SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Spin The Wheel – Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano (North American Championship)
The show opened with Zombie Blackheart, followed by a live music entrance for our North American Champion, Damian Priest. That entrance had the former metal head in me wishing that I wasn’t bald. Johnny Gargano popped the giant pumpkin on his way to the ring! All I wanted out of Halloween Havoc was a giant pumpkin at the entrance, and he had to take that away from me within the first few minutes of the show!
Shotzi spun the wheel for the two competitors and it landed on a “Devil’s Playground” match… Which was just a fancy name for a hardcore match… Which is the attitude era name for a No Holds Barred match… Which is almost exactly the same as an Extreme Rules match… All of which were on the wheel, I’m sure, in some fashion.
They really didn’t hold back during this contest. Gargano delivered a Sliced Bread #2 to Priest on the steps, Priest delivered the Broken Arrow to Gargano on the announce table. They fought through the ‘crowd’ area and all over the Capitol Wrestling Center.
The Devil may not have shown up in his playground, but the antagonist from Scream did! The “grim reaper” showed up, attacked priest and gave Gargano a “tombstone” as a weapon to use on Priest. Gargano does this, sending Priest off of the platform where the Wheel was, but through a crypt below. Gargano then pinned for the win. Priest seemed to be on a roll as champion, and I’m disappointed to see his reign end this soon. That said, Gargano makes a wonderful champion and I’m sure this incarnation of his character will be no different. Fingers crossed, this isn’t a call up for Priest and we’ll see him back on the hunt for his North American Title shortly.
McAfee, Lorcan & Burch Address Undisputed Era
After last week’s upset victory where Lorcan & Burch won the NXT Tag Titles, it was revealed that Pat McAfee was the one attacking Undisputed Era. McAfee said that he was the one who enlisted Holland to attack Cole. When Holland got hurt, he called the Brit-Am Brawlers to then do his dirty work. Honestly, this is probably the best male storyline at the moment. Not just because Lorcan & Burch are my guys, but because the NXT brass have booked this beautifully, especially given the twists and turns that COVID and injuries caused.
With most of the Undisputed Era sidelined with Injury, Kyle O’Reilly came out alone to confront McAfee and the NXT champs. Pete Dunne’s music hit, and he stood next to KOR with steel chairs in hand. Or so we thought. Dunne joined the stable led by McAfee, brutally beating KOR down.
Oh and this storyline just got even better!
Verdict: HIT, x100
Jake Atlas vs. Santos Escobar
Atlas has looked incredibly strong leading up to this non-title matchup, especially last week during the Cruiserweight six man tag. He’s showed nothing but pure heart going back as far as the Cruiserweight Tournament a few months ago.
Escobar had Atlas’s number though, eventually putting the rising star down for the three count. Of course, interference from Mendoza & Phoenix may have played a part in that. This was a very short match and while it certainly kept Escobar strong, the quick defeat for Atlas felt deflating.
Haunted House of Terror – Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes
Earlier in the night, Grimes was shown backstage trying to convince Regal to let him out of this match against Lumis. Scared out of his mind, he begged with the NXT General Manager who would not relent. He escorted Grimes to the parking lot, confusing Grimes considering the ring was in the Arena. When Grimes got out to the parking lot, a creepy van pulled up with an even creepier driver. Inside the van it was smoky and foggy, you couldn’t see anything other than the driver.
Grimes freaked out, but before he could run away, the back door to the van swung open. Bad Street USA played as Doctor Michael P.S. Hayes Hendrix himself ‘doot doot dooted’ and ‘dance dance danced’. The smoke, implying that he was partaking in a completely legal substance in the state of Florida. Well, medically legal anyway. Unfortunately, the segment was ruined by the otherwise amazing Bad Street music. The loud track completely drowned out all of Hayes & Grimes dialogue, at least for me on YouTube TV while watching live. I wish the sound came through, it was something that I did not expect and was a fun cameo appearance from one of the greatest.
Now that I’m done giggling over Michael Hayes hotboxing an unmarked van by himself, let’s get to the match. As I thought, this was a cinematic match. I will be the first to admit, I am not the person to objectively review this. Why? This had cheesy, campy, B-Horror movie written all over it. While I’ll occasionally humor my wife and watch one with her, they are not my cup of tea.
