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NXT recap & reactions (Jan. 18, 2022): WALTER enters the chat

Walter Bivens says the ring is a revenue source. WALTER says the ring is sacred. Roderick Strong is stuck in the middle.

Welcome everybody! NXT 2.0 is on your airwaves, so I’m here to talk about what happened on said airwaves. Claire is also here, riding shotgun, with the best blog on the planet. The woman’s typing speed and knowledge of wrestling is unmatched.

So with all that said, let’s talk NXT!


Shoutout to Gunter

I love philosophical differences in my professional sports entertaining wrestling. The Diamond Mine believe the mat is a place to make money. Imperium believe it’s sacred and a place for purity. WALTER believes his crew needs to step up, so why not lead by example and take on Diamond Mine’s top dog? Malcolm Bivens incited this whole thing when he trash talked Imperium to hype up the Creed’s chances in the Dusty Rhodes Classic. WALTER really wants Bivens but, ya know, he’s not a wrestler. So Roderick Strong will have to do.

Can’t talk about the match without mentioning Strong’s hand imprint plastered across WALTER’s chest. Strong, and by extension Bivens, is now a part of the two best matches of the NXT 2.0 era. WALTER is clearly different from Carmelo Hayes. The fact Roddy can wrestle both styles and do it incredibly well, is a testament to everything about the man. With the loss to Melo and now putting over WALTER in a big, big way, Strong might be on his way out. Give him his props while you still can.

This was physical, grueling, and like every WALTER match, a fight. The story was simple: Roderick knew the challenge was stiff, but needed to take advantage of the smallest opening to get the job done. And he almost did it. Whether it was the giant superplex he hit, the multiple charging forearms, or the several times he refused to quit. Strong definitely hit his shots when he could, but they were never enough to but the General down.

More importantly, they were both fighting for the pride of their respective crews. And there’s no love like crew love.

Eventually, after blocking WALTER’s power bomb attempts, Roderick was beaten down too much and couldn’t block the last one. WALTER pinned Roderick in an incredible main event that is hopefully a sign of things to come with Imperium’s leader in NXT 2.0

That thing I said about crew love? The rest of Imperium hit the ring to attack Strong, bringing out what’s left of Diamond Mine. NXT is telegraphing an Imperium vs. Creed Brothers tag team championship match. Based on the pedigree of both teams, and the way the Creed boys showed out this week, I’m down.


Extracurriculars

All Creed. No Apollo

The very first match of the Dusty Rhodes Classic was a brutal match between Briggs x Jensen and the Creed Brothers. They set the tone early when Brutus took a knee to the face that knocked out his mouthpiece. I wear retainers at night and the thought of someone hitting me so hard that one one or both of them go flying is scary. But that’s the flavor of the contest we got. Briggs x Jensen provided the first true test for the Brothers Creed. It’s fitting their first real challenge comes in the opening round of the tournament, and that’s good long form storytelling.

The Brothers got the W after a bit of divide and conquer, smashing Jensen into the steel barrier outside of the ring so hard that it bent, and finishing off Briggs in the ring.

I love tournaments and this was a great way to set it off for the night.

Carmelo, Trick, Tony, Cameron, and the Boys

Trick Williams is a god among men. Dude is in FLORIDA rocking a coat with fur lining. Trick, Melo, and Tony D’Angelo together is pure entertainment. How did we get here? Well, Tony D’Angelo held a funeral service for Pete Dunne’s career. Which probably gives truth to the rumors of Dunne making his way to the main roster any day now.

Anyway, Tony D believes it’s time to reach higher, so the North American Championship is on his list. Melo and Trick were offended. They thought they were boys. Tony listed his boys (Tony the Hat, TJ the Brick), Trick says he knows his boys (Moe, Curly, they’re all skinny like Vic Joseph), and says they’re not ready for Melo. Cameron Grimes made his way to the ring to remind Melo and inform Tony that he wants Melo’s championship. Long story short, Cameron and Tony D will battle for a shot at Melo’s title.

