Hey gang! So while the NXT 2.0 revamp has been introducing us to new stars, the direction of the show is still a bit unclear. We don't really know yet what anyone is working towards and a lot of the rivalries haven't lasted more than a week. Longform storytelling has been a key to WWE's success going back to the 1980s and while having pieces on the table is good, without a game plan, you're not going to accomplish much. Let's see if a game plan becomes more clear with this week's episode and maybe gives fans more confidence that this brand has a firm future ahead of it.
Mandy Rose vs Ember Moon
As was previously announced, we kick things off here with a singles match between two former main roster stars who are now in need of some retooling here in NXT.
I'm sorry, but Toxic Attraction is just wonky. Aside from them being pretty directionless, it appears every week that Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne are having a contest on who can make the weirder, more awkward facial expressions, while Mandy Rose is as blank as possible. The idea of a powerful women's faction is cool, but there isn't much chemistry here with these three.
The match is all Moon, as she's clearly leading the dance, doing all the big spots herself, and making the necessary facial expressions to tell the story and put Rose's limited offense over. She's not showing up Rose by any means, but making her look better by wrestling herself. Bret Hart used to do this all the time, thus the infamous "Mega Man" Tom Magee match. You know it when you see it.
The match is about 8 minutes long, which is an eternity for the recent NXT matches, and it ends pretty abruptly as Moon is getting her high spots in and Rose just plants her with a big running knee for the pinfall.
Winner: Mandy Rose
I feel so bad for Ember Moon. She's super over with the crowd and is easily one of the most talented women in the entire company and they have her jobbing on the developmental show.
Next, we go to a video promo from Legado del Fantasma where they continue their feud with Hit Row, despite the fact that their enemies have all been drafted to SmackDown. They each call out their particular nemesis in the respective faction and Santos Escobar challenges Swerve to a match for his NXT North American Championship.
Odyssey Jones vs LA Knight
Jones is positively infectious during his entrance and the crowd eats it up. WWE has a big potential star here if they develop him correctly.
A good showing for both men here as they each get their stuff in and look good. They play well off of each other and tell a good "smaller heel vs giant babyface" story and the crowd is into it.
Andre Chase shows up on the ring apron and distracts Jones, who punches him off and then gets hit with a jumping Neckbreaker by Knight. As Knight goes for the pin, Jones puts his foot under the rope, but Chase pushes it back and the ref counts to three.
Winner: LA Knight
I liked the added bit with his foot here. It looked like we were going for the standard "heel distracts face so face gets beaten" set up, but the added bit with him pushing away his foot and really costing him the match was a nice touch.
We now go to a backstage interview with Cameron Grimes, who announces that he's on the hunt for a girlfriend. He's interrupted by Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland (hey, you don't work here anymore!), who tell him that no woman would want anything to do with him. Dunne then challenges him to a match tonight, which the distracted Grimes casually accepts before strutting over to a couple of women off to the side of the camera and then proceeds to try hitting on them.
We go to the locker room where Kyle O'Reilly confronts Von Wagner about why he keeps getting his back lately. Wagner tells him it's because he has heart and he respects him. O'Reilly tells him that he appreciates it, but he doesn't want a partner or friend after what he's been through and he tells the young big man to stay out of his way.
Not great stuff from Wagner here, but it almost sounds like he's trying to do an accent too and maybe that's distracting him? I don't know, but either way, he needs some promo work.
The NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa hits the ring now and announces that on October 26, Halloween Havoc will return to NXT! He says he needs an opponent for the show and then addresses Bron Breakker's continued challenges for his NXT title. He asks who has the balls to take his title from him and Breakker wastes no time in answering.
Breakker tells Ciampa that while he's treated him with respect, he doesn't care how long he's been there and he wants to be NXT Champion. He says he has the biggest balls in the locker room and challenges Ciampa for his title.
Ciampa responds that he has three weeks to get ready and accepts his challenge.
Joe Gacy now appears on screen in a dark room and says that he stood with his generation when social media platforms crashed this week. The things he's saying don't make much sense, but he's delivering his lines well. I guess that's something?
