SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
-Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish vs. Danny Birch & Oney Lorcan
Kyle O’Reilly walked out with his Undisputed Era brethren, playing the leader role in Cole’s absence. His strong promo here tonight, and comfortability on the mic makes me wonder if that U.E. split is coming sooner rather than later.
Whoever won this match tonight would be the Number 1 Contenders for the NXT Tag Titles. As one might expect out of these two teams, this was textbook tag wrestling. Especially out of the Brit-Am Brawlers, Lorcan & Birch. They cut the ring down the middle, isolating Fish from Strong for quite awhile.
The finish was telegraphed a mile away after several false finishes. Finishes that looked like Lorcan & Birch may win. Lorcan “accidentally” hit Birch, allowing for an Undisputed win.
-Finn Balor Injury Update
It was announced that Balor’s jaw injury was worse than first thought. William Regal is going to wait a few weeks to see if he needs to vacate it.
Personally, I think this is a good move. NXT has had too many direction changes due to injury and COVID. Another main event diversion is the last thing they need. If Balor may be able to compete in a few weeks or so, they may as well leave the championship around his waist. When he returns, he can pick back up where he left off.
Verdict: HIT (on the decision. Not Balor’s injury.)
-Ember Moon Video Package
A kayfabe/real world blurring video package that showed Moon’s return from injury. Unfortunately this is the same story we’ve heard over and over. “I was hurt, and now I want to come back and face the best [insert division here] on the planet in NXT!”
Glad to see her back and this certainly gave us a lot of potential matchups to look forwards to. But I wish the story of her return was a bit more unique than it turned out to be.
-Ashante “Thee” Adonis vs. Jake Atlas
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that my fellow PWT Talks NXT co-host, Kelly Wells, finally convinced me to subscribe to NJPW World. I’ve only watched two matches involving the Young Lions for the G1 so far, but I’ve been impressed.
That’s the vibe that I got out of this matchup when it started. Adonis and Atlas are two of the newer talents on the roster that I have my eye on. They seemed to be getting into the meat and potatoes of the match when Legado del Fantasma interfered after what happened a couple weeks ago between the five men. The sixth man in that fray, Swerve, appeared in the ring out of nowhere and stood by Atlas and Adonis.
It looks like our NXT UK Hits & Misses columnist, Derrell, was right after all. Swerve appears to be putting a stable together to face Fantasma. Thumbs up for me. So far, I have been invested in everything Fantasma since Escobar debuted
-Austin Theory vs. Johnny Gargano
What a treat smack dab in the middle of the night. Two of NXT’s best technical wrestlers took to the ring in a very exciting and action packed matchup. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the size difference between the two. While I think of Theory as a smaller guy (and I shouldn’t he’s 6’1), he looked huge compared to Gargano.
Austin Theory may have lost, but he looked like a million bucks against Gargano. Gargano barely escaped with the win, respectfully looking at Theory after the matchup.
-Shotzi Blackheart vs. Candice LaRae
Though the finish was predictable, this may have been my favorite match of the night. Shotzi Blackheart was announced as the host of Halloween Havoc a few weeks ago. I expected LaRae to win, I didn’t think they would have a host in a big matchup.
Predictable finish (LaRae winning, not with Brass Knucks) aside, very solid action bell to bell. When I say favorite, I don’t mean best. I think that goes to Gargano & Theory in terms of technical ability. But I am so solidly invested in not only LaRae, but the anomaly known as Shotzi Blackheart as well. As much as I love the technical performance, the stories and characters are nearly as important to me. LaRae has done such a great job as a heel, I think I’m more invested in her than ever. As for Shotzi? While her gimmick is way over the top and she may not be the best in-ring, I think she has a long career ahead of her. Besides, the gimmick isn’t for my age demographic anyway. I can see that character really resonating with the “angsty teen”.
Mostly because I know I would have been a massive Shotzi mark during my angsty teen days some 15 years ago.
-Robert Stone Brand is Back. So is Toni Storm. Aliyah vs. Toni Storm
Robert Stone and Aliyah took to the ring saying that someone is about to gain a lot from their brand. Toni Storm’s music hit, and she made her way down the ramp.
Storm and Aliyah had an incredibly short matchup, just enough for Storm to get her stuff in. Robert Stone was correct, someone did make a name for themselves off of their brand. Just not in the way he thought.
I think this was a good way to reintroduce Storm, though I hope she will end up feuding higher up the card than someone like Aliyah.
-Regal The Hypocrite
William Regal was asked about his thoughts on the finish to LaRae/Blackheart. He was none too pleased with LaRae cheating to win a big matchup. However, Regal didn’t mention that he won plenty of big matches with that same brass knuckle technique. For seasoned fans, that was a nice call back to Regal’s Attitude Era days. He said he is going to raise the stakes to that match, he’s just unsure as to how yet.
He then announced Ripley vs. Gonzales for Halloween Havoc. Xia Li & Boa walked up behind him, and Li asked for a match next week after her last three losses. Regal said he would take it into consideration, but seemed rather annoyed at the interruption.
Nothing over the top here, but it was a good way to progress three separate storylines within a matter of minutes.
-Imperium vs. Killian Dain & Drake Maverick
Comically entering to their terrible music, Drake & Dain looked to be just as disheveled as ever. You may be surprised, but I’m actually very glad to see Imperium go over here. Dain & Maverick are not a well oiled team. Imperium touts themselves as the epitome of tag wrestling. If they lost to another comedy duo after losing to Breezango, the damage may have been done.
Instead, they kept Imperium strong and brought in Ever Rise to continue their feud with Drake & Dain
-Dexter Lumis vs. Damian Priest (North American Championship Match)
Damian Priest looked like a rock star during his entrance tonight. Something came across to me differently and I can’t quite put my finger on it. But whatever it was made Priest come off like the biggest thing on the roster.
I was very high on Lumis before his injury, but after he came back I’ve been wondering what they really do with him. Ridge Holland’s gimmick is so similar and, in my opinion, more entertaining. Lumis felt watered down with Holland on the roster. Now that Holland was quickly sidelined with injury, I feel like that opens up quite a bit for the silent superstar.
It seemed like almost half of this match took place in a split screen commercial break. An unfortunate detraction from this title contest.
I also felt like at points, it felt like the two may not have the best in-ring chemistry in the world. The semi-botched Razor’s edge reversal was probably the most obvious to me. But there were a plethora of strikes and punches thrown by either side that left so much room between their fist and the opponents face, you could have had a square dance.
Cameron Grimes interfering in the match was very predictable to me given the ongoing feud between he and Lumis. The interference gave Lumis a reason to lose, ultimately keeping him protected as the Grimes/Lumis/Priest angle progresses.
Post Match Shenanigan’s.
After the match, Priest walked to the top of the ramp, looked at the camera and said, “Hey, watch this. It’s gonna be sweet!” He laid the title down at the top of the ramp and looked like he was about to perform his signature “air bow & arrow”, when Gargano attacked from behind with a chair.
As Gargano and LaRae stood tall over Priest, Regal came out and said that LaRae and Gargano will face Shirai and Priest for their respective championships. He turned it over to the host of Halloween Havoc, Shotzi Blackheart, who announced the stipulation in the weirdest cadence ever and terrible laughter. Okay, I take some of my nice words back from earlier.
She announced that their matches will be “Spin the Wheel” matches. A big wheel showed up on screen behind her, “Wheel of Fortune” style. Each section had a different match stipulation.
That’s how this bizarre show went off the air.
Verdict: Mild hit.