We got a lot to get to this week. Read Claire’s blog, you’ll get smarter.
Come back here to kill those brain cells.
Let’s talk NXT Roadblock!
Dolph Ziggler is the new NXT champ. Yup, not even going to bury the lede here or pretend that’s not the biggest story. It is. Did he do it in a respectful way? Of course not. Dolph is a heel and real heels do heel things. Actually, the way he won is so critical to his character, and true to character for Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker.
But before we get to that, let’s get to the match. Dolph was the smartest cat in the match, illustrated when he refused to lock up with anyone and let Bron and Ciampa fight each other for just a bit. It wasn’t long, but it was long enough to break up their little alliance and truly make it a triple threat rather than a glorified handicap match. Ziggler came in with a plan while his opponents seemingly just came to wrestle.
And it was damn fine wrestling. Neither man dominated, a great way to show they’re evenly matched. Ciampa kicked out of a Fameasser and a Zig Zag, Breakker kicked out of a Fairytale Ending (although it was a delayed count), and Dolph refused to stay down for anything. He broke up every pin attempt and showed his time in a WWE ring truly put him a sliver above the rest. If just a sliver. Dolph wanted to divide, conquer, and buy time because he had an ace up his sleeve. A rather big ace.
Bron Breakker had the match won. Ciampa was out of commission and Dolph was flat on his back, courtesy of a Military Press and Powerslam. Just like last week, Big Bob Roode put his nose in the match, and pulled the ref out of the ring just before the count of three. Bron, just like the rookie he is, went after Roode rather than keeping his composure and focusing on the match. I like touches like that because, like I said, they’re true to character while enforcing a match’s underlying narrative: Bron is the underdog due to a lack of experience. And, not for nothing, it’s easy to get him off his axis because of his temper.
While Bron is running after Robert, it gives Ciampa time to recoup, while Dolph waits in the wings. Bron gets back in the ring and gets handled by Ciampa. Tommaso was ready for a running knee strike after failing to put Bron away. But, once again, Roode saved the day for his partner. He pulled Bron out of the way of Ciampa’s knee, and when Ciampa turned around to gather himself, he ate a mouth full of Dolph’s superkick.
And now? Dolph Ziggler is the new NXT champion.
This is the right move if only because it gives more options for the story. Ciampa or Bron winning just resets everything and makes Dolph’s entire time in NXT irrelevant. But as champion? Now there’s mystery, intrigue, and genuine confusion for the brand. How does this work now with Dolph as champion? Who is he fighting at Stand and Deliver? Does this affect Ciampa and Bron’s uneasy alliance? And if so, how?
While not as good as Dolph and Ciampa’s bout, this one delivered. And the “shock” ending was well worth the overrun.
LA Knight almost did it. Knight almost eradicated Grayson Waller in their Last Man Standing match. But he let his hatred blind him to the most important part of any wrestling match. No, not “stealing the show,” despite what some people will tell you. It’s paramount to, ya know, win.
Knight started the match before the bell went ding, a touch you all know I love. And he pretty much stayed on top of Waller for most of the match. Inside the ring, outside of the ring, Knight’s purpose was pain. LA thought the match was over when he tossed Grayson from the top scaffolding in the arena, but surprise surprise, Sanga reared his head, cradling Grayson in his arms like a newborn.
Needless to say, Sanga changed the tone of the match. Waller found his second wind with the big man at ringside, bringing out handcuffs to “lock down” his opponent. But Knight, knowing he had no shot with Sanga there, turned those pesky tables on the bodyguard and cuffed him around the ring post.
With Sanga neutralized, Knight punished his opponent. Not just chair shots, but putting a trash can around Waller’s head and then giving the chair shots. But LA refused to let well enough go. Waller looked down for the count but Knight wanted more.
After clearing the announce table, Knight fell victim to a foreign object hidden in Waller’s pockets. And yes, I know how that reads. Let’s move on.
Waller hit his favorite high risk maneuver off the top rope on a defenseless Knight, broke the turntable, and stumbled over to his bodyguard to prop him up as the ref counted to 10. When the man didn’t have a leg to stand on, literally, Sanga kept him afloat and carried him to the W.
