Nope.

The story wasn’t building to an end of Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis, or even a fight between Dexter and Johnny “Daddy” Gargano. This was was all about Dexter’s development as a character. He showed human characteristics, made two genuine connections, and finally spoke. The fact that his first words were inspired by the woman he loves is pretty profound and beautiful. And yeah, it’s silly too because it’s wrestling.

The wedding was worth the wait and every single minute NXT spent on it. I don’t drink but I’ll gladly put a glass of tea or water in the air for the happy couple. Especially because the groom carries an axe in his jacket and I don’t want that type of static.

Goldie Comes Home

For those of you late to the party, Samoa Joesph relinquished the NXT Championship due to injury. What injury? The world may never know, but his absence means the numero uno contender Fatal 4-Way turned into a coronation match for a new ruler of the NXT 2.0 roost.

Would it be former Million Dollar Champion LA Knight? Or perhaps Pete Dunne? Would Tommaso Ciampa get to finish a story that was so rudely interrupted due to injury all those years ago? Or would Kyle O’Reilly finally get the gold around his waist?

Yeah, about that last option. Earlier in the night, Dunne and Ridge Holland rushed Kyle like it was Black Friday and he was a Walmart security guard. With Kyle out of commission and a main event spot open, we got the new cat Von Wagner. Intrigue, right?

It was clear from the opening bell this night belonged to Ciampa. He had the best story going in, and did everything he could to make a four-way dance into a one-on-one competition with anyone in his way. He was also the most focused. Pete Dunne clearly had Kyle on the brain, LA Knight had issues earlier in the night that we’ll get to later, and yeah, the new guy wasn't winning. This was a match built around one man’s determined to do anything in his power to get back what he never loss.

Each contestant had moments of domination. LA Knight and Dunne both hit their finishers but alas, it’s hard to win a match when at least two other men have enough strength to break up pins.

Like I said, this was Ciampa’s night. Eventually, the Fatal 4-Way devolved into what most Fatal 4-Ways devolve into, which is chaos. Wagner was out cold on the floor, and Ciampa was recovering on the outside from a vicious German Suplex courtesy of Dunne. Dunne, always too arrogant for his own good, decided that was the time to go to the top rope and put the finishing touches on Ciampa.

However, his arrogance and hatred for Ciampa blinded him to the fact LA Knight was right there for the taking in the corner of the ring. Knight, always the opportunist, made him pay for that oversight.

Knight ran to the top rope with blood leaking out his forehead and hit a superplex. Before he could even turn around to go for a pin, in came Wagner, who looked prime to steal the title on his first night in the big (?) leagues.

Remember how I said this night was all about Ciampa? He waited in the wings on the outside, hit Wagner harder than a bolt of lightning to break up the pin, and put an already dazed and confused LA Knight to sleep with the Fairytale Ending to become the first champion of NXT 2.0

A solid match, clearly setting up Ciampa as the standard bearer for the Rainbow brand—farewell black and gold—while setting up Wagner as someone to reckon with down the line. LA Knight took two pins in one night, leaving him wandering aimlessly right now. Dunne, on the other hand, has a date with Kyle because vengeance is always on the menu in wrestling.


Speaking of the ‘90s...

NXT 2.0—no, I will not stop thinking this is a stupid name—set it off with LA Knight x Rex Steiner Brown Breaker in a contest because of the former’s arrogance. Breaker wanted to say hi, LA Knight was in no mood for pleasantries on the night of his big main event match, so yeah, they wrestled.

Breaker’s spot here feels like a thesis statement for NXT 2.0. He is the type of cat WWE wants to develop going forward, complete with a name and look straight out of 1995. His upset win over Knight in the opening match of the night, along with the closing credit stare down with the Champion Ciampa, speak louder than any words ever could.

She Be Fabulous

Peak behind the curtain, but Fabolous ruined me and an entire generation. I misspelled “fabulous” all because I have his voice in my head.

B-FAB made her in-ring debut beating up on Katrina Cortez. Looks like she’s going with the Rude Awakening as her finisher, which fits her frame, style, and character really well. The match didn’t last long enough to get a feel for her in the ring though, so the jury is still at least somewhat out on that regard.

We did get yet another tease of her and Elektra Lopez going one-on-one though. The interaction ended abruptly, but they need to do this thing sooner than later because for me, this feud is starting to lose its juice.

Bout It Bout It?

First off, shoutout to Master P. NXT 2.0 is clearly all about the ‘90s tonight.

Carmelo Hayes introduced Trick Williams to the world as his backup since he’s got a target on his back. After exchanging pleasantries built around late ‘90s slang, Williams told his partner he needs an attitude adjustment.

No more humility, no more letting stuff slide or being happy to be here. Hayes agrees and as the two leave the ring, Duke Hudson came out for reasons. Hudson disrespected Hayes, which prompted Trick to use the incident as a teachable moment.

Trick and Carmelo jumped Hudson, which on its face, is a very heel thing to do. Sure, we don’t like Hudson, but he didn’t really do anything other than talk a little trash to the guy who beat him. After the two on one beatdown, they posed for the crowd.

In the end, still don’t know why Duke came to the ring, nor do we know who Carmelo plans to challenge—or when he plans to issue said challenge—and he looks kinda like a jerk? I wasn’t feeling it.

Mandy Rose 3.0

I looked away for a second during the Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne x Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter match and it turned into six-woman tag.

After a couple moves Mandy Rose 3.0 debuted, now with black hair and different shades of makeup. But, she’s also packing a new attitude, which I’m a fan of. Before the numbers game got the best of Kacy & Kayden, Sarray came out to even the odds. As a result, we got a fun three-on-three tag match with Rose’s new attitude as the focal point. She dominated the match for the most part, showing grit and viciousness I didn’t know she had.

Rose pinned Carter after the latter took her eyes off the prize. Clearly this isn’t over between these six women as Sarray and her Tik Tok teammates need to adjust their strategy to deal with this new incarnation of Ms. Rose and Toxic Attraction.

Diamond Mine Is All About No Carbs Since ‘05

NXT did a lot of things here: Continued pushing the Creed Brothers as a dominant tag team, introduced Ivy Nile as the newest member of the Diamond Mine, and finally set the cruiserweight championship match between Kushida and Roderick Strong.

Looking forward to the match, the Creed boys look legit, and Ivy is swole AF. Also, the woman is carb-free since 2005. Give her props for that alone.

The Imperial

To paraphrase Wade Barrett, some things in NXT will remain the same, no matter how many numbers are in its title. And Imperium dominating tag teams is one of those things. Fabian and Marcel disposed of Brooks Jensen x Josh Briggs with the quickness. After their loss to MSK a couple weeks ago, they need to earn back some street cred in sweat. This was a good start.

The Man w/ the Black Hat x The Man w/ the Plan

Drake Maverick thought he was the smartest man in the world on the most recent edition of Raw. Well, that was then. Doesn’t look too bright today as Ridge Holland ran through him quicker than that stampede Mufasa fell into. Not sure what we’re doing here...

An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse

Let’s keep this short and sweet: I don’t trust WWE to handle Tony D’Angelo’s character with any type of care. The Italian stereotype from Chicago with a family in waste management who sounds ike he’s from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Yup, this is a thing now.

This was a weird show for obvious reasons. A lot happened, even if it felt disjointed. We got a mix of NXT vets and new kids on the block. The hope is we learn to care for them as much as we care for the stalwarts. Maybe this is the formula going forward or maybe this was just for the night. Either way, NXT 2.0 is a work in progress.

But Indi and Dex got married and that’s really all that matters.

Grade: B

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

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