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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 7, 2023): A Toxic breakup

Bayley tried but couldn’t keep Toxic Attraction together, JD McDonagh challenged Carmelo Hayes, and Thea Hail gets kidnapped.

Post-Vengeance Day NXT is in your world! Claire’s got you covered with the blog and I got you covered over here. A tag team for the ages.

Let’s talk NXT!


Well, I never expected to hear “hobo banged a Chucky doll” on my television this week, but here we are. Bayley visited NXT this week for a special “Ding Dong, Hello” with Toxic Attraction. Toxic Attraction without Mandy Rose was a fascinating experiment and as of now, it looks like that experiment is over.

Bayley showed up with hopes that she might heal the bonds between Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne after they came up short at Vengeance Day. For a moment, it looked like she might. After Jacy got that Chucky doll line out the way, and Gigi retorted that looking up at the lights on your back is the Jacy Jayne position. Whew.

But Bayley talked sense into both of them and they relented. They apologized to each other and seemingly made up. Jacy said she gets nasty when she’s competitive. Gigi acknowledged they need each other since they ostracized everyone else. Bayley agreed! Toxic Attraction talked about going after the WWE Women’s tag team championships and of course Bayley shot all of that down immediately. But she patted herself on her back nonetheless as Gigi & Jacy stood together and raised each other’s hands.

Then, of course, the Shawn Michaels-Marty Jannetty moment. Jacy super kicks Gigi into the “Ding Dong, Hello” door. Unfortunately, the door didn’t pop open or break down but hey, I got the point.

Jacy as the heel here makes sense. But Gigi, even in this segment, shows she has the most talent between the two. I can’t imagine Jacy as the face though. I can’t fathom feeling empathetic for Jacy or hoping she conquers any odds. But Gigi? Yeah, I can do all that for her. Some people are just natural heels and Jacy fits that mold perfectly.

However...I do think recreating the barbershop moment feels a tad lazy and on the nose. I know, I know, Shawn’s running things. But it feels unearned for these two.

I’m looking forward to next week because the most important step is always the next step.



Carmelo Hayes’ road leads to Bron Breakker but said road has quite a few bumps. JD McDonagh made an appearance this week, telling the former A-Champ that he’s not ready for the big belt nor can he lead the brand. All of that is funny coming from JD, a man who already lost to Bron and proved he isn’t ready to lead the brand or carry the big belt. But I digress.

To my shock, this match started the show’s second hour rather than main eventing. And I kept wondering why. Yes, even through the really good match these two put on, I wondered why so early. Even when the match showed continuity as JD attacked Melo’s ribs after Apollo Crews went to town on said ribs at Vengeance Day, I wondered why. And then Ilja Dragunov’s music hit and I finally got my answer.

Dragunov made a beeline to the ring, manhandled Trick Williams, and distracted JD long enough for Melo to catch him off guard with an inside cradle and get the W. For all the trash JD talks, he still wants none of Dragunov and Ilja still has unfinished business with the methodical madman. Melo got out of dodge as Dragunov attacked JD. Unfortunately for him, and us McDonagh ran off before Dragunov really got to him the way he wanted.

I like heating up Melo by having him face JD, which also gets the crowd more on Melo’s side. I even questioned if they’re turning Bron heel or just turning Melo more into a face or at least a tweener. Facing JD this week, plus sweeping Apollo with busted ribs? That’s the type of stuff the crowd loves and turning that Stand & Deliver audience against Melo might prove difficult.

Sol Survivor

I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t see Zoey Stark defeating Sol Ruca. Sol looks a lot better in the ring than she did months ago, as she should, and it helps having a solid dance partner like Stark. But I figured they keep Sol’s momentum going with a big W here. What we got instead was NXT splitting the proverbial baby. Stark got the win but didn’t leave well enough alone. She attacked Sol post match, adding insult to the other thing, but ended up regretting it almost immediately. Sol snatched Zoey’s soul and left her lying in the middle of the ring. I’d prefer they just let Stark get the W rather than letting her look like the loser at the end of it. Or just give Sol the flukey win. Never really a fan of someone losing the battle but winning the war, as it were.

Pick on Someone Your Own Size!

