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NXT recap & reactions (March 1, 2022): Carmelo Hayes & Pete Dunne don’t miss

Bron Breakker’s bite breaks more than he can chew, while Carmelo Hayes and Pete Dunne deliver a classic.

Look, I wrote a lot of words on this week’s NXT 2.0. So let’s just get into it.

But not without you visiting Claire’s blog for the nitty gritty details.

Let’s talk NXT!

Melo Don’t Bruise

If there’s one chink in Carmelo Hayes’ game, it’s that he sometimes lets his ego force him into beating opponents at their own game. Rather than wrestle his style, which is more finesse, he blends like a chameleon to prove he can not only do what he does, but he can do what his opponents do as well. And do it better. On one hand, that’s very dope. I get the cockiness and the need to embarrass your foes when they come at you. On the other hand, it makes him more susceptible to trouble.

And that’s why he almost lost his North American championship tonight.

For most of this week’s main event, Melo and Pete Dunne matched each other blow for blow. And I mean that literally. In one instance, both men tried in vain to clothesline the other, both throwing clubbing blows simultaneously. They both refused to back down but Melo, again, refused to wrestle his game because he was obsessed with out-bruising the Bruiserweight.

That also makes for a compelling match because the path to a Dunne victory is easy to see. Pete did his best to dissect Melo. Armbars, submissions, stomping his fingers, and basically using every part of his body as a weapon. One moment saw Melo, who thought momentum was on his side, springboard directly into Dunne’s elbow. That moment epitomized the fact neither man ever truly gained an advantage. And that’s how it should be with someone of Dunne’s caliber wrestling the current A Champion—yup, I said it.

They created real drama with both men in jeopardy during the match, but countering almost everything thrown at them. That’s why it made sense when Dunne, after hitting a Bitter End, just couldn’t cover Melo in time to get the belt. After taking a beating from Melo and working that hard to put him away, he just didn’t have the energy. Without everything that came before it, stuff like that just isn’t believable.

Hayes was tired as well, which came into play when we went to the top rope to finish the match. He took way too much time to get situated, which gave Dunne the second wind he needed to climb the ropes and possibly finish this thing between he and Melo. But, as per usual, Trick Williams was the X factor.

We all need friends like Trick. Ones willing to put their lives—or fingers—on the line for our advancement. Trick risked Dunne “breaking his fingers” to give Melo just enough time to recover, knock Dunne off his perch, and get the 1-2-3 courtesy of the Guillotine Leg Drop.

It was a great match that showcased everything that makes both of these guys great, along with their character flaws. Dunne gets distracted too easily and lets his desire to punish everyone for everything cloud his judgement. Melo’s ego is going to bite him in the ass one day, which might be something Trick knows.

Melo promised us a ladder match at Stand and Deliver. Against whom? No clue. The very end of the show was weird and felt haphazard. But the match before they faded to black is well worth your time.

Once again, Melo don’t miss.

Steiner Reclining

This isn’t the end of the program between NXT Champion Bron Breakker, Tommaso Ciampa, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode. Not even close to an ending. But, each chapter on NXT television is more than worth your time. Last week, it was Ciampa and Ziggler owning the entire show with their main event match. This week? These four kicked off the show with an impressive tag team match that held my attention from the first ding to the last.

For starters, the match didn’t open with a collar and elbow tie-up. Based on the bad blood between these cats, along with the beatdown Ciampa suffered at the hands of the Dirty Dawgs on the most recent episode of Monday Night Raw, it makes no sense for this to start as a traditional wrestling match.

Break tradition by breaking jaws, and that’s exactly what Ciampa and Bron did while decked out in Steiner Bros. attire. The NXT wrestlers attacked the Raw invaders before they even got into their entrances.

Eventually, the match actually started and for a good while, it was all Dawgs of Dirt. And that makes sense because, well, they’re former tag champs. Bron and Ciampa just got on the same page about five minutes ago, and one questions how much they even agree what’s on said page. The Dawgs knew this and took turns isolating both man, picking on the younger Breakker, then later picking on Ciampa. Steiner 2.0 had their comebacks, only to get those hopes stomped out almost every single time. Ironically, the match turned when Bron, while going for a tag, was tossed into the front row by Big Bob. The champ used that time to ponder life and get his head back in the game, resulting in a white hot tag, a spear that knocked Ziggler into catering, and an old fashioned Steiner Bulldog from the top rope that warmed my heart.

