Hey gang! We've seen all of the previews. We've heard all of the news. And now it's time to dive into the new era of the NXT brand, dubbed NXT 2.0, a more WWE-polished product overseen by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Bruce Prichard, and Kevin Dunn. So what's in store for us now? Only one way to find out. Let's get at it!
We open with taped promos from each of the men in tonight's Fatal 4-Way NXT Title Match. Each guy makes his case to the camera and psyches themself up. Tommaso Ciampa and LA Knight are worlds ahead of the other two here with their promo ability.
During Knight's promo, he looks to his left to see and a very happy and very big man in a colorful singlet jumping up and down next to him. Knight asks him what he wants and the guy introduces himself as Bron Breakker (he's actually Bronson Rechsteiner, son of Rick Steiner and nephew of Scott Steiner) and asks for a chance to prove himself. Knight obliges him and tells him to meet him in the ring.
We now get the new NXT 2.0 intro package, complete with a new song by Wale, and from there we go to the arena for the first time and get a look at the new digs.
The entrance set strikes you immediately, as it appears to be a smaller version of the kind of one they use for Raw and SmackDown. It's all LED and changes to the entering superstar's entrance video. Pretty cool-looking.
What's interesting is when they pull back to reveal the whole arena, it appears much smaller than what NXT had been in both at Full Sail and at the Performance Center with much fewer people in attendance.
LA Knight vs Bron Breakker
I have to say, when seeing him enter, I genuinely don't understand the thought process behind Bron Breakker's name. He looks just like his father and uncle, he's wearing a splashy and bright multi-colored singlet like they did, and he comes out jumping around and screaming like his father did. Why is he not Bron Steiner?
Anyway, onto the match…
Knight takes it to the rookie early, but the young powerhouse responds with strong shoulder shots and suplexes. Vic Joseph says he has "a dog-faced gremlin intensity" and again, I'm left asking my question from earlier. Vince Logic folks…
Every time Knight gets going, Breakker responds hard. He gets Knight up in a Goldberg-Esque Military Press into a Powerslam for the pinfall.
Winner: Bron Breakker
It was a pretty quick one and we didn't get an instant classic here, but it was an effective enough showcase for the debuting Breakker. Now switch the surname to Steiner, please?
We go backstage now where Breakker is being congratulated by his fellow NXT rookies.
Imperium vs Briggs & Jensen
Imperium appears to be left totally untouched in the revamp and thank the maker for that!
Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs are now working together as a "big hoss" Southern tough guy tag team and they look pretty similar to Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch here, including similar entrance music.
This one's mostly an Aichner and Barthel show, but Briggs and Jensen have their moments to shine. Briggs especially puts on a good show here.
Ultimately Imperium takes this one after Barthel distracts Jensen on the top turnbuckle and Aichner hits him with a big top rope Double Underhook Suplex for the pinfall.
We now go to Hit Row in the studio, where the guys hype B-Fab, who is making her in-ring debut tonight.
B-Fab vs Katrina Cortez
So, total squash here with B-Fab making short work of the masked Cortez. But is it a good showing? Yes and no.
B-Fab looks very green in the ring and has very little speed here. But she doesn't lose her character while wrestling and keeps up the taunts and mannerisms to cover it and that is something, as young wrestlers can lose sight of their character when trying to perform moves early on.
Let's remember that B-Fab is very young and only started wrestling in 2019, so hopefully, she gets better in the ring because her character work has been very good since debuting as a part of Hit Row.
After the match, B-Fab grabs the mic and cuts a promo on Elektra Lopez and Legado del Fantasma, who waste no time in heading to the ramp. Lopez threatens B-Fab that next time, she won't need a pipe to shut her mouth. B-Fab takes her up on the offer and demands a match right now, but Santos Escobar declines.
We now go backstage to Oddysey Jones, Cameron Grimes, and Johnny Gargano getting ready for tonight's wedding. The groomsmen are all wearing Dexter Lumis attire, complete with black leather gloves. Jones and Grimes talk about who they think will win the NXT title tonight, but Gargano seems sad. He says everything is perfect, but one thing is missing. There's then a knock at the door and Austin Theory enters, dressed like the rest of them.
He says he did run away, but he would never miss Indi Hartwell's wedding. He then says you can't have a wedding without a priest and in comes Damien Priest, who Gargano has to tell Theory isn't really a priest. They then all celebrate that it's an open bar tonight and Gargano and Theory hug.
