Let’s just get into it this week, people! We got a lot to talk about. Claire talked about it too in her usual place with her usual skill.
Carry On Tradition
NXT used its history this week as part of the hype for Worlds Collide. Ciampa, Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler, Gunther, Alba Fyre, and even Pete Dunne. The former champs of their respective belts all spoke to the current champions about legacy, history, pressure, and everything on the line at Worlds Collide. I’m two minds of how this played out, so walk with me through what worked and what didn't.
Seeing these former champs certainly underlined the importance of the match. It also raised the stakes in a way commentary just can’t do. And that’s no diss to Vic or Wade either. Some things just sound better when spoken as a result of experience. Their words also reminded everyone of the finality of Worlds Collide. NXT UK is going away. A few of these current championship reigns are on the clock. What we currently know as NXT is changing right before our eyes, so yeah, this is serious business.
The interactions worked better with established connections. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate. Alba Fyre and Meiko Satomura. Pete Dunne and Gunther. And, last but not least, Ciampa and Bron Breakker. Speaking of Ciampa, gotta love how NXT transforms wrestlers back into their previous gimmicks the minute they walk through its doors. Miz who?
Anyway, those connected on different levels, thus making them feel like integral storytelling tools rather than perfunctory tricks of the trade. Which is probably why Finn and Bron didn’t work, and neither did the combination of Shayna and Mandy Rose. Oh, and let’s not even get into Rhea and Blair Davenport. Those appearances on the the other side of the spectrum, as they lacked depth and meaning.
They pop the crowd and scratch that nostalgic itch for the old NXT, but that’s really the only purpose. As opposed to the other appearances that scratched that itch and meant something to the wrestlers involved and the audience because we know their shared history.
I love WWE embracing its history like this. Former champs expressing their respect for championship belts shows those titles are bigger than the feuds or even whatever former beef the combatants might have. It’s a different build towards a title match and sets Worlds Collide apart as a singular event. Those are all very good things.
Maybe I’m an easy get but the most of the cameos got me more excited for the unification matches and reinforced that I have no idea who is leaving the event with titles in their hands.
Finger Poke of Doom
Grayson Waller defeated Apollo Crews. Normally I’m against such shenanigans but I’m okay with it now. Why? Because Waller cheated, which gives Apollo an out and cause for a rematch. Plus? It’s another example of heels acting like heels, which I’m always about.
This was a pretty good match too because Waller keeps getting better and Apollo is Apollo. Waller poked Apollo in the eyes twice. Once in the first act and again for the finish. The first time threw Apollo off his game for a while and the second happened so quickly, you might miss it unless you’re paying attention.
These two aren’t finished but I’m curious how Apollo finds a way around Waller’s deviousness.
Here Comes a New Challenger
This was a weird tag title defense for Katana Chance and Katana Carter. They defeated Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley, but mostly due to Toxic Attraction’s interference. They barely even got into their match before Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne got involved. The story is there though: They missed their chance at the other tag championships, so they don’t want anyone to have anything they don’t.
Doudrop x Nikki A.S.H. showed up once Carter x Chance told the world they have no one left to beat. The women’s team from Raw challenged NXT’s tag champs to a match at Worlds Collide, finally giving them something to do and someone new to fight. I like that for them.
Denzel, John Lithgow, and Ice-T
Ricochet is back! Well, for at least one event. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams hit the ring before the night ended. The A Champ was incensed at his absence from Worlds Collide. So much so that he dropped the line of the night:
“I broke a rebel heart. This ain’t a dream and you can’t swerve me.”
After declaring he will not defend his title at the event—that’ll show ‘em, Melo—Ricochet’s music hit. Mr. O’Shea explained Worlds Collide can have more than one meaning and the event needs some blue brand.
They exchanged barbs for a bit, with Melo clearly in shock. So yeah, we’re getting a match between these two at Worlds Collde that will definitely bring down the house.
I’m on record saying this story with Roderick Strong and the Diamond Mine needs to end. He cost the Creed Bros. and Damon Kemp yet another match this week. This time against Gallus when he stupidly ran to the ring with cell phone proof to exonerate himself of wrongdoing and that he’s not a liar. Kemp was distracted, the Brothers Creed were confused, and Gallus got the W.
Before Roddy’s foolishness, this was the best match of the night. I want more of these three because it’s just physical. The Diamonds in the Rough are filled with mat wrestlers but they’re bruisers as well. They can fight with the best of them and match Gallus blow for blow and intensity.
When the match ended, the locker room emptied into the ring because, you know, worlds actually collide.
You know what I don’t like though? This Joe Gacy/Cameron Grimes feud. And the crowd agrees with me because they dropped plenty of F-bombs during this segment with Schism and Grimes.
The plus side is Grimes finally told Gacy he’s not joining Schism, which means a fight is coming. Which means this thing is mercifully almost over. Godspeed to everyone suffering as much as I am.
Gallus wants Briggs & Jensen so bad they can taste it. The British trio interfered in the NXT UK tag champs’ trios match against Pretty Deadly and Lash Legend. Even with Fallon “Yee Haw, Bitch” Henley by their side, it wasn’t enough to stop Gallus from swaying the match’s direction. That’s why Pretty Legendar (Good one, Barrett) got the W. This wasn’t the best match for these teams as it was clear serving World’s Collide was the bigger purpose. Honestly? I’m more interested in a Paxley and Legend feud though. Whenever those two get their hands on each other, it feels like a real fight between two people who don’t like each other.
Chase the Dragon
Whenever Andre Chase gets time, he produces pretty good matches. He and Charlie Dempsey got some time this week and they delivered. Chase is always interesting in the ring, and, like Stella said, you gotta respect a man who wrestles in a sweater. Chase got the W here after Dempsey found himself distracted by Bodhi Heyward. As always in wrestling, taking one’s eye off the prize often leads to a terrible demise.
So Zoey Stark, fresh off a championship match loss to Mandy Rose, took her frustrations out on Kiana James. Outside of kayfabe, James wrestling Stark is good for her because it will only raise her game and make her look better. As it relates to kayfabe, James keeps writing checks she cannot cash in the ring. Last week it was Nikkita Lyons. This week it’s Zoey Stark. Zoey got the W, which serves as a bounce back, but the true moment of the match came when Lyons showed up for her revenge on James.
What does that say about Zoey? What’s her role now? That’s the weird thing about NXT having one singles belt for the women. Not everyone has a big match to fall into after losing a title match like Wendy Choo with Tiffany Stratton. Lyons’ appearance overshadowed Zoey’s win while underlining the fact Zoey is a woman without a country at the moment. The match was okay but yeah, the ending was the intrigue.
This was a solid outing. It did its main job which is prime the pump for Worlds Collide. Nothing more nothing less.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.