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NXT Halloween Havoc 2023 recap & reactions: A new queen in town

Carmelo Hayes says he didn’t do it, Chase U wins big, and Lyra Valkyria makes it to the big time on Halloween Havoc Week 1.


There’s a moment in my favorite horror film, Halloween, where Dr. Loomis says Michael isn’t a man. He’s more of a force than a human being. And for the fellow horror nerds reading, I see Michael that same way. He’s a shape; just a force who instinctively does what he does with no true rhyme or reason.

But I digress. I mention all that because Lyra Valkyria represented that force this week. She didn’t back down and took Becky’s biggest shots. No matter what the veteran dished out, she took it in stride and pushed Becky to her limit.

I’m still shocked she did it. I went into this match, possibly like most reading this, expecting an outcome where Becky leaves Florida with that championship in her hands. Props to NXT for not only booking a match that felt like a mirror match at times, but also made both women look great in defeat. And Becky looking great made Lyra look that much better. Lyra didn’t counter every move; she didn’t reverse the Dis-Arm-Her, but she forced herself to the ropes. She didn’t counter the first Manhandle Slam, but she kicked out of it and Becky lost her cool. More importantly, when Lyra threw her best shots at Becky and the match kept going, she kept her composure while Becky didn’t.

For that reason, this match wasn’t just about Lyra winning but Lyra outlasting Becky. It built on her match with Rhea Ripley where she went the distance but just didn’t have enough. This time she did because she became tougher. Lyra found a new pain tolerance and stood toe-to-toe with The Man. Becky usually intimidates her opponents before they hook up with her but Lyra didn’t. She backed up her words from last week where she promised Becky a new version of Lyra.

And I really like this new version. This is a huge win for Lyra and Becky accomplished her main goal with that championship. She elevated it and finished her reign wrestling the very person she always wanted to wrestle.

Fantastic match, surprise finish, and a great moment for Lyra. Oh and let me not forget Jade Cargill watching from the crow’s nest, sitting on a throne with two bodyguards on her arms. We got no indication she’s next for Lyra, but color me shocked if it doesn’t happen.

But that’s for later. Right now? Watch the match and give both women their props for truly tearing down the house and adding seriousness to a night filled with a more festive spirit.


A Nightmare on Elm St

Last week, I said I don’t know what a Devil’s Playground match is but it sounds violent. Well, it turns out it’s an actual playground. Just packed with violent things. Okay, I’ll take it.

Look, a lot of Halloween Havoc matches like this will get me saying something hopefully clever, making observations, and just saying if I enjoyed it.

I loved the ending with the Pop Rox on the purse full of bricks. Perfect ending and poetic. Kiana James’ obsession with that purse, and Roxanne Perez’s desire to make her eat it, played strongly in this feud. So it’s only fitting that it ends that way. Wild match, a lot of fun, and the right woman one. Especially if we’re telling the story about Roxanne growing into a different competitor.

Oh and I loved the costumes. Roxanne as Freddy Kreuger? Perfect and says so much about where she’s going.


Kelani Jordan dressed like Spider-Gwen. That was enough for me to fully back her. And she survived for the W. This match actually showcased Arianna Grace more than Kelani. Last week, Kelani got a cheap W so she gave us a lot more here. Her attitude change and physicality emphasized the tournament’s importance. That Kelani mustered just enough to get the W and overcome the odds serves her well too. The Breakout tournament is all about the future and both women have a lot going for them in that regard.

Also, Kelani dressed like Spider-Gwen.


I wondered if a title change might happen here. And the longer the match went, the more I felt it coming. Sure enough, Chase U reigns supreme.

I normally enjoy NXT tag matches, and this one didn’t disappoint. Duke Hudson played the equalizer here, which is a great look and position for the big man. Chase U seemed a step ahead of The Family at most points. They stopped their big moves and felt more cohesive.

Normally, I’d cry foul at The Family losing the titles here because this felt like a short reign. But I think there’s more happening with Chase U and putting those titles on them feeds into that intrigue. In fact, we saw some of that drama this week. With the ref tending to Tony D’Angelo , Jacy Jayne slid a crowbar to Andre Chase. Andre refused and usually, that means an L. And yet, showing integrity actually worked in his favor!

Ironically, the Don’s compassion cost his team the match. He bumped into Jacy on the apron, who fell and hit Thea Hail. The Don took a moment to observe the damage and wonder about their wellbeing while Andre took advantage of the distraction.

Nothing nefarious at all.

But what happens here? Will Jacy corrupt the rest of Chase U? Eventually, they come to an impasse here. Either Chase U becomes like Jacy, or Jacy becomes like them. Or it blows up and becomes violent.

Oh, and shoutout to Andre for rocking the Olympic 7s. I have those in my closet, so he is clearly a man of taste.


Another violent gimmick match that I enjoyed. Although, I wish Gigi Dolin got the win over Blair Davenport. But that’s just because I like her more. That said, Blair needed the W more coming off her last big match with Roxanne. And she got it after a Falcon Arrow through a table. Incredible move and props to Gigi for taking the bump.

Like I said, violent and fun with a wild finish.

You’re Next

The final breakout tournament match of the episode featured Lola Vice and Karmen Petrovic. They have very similar styles, so it felt like an MMA match at several moments. Especially the end where Karmen went for a roundhouse, Lola ducked, and hit her own roundhouse. That reminded me of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter.

The one complaint here? I didn’t like Kelani coming out and posing with Lola. Talk about Mortal Kombat. I mean, the poses and freeze frame were right out of the game! I know this is wrestling, so a little corniness is expected. But that didn’t work for me. Put the two women across from each other and let them talk trash. But don’t do something like that, which feels so coordinated and betrays the moment.


Lexis King is finally here. I love the intro on the sliding throne, love the attitude, and like the wrestling skill. I liked him back in AEW and thought they potentially had something there. We’ll see what happens with him here under a new gimmick that feels a bit more true to life. It’s crazy what happened to Dante Chen, right? He came into NXT as kind of a big deal and now he’s getting no tv entrance and providing welcome wagon service to the new guy.

But Lexis, despite not liking his dad, showed the same anger and aggression.

The Dark Half

Quick thing about Carmelo Hayes. They’re working awful hard to convince us he didn’t assault Trick Williams. So hard I’m wondering if he’s innocent. Vic Joseph asked him and his denials came off smarmy and false. Then Shotzi & Scarlett, dressed as the twins from The Shining, blamed him as well. Bron Breakker even visited him and gave him props for doing it because it showed his killer instinct and willingness to do whatever to stay on top. Melo denied it then, of course, and now I’m thinking it’s too obvious.

But isn’t that exactly what they want me to think? They’re pointing the finger to him so hard that they want me to say it can't be real. They know that we know that they know that we know. Therefore, this whole thing is a Red Herring and he did it.

And now I’m cross-eyed.

This was fun. Halloween Havoc week 1 didn’t blow my socks off, but it presented some solid pure wrestling matches, fun gimmick matches, intrigue, and a dope main event for the ages.

What say you, Cagesiders?

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