Carmelo Hayes hits the ring now with his title contract in hand. He cuts a promo about how he has had a target on his back since winning the Breakout Tournament. He then introduces Trick Williams, a friend of his whom he's invited to NXT to have his back going forward.
Williams cuts a REALLY good promo here, where he convinces Hayes that everyone else should be afraid of them and that he should no longer be humble, as he is "the chosen one". Nice subtle heel turn here.
As they're heading out, Duke Hudson heads out for a match and tells Hayes he got lucky against him in the tournament. Williams and Hayes then jump Hudson from behind in the ring and stomp him down. Nice not-so-subtle heel turn here.
Next, we go to Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolin backstage as they hype up Mandy Rose and kiss her ass, telling her that her new look is amazing.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne
We see in the picture-in-picture Kyle O'Reilly getting assaulted in the locker room by Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland. After a beating, he's saved by a big guy with blonde hair, possibly Thor, which would really give some credence to the rumors Disney wants to buy WWE.
So the tag match is going along and then someone runs out in a leather jacket and interferes. It's Mandy Rose, who has dyed her hair dark. God help us all!!!
Sarray runs out to make the save, for some reason, and now we have a six-woman tag match. I have to say, this is the first overt Vince McMahon/Bruce Prichard/Kevin Dunn bullshit of the night, where there's too much crap going on at once and it's all falling over itself and now you just strong-armed more people into what was a simple match for no reason.
If they wanted to have Rose interfere and wreck the match, fine. If they wanted a six-woman tag match, fine. There's no need to have Sarray get involved and the schmozz and then make it a six-woman tag match on the spot. There's no impact in that.
Remember K.I.S.S. from grade school? Keep It Simple Stupid? Actually, I don't think they're allowed to call kids stupid in school anymore. That's something to talk about with my therapist later. Oh well…
Catanzaro, Carter, & Sarray vs Dolin, Jayne, & Rose
Alright so now that half the locker room is involved, let's have a match!
And a fine match it is, as everyone in there is a fine wrestler. Maybe they should have just done this from the start and we could have just focused on that? Anywho, it's a good showing from all involved, especially the Rose/Dolin/Jayne team, who really lean into their heel roles very well here. Carter and Catanzaro are also just killing it lately and are quickly becoming the most must-watch women's tag team in NXT.
Rose ends things when she hits a running Scissor-Kick Knee to the face of Carter for the pinfall.
Winners: Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, and Jacy Jayne
We now go to Indi Hartwell getting ready in her gown, surrounded by her bridesmaids and Candice LeRae lectures Cora Jade about wearing a hat to a wedding. It's short, sweet, and funny so clearly, certain guys from Connecticut had nothing to do with it.
We go to NXT General Manager William Regal's office now, where he announces that due to the attack from Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland, Kyle O'Reilly is not medically cleared for action tonight and is now out of the NXT Title match later.
He continues that the match will still be a Fatal 4-Way match though, with the O'Reilly's place being taken by the man who saved him, Von Wagner (damn it, no Thor…but he is the son of Beau Beverly for all of you Beverly Brothers fans out there!). He welcomes Wagner to NXT 2.0 and tells him he's throwing him right into the thick of it with a title opportunity.
So I think if you're a longtime wrestling fan, especially WWE, you know when Vince McMahon has placed a big checkmark on a young guy when you see it. The Rock debuted in the 1996 Survivor Series match and won the damn thing while Jim Ross kept calling him a "blue chipper" the whole time. Just saying, keep both of your eyes on Von Wagner.
Ridge Holland vs Drake Maverick
In easily the show's most unfair match-up, Holland just chews up poor Drake Maverick and spits him out.
Winner: Ridge Holland
We now go backstage, where McKenzie Mitchell interviews Tommaso Ciampa ahead of his title match. Ciampa says it's chaos here and he's only focused on the NXT title. He says when you think about that title, you think about Goldie and when you think about Goldie, you think about Tommaso Ciampa.
We now go to Chicago, where we meet a young man named Tony D'Angelo, who cuts a promo about coming from the streets and talks about his family's long mob history, but that he wanted to make his own way, so he became an NCAA All-American in Greco-Roman wrestling (that must have been inspired by a deleted sequence in The Godfather where Michael Corleone becomes a great Greco-Roman wrestler to escape his family's vicious mafia empire).
