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NXT recap & reactions (Sept. 28, 2021): Checking the boxes

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A draft on the horizon? Titles up for grabs? NXT had a lot to do this week but how successful were they?

NXT 2.0—never forget that part—said hi to us this week from the same place it normally does. How would the rainbow brand handle its last show before the upcoming draft? You’ll have to keep reading to find out, but also check out every word Claire types because you need it in your life.

Let’s talk NXT!


Raquel Stands Alone

Raquel González is a solo act now. She knew that going into her championship defense against Franky Monet, who walks to the ring with Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea not far behind. Her choice to get her Batista on and “walk alone” makes sense going up against these three because they’re sold as more of a comedy act than actual threats.

But what if it came back to bite her?

Raquel and Franky put on a good championship match, with the challenger surprising me and showing she was formidable. This isn’t saying the champ was ever in real jeopardy of losing, but Franky showed enough to make me wonder why she even went to NXT. Franky is ready for primetime, so hopefully the draft gets her there.

The match’s ending came out of nowhere for me, but there were timing and pacing issues all night with the show. Of course, it was also to set up the true ending.

With Franky and her crew vanquished, Raquel quickly found out her next challenger is Mandy Rose 2.0. Mandy and the rest of Toxic Attraction jumped Franky, Robert, and Jessi, then cornered the champ in the ring. Raquel, knowing exactly what was about to happen, threw the first punch. Great idea, but she didn’t throw the last one.

As the show ended, Rose got her hands on the Women’s championship and raised it high in the air. Earlier in the evening, she told the champ that the belt would look better on her. And you know what? I agree.


Not Toxic Enough

Toxic Attraction (Gigi Dolin x Jayce Jayne) got their shot at the NXT Women’s Tag titles this week. Would Io Sharai x Zoey Stark get along long enough to defend?

Yeah, turns out they could.

I wish I liked this match more than I do. In the end, the champs took all the toxic they could handle and survived to tell the tale. Their experience triumphed over any momentum the challengers had going in.

The decision to keep the belts on the champs doesn’t quite make sense. The tag titles around the waists of Io and Zoey feel stuck. Toxic Attraction got a big promo last week and were heavily featured. Why not give them the titles and let them run with it? Io is ready for the “main roster” and we’ve reached the storyline conclusion of this story of two champs who aren’t friends but great business partners. As the French say, “le boo.”


Extracurriculars

Indi & Dexter’s Honeymoon in Miami

This week, we were treated to two segments of the honeymoon to end all honeymoons. And I was...bored. Which is weird, because I normally love everything they do with Indi and Dexter. The problem is we’re hitting the same beats: Indi and Dexter doing things adults do, while Johnny plots to keep them both away from each other. It was funny when they were dating, but now that they’re married, it’s kinda sad.

Also, not for nothing, but we need to hit another gear with this story rather than playing out the same beats. Just because it’s happening on a beach doesn’t make it different than when it happened at a restaurant several weeks ago.

Elektra Delivers Better than the Post Office

We kicked off the show with a No DQ match between Elektra Lopez x B-FAB. This round in the war between Hit Row and Legado Del Fantasma went to Ms. Lopez, as she was just more vicious than Hit Row’s First Lady. Lopez did a crossbody through a chair. If she didn’t win after that, then there is no God.

This match was a little stilted. Lopez and B-FAB are still a little rough around the edges and this was the best way to hide that.

Bron Breakker’s Steiner Math says He's Next

NXT escalated the obvious tension between Bron Breakker and Tommaso Ciampa. Breaker got a succinct video package showing off his character and telling everyone what his goal is: the NXT Championship.

Meanwhile, the champ FaceTimed with the commentators—and us—with Goldie in tow to say the Bron Breakker bandwagon—say that three times fast— needs to pump its brakes. Ciampa likes the kid but doesn’t think he’s ready.

We’ll see where this goes but with NXT’s new direction, Bron is getting Goldie sooner rather than later.

Roderick Strong Does it His Way

For the first time in a few weeks, Roderick Strong got a win without the Diamond Mine interfering. Seriously, they were right there at ringside and didn’t do a thing. Ironically, this was probably the time for them to interject because Grayson Waller, in his first match on NXT 2.0, gave Strong all the work he could handle. Roderick controlled most of the match, sure, but Strong’s burst of energy and risk-taking gave him the upper hand towards the end.

Sadly for the challenger, that just wasn’t enough to beat the vet.

Good match that showcased Waller’s talent and gave Strong a *ahem* strong win.

Kyle O’Reilly Has a New Friend

For a few weeks, Ridge Holland and Pete Dunne were gigantic thorns in the side of one Kyle O’Reilly. This week, Kyle finally got his chance to take on the man with WWE’s best hat. Kyle, doing what all wrestlers in grudge matches should do, attacked Holland before the bell rang.

Kyle’s pit bull energy stayed at 11 the entire match, even when Holland slowed the match down to exert his power. Holland had to know Kyle wouldn’t quit, but he persisted in trying the old ways.

Pete Dunne tried to interfere, but that provided Kyle the opening he needed to win with a rollup. Quicker than you can say “winner, winner,” Dunne and Holland went to work on Kyle, proving they’re the sorest of sore losers. Von Wagner came to Kyle’s rescue again, setting up the obvious tag match between the four men in the future.

Xyon Quinn All Day, Everyday

This was a quick match establishing Quinn as a powerhouse who is proud of his Samoan heritage. Lorcan was a formidable challenge, but Quinn’s explosiveness was too much for him to handle.

You Down with MSK?

Everybody wants a piece of MSK. Just a short-ish segment where several teams, including Grizzled Young Veterans and Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams, flirted with challenging the champs. Did they resolve their differences with a debate? Or calm like adults? Of course not. A brawl broke out with the promise of more to come. MSK wants to take on everybody and don’t care who gets first dibs.

Joe Gacy. Sigh...

This could be good. I just don’t trust WWE to do this type of character in a thoughtful and nuanced way. Instead, they’ll just make fun of people who think like this rather than inverting the personality and showing the sinister side of Gacy’s particular brand of millennial progressiveness. Sigh.

Long Lashes

Lash Legend debuted her talk show, “Lashing Out with Lash Legend.” I love the idea and the presentation was different. I figured we’d get a wrestling talk show but no, we got an actual talk show. Well, a faux actual talk show. The best part, even though it was a reach, was Lash using a story about the upcoming draft to talk about her college basketball success and brief WNBA career.

Lash is a different character for WWE, and perfect for NXT 2.0. If she can keep doing this and really find her footing, it might be a must-see segment. As it stands now, it was a good break in a show that’s very paint-by-numbers,

Wrestling in a Sweater Never Helps

Boa FINALLY got a W. And he needed it because Mei Ying was probably going to kill him if kept taking home Ls. Andre Chase, coming off of last week’s hilarious segment, couldn’t do anything against whatever was in the smoke Ying blew in his face.

A quick entertaining match that got Ying out of the dog house and continued Chase’s streak of having so much bark and the bite of someone with dentures.


Going to keep it all the way real with you, people: this was a boring show. There were moments that got my attention, but I found myself mentally drifting for most of it. We got several backstage segments and more character vignettes, which are necessary. And good things to do because we need to establish these characters. But none of it, including most of the matches tonight, had a sense of urgency. This was a stilted and disjointed show from the start, and just wasn’t fun to watch.

Grade: C-

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