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Let’s talk NXT!
Cora Gets Her Moment
While I refuse to call her “The B.O.A.T.,” I acknowledge Natalya’s greatness. The woman is dope, point blank. Her match with Cora Jade this week is another example of her skill and the reason why working double duty on NXT and SmackDown. Nattie’s job was simple: Make Cora look good. And that’s exactly what she did.
For those late to the party, Cora Jade idolized Nattie. Nattie showed up to NXT one week and surprised Cora with a sucker punch. Her way of issuing a challenge to Cora and the rest of the women to step up or get F’d up. The choice is theirs.
Cora stepped up big tonight.
Cora started the match trying to outwrestle Nattie. Not the brightest move, but it was right for her character. Nattie didn’t take the challenge seriously, so a few headlocks, a Frankensteiner, and even a Sharpshooter attempt went a long way to proving Neidhart wrong.
I love stories where the torchbearer doesn’t just pass the torch; they make the recipient prove they deserve the fire. Nattie, while definitely playing the heel, is really just bringing an energy the NXT women lack at the moment. Cora showed she’s ready and did everything in her power to take that torch from Nattie. She even withstood a lot of punishment to her knee as Nattie used the ring post as a weapon and mimicked her uncle’s famous Figure Four around the post as well.
It was at that moment the match gave me Steve Austin and Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 vibes. No, not the quality of the match so relax, but I realized that’s what Cora and Nattie were going for. Nattie playing the role of her uncle, the legendary vet refusing to give up their spot, while Cora played Austin, the new hotness who needs the W over someone they believe is the best.
That played out with the finish as well. Cora tried again to put Nattie in a Sharpshooter and almost succeeded. But her knee didn’t have the strength to supply any leverage and she broke the hold. When it was Nattie’s turn, she slapped on the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Any time Cora got close to the ropes, she pulled her back in the middle. This happened twice so the crowd assumed Cora had a third trick up her sleeve.
No such luck. Nattie synched in the move while Cora was helpless. But she didn’t tap. She simply passed out. Much like Austin in Chicago that fateful night, Cora’s body gave out due to the pain. Nattie thought Cora tapped but was stunned when she saw her opponent unconscious. “They all tap,” Nattie said to herself. Rather than walk out of the ring triumphant or cocky, Nattie picked up Cora, shook her cobwebs loose, and embraced her in the middle of the ring.
Not exactly what Austin and Bret did, but hey, it different stories call for different measures.
This was a great moment for Cora. Who knows where this story goes now but Nattie just turned her into one of NXT’s biggest and brightest.
No Toxic Avengers
Toxic Attraction defended their tag titles against Wendy Choo and Roxanne Perez this week. Did I think Wendy and Roxy stood a chance? No. But I was sports entertained with Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne’s aggression. Far too often, Toxic Attraction get pigeonholed for their looks. And yes, these are gorgeous women. But illustrating the tag champs have mean streaks to go with killer looks—thank you—is a great character touch.
This was a solid match with a weird ending. With Toxic Attractions on the ropes, Mandy walked into the ring and saved Gigi from Roxanne’s top rope dive. Wendy and Mandy brawled so naturally, the ref focused on that instead of the legal combatants in the ring. Mandy Rose isn’t a part of the match so if Wendy wants to beat on her, cool, let her rock.
While the most inept referee this side of AEW looked one way, Jacy Jayne laid Roxanne out with a superkick, allowing Gigi to get the pin. Way too much going on in that finish, but clearly TA isn’t done with Wendy.
Breakout Numero Uno
Fallon Henley and Sloane Jacobs fired the first shot in the NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament. This was an even matchup for a while, despite the amount of TV time Fallon receives. Briggs & Jensen came ringside to support their homegirl and that apparently was the boost Fallon needed. Her aggression hit another level and she showed some cockiness too. I dug it.
Eventually, the woman you picked to win the match delivered on that faith. Fallon moves on to the next round of the tournament. While not the most exciting match, it was competent, sound, and an okay way to start the tourney.
Solo Sikoa cut a promo this week and it wasn’t great. The young cat is clearly working out the kinks on the mic even though he’s got it made in the ring. Sikoa challenged Cameron Grimes or Carmello Hayes, for the North American title. He doesn’t care which one of them has it, he’s “got next.”
