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NXT ON USA
NOVEMBER 30, 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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-The two teams for women’s WarGames walked out to the ramp and conveniently met at the center. They went to blows and a bevy of officials split them up ahead of the opener. The non-competitors in this match fought back out of view and the two in the match made it to the ring.
(1) KAY LEE RAY vs. DAKOTA KAI – WarGames advantage match
Kai dominated before the bell by throwing Ray into a ladder, but inside, Ray cl0cked Kai and then hit a tope right after. Ray pinned Kai against the ring with a ladder and superkicked her. Ray teased a Gory bomb against the apron, but Kai slipped out and slapped Ray. Kai suckered Ray over toward the steps and hit a blade runner against the steps for the second “holy sh*t” chant of the match already.
Kai leaned the ladder against the apron, then turned to KLR but got tossed into the steps. Ray rolled the ladder into the ring and looked up at the briefcase holding the advantage. Kai yanked the ladder back outside, and Ray hit a tope on her against the announce table and then slammed Kai on the ladder.
Ray set up the ladder in the ring and went up, but Kai pulled her off about halfway down and threw her to a buckle. Kai went up but Ray got her at the last moment and yanked her down, then threw a hard right. Kai whipped Ray hard into the ladder, knocking it over, then whipped her to a corner and followed up with a face wash. Kai set up the ladder again and leaned on Ray with a boot in the corner. We got a slo-mo look at the face wash, and it looked pretty stiff.
Ray caught Kai and planted her, then went up in the corner, but Kai hit a pump kick and draped her up on the top, leaning outside, and did a double stomp, managing to follow through and land on her feet outside for yet another “holy sh*t” chant. The match went to split-screen. [c]
Kai had Ray wrapped up on the bottom rope, then booted her to the floor on the announce side. Ray surprised Kai with the KLR Bomb on the table, and we got a shot of Toxic Attraction all watching a monitor from ridiculous angles in the back. Ray went up the ladder, but Kai went up and knocked her off. Kai fumbled with the briefcase, needing to pretend to not get a grip on it, as Ray recovered. Kai knocked her down, then “listened to the voices in her head” and hit a double stomp on a grounded Ray. Kai went up, but Ray recovered and smashed Kai backward on the rungs of the ladder as her legs were hung. Ray hit a superkick on Kai against the ladder, then went up and got the briefcase to give the babyfaces the win. Backstage in different areas, the faces (as well as injured Zoey Stark) celebrated, while the heels sulked in front of their monitor. Jacy Jayne motioned to the monitor while talking, as if she would have to motion to the only possible thing the other women would be looking at.
WINNER: Kay Lee Ray at 14:06.
(Wells’s Analysis: Perhaps the best TV match in the 2.0 era so far. The women both worked very hard here and didn’t hold back just days ahead of WarGames. The face women won the advantage last year as well, only to get beat in the actual WarGames match. It’s a strange dynamic to give the faces the advantage, but the knowledge that they can win does keep these ladder matches interesting)
-Andre Chase said for embarrassing him in front of his students last week, Cameron Grimes has a beating coming after the break. [c]
-Grizzled Young Veterans worked on their latest grift, and wanted quiet. Ikemen Jiro popped in loudly and GYV told him it was a sensitive operation. Jiro loudly said “it’s a sensitive operation!” James Blake tried to shush him and he shushed as well. Kushida showed up and it devolved into something of a Marx brothers act. Briggs & Jensen showed up and it was revealed that GYV was obviously trying to break into their locker. GYV scattered and Briggs and Jensen asked what was going on. Jiro again yelled “It’s a sensitive operation” and Briggs actually demonstrably scratched his forehead like a middle school actor because he didn’t understand what Jiro was saying.
(2) CAMERON GRIMES vs. ANDRE CHASE
Grimes dominated early and did his taunts. Chase got in a few rights but little else and Grimes took over again and hit the Cave In.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 2:31.
Duke Hudson showed up ahead of his hair vs. hair match on the perch, and threw to the tron for a slideshow demonstrating what Grimes might look like with less hair. It was a series of low-rent photoshop shots that didn’t really grab the audience until they chanted “shut the hell up” after the third or fourth slide. Hudson’s promo was fine, but the tron stuff was pretty weak.
