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NXT Spring Breakin’ 2023 recap & reactions: Impressive Indi Hartwell

Indi Hartwell gets her Willis Reed moment, Carmelo Hayes goes out on a stretcher, and Pretty Deadly get their NXT goodbye.

Safe 2 Say (Incredible)

I had a whole thing ready for this match. I wrote about Indi Hartwell’s journey to this point and what a loss means for her career. I jotted notes on the fluidity and how I don’t think these three meshed completely. I even pre-wrote a passage about Roxanne Perez retaking her throne and NXT giving Indi that win at Stand & Deliver purely for the moment with no real investment.

But then, fittingly, Indi proved me wrong.

Not only did she win the match, but how she won was, well, impressive.

Early in the match, Tiffany Stratton hit a moonsault on Roxanne and Indi as they stood outside the ring. Only Indi wasn’t quite set yet and she clearly landed wrong. Her leg and ankle bent a direction legs and ankles don’t bend. The leg seemed fine but the ankle looked bad. Tiffany & Roxanne kept it going while officials helped Indi then eventually took her backstage.

My heart sunk because that’s a terrible ending for anyone’s title defense, let alone the first one.

But during the third act, and after a top rope Hurricanrana where Roxanne almost broke her own neck, Indi limped back to the ring and broke up a three-count! She got her Willis Reed moment.

Indi wrestled with one leg and eventually pinned Roxanne after dispensing Tiffany.

The best moments in wrestling often stem from real life setbacks or accidents. Becky Lynch’s bloody nose comes to mind. While this might not put Indi on that playing field, it’s still huge for her career.

I’m guessing they always planned on her walking out with the championship, but the ankle injury briefly changed things. I like to think Indi said “nah” and refused to let that happen.

The ending alone makes this match one for the books and it’s one Indi won’t soon forget.

My 1st Song

Look, I expected dopeness from Carmelo Hayes and Grayson Waller. They actually outperformed my expectations. That said, my interest lied more in watching Melo work as a face champion. It’s a different gear for him and necessary for his development. Can he look compelling when in jeopardy while still maintaining what makes him work?

Yes, yes he can. They accomplished this with Grayson working Melo’s left knee and weakening him. Melo limped, winced, and struggled with his offense at times because of that left knee. That fact also made his eventual victory that much sweeter because he fought through pain.

AND, we even got a nice character moment when Melo showed compassion for Trick Williams after Grayson his Trick with a chair. In that moment, the match and the championship meant less than his best friend’s safety. Grayson took advantage of that, of course, but it adds layers to a guy making this transition from arrogant, cocky heel to arrogant, cocky face.

And thankfully, it wasn’t corny.

Eventually the match boiled down to both men wrestling on one leg. Grayson went for his stunner but wrenched his bad knee on the bottom rope. Melo fought through the pain and hit Nuthin But Net after failing the first time because of that knee.

Oh but Melo’s night only just started.

I wondered why the NXT Championship match went on earlier in the night, and Bron Breakker provided my answer:

I wanted a vulnerable Melo. Well, we got that tonight in spades.

The officials hit the ring, the stretcher came out, and they wheeled Melo away as the crowd watched in a hush.

In one night, NXT accomplished three things: Established Grayson Waller as someone ready for the next level, illustrated how Carmelo Hayes works as a face, and made Bron Breakker an even bigger villain. Which is quite the thing seeing as how he already tormented Chase U.



The Family vs. Pretty Deadly in the first ever Trunk Match was exactly what you expected. I don’t even know how to describe it other than everything you wanted if you love chaos.

A few notes though:

Vic Joseph with the Outback Steakhouse reference made me chuckle way too hard. Did you catch it?

They used Tony D’Angelo’s uncle’s car. His uncle’s name? Henry Hill.

Loved the clever ending. Pretty Deadly took control and put Stacks in the trunk. It looked like the end for The Family in a match they created! But in a nice storytelling moment, Stacks surprised Pretty Deadly with a fire extinguisher hidden in the trunk. Remember, Tony D supplied the car.

