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NXT recap & reactions (Sept. 12, 2023): The Man is the new champ

The Man came around and got herself a championship on this week’s NXT.

Tha Man

Before we get started here, big shoutout to the cat rocking the “Owen 3:16” t-shirt. I haven’t seen that in years and it brought back so many memories. Hard overstating just how crazy and seismic 1997 was for WWF.

But I digress.

Before the championship match between Tiffany Stratton and Becky Lynch, we got a story that didn’t play to the typical old school vs. new school. Becky gave Tiffany all the props in the world but believes she’s a selfish brat only looking out for herself. That’s Tiffany’s character so that makes sense.

Tiffany, for her part, believes her success now dwarfs anything Becky did at that same stage. If she’s at this level now, imagine how high she’ll go with more time. Tiffany, in a way, felt picked on and bothered by someone who is jealous. I didn’t buy that but Tiff’s the heel and that plays into Becky’s critiques.

Once the talking stopped, we got a very solid match between the two with several highlights. It started with Becky showing her agility and gymnast skills. A little mind games go a long way and that established she can do what Tiffany does if she really wants to go that route. Tiffany didn’t try wrestling Becky’s game but she showed off her power multiple times. She lifted Becky with one arm to reverse the Dis-Arm Her, and she even tried reversing another arm bar attempt with a powerbomb. I say tried because, once again, Becky showed the agility when she countered the counter with a Frankensteiner.

There’s something here with both wrestlers pulling tricks out their respective bags. It showed how important the championship is and how big this match is for both women. Becky never won the NXT Women’s championship while Tiffany understood what a win over Becky does for her career. Saying they pulled out the stops sounds cliche but it’s still true.

The other idea on which they built the match? Becky’s veteran instincts. Tiffany went for the Prettiest Moonsault Ever not once, not twice, but thrice. And Becky answered every time. First she met Tiffany on the middle rope and hit her with a Russian Leg Sweep. Then she played possum and caught Tiffany on her way down. And the third proved fatal for the now former champion. Becky rolled out of the way, Tiffany landed on her feet, and then Becky attacked with the Manhandle Slam. Those little details told a story on their own. Tiffany never learned her lesson and kept going back to the well, despite the fact it appeared bone dry. Her arrogance, which Becky also pointed out on Raw, ultimately cost her a championship.

Tiffany looks good in defeat here as she took Becky’s biggest shots and never gave up. Plus, there’s no shame losing to Becky with a championship on the line. None at all.

That was all she wrote. Ladies and gents, we have a new champion.

The intrigue comes now that Becky rules the NXT roost. Hopefully the division benefits and she puts on great matches with everyone, while eventually creating a big star on her way out. But that’s for tomorrow. In this moment, let’s just bask in her glory.

NXT just got a lot more exciting.


Physical Stamina

Ilja Dragunov’s matches revolve around one question: Can you withstand the physical punishment? Every match, including this one with Wes Lee, reaches a high point where either him or his opponent waves the white flag because they just can’t take it anymore.

Early on, it became clear that Wes not only prepared for that punishment but dished out so much of his own. I loved this match and the way they booked it. Just two guys beating each other up for a shot at the most important championship in their lives. No errors, no false moves, and everything made sense. They presented a match that might go in a different direction on another Tuesday. But it came down to Ilja’s pain tolerance over Wes’. That’s Ilia’s whole thing thoug; he loves punishment and hurt, therefore he always has the edge. He not only suplexed Wes onto the commentary table, but slapped him so hard once that Wes’ hair tie flew out his hair and hit the mat.

After almost every big move Wes dished out, Ilja rose to his feet first. And that includes a hellacious Hurricanarana that spiked Ilja’s head. It took more out of Wes than his opponent. That’s why Ilja won and it’s also why his match with Carmelo Hayes at No Mercy might outdo their first bout from the summer.

Incredible match that deserves all your attention. Also deserves your attention? Wes cleaning out his locker later. It happened with Melo and Trick Williams having a heart to heart about their friendship. And then that thing above this paragraph happened. Curiouser and curiouser.

Da Mad Face Invasion

I wish I got into the Dana Brooke and Kelani Jordan. I love when everyone has something to do and we’re even getting character development. But they’re selling this as Dana showing jealousy over Kelani’s success. And to that I ask, what success? First it was Dana showing aggression that Kelani didn’t have, thus showing her the ropes. Now it’s jealousy? Dana lost to Lyra Valkyria because of course, but let’s figure out the angle here before continuing.

False Prophets

Guess what? Myles Borne turned his back on Briggs, Jensen, & Fallon Henley! That’s the main thing from this very short match that saw Myles join forces with Briggs & Jensen against Charlie Dempsey, Drew Gulak, & Damon Kemp.

I do love when Briggs & Jensen get into beef with someone, so at least that part interests me greatly.

Say Hi to the Bad Guy

I didn’t fall for Baron Corbin’s schtick but I enjoyed it. He fronted like he felt for Von Wagner (out indefinitely with a skull fracture) and that he had words for Bron Breakker. NOPE! He actually congratulated Bron for what he did. He said as much on commentary last week; Bron showed him that special thing which he yearned for anyone in NXT to display.

Bron not caring about any of that stuff though is always a nice touch and keeping with the character. Bron challenged Baron, keeping his word from several weeks ago when he essentially told Corbin that he wanted a piece of the former Bum Ass.

Baron playing the old man telling kids to get off his lawn amuses me at times. This is one of those times because he played off someone who I truly believe doesn’t care that he retired Kurt Angle or stood toe-to-toe with the Undertaker. We’ll see how that translates to an actual match but I’m looking forward to it.

Gettin’ Up

Sticking both Heritage Cup Invitational matches here because one really impressed while the other got relatively no time but is no less important.

Tyler Bate vs. Axiom rocked my world. I don’t recall a single unimpressive match from either man and they worked beautifully together this week. Tyler just overpowered him; the big strong boy came to play. Tyler refused to say die while Axiom eventually gave in after a flurry that included a springboard lariat and the Tiger Driver ‘97. That came after Axiom reversed the Tiger Driver a few moments earlier, which meant Tyler knew the only way to get the job done and he handled it.

As for the match between Nathan Frazer & Akira Tozawa, like I said, not a lot of time considering they went on right before the main event. But good offense out of Nathan and a W that actually means a lot for Group B. Duke Hudson asked someone to do the math (man after my own heart because I’m always asking others to do the math for me) and informed us that if/when he beats Joe Coffey next week, we get a three-way tie between him, Joe, and Nathan. That makes for some drama and I’m all about that. Hopefully it plays out that way.

Poppin’ Tags

I wonder what they’re doing with Malik Blade & Edris Inofe. We got a new attitude out the boys last week and that continued this week during their match against the Brothers Creed. They didn’t resort to anything underhanded, but they poked out their chests more and showed more hunger for the W. Yeah, they lost, but just barely.

Of course the tag team scene exploded during the aftermath. The Family watched from their locker room while Lucien Price and Bronco Nima threw hands on Malik & Edris. Meanwhile, the Creed’s stood victorious and welcomed a challenge from Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza, who looked on from the bird’s eye view.

Chaos always amps up anticipation.

Fantastic show. Several dope matches, some big announcements (NXT Women’s breakout tournament, Melo vs. Dirty Dom next week), and more table setting for No Mercy. And the Wes Lee saga took another cool turn that only makes me wonder where he goes from here.

Good show all around.

What say you, Cagesiders?

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