We now go backstage to see Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta walking and talking and Hartwell reveals that on their honeymoon, they went through two boxes of condoms and that Dexter Lumis is um, 9.5 inches. Yes. Yes, we are indeed back to an edgier product here kids.
They then see smoke billowing out of a door and approach it to find Boa and Mei Ying inside doing some ritual. Boa screams at them and slams the door. They walk away, getting back to talking about Lumis's measurements.
Ikemen Jiro vs Joe Gacy
The two shake hands to start the match and then from there as I said about his previous NXT match, Gacy is all-in on his character during the bout. Jiro tries a running shoulder block, but Gacy absorbs it and then tells Jiro that he believes in his ability to knock him down and offers him the chance to try again.
Jiro hits him with a whole sequence, culminating in a head scissors to take Gacy down. Gacy gets up and complements Jiro and shakes his hand again, only this time he pulls him in and whips him into the turnbuckle.
From there it's all Gacy, who dominates Jiro, all while taunting the crowd and acting like he's doing something good.
Jiro rallies and gets Gacy with a series of jacket punches and goes for a big running move, but Gacy dodges it and hits a handstand springboard lariat for the pinfall.
Winner: Joe Gacy
After the match, Gacy helps Jiro to his feet and hugs him before leaving the ring, much to the shock of Jiro. Near the entranceway, Gacy stops and looks to the crowd, where he sees a very large and scary dude (big WWE prospect Parker Boudreaux) standing and staring at him. They stare each other down and Gacy looks a bit unnerved by it.
We now get a video promo from Duke Hudson and it appears he's been repackaged as a pro-poker player. Hudson is fantastic in the promo and giving him the character trait of being a brilliant gambler that can outsmart his opponents could be really good going forward.
Cora Jade hits the ring for her NXT debut match against Virginia Ferry, but before they start, Franky Monet pulls Ferry from the ring and beats her up. Monet then hits the ring to take her spot in the match against Jade.
Cora Jade vs Franky Monet
Monet dominates the whole match until Jade gets a surprise roll-up for the pinfall.
Winner: Cora Jade
We head backstage again now, where McKenzie Mitchell is trying to get an interview with MSK, who are prepping for their match. Grizzled Young Veterans march up and insult the champs, which causes them to say tonight's Fatal 4-Way will be elimination style. The other two teams get in and then an eight-man brawl breaks out.
NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa is being interviewed backstage now when Joe Gacy interrupts and criticizes Ciampa for the way he spoke earlier in saying anyone with balls to challenge him. He then asks for a shot at the NXT title himself, to which Ciampa tells him that if he can beat him in a non-title match next week, he'll add him to the main event at Halloween Havoc.
Pete Dunne, with Ridge Holland vs Cameron Grimes
A fine match here from two seasoned guys that know what they're doing. Everything is going along nicely until Dunne tries ripping the turnbuckle pad off, which distracts the ref and allows Holland to pull Grimes from the ring. Kyle O'Reilly then shows up out of nowhere and attacks Holland. Dunne jumps out to fight him now and throws him onto the announce table.
Grimes gets Dunne back in the ring and goes for the Cave-In, but Dunne dodges and hits the Bitter End for the pinfall.
Winner: Pete Dunne
After the match, O'Reilly storms the ring and attacks Dunne & Holland. They outnumber him though and beat O'Reilly up.
We now get a video from Hit Row, where they answer Legado del Fantasma's challenge from earlier and Swerve accepts Escobar's challenge for his NXT North American title.
We see that during the commercial break, Von Wagner came out and helped O'Reilly to the back. What a nice guy!
Malik Blade vs Tony D'Angelo
It's the NXT debut for the much-hyped D'Angelo here, who enters wearing a fedora and velvet sweatsuit, cause you know, he's a mobster guy.
