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NXT recap & reactions (April 5, 2022): Joe Gacy wants to play a game

Bron Breakker and GUNTHER wrestle in the main event with an ending nobody saw coming.

It’s the first episode of NXT after WrestleMania meaning we should get some surprises and shocks, right? Well, yeah, about that.

Claire’s blog is filled with energy and the best play-by-play this side of *insert your favorite wrestling commentator* so read the blog or weep.

Let’s talk NXT!


Hello, Bronson. I Want to Play a Game

Bron Breakker entered the Performance Center this week expecting a hero’s welcome. What he got was a bit of a mixed reaction. Apparently, not everyone is happy the Big Bad Booty Nephew is the champ again. Those same people actually miss Dolph Ziggler. Were they trolling? Who knows these days. But that reaction was the least of Bron’s problems.

After cutting his babyface promo and welcoming all challengers, along came GUNTHER. You know what happened from there and our main event for the NXT Championship was set.

GUNTHER went into this match with some Imperium drama in the back of his head while Bron went in physically spent after the hectic pace of WrestleMania weekend. Who would back down and give in first?

The first act of the math was Bron’s explosiveness vs. GUNTHER’s penchant for punishment. GUNTHER, as much as he tried, found no way to neutralize that power and Bron managed to go toe-to-toe with GUNTHER in mat wrestling. Bron was feeling great and all the momentum was on his side until he lifted the big man over his head. Then his shoulder went out.

Either because of GUNTHER’s size or the wear and tear on Bron’s body after pushing himself for four days, or maybe all of the above. The story was either one of Bron overcoming the odds and finding a way out of no way, or GUNTHER taking advantage of the champion’s injury and continuing his path of dominance.

For a long while, it looked like the latter. GUNTHER dissected the champ, targeting that elbow at every turn. GUNTHER tore at it, threw Bron into steel steps shoulder first, and did everything to wear it down. Bron was running on fumes and it looked academic after a powerbomb and a big GUNTHER splash from the top rope.

But then something funny happened: Bron kicked out of every big move GUNTHER threw at him. With Imperium seemingly not a thing anymore, it was probably obvious to a few—or anyone but me—which story NXT wanted to tell. Bron did the unthinkable and not only beat GUNTHER, but manhandled him once he found his second wind in the match’s third act.

One Military Press Slam later, and GUNTHER suffered something we’re unaccustomed to: defeat.

Imperium is defunct and the NXT Championship is out of his grasp, so GUNTHER is probably done with the rainbow brand. With no big call ups on Monday night—unless you count Ezekiel—GUNTHER might soon call Friday nights his home. If so, this was a good match to end on and a great way to put over the champ. Unlike most matches tonight, they grabbed my attention and imagination.

BUT, and this is a huge but (hence the caps), we need to talk about that ending.

All night, Joe Gacy gave cryptic video segments. For the most part, they were ignored because Gacy is always doing something weird that feels like background noise.

Apparently, there was a point this week. While Bron celebrated in the ring, Rick Steiner showed up on the mini Titantron. Rick congratulated “Bronson” for his win and all of his success. Dad is proud of his boy. The big reveal was Gacy and Harland holding Rick hostage like a pair of horror movie villains. Gacy issued a threat and we went off the air.

First of all, I’m not feeling this angle. Besides the fact that it seems so out of pocket for what NXT 2.0 is or is trying to be, it’s also unnecessary. Bronson Breakker’s whole thing is he accepts any challenge thrown his way. Wade Barrett spent most of the main event lamenting that very fact. If Gacy wants a title shot, just ask. History says he’ll get his wish.

Throwing in a kidnapping/hostage angle is hard to do because, as we saw with Hit Row (RIP), LdF and Toxic Attraction, these stories rarely have actual endings. The victims just show up the next week like nothing happened and life continues.

Maybe Gacy has some larger point to teach but, again, for what? I’m not saying it can’t or won’t get better but as of now, this makes me scratch my head and confuse me more than intrigue me.


Extracurriculars

Your Winners, and NEW...

Why even give Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez the championships? Toxic Attraction reclaimed their spot as tag champs this week, in a match that really picked up towards the end but never quite grabbed me.

What I love? Raquel’s knee injury as a plot point. What I don’t love? Why it’s a plot point now but not at Stand & Deliver. For the most part, this was a redux of their previous match, complete with a Wendy Choo appearance. But this time, Mandy Rose showed up to neutralize Wendy. Raquel was hobbled and there was nothing Dakota or anyone else could do.

So, yeah, again, why?

The End of Imperium?

The story I wanted to talk about Julius Creed’s incredible strength. The vertical delayed suplex he hit on Marcel Barthel was ridiculous in the best of ways. The Brothers Creed are powerhouses who just want to beat up everyone in sight, and I love them for that.

But the big development here isn’t big men doing big men things, it’s Aichner walking out on his partner. After he saved Barthel from taking a pinfall, he yelled at his partner to get up and get it together. A few moments later during one of their patented double team spots, Aichner just bounced. Barthel was stunned with blood dripping all over his eye. The Creed Bros. took advantage and beat the hell out of him just for existing.

While the Creed’s celebrated, their assailants finally stepped into the light: Former NXT UK champs Pretty Deadly. While the Creeds finally vanquished their main foes, they’re not done dealing with beef by any means.

The Lyon’s Den

Lash Legend and Nikkita Lyons put on a fun, solid, pretty damn technically sound match. It wasn’t that long but it also didn’t need to be. Especially as the penultimate match of the night.

Both women showed their growth and provided genuine emotion as they fought for supremacy. Thirst trap supremacy? Alpha Female supremacy? Both? Either way, these are two women who dislike each other with a passion and it showed.

If there’s one complaint, it’s the finish. Nikkita hit her roundhouse kick and went for her split pin, but it was abrupt. Clearly they were crunched for time but a fun match deserves a finish befitting. This was anything but.

I want more of this feud and won’t be mad if Lash throws more shade Nikkita’s way.

Solo Act

Guess what? Cameron Grimes is the new North American champ. His babyface promo tonight was good because Grimes cuts a good promo. The crowd continued their mixed responses though, either out of jest or because some of them truly believe Grimes doesn’t deserve this championship.

Anyway, a new champion needs a new challenger. Enter Solo Sikoa. Solo’s promo was okay. Uce didn’t sound as natural as one hopes, but he’ll get there. He made his intentions known and challenged Grimes to a title shot. Grimes, of course, granted that wish.

Solo is still a little rough around the edges and Grimes is the perfect guy to show him a few more ropes—pun intended—and smooth out his issues.

TD Da Last Don

A few things: Why does AJ Galante decide who is the official Don of NXT? Why does NXT need a Don when there was no Don before? And why did they give AJ a live mic in front of that rowdy crowd? He was uncomfortable and it showed when he flubbed over lines and Tony encouraged him to keep going.

The unruly crowd called it boring and I agree. And this is coming from someone who likes Tony D’s gimmick and loves mafia flicks.

The lone bright spot was Tony’s interaction with Santos Escobar in the NXT PARKING LOT later in the show. No, no one got beat up. But they did tease some future conflict between families over family business.

Saucy

This thing between Index and Dusia ain’t it. Duke Hudson and Dexter Lumis wrestled to a double DQ tonight. Why? Because their significant others got involved, caused the two men to collide heads, and neither man made it back into the ring to beat the 10-count.

The crowd echoed my sentiments: This is stupid.


I was pretty apathetic about this show. The main event was dope while Lash and Nikkita provided some much-needed energy, but everything else just felt run of the mill. There was good, like the opening tag match, but the meh overshadowed it by a large degree.

Grade: C+

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