SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
OCTOBER 19, 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 from last week, culminating in Carmelo Hayes cashing in and winning the North American Championship.
-Alicia Taylor introduced Carmelo Hayes, who walked the ramp with Trick Williams talking him up on the way. Trick asked Alicia to announce him as the champion again, and she did. Fans, if you like this act, don’t chant “you deserve it” at a heel. Williams said if you were looking for “humble,” you can find it in the dictionary under “hellllllllllll no.” He said tonight was a Melo-bration. Hayes said he blew through the competition in the Breakout Tournament and proved he’s the final boss. He said last week, he pulled a swerve on Swerve himself. He said from this point on, he calls the shots. He jawed on until The Way’s music played, bringing Johnny Gargano to the ramp.
Gargano got a big pop and he said “Do you feel that? The energy in the room just changed.” He formally introduced himself to Carmelo Hayes. He said he wanted to come out and congratulate Hayes. He’s had a lot of fun with bachelor parties and weddings and honeymoons, but with Austin on Raw, Indi married and Candice at home pregnant, he’s lost…his Way. He said he was going to go back to doing what he was born to do – being in this ring in front of these people against someone like Melo. He challenged Hayes to challenge him. Williams tried to suggest that his daughter (Indi) was sliding into Melo’s DMs all week. Gargano acted like it was hilarious and said “Yeah, I’m her dad. Meet my son-in-law.” The heels looked behind them just in time for Dexter Lumis to snap the Silencer on Williams. Carmelo eventually dragged him to safety while Gargano & Lumis shared a thumbs up in the ring.
(1) ODYSSEY JONES vs. ANDRE CHASE
Chase wrestled in full school uniform gear. That sweater can’t make for easy grips by the opposition. Chase tried a headlock and got shoved off. Chase tried a shoulderblock and Jones casually bumped him to the mat. Jones pasted Chase into a corner. Chase got in a shot and hit a dropkick from the second buckle, then did a trio of double stomps, almost losing his footing on the second. Chase covered for one and got tossed off of Jones. Jones blocked a right and threw one of his own, then slammed Chase, whipped him and splashed him in the corner. Death From Above (I’m not sure what Jones calls it) finished.
WINNER: Odyssey Jones at 2:54.
(Wells’s Analysis: These openers aren’t what they used to be. An extremely basic, no-frills big vs. little match that simply reestablishes Chase as no threat at all to Jones)
-Malcolm Bivens walked Diamond Mine through a hall backstage. He said he couldn’t believe how many people asked for a championship opportunity since Roderick Strong won the championship. He said from now on, when Diamond Mine wants something, they won’t ask – they’ll just take it.
-Halloween Havoc is live next Tuesday!
(2) IMPERIUM (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) vs. THE CREED BROTHERS (Julius & Brutus)
The Creeds had branded Diamond Mine singlets that were a little busy and not an upgrade over what they had before. Quick takedown by Brutus on Aichner. Aichner got in some shots and tagged. Barthel worked a wristlock behind Brutus’s back, but Brutus escaped and nailed a belly-to-belly. Brutus mocked the Imperium pose to Aichner, and Barthel stormed in with some European uppercuts. PK by Barthel, who taunted Julius. Brutus charged Barthel to the Creed corner and tagged Julius, who charged Barthel to a neutral corner with some blocks, but Barthel came back with a suplex. Roderick Strong grabbed Barthel from behind and Julius got in a suplex and tagged Brutus, and the two teamed up for two tandem fireman’s carry takedowns. Another tag and Julius gut-wrenched Brutus onto Barthel, then covered for two. Barthel took down Julius and tried to tag, but Julius cut him off. Aichner made the hot tag and worked on both Creed brothers, even catching a running Brutus and squatting with him on his shoulders, then hitting a DVD for two. Both guys tagged and Julius caught Barthel and gave him a powerbomb. Aichner made the save. Diamond Mine on the outside tried to interfere, but Kushida and Ikemen Jiro stormed ringside and brawled with them. Inside the ring, Barthel rolled up Julius Creed for the three.
