SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
NOVEMBER 23, 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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-Grayson Waller came out to cut a promo about Tommaso Ciampa not being a superstar like him. He talked about the crowd being fickle and turning on wrestlers. “The Rock, John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Grayson Waller,” he said.
(1) TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. GRAYSON WALLER
Non-title. Waller begged off in the corner early. Ciampa made sure Waller took note of the “Ciampa’s gonna kill you” chants. Waller tried a couple of kicks. He ducked a few punches and slapped Ciampa, who fired back with palm strikes and a mudhole stomp in the corner. The nauseating camerawork that follows every punch was bad enough that it honestly looked like a parody. Action went outside very briefly, then back in. Ciampa got some shots in the corner, but Waller laid out Ciampa with a cutter to take brief control. Ciampa hit a running back elbow to reassert control, then chopped Waller. Waller hit a neckbreaker after a rope run and laid some punches into a kneeling Ciampa.
Ciampa started toward the apron, and Waller choked him under the bottom rope. Waller threw some rights, then charged into a boot. Rope run and Waller it a spinebuster. Waller took off his elbow pad and made a big production of the People’s Elbow, but he missed. Ciampa hit some corner lariats, then clotheslined Waller to the outside and ran around the corner to hit another. Ciampa threw Waller over the announce table into a chair and did the clap and self-back pat spot leading into split-screen. [c]
Ciampa reversed in the corner for some chops. Waller tried something from the second rope but Ciampa hit a rising knee to lay him out. Both guys sold for a moment. Chops and palm strikes by both guys. DDT by Ciampa. Ciampa tried Fairytale Ending and Waller rolled him up for two. Another rollup for two. Ciampa rolled through a third attempt and hit a knee. Waller hit a spinebuster for two. Waller went up again and Ciampa followed. Ciampa hit Air Raid Crash for a long two. Ciampa sold frustration, then went back to work with some chops. Fairytale ending, blocked, and Waller tried a sort of float-over move that really, really didn’t work. Flying elbow got two. Ciampa went out, Waller followed and got hit by Willow’s Bell. Fairytale Ending finished.
WINNER: Tommaso Ciampa at 13:29.
(Wells’s Analysis: It’s getting increasingly difficult to watch this without thoughts of all the fired talent creeping in, but Waller does have the beginnings of something pretty decent here. His pre-match mic work was okay and the match, other than one spot, looked good)
-LA Knight talked with McKenzie Mitchell. Joe Gacy popped in before long and started in with all his buzzwords about safe spaces and microagressions. Knight suggested it wasn’t a good time, and Gacy, with a dark look on his face, said their safe space would be the ring. [c]
-WrestleMania hype, starring Stone Cold Steve Austin.
-An unseen announcer caught up with Toxic Attraction. Jacy Jayne wore a hat that made her look like Blossom. They whined about various things. Dakota Kai popped into frame, still kind of slightly miscast in the role of an insane person. They all passed through a backstage section where someone had done a lot of damage, and Mandy Rose said it “looks like someone’s rage room.” After the four WarGames mates took off, Kay Lee Ray showed up with a baseball bat to do some more damage.
-Cameron Grimes hit the ring for a promo. He said he grew up in a small town in North Carolina. He said he scrounged every day for something to eat, and he showed everyone that Cameron Grimes can hold it down. He said through it all, he kept the hair and beard to remind him of his humble beginnings, and of the times where he had nothing. He said Duke Hudson humiliated and embarrassed him, but where he messed up is he made him angry. He demanded Hudson show up, because he’s done talking.
Duke Hudson appeared on the tron getting a haircut. He asked why Grimes was mad. He said he took a lot of money from Hudson, and he got a free haircut. Grimes wanted Hudson to hit the ring and settle it. Hudson wasn’t feeling it. Grimes said last week, Hudson proved to everyone that he’s gutless and nutless. Grimes said if he wants the rest, then he can meet him at WarGames…hair vs. hair. Hudson agreed, and showed off Grimes’ hair that he had kept in a plastic bag.
-Pete Dunne weighed in on tonight’s triple threat match. He said he’d send Gargano packing and he’d make Carmelo Hayes pay his dues.
-McKenzie spoke with Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta. Hartwell said Dexter Lumis would be out for a month after the injury. Pirotta said if Hartwell needs to sit this one out, she’s got it. Hartwell said no, she needs to be out there. Hartwell got in the camera and told Dexter she loves him, and Pirotta hurried her off to prepare for their tag match. [c]
-We got a hype segment for Tiffany Stratton. We didn’t see her face, but we got ample shots of her body as she played tennis alone and talked in a bratty way about how daddy said she was ready, and he’s never wrong. She’s…a mixed bag on the mic, but ahead of some others that are getting TV time.