Lots of trash-talking from D'Angelo throughout as he mocks his opponent while dominating him. This one's pretty much all D'Angelo, who is all-over his opponent the entire time. Despite the gimmick, D'Angelo's style isn't that of a brawler, but rather more of a slow precision guy with lots of limb-targeting holds and grapples.
Eventually, D'Angelo takes it home with a really nice Northern Light Suplex floating over into a Swinging Fisherman Neckbreaker for the pinfall.
Winner: Tony D'Angelo
A very nice debut for D'Angelo, who has a ton of charisma and really worked the crowd well throughout the match.
We now go backstage, where Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams are being interviewed about their match later. Hayes refers to their team as "Trickmelo", which has a nice ring to it honestly. Hayes has really found himself in this new heel character and Williams continues to impress with his promo skills.
Mei Ying vs Indi Hartwell
These two don't work well together at all and it's very slow and lacking in action throughout. It's a short one though and it ends with a really dumb sequence involving Persia Pirotta. Hartwell hits the springboard elbow and pins Mei Ying.
Winner: Indi Hartwell
Okay, so they've spent over a year now building Mei Ying as this monster, a legit supernatural one at that, who has only started wrestling matches recently. And they have her lose clean to Indi Hartwell, who is a comedy act and is greener than gooseshit in the ring? Horrible, HORRIBLE booking here!
We now go to Lash Legend having a production meeting with her crew, when she's approached by Tony D'Angelo, who invites himself onto her show next week.
Next, we have a video promo from Diamond Mine, where Malcolm Bivens hypes each member of the team.
NXT Women's Champion Raquel Gonzalez hits the ring now and has words for Toxic Attraction after their attack on her last week. There appears to be some miscommunication here, as Gonzalez is fixated on the hard camera the entire time, yet the shot is from a roaming camera in the ring. Oh well…
She is of course interrupted by Toxic Attraction, who head out and immediately get hit with the "What?!" chants as they each ramble on. The trio then surrounds the champ in the ring, but the NXT Women's Tag Team Champions Io Shirai and Zoey Stark inexplicably run to the ring to make the save and get Gonzalez's back.
To quote the Orlando crowd, what?! None of that makes any goddamn sense, as Gonzalez (who I guess by default is a face now) has been warring with that team and with Shirai personally for months and months.
Next, we head to the locker room where Kyle O'Reilly is icing his shoulder. Von Wagner comes up to him and tells him that next week, they'll be facing Dunne and Holland in a tag team match.
We're backstage now as the writers try to make sense of what we just saw in the ring, with Shirai, Stark, and Gonzalez talking to one another. Shirai tells Gonzalez that she doesn't like her, but dislikes Toxic Attraction more. Yeah, cause you've only been fighting Gonzalez for the better part of a year and she ended your great reign as NXT Women's Champion and then went to war against you for months in tag matches, but sure, that makes total sense.
Stark tries to rally the two against the faction, saying they should stick together as Champions, but then they're approached and taunted by Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta, who act like total heels here and try to intimidate their way into getting the tag titles. I'm at a loss here, as apparently, no one's character makes any sense now.
MSK vs Briggs & Jensen vs Grizzled Young Veterans vs Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams – Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship
A fun enough multi-team tag match. Hayes & Williams and Grizzled Young Veterans get eliminated first and second and it all comes down to Briggs & Jensen vs MSK for the titles.
Briggs & Jensen go for the Chokeslam Powerbomb double-team on Lee, but Carter clotheslines Briggs out of the ring and Lee rolls up Jensen for the pinfall to retain.
Winners and still Champions: MSK
After the match, Briggs & Jensen grab the belts from the ref, but play nice and hand them to MSK before exiting the ring.
Out of nowhere, Imperium takes out MSK and knocks them out in the ring. Briggs & Jensen run back to the ring to chase them off, but Imperium poses on the ramp as NXT ends.
Not a great night for NXT, as creatively this show was an absolute mess. It's good that they set up Halloween Havoc and some big matches to look forward to, but there just seemed to be very little logic employed on this episode and there was nothing particularly exciting to latch onto. Onto next week then, I guess…
Till next time friends!