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NXT recap & reactions (July 18, 2023): The Dirty North American champ

Dirty Dom gets gold, Thea Hail gets her rematch, and Carmelo Hayes & Ilja Dragunov get acquainted with one another on this week’s NXT.

Up North Trip

Mustafa Ali warned him. Mustafa told Wes Lee that he made a mistake accepting Dirty Dom’s challenge. Wes felt insulted. Mustafa thinks Wes can’t beat Dom? Dominick Mysterio? Really? Of course, Wes missed the whole point even though Mustafa told him his feelings reflected Judgment Day’s modus operandi and not Wes’ considerable skill. No matter how good Wes’ talents, he’s not beating four people.

But that’s the way this whole thing works with Wes.

The longer his reign continued, the more his confidence grew. And the more his confidence grew, the more challenges he accepted, just to prove a point that nobody but him felt needed proving. Wes’ chip on his shoulder turned into arrogance and that fatal flaw wrote his reign’s last chapter before he even realized.

Dom and the Judgment Day did Wes dirty. And it’s all his fault.

Now, as far as the match goes, these two lacked a certain chemistry. And Dom, though very much improved, still has some rough edges. He came really close to making the match shorter than planned when he dropped Wes awkwardly on his head. Although, is there a non-awkward way to drop someone on their head?

But this really came down to the last couple minutes. Wes, just like so many times before, set up Dom for his eventual trip back to Mondays sans North American championship. But then, just like Mustafa predicted, Damian Priest & Finn Balor popped up like Jack-in-the-Boxes. Finn distracted the ref, Damian got physical but it looked like Wes might skate when he nailed Damian with a Cardiac Kick.

Then along came Mami. Rhea Ripley nailed Wes with her championship belt and Dom did the rest.

1-2-3. We have a new champion.

Mustafa wanted Wes at The Great American Bash because he wanted the best ever and not Dom. Well, not everyone gets what they want but they do get what they deserve. Wes let a bunch of things cloud his judgment—no pun—and got what he deserved.

I love Dom as the North American champ. Working in NXT should help him a lot, while further integrating Judgment Day into NXT’s fabric and the rest of WWE. It truly makes the territory’s most dominant faction just that. And if we do need get Mustafa and Dom at the Bash, I hope Dom comes out on top.

Let’s ride this thing out and see where it goes.

Oh, one more thing: Booker T compared Dom to Kobe Bryant and Tupac. That will not stand and it better not happen again.


Face Off 2K1

I don't have much to say about Carmelo Hayes and Ilja Dragunov this week other than they killed their opening promo segment. It started a bit slow when they got through the mandatory mutual appreciation stuff. Once they got over all that, they found a rhythm based on pure competition and proving the other just isn’t ready. Melo does the “good guy respect” thing better than most and Ilja’s intensity plays well off Melo’s calm demeanor. If the clip above this paragraph works the way the internets intend, you’ll see for yourself.

They teased more tension between the two when Ilja popped up while Melo and Trick Williams talked to Schism. A fight broke out and next week, well, you watch wrestling, you know how the “can they co-exist” thing works.

Twinz (Deep Cover ‘98)

I dug this opening match so much. Mostly because it shows one of NXT’s main talking points rather than just telling: There’s something popping in NXT’s tag team division now. Los Lotharios and Nathan Frazer & Dragon Lee got plenty of time and told a back and forth stor that showcased maybe, just maybe, the two cousins aren’t on the same page. Or they took NXT for granted and imagined a Florida cake walk.

I also dug the different flavors we got during the match. It started fast paced with Nathan & Dragon on top, then slowed down just a bit and became a slug fest when the Lotharios took over. Which makes sense as heels should slow down matches and punish the heroes.

Ultimately, Dragon & Nathan got the W thanks to a little miscommunication from their opponents. While they celebrated, Angel & Humberto argued about said miscommunication. Headed for a split? Possibly. But I hope not. Especially after this week. But giving them a little story never hurts.


