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NXT recap & reactions (Nov. 14, 2023): A plot unfit for a king

The Family reclaims gold, Noam Dar gets a challenger he fears, and the Iron Survivor Challenge qualifier matches continue on this week’s NXT.

Can It Be All So Simple

I saw Five Nights at Freddy’s. Partially because WWE told me to but mostly because I’m a horror geek and it came out in October. If I have one criticism of the flick, it’s that it relied on way too much plot. So much so that the plot took more focus than the actual scares. In short, it complicated a scenario that called for simplicity.

That’s everything happening with Trick Williams, Carmelo Hayes, and Lexis King.

Last week, Lexis inserted himself into the story and hinted that he beat up Trick. We never got anything definitive on that as they left enough room for the option that Melo accosted his best friend.

This week? Well, Melo apparently took a lie detector test saying he didn’t do it, which NXT addressed in a throwaway line during a backstage interview. Later, Lexis caught up with Baron Corbin backstage and took credit for beating down Trick but didn’t reveal how he did it.

What exactly is happening? And why is it so complicated? We’re still headed toward a Trick & Melo divorce but now because Melo is in his feelings about Trick accidentally punching him last week. Which is so weak compared to the inciting incident.

More to the point, why aren’t Melo and Trick going after Lexis? Or at least Trick? Yes, son fought for a spot in the Iron Survivor Challenge, but it’s a two-hour show. NXT wants me to believe that on a professional wrestling show that Trick just let his assailant walk upright and unbothered for 120 minutes? IF Lexis indeed did what he said, then he cost Trick a shot at the territory’s biggest championship. That’s not something one just let’s go.

The whole thing makes Lexis look lost too. He does this big thing to make a name for himself and shows zero follow-up. He doesn’t approach Trick or Melo, nor does he get his big moment in the spotlight in front of the crowd. No, he does what you’re looking at above this paragraph. Is Lexis King already fetch? I really hope not but they’re leaning way too far into Brian Pillman territory when I thought his whole thing was not being his dad. At least that’s what those introductory vignettes told me. The clothes, the mannerisms, the seemingly unmotivated antics just to cause chaos? They all scream Lose Cannon cosplay. Saddling him with this weird position in a storyline that doesn’t need him makes him, as the British say, redundant.

Like I said last week, maybe this is all misdirect. But to what end now? And why? The crowd already suspected Melo did it and the breakup is still full steam ahead. Is Melo working with Lexis? Possibly. But does that matter? And if it’s characters acting out of character, then it really doesn’t matter because it undercuts them. And Lexis King, who got a big first match and involvement in last week’s finale, found himself relegated to a weird backstage segment with Baron where he either answered NXT’s big question in the most anticlimactic way possible, or swerved us for basketball reasons.

Somewhere along the line, someone thought all this sounded like a bright idea. Yeah, well, sometimes, simple is better.


B-Sides

Drama

This tag team match for the championships felt a bit discombobulated. But on purpose. Andre Chase, under investigation and feeling the crowd’s scorn, seemed distracted. And I dug that. This whole thing is storytelling and what better way to tell that story of a man worried about his standing with his organization? The match notably increased its speed and intensity with Duke Hudson in the ring, but Duke had less on his mind.

Watching Andre’s confidence drop precipitously throughout the match kept me invested. The students walking out was a great touch. The more who left, the worse he got in the ring.

We have new tag team champions and I’m pleased. Andre and Duke don’t need the championships at the moment because there’s always something interesting popping with Chase U. Especially now. The Family didn’t quite get their shine with their first reign, so I like giving them another shot.

All for One

Before I get into this match, big shoutout to Otis. The man was on fire during the Supernova Sessions. And he made his affinity for Lash Legend public. First Maxxine. Now Lash? Not mad at his taste at all. Also looking forward to Noam Dar vs. Chad Gable for the Heritage Cup. I don’t always dig the Heritage Cup matches, or at least the WWE version, but those two seem perfectly suited for something special.

