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NXT recap & reactions (April 12, 2022): The Creeds get their ‘Rocky’ moment

Pretty Deadly begin their reign and Carmelo Hayes has a message for Cameron Grimes.

Championship Tuesday! It’s time, ladies and gents. So let’s get to it immediately.

But only after you visit Claire’s blog. She’ll fill in all the blanks with the best coverage on the internets.


Trick Bag

For those who don’t know, a trick bag is an awful situation, normally as a result of a set up. During the entire North American title match opener this week, I questioned the whereabouts of Carmelo Hayes. Melo took off last week while the new champ, Cameron Grimes, strutted his stuff and accepted a challenge from Solo Sikoa. But Melo isn’t exactly the type to take an L lying down. Nor did I expect him to just walk away from the North American Championship that easily. I mean, have you heard this guy talk?

For me, the Melo cloud hovered over this entire championship match between Solo and Grimes. But that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the match one bit. Opening the show with both men in the ring ready to lock horns was a great touch. This provided a sense of urgency for the night and set a specific tone.

Solo and Grimes battled to a standstill in the first act. Both men looked each other in the eyes and shook hands as a sign of respect. Grimes even vocalized his respect for his opponent. Only to then tell Solo his “bloodline” can kiss his...well, you know the rest.

That’s when the respectful tussle turned into an actual fight. Solo wanted to beat Grimes into submission, while Grimes’ aim was his usual finesse game. But Solo’s style lends itself to quick strikes as well, so he was more than ready for anything Grimes dished.

That’s exactly why Solo almost had this match won. I say almost because as soon as he perched himself on the top rope for the finisher, that’s when he stepped right into the trick bag. Trick Williams, out of nowhere and looking fly, took Solo’s attention. The ref didn’t see Trick’s interference, so the match continued. Solo spent way too much time dealing with Trick, allowing Grimes to recover. Before Solo got his bearings back, Grimes hit him with an OK Cave In. It wasn’t the smoothest Cave In, but it was the exclamation point they wanted for this particular story.

Grimes didn’t get to celebrate his first title defense because Melo and Trick attacked both men in some post-match shenanigans. They didn’t say anything but their actions said enough: Melo wants his title back and he’s willing to do whatever to make that happen.

It was an okay match between the two but clearly the big development is Melo. I foresee a tag match between these four men in the near future because I doubt Solo will take any of this lying down.


Pretty Champions

MSK vacated their tag titles for reasons we won’t address here. NXT held a gauntlet tag match this week with the winner giving those orphaned titles a couple of waists to call home. The Creed Bros., Legado del Fantasma, Briggs & Jensen, and new arrivals Pretty Deadly all put on for the NXT faithful.

This was always building to the Brothers Creed vs. Pretty Deadly. Elton Prince and Kit Wilson poked their noses in Diamond Mine’s business many moons ago, causing the Creed’s to lose their shot at tag title gold, and the Creed’s want their blood.

Problem with that? The Creed’s drew the number one spot. While they made fairly quick work of LdF, Briggs & Jensen put them through the paces. Those paces included a table spot, several clotheslines from hell, and just big power moves from two guys who love to dish out bombs.

No matter what they did, however, the Creed boys refused to stay down. Brutus, after taking that serious table spot, got himself together enough to get the pin. But the price was heavy.

Sanga and Grayson Waller showed up for what was an academic win. Right? Not so fast.

Grayson and Sanga hit hard and hit fast. The right strategy when taking on two guys who already went through hell. But somehow, someway, Malcolm Bivens’ boys found a way to keep winning. Brutus even found a way to suplex Sanga, which, I mean, come on. You’ve seen Sanga, right?

After they finally dispensed with Sanga and Waller, it was time for Pretty Deadly. Like I said, this is what this entire gauntlet built towards. The Creeds were spent by this point. Pretty Deadly attacked without mercy. Cobra Kai would be proud. Prince and Wilson tossed them into the steel steps, utilized quick tags, and kept throwing body blows.

Eventually, thanks to some chicanery when an illegal Elton connected a big boot to Brutus’ face, Pretty Deadly finished the brothers with a combo finisher. Your winners, and new tag champs are Pretty Deadly.

This was a great match and easily the best of the night. It told a dope story from beginning to end, with clearly more to tell between the Creed’s and the Deadly two. Brutus and Julius looked like a million bucks after the match and got a ton of empathy on their side. They’re the new fan favorites in the Performance Center and its a title well-deserved after this contest.

Pretty Deadly as the heel tag teams running the roost is a good move, especially since it gives the Creed’s someone to chase. I like it a lot.


