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NXT recap & reactions (Aug. 15, 2023): Carmelo & Wes don’t miss

Thea Hail snaps, the Creed Bros. strike, and Wes Lee gives the promo of his life on this week’s NXT.

Some People Hate

I wondered how they might sell Wes Lee vs. Carmelo Hayes in less than a week. Yes, they wrestled before so they have history, and their recent frosty interactions also have merit.

But I didn’t expect what we got tonight and I’m so glad we did.

All night, we caught glimpses of the champ signing autographs. This, coupled with a few mentions from Melo over the past few weeks, paint the picture of a very busy man who got more than what he expected. Heavy is the head, that sort of thing. He feels the pressure but he handles it. Not always well, but still. And he doesn’t think Wes can.

Wes, disagrees. He talked about defying the odds his whole career. His commanding officer told him he “can't” when he joined WWE. And everyone in NXT told him the same thing. Those calls got louder when he lost his tag partner and became a singles star unexpectedly.

What I loved here is that Wes looped his story right back to defeating Melo for the North American championship. That got under the champ’s skin but not for obvious reasons. It bothered him because Wes told an incomplete story; Melo made that belt into something coveted. Without him, Wes’ run doesn’t have the same weight. At that moment, we got two men writing their respective legacies but Melo believes Wes is building his on Melo’s shoulders.

And he’s 1000 percent right.

Wes noted that Melo was the chosen one; NXT gave him everything on a silver platter. And the champ feasted on every opportunity. It means more when Wes, a guy no one believed in, beats the guy whom everyone believes. What better way to continue his story than defeating Carmelo for the biggest prize in the territory? He did it once and he can do it again.

Melo says otherwise. That’s why he said, “Melo can’t miss,” before signing the contract.

The contract signing didn’t need a fight because these two verbally sparred and got real. But to satiate those who came to rock, Wes jumped onto the table and broke it just to prove a point.

Whew, I cannot wait.


Grammy Family

I watched Tony D’Angelo & Stacks defend their championships against the Dyad just waiting for the other shoe to come crashing down. The Creed Bros. wait in the wings so of course Joe Gacy’s boys weren’t winning. We got a solid match waiting for the final plot twist because both teams get violent.

And yes, eventually Brutus & Julius struck, costing Dyad the match while Ivy Nile kept Joe, Ava, and the rest of their masked manipulators busy.

It is a little weird that Schism came out for the match almost ignoring their paranoia from last week. Joe doesn't know who to trust, so why come out with the followers at all?

That little logic issue aside, this moved the ball forward if only a little bit.

Thankfully for my sanity, Bron made a similar point during a conversation with Baron. He’s not done with Von but Baron doesn’t care. You know what? Bron vs. Baron sounds a lot more fun.

Da Journee

This match felt less about the actual match itself and more about what happened during the match. Blair Davenport defeated Dana Brooke. I don’ think that shocks anyone. But we got some more character work from Dana and a foreshadowing a split between her and Kelani Jordan. Dana came out aggressive and maintained that aggression for quite a while. But when Blair got the upper hand, Dana eventually got desperate. Eventually, she went for the ring bell but Kelani stopped her. Dana’s taking a journey to the dark side but Kelani wants to stop her.

Maybe this gets us to these two going blow for blow. Or maybe Dana pulls back from the ledge. Who knows? But it gives Dana the chance to do a bit more, while hopefully elevating Kelani.

Tables Will Turn

I gotta keep it real: Baron Corbin’s new thing bores me. BUT, throwing in Von Wagner and possibly getting some character out of him? Well that actually does something for me. Baron challenged Von to show some personality and talk on the microphone. Von accepted and showed promise. They did the right thing showing that it got under Baron’s skin since he swung on the big man after Von promised to put put Baron through a table.

I do thin it’s weird that Von walks around crowing about putting Bron Breakker through a table even though he lost the match. That contradicts his point about moving up the ladder in NXT. Hard to move up anything when you’re flat on your back looking at the lights.

Just need clarity for that part of his story. Baron is in his way? He didn’t beat Bron!

The Magic Number

Eddy Thorpe called Dijak out during an earlier video package. So, yeah, that foreshadowed Wes Lee’s win over Dijak and justice for a shot at Carmelo Hayes at Heatwave. That said, knowing the ending didn’t take anything away from the match. Wes and Dijak really performed well here for the most part. We had a couple missteps towards the end which resulted in a Dijak taking a nasty fall into the steel steps, but I liked what they did here. I initially thought both men having body parts go out on them (Wes’ shoulder and Dijak’s knee) seemed way too extra. But thankfully, they didn’t go overboard with the injuries.

But Wes’ injury sets up the fact he’s less than 100 percent going into his championship match. That’s an interesting wrinkle and I’m curious what they do with it, if anything.

Abandon Ship

Thea Hail might finally split from Chase U. Although I’m not entirely sure what that does for her. She wrestled Jacy Jayne, who has nothing to do right now without Gigi Dolin, and blamed Andre Chase for the L. In reality, he saved her from running into an exposed turnbuckle that she didn't see, and she took it as him interfering yet again. IF they go this route, what next? She can’t wrestle Andre or Duke Hudson, and no one in Chase U seems vindictive anyway. Maybe an amicable split makes more sense. But it looks like we’re getting the opposite.

Speaking of Thea, where’s Tiffany Stratton, you ask? We’ll see her at Heatwave. I don’t even know who gets a title shot based on everything happening or not happening in the women’s division right now.

Interesting show with a lot happening. Not the usual 100 mph NXT thing, but it moved at a good clip. Trick Williams defeated Drew Gulak because of course he did and had to. That played into the show’s main task: set the table for Heatwave. Rhea & Dom challenged Lyra & Dragon Lee, and the Heritage Cup match is officially official. Like I said, a lot happened.

Enjoyable show and Heatwave intrigues me for various reasons.

What say you, Cagesiders? How do you feel about next week?

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