NXT 2.0 returns tonight (Aug. 16) live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando!
Tonight’s a special episode — HEATWAVE! — with a
PPV PLE-like card, so let’s look at each of the five announced matches.
Bron Breakker (c) vs. JD McDonagh for the NXT championship
WWE’s tried to put variations on different challenges in front of young Bron during his NXT championship run. Each of his major programs have seen challengers try to exploit what they see as a whole in Breakker’s game. Joe Gacy tried to get him to lose his temper by targeting Bron’s dad. Cameron Grimes questioned his heart, pointing out the champ is not only new to the business, but was pushed from the jump and never really had to struggle.
McDonagh is taking a more scientific approach, bragging about how his knowledge of anatomy means he can heart Breakker in a multitude of ways. The Irish Ace also seems to be counting on Bron being the “animal” he claims to be in title matches, as that will make it easier for the former Jordan Devlin to outsmart his larger, stronger opponent.
Which is another thing WWE’s tried to do with their top prospect — put him in the ring with experienced guys who work a different style than his. The Finn Bálor-trained McDonagh should be another interesting test for the second generation Superstar, and give Triple H and team more data as they try to decide what additional seasoning Breakker needs before they promote him to Raw or SmackDown.
A tale of two visions
Mandy Rose (c) vs. Zoey Stark for the NXT Women’s championship
Even more than Breakker, Toxic Attraction is the act fans associate with the 2.0 revamp. Rose was planned for NXT before Vince McMahon & John Laurinaitis started overseeing the brand, but it’s difficult to imagine Trips would have booked her for a title run that’s approaching the one year mark.
Stark, on the other hand, is someone The Game & his team clearly think a lot of. She was quickly pushed after signing at the beginning of 2021. A knee injury stalled that, but she recently revealed she worked as a producer for Shawn Michaels while she was rehabbing from the injury. Obviously, upon her return she picked right back up where she left off, winning the battle royal to become #1 contender (she’s also getting a taste of the main roster, teaming with Nikkita Lyons on SmackDown this week as the NXT team in the WWE Women’s Tag Title Tournament).
So does Triple H book Rose’s reign to run a little longer? Or switch to one of “his people” at the first opportunity?
Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Giovanni Vinci for the NXT North American title
The arrogant Italian clotheshorse (fka as Imperium’s Fabian Aichner) tried to get a North American title match during Hayes’ last open challenge, but Nathan Frazer literally ran past him for the shot. Vinci made sure Frazer took an L to The A Champion, then made it clear he wanted to his own chance to take the belt at Heatwave.
Hayes, never one to back down for a fight, took him up on it. In story and in real life, both men seem focused on stealing the show. This one should rock, even though it seems pretty unlikely to result in a title change.
Payback’s a b****
Cora Jade vs. Roxanne Perez
Two more young Superstars WWE is obviously excited about, Jade teamed up with Perez shortly after the former ROH Women’s champ’s debut. Shortly thereafter, the pair had captured tag team gold. Perez’s victory in the Breakout Tournament changed all that, though. A jealous Jade cost her partner the title match against Mandy Rose, then trashed her half of the Tag titles.
Perez has thus far taken the high road, for the most part. She respectively handed over her Tag belt so there could be a tournament to crown their successors, and only really gotten physical with Jade while watching her friend Zoey Stark’s back.
That all changes tonight.
Once and for all
Santos Escobar vs. Tony D’Angelo
This feud has been going on for a while now (as documented last week here), which is why both men agreed to a Street Fight with a lot on the line. If Escobar wins, he and his Legado Del Fantasma family are done dealing with Tony D and his. If The Don wins, Santos is done in 2.0.
Expect lots of interference from the LDF and whoever D’Angelo hasn’t murked from his crew (that would be Stacks... R.I.P. Two Dimes). I’d also look at this as a sign of whether Escobar goes to the main roster alone, or with Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro & Elektra Lopez. The lucha libre veteran got a spot on stage at last week’s WrestleMania 39 Ticket Launch event, so he’s headed to Raw or SmackDown. D’Angelo probably needs more work, and maybe a re-evaluation by the new boss.
Julius Creed of Diamond Mine also promises to address an issue within the team... Will Diamond Mine finally explode? Join us in our live blog, and we’ll find out on tonight’s show!