12/7 NXT ON USA REPORT: Hazelwood’s live alt-perspective on WarGames fallout, Gargano’s goodbye, O’Reilly vs. Wagner, more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

PHOTO CREDIT: WWE

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

NXT ON USA TV REPORT
DECEMBER 7, 2021
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett

Ring Announcer: Alicia Taylor

Backstage Correspondent(s): McKenzie Mitchell

Tonight after the show, I join the PWT Talks NXT crew to break down the show with live callers and emails.

STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 15 MINUTES AFTER THE SHOW CONCLUDES
•CALL: (515) 605-9345

•EMAIL COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: pwtorchnxt@gmail.com
•IF YOU DON’T LISTEN LIVE, DOWNLOAD OR STREAM THE FULL SHOW POST-RECORDING


(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m filling in for Kelly Wells tonight after what was a pretty good WarGames, nothing spectacular, but with many notable outcomes and moments to build forward with. Tonight is Johnny Gargano’s farewell to NXT, and we will presumably see more build to Tomasso Ciampa-Bron Breakker II.)

[HOUR ONE]

-The show began with a recap video of WarGames from Sunday night. They showed highlights from the women’s WarGames match, Cameron Grimes vs. Duke Hudson, Roderick Strong vs. Joe Gacy, Imperium vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner (and Wagner’s subsequent “turn” that setup tonight’s match between the two), and the men’s WarGames match.

-They cut to the Capitol Wrestling Center as Vic Joseph welcomed viewers and threw to the cage match. Wagner’s music hit first to a round of boos. O’Reilly attacked before during the entrance.

(1) VON WAGNER vs. KYLE O’REILLY – Steel cage match

They entered and O’Reilly immediately went at Wagner. He hit a big clothesline, but Wagner just stood there and delivered one of his own. Wagner put his foe in a corner and hit some shoulders to the gut and a headbutt. O’Reilly reversed a vertical suplex attempt into an arm lock, then an arm wrench, as he began working the left. He punched the shoulder a bit, but Wagner countered with a belly-to-back. O’Reilly dodged a falling elbow and began raining down knees and elbows to the body of Wagner.

O’Reilly hit two running knees to the side of Wagner, then locked in a modified submission, wrenching on the nostrils. The crowd chanted for O’Reilly. He worked Wagner in a corner, but Wagner threw him off and landed a big running boot. The crowd chanted “You suck!” as Wagner hit a gutwrench. They followed with “You still suck!” He forced O’Reilly’s head into the cage with his boot, then did it some more. O’Reilly decided to grab a heel hook counter in the ropes, but Wagner hit a hammerfist over the ropes.

O’Reilly crawled through the legs and landed a bunch of kicks, but Wagner just lifted and hit a bodyslam followed by a falling headbutt for a two-count. Wagner clutched O’Reilly around the midsection in a body lock, rolling O’Reilly onto his back for a two-count. The crowd chanted for O’Reilly as he rose to his feet, but Wagner slammed him right back down. Wagner tried the same pin again, for two. O’Reilly was in the body lock for a good 90 seconds before he finally rose to his feet, landing some back elbows and snapping Wagner’s arm over his shoulder.

He rushed Wagner in a corner, then hit a dragon screw in the ropes. O’Reilly hit some leg kicks, but Wagner evaded one with distance and hit a big lariat. He lifted O’Reilly into a powerbomb position, rammed O’Reilly into the cage, but then ate a DDT as they cut to break. [c]

Although Joseph said it was “picture-in-picture” (it’s really split-screen), I only had commercials using the live stream on USA’s website. As they came back, the split-screen was there and Wagner was fending off O’Reilly leg kicks: he would eat a couple, land one shot that would floor O’Reilly, then repeat the process. They butted heads, but O’Reilly sidestepped and Wagner flew into the cage. O’Reilly hit a few Muy Thai plumb knees, then hit a short shining wizard.