Extracurriculars

On Sight

You can @ me, you can fight me, I don’t care what you do but I’m going to say this with my chest: Lash Lyons and Nikkita Lyons have the best feud in NXT. The motivations for both women are simple, the reason for the beef, jealousy, is relatable emotion, and they both act like genuine human beings. There is actual emotion in every segment between the two. And Lash is bringing that action.

Look no further than this week when during Nikkita’s backstage interview, Lash Mortal Kombat bicycle kicked Nikkita. Seriously, Liu King has nothing on that kick. Keep this thing going because the ladies are bringing it.

Queen of Harts

Cora Jade cut a traditional babyface promo. Cora is disappointed she didn’t win at Stand & Deliver but she believes that feeling is only temporary. She mentioned several women she looked up to and one of those women, Nattie, just so happened to be in the building.

Nattie wound up Cora and the crowd with kind words, tears, and heaping praise on Cora.

“You are the future of this women’s division....”

Then the twist.

“But the future is bleak.”

Then came a Sharpshooter. And with that, we have another main roster vet coming down to NXT 2.0 to make some noise. Nattie made it clear later on that this is less about Cora and more about destroying the competition. Nattie should have no problem elevating the women’s division and I look forward to watching her get busy.

Mandy Rises

This should be Dakota Kai’s last match in NXT. Her partner is on SmackDown and she just lost her championship match to Mandy Rose. Was it a clean win? Of course not. Kai and Rose wrestled a pretty good match actually, despite its length. Kai had the match won but, as per usual, the numbers game caught her. If anything, this makes Kai look kinda silly. She knows Toxic Attraction travel as a pack. She knows she’s outnumbered. Why not bring some back up?

Wendy Choo showed up after the match to spray Toxic Attraction with water guns but why wouldn’t she go to the ring with her friend to watch her back during the match? There’s no logic there and that sucks because the women deserve better than that.

Over and Out

Xyon Quinn and Draco Anthony are friends. Or rather, they were friends. A little miscommunication last week led to a big ass whooping this week. It was competitive for a few seconds until Anthony mocked Quinn’s heritage. Xyon went into psycho mode and ended it pretty quickly.

So...huh?

NXT ended last week’s show with the big reveal that Joe Gacy kidnapped Rick Steiner. This week, I figured we’d follow Bron chasing Gacy and hunting for his dad. Nope! We got none of that! It all happened off camera apparently. Gacy kidnapped Steiner, beat him up a bit, then let him go. And Bron says he’s at home and perfectly fine.

Seriously? That’s it? NXT has a real issue with kidnapping angles since they seemingly don’t plan anything other than the initial snatching. But it’s also just bad storytelling. SHOW, don’t tell. The fact that this man kidnapped Bron’s dad and we don’t get to see the hero do any rescuing is a poor choice.

In fact, Gacy’s biggest sin, apparently, was taking Rick’s brand new WWE Hall of Fame ring and throwing it into a fire. Bron was just as upset about that as he was last week. Yes, I understand everything Gacy said about the ring symbolizing Rick’s hardworking and sacrifice. Yes, I know that ring means a lot to the Steiner family. But no.

My enthusiasm for Bron and Gacy was at a 5 after last week. Now? It’s at a 1. And yes, it can go lower.

Von Wagner’s World?

Von Wagner made light work of Ikemen Jiro this week. Wagner then threw Jiro into the crowd. We care about Jiro so the hope is it gives Wagner a rub. It’s not working for me because Wagner is still, for the most part, dull as dish water. Grayson Waller does heel stuff too but he has a personality and clearly a bunch of insecurities. Ya know, like a real person. Wagner feels like a cartoon character and not in a good way.

Your Money is No Good Here

Tony D had a peace offering for Santos Escobar. It was an envelope of money and Escobar wasn’t having it. The feud continues.


I wasn’t really digging NXT this week. While the gauntlet delivered in spades, most of the show elicited minor moments of joy. Way too many storytelling misses with the NXT Championship and NXT Women’s Championship, a few matches I just wasn’t feeling, and some rushed plotting.

Perhaps that hastiness was due to the fact it’s a two hour show and that gauntlet needed room to breathe. I’m sympathetic to that but it doesn’t mean the show gets a pass in my book. The gauntlet bumped this one up to an almost average show, which says a lot about the teams competing this week. They should all take huge bows.

Oh, and one more thing: “The BOAT” doesn't sound as great as WWE thinks it does in reference to Natalya. Just saying.

Grade: C-

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