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Vengeance Day 2024 recap & reactions: Carmelo Hayes’ grand illusion

The Wolf Dogs eat, The D’Angelo Family barely survives, and Trick Melo Gang finally dissolves at Vengeance Day.

Fools

I let this main event marinate before I typed this sentence. I’m an Aquarius with a penchant for inner dialogue, which is one reason I love Spider-Man. Anyway, that back and forth in my head went into overdrive once the curtain closed on Vengeance Day.

One can argue, and I have for months, that it took way too long for Carmelo Hayes to turn on Trick Williams. They set this thing up last summer but made it obvious last fall. Melo’s indirect disses toward his friend, implying that Trick isn’t on his level, and even blaming Trick for his failures. Then the fact that Melo seemed disinterested in doing anything good friends usually do. We endured the thing with Lexis King, which included video from NXT Anonymous. We got months of dirty looks that went nowhere and tension that always resolved itself for no reason other than...basketball reasons?

And yet, something magical happened along the way. Through all the convoluted shenanigans and teases, Trick got hotter DMX in 1998. The man became the NXT darling who the crowd adored. They invested their emotions in the man and wanted nothing but the best for him. Through dope mic work and impressive performances, Trick earned all the love in the world. The moment when the entire SmackDown audience chanted “whoop that Trick” says it all.

If the turn happens any time before this moment in time, it probably doesn’t hurt this much. If it happens before Vengeance Day, it sucks mostly because it dissolves a friendship, rather than it takes something away from someone with whom I have a rooting interest. While one can argue that Melo didn’t outright cost Trick a championship, he didn’t help him win it either. Even so, his vile actions after the match said more than any accidental occurrences during Trick’s bout with Ilja Dragunov.

Two important things here that NXT seeded: One, Trick slightly tweaked his knee during the tag match with the Wolf Dogs.

B, Melo wore a black leather jacket to the ring.

Before I even get to the first thing, the second signaled everything we needed. Melo is a Shawn Michaels fanboy and from one HBK fanatic to another, I salute him. I don’t doubt for one moment that he didn’t want his own barbershop moment. Did he? That’s something only history can answer.

Addressing the number one important piece of the puzzle, that knee came back to haunt Trick during the match. Melo got in Ilja’s face, which put him between the champ and Trick. He swung on Ilja, the Mad Dragon ducked, and then pushed Melo in Trick’s direction. Melo fell right into Trick’s slightly injured knee and everything looked accidental.

I figured an ending with Trick hobbling on one leg while Ilja finished him off was in the cards. Thankfully, the territory swerved us. Trick kicked out of the first H Bomb and the crowd went insane. They went crazier with what followed after more back and forth.

Melo got on the apron and talked more trash to Ilja. The ref got in Melo’s face, Ilja accidentally hit the ref, who hit Melo, and they both went down faster than liquor on New Year’s Eve. Trick nailed Ilja with the Trick Knee (love that name!) and went for the cover. This is wrestling so, of course, the crowd counted to a million with no ref in sight.

Trick won the championship right there.

The replacement ref hit the ring too late and the match continued. From there, we got several near falls from both men along with so many moments where it looked like Trick might slay the dragon. I felt the tension from the television, which is always one of the best things about professional sports entertainment. I’m not in Tennessee but I rode with them through the whole match. Trick, already, has the crowd eating out the palm of his hand during his matches. That’s why it hurt so much when he finally went down after both men met in the middle of the ring at full force. Trick tried another Trick Knee but Ilja’s speed with the Torpedo Moscow won the day.

That’s when this happened.

And this:

Tennessee revolted, as I’m sure many at home did. They told Melo how they felt about him and I saw people visibly dejected.

That’s why this thing of ours is so sweet. While I hated the long, winding road we took to this point, I have no qualms with the final result. The crowd doesn’t react like that if this happens last year.

Trick remains the most over person in NXT while Melo is now firmly the most hated. Their eventual showdown might be one for the ages and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.


B-Sides

Hungry Like the Wolf

Bron Breakker is an animal. No pun intended. That demands acknowledgement above anything else. The man almost got decapitated by the ring ropes, cut his forehead a bit, and kept moving like nothing happened. He even did push ups! The man wrestled like a man on fire during an opening tag match that lasted about 20 minutes. Carmelo Hayes is my guy. Trick Williams is hotter than fish grease. Baron is remarkably consistent. But it’s hard taking my eyes off Bron when he’s in that ring.