(2) KACY CATANZARO & KAYDEN CARTER vs. INDI HARTWELL & PERSIA PIROTTA
Pirotta and Carter opened. Back elbow by Pirotta. She went to tag Hartwell, who was depressed and tagged with some hesitation. Pirotta “hit” a headscissors to send Carter into the corner in a very awkward spot. Hartwell took over and Catanzaro tagged in and got some shots in before Pirotta got in again and hit some power moves. Tag to Hartwell. Pirotta hit a backbreaker on Catanzaro and Hartwell covered. Carter broke it up. Pirotta tagged back in and took a hard shot from Carter, and she tagged Hartwell, who was still depressed. Carter and Catanzaro hit a tag finisher where Catanzaro splashed Hartwell from off of Carter’s shoulders.
WINNERS: Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter at 3:32.
(Wells’s Analysis: Catanzaro & Carter supposedly got a “big win” here, but Hartwell’s state was such that it really didn’t them much of a hill to climb)
-Santos Escobar gave a basic promo ahead of his match after the break. [c]
-Andre Chase was giving his students a tour of the facility and they ran into Cameron Grimes. Chase called it a teachable moment and talked about Grimes losing his hair soon. Grimes told him to go to hell. The long-haired blond guy was nodding along to everything Chase said.
(3) MALIK BLADE vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR
Escobar dominated from the word go. Blade got a quick rollup just under two minutes in for a two count. Escobar hit an exploder on Blade into the corner. Escobar hit double knees and the Phantom Driver finished.
WINNER: Santos Escobar at 2:27.
Elektra Lopez fought through some mic work about Xyon Quinn, saying nobody turns them down. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner interrupted and said they, not Legado, would be the next tag champions. Imperium showed up on the perch and took everyone to task for not being bilingual. Speaking multiple languages doesn’t make someone a heel, but I guess we’re back there again. Marcel Barthel said neither of those teams would be able to overcome the standard-bearers of the division. Fabian Aichner suggested the winner of a tag match would face them at WarGames. A triple threat feels much more likely.
-The babyface women from WarGames, plus Zoey Stark, bantered near some lockers. Raquel Gonzalez and Io Shirai started to argue about their past, and Cora Jade got them to cool their heads. She told them to find the team a fourth partner while she goes out and kicks some Toxic Attraction ass. [c]
-Tony D’Angelo did his schtick in an interview with McKenzie.
(4) CORA JADE vs. MANDY ROSE
Non-title. Go-behind by Cora and she was thrown off. Quick reversals to open. There was a distracting dueling chant for quite a while at the outset that would suggest the “loudest fan” contest might still exist. Rose hit a suplex and covered for two. Rose locked Jade in a bodyscissors and added a chinlock. Jade rolled Rose up to break. Jade hit a couple of back elbows and a huracanrana. Knee to the mouth of Rose in the corner and Jade covered for two. Jade went up in the corner, selling pain to the midsection, and missed a flying dropkick. Both became distracted when Kay Lee Ray hit ringside and started hitting (non-living) things with her bat. She tossed the bat to referee Darryl Sharma, distracting him and Mandy Rose. Jade rolled up Rose for the win, and KLR jawed with Rose afterward.
WINNER: Cora Jade at 4:01.
(Wells’s Analysis: Rose isn’t worth protecting in a vacuum, but having her lose a quickie to a rollup for literally any reason isn’t doing her reign any favors. Jade looked mostly okay but a bit on the slow and deliberate side occasionally)
-Carmelo Hayes, with Trick Williams hyping him up, cut a promo on his opponents for tonight.
-Joe Gacy cut a promo ahead of the next segment. Harland’s tattooed hand appeared as well. [c]
-The babyface women pumped up Cora Jade after her win. Kay Lee Ray walked in and said she was their fourth member, and she’d be in their advantage match next week as well. She walked off. “Hell yes,” Raquel said.
-Joe Gacy showed up for a match with LA Knight, but Grayson Waller jumped Knight and they fought to the back. Gacy instead sat in a chair and started talking about fixing things around here. Diamond Mine’s music played and the entire crew walked out. Malcolm Bivens said he took their spotlight last week, and they were returning the favor since Ivy Nile has a match tonight. Gacy said he took issue with Roderick Strong’s name containing toxic masculinity, and the cruiserweight division triggering him by promoting exclusivity. God, they are really stretching to make those terms fit. Bivens told the Creed Brothers to take out the trash, but he backed them off when Harland showed up at Gacy’s side. [c]
-MSK continued the world’s longest road trip and freaked out because they were pulled over and had something they needed to hide. They straight-up stole the joke from Tommy Boy where they assume they were speeding but the cop said they were going 7 miles per hour. Nash Carter teased opening his fanny pack to get rid of the evidence, but the cop said it was their lucky day and they could go.
