It’s tough writing about Carmelo Hayes vs. Bron Breakker part deux. If only because everything surrounding it superseded the match. John Cena in Melo’s corner, complete with a backstage interaction. Paul Heyman—and by proxy Roman Reigns—backing Bron Breakker with a potentially less meaningful backstage interaction but we’ll see. And even during the match we got a Solo Sikoa sighting. Oh, and the winner gets a spot in a triple threat match next week for a shot at the NXT championship.
There’s a lot happening here for a match just thrown together specifically for this head-to-head with Dynamite. And please don’t anyone act like this night wasn’t about Dynamite. Just like I hope no one acts like Dynamite didn’t program their night for NXT. We’re all adults here and we know how this business works. Cool? Cool.
With that out of the way, it’s also difficult talking about it since they did it already but on a grander stage and with more time. The match didn’t disappoint at all, but I found myself more interested in all the set dressing. But I also think that helped Melo and Bron. While their Stand & Deliver match set the tone for that weekend, this one felt more important simply because of everything happening around it. They did this before but not under these circumstances: The main event on a night going against the competition with two of the greats at ringside.
And they delivered, which says a lot about both men. Both men got rubs tonight in multiple ways, with Bron possibly getting the biggest. He got a promo segment with John that didn’t fully translate since the crowd didn't play nice with the censors. They also got physical, with Peacemaker ducking a spear and Bron getting out of an Attitude Adjustment. But prior to all that, he told Bron that the kid has all the talent in the world but a bad attitude. That theme continued when during the match when John stopped Bron from doing to Melo what he did to Von Wagner. John kicking Bron behind the ref’s back after taking the steel steps out of his hand didn’t quite sit right with me. Not because Bron didn’t deserve it but because John presented himself all night as this honorable cat. Taking the steel steps is enough at that point. Especially since Solo showed up and John tangled with him into the back.
Melo got the W but Bron quickly speared him and grabbed a microphone. He called himself the biggest badass around, which of course meant the American Badass showed up.
As far as I’m concerned, if Undertaker shows up again, this is the only way it works. American Badass riding a motorcycle and just exuding that aura like only he can. Taker also commented on Bron’s potential but awful attitude. Unlike the long lost Toretto brother, Taker did something about it. Bron caught a right hand and a chokeslam while Melo watched from a corner with a smile across his face. And while Bron recovered, Taker raised Melo’s hand as the show faded to black.
A big night for both men. Expanding on my thoughts from last week, I think this is it for Bron in NXT. He just got huge props from three legends in one night, and he lost a big match to his biggest rival. WWE clearly sees these two as the future but for one of them, the future is now.
I forgot about Asuka’s undefeated record in NXT. I don’t know how that slipped my mind but I thank Vic Joseph for the reminder. That put some stakes on this match that came out of nowhere. I thought for a second that perhaps Roxanne Perez gets the W and hands Asuka her first NXT defeat.
Alas that didn’t happen. And that’s sort of the catch-22 for a match like this, at least for me. Asuka gains nothing defeating Roxanne but Roxanne gains everything defeating Asuka.
But that took nothing away from the match itself, which didn’t entirely disappoint. Roxanne looked good against Asuka, as far as technique, but the I never felt any jeopardy for Asuka. With that win streak on the line, a little more tension and making Asuka truly work for it would go a long way.
But that’s not on either woman. They did their thing and wrestled a fine match. Asuka gave Roxanne her props after the match, which is nice. The post match madness gave us Shotzi, sitting ringside and announcing she’s hosting Halloween Havoc with Scarlett, coming to Roxanne’s rescue after Kiana James attacked her.
That story progression with Kiana helped the Roxanne loss go down a little easier.
In direct contrast with Asuka vs. Roxanne, I never expected Dirty Dom to walk out of the Performance Center with Ilja Dragunov’s championship. That match became all about how Ilja might deal with Judgment Day, and what story emanated from it.. We also got an interesting twist with Baron Corbin stating Ilja picked an easy draw for his first title defense rather than going with a challenge. Specifically, Baron called Ilja out for ducking him. that added factor also made the destination more important than the journey.
The journey itself wasn’t awful either. Dirty Dom keeps putting on solid matches and Ilja never disappoints. But it wasn’t a cakewalk for Ilja; Dom made him work and even controlled the match at times.
The eventual Judgment Day interference came in the form of Finn Balor and JD McDonagh, who Ilja dealt with rather easily with special ref LA Knight’s help. The best moment came when Rhea Ripley got on the apron and swung her championship at Ilja, missed, and fell into Trick Williams’ arms. They shared a bit of a moment and then he dropped her. Trick is great and Rhea is even better. Rhea works well with anyone but I enjoyed this interaction with Trick. Trick only showed up to make sure what happened to him didn't happen to Ilja.
And it didn’t! Ilja got the W, only for Dijak to put hands and boots to him. Baron wants the champ but Dijak does too. I like the idea of a match between those two with a shot at the title on the line but we’re getting a triple threat with them and Melo instead. And you know what? I ain’t mad at that either.
Look....a pub fight between the Brawlin’ Brutes and Gallus. It’s what I wanted. It’s what I needed. And it’s what we got.
Pool sticks. Darts. Bowling Balls. Beer. I mean what more can you ask for? The most interesting part came before the match when Butch implored Tyler Bate to be the old Tyler Bate for this match. And we got that too.
It was the best kind of anarchy.
I kept quiet about the Brian Pillman Jr. stuff because we just got teases. And the teases did nothing for me. But this thing they did this week? Fantastic. More segments with Brian flipping through channels but then he spoke. He talked about his dad’s legacy and how it meant everything to everyone...except him. He dumped on his dad because he never knew him, and he has no love for professional wrestling because it’s the absolute last thing he wanted to do with his life. But no matter how hard he tried, wrestling kept calling. So he’s here to inflict punishment on the thing that took everything from him. And rather than go with the Pillman name, he’s choosing a last name that means something to him: King. That name belonged to the man who actually raised him.
Powerful stuff and I’m already intrigued.
This was a fun night of wrestling! I didn’t even get to the NXT Women’s Break Out tourney match (Lola Vice defeated Dani Palmer), or Cody Rhodes’ presence as guest GM, or the Dusty Classic announcement, or the fact Jade Cargill showed up for a brief few seconds as Shawn Michaels’ guest for the evening. Or this little moment between Paul and Ava. Just an entertaining packed show that focused less on the wrestling and more on the big moments. But those big moments really connected.
What say you, cagesiders?