Great match with an earned finish, telegraphed through solid storytelling. Clearly, this will continue into Stand and Deliver. I can’t wait.
The headline here should be Dakota Kai and Wendy Choo moving to the Dusty Cup finals. Unfortunately, NXT Roadblock had other ideas. Midway through the very good opening tag team semifinals match, Toxic Attraction descended from their perch to attack Raquel Gonzalez’s knee. And not the normal attack either. “WWE officials” checked on Raquel to see if Big Mami could still go, and she powered through.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. While Cora Jade did her best to carry the match, she eventually needed to tag in the former champ. It was obvious Raquel’s knee was no good, and it gave way when she went to hit her finisher. Dakota Kai had a moment where she hesitated taking out her old partner, but finished the job anyway.
Toxic Attraction did everything in their power to stop Raquel and Cora from getting a shot at their tag titles. Mission accomplished. Cora, clearly upset and with every reason, attacked Mandy Rose in the Toxic Lounge. Again, completely justifiable.
That said, I wish the bigger story out of the match was Wendy and Dakota moving forward rather than the shenanigans around their victory.
As opposed to the first semifinal match, Kay Lee Ray & Io Shirai vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter was all about them. And it was another banger on a night filled with them. The turning point of this match was a simple miscalculation from Carter and Catanzaro. Kay Lee Ray and Io had Kacy in the worst possible position. Not Lotus, but on the top turnbuckle with nowhere to go but down.
Carter, out of nowhere, threw Io to the outside, and put KLR on her shoulders. What followed was a crazy inverted hurricanrana, that, in any other world, ends the match. But both women lost sight of Shirai. As a result, Io charged back into the ring and pushed Carter into Catanzaro, breaking up the pin attempt at two when it was a heartbeat away from three.
One KLR bomb later, and KLR and Io are the second makeshift tag team entering the Dusty Cup finals for a shot at the champs. It’s an interesting development that two odd couple teams, begrudgingly put together out of necessity, are fighting for the whole enchilada.
The parking lot is the most dangerous place to be in NXT. Everyone knows that. Except the Brothers Creed, apparently, since they got caught slipping. Someone attacked the two cats with a shot at NXT gold, putting their title shot in jeopardy. While everyone pointed fingers at different tag teams (Imperium, Briggs & Jensen, Legado del Fantasma), Malcolm Bivens’ boys were ruled unable to compete. Guess who took their place? Okay, don’t have time for you to guess. MSK!
And the NXT tag title match between MSK and Imperium was, shockingly, going really well. Imperium stuck to their script and slowed MSK down in a lot of moments. MSK still got their offense in, but the match was trending in the direction of the champs.
And then the Creed boys came to the ring and chose all the violence. They attacked both teams, clearly irate and just wanting to fight.
My guess? We’re getting a triple threat at Stand and Deliver with all three teams while Bivens uncovers the assailants. While I wanted a winner, I actually prefer this scenario since it gives us a title match with three dope teams with very different styles, and a story with a whole lot of intrigue.
Revenge? Thy Name is Sarray
Tiffany Stratton and Sarray got into it last week. By “got into it” I mean the former slammed the latter into a wall all because she felt disrespected. Sarray got revenge this week, interfering in Stratton’s match against Fallon Henley. Sarray resorted to the tried and true “smoke near the entrance” trick for a distraction, attacked Tiffany when no one was looking, and Fallon picked up the upset.
It was a pretty good match before the shenanigans, with both women showing growth in the ring. Stratton is a great character who is putting everything together in the ring. Bears watching...unless Sarray says otherwise.
Chase U continues its streak of entertainment. That is all.
THIS is how you use Lash Legend’s talk show. Advance her beefs, show her character, and highlight her future opponent. This week we got...Nikkita Lyons and yes, she deserves all the highlights. Lash, believing Nikkita is gassed for her looks, “ass implants” and not her skill, is tired of getting overshadowed. So, yeah, they’re going to fight.
Roadblock was on point from start to finish. A new champion, Dusty Cup finals are set, drama between Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta, Carmelo Hayes set the rules for his next challengers, and the Creed Bros are very, very angry.
The only negative I have for the show is Xyon Quinn getting thrown into this Joe Gacy and Draco Anthony. Meh.
But other than that? A show even without the A champion.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.