NXT is bringing a lot of favorites home this week. It’s almost as if something big is happening in wrestling that they’re aware of and want to look good for a reason. Hmm. Not sure. Anyway, Geno is manning the blog this week. He’s not Claire but he’ll do.
Let’s talk NXT!
He Bleeds. We Can Kill Him
Anyone coming at Bron Breakker looks for the weakness. The glitch in his system that gives them an opening for the W. Ilja Dragunov believes he found it when he accidentally headbutt Bron last week. Sure, it wasn’t meant for Bron, but he’s glad it happened. It showed him Bron is mortal.
The fact that we’re here where these two are at odds shows that JD’s plan is working, a fact Kevin Owens pointed out while the three men guested on The KO Show. KO is a human so he’s put off by McDonagh’s creepiness. Even during the segment, JD just creeped everyone out through his presence alone. Got to me too and I wasn’t even there.
You watch wrestling so you know how this goes. Eventually, everyone involved fought, despite the fact KO told them to chill. When does anyone ever listen to that in wrestling? JD watched for a bit while the two fought—clearly foreshadowing for Halloween Havoc—but eventually got involved in the action. Well, rather the action involved him.
But none of that is the big story here. None of the interesting character work between the three men or KO’s comedy is the cliffhanger for NXT’s next big event. No, that honor belongs to Austin Theory.
Theory showed up, briefcase in hand, hinting at cashing in that contract for the NXT championship. That makes all the sense in the world based on Theory’s last couple weeks on Raw, plus the fact he’s not beating Roman Reigns at any point between now and WrestleMania. Dragunov, the last man standing in the ring, held the belt high and acted as if Theory didn’t exist. Which is fitting based on the way both men portray their respective characters and how other wrestlers respond to them.
It’s a nice wrinkle going into Halloween Havoc and truly makes one wonder if Bron’s time as champion is up. There are now four threats for his title and those aren’t great odds.
The best segment of the night by far.
Overpowering Rhea Ripley was never an option for Roxanne Perez. Being smarter and quicker than Ripley was the name of the game if she wanted any chance at getting a W. And for a brief moment, she was. Rhea dominated most of the match through sheer force. It was the typical David and Goliath story. Of course, in this version, Goliath came equipped with Dominik and the rest of the Judgment Day. That was the difference in the match.
Now, on an analytical leve, which is why I’m here, WWE put themselves in a bind. Rhea Ripley can't lose to anyone in NXT, much less Roxanne. But Roxanne can’t look weak going into Halloween Havoc. Logic says a finish filled with shenanigans is in the cards. But that’s not exactly what we got here. Dom distracted Roxanne but he didn’t really interfere. Sure, the distraction proved fatal as Perez took her eye off her opponent and caught a Rip Tide, but a distraction isn’t actual interference. A DQ finish makes perfect sense in this scenario but that’s not what we got. Rather than looking like a competitor who gave it her all but got outnumbered, Roxanne looks like a competitor not smart enough to keep her attention squarely on her opponent.
But There’s More...
Cora Jade vs. Raquel Rodriguez got the finish I wanted for Roxanne vs. Rhea. Cora baited Raquel into striking her with the kendo stick, the ref rang the bell, and Roxanne attacked her rival, who basked in the glory of her cheap W. It was fun seeing Roxanne get her hands on Cora if only for a little bit.
Shinsuke Nakamura came back to NXT for at least one night. And it’s all thanks to Tony D’Angelo. Nakamura served as Stacks’ punishment. And yeah, it was a punishment. The Don made a meal out of the fact Stacks went down after two Kinshasas, but that’s also kinda not true. the first knocked Stacks out of the ring, while the second came when Stacks accepted the inevitable.
Got That Fire
So, as I always say: Stay away from abduction angles, NXT. Mandy Rose showed up this week after Alba Fyre abducted her a couple weeks ago. We got no explanation, no reasoning, or no real resolution. Just Mandy saying Alba made the wrong move abducting her. What? That’s it?
At that point, Alba beat back the rest of Toxic Attraction and Sonya Deville, then tangled with Mandy. Something about this feud just isn’t working for me and Alba, who felt like a threat for this championship months ago, now seems like another bump in the road.
As for the match between Sonya and Alba, it was okay. But just not enough time. That’s always a detriment to shows this packed.
Speaking of quick! Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams faced Wes Lee & Oro Mensah in a tag match that seemingly lasted all of 5 minutes. It really was a blink and you missed it bout that started in the locker room and ended in quick fashion in the ring. But the point wasn’t the match itself; the point was bringing the ladder match competitors together in a ball of chaos. And that’s what we got after the bell rung.
While the “match” did nothing for me, I’m still high on this ladder match.
The six-man tag was a lot of fun and really dope. The O.C. joined Cameron Grimes—for a fee—against The Schism. Grimes worked beautifully with Gallows & Anderson. so much so that they looked like a veteran three-man group. We got smooth interactions, fluid teamwork, and a good contrast in styles. The Schism performed well too, which makes it shameful they’re trapped behind this current gimmick. Although, commentary hit on something very interesting for Joe Gacy: He despises Grimes because he can’t control him. Gacy feeds off easily manipulated minds and lost souls. Finding someone who is neither is his kryptonite. I like that a whole lot and hope we get more of it.
The O.C., of course, picked up the W for their team because no one is showing up from the main roster and taking an L this week.
The Host with the Most...and a Tank
Shotzi is your Halloween Havoc host. Thought you should know. Oh and Chucky will be there too. I promise you. And Quincy Elliot is her co-host thanks to a pretty commanding victory over Xyon Quinn. Quinn kept using his power in vain on Elliot, who is just too much for that. Quincy, either because of the last name or the attire, really reminded me of old school Missy Elliot this week. I appreciated that very much.
And Hank is still in Quinn’s business. So yeah, that’s a thing happening very soon.
This was a very average edition of NXT. Especially for a go home show. While they definitely set the stage for Halloween Havoc, there were a lot of balls in the air that created a very hard juggling act. At times, it just wasn’t compelling television. Doesn’t mean it was a bad show, but just a little below average. However, it didn’t damper my hopes for Halloween Havoc at all. So that’s a plus.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.