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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 22, 2022): Oochie Wally or is it One Mic?

Dolph Ziggler defeats Tommaso Ciampa with a little help, Carmelo Hayes is in trouble, and the women tag teams get dusty.

NXT 2.0 is in your world! Welcome back my friends to the party that never ends...unless Vince decides to do so on a whim.

I’m your host this evening and filling in for Claire, my normal broadcast colleague, is Sean Reuter! So so Sean some love in the play-by-play blog and then come back here for a summation and my thoughts.

Let’s talk NXT!

Show Off Survives

Dolph Ziggler is a really good wrestler. That’s not earth-shattering news but he got a chance to remind everyone this week in the NXT main event. Ziggler and Tommaso Ciampa put on one of the best matches of the year so far. One man wanted to embarrass his opponent while the other wanted to defend their turf. Ziggler was the aggressor while Ciampa was on the defensive. Well, his version of defense, which is still pretty damn violent.

Ziggler started the contest with a lot of headlocks. Besides grounding Ciampa, this was also his way to make a mockery of the man. Ziggler never believed mat wrestling Ciampa was the way to win. He did believe it was the best way to make Ciampa his son, talk trash to the crowd, and get in Tommaso’s head.

Ciampa, seemingly realizing he was on defense, found his groove with a stiff knee to Ziggler’s head that knocked the former champion outside of the ring. From that point on, it was dead even, with each man gaining or trading the advantage. Dolph goes for a superkick that Ciampa counters into a powerbomb (dope sequence), while Dolph later hits a Zig Zag on the outside of the ring, hoping to get a count out victory over the former NXT champ.

Like I said, it was back and forth with neither man wanting to give ground. But here’s the thing: Did Ciampa really think Dolph showed up to NXT without a plan? Like he really wanted to leave Florida without the W? After all the trash he popped before the match, or even to start the show, he has to win this match and any match he has in NXT.

Bron Breakker offered to have Ciampa’s back earlier but Ciampa seemed uninterested. Of course, that’s the thing that bit him in the ass.

As the match progressed, it looked like they were finally done trading blows and Ciampa was in full control. Both men fought on the apron to a standstill until Ciampa hit an Air Raid Crash. After rolling Ziggler’s lifeless body back into the ring, Ciampa was mere seconds from getting the victory until a cameraman attacked him! Shock! Saboteur! Who could it be?

None other than Big Bob himself. Bobby Roode made his way back to NXT to have his partner’s back because duh. One superkick later and Ziggler not only has a victory over Ciampa, but possibly a future championship match with Bron Breakker.

Rather than celebrate his unethical victory, Ziggler, along with Roode, stuck it to Tommaso with a bunch of post match fisticuffs. Bron made the save and challenged the Dirty Dawgs to a tag match next week. The show faded to black as all four men chose violence for this week rather than wait until next.

Like I said, this was a great match with the right ending and a perfect setup for more. Bron and Tommaso continue their uneasy alliance, while Dolph does everything in his power to rule the NXT roost and put his money where all of his very fancy words—and bad Wilt Chamberlain jokes—reside.

Ciampa and Dolph both want what Bron has. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a classic wrestling trope that most companies can do in their sleep. Since we know sleep is WWE’s numero uno enemy, this should be easy for them to do really well.


Pyrrhic Victory

LA Knight finally got his hands on Grayson Waller this week. The only problem? Well, a very large one outside of the ring in the form of Sanga. Why, you ask? Well I’ll tell you.

Knight and Waller started very even but then Grayson controlled most of the match. It showed just how sad it is that he cheats and is a genuinely awful person. The kid has the moves and can get busy with the best of them. So, yeah, like any heel, he just has to do whatever extra to gain an advantage even though he has the ability to win any match fairly and squarely.

Once the tables turned and Knight found his mojo, Grayson resorted to his usual tricks. Sanga interfered when Knight went for the B.F.T., allowing Grayson to score the W on a rollup and with a handful of tights. Of course Knight managed to hit the B.F.T. on Sanga and Grayson in the post match chicanery, but folks, this feud isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.