Imperium posed afterward, and MSK jumped them in response to an earlier slight. As always, about fifteen relentlessly vocal males booed them and chanted “You suck.”
WINNERS: Imperium at 5:35.
(Wells’s Analysis: MSK has had a hard time with a portion of the crowd booing them for reasons that aren’t clear literally at all, so why have them jump their opponents after a match, let alone a match where their opponents inexplicably worked babyface for probably the first time on NXT TV? Very weird booking all around, though I don’t think we’re supposed to care about confused presentation on this show anymore. For what it’s worth, the brief match was pretty good and the Creeds got to do a little selling, whereas to this point they’ve just been dominating)
-Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner ran into each other ahead of some sort of outdoors thing. Wagner told O’Reilly he wouldn’t need a bike. The two ran through the mud and traded runs carrying a large log on their backs. The two sat at a campfire at night and Wagner said there was one more workout: a twelve-ounce curl (he handed O’Reilly a beer). O’Reilly said if they stay on the same page, they can really kick some ass. Not a terrible segment, though the desperation to be liked smelled a little strong.
-Joe Gacy segment. He said last week was a segment, but the message is the same. He threw out buzzwords like triggered, safe space, microaggressions and more. He was speaking not to the crowd, but to the giant who attacked Ciampa last week; they were speaking through a window and the insinuation was they were in a prison. “Come with me, little snowflake,” he said.
-Legado del Fantasma was in the ring. Santos Escobar said Carmelo Hayes got lucky last week and he’d set the record straight. He threw to Elektra Lopez, but Cora Jade’s new punk theme played and she rode a skateboard to the ring.
(3) CORA JADE vs. ELEKTRA LOPEZ (w/Legado del Fantasma)
Lopez shoved Jade to one corner and then whipped her to another. Body slam by Lopez. Another. Lopez smacked at Jade, who tried to fight back into it. Lopez put Jade’s head to a corner and tossed her back into the center of the ring. Jade rolled through a finisher attempt for a brief rollup, and then hit an inside cradle and got the three although Lopez very clearly kicked out to give her an “out” for the loss and likely set up an ongoing issue.
WINNER: Cora Jade at 1:51.
-McKenzie Mitchell talked with Bron Breakker and Tommaso Ciampa backstage. They were tense with each other ahead of the main event tonight.
-Grayson Waller threw his hat in the ring to be the host of Halloween Havoc, as did LA Knight. Tonight, the winner becomes the host.
(4) IO SHIRAI vs. PERSIA PIROTTA vs. JACY JAYNE – Winner spins the wheel to determine stipulation at Halloween Havoc next week
Given the wheel is supposedly random, what kind of stakes is it for the winner to spin the wheel? Oh well. Thankfully, Vic and Wade brought this up. Jayne slapped Shirai and the two paired off. Pirotta clotheslined both. The three traded shots quickly to open. Shirai and Jayne paired off again and Jayne hit an impressive rising knee. The two both kicked a charging Pirotta. The “loudest fan” contest is still in full swing as fans are losing their voices with dueling chants during basic maneuvers and transitions.
Jayne got dumped, then Pirotta did as well. Jayne got back in the ring and attempted a tope on Pirotta. She caught her feet on the ropes and not only didn’t connect, but quickly fell to the floor head-first and had a rough landing in the scariest moment I can remember seeing live in a very long time. Pirotta pretty clearly checked on her, and the camera cut to Shirai for a moment as someone else likely checked on Jayne, who was apparently good to go. Shirai hit a moonsault from the apron on both leading into split-screen commercial.
During the commercial, medical checked on Jayne and determined she was unable to continue, turning this into a singles match.
Pirotta controlled. She whipped Io from one corner to another, following with splashes. Cover for two. Io blocked a suplex with an inside cradle for two. Pirotta smacked at Shirai’s head and taunted her in an exaggerated way. Shirai threw some rights and then went for a rana, but Pirotta caught her and hit a sitout powerbomb for two instead.
