SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
SEPTEMBER 21, 2021, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me, Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg to break down the episode:
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-Recaps of the many new performers and directions from last week. The names “NXT 2.0” and “Bron Breakker,” both atrocious, were featured heavily in the recap when they really shouldn’t have survived into a second week. The recap ended with shots of Tommaso Ciampa winning the championship last week heading into Wale’s theme music.
-A number of the new stars were in the ring firing up the crowd to open. Tommaso Ciampa’s music played and he walked out to the ramp with “Goldie” and hugged the belt tight. The young talent in the ring (all were male for this opening segment) took some hungry looks at the belt. “Ciampa” chant.
Ciampa said it took 908 days, but he’s reclaimed his spot at the top of the mountain and reclaimed the championship he never lost in the first place. He said it was worth every second of rehab after his injury. He said “I missed you too” to the belt. He got the crowd to chant “2.0.” He said these young men and women have been busting their asses day in and day out. He put over Carmelo Hayes, Odyssey Jones and Bron Breakker. He said we may have a fresh coat of paint but we’re still NXT. He then put over the fans as the reason he gets to stand in the ring and do what he does. He said with himself holding the championship, NXT 2.0 just became the A show. He led everyone in a “We are NXT” cry.
Cameron Grimes’s music played him down the ramp. He said Ciampa’s championship was the rocket fuel he needed to go to the moon. Joe Gacy tried to intervene, but quickly after, LA Knight’s music played and he said he had Ciampa beat last week. Odyssey Jones pointed out that last week, LA Knight lost twice. Pete Dunne’s music and he went to the ring, accompanied by Ridge Holland. He too had to say “NXT 2.0.” Okay, it’s out of your system, WWE. Let it die. He said all he sees is a bunch of geezers. The many men in the ring all started to brawl, along with some other guys from the back. Most of the action spilled outside, and eventually just Ciampa and Breakker were left in the ring.
We went suddenly to the back, where a bevy of female superstars were arguing as well. Thanks to intentionally chaotic filming, it was hard to catch everyone that was featured, but Kay Lee Ray and B-Fab were both there. Back to the ring, Bron Breakker made a challenge to Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland to face himself and Tommaso Ciampa. There was a graphic promoting the Cruiserweight Championship match later and the chaos was over and the show went to commercial. [c]
(Wells’s Analysis: To some degree, this was just a review of our cast, though obviously we took another step toward Bron Breakker ending up in a championship match with Tommaso Ciampa. The only question now is whether he’ll be turning heel to get there. This fairly long opening segment wasn’t actively terrible, but did feel like a growing pain as the brand continues to ensure that we know the main players as well as the new ones)
(2) KUSHIDA (c) vs. RODERICK STRONG (w/The Diamond Mine) – NXT Cruiserweight Championship match
Alicia Taylor handled formal intros. Kushida evaded Strong’s initial charges and the two went to some quick reversals and a reset early on. There was a brief dueling chant. Rope run and a block by Strong, but he ran right into an armdrag into an armbar. Kushida transitioned into another arm submission and twisted Strong’s arm with his legs, then snapped backward. Strong bailed. [c]
Strong had dominated the break but Kushida got into it with an arm drag, some lariats and an inverted atomic drop. Dropkick and a huge right by Kushida. Strong ripped off a big chop and put Kushida up to the top, but Kushida dropped on the arm. Some clown yelled out “boring!” for the best match he’s likely to get tonight. Strong hit two backbreakers and then did his running forearms, then threw some chops and another hard right. Kushida countered an arm drag into the Hoverboard Lock and added a guillotine. Malcolm Bivens put Strong’s leg on the bottom rope to break, then caused another distraction so the Creed Brothers and Ivy Nile could get in some shots. Roddy hit his finisher to win the championship.
WINNER: Roderick Strong at 8:59.
As Diamond Mine celebrated, Grayson Waller’s music took him out to the ramp. He said NXT 2.0 is a straight up jungle, but if anyone was made for the jungle, he was. He made a challenge for the championship next week. Malcolm Bivens had a chat with Roddy, and then told next week, they’ll show Grayson Waller why Diamond Mine runs NXT.
(Wells’s Analysis: This isn’t a terrible length for this match, though it would have been longer before the refresh. The bigger issue is that half of it was during the commercial, and the ref had to look like an absolute buffoon – twice! – to make this work. I’m all for NXT returning to its developmental roots, but some of this nonsense is the entire reason I avoid the main roster. Waller’s involvement was interesting, though it further harms Kushida to lose and immediately be out of the picture like that)
-Tony D’Angelo’s relentlessly stereotypical act got another brief segment. Coming soon.
-Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs threw to a video of them getting involved in a barroom brawl. The background extras did absolutely nothing to react to the big brawl other than look at it with blank faces, which made for a pretty funny visual.
