NXT 2.0 Recap 1/18: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Rename It Gunther

Hey gang!  NXT 2.0 has been an unsteady product as of late to say the very least and with the continuing backstage shake-ups, it doesn't look to be getting any better any time soon.  There are some bright spots though, such as the emergence of now NXT Champion Bron Breakker, who even the most grumpy of old wrestling fans admits looks and acts like a star who could be the face of WWE before too long.  But while the man at the top of the NXT mountain looks sure-footed, what about the rest?  Well, that's where things get a bit murky.  Last week's episode was decent because it was almost all wrestling-focused.  That's the key, I believe.  But with Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard seemingly deadset on injecting silly comedy and gimmicks into the show, the wrestling might be getting put in the backseat going forward.

NXT 2.0 Recap 1/18: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Rename It Gunther
Imperium lays a beating on Roderick Strong on NXT 2.0, courtesy of WWE.

We open the show with LA Knight arriving at the show in a sports car and marching into the building, asking everyone if they've seen Grayson Waller?

He heads to the ring and cuts a killer promo where he calls out Waller.  How LA Knight isn't one of the top stars on Raw or SmackDown right now is beyond me.  He has a superstar look, is really good in the ring, has more charisma than almost anyone in the company, and is probably better on the mic than anyone on any WWE brand.  What's the hold-up, Vince?

Waller eventually comes out and presents Knight with a restraining order where he can't get within 50 feet of him.

Knight then brings out Dexter Lumis, who crawls out from under the ring to surprise attack Waller.  Knight then offers him the choice of getting rid of the restraining order and facing him or facing Lumis right now.  Waller chooses to keep the order and faces Lumis.

Grayson Waller vs Dexter Lumis

The impromptu match gets rolling and it's fine.  Waller continues to play the slimy, cowardly heel well and we get to see him get some comeuppance, as the much bigger Lumis physically dominates him throughout.

Eventually, Lumis hits The Silencer, but Waller grabs the rope and they head out of the ring.  Waller jumps back in to distract the ref, while the absolutely massive Saurav Gurjar (remember him from NXT a couple of years ago?  Probably not) attacks Lumis at ringside and throws him back in the ring for the leaping Stunner from Waller for the pinfall.

Winner: Grayson Waller

Gurjar poses with Waller on the ramp and Waller says he's "his insurance policy".  We aren't given the new name for Gurjar, which will almost certainly be different.

We now go to footage from this past weekend, which shows how tonight's WALTER and Roderick Strong match came together.

And now it's time for the first Quarterfinals match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team ClassicThe Creed Brothers taking on Briggs & Jensen.

But first, we get to look in on MSK and Legado del Fantasma arguing in the back over their potential at winning the tournament and possibly facing each other next week.

Briggs & Jensen vs The Creed Brothers

NXT 2.0 Recap 1/18: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Rename It Gunther
Briggs & Jensen vs Creed Brothers on NXT 2.0, courtesy of WWE.

A pretty good and very snug tag match here.  These guys are really laying some shots in on one another and you can feel the contact.

The Creeds continue to impress, but this is easily the best performance I've seen from Briggs & Jensen thus far, who I think have had a harder time finding their signature as a team up to this point.  Jensen in particular seems to have advanced and is making much better facial expressions to sell the action, something that was a weakness of his recently, so good job there.

The action again is hard-hitting and doesn't slow down throughout.  At one point, Julius Creed tackles Jensen into the crowd barrier by the ramp and the damn thing actually bends in from the impact.

Eventually, the Creeds get a blind tag in and Julius hits Briggs with a suplex into a Torture Rack Slam from Brutus in a very visually impressive double-team maneuver for the pinfall and the Creeds are moving on in the tournament.

Winners: The Creed Brothers

We next get a video package of Dante Chen, which covers his leg injury and hyping his return from the injury tonight.  We learn his father passed away recently and that has inspired him going forward.

Now we go to Imperium's locker room, where they hype themselves up for tonight.

Dante Chen vs Guru Raaj

They wrestle for about a minute and work their way outside the ring, where Duke Hudson hops the barrier and takes out both men.  He beats the hell out of Chen in the ring with a big Powerbomb and some mounted punches before the refs chase him off.

I like this new raging violent Hudson.  He has way too much potential to be wasted on silly gimmicks.  Let the big man go and beat people up.