Grimes tossed Chase back into the ring and threatened to shave his head, and Chase’s long-haired blond friend pulled him to safety. Grimes took the mic and said at WarGames, he was shaving Hudson bald.
(Wells’s Analysis: As always, Grimes is great in quick squashes, though Chase keeps losing in under three minutes and if gaining this buddy doesn’t boost him, it’ll be a problem for him soon. Hudson is good on the mic, but this content was excruciating)
-Vic announced that online, the fans voted for Johnny Gargano to represent his team in the WarGames advantage match. We got a shot of the team of youngsters walking as he wondered which would represent that team later tonight. [c]
-Edris Enofe, an upcoming star, cut a promo about proving doubters wrong from the beginning, partially by serving in the military. He said after he was done with the military, he was told he had accomplished all he could. He said now he’s here to prove the doubters wrong again, including his opponent tonight, Solo Sikoa. He says they’re both made from the streets, and not that different. Enofe has a great look and, while raw, has an okay start on the mic.
-The announcers threw to WarGames “Team 2.0” in the ring with Alicia Taylor. Carmelo Hayes cut a promo on Johnny Gargano, Grayson Waller cut on LA Knight, Bron Breakker cut down Tommaso Ciampa and said he’d be coming for Ciampa’s title, and Tony D’Angelo completed the circle by cutting down “Petey Poppins.” Alicia announced the winner of the vote for the advantage match, and it was Bron Breakker, who probably won the vote for real (Hayes was potentially a spoiler) but was likely to be announced the winner regardless.
Gargano walked the ramp with a mic and said if it wasn’t for guys like him, the four of them wouldn’t have a ring to stand in anyway. He referred to Bron Breakker as the “booty nephew” and the crowd picked it up as a chant immediately. Gargano called for the match to be a ladder match, which was bizarre since these advantage matches have literally always been ladder matches. Breakker agreed to that. Pretty good segment all around.
-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Legado del Fantasma, all of whom got a few moments on the mic ahead of the tag match to determine Imperium’s next challengers. [c]
-MSK continued their road trip. Nash Carter said nothing could go wrong, and Wes Lee called him out. Their GPS called him a dipsh*t and Carter ignored it while Lee wondered what was up with it. The GPS announced they were finally at their destination and would meet the shaman.
They knocked on the door and it opened. A cloud of smoke appeared and they said “It’s him.” The segment ended on that cliffhanger, as we didn’t see the shaman’s face.
(3) KYLE O’REILLY & VON WAGNER vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde) – #1 Contender’s match for the tag team championship
Wagner showed off his strength against Mendoza to start. Mendoza slipped through the ropes and struck quickly with a kick, but Wagner caught him with a running shoulderblock to some scattered boos. O’Reilly tagged in and the faces took turns kicking Mendoza. There was a “yay” when O’Reilly kicked and a boo for Wagner. Legado made the tag as well and hit a tandem dropkick. Wilde covered for two. Back elbow by Wilde and another cover for two. Wilde tried again for two. Wilde shoved O’Reilly into the heel corner and made the tag. Mendoza got in some strikes and O’Reilly grabbed his legs, but Mendoza reached the ropes. Rope run and O’Reilly snapped on a submission but Mendoza rolled him up to break. Wagner tagged in to boos again. O’Reilly and Wagner did the Benjamin & Haas team spot with the leapfrog; Wagner didn’t look like his leaping ability was in the same stratosphere as Shelton Benjamin’s. Xyon Quinn went to ringside for unknown reasons, having been approached by LdF to join, as the match went to commercial. [c]
Mendoza had O’Reilly grounded upon return, but the cameras almost aggressively hid them behind the soap opera on the outside. Xyon Quinn snapped and attacked Santos Escobar to a pretty small reaction from a crowd that’s been very quiet since the opener. O’Reilly got back into it with a suplex but Wilde made the blind tag and slammed O’Reilly for a two count. There was a “that was three” chant from some people even though it wasn’t real close. Wilde rolled up O’Reilly again for two. Legado tagged again and O’Reilly fought back against both and made the alleged hot tag to Wagner. He dominated with some power stuff and hit a powerslam on Mendoza. He cleared Wilde and hit a Samoan drop, then covered for two and got a “that was three” chant from an increasingly weird audience.