(2) AMARI MILLER vs. KAY LEE RAY
Miller, an energetic babyface, got a little inset promo and full entrance. She attacked KLR with some rights to open, then hit a neckbreaker for a one count. Ray reversed a move and hit a dropkick, then stomped Miller a couple of times and covered for one. Ray planted Miller and stomped her some more. Miller tried to get back into it with some rights, then hit a jawbreaker, but unwittingly put herself right into the KLR Bomb.
WINNER: Kay Lee Ray at 1:35.
(Wells’s Analysis: Decent underdog babyface stuff from Miller, who also seemed at least somewhat at home on the mic in her brief promo.)
-McKenzie Mitchell was backstage with Bron Breakker, who said he was in a tag team match with the “top three guys in the world.” Ciampa stepped in and said it was sink or swim time. Breakker said there was no better partner than (and he stared at the belt for a moment) the champ.
-Earlier today, Xyon Quinn was opening a door to let two women into the PC. A developmental guy tried to walk by and said chivalry is dead. The women walked in and Quinn, apparently a babyface, threw the guy’s head into the door for this non-infraction. Yikes.
(3) DANTE CHEN vs. TREY BAXTER
Chen is the first Singaporean wrestler in WWE. There was a brief “All heart” chant for Baxter. Baxter took early control and went to the top, but Chen held his leg for a moment. Baxter tried something and Chen reversed to roll him up (awkwardly), then put him in a headlock and sat out to the mat (you kind of have to see it) for the quick win.
WINNER: Dante Chen at 0:58.
-Andre Chase taught a class and a student asked him about his loss to Odyssey Jones in the Breakout Tournament. Chase threw a tantrum and hurled some expletives, then threw a chair while the student left.
-Joe Gacy sat in the ring on a chair and said tonight, this ring is a safe space. He said NXT is a place where we settle of our differences and he comes here tonight he comes here in the spirit of conflict resolution and doesn’t want to use his male privilege. He says he’ll be the man who shows us we can achieve peace in this safe space. So, basically Gacy is a heel because Vince loves bullies…?
(4) CAMERON GRIMES vs. JOE GACY
Gacy wrestled in a dress shirt and slacks. He took Grimes to the ropes and tried a cheap shot, but Grimes evaded it. Grimes grounded Gacy with an armbar and used a headscissors briefly. Grimes taunted Gacy and hit a thrustkick. Gacy whipped Grimes and slammed him out of the corner. Gacy worked a headlock on the mat. Grimes escaped and avoided a charge, then hit some ax-handles. Springboard lariat by Gacy got two. Grimes rolled through a powerbomb attempt, then hit the Cave In out of relative nowhere.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 2:47.
Gacy extended a hand to Grimes after the match, then went in for a hug. Grimes didn’t trust it, but Gacy just gave him a thumbs up and left.
(Wells’s Analysis: Always nice to see Grimes win a quickie, but Gacy’s character is dead on arrival)
-Recap of last week’s wedding.
-Von Wagner used a sledgehammer on a tire and said he could complain about last week, or he could put in the work.
(5) ANNA SCHEER vs. ELEKTRA LOPEZ (w/Legado del Fantasma)
Lopez took her time taking off her entrance jacket after the bell. She threw a kick, then some forearms and some blocks as Scheer bumped big for her. Lopez grabbed Scheer by the hair and tossed her, then gave her a body slam. Lopez hit a side slam and worked into a sort of sitout powerbomb where she almost dropped Scheer early in a brief scary millisecond.
WINNER: Elektra Lopez at 1:30.
Santos Escobar put Lopez over on the mic and called her familia. Elektra got some mic time and said this was a small taste of what she’d unleash on B-Fab and NXT 2.0. She called out B-Fab, who entered with Hit Row. The women brawled and the men eventually pulled them apart as the audience chanted “let them fight.”
-Cora Jade told her real-life boyfriend, Trey Baxter, to keep his chin up. She called him a superhero. She kissed him and left. He repeated the word “superhero” thoughtfully. Just what wrestling needs more of!
-Backstage, Raquel Gonzalez ran into the Franky Monet brand. She said they both got what they wanted, because next week they’ve got a championship match. She left. A new women’s wrestler(?) happened by and said it’s not as big as the debut next week of her talk show, “Lashin’ Out with Lash Legend.” She was…not great on the mic.
(6) ODYSSEY JONES vs. TWO ENHANCEMENTS
Jones dominated the two after a mini-flurry early. Andre Chase appeared on the ramp to try to mess with Jones, and applauded as the two got in some shots. Jones hit a cross-body on both at once. He hit a shoulderbreaker on one guy, then splashed one while using the other. The two enhancements ended up laid out on the mat and Jones went up to the second rope and splashed both. He covered for the win.
WINNER: Odyssey Jones at 2:43.
Chase tried to use a chair on Jones afterward, and Jones stopped the chair in its tracks, accidentally knocking out the seat.
-Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams met up with Grayson Waller and heeled on him, saying Hayes’s open challenge for any championship means that Waller could win and lose his championship on the same night. After Waller left, Toxic Attraction (Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne) walked by and Jones and Williams slobbered over them as if they’ve never seen women before.
