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NXT Great American Bash 2023 recap & reactions: Carmelo lives the dream

The champ stays the champ. Gable Steveson makes a very weird debut, and Roxanne conquers her own beast in a mediocre NXT Great American Bash.

The Reign

Wow. That’s really all I have for Carmelo Hayes vs. Ilja Dragunov. I’m thinking about other words but none of them seem worthy. But let me give it a shot.

The match started with Melo on top and wrestling a slower pace than usual. Then Ilja took over and sped the pace up a bit. That’s when everything went to the point where words don’t work.

However, the one thing I want to analyze is everything happening between Trick and Melo. McKenzie interviewed Trick before the match and he reiterated the bond he and the champion share. Wrestling 101 says that’s protesting too much and the foundation for a heel turn. We didn’t get it during the match but instead got Trick showing his loyalty. He coached Melo, used the championship for motivation, and even returned the favor and took a shot from Ilja meant for Melo.

I thought for a second that Trick might take umbrage with the fact his best friend didn’t push him out the way, but...he didn’t. Trick happily took one for the team and Ilja possibly hit his head on the championship in Trick’s hands.

Maybe there aren’t seeds sown here for a breakup and I’m just a wrestling fan playing off history and expectations. Like I said before, I don’t want these two apart. At least not yet. I want them together on the main roster first before a breakup, although I’m not sure WWE thinks Trick is ready for the next step. Actually, I don’t think Trick is ready for the next step.

Until then, watch this match. Watch it several times. Ilja just gave Melo the best match of his title reign and I have no idea where the champ goes from here. But I can’t wait to find out.


Phone Tap

First off, the rats in The Family’s entrance video? Nah. Even as a horror geek, that bugged me out. But whew, this match sparked a little fire. Tony & Stacks came out motivated with fire in the belly.

But it took more than belly fire to defeat Gallus. The champs returned fire in the second act and even isolated their challengers from one another. for a brief period if only brief.

That said, I knew a fair fight wasn’t in the cards. Gallus tried the same chicanery they pulled at Stand & Deliver, using the sawed-off baseball bat for good measure. Or should I say “tried” using, because the ref caught them this time. Tony & Stacks saw it coming as well, as the Don came prepared with a crowbar. Turnabout being what it is, the crowd didn’t care and neither do I.

The Family got the W the nice and legal way too, which is a good booking move after they made everything fair.

This is the right call. Tony & Stacks need some gold as part of a long-term payoff to a promise the Don made many moons ago.

Evil Twin

Roxanne Perez and Blair Davenport certainly got violent. Let’s run through this point by point.

1. I don't like when they involve family members. Roxanne’s mom and little sister sat ringside so of course, they participated. I don’t like when they ask non-actors to “act.” Roxanne’s little sister eventually found some water works, but it’s just weird asking a non-professional to pretend she’s worried about her sister when logic dictates her sister already assured her she’s fine.

2. I got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell. Shoutout to Roxanne for using the cowbell and referencing Dusty Rhodes and Christopher Walken.

3. Love Blair attacking Roxanne from the crowd. Smart booking that played on Blair’s recent past and their beef filled with surprise attacks.

4. This win does a lot for Roxanne’s character. We know all about Blair’s dark side, but Roxanne needs another gear besides nice girl prodigy. She showed it here.


That’s how the crowd felt about this finish and so do I. Gable Steveson vs. Baron Corbin ended in a double countout, and then a bunch of violence afterward since both men kept fighting each other and security.

The Texas crowd never got into Gable. In fact, they kinda rejected him as cheers for Baron rained down. I don’t think Gable looked awful but he didn’t look great either. He’s in his element with suplexes but he’ll get better with time and reps. Again, that’s why he’s in NXT.

The BS finish, however, means this thing ain’t over by a long shot.

Can’t say I’m thrilled about that fact.

Oh, one more thing: Baron’s entrance video made me chuckle. I know he talked about burning the boats but I didn’t think that meant building his whole new entrance package around it!

Cradle Rock

I don’t particularly like Wes Lee kicking out after a Riptide through a table. When did that happen you ask? Well, during the North American championship triple threat, everything broke down as per usual. It started when Mustafa Ali showed his crazy and went for a 450 Splash on his two opponents hanging outside the bottom ropes. Actually, just watch it above.

After that, Rhea enacted her “plan,” which meant putting herself between Wes and Dirty Dom. Wes jumped over her though and nailed Dom with a beautiful Senton. Yeah, well, Rhea didn’t like that. I loved her reaction because it delivers on a promise she often makes: Don't mess with her man or else.

Wes found out one of those “or else’s,” which leads back to my initial statement. Wes kicking out is fine if we put some time between the move and the pin attempt. It’s a Riptide through a freaking table. That Wes kicked out of it hurts the move and hurts the impact of doing the move through a table.

Dom eventually got the W after Rhea interfered a few more times: once with a belt and the other when she pulled Mustafa off Wes after the former hit the latter with a beautiful 450 Splash. Dom hit a Frog Splash and covered Wes for the W.

I had more on my mind for the match but the shenanigans and the Riptide thing took up all the real estate in my mind.

I liked the match a lot but I disagree with whomever made that call.

As an aside, Dom and Dragon Lee interacted backstage, setting the stage for a future confrontation. I have no idea if Dom is ready for that but we shall see.

It Ain’t My Fault

Know why I picked this song for this match? Because I don’t like it and Silk the Shocker can’t flow to save his life. I didn't like Tiffany Stratton vs. Thea Hail, and it really had no flow. They tried hitting big spots that didn’t work, and at least one of them almost ended badly. It was sloppy all around. And the finish made everything worse when Tiffany locked Thea into a weird Single Leg Crab and Andre Chase threw in the towel.

Yup. No thank you.

Change the Game

Fun pre-show match although I really think Meta-Four needed the W. But Valentina Feroz, & Yulisa Leon made their PLE debuts and got to show off for the crowd. Meta-Four showed off their skills in the ring and their personalities, but I still think they need some wins for at least a little credibility.

I’m mixed on The Great American Bash. The main event rocked my world and the weapons match delivered. But everything else felt worthy of a regular Tuesday night. Speaking of which, NXT this Tuesday sounds potentially fun, and I want to see how certain stories continue, the next people in line for the big championships, and what Chase U does with its fearless leader.

Grade: C+

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