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NXT recap & reactions (Apr. 4, 2023): Let’s do the double turn

Indi Hartwell and Carmelo Hayes get their first challengers, Wes Lee defends his title again, and a couple surprise returns cap a fun Tuesday night.


Now I know why that Bron Breakker call-up never materialized.

For weeks, I noted the reactions to Carmelo Hayes and Bron Breakker flipped a bit. Melo became the fan favorite while Bron received more mixed reactions. I even figured Melo might go into Stand & Deliver like Jesus going into Jerusalem while Bron might get greeted like the 2001-03 Sacramento Kings during their heated rivalry with that era’s Los Angeles Lakers. While it never got that bad for Bron in the building formerly known as Staples Center, the boo birds still crowed pretty loudly.

Bron took his loss, passed the torch, and let the world know Melo got next. But then he didn’t show up on the Raw after WrestleMania and I scratched my temple. What’s that about? Then again, based on my feelings on that show, Bron dodged a pretty heinous bullet.

So when Melo and Trick Williams hit the ring this week for a “Melobration” I wondered about the endgame. I knew Melo’s first challenger might show up and wreck the proceedings. After Melo basked in the crowd chanting his name and Trick gassing him, he gave Bron his props. Melo reiterated he doesn’t know what the future holds for Bron, but he sees the former champ as his most formidable opponent and the respect is real. Melo, showing more of this new-ish version of his character, called Bron out. Not for a fight, but to thank him eye-to-eye.

Bron played the good guy role for a while, said the good guy things and did the good guy dance. They exchanged pleasantries and Melo’s music played. But Melo told everyone to chill and wanted one more show of love between he and Mr. Breakker. That’s when they shook hands one more time and Breakker, well, broke. He attacked the champ and his hype man, left them both crawling in the ring and basked in the boos.

If I have one negative thing to say, it’s that they let the segment go too long which made the turn even more obvious. Melo asking Bron back in the ring for the handshake really set it all off but there’s no reason why Bron held back until that moment.

That minor issue aside, this makes sense for both men. Melo needs a heel as his first opponent and there aren’t many credible solo heel guys in NXT at the moment. And of that bunch, most of them are busy elsewhere. This gives Melo an immediate challenge and a big threat out the gate.

For Bron, it gives him a chance at operating on a different level. He became stagnant as a face and even more as a face champion. Showing more versatility only helps him going forward.

Everybody wins and hopefully, with all that respect thrown out the window now, we get a very different Bron vs. Melo build and match than we got the first time around.



We got our first look at how Indi Hartwell functions with a target on her back. Indi opened NXT and received a hero’s welcome from the NXT faithful. She’s a perfect babyface champ in that the crowd believes in her so much and wants nothing but good things for her.

Her championship celebration lasted all of five minutes before Zoey Stark crashed the party like Full Force. Zoey disrespected the champ in so many ways, but mostly saying she got lucky and will go down as the NXT Women’s champ with the shortest reign in history. Zoey challenged Indi for that championship this week and Indi accepted.

The match possibly set the blueprint for Indi’s matches going forward, at least until she fully gains her swagger and confidence. She got in her blows but mostly works from underneath. The heel gets the better of her but gets overconfident and Indi takes advantage. Zoey nailed Indi with the Z 360 but the champ fell out of the ring. After Zoey rolled her back in the ring and went for a very arrogant pin, Indi reversed it and got the 3-count. “Surviving” and outsmarting people who take her lightly makes a lot of sense for now and I hope they build off that and give her some growth outside the ring and inside of it as well.

We may see all that sooner rather than later because someone interrupted Indi’s celebratory moment: Tiffany Stratton. Tiffany made it clear she wants that belt but someone else made her intentions crystal as well: Cora Jade.

Cora retuned and got physical with the champ, leaving her lying in the middle of the ring. Cora exchanged words with Tiffany, meaning they may need to go through each other before they even get to Indi. Cora provides some necessary heat at the top of this division so I’m ecstatic she’s back like she never left.

Everyone feels like the champ is BBQ chicken right now and they want to eat. Perfect chance for Indi to prove them all wrong and provide a little indigestion.

Enjoy Da Ride

Axiom and Wes Lee are perfect dance partners. They work seamlessly together and lift each other up. After the hell they went through at Stand & Deliver, wrestling each other after a few days after for the North American championship makes sense. Wes still believes there’s something to prove while Axiom wanted a one-on-one shot at the champ.