Both guys tagged, and O’Reilly and Wilde exchanged a lot of forearms until it looked like a proper New Japan match. Combo kicks by O’Reilly, but he ran into a DDT by Wilde. Wilde cheaply slapped Wagner, who got involved, but then had the wherewithal to dump Mendoza. The faces hit high-low on Wilde to finish. I wonder if it’s weird for O’Reilly to use a team finisher that he used with Bobby Fish countless times.
WINNERS: Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner at 12:28.
(Wells’s Analysis: I was expecting a schmoz tonight and a triple threat Sunday, but they played it straight with the face-heel dynamic. This match had a bit of flash but was mostly just a good formula tag match. Wagner still looks a little slow and raw after a lot of time with NXT offscreen, but he has some decent offense if he really nails it)
-McKenzie tried to talk to Imperium and the winners of the match showed up. O’Reilly fired up and gave a brief but strong babyface mission statement to Imperium. Von Wagner awkwardly called them dumbasses and it ground to a halt for a second. They’ll meet on Sunday. [c]
-Tiffany’s Epiphanies. Tiffany Stratton, whose face was still hidden, again talked about her daddy and said she doesn’t even look at price tags because…why bother? She said daddy says she can be anything, and she wants to be an NXT superstar. Another decent segment by her, though Taya Valkyrie must be a little chapped that she was let go so they could promote a version of her, except with no experience.
-Joe Gacy gave another promo about inclusion ahead of his All-Inclusive Invitational. There were three unnamed competitors waiting to face him in an apparent series of matches.
(4) UNNAMED ENHANCEMENT vs. JOE GACY
Gacy went at it with a short, slight worker that he towered over. He hit a few gut-wrench suplexes, then destroyed him with his finisher for the win. He hugged his opponent.
WINNER: Joe Gacy in 0:54.
Gacy announced that his next opponent would be a young lady on the apron, but before they locked up, Diamond Mine approached to make sure the intergender match didn’t happen. Gacy invited Roderick Strong to the ring and they scuffled briefly. They retreated to Harland and Malcolm Bivens respectively and the segment ended.
-McKenzie tried to talk to Solo Sikoa ahead of his match, but Boa stormed in, looking to be in some sort of pain, and spoke in Mandarin. Sikoa said “Yo, I don’t speak your language. You’re on your own, man.” [c]
(5) SOLO SIKOA vs. EDRIS ENOFE
Enofe entered with a flag draped over his back that said “Epitome of Excellence” and had a king’s crown on it. Collar and elbow. Sikoa shoved off Enofe, who’s a very tall guy unless Solo is short. Robert Stone watched from the top of the ramp and Sikoa took note of him. Sikoa hit a splash for a one count. Sikoa hit Enofe with a hard kick to the chest. Enofe tried to fight back into it but Sikoa took him down with chokeslam for another one count. Sikoamissed an elbow drop and Enofe hit a pump kick and a standing senton for two. Float-over neckbreaker by Enofe for two. Sikoa created separation and threw a kick to Enofe’s chest, then a combo of strikes to ground Enofe. Senton by Sikoa for two. Sikoa missed a splash in the corner and Enofe threw rights. Dropkick by Enofe, followed by a rising knee in the corner. High cross-body by Enofe. DDT by Enofe, who went to the top and missed a frog splash. Samoan Drop by Sikoa followed by a frog splash to finish.
WINNER: Solo Sikoa at 4:19.
Boa attacked Sikoa after the match, and Enofe tried to make the save. Boa choked Enofe and Sikoa threw a stiff kick to clear Boa. After Boa left, Sikoa helped Enofe up and they nodded at one another.
(Wells’s Analysis: A pretty nice match for the two young talents. There’s a lot to like in Sikoa and I feel like there may be even more in Enofe. If they’re promoted as a tough tag team, I think it’ll work regardless of whether they work heel or face)
-Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta were hanging out. Hartwell got a call from the hospital. The doctor said “Your husband…he’s gone.” He then elaborated to say he had apparently walked out. Apparently it’s the doctor from Arrested Development. [c]
-An unseen interviewer asked Xyon Quinn about his tussle with Santos Escobar. He said it’s only just begun. Elektra Lopez spoke to him and said good luck next week…you’ll need it. She vaguely flirted with him while saying it.