Also, shoutout to Melo for homaging The Rock with his attire and one of the biggest MTV VMA moments in history all in one segment.

This is Chess, not Checkers

First off, LA Knight is pure 1980s. The man belongs in that era of professional wrestling entertainment. His look, the corvette, his build, his music, everything. And I love him for it. The fact WWE Shop doesn’t sell that LA Knight tank is a travesty.

I mention Knight because he started the show with his sights set squarely on everyone’s favorite person, Grayson Waller. After insulting Grayson’s ability to satisfy the ladies, Waller made his way to the ring with a restraining order in hand. The first chess move of the night.

The second? LA telling Waller another man wants a piece of him: Dexter Lumis. Waller had two choices: Rescind the restraining order to fight LA Knight, or deal with Dexter instead. Grayson chose the latter and the two put on a solid opening match. The third chess move of the night came when an unknown bearded big man came to the ring and attacked Lumis. Waller took advantage, got the W, and told the world to say “hi” to his new insurance policy.

Makes all the sense in the world for Waller to hire someone to watch his back and this is an imposing looking cat. Curious to see how LA Knight navigates both the law and a man that big with a beard that thick.

Royal Flush

Dante Chen made his return to NXT tonight, complete with an effective video package. We saw Dante beam about being the first Singapore-born wrestler in WWE, the agony of suffering a knee injury, and his sadness over the recent loss of his father. Heartwarming stuff that makes it easy to cheer for the cat, right? Right.

Just when it looked like a triumphant return was on the horizon, Duke Hudson emerged out of nowhere to assault Dante and his opponent Guru Raaj. Hudson says he’s back, and I’m sure Dante has something to say about that. Maybe it’s because the video package worked, but I want Chen to whoop every inch of Hudson’s ass.

Everybody’s Toxic

Guess what? Kay Lee Ray and Ivy Nile had an okay match. It was Ivy’s biggest match since her arrival and while it wasn’t perfect, it got the job done. My issue is the finish. We know KLR wants Mandy Rose so of course Mandy shows up during this match to distract her would-be challenger. The timing felt a bit off with how we got from Mandy’s distraction to KLR going for another KLR Bomb, to Ivy slipping out of it and getting the win via the quick pin.

Either way, the fun happened post-match when Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayen reappeared! The full force of Toxic Attraction attacked KLR, bringing out Persia Pirotta and Indi Hartwell.

Ladies and gents, it looks like we’re headed for a six-woman tag sooner rather than later.

Bracket Busted (So is Santos’ Head)

Every tournament needs an upset. This week’s Dusty Classic first round match between Legado del Fantasma and Edris Enofe x Malik Blade. The latter team moves on because, well, it’s complicated. Long story short, Santos Escobar quickly regretted poking his nose in Bron Breakker’s business earlier in the show. The NXT Champion attacked Escobar, who had no problem interfering in the match on behalf of his boys, and the distraction was just enough for Blade to get a quick pin.

My only quibble is we just basically saw this same finish in the previous match. Love seeing Enofe and Blade move on, while advancing Escobar’s beef with Breakker on his quest for the title. But wish they switched up the formula a bit here. Like I said, minor quibble.

Bounce Back

Dakota Kai needed this win. Dakota hit a rough patch, and she got in the collective faces of Yulisa Leon and Valentina Feroz earlier in the show. Dakota doesn’t want to see anyone happy because she’s still stinging over her lost friendship with Raquel González. Leon put up a good fight with Dakota putting in a lot of work here and proving her worth once again.


Much better showing this week than last. A tag tournament always helps, we set up a lot of stories and added twists to existing ones, topped by a dope main event and solid wrestling throughout the show. Sure, Joe Gacy and Harland showed their faces and the latter beat up a wounded Odyssey Jones, but nobody is perfect! This was an entertaining two hours.

Grade: A-

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