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NXT recap & reactions (March 15, 2022): Raw 2.0

More like Tuesday Night Raw, amirite?

Dudes and dudettes, welcome to another week of NXT 2.0! My co-host Claire always has you covered with the best blog this side of Sneads Seed and Feed (Formerly Chuck’s) while I’m ready to opine on what it all means to the larger picture.

Let’s talk NXT!


Good Knight

Something rubs me the wrong way when cats from Raw come to NXT 2.0 and dismiss the talent. Maybe it’s supposed to, but it just feels weird for Dolph Ziggler and Miz to dump on LA Knight for his lack of stardom or main event experience. Knight and Ziggler’s beef started simmering a few weeks ago (trust me, it happened) and Knight finally talked himself into a match with the new NXT champ. Knight’s logic? Bron Breakker isn’t around this week since he was sent home, he has no problem taking the former NXT champ’s spot.

Props to Dolph Ziggler. Since showing up in NXT, Dolph displayed his versatility every week. His match with Knight was nothing like the triple threat last week, which was nothing like the match with Tommaso Ciampa the week before. Knight proved he can go with one of the best in the game and on any other night, the championship might be his. But it’s always a great thing when wrestling shows pay attention to details. Last week, LA took a beating during the Last Man Standing match, and his ribs were worst for wear. Early in this matchup with Dolph, that injury came back to haunt him.

Knight went for high impact moves like Powerbombs, jumping elbows, and even a Superplex. All of them taxed his ribs, punishing him with each amount of punishment he dealt to his opponent. This also telegraphed a Knight loss, giving him an easy out for taking the L while making him look good in defeat.

Ziggler didn’t beat Knight so much as Knight kept fighting uphill. After blocking a Zig Zag by holding onto the top turnbuckle, Knight charged like a bull towards a dazed Dolph. Dolph moved at the last moment, Knight crashed those injured ribs into the turnbuckles, and ate a Superkick for his troubles. Like I said, Ziggler merely survived and outlasted an injured man.

Remember when I said Bron was sent home? Yeah, about that. During the match, Bron pulled up, showing an absolute disregard for NXT rules. Once the main event was over, the former champ marched to the ring and demanded a rematch with Dolph at Stand and Deliver. Ziggler, full of what I assume is piss and vinegar, accepted the big man’s challenge.

Dolph and LA put on a good match that hopefully puts Knight firmly in the title picture. Ziggler and Bron are set for NXT’s biggest show of the year, even though I think the match needs an extra stipulation to keep Big Bobby Roode at bay. Perhaps a cage?


Escobar Season. Repent Your Sins

The inherent story behind the North American championship ladder match qualifier between Cameron Grimes and Santos Escobar is escalation. Each match needs to be a somewhat even dance to show either competitor is worthy of a spot in a ladder match at Stand and Deliver. With two performers wrestlers the caliber of Grimes and Escobar, it comes as no shock to anyone the match delivered in spades.

And yes, it was even right up until the end where the loser made one fatal mistake.

Before that mistake, Cameron and Santos traded off control of the match, with Legado del Fantasma intervening whenever Grimes truly had momentum on his side. The first time? LDF stood in the way of Grimes kicking the life out of Santos, allowing the LdF leader to regain his composure and go on the attack. The second time? Cam learned his lesson, flying right over top of LdF and landing right in Santos’ chest with a cannonball attack.

The last moment was truly the changing tide in the match. Well, it would be, right? The good guy learns his lesson, beats the odds, and takes the bad guy out for the count. Once the two returned to the ring and Grimes looked ready to pounce with a Cave In, Santos caught him mid-air and countered with a Phantom Driver. It was a hell of a counter and everyone reading this needs to watch it right now.

Really dope match between two guys I love watching every week.


Extracurriculars

Welcome to the Show, Kid

A-Kid made his NXT 2.0 debut in a match against KUSHIDA for a chance to face Grayson Waller next week in a North American championship qualifier match. Whew, that’s a lot. It’s a good way to add stakes to a match was previously just an exhibition. It was a fast-paced affair, with less high flying than I predicted. A-Kid got the win with a stylish DDT off the ropes with a pretty meh landing. Fine match that felt like more of a prelude of coming attractions.

Mugging!

Well, this wasn’t much of a match between Tiffany Stratton and Sarray. Stratton jumped Sarray before the match began, meaning no transformation for the latter. Sarray got some offense in but this was all Tiffany, all day. Clearly this isn’t over and even though it was a quick affair, Tiffany has the character work to carry something like this forward.

Stand and Fuhgeddaboudit

Tommaso Ciampa gave a heartfelt speech to those in attendance and the rest of us watching at home. He recalled his years toiling on the Indies until the moment he hit NXT. Ciampa reminisced on the past seven years and how he always envisioned what his exit might look like.

Tonight was supposed to be that exit until Tony D’Angelo disagreed.

Tony D, hilariously, said he didn’t want to do the “crowbar thing” because he respects Ciampa too much for that. Tony extended his hand and asked for a match with the guy who can truly make him a made man within the wrestling industry. Ciampa shook his hand, only to get suckered into an attack anyway. Tony followed that some paraphrased lines from The Godfather Part II and a kiss of death.

I like both men and if this is truly Ciampa’s swan song, I pray WWE gives his NXT finale the weight and attention to detail it deserves.

Home Alone by Cora Jade

Cora Jade avenged her partner this week. Or at least she almost did. In a series of Home Alone traps, Jade trapped two members of Toxic Attraction. But Mandy Rose was one step ahead of her, as the show’s running angle came to a close with Toxic Attraction spray painted Cora’s back. One of a few Scott Hall homages this week. Nicely done.

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta had a match. Kind of. They both came out together, got really childish about their posing, and then proceeded to beat each other up for a while until their significant others showed their faces. Duke Hudson was first, followed by Dexter Lumis, who was sitting under the ring because of course he was. Indi won the match but the real match was the kissing contest that almost turned into a double sex celebration between the two couples.

Insanity. Maybe I’m not in the mood for it at the moment, but it just didn’t do anything for me. Normally I’m into some goofy fun but this entire story just feels off to me.

Diamond Cuts

The Brothers Creed want to know who jumped them last week. They didn’t get their answer but Imperium challenged the Bros. and MSK to a triple threat tag team title match at Stand and Deliver. That should be fun. Hopefully we find out who did the shooting but as everyone knows by now, plans change.

Dominik Mysterio vs. Raul Mendoza is a thing that happened on this show. Santos Escobar called himself the greatest luchador of all-time. Apparently, Rey Mysterio and Dominik were in earshot of that, and stepped to LdF and their leader. Rey said Dom will break his records and be the greatest of all time. Raul vehemently disagreed, and boom! We got this match.

It was really just for Dom to get off and show off. Meh. Unless this ends up being an important piece of backstory to something at Stand and Deliver, this feels like a waste of time.


We’re a few weeks from Stand and Deliver and NXT 2.0 delivered one of its weaker shows. Outside of two matches, nothing really held my attention this week, although the Stand and Deliver card is shaping up very nicely. This wasn’t a bad show by any means, but it never hit the next gear for me. Maybe a letdown after Roadblock was inevitable.

Grade: B-

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