SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Ember Moon vs. Dakota Kai
Kicking the night off, Ember Moon took on Dakota Kai. For the first time in weeks, we didn’t start with a “high workrate” style matchup. That’s not a bad thing, as the chaotic feel of the last handful of episodes worked against them. Rather than draw me in, it actually made it harder to follow and subsequently hook me. Moon & Kai slowed the pace down and still told a great story. That story being Ember Moon getting revenge on Kai & Gonzales for the attack last week.
With Gonzales ringside, it was pretty obvious that Kai would get a distracted win over Ember Moon. However, even though I expected the finish, I still liked the way that they got there. Ember Moon took a few unnecessary risks and bumps during the match that I wish she skipped for her own sake. Other than that, she put on a very solid performance with Kai. Both women made each other look great, and certainly piqued my interest in this feud.
Cameron Grimes Addresses His “Loss” at Halloween Havoc
Grimes said that since his loss wasn’t by pinfall, submission or count out that it shouldn’t count. Plus, he says, the referee was a zombie. That’s double reason for the loss not to count. He said that since that loss was “weeks” ago, that he’s not worried about it and looking towards Kushida tonight. Of course, when that same “zombie” ref came up from behind him to tell him his match was up next, he freaked out and ran away. Apparently the Haunted House of Horrors & Dexter Lumis scared the almighty Cameron Grimes after all.
As we come to expect out of Cameron Grimes, beautiful character work here. He knows who his character is and has embraced it wholly. That’s the best thing you can do as a performer, whether or not you like the gimmick or not. Grimes seems to be right at home.
Shotzi Chooses Toni Storm
For hosting Halloween Havoc, Regal allowed her to pick her opponent tonight. She picked Storm for her accolades in and out of WWE/NXT. While Shotzi may need to either retweak her catchphrase or choose a new one entirely, I’m all in on this green haired freak (and I mean that with all the love in the world. I assume Shotzi would take that as a compliment).
Kushida vs. Cameron Grimes
Grimes seemed visibly shaken during this matchup, showing some “lingering psychological effects” from the Haunted House of Terror match. Again, showing just how well he understands his character.
We’ve seen Kushida vs. Grimes on a handful of occasions and they have always delivered. This was no different. Kushida, showing that same new “fire” that we’ve seen out of him in recent weeks, took advantage of Grimes’ mental state. For the majority of the contest, Kushida would have the upper hand until Grimes seemed to snap back to reality and go full bore on Kushida. That exchange would go back and forth and would be a theme throughout the match. Grimes would get spooked and Kushida would take advantage.
While I don’t like the fact that zombies are now apparently NXT canon, I’m still intrigued in this feud as well as the story.
Shirai Calls Out Ripley?
Io Shirai called out Rhea Ripley in a video package after commercial break. She’s laying the title on the line, and is not afraid of Ripley like most of the roster. Now this seems like a babyface move out of Shirai. Will that mean the heelish foreshadowing that I’ve seen in Ripley lately wasn’t in my head? Maybe a heel turn during this feud is just what the doctor ordered to reinvigorate a seemingly stale Ripley.
Drake Maverick & Killian Dain vs. Ever Rise
Finally! Dain didn’t make the sound guy kill the music! Dain wasn’t quite dancing with Drake as they entered the ring. While I still enjoyed this match, the formula was very similar to the last three weeks of tag matches with these two teams. For some, this might start to feel repetitive. For me, I’ve been invested in Ever Rise since their time on the indies and Maverick and Dain have grown on me big time.
During this match, McAfee, Lorcan, Burch & Pete Dunne showed up at the arena and were shown in split screen during the match. They rushed the ring and took out all four competitors.
I’m too invested in this feud where this interruption kind of annoyed me. But at the same time, I’m so pumped about the newly named “Kings of NXT”, I kinda don’t mind that this match didn’t have a conclusive finish.
The Kings of NXT
McAfee, Dunne, Lorcan & Burch stood in the ring as McAfee called them the greatest foursome in the history of NXT. This was a great segment where they hung an Undisputed Era flag from the rafters, as if to say they have retired. McAfee ran down the history of Undisputed Era, albeit slightly altered with a lot of “stupid” adjectives.
McAfee continues to wow me each time he interjects himself into the NXT narrative. Lorcan & Burch finally got some time on the mic too and I’ve gotta wonder why they haven’t had much before. They have a combined 30 years experience in the business, as they mentioned tonight. They should be able to cut a promo with the best of them! And the cadence and delivery out of all four men felt authentic.
I think I’ll go out on a limb and say it. McAfee might be the best talker in NXT. He convinced me that they were going to hang the banner from the rafters and point and laugh at it. Instead, he changed course, threw it in the trash and lit it ablaze.
Where was Undisputed Era during this segment? Good question. I was surprised that the Undisputed Era would allow such disrespect to go unacknowledged. The Kings of NXT walked out of the building and left without any confrontation whatsoever from UE.
