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NXT Gold Rush Night 2 recap & reactions: Melo’s golden ticket

Carmelo Hayes survives, Rhea Ripley surprises, Tiffany Stratton skates, and Gallus Boys get lucky on NXT Gold Rush Night 2.

If I Ruled the World

Quite a few days for Carmelo Hayes. He pushed Finn Balor to the limit, got a huge rub from Seth Rollins, and now finds himself in Judgment Day’s crosshairs. Rhea Ripley confronted the champ and Trick Williams this week with a simple message: Stay out of Judgment Day business or become Judgment Day’s business.

That’s a lot on one’s mind, to say nothing of the championship match against Baron Corbin. How would the champ handle it? Would he even survive?


Baron gave Melo a hell of a match. Wrestling a big man requires a different speed for a cat Melo’s size. Especially when coming off a match with Finn just 24 hours ago. That’s why Baron dominated from the first ding. Melo shouldn’t do to Baron what he does so easily to everyone else. He barely chained any moves together, spent most of the time selling offense with hope spots few and far in between.

This is the type of match I wanted from Melo the second Baron became a thing. He can work from underneath but this was almost Earth’s core. He even took a Power Bomb to the commentary table—that didn’t break—and then we watched Baron pummel the champ with elbows to the head while taunting him to his face.

This wasn’t flashy Melo or even confident Melo. Defiant? Of course. But Baron, resurrecting his Lone Wolf gimmick, truly made the champ work for it while making sure the crowd felt every blow while their champion barely stood on two feet.

Every champion needs a “gutsy” win. The type of win that Jim Ross explained so well on commentary back in the day. And this was all guts. Melo got advantages through moxie and will, sidestepping Baron at times, just kicking out of End of Days, and using Baron’s own momentum against him when possible.

Eventually, he finished him off with a Nothin’ But Net and celebrated, but the road to victory came with more than a few bumps and potholes.

Great couple nights for NXT’s champ as he showed he can hang with two of WWE’s most consistent wrestlers, work very different styles, and tell two very different stories. The David vs. Goliath story works best when David sells Goliath’s viciousness and cruelty. That makes the eventual victory that much sweeter.

Mission accomplished.




Edris Enofe & Malik Blade gave the Gallus boys a fight. Gallus took their challenger so lightly, they already looked forward to dealing with Stacks. Edris & Malik had other plans though and gave the boys a very solid match.

In fact, they almost became your new NXT Tag Team Champions. But then Stacks showed up and ruined their plans. Tony D’Angelo’s right hand man came out in the third act and left Edris laying. Now, it initially looked like an accident but after further review, it looks like Stacks knew exactly what he did.

Later on, we found out exactly what happened, thanks to Joe Coffey: Stacks made a deal with Joe because the Underboss life is tired. As Joe put it, Stacks has ambition. So, yeah, Stacks knew exactly what he was doing and helped Gallus to benefit himself.

Whew, drama.

The Chase, Part II

Tiffany Stratton and Thea Hail got a lot of time during their opening match and aside from one mishap—at least I think it was a mishap—they delivered something solid. Thea’s still young and Tiffany keeps improving. The one thing they both have locked down, however, is character. Both women know who they are and their offense reflects their personalities, which is perfect every sense of the word.

The ending slap protected Thea while delivering on some noted tension between Duke Hudson, Charlie Dempsey, and Drew Gulak. All three men tried coaching Thea during the match with very different objectives. Drew & Charlie urged Thea to bend the rules and she refused. While the ref went back and forth with Drew & Charlie, he missed Tiffany tapping to Thea’s submission. Then, Thea found herself distracted by her two coaches as well, which left her vulnerable to a...rollup.

If I have another issue with the match it’s Thea losing to a roll up. Maybe I missed it but even through the replay, I didn’t see Tiffany with tights in her hands either. Was Thea caught off guard that much? Just a match that deserved a better ending. That said, there’s enough story to go back to this one down the line if they so choose, so at least the ending does that.

BUT, Andre Chase’s return kinda redeemed everything. Duke went to blows with Drew & Charlie, which, ya know, wasn’t smart. Andre made the save and reunited with his Chase U brothers and sisters, setting up a possible tag match between Chase U and Drew & Charlie.

I dig that a lot.

Can I Kick It?

Nathan Frazer retained the Heritage Cup by the skin of his teeth. Seriously, it went down to the very last second and in fact, he almost ran out of seconds.

Nathan got the first pinfall in Round 2, Dragon Lee won Round 3, and Nathan got the fourth fall with only one second left on the clock.

The more they do these Heritage Cup matches, the more I like them. Nathan and Dragon started slow as they felt each other out during the first round. I didn’t feel a sense of urgency from either man until Round 2. Coincidentally, that’s when other NXT wrestlers like Axiom showed up. They didn’t interfere, they just spectated and looked on with jealous eyes. They want that cup, which represented a nice touch. The best way to make any championship important is to show how much everyone else covets said championship. Mission accomplished there.

Round 3 just turned up the action, which went to another level in Round 4 with a 1-1 tie and not a lot of time on the clock.

Both men came out strong here as the ending said the match was a tossup. Both men reversed pin attempts, starting with Nathan going for a pin from a Power Bomb, but the Dragon got his shoulder up. Then Dragon reversed the pin, then Nathan reversed it and that was that.

No complaints, no issues. I’m actually looking forward to the next Heritage Cup match.

Orange Pineapple Juice

While I don’t think Gigi Dolin and Kiana James have much chemistry together in the ring, at least not yet, they do tell an interesting story outside of it. This is all about class and how someone who loves the status quo feels about someone who pushes against it. Kiana took an L here tonight after a beautiful Crucifix Bomb and then attacked Gigi with her purse after the match. She tried using the purse during the match to no avail, but found success here.

What was in the purse? Orange paint.

This is far from over, which might be another reason this match felt like it missed a gear or two. I want more of it though because, as I said, they tell a compelling story.

Solid NXT Gold Rush Night 2. Not as fulfilling as last week but solid. Besides the matches, we got more Schism tension, which led to Joe Gacy booking a “loser leaves NXT” match between the Dyad and the Creed Bros., a follow-up on Mustafa Ali’s shenanigans with Tyler Bate & Wes Lee, and Blair Davenport just won’t leave Roxanne Perez alone. And, apparently, something is cooking with Bron Breakker but we won’t find out exactly what until next week.

What are your Fourth of July plans?

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