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NXT recap & reactions (Nov. 28, 2023): Overbooked

Ilja Dragunov loses his cool, Roxanne Perez gets even, and Wes Lee makes a statement on this week’s NXT.

Ready For War

More twists and turns in the Lexis King/Carmelo Hayes/Trick Williams story this week. And I’m still not feeling it.

NXT Anonymous unearthed footage that showed Lexis King texting someone and following Trick Williams after Trick qualified for that ill-fated Fatal 4 Way. Inconclusive evidence that he accosted Trick, but it at least establishes that Lexis is, in fact, a creep.

Melo and Trick responded very differently to this footage. Initially, both men wanted vengeance; Trick for the obvious reason and Melo for Lexis interfering in his big match last week. And, of course, because of the footage. Things quickly changed when Trick showed restraint and a desire for growth. He says he and Melo are beyond their old ways and they can handle Lexis in due time. Melo obviously disagreed but went with that gameplan. Until he didn’t.

This coincided with Lexis’ match with Brooks Jensen. And we got here because Lexis insulted Briggs & Jensen, along with Fallon Henley, and Brooks stepped up. Well, Briggs volunteered him but semantics.

Eventually, Melo interrupted an okay affair between two guys who lacked chemistry. Lexis is still flat in the ring and something isn’t clicking. I always enjoy seeing Brooks and wish he got the W. Especially since he went in motivated to prove that he belongs in the Iron Survivor Challenge. Melo’s disruption helped Lexis get the W although he never touched him because Briggs and refs held him back.

Like I keep saying, all of this is convoluted and overbooked. And I don’t think it’s helping anyone.

B-Sides

Are You Ready

Kiana James and Kelani Jordan did the damn thing this week. Their Iron Survivor Challenge qualifying match showcased how valuable reps truly are. A sequence that caught my attention came when the women mat wrestled during the opening minutes. As I alway say, Kelani works incredibly well as the underdog face. Well, maybe not underdog, but certainly one working from underneath. It makes her triumphs that much more fulfilling.

We also got some story when Roxanne Perez showed up and rang the bell. That distracted Kiana, who controlled the match at that point, and Kelani took advantage.

Kelani entering the Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge offers a very different flavor. She’s the gymnast in the ring with powerhouses and bruisers. But she’s also the only face so far. That means we may see more mean streak out of her or she’s the sacrificial lamb. I’m very curious how this plays out.

What You So Mad At?

Ilja Dragunov has a chip on his shoulder. It’s actually a freakin’ boulder. Ilja caught Nathan Frazer and Axiom dishing on the video package contrasting his life with Baron Corbin’s. Nathan showed the audacity to say that he prefers Baron’s life to Ilja’s, much like the entire locker room. And, yeah, that’s obvious. But Ilja took umbrage with all that and put tons of words in Nathan’s mouth. Nathan preferring Baron’s life turned into somehow insulting Ilja’s choices and saying they mean nothing.

While I hate the way they made Nathan the sacrificial lamb in a match where he mostly got pummeled, I did Ilja losing his composure. He gave up everything for this championship, including his family. Of course he questions that decision because he’s human. And when he sees how Baron lives, especially since he sees his family everyday, I’m sure those questions get so loud they echo. All that’s real and makes sense.

But Ilja damn near concussed Nathan. He went for a pinfall after an H Bomb, then stopped the count. He then went for several more H Bombs and finally, mercifully, ended it. As Baron pointed out after the match on the big screen, he pushed Ilja so much that he did that to a friend. I like the idea but the execution left me wanting because I don’t think Nathan deserved all that and he’s not the guy for that spot when the feud is with Baron Corbin.

Say What

So, I had something in mind for Arianna Grace vs. Karmen Petrovic. But then they inserted some goofy Joe Gacy shenanigans into the match and I lost all interest. Joe hid under the ring then ran out and stole the timekeeper’s bell. Once Arianna won—after putting on a fine performance, too—Joe rang the bell from the stands.

I don’t know. I have no more words.

Head Over Wheels

Wes Lee did it. I paid the most attention to him during this wild Fatal 4 Way because all the stakes laid with him. Dirty Dom pointed out on commentary that neither Cameron Grimes, Johnny Gargano, or Bronson Reed get title shots if they win. I thought that was obvious but with Dom stating it, someone clearly figured it wasn’t.

This is the match to watch from this week. Words won’t do it justice and Bronson Reed is a beast.

Speaking of Bronson, Ivar showed up and took Bronson off his game and out the match. The behemoths continued what they started on the latest Monday Night Raw, and I loved it. Story continuity! Blood feuds! On sight! that’s the stuff I love and when NXT is firing on all cylinders, they do that extremely well.

Wes got the W and Dom awaits. Watch the best match of this week’s edition and enjoy the ridiculous high spots.

Ride with Us

The Family reigns supreme. Their tag match with Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo started hot. Meaning they fought in the aisle before the bell rang and before music even played. Coming off of their last interaction, this makes complete sense. Thank you, Shawn Michaels.

I don’t mind the champs staying the champs in this spot. They really need a good reign and matches like this go a long way for establishing that. Angel & Humberto are still establishing their new and improved versions. They came close but but not close enough.


A very average NXT. Some goofiness, like whatever is happening with Joe Gacy and this continued Chase U thing, took away from the whole for me. I dug most of the matches minus the one I didn’t mention because, I mean, I don’t have much to say about Bron Breakker decimating Eddy Thorpe for a spot in the Iron Survivor Challenge. This also felt like a show that hit the gas pedal and never let up. NXT works best when it breathes a bit. This week felt like slight suffocation.

What say you, Cagesiders?

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