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NXT recap & reactions (Aug. 1, 2023): It’s so hard to say goodbye

Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams do the unthinkable, Thea Hail walks, and Tony D’Angelo’s big surprise doesn’t disappoint on this week’s NXT.

Breakin’ the Rules

I suspected this but not the way it happened. Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams pulled a Journey and went their separate ways. But they didn’t fight. Trick didn’t turn heel, Melo didn’t curse him out. They didn’t even really “break up.” They sat down like lifelong friends and just...talked. Trick wants out of Melo’s shadow. The champ sees him as his best friend, not a sidekick, but everyone else sees the latter. And that matters to Trick. Especially when it comes to someone like Ilja Dragunov, with whom Trick has simmering beef. The news surprised Melo, but he understood it, even if he didn’t like it.

I loved the whole thing because it not only broke the traditional wrestling rules, but it felt appropriate for their relationship. Trick and Melo truly ride or die for one another, so don’t ruin that. This also makes it easier for the day Carmelo takes off for red or blue pastures. Trick isn’t quite ready for that yet, so letting him strike out on his own and start his own story frees up Melo while giving Trick more solo reps.

And judging from the way the show ended, his tale starts with Ilja next week. They’re throwing him into the deep end but that’s a perfect dance partner for anyone.

How did Carmelo fair on his first night without his partner-in-crime? Well, he got his next opponent and I know he didn’t predict the whom.

Wes Lee, feeling all out of sorts over his last few weeks, clashed with Melo soon after Trick left his side. Emotions ran high on both sides, with Wes taking umbrage with pretty much everything Melo said, and then Meta-Four made it worse. You’re reading this and you watch wrestling, so you know what happened next: Wes & Carmelo vs. Oro Mensah & Noam Daar.

Melo & Wes ran hot most of the match. They tagged each other in and out with a little aggression here and there, reluctantly tagged each other at times, and didn’t always get along. Dealing with Lash Legend & Jakara Jackson’s antics didn’t help either.

Eventually, the match broke down because it’s wrestling. Melo handled Oro in one corner while Wes lined up Noam for the Cardiac Kick in the adjacent one.

Once again, you watch wrestling, so you know how this ended.

With Carmelo knocked out and Wes in shock, Noam took advantage and got the win for his squad. Good for them because Meta-Four need Ws.

Melo & Wes argued afterward with the latter really giving it to the former. So yeah, this isn’t over, even if that’s what the NXT champ prefers. He saw it as a misunderstanding while Wes clearly saw something else. I will say the ending felt a little sloppy since Melo clearly pushed Noam out of the way when Wes readied the kick. Something felt off there because what we got made no sense.

But I digress. Wes with a chip on his shoulder battling Carmelo for the NXT championship interests me. I do think a Wes heel turn might make it better, so hopefully that’s the plan.


Child’s Play

Color me impressed. After Lyra Valkyria hung with Rhea Ripley last week, she looked dominant against Jacy Jayne. That was the point, right? These two put on a solid match that exhibited Lyra firmly controlling everything. Props to Jacy for making her look that good, but they made the right call here. After going the distance with Rhea, everyone else should look like child’s play.

Victory Lap

Valentina Feroz & Yulisa Leon carried their momentum from The Great American Bash. No, they didn’t win, but they looked solid and crisp in the ring. Elektra Lopez still has some off moments but Lola Vice did her thing. Plus that kick she landed to end the match? Beautiful. I felt that from here and I’m nowhere near Florida. Thank God for that.

Give It Up Fast

I dug this match between Baron Corbin and Andre Chase. Mostly for the storytelling, although they wrestled a sound affair. Thea Hail isn’t feeling Andre right now. He threw in the towel during her match and she resents him for it. I get it. I’m sure we all do. Baron interrupted Chase U’s backstage interview, insulted Thea, Andre stepped in for his girl, and we got a match.

The intrigue came when Andre started nursing his back the same way Thea nursed hers at The Bash. She juggled that towel in her hand and once Baron slapped on the same submission Tiffany Stratton put on Thea, she threw in the towel! But Baron caught it, threw it back at her, and the match continued since the ref never saw it.

Oh, but that just prolonged Andre’s misery for a few moments. He lost the match and apparently Thea, who walked out of the match and ignored Duke Hudson’s pleas.

I’m very intrigued on where this goes from here. Still don’t really care for Baron but hey, he’s a person.

Been Around the World

Sigh. I hate when territories stretch out a story. Especially when they make it extra goofy. We all know the Creed Bros. attacked Dyad. We know they hid in plain sight under those masks. So them obviously lying to Schism this week just prolongs the inevitable for basketball reasons.

I didn’t even enjoy the segment because it felt completely anticlimactic and silly.

You’re still in NXT, Bros. Creed! Just admit it so we can move on already.

Back 2x

Gallus jumped the tag team champions when the show kicked off from sunny Florida. Tony D’Angelo & Stacks barely got out their car before the Gallus boys got on top...of them.

Tony D made a phone call for a third man. Now, I initially assumed a former Family member. Technically, I wasn’t wrong. But I didn’t expect this family member:

Santos Escobar returned to the bingo!

This match ruled. Not a technical masterpiece, not something that got the crowd calling anything awesome for minutes on end. Just a fun time seeing Tony & Stacks team with a man they once despised. And, of course, seeing Santos back in NXT. My only gripe is him not using his old theme song, which just feels like a missed opportunity.

The best moment came after The Family & Santos won when Santos did the Italian hand gesture thing Tony D does that I know from watching way too many mafia movies.

No analysis. No deeper thoughts. Just a fun main event that sent everyone home happy, including me.

Interesting show this week. Dom and Dragon Lee is official for next week with Rey Mysterio in Dragon’s corner, continuing his father of the year streak (I joke). Bron Breakker talked more crap about Von Wagner and I only ignored it because, once again, Bron belongs elsewhere. Mustafa Ali has his hands full with Axiom if he wants another shot at Dirty Dom, and I think Cora Jade left the territory! That remains TBD but that’s one of many storylines worth paying attention to in the next few weeks.

A solid show with several fun matches and curious developments.

What say you?

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