The two got to their feet and Shirai threw more rights, then a big kick. 619 by Shirai. Springboard dropkick by Shirai; she slipped on the top rope but is experienced enough to make it work, even if it could’ve been prettier. Shirai tried a couple of different moves on Pirotta and finally hit a belly-to-back suplex. Over the Moonsault finished. Vic, who usually misnames it the “Moon Over Moonsault,” just called it her patented moonsault.
Shirai immediately spun the wheel; the outcome was “Scareway to Hell Ladder Match.” Triple threat ladder match tag next week. Indi Hartwell watched in horror at the result along with her partner Pirotta.
WINNER: Io Shirai at 11:22.
(Wells’s Analysis: Jayne’s slip-up was legit the scariest split-second I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Critics will point to this, perhaps rightfully, as the kind of sloppy and dangerous spot we’re guaranteed to see now and then when developmental wrestlers are asked to go all out and work TV matches. Given the stipulation really didn’t matter, any change to who would’ve won was immaterial. Pirotta is just barely ready for developmental TV, if that, and Jayne is farther along despite this very unfortunate spot. I hope any injury is minimal and she was pulled out of an abundance of caution)
-Backstage, Legado was attacking Trey Baxter. “Not so tough no, are you?” Lopez yelled at Cora Jade.
-Solo Sikoa hype segment. He shadow boxed while in shadow. He’s the street champion of the islands. At a time when everyone is being given terrible names, how did he luck out with a name as cool as Solo Sikoa?
-Ikemen Jiro stormed in on Kushida while he was peeing at a stall. Not sure why the cameraman was in there. Jiro said it was time for Kushida to go back…to the future, and he got Kushida’s BTTF gear from a bag. Kushida seemed into it and the two had a moment.
(5) RU FENG vs. TONY D’ANGELO
Takedowns by D’Angelo. Headlock takeover. He gave Feng a noogie, and Feng rolled him up for a brief cover, but D’Angelo rolled back. Feng, who’s a pretty large guy, escaped and got in a few kicks, but D’Angelo caught him with a short clothesline. Fisherman suplex with a bridge into a snap suplex finished.
WINNER: Tony D’Angelo at 1:44.
Samantha Irvin interviewed D’Angelo after the match. She asked D’Angelo if he knew anything about the disappearance of Lash Legend’s producer, Mark (apparently he doesn’t have a last name). D’Angelo went into a relentless string of stereotypes from film and said “Fuhgettaboutit” to end. This is just the lowest common denominator with no nuance, but the audience totally ate it up.
(Wells’s Analysis: D’Angelo is so good at performing this role. It’s just such a stupid role. I’m liking him in the ring as well)
-Briggs and Jensen were being introduced for a match with Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde, but the latter attacked them with chairs just before commercial.
(6) JOSH BRIGGS & BROOKS JENSEN vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA
We joined the match in progress; it’s apparently still on. Briggs hit a side suplex on Wilde, then slammed him, though he sold the chairshot. Action spilled outside and Escobar charged Briggs into the apron. Briggs crawled back into the ring and Mendoza, now legal, rained down some shots on him and cut off the tag. He and Wilde got in repeated shots in the heel corner. Mendoza hit a splash on Briggs’s back from the top rope. Briggs finally reached for the hottish tag, but the Legado-loving part of the crowd booed the tag to remind us that they’re cool. Jensen fought off an attempt at getting involved by Santos Escobar, and got booed again when he laid him out. Legado hit a tandem move to finish.
WINNERS: Legado del Fantasma in about 5:00 (opening bell not aired)
(Wells’s Analysis: I’ve said it before and will again, but there’s a difference between cheering your guy and booing literally everything his opponent does to be part of the show. This crowd is such a mess. Competent old school heat tag here that came off well with Legado dominating on offense)
-Toxic Attraction segment. Mandy drove and talked about looking good while being the best. Raquel Gonzalez got a segment in response and said she keeps working to get better while Mandy keeps begging for attention. She said Rose will learn the hard way she’s not championship material.
