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NXT recap & reactions (June 13, 2023): Should Bron get his wish?

A champion gets a new challenger, two teammates hug it out, and Shawn Michaels makes a huge announcement on this week’s NXT.

Special Delivery

A convo in the Cageside offices got me thinking about Seth Rollins and Bron Breakker’s interaction this week. For those who don’t know or don’t read the site throughly, Seth accepted Bron’s challenge and next week, at NXT Gold Rush, the champ returns home and defends his championship.

As noted during the convo, this comes a day after defending it on Monday Night Raw during an open challenge, which hardly makes Seth’s championship special. Plus, it’s hard arguing that Seth defending the championship two days in a row on a Monday and a Tuesday makes his championship equally as important as Roman Reigns’ championship. Differentiate it? Of course.

But it’s hard arguing that a championship defended in the Performance Center just as much weight as the Undisputed Universal Championship when we all know there’s no way on this earth, or any of the 51 other earths out there, that Roman steps foot into the Performance Center on a Tuesday night.

And therein lies the issue. Seth vs. Bron piques my interest. I don’t see Seth losing but it’s a great test for Bron as he rounds himself out for an eventual main roster debut. It also further establishes the World Heavyweight Championship as the workhorse championship. But it takes some prestige from the belt as well. A championship match is special in that it should feel rare. The fact we’re getting two matches in two days makes it anything but.

It also speaks to the casual nature of Seth’s character that he’s not even focused on his upcoming match with Finn Balor at Money in the Bank. He issued an open challenge and accepted Bron’s challenge after making the match with Finn.

Something about that feels weird. I’m sure there’s a story there about Seth working himself way too much and taking Finn, and even Bron, for granted, but that’s not where WWE seems like they’re going at the moment.

Maybe I’m overthinking all of this. Like I said, this is a great look for Bron and will undoubtedly get more eyes on NXT. Those new eyes will Bron, Ilja Dragunov, and every other match on Gold Rush night one. And I can see a finish that pleases everyone while moving NXT’s business along while giving Seth a win:

Ilja ruins Bron’s day through interfering, which saves Bron from taking a clean L, and Seth gets a W over the bad guy nobody likes while the crowd sings his song as the credits roll.

I just don’t think it does anything for the championship around Seth’s waist.

And at a moment where establishing that championship means everything, a match on a Tuesday night in this context means nothing.


A Million and One Questions

I throughly enjoyed the opening six-man tag between Schism and Wes Lee, Tyler Bate, & Mustafa Ali. Like really really enjoyed it. Lot of chemistry in that ring, which says a lot about everyone involved since Ali just integrated himself into the proceedings.

But the ending bothered me. We got a ref bump spot and the ref missed Wes tagging out. When Schism went for a pin on Wes, another ref came in out of nowhere and stopped the count extra dramatically. He explained to his brother in arms that Wes made a tag. The match continued, much to Schism’s chagrin, and the good guys got the W.

The problem with this spot is the consistency. How many times do ref’s miss tags? How many times do they miss someone taking a short cut?

A lot.

And how many times does another ref come through to rectify that situation?

Not a lot.

This isn’t me clowning NXT either because I hated this spot as a kid and that passion remains today. In an art form supposedly built on logic, no one ever explains why a ref intervened one time they don’t intervene the other 50 times.

Okay, rant over.

On another note, we’re totally getting an Ali heel turn, right? After the match, he reminded Tyler and Wes about their one-on-one for the North American Championship, then volunteered to ref said match. I smell a rat.


So that whole rant about that ref spot? Dana Brooke showed up during Cora Jade’s match with Thea Hail. Why did Dana show up? Because Cora got in her face during a backstage interview since Cora is Cora. Dana, rightly looking for some revenge, pushed Cora into the steel steps behind the ref’s back. She then rolled her back in the ring and Thea got the W.

So exactly one match after the ref played hero, they suddenly stopped paying attention to the show? Now I need the explanation.

Besides my annoyance with that, the match outcome made sense. Thea needs to heat up going into her match with Tiffany Stratton and Cora clearly has a feud brewing with Dana. Everyone gets what they need.