No Contest

Next, we go to Joe Gacy backstage with Harland, where he tells the monster that he's not mad at him for costing them a chance at the Dusty Cup last week.  They're confronted by an injured Odyssey Jones, who tells Gacy he just sprained his knee and will be back in a couple of weeks.  Gacy holds the door to the medical office open for Jones and tells Harland they can't allow negativity to get in the way of progress, as Harland stares into the office towards Jones.

We now go to a backstage interview with NXT Champion Bron Breakker, where he says he's ready to be Champ, but he's confronted by Elektra Lopez and Santos Escobar, who tells him he's not ready to carry the brand on his shoulder.  Escobar then says the belt will look better on him and Breakker challenges him to a fight, but Escobar mocks him and struts off.

This is a great match-up here.  It's an interesting foil for Breakker as Champion, but Escobar is also maybe the most criminally underutilized talent in NXT and is a wrestler who can make anyone look like a million dollars.  Not that Breakker needs help, but any shine you can add to someone, you take it.

Now we head to the ring, where Tony D'Angelo is holding a memorial service for Pete Dunne, complete with a casket and everything.

Tony D mocks Dunne the whole time and brags about knocking him out with the crowbar last week.  He then says he's on to bigger and better things and says he's after Championship gold now, specifically the NXT North American Championship.  That brings out the Champion, Carmelo Hayes, and Trick Williams, who are confused cause they thought they were "boys" with Tony D?

Tony D and Williams go back and forth on the mic here and they're both so good at talking that this is entertainment enough.  Cameron Grimes heads out now and says he's ahead of Tony D in the hunt for the North American Title, so Hayes sets up a one-on-one match between Grimes and Tony D to determine the number one contender.  Tony D tries to sucker punch Grimes, but Grimes dodges it and clobbers him with a portrait of Pete Dunne.

We now head into the locker room, where Briggs & Jensen are nursing their wounds after losing to the Creed Brothers earlier.  Briggs tells his partner that they just need to keep getting better.  They're joined by Kacy CatanzaroKayden Carter, who tell the guys that they all need to go out and party tonight.  We then see Wendy Choo laying on top of the lockers and making fun of Jensen for liking Carter.  He then fumbles his words trying to explain himself.

This was truly horrible in every way.  Please stop doing segments like this?

Next, we see a video package hyping up the tag team of Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz, which leads to a backstage interview with the bubbly pair until they're quickly interrupted by Dakota Kai, who warns them that they'll get divided chasing gold.  This pisses off the team and Leon accepts a challenge for a match against Kai tonight.

Kay Lee Ray vs Ivy Nile

A really solid technical match here.  Ray is always impressive, but newcomer Nile continues to be a presence and cement herself as someone to keep an eye on.  She's technically gifted, but also a powerhouse with crazy strength.

Ray is distracted by NXT Women's Champion Mandy Rose and she goes for the KLR Bomb, but Nile reverses it into a roll-up for the pinfall.

Winner: Ivy Nile

After the match, Rose jumps Ray, along with Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne.  Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta run in to make the save and wipe out the NXT Women's Tag Team Champions.

We now go to the medical office, where we find Odyssey Jones on the ground in pain and Harland standing over him, holding a bent crutch.  Joe Gacy smiles at Harland and they walk away.

We now get a video package for Sarray, who looks completely different, and she explains that she had a bad year in NXT and returned to Japan to find herself.  She retrieved a magical necklace from her grandmother and this will empower her to return to NXT 2.0 and dominate.

This is… uncomfortable to say the least.  They have clearly applied an Anime-Esque stereotypical Japanese schoolgirl gimmick to this woman and it does not come off as authentic or sincere in any way, but rather as (along with Jacket Time) another gimmick that reduces a Japanese wrestler to comedy based on racial stereotypes.  This doesn't feel right and it is becoming a very noticeable issue in NXT 2.0.

Malik Blade & Edris Enofé vs. Legado del Fantasma

NXT 2.0 Recap 1/18: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Rename It Gunther
Malik Blade & Edris Enofé vs. Legado del Fantasma on NXT 2.0, courtesy of WWE.