So, two things here. One, it would appear WWE is back in the gimmick game with a character that would have felt at home in 1995. And two, the name. They have given Joe Ariola the name Tony D'Angelo here, which to my hockey-loving readers should ring a bell, as I wrote a story back in January about former New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo being cut from the team after numerous racist and politically charged incidents.
Maybe it's a coincidence or maybe one of WWE's producers is a disgruntled Rangers fan? Who knows, but here we are.
The Creed Brothers vs Dan Jarmon & Trevor Skelly
The Creed Brothers are back representing Diamond Mine one week after their very impressive TV debut!
And the results are the same as these two monster brothers just destroy their opponents here. They're big, intense, and maybe the most legit presence in the ring since Brock Lesnar…and there are two of them!
Winners: The Creed Brothers
After the match, the brothers are joined by Diamond Mine in the ring and Malcolm Bivens introduces us all to their newest and first female member, Ivy Nile (who is Emily Andzulis, a competitor on The Rock's NBC competition series Titan Games). She looks like an absolute powerhouse and has some guns!
They are interrupted by the NXT Cruiserweight Champion Kushida, who comes out and says Bivens talks too much. He then tells Roderick Strong that he is ready to face him and they set the title match for next week's show.
Pete Dunne vs LA Knight vs Von Wagner vs Tommaso Ciampa – Fatal 4-Way Match for the NXT Championship
So we have a very fast-paced match here that totally wakes a crowd up that had been noticeably quiet all night. Everyone gets their moments in here and spots where they're oh so close to winning the NXT title.
Ciampa and Dunne have a great slugfest in the middle where they exchange hard shots that echo throughout the arena.
Von Wagner looks very solid in his debut with some real stars here to work with. He hits some powerful big man moves, but also a lot of suplexes and lifts, including an Angle Slam and a very nice looking Double Underhook Twisting Front Slam (I'm just describing it, I'm sure it'll get a real name soon).
The only complaint is the match ends kind of early and abruptly. Dunne and Wagner go at it a bit and then Ciampa just hits the Fairy Tale Ending to Dunne for the pinfall. No kick-outs or false finishes here. Oh well, Ciampa is great and very deserving.
Winner and new NXT Champion: Tommaso Ciampa
We now get a video package showing the whole InDex love story saga, which started eight months ago, making it one of the most consistent (and entertaining) storylines in recent WWE history.
It's wedding time now as all of the guests (various NXT stars) make their way to the ring. There's a funny moment where the Grizzled Young Veterans argue with each other about what shenanigans will occur. I mean it is a WWE wedding after all…
At the beginning of the ceremony, we learn that Dexter Lumis' middle name is Gaylord, because we needed a very firm reminder that Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard are helping write this thing now.
The ceremony is genuinely hilarious with many great moments and one-liners, but Ikemen Jiro almost steals the show here when we find out he's the ring-bearer and we see he's wearing only one of his patented bright blazers and a rainbow speedo.
The priest asks if anyone has an issue with their being married and virtually everyone raises their hands, but Lumis pulls his jacket back to reveal a hatchet and everyone puts their hands down.
After Hartwell reads her heartfelt (and really funny) vows, it's Lumis' turn and he simply gives her a thumbs up. The priest takes issue with this, so Lumis puts him in The Silencer and chokes him out. From there, the roster (and his seatmate Zombie Ref) tries to get Regal to finish the ceremony, but Beth Phoenix steps in to do it instead.
Now comes time for the "I do"s and for the first time, Dexter Lumis actually speaks and says "I… do".
And with that, Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis are married! He lifts his new bride in his arms as for once, a WWE wedding didn't end in heartbreak.
So this whole segment was really funny and enjoyable. A lot of different people got great moments here and the material was good. See? Comedy in wrestling can work when it's appropriate and well-done.
This is definitely one of the best WWE weddings ever, joining "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, Test/Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon again, and The Undertaker and Stephanie McMahon (I think I'm seeing a trend here…).
From the happy moment, we pull back to see the new NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa watching it on a monitor backstage. He is approached by Bron Breakker, who congratulates him on his title win and Ciampa responds by congratulating him on his first win on NXT 2.0.
They shake hands, but Breakker can't take his eyes off of the title belt and the two men then lock eyes and have an intense staredown to end the show. Oh shit!
Ok so let's just say it: this was a very solid show. Not everything worked, but everything that had to did and it feels like we're onto something new here, while being guided by familiar faces. The young stars shined on this show and it did intrigue me as a fan to come back next week. Will it continue? Who knows, but let's see if they're onto something here. Till next time friends!