Instead, Dain looked to get some revenge in the parking lot. They beat the crap out of him, slammed his head in the car door, and drove off.
Gargano Loves Wheels
After proclaiming his hatred for wheels before the Spin the Wheel match a few weeks ago, he professed his love for them while playing a game of life. Apparently, winning the North American Championship in a match involving wheels changed his mind. His phone rang and “Ghostface” said that he’s in the house. Gargano said “I know, you’re sitting next to me. Your turn.”
The humor was dumb, but I still popped hard.
I’m glad they haven’t paid off Ghostface yet and keeping the identity a mystery. This “At Home with the Gargano’s” segment may have lacked one of the Gargano’s, but Johnny’s charisma here was second to none. For as weird as this segment was, it might have been the most entertaining few minutes of the night for me.
Toni Storm vs. Shotzi Blackheart
Shotzi showed a lot of respect towards Storm during her interview earlier in the night. Here, she basically rushed the ring and attacked Storm. That seemed like a stark contrast to the story that they were originally telling. The “spirit of friendly competition” shifted to seemingly a blood feud. Shotzi’s attitude changed so drastically, that I spent most of the match wondering why rather than paying attention to it.
However, when I was paying attention to it, I wasn’t overly impressed with Storm. She seemed winded during a few spots, including a botched German Suplex where Shotzi landed on her shoulder. Storm still bridged it into a pin, but Shotzi’s shoulders weren’t on the mat. So Shotzi needed to shift her own weight so her shoulders were on the mat so the ref could count the pin.
And then it happened. One of my biggest pet peeves in wrestling. Changing well established rules for the narrative of the story.
Shotzi and Storm were on the floor after both of them took a bump out of the ring. The ref started his count to 10. Now, every other match with “normal rules”, the ref would count to 10. If one competitor entered the ring, the count would continue until 10. The competitor who didn’t get inside the ring would be disqualified.
Here, Shotzi entered the ring and “broke the ref’s count”. The ref stopped counting, allowing the match to continue. Storm would have easily been counted out if they followed the rules like they should have.
LaRae appeared on screen with Shotzi’s tank, the tank that Shotzi didn’t bring to the ring. That allowed for the distracted win for Storm as far as the actual TV show is concerned.
LaRae then destroyed Shotzi’s tank with a Hummer for interfering in her match last week. Ghostface was the original driver of that hummer. Where Ghostface was in two places at once, I think Tom Stoup’s theory of two Ghostfaces, like in the movie Scream, is probably accurate. Indi Hartwell and Austin Theory would be my best guesses.
Verdict: MISS, the count out debacle really put me off.
Earlier Today Cruiserweight Segment
Legado del Fantasma was approached in the parking lot by some cameras, asking about Atlas. As they responded, Atlas showed up and attacked them with a pipe before speeding off in a car.
Short and sweet, but a great way to progress the feud without spending too much time on it.
Thatch as Thatch Cann
Once again, Timothy Thatcher took his class to the CWC and showed jobber “Akeem” how to apply a few holds. This segment appeared to be just like the others until last week’s student came out of nowhere and took Thatcher out, ending the segment.
Finally, these segments may lead somewhere for Thatcher! He’s such a great heel, and I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Xia Li Talks About The Letters From Boa
Regal gave Xia a letter backstage, and she admitted that all of these are from her family. She read the letter and immediately challenged Raquel Gonzales. It seems like her family is disgraced by her losses? If that is the story they are telling, I’m totally on board. I’ve always been a fan of family “honor” stories. It’s why Lieutenant Worf is one of my all time favorite Star Trek characters.
Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa
This match was made last week after Ciampa called Dream out. Dream interfered in Ciampa’s business at Takeover, and Ciampa wanted his revenge. A la Bob Orton, Dream still had the cast on his arm.
Ciampa’s vicious streak continued, attacking Dream’s cast and injured arm throughout the entire match. Admittedly, I have trouble getting into Velveteen Dream matches after the #SpeakingOut movement. Consider this my weekly plea to the WWE to officially address the situation.
Dream is still being prominently utilized, but he isn’t in speaking roles nearly as much. He doesn’t have the same glitz and glamour as he always has. Instead, its almost like he comes out as a shell of his former character. This might be seen by some as a punishment for Dream. Which, I think is exactly what the WWE wants. They want it to seem like he is getting punished for his wrongdoings by getting beat week after week. That’s not a punishment. He still has a paycheck and he is still gaining fans as he is still on TV.
Glad to see Ciampa stay strong with this win over Dream, but I’m not sure what is next for Ciampa. He’s seemingly done everything that NXT has to offer. The NXT championship, while still in limbo while they decide how bad Finn is injured, could be the place for him. But, until they announce something about the title, he seems to need something to do.