Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. NXT is on the road to Heatwave, which just feels insensitive depending on your geographic location. Right?!
Anyway, Claire is, as always, the best blogger in the business so do yourself a favor and check her out.
Let’s talk NXT!
Four Long Months
Zoey Stark kicked off this week’s show kicking a passionate promo to the crowd. A tried and true wrestling trope is when the heel interrupts the returning babyface’s true crowd confessions. Meaning Cora Jade and Toxic Attraction interrupted Zoey’s tale of recovery, fear, and eventual joy. Zoey was less concerned with the Cora than the Toxic brew because she despises them for one and for two, she wants Mandy’s championship. Mandy, soon the woman with the fourth longest NXT Championship reign in the territory’s history, was more than happy to let Gigi Dolin handle her light work while screaming for respect on her name.
So let’s recap: Gigi and Zoey scheduled a match, Mandy and Zoey have a future match for the championship, Cora Jade is waiting in the wings, and there’s still the issue of Roxanne Perez. That’s a lot of plot, right?
Zoey vs. Gigi was too short. It’s something I say every week with NXT but yeah, just too short. Another match that got good as soon as it ended. Zoey looked good, and she almost got her hands on Mandy after picking up the W. Zoey needs to look like a legit threat to Mandy’s title and she does at the moment. But before she even got the chance to bask in her first singles victory in God knows how long, Cora Jade showed up to rain on her parade. Then came Roxanne Perez to extract a little revenge and make the save.
I like the pieces in play here and seamlessly connecting them. But I also want to see more of Zoey before we get to Heatwave.
Grayson Waller and Trick Williams are perfect foils for Wes Lee at the moment. Wes wears his heart on his sleeve and is an incredibly sympathetic dude. Trick and Wes? Yeah, the exact opposite. The beauty of Wes and Grayson’s match this week is the wrestled at such a high quality that I completely forgot about Trick’s part in this story. So of course when he showed up, I said, “Duh.”
This match was all about character work, something NXT is pretty consistently good about. Wes showboated a bit but just a bit. He flashed his W (WESTSIDE!) to make Grayson eat his own words. And, of course, when Grayson took control, it was all about embarrassing his opponent. But all that emotion within Wes forces his hand; sometimes he goes too far and pays the price. Grayson, not taking advantage of his down opponent and talking way too much trash, ended up on the wrong end of an offensive onslaught. Wes then took to the top rope, because he felt all of that emotion, and found himself on the floor when Grayson recovered.
Trick showed up, disguised of course, and punched Wes in the back of the head with his fists wrapped in boxing gloves. The ref never saw it and it looked like a count out loss was in Wes’ future. But he got into the right at the count of nine, putting all of that heart on display.
But, yeah, it was too little too late. Grayson hit him with his stunner, walked away to the pay window, while Trick taunted Wes.
I do think this was a bit overbooked with Trick’s interference, the almost count out, and then the eventual W for Trick, but it worked for the most part. Mostly because of the sympathy and empathy for Wes.
Anatomy of a Murder
This was a weird segment with JD McDonagh. For those who missed it, JD bought himself a ticket to the show and introduced himself to the NXT audience. Proper like. He walked around talking about the number of Americans who die from eating popcorn, introduced himself to the timekeeper and Alicia, while explaining the amount of damage a bell hammer can do to the human anatomy. All of that was unnecessary. What worked, however, was JD’s interactions with Wade Barrett and Vic Joseph. His quiet menace and not so veiled threats to both men turned JD into a psychotic horror movie villain. And, as a horror geek, I dug it a lot.
Bron came to the ring, talked about their upcoming match at Heatwave, and withstood a freaking headbutt from JD. Bron returned the favor in kind with a headbutt of his own, busting open JD’s lip. More psychotic horror movie stuff as JD not only laughed at the bleeding his own blood, but tasted it multiple times with his fingers and smiled.
Keep everything from the point JD introduces himself to Wade until the end of the segment and it’s a home run.
Julius Creed is a better leader for the Diamond Mine. That’s probably an understatement at this point. Creed is the heart and soul of the crew, so of course he’s the one who took the fall during the big main event tussle between Diamond Mine and Tony D’s Family. The moment I loved in this match, and wanted more of, was all eight men squaring off against each other in a fight. These teams don’t like each other and Diamond Mine has more to lose than Tony’s Fam. This shouldn’t just be a wrestling match; make it a brawl. The brawling didn’t last long so we got a solid wrestling match with a good story. One team, Tony’s Fam. is feeling. LdF is not only finding their footing within the crew, but they’re losing bits and pieces of their lucha flavor and dressing like goons. The Mine, on the other hand, is looking for anything they can just to keep them together.
And in the end, for a minute, it looked like the Mine was truly on the other side of a dark tunnel. Julius and Roderick Strong worked over Tony in harmony. Julius hit high, Roderick hit low. Tandem offensive move after tandem offensive move. The two guys always butting heads were finally on the same page.
Julius held Tony for a big knee from Roddy. But Tony moved, duh, and Roddy accidentally hit Julius. Tony dispatched a shocked Roderick and hit Julius with a Fisherman suplex.
Forget about it.
I keep saying I want the Diamond Mine story to end because it’s gone too long but this was a nice turn. It showed one last glimpse of hope and that, at full force and on the same page, Diamond Mine is still a force. Unfortunately for them, this chapter is probably permanently closed now. I want a Julius vs. Roderick match at Heatwave.
Xyon Quinn vs. Apollo Crews was definitely a change of pace from the first match on this week’s show. Apollo, clearly a powerful cat, utilized his speed and agility vs Quinn rather than matching him or overpowering him. Until the end where he crushed Quinn with a spinebuster. The Green Goblin would be proud.
I’m not sure what they’re doing with Xyon at the moment. He keeps picking fight with people and losing those fights, while the story they’re telling with Apollo is one of someone climbing the ladder. Let’s just hope he’s done journaling. Solid match.
Giovanni Vinci and Andre Chase put on a damn fine match this week. It went a lot longer than I predicted with plenty of near falls. Vinci won but this was a competitive bout. And it looks like they’re setting up a Nathan Frazer vs. Giovanni for the future.
WWE asked Alundra Blayze to come to Florida this week. Why? So the WWE Hall of Fame could pull the NXT Women’s Tag Team championship out of the trash can Cora Jade dropped it in last week. Cute reference that I popped for if only a bit. Alundra and Roxanne Perez announced a Fatal 4-Way next week for the NXT Women’s Tag championships: Chance & Carter, Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley, Toxic Attraction, and Valentina Feroz & Yulisa Leon.
Kiss my Boot
Indi Hartwell and Arianna Grace wrestled the most meh match of the night. Once again, no real time to do much and the actual story going into it wasn’t much either. Arianna was tight because Indi eliminated her from last week’s battle royal. So she challenged her. That can work but the match itself needs to justify the simplicity. It did not. Indi won though, continuing this weird place she’s in at the moment due to all the story parts around her no longer existing within Florida’s state lines.
I enjoyed this week’s show. Not the most exciting show in terms of news, but plenty of forward movement and matches with stakes or setting up matches with much higher stakes. We got several video segments setting up future matches, including a preview of Lash Legend and Alba Fyre. The videos actually slowed down the action a bit for me, even if I understand their purpose.
But any week Apollo isn’t journaling is a win.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.