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NXT Roadblock 2023 recap & reactions: All roads still not entirely clear

Roxanne Perez wins at a cost, Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes finally make it official, and a surprise return stuns NXT

Outwork Everyone

Roxanne Perez needed a victory against Meiko Satomura more than anything. It meant more than just avenging her loss from six months ago; a win solidified her as a true champion in her own eyes. But therein lies an issue with her reign. While a champion obsessed with a challenger works, the champion feeling like the plucky underdog in that situation rarely does. I sound like a broken record but as much as I like Perez in the ring, her character feels stagnant which makes her reign feel less than.

And I hate that feeling because she and Meiko wrestled their asses off at Roadblock. This match hit hard, used that physicality as a building block, and, more importantly, as a storytelling device. Perez trained with Satomura and thought she knew all her tricks but things feel different with speed than in sparring. I like that idea. I like the champ going to another level physically or enduring more after realizing it’s different watching a shark from behind the glass than swimming with one.

Make no mistake, Perez survived this match. Yes she won, but at great cost and she barely got that W. The Final Boss dished out kick after kick after more kicks to Perez’s head. But she didn’t stay down until after the bell rang and the ref raised her hand.

That’s where things got weird for me. NXT played the concussion angle for Perez as she collapsed in the middle of the ring and the stretcher came out with tons of officials in tow. The Heartbreak Kid even showed up and checked on his NXT Women’s champion while helping her get to the ambulance. Booker T put down the headphones and got in the ring as well.

Maybe it’s because I don’t know the plan but this just feels off. Within context of taking those repeated headshots, I get it. But I’m lost on the bigger picture. Maybe it goes back to Perez’s scattered direction right now. What defines her character? What defines her reign? If it’s her outworking her opponents and surviving, that’s not enough. Especially headed to the territory’s biggest show of the year. And who is she? She’s a prodigy, yes. She’s talented as hell in the ring, of course. But what makes Roxanne Perez? Even the concussion spot hits harder for me if I connect emotionally to the person.

I hope this goes somewhere cool and does a lot for Roxanne. But as of now? I’m down on it and don’t think it serves her well at all. However, as always, I hope I’m wrong.


History of (Choosing) Violence

NXT didn’t need psychology or storytelling in this jailhouse match between Tony D’Angelo and Dijak. The match already rocked the Performance Center in ways beyond any word I choose. And yet they did.

Running with the “family” theme so hard that Vin Diesel might blush, Dijak put Stacks between himself, the cell door, and Tony D. If Tony D wanted the match, then it meant slamming the door on his brother. Tony hesitated and Dijak took advantage. Dijak threw Stacks over the barricade and pounded away on the Don. Just before Dijak closed the cell door on Tony, Stacks leapt in from nowhere and sacrificed his body. The door didn’t close and the match continued.

Little did we know, Stacks did more than just keep his boss in the game. Stacks passed Tony a crowbar and Tony used said crowbar against Dijak. Repeatedly.

Eventually Dijak relented because there’s only but so many times one withstands crowbar blows to the head. D’Angelo closed the door and won a hellacious match that got me more emotionally invested than I ever predicted.


Indus Sher dominated early, which makes sense narratively. When going against a team of which the NXT champ is a part, you gotta look great off break. It also showed the lack of fear from Sanga, Veer, and Jinder Mahal. NXT showed Mahal can hang with Bron, even in a weak match overall but that’s the narrative. While I don’t quite buy that narrative, nor do I buy that the Creeds needed another man because of Jinder. But hey, here we are.

Once the match really focused on the Creeds vs. Sanga & Veer, it got fun. Bron is always fun in these situations but also not normally a tag team artist.

Carmelo Hayes on commentary didn’t really add much for me either even though I get it. He came for Bron and just watched.

The best moment for me came when for a Doomsday Device on Veer! The Creeds pulled out all the stops and did something new for an opponent who put them on their heels several times. Great storytelling even in its subtlety.