(6) INDI HARTWELL & PERSIA PIROTTA vs. VALENTINA FEROZ & YULISA LEON
Hartwell was all depressed again and got dominated. She made the tag and Pirotta threw some clotheslines. Torpedo finisher by Pirotta.
WINNERS: Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta at 1:56.
(Wells’s Analysis: Pirotta really has a long way to go)
-The announcers ran down the WarGames card for this Sunday. This show has been up and down to say the least, but the show is shaping up well. [c]
-Draco Anthony sat with a cup of coffee. His voice-over said that the people who speak the loudest usually have the least to say, but NXT is different. He promoted his arrival…soon. Not much to sink into yet, but he had some decent understated energy in this brief segment.
(7) JOHNNY GARGANO vs. BRON BREAKKER – WarGames advantage ladder match
Lockup and a shove by Breakker, who did Scott Steiner’s flex that keeps rising. Headlock by Gargano, who ran the ropes into a Breakker tackle. Breakker hit a long-delayed suplex after walking around the ring. A corner graphic promoted Xyon Quinn vs. Santos Escobar for next week.
Breakker headed out and Gargano hit a plancha on him. Gargano went for a ladder but Breakker charged him from behind, then lifted him up and dropped him on the apron. Breakker grabbed the ladder, evaded a Gargano slide that would’ve put it in his face, then snapped backward and hit Gargano with it. Breakker went to set up the ladder, and Gargano went up it while Breakker held it upright and Breakker noticed and flicked him off of it. Breakker set up the ladder and started to go up, but noted Gargano recovering and walked right into a slingshot spear. Gargano dropkicked Breakker under the standing ladder and shoved it over into Breakker’s face. Breakker headed outside again and Gargano hit a tope to the announce table side and the match went to split-screen. [c]
Breakker controlled and tackled the ladder into Gargano as Gargano was trying to set it up. Breakker hit a belly-to-belly on Gargano onto a draped ladder. Breakker headed up for an elbow drop with Gargano still on the ladder, but Gargano moved and Breakker crashed onto the ladder. Breakker set up a ladder on a turnbuckle, and he tried to toss Gargano into it, but Gargano ducked and then put Breakker into it. Gargano went up the corner with a ladder on it, and ended up on top of the ladder and Breakker did a gorilla press with the ladder and Gargano. Gargano wriggled free and hit a superkick, then two more.
Gargano picked up Breakker, who put him in a corner and set him up on the buckle. Frankensteiner by Breakker. Breakker set up the ladder and Gargano recovered and threw some shots. Breakker caught him but got hit with a DDT. Gargano went up the ladder and Breakker went up the other side. Gargano shoved the briefcase into Breakker’s head and he fell, but he recovered quick and slammed Gargano to the floor and grabbed the briefcase to win.
WINNER: Bron Breakker at 14:11.
After the match, all eight WarGames guys went at it in the ring.
(Wells’s Analysis: It wasn’t the match the women had earlier, but this was a good story with Gargano finding a million ways to strike, as usual, but Breakker essentially being Wolverine and immediately recovering as he relentlessly hunts his prey. This WarGames match will be much more conventional with the heels taking the advantage throughout. There’s a lot of youth in the ring, but I’m more interested in it than I would’ve been for a fifth Undisputed Era appearance)
FINAL THOUGHTS: While I’ll be fielding an email on tonight’s episode of PWT Talks NXT that simply begins “This is a bad show,” I don’t have any particularly huge issues with tonight’s helping, which I’m especially surprised by since go-home shows are usually a drag. I do think NXT is really pushing it by continuing to introduce new talent when the ones on TV aren’t even getting enough time to sink or swim, however, and it’s time to stop flooding the show until we know who’s stepping up and who’s not. It’ll remain difficult for me to feel overly positive about this show given the amount of talent that’s been let go – particularly a large amount of the acts that were shining on NXT just a few months ago – but I remain open to the attempt to make this a true developmental brand. The writing of the outside segments has been iffy at best, however, and it’ll grate on me in short order if improvements aren’t made in that arena. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream tomorrow.