The “Haunted House of Terror” wasn’t set in a creepy, dilapidated house. You know, what you immediately think of when you hear “haunted house”. Instead, this was your typical modern home. Every horror trope in the book was seemingly used through these two segments, but done in an entertaining way. The special effects weren’t stellar, but they certainly beat any that I’ve tried to do on my own videos! (http://youtube.com/c/degetime where we take a therapeutic look at pen and paper gaming)
Grimes eventually escaped the house and literally ran back to the arena. Lumis met him in the ring and the match continued with smoke and zombies encircling the ring.
All in all, it made for entertaining TV. But are we now supposed to believe that Zombies are canon in the “WWE Universe”?
…The Undertaker. Riiiight. He’s died and come back to life how many times? Hold up. Seth Rollins, who is the true wrestling Messiah?
Wow I went on a tangent. Sorry about that.
While I like some hokey weirdness in my wrestling, I’m just very thankful that all of this hokey weirdness only lasts this one night. I didn’t hate these segments, but they forced me to suspend my disbelief just a little bit too much for my liking.
Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Gonzales
At the start of this match, Wade Barrett said “People have wanted to see these two clash for weeks!” While that is true, this is a match I’ve personally wanted to see for close to a year or more. Gonzales is a powerhouse, and that was obvious as she came up the ranks in NXT. When Rhea was going through her NXT title run, I couldn’t wait to see then Gonzales potentially be a contender for it. That may not have happened, but it finally happened at Halloween Havoc.
These two had great chemistry together. Not surprising, considering they tagged on the NXT untelevised house show circuit for quite awhile. I don’t think that I’ve seen Gonzales have a bad match, but she looked very strong here tonight. Not to mention, the first opponent for Rhea since Charlotte at WrestleMania who looked like her physical equal.
Rhea needed this win as far as I’m concerned. She just hasn’t felt nearly as important as she did one year ago. The show revolved around her before her loss to Charlotte. This could potentially be a kickoff point where she enters the limelight once again
Drake Maverick Got Hugged, Dain Made Shocking Entrance
Backstage, Maverick cosplayed as Hulk Hogan and out of nowhere a Big Show (as The Giant) look alike, and “The Yeti” bear hugged him, recreating that infamously awful WCW moment. Then Dain came out from behind a curtain dressed as the Shockmaster.
There’s not much more to say about this. This was so stupid. Naturally, I liked it.
Tommaso Ciampa Doesn’t Recognize NXT Anymore
Ciampa cut an empassioned, old school promo where he looked directly into the camera and spoke to the audience. He said he doesn’t recognize NXT anymore. It’s the same brand, colors and some of the same people. But the vibe has changed and it’s time for him to reclaim his brand. He called Dream out for hitting him with the cast last week, and stormed off camera.
I don’t care where Ciampa is positioned on the card, whether he is in the main event or not. He has reached that “S” level tier within the NXT system as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, his feud is with someone who I can’t stand seeing on my TV screen. One thing that Ciampa said stood out to me though. “Dream, you are a 25 year old prodigy that can’t seem to get out of his own way.” To me, this seemed like not just a dig at the character, but at Patrick Clark himself.
Spin The Wheel – Candice LaRae vs. Io Shirai – NXT Women’s Championship
Tom Stoup called it last week on PWT Talks NXT. The wheel landed on “Tables, Ladders and Scares”! (oh my!)
Tables, Ladders & chairs were legal in this contest, and unlike the opening match, the pinfall must take place in the ring. At the start of the match, LaRae threw a laptop (a LAPTOP?!) from the announce table right between Io’s eyes. It looked like it actually hit her, as two refs ran over to her immediately and radioed to the back. She seemed okay, but it was a pretty scary spot.
Well, it is a Scares match, I guess. Right?
This was hands down the match of the night. They expertly crafted the match where weapon use was abundant, but not over indulgent. There was a spot where Shirai suplexed LaRae onto a set up folding chair that looked absolutely brutal.
This is a feud that has been brewing for months and deserving of a match this brutal. The masked person who came out and helped Johnny came out and helped LaRae, though it didn’t quite lead to a victory this time. Shotzi interfered and took out the masked person, allowing for Shirai to overcome and retain.
Who is that masked person? Well, who has been helping the Gargano’s for months as we found out a few weeks ago? Indi Hartwell. Calling it now! We’ll see if they reveal that in the coming weeks.
6 Hits & 2 Misses for a 75% Hit Total.