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NXT recap & reactions (July 19, 2022): A Stark reminder

Someone returns. Someone cements a heel turn. And Joe Gacy is still a thing for reasons.

Who wants to watch a battle royal with 20 women? Who wants to watch that same battle royal with #1 contender stakes?

Yeah, I thought you might like that.

Welcome to this week’s edition of NXT 2.0. Claire is making sense of Wade Barrett’s ramblings while I’m filling in all the blanks.

Let’s talk NXT!


Drop a Gem on Em

No one likes Cora Jade and everyone wants Mandy Rose.

Those are the two main stories going into NXT’s 20-woman battle royal. The winner gets a shot at Ms. Rose. Several segments interspersed this week’s episode with various women proclaiming their desire for the championship and their bloodlust for ending Mandy’s reign of terror.

But it was the woman who owed Toxic Attraction the most who not only made a surprise return, but won the whole damn thing.

Everyone, your new #1 contender is Zoey Stark.

Before we get to the final moments, let’s walk through a few notable moments.

Ivy Nile chased Cora Jade out of the ring when every single eye in the ring turned upon the now most hated woman in the locker room. The women weren’t sad about what Cora did to Roxanne; they didn’t like the fact she threw a championship into the trash can. Sounds like their beef is with creative, but hey, what else is new.

Lash Legend and Alba Fyre canceled each other out. The beef between these two is everlasting, as they essentially eliminated each other and kept fighting even while out of the ring.

This was followed shortly by another interesting development. Katana Chance and Kayden Carter clearly had a plan. These two eliminated a few people together, showing they’re a very well-oiled machine. However, the problem came when they went after Nile. The two easily eliminated Nile but the Diamond Mine member didn’t go down without a fight. She held on to Chance’s leg while Carter did her best to keep her partner in the ring. One big tug from Ivy put both of Chance’s feet on the mat, and a big shove from Nikkita Lyons put Carter out of the ring. Carter and Chance put the boots to Nile while Tatum Paxley, in the middle of building momentum, eliminated herself to save Nile. That’s a nice moment illustrating how important that friendship is to Tatum and how much she needs Diamond Mine.

But then we got to the “final four.” Tiffany Stratton, Nikkita Lyons, Kiana James, and Zoey Stark. For a second, it looked like Stratton had this in the bag. She took care of Stratton, which in turn knocked out James, and had the momentum. But she took her eye off of Zoey. Zoey eventually eliminated her and a surprise from Cora Jade, who stayed hidden most of the match after running out before it started.

If anyone deserves a piece of Mandy, it’s the Zoey. Toxic Attraction put her on the shelf for months, derailed her dreams, and reveled in it every step of the way.

This battle royal gets an A on storytelling alone, along with picking the absolute right winner who is a legitimate threat to Mandy’s title.


Extracurriculars

Grindin’

Cameron Grimes is on a cold streak and me thinks Joe Gacy sees food. Gacy showed up during Grimes’ match with JD McDonagh, watching from the NXT Perch. What he saw was a fine opening match between two cats with similar styles. They even kinda dress alike too, which makes things all sorts of weird. But the story was simple: JD targeted Grimes’ knee and Grimes did his best to protect said knee.

Great plan until it didn’t work. Grimes found himself tangled in the ropes while JD went to work on that left knee, refusing to let Grimes back in the ring. And that was basically all she wrote.

Gacy looked on in disappointment while I simply shook my head at the fact we’re still doing this Joe Gacy thing.

10% Diss

Well, well, well. Who knew Cora Jade had it in her? Heel Cora already has my full attention. Jade explained why she betrayed her best friend last week and it all made perfect (heel) sense. It started a bit rough but once she found her footing, she was completely in the pocket. She turned on Roxanne because of the fans and Roxanne. The fans cheered for Roxanne to basically say the tag championships weren’t enough. And Roxanne ruined their friendship—and team—by going after Mandy’s title. Why? Because Rox is a “selfish bitch.” Her words, not mine. And now, it’s time for the “Generation of Jade.” Oh, and she threw her tag belt in the trash, which, while a good visual and great for the promo, just proves WWE really has no desire for a woman’s tag team division. Sasha and Naomi were right.

Sign me up, dear lady. This was great and I want more of it.

I’m a Hustla

Roderick Strong sucks as a leader. Seriously. I keep saying it and I’m tired of seeing the story. Strong and Damon Kemp put on an actual wrestling match which just isn’t compelling in this format and with these two. Tony D’Angelo cut the action short when he and his goons beat up the Creed Bros. backstage. A distracted Kemp, who tried leaving to ya know, help his friends, gets sucker kicked in the knee by Roddy and that’s that.

I’m just tired of the story. We can’t keep playing the same notes with no new developments.

Dangerous

Pretty Deadly didn’t reclaim the UK titles and I’m confused. Their match with Jensen & Briggs was pretty damn good because most NXT tag matches are, but it feels weird. Pretty Deadly lost the NXT tag titles and lost their shot at the UK titles. Soooo what are we doing with them?

Bring the Pain

Turns out targeting Cameron Grimes’ knee was a part of some longterm storytelling for JD. Bron Breakker called out his newest challenger and didn’t get anything he wanted. JD showed up on screen—with a lot of loving looks at a mannequin—and illustrated his plans for Bron’s shoulder. Bron, who looked confused during most of JD’s biology lesson, told JD to find some balls and face him. Someone call Miz.

I think this might be dope purely for the different approaches to wrestling and even promo styles.

Elevation

Axiom can fly. He’s a wrestler who loves comic books—man has taste—and wants to inspire people as a true superhero. He and Dante Chen—remember when he was a thing?—put on a fine match but, like a lot of the night, nothing spectacular. And Axiom picked up the W so, good for him.

Mask Off

Gacy’s Schism bros revealed themselves today, as promised. The Grizzled Young Vets are baptized and renamed agger Reed (James Drake) and Rip Fowler (Zack Gibson). With weird ass contact lenses to boot. Sure, Joe. Sure.


This was an average show. The Battle Royal was the star of the week for NXT, and Zoey Stark’s return alone is worth the price of admission. I can’t wait to see the feud between her and Mandy take shape. Oh, and do yourself a favor and peep Cora’s promo if you missed it.

Grade: B-

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