Grayson Waller disrespected Shawn Michaels after Vengeance Day and Tyler Bate took it very personally. So much so that he challenged Waller to a match next week since the Aussie is currently “suspended.”


Remember when Dante Chen was a thing? NXT probably doesn’t because they used him as cannon fodder this week. Chen went one-on-one with Dabba Kato, who didn’t actually look Chen in his eyes until the big man got to one knee. That was Chen’s best chance at a W, but even then, c’mon. This was academic and yeah, the returning big man got the W.

Apparently Apollo Crews did something that pissed off the big man. During a very short post match interview, he told us all that Crews “knows what he did” and that’s why he “dropped his ass.”

I guess Apollo didn’t see that, did he?

Stack Bundles

I keep waiting for Odyssey Jones to pop but maybe my eyes should look at one Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo. He is, after all, the underboss. It’s crazy how Jones seemingly tumbled out of favor tough. But Stacks wining makes sense given that prior to this match, he and Tony D’Angelo approached Wes Lee about the help they gave at Vengeance Day. Their beef with Dijak benefited Lee and they expect full compensation.

We’re getting a North American championship open challenge next week, and both men want to play. So, yeah, making Stacks look good going into that feels right.

This or That?

Wendy Choo and Elektra Lopez are battling for Valentina Feroz’s soul. During Feroz’s match with Lyra Valkyria, Lopez showed up ringside and slid Feroz some brass knuckles. Choo, who accompanied Feroz to the ring, begged her friend not to use the foreign object. Feroz hesitated but ultimately said nah. Either because she refused to cheat or because she took her eyes off the prize, Feroz took another L. Lopez shook her head in disappointment while Choo consoled her friend.

Spilt Something

During Briggs & Jensen’s surprise party for Kiana James & Fallon Henley, Pretty Deadly and Chase U got into it. And I mean, they really got into it because Andre Chase cursed up a storm. Pretty Deadly looked terrible since apparently they haven’t slept since they lost yet another chance at tag team gold. Since this is a wrestling, someone scheduled a match between two teams.

I like the idea of a disheveled Pretty Deadly. They looked awful and didn’t even bother wearing ring gear. In fact, during the match, one of them even asked “what’s the point?” Great touch that I really appreciated.

Thea Hail didn’t accompany her boys this week. Why? Glad you asked. Ava Raine kidnapped her after Thea verbally berated Tiffany Stratton for the way she talks about Chase U. The wild part? It didn’t happen in the parking lot.

Chase U took an L once Thea returned screaming and clearly upset. Whatever Raine did to her clearly upset her. If not for that brief interruption, Chase U gets the win here and that’s my main takeaway. Gallus showed up afterward in the Crow’s Nest with their eyes set on Un-Pretty Deadly, but Chase U deserves a run with these tag titles. Even if it’s a short one.

Rox-C No Mates?

Kayden Carter & Katana Chance are pissed. They got cheated out of their championships and believe nobody cares. They’re so mad, they even interrupted Roxanne Perez’s victory interview. The former champs came at Perez hard, telling her she has no friends and challenge her to a match next week if she can phone a friend.

Turns out Roxanne has some dope friends in high places because next week, it’s Carter & Chance vs Perez and...Meiko Satomura. The former champs might regret sticking their noses where they don’t belong, which feels like the theme this week.

Diamond Clarity

So Isla Dawn thinks she’s Enola Holmes now? I’m confused why someone like Dawn cares about who injured Nikkita Lyons. Nothing in her character screams “concern for others” or that she’s some champion for justice. Accusing Tatum Paxley before their match came off as weird. Maybe she did it to get into Tatum’s head? Possibly creating a rift between she and the Diamond Mine, with whom her affiliation seems tenuous or...honorary?

My guess is the latter since Paxley hit the ring sans Ivy Nile and after Dawn got the W, it looked like she and Alba Fyre had nefarious plans for Tatum. Ivy made the save, but I think Isla & Alba have designs on making their twosome into a trio, and Paxley is the target. I like that idea. I also reserve the right to be completely wrong. The match itself was short and didn’t do much for me because I spent most my time wrapping my head around the why.

This felt like a much better paced show than usual. A solid show from top to bottom that maintained its sense of urgency throughout.

Those are my thoughts. Right or wrong, it’s just how I felt at the time.

How do you feel?

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