Unfortunately, the match didn’t end on that big ode to Bron’s family. But Ciampa did deliver a Fairytale Ending to Ziggler, which was still satisfying.

We know Ciampa and Bron can not only coexist, but can also handle two former tag champs at the top of their game. But Ziggler and Ciampa want a shot at the title. Bron is more than willing to give both men what they want, even at the same time. I don’t see the champ losing that match, but Bron’s eagerness to take on all comers is writing a lot of checks at the moment. Does he really stand a chance beating both of those cats? At once? That’s a huge test for the champion, who needs to follow his partner’s lead and be more strategic. Ziggler hustled him and he fell for the trap.

Not saying he’ll lose the title any time soon, but if he does, his own ego will be the cause.



GUNTHER felt disrespected. Solo Sikoa called him out and wanted a match. GUNTHER obliged him and made him pay the price. Solo never really stood a chance. I mean, he got his offense in, but GUNTHER countered everything. Which is the right call because Solo isn’t on GUNTHER’s level within this NXT universe. The match was okay because it wasn’t really compelling. It was never in question GUNTHER was winning, and the match didn’t make me believe Solo had any chance of getting a W.

Lash is the Word

Props to Lash Legend for wearing those eyelashes. No way they were comfortable and, all joking aside, she’s tougher than I am because I couldn’t do that if someone paid me.

Lash and Amari Miller wrestled an okay match. Clearly, they’re both working out the kinks, with Miller being more ahead than her opponent. That said, Miller made Lash look great. It looks like we’re headed toward a Lash Legend and Nikkita Lyons feud. Lyons is more polished than Lash, but it should be fun because both women clearly have big personalities and want to outshine everyone. And next week, we get a Lashing Out segment with these two...

I’ll keep my comments to myself.

Tag Team, Back Again

Dakota Kai and Wendy Choo are a pretty good team. They’re fun together, they can both go, and there’s just enough of a personality clash to make one wonder if one false move will tear them apart. Persia Pirotta and Indi Hartwell aren’t on point right now because they’re both distracted by the men in their lives.

Indi checked with her partner before the match to ensure she was focused. Persia assured her she was good to go. Apparently not because Persia took the L for her team, while Wendy and Dakota move on to the next round of the Dusty Cup.

I still believe women being distracted by men—especially when one of those men is as toxic as Duke Hudson—is a retrograde move. It’s one of NXT 2.0’s features though, harkening back to the late 1990s-early 2000s stories and character motivations. The match itself was okay but I really dislike the story we’re seeing with Indi and Persia acting like teenagers instead of, ya know, adult women.

More Dusty Finishes

Cora Jade teamed with Raquel González to take on Valentina Feroz and Yulisa Leon. The match had a couple bumpy moments but Feroz and Leon really are exciting to watch. I knew they’d lose because, duh, and because Gonzalez is too strong, but I want to see more of these two. The high moments of this match, all high risk maneuvers to the outside of the ring, show Feroz and Leon need to show up on TV more often.

But, alas. Jade and González move to the semifinals.

Chase You

There was a moment in this match where Andre Chase had an advantage on Von Wagner. Chase worked the knees, got the big man down, and looked dominant for a bit. But Chase’s compassion got the best of him when Bodhi Hayward took a punch from Von—accidental of course. Chase lost focus while checking on his prized pupil, resulting in a loss.

It’s an interesting character beat for Andre, one reason he’s more compelling than Wagner. The match itself was decent. Nothing mind blowing. But a lot of that is due to Chase making Wagner look good, along with his subtle and not so subtle character work.

Hug it Out

Harland beatdown Draco Anthony. Beat him down like Draco owes him money, only to hug his opponent after the match. I guess Draco is the next member of Joe Gacy’s stable. Right? Still not into the Joe Gacy/Harland story, and this match didn’t help. If it’s your thing, I’m happy for you. Truly.

LA Says He Stands Tall

LA Knight cut an energetic promo that lured Grayson Waller to the ring. LA is such a prototypical ‘80s or early ‘90s wrestler, and I mean that in the best way. He just has a cadence and rhythm that takes me back to childhood, but he’s modern enough to not feel like a nostalgia act.

Next week, we’re getting a Last Man Standing match between Knight and Waller. My money is on Knight.

Much like last week, the main event elevated the rest of the show. Carmelo Hayes and Pete Dunne took this from an average episode of NXT 2.0 to a good one. NXT Roadblock has potential dopeness up and down the card, so let’s hope they, ahem, deliver.

Grade: B+

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

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