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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 21, 2023): Go home, Grayson Waller

Grayson Waller crashes the party we all want to attend, Pretty Deadly crash into Gallus, and Roxanne Perez trains with her next challenger.

Who’s ready for Roadblock? Well, whether you are or not, it’s coming. NXT preps us for their next event as February turns into March and Stand & Deliver season gets fully underway.

Claire does what she does better than anyone else over there, and I do what I do over here. And apologies to Sean for not crediting him on Raw’s blog this week. He does yeomen’s work always and I love him dearly.

Okay, enough of the Sean lovefest.

Let’s talk NXT!

To What End?

That’s the question I keep asking myself when it comes to Shawn Michaels and Grayson Waller. After Bron Breakker narrowly defeated Jinder Mahal in an okay match designed to heat up Bron before Stand & Deliver, Carmelo Hayes made his way to the NXT Crow’s Nest with what looked like a microphone in hand. Before he uttered even a syllable, a tv interface showed up on screen, like on an Amazon Fire Stick or a Smart TV, and selected the Peacock app. From there it went to the WWE Network, then Stand & Deliver, then cut back to a feed of Waller in the production area.

Now, setting aside the fact that all of that didn’t really look like the way any television production handles itself in 2023, I like Waller pulling a Shawn move. Grayon’s whole thing is he’s doing everything Shawn did back in the day, good or bad, and believes Shawn’s actions are hypocritical at best and insidious at worst. But Grayson, a man who received two title matches in the span of a few weeks, also believes Shawn has it out for him.

It’s not Shawn’s fault Grayson didn’t know the rules of his cage match with Bron at Vengeance Day, and it’s definitely not Shawn’s fault that Grayson stormed his office during a “media scrum” and acted like a child.

Yes, Grayson is a heel so blaming someone else is always the move, but when put in that light, his issues look more like he’s whining rather than doing what a good heel should, which is present an argument that rings true even if we kick and scream while admitting they have a point.

But all that aside. All my issues with the plot points aside, I just don’t get what beefing with Shawn Michaels in 2023 does for anyone. Nor do I get the endgame. Shawn already chucked his retirement aside once but that was five years ago and he has regrets. To say nothing of the fact the man is three years shy of 60.

Maybe this is me showing my incredulousness at the idea of my favorite wrestler of all-time coming back again when he left things so perfectly the first time. But it’s also me knowing how beefing with authority figures normally works, and I don’t see that here.

When Steve Austin beefed with Gorilla Monsoon, he did things that clearly went against WWF’s rulebook. So, Monsoon threw him out the building several times and suspended him, even if the fans hated it. When Austin tangled with the dirty old McMahon, well, yeah that was magic. But Vince used his goons as canon fodder and when that failed, he got into the ring himself. They built up heat between McMahon and Austin, then turned that release valve at the right moments. The world watched an employee fight his evil boss and win. An evil boss who tried screwing him out of his just rewards on numerous occasions and flexed his power without hesitation.

Even to a lesser extent, “Authority Era’ Triple H often loosened the tie and threw off the blazer when his employees came at him, plus he also had goons on standby.

But how does this thing end with Grayson? He won’t hold the show hostage again since he made he made his demands clear. Once he gets Shawn on the Grayson Waller Effect at Roadblock, then what? Shawn doesn’t have an army at his disposal and Tyler Bate already stepped up, fought, and won on Shawn’s behalf. I know Stand & Deliver is a big deal and hey, maybe the bright L.A. lights entice Shawn for one more match. But not only do I not see that right now, I don’t want it either.

Waller gains nothing defeating a 57-year-old Shawn Michaels who last wrestled before any of us new Covid-19 was a thing. Shawn defeating Grayson is an awful idea as well.

I hope I’m wrong and there’s some larger plan here that satisfies and elevates. Especially since NXT seemingly can’t help but tease or put every...roadblock...they can between us and Bron vs. Melo. And this week, that includes Grayson cutting the feed and taking over before NXT’s biggest titans verbally clashed.


Trick Willy!

Geno and I are big Trick Willy fans. We loved the fact Williams got this spot against Ilya Dragunov this week even though we knew the outcome. What impressed me most in this battle, at least as it relates to Trick, is he looked like a serious threat to Dragunov. He came out saying he’s more than talk and while his mouth wrote the check, his skills cashed in at the bank. Which feels like a dated saying since writing checks seems like a History Channel relic.

Either way, Trick looked great in defeat, which was the main goal here outside of more prep for Dragunov vs. JD McDonagh. With JD ringside, Trick held his own against Dragunov in a pretty physical contest. Whatever happens with Carmelo Hayes post-WrestleMania, I hope Trick remains a part of the plans. Remaining in those plans means knowing he’s more than just the funny guy behind the guy, and this match shows that’s a big possibility.