Grimes made his way to the ring and got an interesting crowd reaction. The NXT faithful chanted Grimes “got lucky” in his last title defense. Keep your eyes peeled on this going forward. Grimes promised Solo a title shot if he successfully defends against Hayes. As Solo walked off, Trick and Melo attacked Grimes.
The most fun moment here was Solo looking back to the ring as Grimes got decimated. He hesitated to help and looked like he had no desire to lend a hand. Once Melo and Hayes looked ready to severely injure Grimes using a chair, Solo stepped in for the assist.
Solo’s cousin and brother surely let that beatdown happen if they’re in Solo’s sneakers. Nice way to illustrate his honor and continue carving out his own identity apart from his bloodline.
The Fyre Rises
Say bye to Kay Lee Ray and give a warm welcome to Alba Fyre! The artist formerly known as KLR wrestled Amari Miller in his first official NXT 2.0 match as Alba Fyre. Miller was sidelined for two months (!!) and just showed up with little fanfare. Not saying she was one of the brand’s big stars, but she was a consistent part of the show. Plus, the woman got a stretcher job on her way out the door, so maybe a little prep is appropriate. But alas.
The match didn’t do much for me. And that’s not because either woman half-assed it; there were just no stakes involved. Why is Alba wrestling Amari Miller after she was going for Mandy Rose not that long ago? And beating Amari Miller doesn’t exactly scream to the world that she’s ready to scale the highest mountain.
Mother Chase U
Andre Chase wrestles in black Air Jordan Retro 11s aka the Space Jam 11s. No matter what he does at this point going forward, he is forever good in my book.
Anyway, this union of Tiffany Stratton & Grayson Waller are a match made in hell. They have beef with Andre Chase and Sarray individually, and talked a lot of trash about both during their “shopping day” vignette. Sarray proposed she and Chase team up for an inter-gender tag match. Besides the fact Chase agreed, the best news of that quick segment was the fact Bodhi Hayward speaks Japanese. Why? Because Chase U has a foreign language program that even its owner knew nothing about.
I chuckled heartily.
But then the match happened and they lost me. All four wrestlers know what they’re doing but it became too chaotic in the end. To make matters worse, the ending made no sense. Follow me: Tiffany hits a corkscrew bomb off the top rope. While the ref is counting three, Bodhi sounds the air horn in his ear, effectively stopping the count. BUT, Sarray put her foot on the bottom rope also. So why are we doing two of these things? If Bodhi is blowing the horn, there’s no need to put a foot on the rope. If there’s a foot on the rope, there’s no need to go for the comedy moment with the horn. It was nonsensical and my brain checked out at that point.
Professional wrestling has very simple narrative devices. When moments like that are done so sloppily, it shows someone is overthinking and overcomplicating.
Breakout Numero Dos
I agree with Wade Barrett here: Nikkita Lyons doesn’t belong in a Breakout Tournament because, well, duh.
But we’re here now and the anticlimactic nature of the match played into my viewing. I knew the outcome before the bell rang—just like you did—and the two women didn’t have much chemistry together. Arianna Grace and Nikkita have very similar styles, meaning we lost the styles clash most matches benefit from.
Nikkita won but, again, not sure she needs this right now.
Look, I tried. I gave Joe Gacy all the chances I have to give but I’m done. Gacy cut a promo this week, flanked by his hooded men, imploring Bron Breakker to join his movement.
You know why this stinks? Because like everything else involving Gacy and Bron, it makes no sense. The only reason something like this works is if there’s a chance the champ is tempted. Or is truly in jeopardy. Bron Breakker isn’t in jeopardy! And, once again, NXT shows us or tells us the best parts of the story happened off air. Bron was kidnapped last week, driven to a grassy knoll, and just left there.
Now Gacy wants to know if Bron is down for Gacy’s cause. Here’s the short answer for you, Joe: No.
And neither am I.
I previously said I love mafia stuff, even if it’s silly. But the stuff this week between LdF and Tony D’Angelo was dumb. Tony kidnapped Cruz del Toro—that damn parking lot—and we suffered through several cheaply produced segments. Next week, Santos Escobar and Tony D settle the score.
NXT crams a lot in two hours. This week, it was way too much. We got a Wes Lee sighting, more Von Wagner for some reason, the tournament, and whatever the hell the Ivy Nile challenge is. Seriously, who booked that crap? Ivy challenging a group of guys to fitness challenges? Le sigh.
The opening match and main event were the bright spots on a dimly lit show.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.