Views from the Toxic Lounge

Yup, Toxic Attraction have their own ringside lounge. Mandy Rose and friends looked on as Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray faced Lash Legend and Amari Miller in the Dusty Cup quarterfinals. First off, a Lash Legend sighting! Secondly, not sure why it wasn’t Lash and Amari vs. Wendy Choo and Dakota Kai since Wendy was a little in her feelings about Amari picking someone else as her partner.

But I digress. I wish this matched lasted longer. What we got was pretty good in a short amount of time, but that’s also the breaks of having a two hour show that packs a lot in 120 minutes. KLR and Io advanced because, well, they got a televised entrance and their opponents didn’t.

Trick or Treat?

Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams came out to talk a good game. Skeet Pete Dunne and Cameron Grimes came to walk a great game. Trick Williams said the only way to get to the A Champ is through him, so Cameron Grimes excepted his offer.

For a guy wrestling in church shoes, Trick did a damn fantastic job. This was all Grimes though, with Trick getting some offense, including a pretty dope pump kick. But Grimes wasn’t losing to a man in church shoes. Trick took his eye off Grimes as Grimes was at the top turnbuckle, and he never saw the splash coming. That was the prelude to the Cave In and just like that, Grimes has a W over Williams, much to the chagrin of Hayes.

Oochie Wally or One Mic?

Look, I’m a complicated man but the simple things get me happy. Malcolm Bivens randomly throwing Hip-Hop phrases and slang into his promos? Gets me happy. Malcolm Bivens throwing in a line from one of the greatest Hip Hop battles in history? I almost fainted. For those of you unfamiliar with the bolded reference, Bivens was referring to the seemingly contradictory messages from Imperium. Are they really about that action and defending the titles or do they want to duck and hide since their last title defense was weeks ago? Are they really ready for a fight or do they want to continue hiding behind “Gunna”? These are important questions that need answering.

Imperium—with GUNTHER in tow—made their way to the ring to meet the Brothers Creed and their manager. Before GUNTHER got his hands on a very scared Bivens, Solo Sikoa stepped in to make good on his word from last week. YOU GOT THE JUICE NOW, UCE!

Look, the segment got me the minute Bivens uttered that Jay-Z line, so I’m happy with everything I saw and heard.

Nikkita La Femme

Nikkita Lyons made her in-ring debut this week and she was pretty damn good. I’m doing my best to keep my *ahem* other opinions about her to myself because this is a family site. But yes, Nikkita did her thing, looked very impressive, and even the Sonya Blade cosplay wasn’t enough to stop her. She showcased her power, agility, and...yup that’s the end of that sentence. Go, Nikkita!

Dusty Quarter Part Deux

I really thought this match would go longer. Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro faced Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley and it was okay but, again, short. The two women representing Diamond Mine eventually found their footing and delivered a couple tandem moves to get a brief advantage over the their opponents.

The match turned when Ivy tagged herself out for a double team move that didn’t get the victory. Ivy got launched out of the ring after a breakup of the pin attempt leaving Tatum to fend for herself. Yeah, that didn’t go well. Carter and Catanzaro will face Io Sharai and KLR in the semifinals.

Ivy wasn’t happy about the loss, going to work on Paxley after the match only to get called off by Roderick Strong. Curious and curiouser.

The Duke (Not that One)

Dante Chen came out with fire in his belly like a young Baryshnikov. But apparently it takes more than belly fire to beat Duke Hudson. Even after getting attacked during his entrance, Hudson found a second wind against the young cat he wronged with habitual line stepping. Everything went south for Chen with one big boot from Hudson. It was academic from there.

I think the point of this match was to, obviously get Duke over as a heel against someone sympathetic. Hopefully Chen gets more time to shine as well. All that said, this was a fine match that accomplished its goals.

This was a good show! Minus the silly dating app stuff with Jensen and Briggs, everything moved and had a larger purpose. An uneasy alliance between the Diamond Mine and Solo Sikoa was teased, Dusty Cup semifinals were set, and we got not one but two rap references in the same show.

A good first step on the road to Stand and Deliver, which comes to us live on the longest wrestling day of the year. But that pain is for later. For now? Props to you, NXT 2.0.

Grade: B+

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

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