It’s time I change my tune on Von Wagner. Son showed out tonight in his match against Bron Breakker for the NXT championship. Wrestling Bron brought out his best qualities: strength, power, and viciousness. And he’s fast too. Not as fast as Bron, but that’s not a diss. While Bron is, of course, Bron, Von made his own statement during NXT’s opening bout this week. In fact, I understand more about Von’s character from this match than anything prior.
And it all started with a shove.
Von shoved Robert Stone into Bron as soon as the bell rang, showing how cutthroat and ruthless he is, along with how much he wants the championship. A man willing to throw his manager into his opponent just for an advantage is a man with no scruples.
Von dominated Bron during the first act. He targeted Bron’s shoulder and never let up after that initial ambush. Bron eventually came back and the two engaged in a back and forth meaty men meat slap fest worthy of Big E’s adulation.
Beating Bron was never the option here; Von pushed him to his physical limit. Bron’s story now is one of a marked man, taxed by the target on his back. He pushed himself this week, enduring his opponent countering his best moves, slamming him onto steel steps, and dealing with Stone’s annoying behavior.
Eventually, Bron won with a spear but it took a lot out of him. And as he walked to his dressing room, JD McDonagh greeted him with a promise that he’s always lurking. That led to Apollo Crews approaching him with a similar message, while Bron just looked exhausted and exasperated. One wonders how much longer he can keep this going.
Very dope match that got better the longer it went and I dig the story.
Dawn of a New Day
Let’s not bury the lede here: Isla Dawn showed up this week and helped Mandy Rose retain her Women’s championship. Alba Fyre & Mandy put on a violent and intense Last Woman Standing match that used a little psychology with Alba injuring Mandy’s knee. They used ladders, they used metal pipes, they even brawled into the stands. Well, kinda. I wish they did a little more with Mandy’s knee but they only had but so much time. There was a moment where she barely made the 10 count as a result of said knee, but I guess I’m being greedy.
Alba took control late after Superkicking Mandy when the champ leaped from the barricade. Alba then got out her baseball bat and went to town on Rose, then put her on top of the commentary table. Alba climbed the ladder, paused, and felt someone behind her. That someone was Isla Dawn, who spit mist in Alba’s eyes. The champ moved as the challenger fell into the table and the ref counted to 10.
Even without the rest of Toxic Attraction by her side, Mandy reigns supreme. Alba now has another challenge in the form of Dawn, meaning her quest for Mandy’s title is on hold indefinitely.
This was a fun match and a nice way to end the show. Although I’m concerned about what’s left for Mandy. It seems like there’s no one else for her at the moment. At least there’s no one credible. I wonder who they quickly build into her next challenger. Maybe the returning Tiffany Stratton?
The Chariot Rides
And on that note, Apollo vanquished JD in a great match. This was speed and agility vs. speed and agility. The irony there is JD wrestled right into Apollo’s hands. JD didn’t go for his normal submission holds or dissection tricks. Apollo wants a fast paced match with high impact moves, which is what JD gave him in spades.
What turned the tide for Apollo is the power. JD might be as fast as Apollo and he’s definitely as quick, but he’s not as strong. When JD went for the Devil Inside, Apollo countered with his power, turned it into a high knee, and then the two exchanged headbutts and blows. JD went for more finesse jumping from the tippy top rope, while Apollo, once again, countered with power, nailing JD with a one handed spine buster.
Bron walked out, looking his next challenger right in his eyes. But before we get to that, let’s acknowledge what JD and Apollo did this week.
Creed Bros? We Coming For You...
Not finishing that headline but those of you who know the history of Harlem Heat and a noted racist back in their WCW days will get the joke. The now ironic joke. Anyway, Sanga & Veer beat up on two jobbers like they stole their money. The squash displayed just how powerful and athletic these two cats are. I especially loved the way they tagged each other in and out, often locking arms for the tag rather than slapping hands. Just a nice touch.
After taking out the trash, they called out the Brothers Creed. And THAT is something I want to see. The ultimate meaty men slapping meat tag match.
Zoey Stark explained why she turned on Nikkita Lyons last week. Long and short: She got tired of carrying the weight. She took it seriously while Nikkita Lyons, according to Stark, was too busy doing it for the Gram and half asking it. Yes, I’m aware I said Nikkita is half asking it. I stand by that.
I don’t think Zoey is particularly compelling on the microphone. Her delivery leaves a lot to be desired and it just feels scripted way too often. What she’s saying makes 1000 percent sense but how she’s saying it leaves me checking my watch.
Ava Raine showed her worth this week during The Dyad’s tag match against Briggs & Jensen. She’s playing the role Rhea plays for Judgment Day in that she stands in front of men knowing they won’t hit a woman. That bought enough time for the Dyad to take advantage of the match permanently and never gave back the momentum. Kiana James showed up and confronted Fallon Henley, but one might argue it wasn’t necessary. In fact, it wasn’t necessary. The Dyad got the W and looked strong.
Indi Hartwell continued her winning streak, showing some meanness against Tatum Paxley. That’s all you need to know.
Carmelo Hayes and Wes Lee engaged in a battle of wits during their contract signing. Melo is more defined as a character than Wes, so we’re watching him move beyond the “happy to be here” guy or the guy looking for direction. That made the war of words one sided in Melo and Trick’s favor. Especially when Melo said he’s going to “First 48” Wes in front of all these witnesses. Hilarious and cold.
This was a packed edition of NXT. Minus a few backstage segment lulls and Zoey’s promo, everything worked pretty well. The show started strong and ended strong, while the middle didn’t drag. Shawn Michaels’ announcement for NXT Countdown was a little confusing for those of us in the Cageside offices, but maybe we’re just off our games this week.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.