About That...

So Bron came back to the ring later in the show and finally got to the inevitable. He called out Melo and they finally made their Stand & Deliver match official.

I liked the fact both men acknowledged they kept tabs on each other for 18 months. Bron saying he felt disappointment every time he didn’t hear Melo’s music during one of his title defenses said a lot without saying too much.

Melo got the most interesting moments though. He turned the cockiness down a few notches and showed another side. He even left Trick Williams and stepped to Bron dolo. We got a Melo who respects his opponent and I didn’t hate it. Well I did at first, I won’t front. But Melo flashing a bit of that trademark attitude, even after extending his hand for a handshake made me smile. “Melo is secondary to no one” and just like that, they sold me on something.

It’s a different story for both men and I hope we get more shades of their characters for the next few weeks mixed in with the mutual adoration society.

J. Wrestling

I love that Shawn Michaels poked holes in Grayson Waller’s theory of the case. Grayson just got two championship matches while most people hustle for one. He isn’t “held back” by any standard let alone the fictional one in his head. Grayson took a shot and missed. It happens. I get he’s the heel here so delusions of the grandeur variety come with the territory. But Grayson’s story just felt hollow. Even in the segment, he claimed ground as NXT’s biggest star who deserves a championship while also eclipsing the brand. He’s held back in NXT but NXT holds him back. That’s a lot of “is it ‘Black Girl Lost’ or ‘Shawty owe you for ice?’ logic. And it hurts my soul referencing that as an avid Nas fan but hey, a dope line is a dope line.

Once the angle switched to Waller running down NXT, and of course challenging Shawn to a match at Stand & Deliver, the intensity turned up several notches. Shawn had some great lines about the amount of times WWE asked him to comeback for a Mania match. Or the wrestlers who begged him for a Mania match. But he’s not doing that for Grayson because someone else bleeds NXT more profusely and wants Waller just as much if not more: Johnny Gargano.

Johnny vs. Grayson at Stand & Deliver makes sense and feels like the right spot for both men. The segment itself took a minute for me but once they found the emotion, I got on board.

Good Friends...

I thought they picked the wrong tone for Gigi Dolin vs. Jacy Jayne. Initially. I wanted a fight, which we got at the beginning, but then it evolved into a wrestling match. I think there’s way too much bad blood between these two for a wrestling match. And they wrestled a clean, solid match. But the form didn’t fit the emotion. And then it ended rather abruptly too but then I saw why.

Gigi got the W and Jacy reacted like a heel. A post match beatdown, complete with Jacy going for the patented chair spot where it looked like she might severely injure her former partner’s neck. The fact the ref’s intervened and forced Jacy to the back means we’re getting another match and hopefully it's befitting the animosity between these two.

Chase Who?

Duke Hudson vs. Andre Chase looks like a thing. Finally. After weeks, we finally got an outburst from Hudson after Chase lost his match against Joe Gacy. Hudson not only griped about the loss but the fashion in which it came. Thea Hail finally overcame whatever Schism did thanks to some mediation lessons from Tyler Bate. During the match, she got in Ava’s face and finally stood tall in her bully’s face. Great for her but bad for Chase as he took his eyes off Gacy and congratulated his student.

Like I said, this thing between Hudson and Chase feels overdue. Although, without an actual match announcement, this is just me wishing. Right?

Dragon Style

For anyone hoping Dragon Lee might debut against Grayson Waller on Shawn’s behalf, sorry. Lee debuted at Roadblock but as part of the audience. That’s definitely a choice.

Poor Boys

Pretty Deadly isn’t smart. They walked into a Gallus buzzsaw this week when they talked trash against the champs. No match set yet but it’s surely coming.

Roadblock was a mixed bag for me. We got a lot happening with only some of it truly standing out or sticking. The opening match remains the standout due to nailing the whole package. The main event match impressed but everything after the bell rang made me scratch my head.

The road to Stand & Deliver intrigues me.

What say you?

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