-Another hype segment for the “rebirth” of someone at Halloween Havoc. The figure threw several items into a grave, including a playing card. Scarlett seems like the pick here.
(7) GRAYSON WALLER vs. LA KNIGHT – Winner will host Halloween Havoc
The announcers talked about last year’s host Shotzi (who had a last name at the time, but they can’t say it). Waller rolled up Knight twice for near-falls. Backslide was blocked and Waller rolled up Knight yet again for a near-fall. He tried a rollup in the corner and Knight stomped him, then clubbed him repeatedly. Blocks by Knight against the ropes. Slingshot shoulderblock by Knight for two. He snapped on a headlock. Jawbreaker by Waller to escape. Thrustkick and a backbreaker by Waller. Knight hit a knee and then his finisher.
WINNER: LA Knight at 2:47.
(Wells’s Analysis: Trying out Waller in the host spot seemed like an obvious thing to do, even though Knight is one of the very best on the mic in NXT. It’ll be interesting to see how tiresome it gets for a heel to be host, as good as he is. Shotzi was used wonderfully in this spot last year, so I trust they can pull it off)
-Hype for Halloween Havoc next week. In addition to the announced championship matches, Solo Sikoa will debut.
(8) TOMMASO CIAMPA & BRON BREAKKER vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zack Gibson & James Drake)
Breakker and Drake to open. Block by Breakker. Headlock. Drake escaped but Breakker rolled him up and hit two wicked takedowns. Drake fired up and jawed from his corner. Drake got in some shots and worked a brief headlock, then ran the ropes right into a takedown by Breakker. Ciampa wanted a tag, and he tagged himself in when Breakker wouldn’t do it. Heels made a blind tag but Ciampa dominated them with his forever clotheslines, then a double clothesline. Running knee to Gibson in the babyface corner, where Ciampa mockingly waved at Breakker. The match went to split-screen commercial.
Drake had Ciampa in a headlock on the mat. Ciampa punched his way out and hit a side suplex. He was going for a tag but Gibson yanked Breakker from the apron so he wouldn’t be there. GYV hit a double axe-handle and Gibson covered for two. Gibson worked a brief cravat over the top rope, and Drake tagged in and hit an ax-handle from the top. Another blind tag and Ciampa got the better of Drake, but Gibson used a choke to take control. Ciampa threw some chops and Gibson stomped him down. Tag to Drake, and the two set up a tandem spot transitioning into Gibson working a submission hold on the mat. Ciampa fought out of it but Drake yanked his beard. Ciampa reversed a move into a DDT and fought to his feet. Breakker was off the apron again as he fought off Gibson, so when Ciampa made the tag he smacked Breakker hard on the chest to do so. Breakker got in some shots on Drake and hit the Recliner, broken up by Gibson. Breakker dumped Gibson and hit his powerslam on Drake to finish.
WINNERS: Bron Breakker & Tommaso Ciampa at 10:57.
Breakker begged for Ciampa to reenter the ring, and he did. The two jawed as the show ended.
(Wells’s Analysis: Breakker still can’t do much on the mic so I’m dubious of his chances in a title run in the near future, but he’s a joy in the ring as he works his power offense. It’s unfortunate that GYV is in this position to do little other than job to bigger priorities, though they provided a believable obstacle for the wacky tag partners tonight)
FINAL THOUGHTS: At times throughout Tuesday I’m dreading this show these days, and although there was plenty to criticize tonight, my biggest criticism again is likely to be that the show doesn’t feel like it needs to be two hours long, though I don’t expect the toothpaste to go back into the tube there. Halloween Havoc is a very intriguing show in terms of its mix of experienced and very green talent, and this will be the first major test for some of those who have hit TV but are wrestling in their first big match. I’ll be honest: I came into tonight really not in the mood to do this show, but for the most part, they turned me around.
All that said, anyone who steps into NXT right now based on their pedigree over the past five years will likely be shocked by what they see, and I continue to wonder how long a developmental show can thrive on cable. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream tomorrow. Cheers.