As for the Iron Survivor qualifying match between Lash and Roxanne Perez, they hit on something with Ms. Legend. Establishing her as a power house makes sense. Her move set is still limited and hopefully she gets there. But I like giving her power moves because she towers over a lot of the NXT women. She’s not there yet, as several awkward moments in this match showed, but in time and with more experience, she’ll get there. Especially if they play to her strengths (athleticism, power, height). The sky might be the limit. No pun intended.

Kiana James costing Roxanne also makes sense. Roxanne doesn’t need this match and there’s no way Kiana James just lets her beef go. So, yeah, let them fight.

The Questions

Trick Williams defeated Joe Coffey in spite of Carmelo Hayes. That’s the headline there. Trick goes to the Iron Survivor Challenge not because of his best friend. In fact, contrasting how Melo “helped” Trick and how Trick usually helps Melo paints a pretty obvious picture.

Three big moments during the match where Melo sowed doubt about his intentions.

The first came when Trick got Joe out the ring and went in for the kill. But the Gallus boys impeded his progress. Sure, Trick threw punches and got them out the way, but he did it dolo. Rather than running in like a wrecking ball, Melo took his time and hesitated.

B, when a Gallus member got on the ring apron, Melo pulled him off at the last possible moment. Of course, that moment coincided with Trick throwing a discus lariat in that direction, which Melo saw coming. Trick falls out the ring and Melo, once again, hesitates at pulling up his friend.

Lastly, the biggest sin came when Joe leaped over the ropes for a suicide dive and Melo didn’t push Trick out the way. Ten times out of ten, Trick pushes Melo out the way and takes the punishment. Melo moved out the way and watched his partner take a fall.

Luckily, Trick still got the win in a very entertaining match, but it’s obvious where this is going. And since you got here, you already know how I feel about the other plot mechanics surrounding their story.

Thru the Mud

Out the Mud is kinda dope. They’re big men with a unique look who move really well and don’t look lost in the ring. The Brawlin’ Brutes defeated them but despite the match’s length, it was far from a squash. I don’t have more to say than that. They looked good, the right team won, and there’s a lot of potential with this team. And yes, that includes Reggie.

Dirty Dancin’

I’m of two minds on the main event. On one hand, I don’t like Wes Lee taking the pinfall L right before he goes after Dirty Dom. Yes, one might argue that Dom showing up gives him an excuse, but it’s only a slight one. They actually dodged the easy way out: Dom shows up, Wes goes after him, ignores the match and fights Dom until he’s counted out. While not the most satisfying end, it saves him from getting his shoulders on the mat and shows how much he dislikes Dom. Baron Corbin still gets his win, albeit a cheap one, but he’s a heel so he’ll take it.

On the other hand, Baron looks good earning a pinfall victory over Wes right before his championship match with Ilja Dragunov. But making Baron look dominant isn’t exactly hard. Especially considering the way the show ended. Baron went into the extracurriculars after the match and Ilja saved Wes from a further beatdown. That led to Baron putting Ilja in a wicked End of Days, which left the champ laying in the middle of the ring. Long story short, Ilja accepted Baron’s challenge. At Deadline, these two get it on for the championship.

I liked all of that. And it played interactions between Dom & Corbin and Wes & Ilja. In fact, I predict a tag team match with these four men between now and Deadline.

But I wish Wes never took that fall. It rang false that he just moved on from Dom, even if it meant losing the match. I mean, he’s Dom! And he has Wes’ championship! He doesn’t like Baron but he despises Dom. And if you’re bringing Dom out, at least let him get physical and truly cost Wes the match.

Alas.


Besides the through line with Trick, Melo, and Lexis, I enjoyed this two hours. We got a lot of drama, moved the ball forward with the Iron Survivor Challenge, and got some silly backstage drama, like the last scene involving Andre Chase and “the press.” Not everything hit, like the Xia Li/Lyra Valkyria tea ceremony I didn’t mention, but smooth sailing for the most part.

What say you, Cagesiders?

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