(5) YULISA LEON vs. IVY NILE
Leon danced a couple of times, which didn’t impress Nile. Big lariat by Nile. Nile worked her way into a triangle choke and did sit-ups while Leon tried to get out of it. Leon tried to roll up Nile to break. Nile tied up Leon in a neck-wrenching submission, kind of like a dragon sleeper around Nile’s side.
WINNER: Ivy Nile at 2:43.
-Solo Sikoa hype segment.
-Grizzled Young Veterans traveled through the back. After they passed through the frame, Grayson Waller and LA Knight appeared, still fighting. [c]
-Boa said Mei Ying passed her power to him, and once he could control it, you would fear Boa.
(6) vs. BROOKS JENSEN & JOSH BRIGGS vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zack Gibson & James Drake)
Jensen and Drake opened. Chops in the corner and a bulldog by Jensen. Tag to Briggs, and the two hit a tackle on Drake. Tag to Jensen and they set up a tandem spot again. Jensen hit some rights, then shimmied a little and hit another. He charted the corner and Gibson broke it up. Drake slapped Jensen, or meant to, and no sound was made but Jensen sold it. Oy. Blind tag by Gibson, who took over. Headlock on the mat by Gibson. We got a split-screen shot that let us know Waller and Knight are still fighting.
Gibson cut off a tag attempt with a headlock and Jensen hit a backdrop. Gibson yanked Jensen a bit closer to the heel corner and tagged. Drake cut it off but Jensen hit a backdrop and tagged Briggs. Briggs took care of both Vets and hit a splash and fired up. Corner elbow by Briggs. Drake faked a leg injury and got called out. Briggs and Jensen hit high-low on Drake.
WINNERS: Briggs & Jensen at 4:31.
(Wells’s Analysis: Time for GYV to move up or move on. If they’re doing jobs against this competition after all this time being as good as they are, I don’t know what else to say. Briggs and Jensen, for their part, are getting better and more engaging)
-Next week, Dakota Kai will face Kay Lee Ray in the WarGames advantage match. That should be mighty good. [c]
(7) JOHNNY GARGANO vs. PETE DUNNE vs. CARMELO HAYES (c) – Triple Threat match for the NXT North American Championship
None of the guys got a televised entrance and the match started at a quarter to the hour. Hayes paired off with Gargano early, and Dunne got involved and did a brief segment with Gargano, and had a moment with him. Hayes flew in and took both guys down to boos. Dunne stacked up the others and did a half-crab to both. Trick Williams pulled Hayes to safety to boos, which isn’t a great move since Johnny could still tap and Dunne would win. Gargano broke free and jockeyed for position with Gargano, and Hayes flew in with a cutter this time to take control. Gargano hit a bulldog on Hayes while hitting a dropkick on Dunne. Gargano had topes available on both guys across the ring from one another, so he went ahead and hit one on each. Gargano was in control as the match went to split-screen. [c]
The three took turns being in brief control. Gargano hit a slingshot spear on Hayes, then reversed the Bitter End into a DDT for two on Dunne. All three guys sold briefly. Hayes hit a lungblower on Dunne, spiked him onto Gargano, and then covered Gargano for two. Gargano hit a poison rana on Dunne, then darted Melo into a turnbuckle. He thrustkicked Williams on the apron. Dunne hit Bitter End on Gargano, and at two, Tony D’Angelo showed up and yanked Dunne outside and tossed him into the steps. Hayes hit his finisher on Gargano.
WINNER: Carmelo Hayes at 11:28.
Immediately following the decision, Waller and Knight fought into the ring area. The crowd chanted “WarGames” as it was obvious where this was headed. Tommaso Ciampa showed up to even the odds, and even helped up Gargano.
Bron Breakker’s music played and he joined the youth movement against the establishment. The two sides brawled as the show went off the air.
(Wells’s Analysis: The match was a series of spots with little flow, if any, as it was all a backdrop to get us to WarGames. As strange as it is to not have Undisputed Era – or even any former member – in the match, this old vs. new school gimmick is enough to give the match some sizzle and create a side that should get nearly 100% of the cheers.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Two months ago, I thought it might be awesome to see Hit Row in WarGames; since then, they’ve all been promoted and let go already, which does color my interest. This show was a hard sell for WarGames, and they’ve put together a pretty interesting card even in the wake of all the talent they’ve lost; we’ll see if some of these kids sink or swim inside the giant cage on a bigger stage. This show was entirely too busy, and the camerawork has gone fully into self-parody, but outside of those issues I had a decent enough time watching the show. Tom Stoup and I will cover the show on PWT Talks NXT tonight; listen live shortly or stream tomorrow.