-Ikemen Jiro invited us into his closet full of wild jackets. He says people think of Japanese wrestlers as being Strong Style, but he’s about Style Strong. He showed off some jackets and winked at the camera.
-Toxic Attraction were in the ring. Mandy Rose put herself over as a woman who needed to be in NXT as a woman the audience will never be with, but will always look at. She asked where the fans were when her face was “batteredly and beatened.” She said these two (Gigi and Jacy) don’t give a damn what people think. She said they showed her that behind that beauty was a beast waiting to be unleashed. Gigi Dolin said the pain of her past has always fueled her aggression. She said chaos without a purpose, though, is just an accident waiting to happen. With Mandy, she says they’ll go to the top of NXT 2.0. Jacy Jayne said Toxic Attraction weren’t just some pretty faces in the crowd. They’re not going to wait around for an opportunity like the rest of the roster. They want the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship. She said Io Shirai and Zoey Stark have an ass-kicking waiting for them.
Backstage, McKenzie asked the champs what they thought. Io said she doesn’t like Gigi or Jacy, so they’re on. Zoey said in principle, Io should ask her about it first, even though she agreed. The match was made for next week, so now both women’s championships will be on the line as well as the cruiserweight.
(Wells’s Analysis: Toxic Attraction is actually a pretty damn good name for this group and the promo is pretty strong on paper, though in practice it was a mixed bag as Dolin and Jayne are on their way up and Rose has long since established her limited ceiling as far as mic work)
-Graphics put over the three championship matches next week on a surprisingly stacked show after one this week that feels like a lot of exposition and even more filler.
(7) TOMMASO CIAMPA & BRON BREAKKER vs. PETE DUNNE & RIDGE HOLLAND
Beth said social media was abuzz with conversation about Breakker last week, leaving out that a lot of it was people laughing at his name.
Ciampa and Dunne opened the match. Quick reversals to open and both guys countered quick finisher attempts. After some misses on impact moves, both guys tagged. There was some dog barking in the crowd for Breakker in his dad’s tradition. Ridge and Breakker had a power struggle that Breakker got the slight better of. Shoulderblock by Breakker, followed by a couple of amateur takedowns. Breakker slammed an interfering Dunne. Ciampa tagged in and hit a bulldog on Holland and taunted Dunne in the corner. Holland punched his way out of a headlock and blind-tagged Dunne, who hit a dropkick to Ciampa’s back. Dunne hit a knee drop on Ciampa’s arm and then manipulated the fingers. He dropped a knee on Ciampa’s upper arm and dug in, then stomped the midsection. Ciampa tried to get back into it with some rights, but Dunne went right back to the arm and grounded Ciampa again. Ciampa was able to run Dunne into Holland and, on the outside, ran Holland into the steps and tossed Dunne over the announce table. Ciampa did his clapping taunt and Holland flew in from offscreen and clotheslined him over the table heading into commercial. Of note, the split-screen commercial deal seems to be done. [c]
Back from break, both Dunne and Breakker were tagging in. Breakker dominated both heels with belly-to-bellies. He pulled down his singlet arms because he means business. He worked the Steiner Recliner (called a “Recliner” by Beth; why can’t she just say the name along with it?). Holland got back in it and Ciampa interfered. For a good while, all men were in the ring. Holland hit a belly-to-belly on Ciampa and Breakker followed with the same on Dunne. Breakker and Holland hit continuous simultaneous lariats that didn’t take the other down. Finally, both went to the mat. Dunne and Holland both wanted to use their stick as a weapon, but Kyle O’Reilly flew in and stole it from (and used it on) Holland. Ciampa neutralized Dunne with Willow’s Bell and Breakker hit his finisher on Holland.
WINNERS: Tommaso Ciampa & Bron Breakker at 12:24.
Breakker handed Ciampa his belt after the match, but he didn’t let go right away. Eventually the winners raised their hands together. The show ended at three past the hour.
(Wells’s Analysis: Breakker has some very smooth offense for a guy so early in his career, and the power is certainly not lacking. If they could call him some thing like – oh, let’s say “Rex Steiner” – they might have something big here. The match was fun enough although Dunne and Holland were total afterthoughts and the priority was the next step in the eventual Ciampa vs. Breakker saga. After an uneven show at best, this was a strong ending to wash out some of the lesser things that led up to it)
FINAL THOUGHTS: I expect, and even welcome, some growing pains when a lot of developmental talents are on TV when it may not exactly benefit them to be there. What I lament is some unnecessary main roster shaky-cam, high concept and somehow still low hanging characters, and Xyon Quinn’s assault on a guy who wanted to go through a door being framed as a babyface act. At times tonight I was having a hard time wanting to go on, but if this was a book we were all reading together, this would be Exposition Hell, and once that’s out of the way I suspect we’ll settle into a more consistently okay show. I’ll try not to occasionally lose my mind tonight on PWT Talks NXT. Check us out live or stream tomorrow. Cheers.