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NXT recap & reactions (Jan. 23, 2024): Prodigy children

The Wolf Dogs go hard, Trick gets schooled, and there’s a new sheriff in town on this week’s NXT.

Reflection

I initially turned my nose at Roxanne Perez vs. Lyra Valkyria. Not that I thought these two won’t put on a good show, but it just felt like a safe or boring feud to start 2024.

Much like other things on this week’s show, the execution sold me. It’s a simple story but one that makes sense for Lyra at this point during her reign: the mirror match.

Roxanne painted the picture clearly: Lyra is the new her. Everything happening to Lyra right now happened to her first. And Lyra’s succeeding with flying colors. But, as Roxanne asked, what happens when the brown stuff hits the fan? And it almost always will.

Handling success is easier than dealing with challenges. How does Lyra deal when the fans boo her or she faces an opponent who she can’t solve? What happens when that championship feels like an anchor around her waist? That’s when we find out her true mettle.

Roxanne didn’t say all those words but that was the point. Lyra fired back quickly that she’s better equipped than Roxanne ever was, mentally and physically. But is she really?

The obvious story here is of a champ who never lost her championship doing all she can to reclaim it. That said, making it about Lyra’s fortitude, mental strength, and composure excites me. Whether a champ can or can’t weather a storm determines how far they go. Can Lyra handle all that pressure?

The Tatum Paxley appearance at the end didn’t do much for me. She’s crazy, she attacked Roxanne for the obligatory table break, and commentary sold it as Lyra facing a moral quandary since Tatum gives her a clear advantage at Vengeance Day. Meh, I don’t buy that. Nothing about Lyra or her actions makes me think for a second that she’s okay with winning underhandedly. I get what they’re going for but I just don’t see it.

Oh, and before moving to the next session, shoutout to NXT’s new GM: Ava. We got a William Regal sighting, which I loved because I do miss seeing that guy on television every week, but he (apparently) only showed to wish Ava congratulations and leave her with some wise words. I hope this role works for Ava and she finds her voice. She struggled a bit in the ring and on the microphone during the Schism heyday, so maybe this is the best position for her.


B-Sides

There Will Be Blood

Power. That’s the Wolf Dogs. And yes, Baron Corbin coming out in half costume means I’m referring to them as nothing else but that going forward. What makes them even more dangerous is Bron Breakker’s quickness and agility. At the moment Nathan Frazer & Axiom thought they had the W, or at least thought they got close, Bron came through with the quickness of a heart attack. They’re so much fun to watch.

Nathan & Axiom made them look great too. Axiom especially sold every move beautifully. The Wolf Dog tandem moves, which are basically Bron & Baron playing catch with their opponents, only work with someone gifted like Axiom. Nathan did his thing too, but Axiom plays that role perfectly and looks great taking a beating.

The match wasn’t as one sided as I’m making it sound. It truly was David vs. Goliath with David getting several shots in and making it interesting. But those moments came and went as quick as Bron’s spear at the end.

I just dug this match. So much fun and love putting Wolf Dogs in the final.

Hellraiser

I’m usually no Joe Gacy fan. But this brawl with Dijak might get me there.

One of my favorite wrestling tropes is when matches don’t happen because the opponents hate each other too much for something structured. Dijak and Joe gave us that this week. Just pure violence and chaos. They broke the set, they broke the commentary desk, and no matter what Dijak did to Joe, that crazy cat kept coming. There’s a real Mick Foley vibe here with Joe. If they tap into that, they might just make me a fan.

Cash Rules

I liked the back and forth between Lola Vice and Elektra Lopez. Elektra brought a lot of fire and clearly had one thing on her mind: ass whipping. Lola impressed me too, and their tag team chemistry transfers to disliking each other, which isn’t always the case in this sport of ours. In fact, they might be better enemies.

I also liked them dropping the mics and just fighting. They destroyed the Supernova Sessions set, Noam Dar & Mensah got out the way quickly because they’re smart, and the women tried killing each other.

It’s Raining Vengeance

Dragon Lee gets his rematch with Oba Femi at Vengeance Day. That’s the big news from Dragon’s match against Scrypts.

The other news? Well, actually, the bigger news is Jaida Parker. Good Lord. Whew.

Okay with that out my system, the other big news is The Family and OTM ripping each other apart. OTM ran up in The Family’s restaurant, caused a ruckus, and laid hands on Adrianna Rizzo. The Don & Stacks promised vengeance, and made their way to the arena.

Promises made. Promises kept.

They brawled so hard that it left Scrypts all by himself, which gave Dragon Lee the opening he needed for the finishing touches. That victory, and the match itself, convinced Oba that Dragon deserved a rematch.

Muscles

Wren Sinclair made her solo debut this week. She officially hit the scene during last week’s battle royal and made quite the impression. Wren eliminated Lash Legend, which obviously didn't sit well with Ms. Legend.

So, yeah, she got her revenge this week.

Wren got in some offense and showed a little promise, but this wasn’t really about her. This was Lash’s story and all about her coming into her own as a powerhouse. And setting up something between Lash and my favorite cowgirl, Fallon Henley. I like Fallon having Wren’s back while also connecting her to Lash and Meta-Four. Lash and Fallon just seem like oil and water, so that has potential.

School’s Out

It looks like Chase U officially lost its accreditation. The repo men came this week and like Guile in Street Fighter told Sagat, they told Andre Chase that he’s out of business. We’ll see how this all goes next week when they Andre says they their final goodbyes. Duke Hudson made me cackle when his demeanor changed once they took his trophy. I’m so curious what happens with everyone involved once this whole thing ends. IF it ends.

Class dismissed?

Still D.R.E.

The refrain in one of my fav songs asks “still?” That’s my feelings on this whole thing with Trick Williams & Carmelo Hayes. But there is a wrinkle here that actually caught my attention and I think makes it slightly more interesting. If only slightly. But let’s get to the main things I liked about this match between Trick and Josh Briggs.

First, Josh’s new look and attitude. The only reason we got this match is because Josh challenged Ilja Dragunov. After JBL told Josh to find himself, the big man wanted a measuring stick. The champ is the bar in the territory, so yeah, makes sense. I liked Ilja declining and Trick stepping in and getting in Josh’s chest.

The match was okay. I don’t think Josh and Trick have much chemistry together, but it certainly showed more of Josh’s new bag. Ilja sitting ringside just added another plot device, which Josh activated after accidentally booting Ilja’s face into 2025. But like most of Ilja’s issues, he brought that on himself. It was perfectly in character for Ilja to bark at Trick whenever he got the chance. Therefore, it made perfect sense that he eventually got caught with his face in the wrong place. Trick won but then his drama with Melo started...again...because Melo hit the ring and saved Trick from Ilja. At least that’s how Melo sees it.

And that’s the interesting part: I truly believe the former A Champ this time. His entire point and perspective makes sense: Trick takes Ilja at his word way too easily. Ilja knows Trick’s the hottest thing in the territory right now. Trick thinks Ilja is above mind games or beyond backstabbing, And as Melo pointed out, Ilja played semi-funny games against Baron. His conviction is selling me.

Is there still a possible overdue heel turn coming? Of course. But I now see a possibility that Melo is sincere and wants the best for his friend. A friend who thinks he knows better and his naiveté might cost him the NXT championship.


I loved the energy this week. The show started fast and never let up. All gas no brakes, as the youth say. That opening tag match rocked my world and if you missed it, do yourself a favor and watch it now.

This episode set up more Vengeance Day matches and intrigue, so consider me pleased.

What say you, Cagesiders? And what do you think of Ava’s new role?

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