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NXT recap & reactions (June 21, 2022): Let’s play the feud

Santos Escobar makes a choice, Toxic Attraction watches a fight, and NXT got crowded this week.

Crazy June is almost over, right? We’re a couple weeks away from Great American Bash and the card isn’t quite fully formed. Yet. Will NXT take care of that this week? Claire and I both find out and want you along for the ride.

Let’s talk NXT!


Nobody Wins...

Whether Tony D’Angelo can beat Carmelo Hayes wasn’t the question. Neither was to be or not to be. The real question was how long Legado del Fantasma would sit ringside without interfering. Santos Escobar played nice earlier in the show, but we all saw through that. Right? And with Stacks and Two Dimes costing LdF a victory over Diamond Mine—sorry for those who didn’t read ahead—vengeance was in the air.

It’s weird seeing Melo as the background to a match. He’s clearly the “MacGuffin” in this story. For those who don’t speak movie geek, the MacGuffin is a term Alfred Hitchcock created. It’s the thing at the center of the movie that moves the plot forward. The Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Maltese falcon in The Maltese Falcon. Pretty much anything Dom Torretto’s crew chases after in the Fast movies. The story is Santos Escobar under Tony D’Angelo’s thumb and what happens as a result. Melo and the North American championship are plot devices to get us from point A to point Santos and Tony at Great American Bash.

This is another clash in styles. Melo, no longer obsessed playing everyone else’s game, knows his game is tight enough. He now forces everyone to play his game. Even when Tony plays the bruiser role by tossing Melo into steel steps, Melo stuck to his high-flying game plan.

Tony’s grown a lot in the ring. This match continues his streak of good matches showing he’s more than just a persona in a wife beater.

And, eventually, we got an answer to the match’s main question. Tony, looking to put Melo away, beckoned Santos for brass knuckles. Santos played around with the knuckles, taking his sweet time in pulling them out of his jacket and dangling them in front of his “boss.”

Rather than slide them to Tony while the ref was preoccupied with one of the goons, he slid them across the ring to Melo. Never a man to miss a layup, Melo used the knuckles against Tony D and went home with his championship.

Tony, seething, promised revenge on Santos and the rest of Legado. Santos and Tony’s first match was dope, so I’m looking forward to round two. Hopefully, it’s a cage match or some sort of stipulation that brings extra violence.

Easily the best match of the night.


Extracurriculars

Who’s Got Next?

So I’m a little confused. Solo Sikoa told the world he has next. NXT told us he has next. He wrestles Grayson Waller this week and since he has next, the assumption is he gets the W. Well, once again, this is why I don’t bet on wrestling.

While Grayson and Solo put on a very dope opening match, complete with Waller taking a beating early on and weaseling his way into a win, it still feels wrong. Solo countered Waller’s finisher the first time but collided with an exposed turnbuckle thanks to Waller’s goading.

Needless to say, he didn’t counter Waller’s finisher the second time. Again, good match, but I’m confused at the decision for Solo to go down with his shoulders on the mat.

Thanks, Trick

I was with Wes Lee’s story when he was just handling his demons in the ring. Keeping it simple and fighting everyone in sight to work through the pain and find his place. The promo he cut tonight wasn’t necessary because he said everything we already knew. So when Trick Williams came to the ring telling Wes to shut up, I agreed. Besides the fact it’s tough seeing a man lament the fact his Hitler cosplay-loving friend is no longer by his side, it just puts words to something that didn’t need any words.

Wes didn’t take kindly to Trick interrupting his moment, but Trick clearly didn’t care. And he’s down to fight Wes, just not on Wes’ time. Geno thinks they’re bringing Nash Carter back because of how they mentioned the man without mentioning him and referencing him in such glowing terms. I really hope that’s not the case. But hey, if the last couple days showed us anything, it’s that WWE isn’t above doing anything.

That aside, still a segment that didn’t do much for me.

The Big Payback

Kayden Carter and Katana Chance lost their tag team championship match against Toxic Attraction. They rebounded this week with a W over the very underrated and underused Valentina Feroz & Yulisa Leon. Feroz & Leon, as usual, brought their A-game. It was a fun match, even if the winning team was never a question. And later on, we saw why...

The Big Payback pt. 2

James Brown never envisioned this. Toxic Attraction hits the ring and talks their usual trash. This time, their focus is squarely on Roxanne Perez and Cora Jade for obvious reasons. Cora and Roxanne show up with microphones in their hands. It’s a wrestling show so you can guess what was said. However, things got interesting when Carter and Chance showed up. Of course they have no love for the tag champs, but they take serious umbrage with Perez and Jade “jumping the line.” A fight ensues between the two face teams while Toxic Attraction looks on in amazement.

Fun stuff between these teams and even a little logical. Carter and Chance have a legitimate claim to a rematch with the tag champs. Jade and Perez believe their time is now. Toxic Attraction gets to sit back and admire the destruction.

You Got Moxy, Kid

Last week, Cameron Grimes got in Edris Enofe’s face. Not to disrespect the man, but to challenge him.

Challenge accepted.

Enofe and Grimes have good chemistry together. The best moment was Enofe taking punishment from the Grimey man and asking for more. That was the whole point of this match: For Enofe to show he’s more than jokes and can stand toe-to-toe with NXT’s best. And he did that. He lost, yes, because of course. Grimes is dancing with the NXT champ in a couple weeks, so it does him no good to take an L right now. But Enofe earned his respect, along with the respect of the crowd. Grimes proved long ago he can tell a good story in a short amount of time with pretty much anyone. Add Enofe’s name to that list.

When the Family Feuds

Legado del Fantasma is still feeling the pain as new members of the family. Cruz del Toro and Joaquin Wilde faced Diamond Mine’s Roderick Strong & Damon Kemp. Any Diamond Mine match is a physical one, and this was no different. It was an okay affair but went by way too fast for me. And maybe that’s because the point wasn’t the match itself but the ending. One of Tony’s goons hooked Wilde’s leg with a foreign object. That distraction gave Strong the opening for a running knee and a trip to the pay window.

Batter Up

Lash Legend needs more in-ring work. And working with Alba Fyre is a good way to give her that crash course. But what she lacks in the ring right now she more than makes up for in personality and conviction. That said, this was a throwaway match between the two and clearly the start of something long-ish term. Why? Because Lash used Alba’s baseball bat against her. Obviously, that was a DQ.

Von Wagner Did a Thing

That’s it. He wrestled Brooks Jensen and won.


This episode was all over the place with its pacing. I didn’t even mention all the vignettes and backstage interviews. We got segments from Nikkita Lyons, Chase U, Bron Breakker & Cameron Grimes, Joe Gacy (ugh), Indi Hartwell & Kiana James, another Apollo Crews Equalizer audition reel, Tiffany Stratton, and NXT’s newest arrival JD McDonagh. A LOT. NXT is at its best when it lets matches, match results, and everything else around the matches breathe. This felt like someone completely out of breath while running the New York Marathon.

Grade: B-

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