This led to a later segment where Melo and Tyler Bate gave Trick props for his showing, while also hinting at something between Melo and Bate on Melo’s journey to the big belt, which comes to fruition next week. That should be very dope.

OH! They changed Illya’s music and that’s a crime against nature. Why can’t we have nice things?

One Root, One W

Schism looked great tonight. Whether in the ring, outside of the ring, or just their presentation, I dug them. Joe Gacy’s group surrounded Tyler Bate during Bate’s promo, and talked their usual talk about their way of live vs. everyone else’s. This segued into their match with Chase U, who wanted revenge on Thea Hail’s behalf.

The Dyad looked great. They wrestled a more aggressive match and came off as threats rather than...however I normally view them. The match took a turn when Ava Raine approached Thea and Andre Chase intervened. Chase left Duke Hudson all by his lonesome, and Hudson took the fall because two beats one every time.

Interestingly, they’re still playing the dissension in Chase U angle. Duke yelled that Thea needs to grow up and fend for herself. And he believes Chase coddles her. I’m not sure how I feel about that if only because I have no idea where it’s going. But, look, either do the breakup or don’t because the actual story behind the potential breakup just isn’t that compelling.

The Return

Just when I thought Jacy Jayne’s match against Indi Hartwell put its focus squarely on making Jacy’s newest iteration put some steak behind her sizzle, Gigi Dolin returned. Gigi attacked Jacy and almost kicked off her head.

Gigi looked great as the fiery face out for revenge, while Jacy leans into the cowardly heel who only shows aggression when the odds line up on her side of the ledger.

I can’t wait for the day Gigi dominates and destroys Jacy, which means mission accomplished.

Pretty Deadly

The tag match between Gallus and Edris Enofe & Malik Blade was sloppy in spots. Not awful but missed a few key spots. But the match also didn’t last long since two guys showed up with a cake for the tag champs. After Gallus defeated Enofe & Blade, surprise surprise, we found out Pretty Deadly sent the cake. To make a long story short, Pretty Deadly showed up and destroyed the Gallus boys. I kinda loved it because it showed a very different side of the former tag champs. They attacked Gallus with chairs, they slammed them repeatedly against steel steps, and used said steps as deadly weapons.

Going against Gallus, it’s extremely important that Pretty Deadly looks like stiff competition. We know Gallus pulls no punches in the ring and stay on top thanks to the fact they don’t play. Put another way, the Gallus boys are killers. Pretty Deadly need that same energy for a compelling match rather than looking like pushovers more concerned with their hair and side plates.

Jailhouse Street Fight!

That’s a word salad match if I ever saw one. A couple things here, starting with Von Wagner. We need another gear with this story. Mr. Stone keeps asking for something Von clearly doesn’t comprehend. Von accepted a match with Tony D’Angelo this week, against Stone’s wishes, and the Don put him away rather quickly. Adding to Stone’s point, almost on cue, the crowd collectively told Wagner he can’t wrestle. So, yeah, they’re just as bored as Stone but I’m not sure pointing out that fact week after week does anyone any favors.

Secondly, we’re finally ending Tony D vs. Dijak. Tony challenged the big man to a Jailhouse Street Fight at Roadblock. After Dijak’s Vengeance Day showing, sign me up for that.

Who Did It?!

Nikkita Lyons showed up this week on crutches after a successful surgery. And we still have no idea who assaulted her but we do know Tiffany Stratton doesn’t care. They teased a program between the two, which I assume means Nikkita returns ahead of schedule because who knows how NXT looks a year from now.

Diamond Crumbling

Speaking of who did it, Tatum Paxley still looked sus. And she looked unsure of this partnership between she and Ivy Nile. Is she Diamond Mine? Is she truly family or just extended company who stays over and doesn’t know she wore out her welcome?

That lack of confidence played into their tag match with Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn, who made quick work of their competition. It wasn’t a squash but they painted a clear picture of one team on the same page while the other wasn’t even close. Alba broke Ivy’s finisher by ramming her into Tatum standing on the apron illustrated their issues very well.


We got multiple segments between Roxanne Perez and Meiko Satomura training together. I understood the point, which is Meiko showing respect to the champ and believing that a great training session helps the will as much as it helps the biceps, but I can’t say I liked the segments. They threw off the show’s pacing for me, and, like I said last week, I want more character development from Roxanne. I like everything about her but can’t get with the persona while wearing the championship.

I didn’t enjoy this week’s show as much as I hoped. Grant it, they set up a lot of pieces for Roadblock and that takes time, but the show plodded from one thing to the next without any real sense of rhythm or reason. The opening contest and the first tag match got ample time and proved worthy of said time, but everything else felt weightless.

Those are my thoughts, right or wrong. Just how I was feeling at the time. What are yours?

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