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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 1, 2022): Trickin’ ain’t easy

NXT starts the new month on the right foot. Mandy Rose? Not so much.

Vengeance Day is coming on strong, and NXT 2.0 is doing its best to be worthy of your affection. Claire, always affectionate, loves you so much she blogs like none other. And I just scribble my thoughts on two hours of television for your entertainment.

Let’s talk NXT!


Dogs of War

Tommaso Ciampa says it’s his mission to ensure Bron Breakker stays NXT champ. While that part I buy, I’m not entirely sure about his motivations. NXT knows we know Ciampa’s history, along with his passion for that championship. Bron might be a little suspicious but maybe not suspicious enough.

That said, the first test of Ciampa’s loyalty came in the form of a tag match with Legado Del Fantasma and, lo and behold, the two of them work really well together. Even against the well-oiled machine of Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza, they represented well. Bron’s improvement as a wrestler, specifically as a storyteller, is a big reason this match works. For most of the match, he took the punishment. Sure, he dished it out because, well, look at him, but Ciampa was the hot tag and got most of the really fun spots. Ciampa even threw Joaquin through the announcer table. Yes, he launched him like a dart and the table exploded. This was a violent match, with Ciampa clearly the most sadistic cat in the ring.

From there, Bron scored the win for his team with his patented military press.

After the match is where things got interesting again. Santos Escobar, not at all distraught over his boys losing, got in Bron’s face. Ciampa looked out of sorts, dismayed even. Ciampa looked disappointed in the young champion. While I was waiting for him to stab Bron in the back. there’s something else going on and I’m not entirely sure what. But I’m interested in finding out. Maybe Tommaso really wants Bron to be better and learn that a king must pick his battles wisely. There’s a time and place for Escobar and it looks like Tommaso doesn’t think this is the that time and definitely not the place. It was subtle character stuff and I dig when wrestling can do that.


The Imperial

Guess what? Imperium is pretty damn good at this wrestling thing. I want to thank Geno for that opening line. The Brothers Creed and Roderick Strong aren’t slouches either, creating a dope opening match this week.

Interestingly, Imperium did all they could to limit Strong’s participation. They took him out of commission before the bell even dinged, which kept his actual match participation to a minimum. Roddy was visibly hurt when he tagged in and did his best. But I mean, c’mon, this is Imperium. Your best needs to be the greatest when you face them.

What does this all mean? Glad you asked.

Imperium doesn’t believe Diamond Mine as a whole is a challenge for them. But they do maybe possibly fear Roddy. That bit of psychology alone meant this was always a tough go for the Mine. Despite how physical the Creeds boys got, it was still a three on two war of attrition for a bit.

Oh, and one of those three was GUNTHER. Yes, NXT crowd, despite your best wishes, that’s still his name.

Eventually we got to GUNTHER vs. Roderick but, again, it was extremely brief. Roddy put GUNTHER down just long enough to tag in a partner. While GUNTHER and Brutus went to work in the ring, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel isolated Julius and what was left of Mr. Strong. One GUNTHER power bomb later, and Imperium walked away with the win.

BUT, keep in mind it was GUNTHER who got the pin here, not Aichner or Barthel. As the Brothers Creed continue in the Dusty Cup, that’s something to remember and hopefully a plot point going forward.


Extracurriculars

Shoot for the Moon...

Carmelo Hayes and Cameron Grimes did the damn thing on the microphone this week. Both of them were comfortable, poised, and believable. Grimes held his own against the fast-talking Trick, made a couple SpongeBob SquarePants jokes, and said he’s taking the title at Vengeance Day.

Trick, who got serious for a moment—he took off his glasses!—looked dead in Grimes’ eyes, and told him “I really am that guy. I am him.” Followed by the killer: “I’m gonna shoot for the moon and take the stars as casualties.”

Even Cameron respected that one with a nodding approval and nothing but silence as a response.

The segment wasn’t here for a long time, but it was a good time.

Nowhere to Hide

I love running storylines throughout a show. I believe every wrestling program needs a spine to guide it and us through the runtime. That came in the form of Kay Lee Ray and Mandy Rose this week. The former challenged the latter to a championship match very early in the program. Mandy refused. KLR kidnapped Gigi and Jacy Jayne—it’s NXT, of course she did—only to double back to the arena solo and stalk the Women’s champ for the rest of the night.

