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NXT recap & reactions (Apr. 18, 2023): Keeping it real goes wrong

Grayson Waller Effect featuring Carmelo Hayes, Jacy Jayne gets personal, Indi Hartwell gets two new challengers, and Brooks Jensen goes shopping on this week’s NXT.

What’s My Name?

Something about this week’s Grayson Waller Effect didn’t feel right. I finally put my finger on it after typing that first sentence: it’s too meta.

Like far too many WWE feuds these days, we got too much focus on “stealing the show,” “going viral,” and things that take away from the results in the ring that truly should matter more. Grayson crowed about his match at Stand & Deliver stealing the show when earlier he insulted McKenzie for bringing up the unsanctioned match since it “never happened.” Grayson talked about his relevance, his stardom, and everything he accomplished without a championship. So, yeah, why does he need the championship? Why does he even want it?

I don’t mean to sound down on Grayson because I’m not. I think he’s very dope and great at his job. And I believe he and Carmelo Hayes will tear down the house at Spring Breakin. But it’s more of an issue with storytelling in general at this point and the mixed messages.

Booker T and Vic Joseph stress how important winning and losing are on a weekly basis. Prior to his championship match at Stand & Deliver, Melo talked about his desire and need for that championship belt. Even during his interview with McKenzie, Grayson mentioned being better than Melo and the championship solidifying that belief.

So why did it feel like the least important thing during that segment?

I’m on board with Grayson as Melo’s first opponent for his championship reign, but I suppose NXT put themselves in a corner with that move since Grayson’s win loss record over the past few months isn’t exactly stellar. When Melo called him out on that, Grayson really had no real retort other than the bluster I mentioned a few sentences ago. And to that point, the champion highlighting his opponent’s recent allergic reaction to winning doesn’t help matters either.

They got into a pretty funny insult fest with some choice lines (Melo’s last one about putting Grayson’s shoe on a telephone wire killed me even if the audience didn’t quite get it), but that’s all it was: Two people insulting each other for the last few minutes of the show rather than truly selling the match or each other.

I think about Roman Reigns’ recent feud with Cody Rhodes. Roman as the overconfident heel champ threw verbal jabs at Cody but his facial expressions and body language gave voice to his fear. And Paul Heyman made sure he presented Cody as a very big problem and threat to everything Reigns accomplished thus far.

With Melo and Grayson, we have two cocky and conceited wrestlers who clearly don’t respect each other, despite what Grayson said earlier in the show. And, to be fair, they only get one show to sell this match, so time isn’t exactly on their side. But there’s a way where both men stay true to character while making the other look great.

If Grayson’s schtick is the championship needs him and he doesn’t need the championship, then let’s not give them microphones. Just let them beat each other up in a pull apart brawl. I don’t care how many shows one steals or how viral they go in a world where wins get you closer to championships and championships mean everything.

Maybe I’m overthinking it but I also feel that NXT, and WWE as a whole, overthinks it at times by avoiding simple solutions. I didn’t need these two verbally jousting and I’m not sure it created anymore anticipation for the match than already existed. It had its moments but overall, it left me wanting.


On My Own

First off, I love when NXT abruptly starts.

The show kicked off with a video package from last week but that all came to an end when Vic Joseph’s voice cut through and we saw the combatants in the triple threat tag team match going to war before the bell rang.

NXT does this a lot and it’s not always effective, but I appreciate the fact that they do it at all. It makes the world feel lived-in and real, while also making the show feel unpredictable. My largest issue with Raw that goes unsaid in my reviews is the show feels scripted and inorganic. NXT, even on weeks I’m down on the show, never has that problem.

Three main takeaways from the triple threat tag title match: Julius Creed, the match itself rocked my world, and Ivy Nile might not be the positive that the Bros. Creed believe. Julius showed up and showed out. This was his match from the beginning. So impressive, so effortless, and just a beast.

Speaking of Julius, his affection for Ivy probably cost the Creeds the NXT Tag Team championships. A member of the Dyad accidentally knocked Ivy down once he tumbled off the top turnbuckle. Rather than continuing the ass whoopings he and his brother handed out like copies of Watchtower on a Saturday morning, Julius bolted to Ivy’s side. That left Brutus all by his lonesome with the Gallus boys.

Even if you missed the match, you know what happened at that point. Gallus boys still on top.

I wonder how Brutus reacts to this. I even wonder how Ivy reacts because we know how she feels about championships and winning. Either way, this was Julius Creed’s coming out party and if you watched it, you can say you remember when.

You Know My Style

Noam Dar got a nice sparring session against Myles Borne. No further development on his Heritage Cup invitational but hey we got a match.

Many Men

Bron Breakker’s heel turn is working for me. He’s straight up disrespecting everything and everyone he deems beneath him. This week? He speared Odyssey Jones, effectively sending Jones out the ring and stopping whatever match scheduled for that time slot.

After talking trash about Jones, he spent most of his time running down Chase U. Obviously we all hate that, but none more than Duke Hudson. Or so it would seem.