That’s great character stuff and attention to detail. After the fire extinguisher and a crowbar, Tony D and Stacks stuffed both Pretty Deadly members in the trunk and rolled away with the victory.

Eventually, NXT wrote off Pretty Deadly in the most appropriate way: Stacks and Tony D committed homicide.

They drowned Pretty Deadly in the deepest waters. That’s right, another crime committed in NXT and Pretty Deadly now sleeps with Luca Brasi.

See you on the main roster, boys!

What’s Next?

Gotta say, I expected Bron Breakker vs. Andre Chase to go longer. It seemingly lasted all of five minutes. Andre got a couple offensive moves in but they bounced off Bron like bullets bounce off Superman’s chest.

Bron set his sights on Duke Hudson afterward, seemingly daring the former all-star poker player to jump in the ring. As expected, Bron ditched the bright colors and donned all black. Apparently he’s now “meaner than evil.” So, Satanic?

We all know that didn’t happen. I gotta count this one as a miss though simply because of the length. But props to Booker T for always delivering the “no bread, no water, just meeeeeat!” line with the necessary energy.

Party and Bullsh*t

Cora Jade and Lyra Valkyria gave us our first pure wrestling match of the night. And they told a story of a heel always one step ahead of the face. Valkyria works well with Cora since she’s a pure babyface and Cora clearly isn’t. That contrast made for a compelling match and a smart finish.

Cora went for her bat, knew the ref would interfere, and basically roped Lyra into a chop block at the knees followed by a DDT and the W.

Cora didn’t beat Lyra because she’s better but because, for at least one night, she was smarter. Lyra went in looking for an honorable fight against a woman who can’t spell “honorable” much less define it.


Harsh barley, Brooks.

And so we come to the end of Brooks Jensen & Kiana James.

I enjoyed this inter-gender tag match even if Kiana James’ motivations confused me. No, not her motivations for breaking with Brooks, but her aim for the match itself. Twice she urged Brooks to openly break the rules in front of the referee. First, she tagged him in and told him to hit Fallon Henley. Then she tossed him her bag and wanted him to use it against Josh Briggs. He tried but missed and accidentally knocked Kiana off the ring apron.

At that point, Josh hit his former tag partner with a vicious lariat and got the W.

Then came the moment we all expected: Kina told Brooks she never loved him. In fact, she even tried hitting him! Luckily for Brooks, Josh lent his shoulder and the big man cried into his best friend’s arm. Very sweet.

I’m not satisfied with this ending though. I really dug the match but they let this thing linger for so long and never found another gear for the story. Maybe we get an explanation from Kiana that leads into another match between Kiana and Fallon, but as of now, the story lacks the closure I want.

Bring da Ruckus

Oba Femi dominated Oro Mensah at Spring Breakin. The man looked great, has a ton of power, knows how to use his body in the ring with a moveset that showcases him appropriately.

I mean, yeah, it was domination, baby.


Drew Gulak & Charlie Dempsey don’t believe Wes Lee has the energy anymore. They see him burning himself out. Tyler Bate agrees and offered his assistance. Wes defends his title against Drew the next time NXT comes in your world with Tyler in his corner.

I do hope they record Tyler’s mediation session because I think he and Wes have very different ideas of what centers someone before a match.

Get at Me Dog

Dijak accosted Ilja Dragunov. I mean, he beat that man down. As soon as. Ilja walked into the Performance Center, Dijak put boots and fists to him, then dropped a steel gate on his chest.

Good on them for establishing Dijak as a legitimate threat and someone clearly unhinged.

Spring Breakin’ did a lot of good. Not all of it mind you, but I enjoyed most of this year’s edition. Props again to Indi Hartwell for fighting through what seemed like an excruciating amount of pain. When I think of this event, that’s what I’ll remember and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

What say you, Cagesiders? Did Spring Breakin’ whet your whistle for the summer?

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