Last week, Bronco Nima & Lucien Price made their debut. Not in-ring, but they showed up and put their noses in Reggie (yup not calling him the other thing) and Axiom’s business. Reggie booked a tag match for the teams this week, against Axiom’s wishes.

Didn’t take long for the ultimate reveal either: Reggie turned heel.

He set up Axiom and his former partner caught a hellacious beatdown from Bronco & Lucien.

I’m curious where this is going because I give them points for maintaining the fact Reggie and Axiom never really dug each other, as Axiom reminded us before the match. Not much of a match at all though. Unless you like seeing Axiom get beat up by two guys. But why, Reggie? Why?

Or, maybe it’s simple: Like Booker T said, Axiom ain’t from the hood.


The Tony D’Angelo welcome home thing started weird for me if only because, as I always note, I don’t dig the angle. And that’s despite how much I enjoy Tony D and Stacks together and individually. But luckily, the family reunion didn’t last long before Gallus crashed the party.

I liked the emotion everyone showed. Gallus felt misled and Tony still believes Gallus snitched on him. These weren’t exactly the best promos though, but they fit the situation, which feels rather cartoonish at times.

Long story short, Gallus puts their tag championships on the line against The Family at The Great American Bash.

I fully expect a title change here.

What They Do

Thea Hail finally got her rematch against Tiffany Stratton. It came after Thea made pretty short work of Electra Lopez. I expected a longer match if only because Electra seemingly has a story now. Or at least the remnants of a story. But Thea made her tap, called out the champ, and the champ showed that insecurity and fakeness. She really doesn’t think she’s better than Thea.

Making matters worse? Thea forced her into a submission match. Good touch establishing the champ’s weak spot, and putting her in a match that doesn’t fit her strengths. Will she adapt? I think that’s a good story, especially early during Tiffany’s run. I like Thea’s energy and character but I don’t think she’s ready for the championship yet. But this hopefully gives us a different flavor from Tiffany.

Judgement Day

I like using this song for a segment not about Judgment Day. It’s actually referencing Dijak, who interfered during the very weird match between Oro Mensah & Eddy Thorpe. Why weird? Glad you asked.

We got Noam Dar in a wheel chair because he’s unwell over losing his cup. Jakara Jackson & Lash Legend wheeled him out while Oro fought in his place.

The two battled outside and while Jakara distracted the ref, Lash rolled a seemingly comatose Noam into the ring. The ref, confused like me, tried getting the pathetic man out the ring.

And then boom! Dijak comes through, kicks Eddy upside the head, and runs off like a thief in the night. Eddy barely beats the count out, and Oro gets the W.

Weird. Like I don’t even know how I’m supposed to feel much less how I actually feel.

Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)

Meh. We did this before with Roxanne Perez: She does a sit-down interview with her opponent, they start talking over her, insult her a bit, and she storms off.

BUT, unlike last time, she didn’t reappear with her fist or foot in Blair Davenport’s face. They set it up for that but they played against expectations. While I always like my expectations subverted, I don’t understand making your face and former champion look like she can’t take the heat. In fact, it only makes Blair look correct when she calls Roxanne a little girl.

Purse Snatchaz

The Gigi Dolin and Kiana James saga continues beyond this week. Kiana went for her purse during their match, and Gigi had the same thought. The ref stopped her and Kiana defeated her with the 401 (K) on the bag!

I do wish these two did more talking before wrestling and they saved everything for a big blow up rather than these mini matches we get.

A very busy show this week! It’s almost like they remembered the PLE coming up in a couple weeks so they put everything into overdrive. It worked for me for the most part, although I felt the pacing just ran a breakneck pace. Oh and next week, Gabe Stevenson comes to town and announces his future plans. I’m betting it’s wrestling since he’s doing it on a wrestling show, but hey, he could surprise us and say he’s going to the olympics.

The Great American Bash looks solid so far though.

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