Duke puffed out his chest and talked a lot about defending Chase U’s honor and standing up for Andre specifically. Kinda.

In reality, Duke put Andre squarely in Bron’s crosshairs, continuing last week’s cowardly behavior where he ran away from Bron faster than anything from Randy Moss’ rookie year. Duke challenged Bron on Andre’s behalf, practically feeding Chase U’s leader to Bron on a silver platter at Spring Breakin. I do hope we eventually get to this Duke vs. Andre match because the teasing feels torturous at this point.

Big Momma Thang

Roxanne Perez never gives up. That’s the main headline from her very dope match with Zoey Stark this week. That plays into Zoey’s whole thing that she’s the uncrowned NXT Women’s champ and that no one else is on her level.

The match illustrated that in one very big way when Zoey showed frustration at the fact Roxanne kept getting up no matter what she threw at her. That Roxanne hit her with a Pop Rox out of nowhere from the top turnbuckle, countering Zoey’s move no less, really emphasized that larger point.

But while Roxanne celebrated her first victory since dropping the championship, the current champ made her way ringside. Indi Hartwell greeted the former champ and cut to the chase: Indi vs. Roxanne for the championship at Spring Breakin.

Tiffany Stratton hit the ring in protest, of course, and got under Indi’s skin. Indi showed some fire and even called Tiffany a bimbo. And just like that, the one-on-one match turned into a triple threat as Indi puts her title on the line against Roxanne and Tiffany next week. I like this entire segment and I’m looking forward to this match.

The Chase

Well, I thought this might happen.

No matter what Gigi Dolin does, she can’t shake Jacy Jayne. Gigi challenged Cora Jade after Cora clowned her last week. Although, if I may say, I see nothing wrong with anything Gigi does on Instagram. Purely for professional reasons.

But I digress. Gigi and Cora’s match barely got off the starting line because Jacy showed up. Gigi took her focus off Cora and put quite the beating on her former tag partner. She even tossed her over the commentary table, much to Booker T’s chagrin.

But while celebrating her dominance over her rival, Gigi fell victim to Cora and took an L. Jacy laughed while Gigi fumed. Later in the show, Jacy took umbrage with Gigi’s heartfelt story about growing up under her mother’s thumb and caring for her little brother. Jacy made it personal and that bodes well for a feud that is inherently personal.

Lyra Valkyria showed up in a way that might make Mortal Kombat characters jealous and challenged Cora to a match at Spring Breakin. Cora accepted because, as Lyra said, the time for talking is over.

All That I Got is You

We got a new and improved Brooks Jensen this week. Dress shirt, slacks, fresh kicks, glasses, and looking more like Kiana’s boyfriend and less like Josh Briggs’ partner. Josh tried talking to Brooks to no avail. Brooks & Kiana challenged Josh & Fallon Henley to a mixed tag match at Spring Breakin. Yee-haw, bitch.

Now, obviously the idea here is Kiana’s pulling the wool over Brooks’ eyes and he’s falling for the okie doke. But I always hope for something that subverts expectations, so there’s a small chance Brooks is right about his friends interfering in his life to its detriment.

Let’s get it.

24 Hours to Live

Wes Lee wrestles every match like it’s his last.

I love watching his matches as of late because the story about him possibly fighting too much and putting his body through hell means there’s always something in his way. Namely himself. Wes not only puts his championship on the line but battles his opponent and human biology.

Drew Gulak & Charlie Dempsey spoke to that fact and during their match, Charlie made sure Wes felt every blow. Actually, even before the bell rang, Drew got rough with the North American champ. Apparently Wes might break the record for most North American championship defenses and we all know that’s his goal. But how much will he sacrifice for that record?

Wes & Charlie wrestled a very physical match that Wes barely survived. Actually, after eeking out a W, Drew & Charlie issued the traditional post match beatdown, which clearly plays into Wes’ bodily wear and tear.

I don’t know if Charlie dethrones Wes but I like him softening him up for the person who eventually does.

Anger in the Nation

I really like Dijak in the ring but I don’t like the gimmick. Everything about him just screams “try hard.” He disrespected a cameraman, which upset Apollo Crews. Apollo is a standup guy so yes, they wrestled, and yes, they killed it. I never predicted Apollo and Dijak working well together but wonders never cease.

Dijak got the very close victory and continued pummeling Apollo afterward until Ilja Dragunov made the save. Dragunov isn’t finished with Dijak.


Tony D’Angelo & Stacks Lorenzo challenged Pretty Deadly to a Trunk match at Spring Breakin. Yup, you read that right. First team who puts the other team in a car trunk (I assume) wins. No pun intended, but this sounds like a destruction derby waiting to happen and I can’t wait.

NXT started on a high note this week and maintained that energy throughout. I wish the ending landed better for me though. As it stands, Spring Breakin sounds like a lot of fun next week and I hope everyone reading this is just as excited as I am. Also? Mr. Stone finally got Grayson Waller to open up and apparently they’re still a thing...rendering that match moot?

Curious about your thoughts on the Grayson Waller Effect. Anyone agree with me or do you have a different opinion or angle?

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