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NXT recap & reactions (May 16, 2023): This doesn’t feel right

The main event angle is all over the place, one of many problems on this week’s NXT.

Take It Back

The Cagesiders who also love Wu Tang Clan might recognize that song choice. For those who don’t—and how dare you not love the Wu—it’s a track from 8 Diagrams. Not the group’s finest hour by a long shot and that song summed up why. Wu promised to “take it back” to their heyday with the song and the album, but lacked a clear direction or reason for existing. Previous Wu projects had that modus operandi, and never presented the group as old men telling kids to get off their lawns

I think about that song in relation to the main event angle and Carmelo Hayes’ recent words about taking NXT back to the Black and Gold days. And he very well might because we know he gets busy between those ropes. Bron Breakker as well.

But like that song and 8 Diagrams, their angle lacks focus.

Melo and Trick called Bron out early. Bron no showed and they got Drew Gulak & Charlie Dempsey instead. Drew & Charlie challenged Trick Melo gang to a match since their scheduled match suffered complications, to which Trick & Melo obviously obliged.

I’m all for more Trick in the ring after last week and he did well again. But it’s also not why I’m here; give me more Bron & Melo.

NXT probably knew that which is why the tag match wrapped pretty quickly with Melo getting the W for his team and immediately turned their attention back towards the Big Bad Booty Nephew.

That’s when things got weird.

Bron showed up on the big screen in Melo’s barbershop. I guess that was threatening? Melo looked angry but...that’s it? He went to the shop, got a cut, and then immediately sat up. There’s no danger there and Bron didn’t even disrespect the place. Yeah the extras patrons looked nervous but he didn’t threaten anyone.

Which brings us to the very end of the show when Bron finally showed after Trick & Melo showed up again and held the show hostage.

Bron came with security in tow, got on the mic, and sounded mad awkward. I said last week that less is more with Bron when it comes to talking. In fact, less talking and more action works for him. This is another exhibit why. Bron switched his motivation back to not wanting the championship.

He seemingly forgot spearing Melo out the air last week even after mentioning it earlier in the show. Then, for some reason, he trash talked Boston sports teams. That makes sense if you’re in Boston, or Melo established on television how much he loved those teams, or both. But trash talking Boston sports teams in Florida won’t get the heel reaction Bron wanted.

And he knew as much because he paused and looked around the arena as soon as the words left his lips.

Chaos eventually broke out like we all wanted. The champion and his challenger who doesn’t care about the championship finally got their hands on each other. They battled to a draw as the credit rolled with both men on the mat and the championship lying between them.

And I felt none of it. This build just isn’t working and I don’t know who to blame. I hoped with Bron firmly as a heel that they might tell an interesting story here but it’s the exact opposite and, unfortunately, boring.

Their angle crystalized most of this week’s show: a lot happening, none of it truly compelling, and not really worth anyone’s time.


I Dare You

Cora Jade practically dared Fallon Henley, or any woman, to test her in this tournament. That’s the way she worked her match too: As the top flight heel who believes she’s above the competition.

Cora capitalized on Fallon’s knee injury, as a good heel should, and went to the pay window. She also advanced to the semi-finals but yeah, pay window.

They got less than 10 minutes to work but they made it physical, which made the hate between the two palpable.

Da Mystery of Chessboxin’

The Brothers Creed and the Dyad rocked the world this week. Incredible match from top to bottom. NXT normally delivers on its tag matches and this lived up to that hype.

And to top it off, it seems like the Diamond Mine as a whole exorcised their Schism demons. At least for the moment.

Ava tried getting the drop on Ivy Nile but Ivy reversed her sneak attack hold into Ivy’s patented submission. Brutus hit a Brutus Bomb on the outside while Julius finished it off in the ring. That’s an emphatic win. And with all that momentum, they officially challenged Gallus to a tag team championship match at Battleground.

They played Chess while Schism, unsurprisingly, played checkers.

Code of the Street

The Supernova Sessions didn’t do much for me. It was Noam Dar interviewing Dragon Lee, with Noam being his normal obnoxious self. Which is perfectly fine and in character, but the execution just left me wanting. Nathan Frazer showed up, which got under Noam’s very thin skin.

The long and short of this very loud and rambling segment? Noam puts his Heritage Cup on the line against Dragon Lee but takes on Nathan next week just to prove a point.

Money, Power & Respect

I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop in this Chase U situation. On one hand, we all see Duke Hudson inching Andre Chase out of power. On the other, Duke shows so much dedication to the job. Duke grading papers during Thea Hail’s initial dustup with Kiana James provided some comedy as he nonchalantly granted Thea permission to wrestle Kiana after Ms. James threw insults her way.

Duke continued grading papers during the actual match, meaning he didn’t provide the spirit and energy Andre does. Thea not having a cheerleader in her corner no doubt contributed to Kiana’s W.

But looking at this as a television show, I’m not sure what a victory over Thea does for Kiana at this point. Kiana had a spot in the tournament for the Women’s championship. Storyline wise, she’s on a different level, so it’s hard getting invested in a match with Thea, who isn’t there yet.

Anger in the Nation

Schism attacked Tyler Bate and Wes Lee, effectively putting them out of the tag match against the Dyad. Joe Gacy wants Wes’ championship, plain and simple. But he also believes Tyler Bate has an ulterior motive; he and Ava believe Tyler only helps Wes because he wants a shot at that same championship.

Aaaaand he was 1000 percent right.

The weird thing about all of this, and this goes for Tyler and Joe, is the fact that Wes never turns down a request! Ever. If you want a shot at his championship, just ask. He established that pattern pretty early in his reign and said it this week.

I get they’re creating drama between Tyler and Wes for a triple threat match at Battleground, but it’s just weird writing from my perspective since, again, Wes’ character takes on all comers, friend or foe, no questions asked.

So now we go into a triple threat where it's truly every man for himself, a development that presumably gives Joe the advantage. I like where they got but the way they got there felt clunky.

Keep It Thoro

The Prodigy vs. the Princess. That’s the other half of the semi-final bracket for the NXT Women’s championship as Roxanne Perez defeated Jacy Jayne this week in a very solid match.

Keeping it all the way real, I’m not a big Jacy fan. I thought Gigi held them up as a tag team and Jacy got over thanks to Gigi and even more thanks to Mandy Rose. But she impressed me this week when she held her own against a former NXT Women’s champ. That’s a big deal and great for her future.

That performance also makes me look forward to her impending rematch with Gigi, who jumped her former partner after Roxanne took the W.

On the whole, this is one of two matches I really enjoyed this week, So hey, they got that going for them.

Whew, rough week. I really don’t know what else to say besides that. The show started with some promise but never found a rhythm and felt like someone mashed several ideas together hoping they fit. Sadly for everyone involved, they really didn’t. And I purposefully left out some segments with Dijak and Ilja Dragunov because...yeah, no.

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