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Halloween Havoc 2023 recap & reactions: Trick or Treat

Trick Williams comes back, the Creeds go to war, and Meta Four goes Scooby Doo for Halloween Havoc Night 2.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

So it all came down to this. After weeks and weeks, Trick Melo Gang dissolved. Or did it? If that question frustrates you, I share your pain. NXT undercut their own moment for reasons passing understanding and took all the steam out of a simmering stare down between two best friends who might make better enemies. But let’s backtrack. How did we get here? Glad you asked.

I’m running out of words for what Carmelo Hayes and Ilja Dragunov do in the ring together. I’m keeping it so real with everyone; this is their third tango and it only continued the greatness that preceded it. Melo came with more aggression this time. Maybe that foreshadowed a heel turn or illustrated his desperation. Or both. But he showed he’s just as vicious as the Mad Dragon. He also showed his toughness.

Ilja believed that when push comes to shove, Melo folds. That the pressure is too much for him and that his pain threshold lacked the same depth as his. Yeah, well, Melo said nah to all that. If there’s one thing this match accomplished, it illustrated that people underestimate Carmelo Hayes character’s toughness. Another small guy with a big attitude went through the same crucible in similar matches. He too showed the substance behind the considerable flash.

The other beautiful thing about this match, that, again, got jumbled when the show ended, is the symmetry between their first encounter and the most recent. Trick Williams’ presence altered both endings. First for Melo, then for Ilja. Melo had this match won but the second Trick’s music played and he showed up in Orlando, Melo lost focus. Ilja capitalized and the champ stays the champ.

Which brings us back to the top. Trick helped his fallen friend (?) to his feet and looked incredibly disappointed. And before we got anywhere with that, the camera cuts to Baron Corbin beating lording over Ilja and telling him to keep his head on a swivel.

I don’t like it.

One of those moments is more important than the other. No diss to Ilja and Baron, but it ain't them. Cutting the camera to the lesser moment then running out of time in the broadcast takes the steam out of the moment between Melo and Trick. NXT went a whole week wondering who jumped Trick. And the moment we might potentially find out, they move away. It’s a big moment that deserves its own spotlight rather than sharing it with someone else. That they ran out of time on a show where one advertised match didn’t even happen only makes it weirder.

When any television show ends, whether it's wrestling or Abbott Elementary, I want to feel something. Happy, sad, wistful, hopeful, something. But I don’t want confusion. NXT didn’t ruin their night this way by any means, but it left a little sour taste in my mouth when, all in all, Halloween Havoc satisfied me.

I hate going out on a whimper.


Deep Red

Unreal. The Creed Bros. and The Cousins (Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza) put on a show. Their Tables, Ladders, and Stairs match set it off and never stopped. The Creeds particularly looked possessed and showed that battery in their backs from a stellar showing on Raw.

Just watch it. Insanity with big spots, blood, and tons of violence. No tricks, just treats.

The Ring

Meta Four as the Scooby Doo gang feels perfect. Them searching a haunted house for the Heritage Cup? Also perfect. I do wish Noam Dar dressed as Fred though. But then again, since he’s a scaredy cat—or dog—maybe that’s appropriate. And every single moment entertained me. The bottom line is Noam got back his cup and Akira Tozawa gets his match for said cup next week.


Wes Lee is back! Before I get to that, big props to Dirty Dom and Nathan Frazer. Another solid match, despite the predictable finish. They actually tried a little swerve when Dom missed Mami’s championship handoff and it looked like, for at least a few seconds, that lady luck shined her light elsewhere. But, of course, Dom retained while dressed like a prisoner, and Rhea Ripley dressed like his warden.

I’ll keep my mouth shut since this website is not rated TV 14.

Back to the big news though: Wes returned. Dressed like a security guard —I think—he attacked Dom after the match and held up the North American championship.

I’m curious about this. Wes went away for a while, seemingly looking for himself. What changed? What gave him back his mojo? Inquiring minds want to know. And either way, with Rhea involved, that title doesn’t change hands. How does Wes, or anyone, neutralize Mami? Handcuffs perhaps?


Von Wagner made his triumphant return! He rescued Mr. Stone from the same fate when Bron Breakker, after dismantling Mister, almost smashed his head with steel steps.

Bron got a big pop, which is great for him, and put Bron on his heels. The Big Bad Booty Nephew’s facial expressions worked really well here. He put over Von and Von reciprocated on his end.

Great segment. Even the “match” with Mr. Stone worked well. Bron looked like a bully picking on someone far from his own size. The minute that person showed up, he bolted.

Night of the Comet

The minute they went with Kelani Jordan injuring her knee during the women’s breakout tournament final, I penciled her in for the W. She proves her mettle through overcoming injury and gets a hero’s ovation when she beats the odds. But, to my surprise, Lola Vice won. They wrestled an entertaining match with a little psychology and great heel work from Lola. Once Kelani’s strength is her vulnerability; she’s a natural baby face because I want her to succeed. Lola seems like the person who succeeds regardless of the circumstances, but ruthless enough to make sure the circumstances always work out for her.

The knee injury, and the way she lost the match, helps Kelani in defeat. She had Lola beat, but took her eye off the prize too long and took a risk that didn’t pay off at all. Lola gets the big victory but Kelani looks primed for something bigger down the road. I dug it and I’m looking forward to where both women go from here.

In the Mouth of Madness

Did Andre Chase cost Thea Hail & Jacy Jayne the tag championships? Did he help them snatch defeat from victory’s jaws? That’s the big story coming out of this fantastic tag match between the challengers and Piper Niven & Chelseeeea Green. Chelsea & Piper really make a great team and they find more chemistry each time they’re together. Piper’s the musical, and she showed all that going against Thea. I like Thea working with bigger opponents because it accentuates her Scrappy Dog quality that can, at times, look weird when she wrestles someone her size. It makes her offense look better too, so props to her and Piper for handling their business together.

But, as noted, everything changed when Jacy and Chelsea hit the ring. We got more back and forth, including a nice set up for the finish. That’s where Chase U factored into the narrative and everything hit the fan.

You saw the clip so no need for me to put words to what pictures illustrate. This was always coming through. Jacy’s heel tactics don’t sit right with Andre Chase. We saw it before and we saw it again. At a certain point, someone will make Thea choose: Jacy or Chase U? The fact that Andre interjected himself in Thea’s two biggest matches, and cost her both times, might make her lean towards the former and tell the latter to kick rocks.

Oh. Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn took over hosting duties for the night and apparently put a curse/spell on the champs. They want their shot at those “cursed” championships and I believe that happens sooner rather than later.

Besides the ending, Halloween Havoc Night 2 rocked my world. A fun two weeks of NXT that closed some storylines while creating brand new ones. I won’t belabor the final moments but, yeah, I do wish it ended better.

And I hope everyone had a safe and Happy Halloween! Go watch some horror!

What say you, Cagesiders?

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