Winners Circle

We got a new Heritage Cup champ! And his name is Nathan Frazer. Shoutout to Nathan for the Flash cosplay, too.

This Heritage Cup match worked a lot better for me than the last time I saw one in NXT. Obviously, one on NXT has more restrictions than one during a PLE, so maybe it came down to that. But it’s also fun seeing Oro Mensah in the ring, which is always a strength of a stable. Not only that, but Jakara Jackson and Lash Legend got involved as well.

AND, Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz showed up as well and put hands to Lash & Jakara. From this one match, we got a new champ, a new feud, and intrigue in the Meta Four since Oro didn’t get the job done as stand-in for an injured Noam Dar.

I dug it and I’m pleasantly surprised.

It Takes Two

Scrypts & Axiom teamed up against Daba Kato in a handicap match. While I love watching Axiom and Reggie is growing on me, this thing they’re doing with Daba does nothing for me. They got the W after showing a lot of teamwork and displaying how much their relationship evolved.

I suppose this thing is over now though since they defeated Daba and then Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza showed up for a surprise attack! Humberto & Angel want in on NXT’s tag team division and I’m with it.


While I think the idea behind Edris Enofe and Malik Blade wrestling each other is silly, I liked the match we got from said silliness. It wasn’t long, but it showcased their talents and led to a cathartic breakthrough for the team. Even the finish showed that these two are really perfect teammates: Malik won with a Small Package that truly could’ve went Edris’ direction if just for a slight momentum shift.

They embraced afterwards, Edris told Malik his birthday, they hugged, and everyone celebrated. And by everyone, I mean Hank Walker, Tank Ledger, and Briggs & Jensen.

That celebration turned into a brawl once Booker T announced a match between all three teams next week where the winner gets their shot at the Gallus boys.

Like I said, it’s silly how they got here but the outcome works.


Roxanne Perez wants Blair Davenport.

After summarily dismissing Tatum Paxley, Roxanne grabbed a mic and called out Blair. I like the new edge from Roxanne. It’s another layer for her character and part of her evolution. The nice girl thing works but only so far, and now she’s got murder on her mind.

Da Beginning of Da End

Baron Corbin usually doesn't do much for me. I think he’s sound in the ring but a lot of cats are. Nothing about him makes me sit up straight in my chair and make sure I watch. But when he finds the right dance partner, like Ilja Dragunov, all his solid qualities become better.

Baron and Ilja rocked the house this week. They got extremely physical and engaged in a war for a shot at Carmelo Hayes’ championship. Ilja doesn’t measure up to Baron on a height chart, but his offense makes them look like they’re on the same level. It was the perfect opponent for both men.

But I also expected a fuzzy finish. Bron injured Ilja’s ribs last week and the former NXT UK champ wanted revenge earlier but the refs held him back. No way the show ended without Bron showing his face during the main event.

Sure enough, right when Ilja had the match won and Baron in his sights for a kill shot, Bron appeared out of nowhere. The Big Bad Booty Nephew, accidentally or on purpose, took the shot meant for Baron. That threw Ilja off his game just long enough for Baron to recover and finish Ilja off with End of Days.

And that makes sense, right? Baron and Melo have to do this thing after the last two weeks of television, which includes Melo showing up on SmackDown. Ilja and Bron have to go blow for blow after Bron went wild on his ribs. In fact, I fully expect Ilja repays Bron in kind during the World Heavyweight Championship match with Seth Rollins next week.

This, like a lot of the night, was logical storytelling. A fitting main event for a pretty damn good night of wrestling down in Florida.

This show ran with the pace of a runaway train. But whew, I enjoyed it. I didn’t even get to cover every backstage moment but just to summarize a few: Von Wagner and Dijak have beef—and Von’s clearly having sex with his therapist, Duke Hudson still can’t find Andre Chase but planned a Pep Rally for Thea Hail next week, and Gigi Dolin wants revenge on Kiana James.

That’s on top of everything that happened in the ring. This show worked and felt like a great prep for the next two weeks.

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