With all that genuflection out the way, let’s get to the match proper. Outside of the aforementioned mishap that wasn’t anyone’s fault, these four kept everything unsurprisingly solid. Not great, since Trick and Baron didn’t quite connect on the former’s neck breaker, but it didn’t take anything away from the proceedings. Melo, for obvious reasons, worked most of the match and took the brunt of the beating. Trick looked strong during his moments but took his fair share as part of adding to his punishment before the main event.

Speaking of which, the main event came to mind during the ending. The action broke down and all four men went at it. Trick Melo Gang seemingly had the advantage but Bron lurked in the background as per usual. Melo, the legal man, peeped Bron charing towards Trick with evil intent and stepped in to save his partner. Preserved the friendship, helped his boy live for the bigger battle, but lost the match and the silver boots.

The Wolf Dogs were always the right call here. They earned those boots and it’s so hard rooting against them.

From My Family to Yours

I thought this six-person tag between Out the Mud and The D’Angelo Family might showcase Jaida Parker and Arianna Rizzo. Turns out it really showed how dope Bronco Lima & Lucien Price are. Seriously, these two brothers impressed me. They’re fast, crisp, work incredibly well together, and move differently in that ring. There’s something unique about them when juxtaposed with the rest of the roster. They present themselves as a different tag team but they wrestle that way too. A key thing for me that sets good wrestlers a part from great wrestlers is that everything they do in the ring fits their persona outside of it. Not saying these two cats are great, but they understand that factor already. That’s a great sign for them and the group as a whole.

Adrianna and Jaida showed potential, especially the latter. I wanted more of them but I understand this match was all about establishing a threat to Tony D’Angelo & Stacks’ tag titles. Tony D got the pin for his team but don’t let the W fool you; OTM dominated this match for the most part and looked dope doing so.

Mistake It All In

Here’s the thing: I think NXT made the wrong call here. Lola Vice should be the new NXT women’s champion.

Why am I talking about Lola when the match involved Roxanne Perez and Lyra Valkyria? Glad you asked.

Lyra and Roxanne went one-on-one for quite some time. And it was fine. They wrestled a solid match at a measured pace. Nothing too exciting but nothing revolting either.

Then Roxanne hit a Pop Rox on Lyra and everything changed. Before she even went for the cover, out came Lola with her Breakout Tournament contract in-hand. And just like that, the one-on-one evolved into a triple threat.

Besides the shot of energy from the surprise, Lola brought fire and character. She looked good, found her footing early, and showed the MMA/pro wrestling style that makes her fun to watch.

She has a spark that Lyra doesn’t possess right now. I think that championship gets elevated resting on her shoulders because her character is larger-than-life and fully defined. Even after defeating Becky Lynch, I don’t know who Lyra is. She needs something more than that championship right now while it feels like Lola can take it and run.

Lyra retained, thanks to Tatum Paxley shenanigans, but I wish it didn’t matter. Lola showed she can hang though, so I hope this means she’s back in the championship picture. But not before she battles against Roxanne, who lost her championship rematch without taking a pin, and threw hands at Lola the second she saw her backstage. Yeah, I get it.

Gun Play

Joe Gacy did that. Words don’t suffice.

I don’t have much else to say about this match other than that. Dijak vs. Joe Gacy was exactly the war I predicted and just as nuts. Dijak even did a Daredevil impression thanks to duct tape wrapped around his eyes.

Dijak won the battle but Joe is ready for the war judging by his smile post match.

Obrigado

Oba Femi is a beast. I love how they booked his match against Dragon Lee. He dominated the first act, Dragon staged a comeback in the second, but Oba withstood his flurry and dominated the last act. He’s just powerful; he threw Dragon around like a child.

Impressive performance in what is hopefully Dragon’s last match in NXT.


That ending. Whew. It broke my heart but in the best way. It capped a fun and eventful Vengeance Day that set up new stories on the road to Stand & Deliver. Melo and Trick is the main tale here. It’s important they nail the next phase in what I hope is Melo’s NXT swan song.

Grade: A-

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