And much like Dragon Lee and Nathan Frazer earlier in the episode, they put on a show. It’s rare I get two matches that I feel are worth your time immediately but we got that tonight. I wondered if they might pull the trigger and give Axiom the title, but Wes retained. Eventually though, at least from a story standpoint, burnout is on Wes’ horizon. I love how he altered the Cardiac Kick midway through for a double stomp that countered the Golden Ratio. And, in turn, Axiom countered the Cardiac Kick with a body scissors. Again, these two just get each other in the ring and it’s beautiful.

After both men gave each other their well-deserved props, Reggie SCRYPTS set his sights on Axiom...again. And Axiom put his foot through SCRYPTS’ teeth. So we’re getting that soon, at least I think. We got a weird cut from the action while Vic Joseph explained what Axiom said to his fallen assailant.


I rarely have issues with NXT tag team matches. This one between Pretty Deadly and Tony D’Angelo’s Family didn’t disappoint. Tony D & Stacks losing doesn’t bother me either because this is truly their second match as a tag team and Pretty Deadly went nefarious for the W. And, even better, Tony D & Stacks didn’t look dumb.

During the third act, Tony D and the ref chatted as the ref checked on him with Elton tied up in the ring apron. Pretty Deadly, always the smart team, played a little okie doke when Elton and Kit switched places. Tony attacked who he thought was Elton, only to find Kit. Elton creeped up from behind and slammed Tony’s head into an exposed turnbuckle.

So yeah, a cheap finish from a cheap team that keeps them on the track towards Gallus while putting more sympathy on Tony & Stacks.


Ivy Nile finally got her hands on Tatum Paxley. I do wish we didn’t have to wait three weeks for it. And I wish we got a little more business between the two after their initial breakup. And given the bad blood between them, the match felt like it never hit the right level. It felt too much like a normal match and not something between two former friends with equal amounts of hurt over their eroded relationship.

Don’t get me wrong; they wrestled a fine match in the technical sense. But it missed the emotional level that commentary, and the ending, clearly wanted. Ivy got the W by submission and celebrated with the Creed Bros. All that told us how cathartic this was for Ivy but the match itself didn’t reflect that. But that’s not their fault, that’s on the booking.

Real Big

Dijak vs. Odyssey Jones. Not the longest match or the cleanest, but certainly physical. Dijak keeps impressing while one wonders about Jones’ status. He loses his first match on tv in quite some time and even got slammed! Props to Dijak for all that strength but Odyssey seems lost in the sauce at the moment.

Although, the last time I said that about someone, that person won a championship.

Verbal Intercourse

Little insight: WWE is in their new season so I’m switching things up. All the headlines and subheads this season are music related. Normally the title has some connection to the match or segment. If you got this far, you see “Real Big” and “Knuckleheadz.” The former is a Mannie Fresh song and the latter is Raekwon. I don’t think any match involving Odyssey Jones and Dijak needs a reason why I chose that song. And seeing as how Tony D & Stacks got outsmarted, that makes them “knuckleheadz.” Plus, Tony got his head smashed into a turnbuckle.

“Verbal Intercourse” is some of the best rapping on any song. Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Nas defy gravity on the song with perfect rapping and standout lyricism. Nas in particular gives a performance for the ages with textbook rapping that also says a lot about the societal conditions he saw in 1994 and 1995. Dragon Lee and Nathan Frazer did the wrestling equivalent to that 1995 song. It was perfectly designed, made both men look competitive, and set a very high bar.

Noam Dar returned with the Heritage Cup in hand, announcing he wants competitors for a new Heritage Cup tournament. That meant impressing Dar became the number two goal, which is still possible with a loss. If both men show up in this tournament, that’s a win for everyone.

After the mess that was the most recent Monday Night Raw, it feels great suggesting a match for your consumption.

Get You Home

Briggs finally knows!

Kiana James blamed him for the loss she and Fallon Henley sustained at Stand & Deliver. he While he apologized, Fallon and Jensen popped up like a couple Jack-in-the-Boxes and finally told Briggs that Kiana is cheating on him. Of course, Kiana makes a very good point about their exclusivity or lack thereof. However, she definitely manipulated him saying that their kiss changed everything and she thought she could trust him until he let her down by not helping her cheat. Yeah, everyone put on your rubber boots.

Briggs bought that completely though and said it’s his fault for not making them exclusive and demanding his friends stay out of his love life.

Too bad Kiana & Fallon face Isla Dawn & Alba Fyre next week with the tag titles on the line.

NXT made me happy this week. Not a spectacular show but good across the board. Two very dope matches, solid wrestling, and logical stories. As I often say, the basics work for a reason. And with all the rumors about who controls what on Monday and Friday nights, NXT might serve as the one bastion we have as it relates to WWE for a long time.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. What’s yours?

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