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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 6, 2024): Melo shoots his shots

The Wolf Dogs stake their claim, Roxanne Perez wants some revenge, and Carmelo Hayes answers the only question that matters on this week’s NXT.

Sympathy for the Devil

One of the most important moments after the heel turn is the explanation. Stories, like fans, demand a “why.” More important is how the bad guy executes that part. In professional sports entertainment wrestling, that part can make or break the story. Carmelo Hayes shot and he didn’t miss.

He opened the show and the Performance Center crowd treated him like Dallas Cowboys fans should treat Jerry Jones. He carried the chair he stabbed his friend in the back with and sat down for a few seconds in the middle of the ring. The heat was deafening and thankfully quite vulgar. I say thankfully because it’s great when emotions get riled to that level. The crowd despises Melo right now and I’m not sure if that’s a strong enough word.

He pissed them off even more when he got on the mic and said two words:

“Not yet.”

They booed even more, he walked away, and the show continued.

Melo doubled back to the ring later on and told us everything on his mind. I won’t go through everything piece by piece because, well, I got video, but the bottomline is this is who he always was. He said it. He didn’t hide from it. And he’s 1000 percent right. Carmelo was always the coldest. He did whatever to get to the top and didn’t want anyone else taking his shine. He’s the bastard who, much like Shawn Michaels, knows how to play the crowd for his own amusement.

The whole thing was beautifully done. It had shades of Shawn, Eddie Guerrero, and of course the old Melo who held that North American championship with an iron grip.

Trick will get his hands on Melo and the crowd will go insane. But that’s for later. Right now, Melo has his sights set on something bigger. But how on earth will they get there and make it make sense....

Highway to the Anger Zone

Ilja Dragunov wanted one man this week: Carmelo.

He gave Trick all the props in the world but wanted Melo for all that slander the former A-Champ threw his way. He didn’t get Melo but he got justice instead.

Dijak hit the ring, sounded pretty meh on the mic, but then turned everything to another level when he sucker punched Ilja. Ilja’s achilles heel is his temper. Every champ has a failing and that’s his that gets him into matches he doesn’t want or in potentially troublesome positions.

Dijak knows exactly what buttons to push so he got what he wanted: a match with the champ.

Dijak worked the face, as weird as that sounds. Ilja’s possibly healed broken nose was a big target. Everything started with Ilja in control but that one big blow to Ilja’s nose changed everything.

Dijak dissected the Czar from that point on, grounding him with punches, kicks, and submissions that made it harder for Ilja to breathe. No matter how hard Ilja fought back, which he did with errant kicks, the big man refused to go down. I really don’t like Dijak’s gimmick but the man does beautiful things in that ring.

Every time Ilja made a little comeback, Dijak went for the nose again. What made this whole thing work is that both men make everything look painful. Outside of a couple submission holds, this was a fight, not a wrestling match.

And then there’s the Joe Gacy factor. Joe sat under the ring during the match. He tagged Dijak’s leg once but disappeared just as quickly. Then, with both men down and Dijak working his way to his feet, well, yeah, this happened.

Dope match BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.

Remember Ilja calling out Melo? Of course you do, I just talked about it. Well, Melo answered and made his intentions crystal clear. That, combined with his promo and the nuclear heat thrown his direction truly made this Melo’s night.


B-Sides

The Faster Blade

I don’t know where to start with Edris Enofe & Malik Blade vs. Axiom & Nathan Frazer. I really don’t. An incredible opening half hour that never stopped. The biggest thing that stood out for me was the audience fully behind Edris & Malik. In fact, this match feels like their breakout moment. They didn’t get the W but they certainly earned the respect.

Just watch the match. Especially the tandem moments. Just really impressed with Edris & Malik. They’re clicking as a team and this story of them finding themselves is actually connecting.

Oh and let’s talk about the Wolf Dogs, who sat ringside with the Dusty Cup. They joined commentary and then beat up Axiom & Nathan just because.

That brought out The D’Angelo Family, which set up their tag team championship match next week. I cannot wait for that.

Blessings of the King

I’m a Lexis King fan. I dig his ‘80s movie smarmy jock act. He’s essentially NXT’s Zap Brannigan. If he said he renamed his bedroom the “lovenasium” or that he has “sexlyxia” I wouldn’t blink an eye. He made moves on Thea Hail at Vengeance Day, Riley Osborne, her valentine, stepped up. And we got this fight as a result.

Solid affair that gave Riley just enough offense before taking the L. And they even connected his loss to Thea’s ringside absence. Why was she absent you ask, dear reader? Because Jacy Jayne told her to play a little hard to get and not be so available. Spoken like someone who wants to remain single forever.

When the going got rough for him during the match and Lexis made his comeback, Riley looked for Thea. That brief distraction gave Lexis his opening for the Coronation.

I like Riley’s look and his moveset. The loss definitely won’t hurt him and the win helps Lexis remain a credible irritant.

Lost In Space

I have no idea what’s going on with Tatum Paxley. She interferes during the triple threat match at Vengeance Day, which made sense. But then she shows up during a one-on-one between...Lola Vice and Roxanne Perez. With the Breakout Tournament contract in hand.

What?

I get it. She’s a crazy character so there’s a good chance that most of her actions will puzzle more than enlighten. Bugged out characters only go so far with me though before I tune them out. Crazy for the sake of crazy without any purpose is a thin line within wrestling. Hopefully they fine tune everything with her.

Anyway, I liked this match too. Lola’s aggressive style mixes well with Roxanne’s newfound aggression. They went at each other as soon as they both got in the ring, which I appreciated based on their Vengeance Day interaction. They held nothing back and got physical and a little snug with one another.

Slam Pit

Lash Legend & Jakara Jackson vs. Wren Graves & Fallon Henley was short and pretty simple to follow. Lash & Jakara wanted Wren by her lonesome. She’s the rookie for one and for two, Lash still wants her pound of flesh for Wren eliminating her from the women’s battle royal several weeks back.

Fallon got the hot tag, which was the hope spot for the face team, but once again, Lash & Jakara got the better of her, forced her to make a tag, and then Lash finished Wren with a hellacious power bomb.


This was an excellent show from top to bottom. And big props to the crowd for making it pop the way it did. Even the interplay between Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen intrigued me.

But this was Melo’s night. He’s extra over as a heel and primed for that NXT championship. Give it to him, let Trick defeat him at Stand & Deliver, and solidify Trick’s standing as the guy in NXT. The fact that we’re here after all those ridiculous twists and turns is a testament to Melo and Trick.

What say you, cagesiders? Did this show deliver for you as much as it did for me? And what are your feelings on the crowd dropping f bombs?

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