They went into the men’s locker room, much to the delight of Malik Blade and Edris Enofe, complete with a high school penis joke. Then we got them in that NXT dining area, where KLR dumped a bowl of spaghetti on the champ’s head.

The torture continued to the very end of the show when the two made their way ringside, and KLR finally got her wish. Next week, it’s her vs. Mandy Rose for the title. And when it was all said and done, the final shot of the night was Mandy getting a superkick for her troubles.

While I still have no idea why they have Enofe and Blade lusting after Mandy and the rest of her crew, and I rolled my eyes at the erection joke, I liked this. Mandy is nothing without her girls by her side, and KLR showed she’s nothing to f*ck with. More importantly, both women know their roles and play them really well.

No Shopping for You

Tiffany Stratton has beef with Wendy Choo. Why? Because she thinks Wendy is a freak who doesn’t belong. Tiff used Daddy’s credit card to bribe Amari Miller into a match against Choo, with a shopping spree as her ultimate prize.

Despite the reasoning for the match, it was pretty damn good! Wendy and Amari have nice chemistry and made the most of their minutes.

You watch wrestling so you know how this ended. Wendy won and snatched Daddy’s credit card for a shopping spree of her own.

Did We Just Become Best Friends?

Raquel González defeated Cora Jade in a match the latter didn’t need to win. The point was to show enough fight to earn Raquel’s respect. Raquel gave her young opponent the chance to back out but nah. Cora asked for the fight and is a woman of her word. As we all learned from The Matrix Reloaded, you never truly know someone until you fight them.

It was an okay match. Cora played the role of fly while Raquel was often the windshield. Raquel was probably having some wardrobe issues as well because we lost the picture a few times only to come back to Ms. González fixing her top. Props to both women for working through that and getting the job done.

At the end of the day, these two will formally enter the Women’s Dusty Cup.

Yeah...Nah

LA Knight, thanks to Grayson Waller and his muscle, took an L from Joe Gacy. Prior to Waller and Sanga and Waller’s attack, Knight and Gacy were having a pretty good match. Two big guys slugging it out is sometimes all I need. Damn you, Waller.

But this was the right move to move this story forward, give Gacy a cheap win, and get more heat on Waller and Sanga. Next week, if Knight defeats Sanga, then Waller might lift the restraining order.

Who knew the justice system was so loose?

Ain’t No Sunshine

Sarray made her triumphant return this week. Also, she’s apparently magic now? I really don’t like the gimmick because Japanese magic girl reeks of a stereotype. But I’m also not going to let that blind me from in-ring action.

It wasn’t the most interesting or exciting match, but it made Sarray look very strong and reintroduced her to the crowd.

No More Games

Duke Hudson is done playing with us. They managed to use his haircut as part of character progression. He’s focused on making his own luck now rather than leaving thing to chance. Great work moving him forward and incorporating his past gimmick rather than pretending it didn’t happen. Take note, people working with Damian Priest.

The Chase

So this was weird. We got a vid package about Draco Anthony. We got his background, his vision for the future, and why he’s in NXT. Then he loses his match with Andre Chase. I didn’t think much of the match, but the ending perplexed me. Although Chase challenged Wagner when it was over so that’s a thing we’re getting.

Here Come’s the Money

Robert Stone has deep pockets. And in those pockets is a lot of money, which he has no problem forking over to pay Von Wagner’s fines. I wish he wouldn’t. Stone says Wagner is the future of WWE. If that’s true, we are in the darkest timeline.

Interesting

Nikkita Lyons is almost ready for primetime. Specifically, 8 p.m. on Tuesday nights. In my purely professional opinion, she looks fantastic. And she can carry a tune since it looks like they’re going with a musician gimmick. But the rapping part? Yeah, nah. Let’s get rid of that ASAP.


A LOT happened on NXT this week. Vengeance Day is taking shape, the Women’s Dusty Cup is filling out, Pete Dunne and Tony D’Angelo are headed to the cage, and personalities are getting filled out. I had low expectations for these two hours but I was pleasantly surprised. Good show.

Grade: B+

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