This one is not great.  It feels like everyone has to slow down to work with Enofé.  Anyway, Santos Escobar hops to the apron to distract the ref, but this brings out Bron Breakker, who throws Escobar onto his shoulder but doesn't slam him or anything.  He just walks around with a man on his shoulder awkwardly, which distracts Wilde in the ring, allowing Blade to roll him up for the pinfall.  What a waste of time and a waste of Wilde & Mendoza.

Winners: Malik Blade & Edris Enofé

We next get a video promo from Solo Sikoa, where he calls out Boa and challenges him next week.

Dakota Kai vs Yulisa Leon

Not much to talk about here.  Leon shows some decent chain wrestling and mat grappling sequences early, but then Kai beats the hell out of her the rest of the way.  It's an awkward one that never has any momentum or excitement.  Kai hits Leon with a running boot to the face in the corner for the pinfall.

Winner: Dakota Kai

After the match, Kai beats up Leon's partner Feroz as well and the team runs away from Kai.

We now head to a backstage interview with Raquel Gonzalez, who goes from whining to bragging and people are supposed to like this person?  Cora Jade wanders in from a nearby Chuck E. Cheese and interrupts the interview and offers to team with Gonzalez for the upcoming Women's Dusty Cup.  Gonzalez turns her down for… reasons and that's it.  These two are not entertaining.

Next, we see Malik Blade & Edris Enofé celebrating their win and they're joined by Bron Breakker, who wishes them luck.

WALTER vs Roderick Strong

NXT 2.0 Recap 1/18: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Rename It Gunther
WALTER vs Roderick Strong on NXT 2.0, courtesy of WWE.

It's NXT 2.0 main event time and these two put on an old school clinic here.  Strong is one of the best technical wrestlers in all of WWE, while WALTER is right there with Brock Lesnar as the only guys in wrestling today that legit scare you with their aura and you don't for a second doubt they can hurt anyone.

The match evolves from a contest of grapples and stretches into seeing who can beat their opponent with more powerful strikes, something not too many men can best WALTER at.

Each man gets some vicious offense in here, including Strong planting WALTER with a massive Superplex.

It's a straight fight as Strong just pounds on WALTER with all he's got, but WALTER keeps seeming to find another gear and they have a really good reversal sequence where WALTER goes for the Powerbomb, but Strong reverses and goes for a Double Underhook Suplex, but WALTER lifts him over his head and slams him backwards into the turnbuckle before backdropping him and then hitting a big Powerbomb for the pinfall.

Winner: WALTER

WALTER then grabs a mic and stops the ring announcer from announcing him as the winner and inexplicably yells "Nein!  The winner of this match is GUNTHER!"  ….Huh?  Who the hell is Gunther?  WALTER is Gunther?  Why?  Not only is WALTER a cool name, but that's the guys actual name, Walter Hahn.  Is he Gunther?  Is there another guy that will be named Gunther that they're going to introduce as Imperium's new leader or something?  As you can see, none of this made any goddamn sense and was handled just about as poorly as possible.

Anyway, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel hit the ring to join, um, Gunther in beating the hell out of the defeated Strong.  The Creed Brothers then run in to help Strong and the show ends in a big brawl.

Well, that was a thing.

I'm sure we'll get some kind of attempt at an explanation to the whole Gunther nonsense next week, even though a lot of fans already knew that WWE this week trademarked the name "Gunther Stark" and unfortunately, that happens to be the name of a real life Nazi Commander from World War II, so I guess instead of realizing there was no need to change WALTER's name at all, they just shortened it to Gunther.

As for the show itself here, there's some good and some bad to be found.  The main event was terrific and there were some ok matches earlier in the show, but again, and I know I sound like a broken record, there was just too much unnecessary crap here in the second hour and if they shortened NXT 2.0 to one hour, it would really appear like a leaner, better product overall.

Till next time friends.

1/18 NXT 2.0

NXT 2.0 Recap 1/18: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Rename It Gunther
Review by Ryan Fassett

The fantastic main event match between WALTER and Roderick Strong really carried the rest of the night on its shoulders. There was a couple of other decent matches, but like always, NXT 2.0 gets bogged down in comedy nonsense and backstage silliness that doesn't help the show at all.

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Ryan FassettAbout Ryan Fassett

As a lifelong fan of movies, comics, wrestling, and collectibles, Ryan is excited to share his thoughts on all of it with you. He is also an active filmmaker and published comic book writer, along with being a connoisseur of soda.
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