Wagner was on the apron, so O’Reilly hit a few running forearms into Wagner that sent him into the cage. O’Reilly climbed the rope to add some kicks, then locked in an guillotine in the ropes. Wagner crawled forward, but powered up and turned it into a vertical suplex. O’Reilly’s selling has been great this match, as usual. Wagner hit a Triple H-like high running knee to O’Reilly (it looked like long-haired HHH doing the move) for a two-count.

Wagner went for the Olympic slam, but O’Reilly slipped out and hit a chop block, then a big forearm to Wagner’s face. O’Reilly climbed to the top, but Wagner met him and both men were on top. Wagner wanted a chokeslam, but O’Reilly rammed Wagner’s head into the cage, causing hit fall to the mat. O’Reilly hit a diving knee to the back of Wagner’s neck for a two-count. Wagner suddenly hit a low blow as the crowd roundly booed. He then threw O’Reilly into the cage once, twice, then hit his butterfly suplex variation for the victory.

WINNER: Von Wagner at 14:23 (butterfly suplex variation)

-After the match, Wagner faked leaving only to attack O’Reilly more. He draped O’Reilly over the ropes in front of the door, then slammed the cage door into O’Reilly’s face twice. O’Reilly was on the apron as Wagner threw the cage door one more time into O’Reilly’s face. He stood and glared at the camera.

-Joseph and Wade Barrett, with no replacement for Beth Phoenix yet, threw to a video of Johnny Gargano’s post-WarGames comments to the crowd through Sam Roberts’ tweet. Gargano said the fans have been like his family and he’s always been honest. He said he was beat up, sore, tired, a lot on his mind, and he would tell us everything on Tuesday. They hyped him addressing his future. They showed Bron Breakker in the back, hyping his appearance next. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: We all knew the outcome, at least if you’ve been tuned into the “sheets” as O’Reilly’s contract is reportedly up. It seems likely he is heading to AEW, so he had to be written off of television in a brutal way. I guess three cage door shots to the face is pretty brutal. Wagner looked smooth in that match – it helps that O’Reilly was his opponent – but it’s easy to see the optimism they have for him. The ending was a bit anti-climatic, maybe just because the finisher didn’t seem to have that much impact, but it was a fine match.)

-They returned with a Joe Gacy vignette, who said the outcome of his match with Strong was not as important as their mission. He said they ended years of division, and is working to do the same to a show that promotes exclusivity. He said Harland has faced obstacles all his life. He said people judged Harland for the size of his body, but not the size of his heart. Gacy said he accepted Harlan, and said Harlan will make his in-ring debut next week and everyone will accept him, too. He ended by saying together, we can change the world.

BRON BREAKKER IN-RING PROMO

-Breakker’s music hit as he made his entrance. The “Big Bad Booty Nephew” was intense as he made his way to the ring. He took a mic and said two teams went to battle and he can honestly say that Team Black & Gold is tough as nails. He said they built the foundation that is NXT today and he has utmost respect for them. The fans cheered. He then yelled BUT, Tomasso Ciampa, they’re 1-1 after pinning each other at different events. He called out Ciampa for the title.

Diamond Mine’s music hit. Malcolm Bivens said “LeBron Breakker.” He congratulated Breakker, calling him the real deal. He said Breakker wasn’t the only one who was successful, as Strong had another great performance and wiped the division clean, saying the weight limit was lifted. Breakker said he was about to throw Bivens into the fifth row. Bivens said “LeBron” and that The Creed Brothers wouldn’t let him do that. He said Team Black & Gold got the blueprint from Strong. He called Strong THE champion in NXT and that his sights were set on Breakker. Breakker asked where he was, and Bivens told him don’t worry about it as he’s in the cut, chilling. He said next week, Strong’s going to put a stop to the “unstoppable” Breakker. Breakker said he doesn’t care who he has to run through to get to Ciampa, then accepted. He shoved Bivens aside as he exited the ring. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen’s music hit for their match with The Creed Brothers. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Once Breakker gets that he doesn’t have to yell everything or begin promos at an eight out of ten, he will be must-see television. If he can learn to build – and yell when necessary – he is going to be multiple time WWE/Universal Champion. I’m very intrigued at the match next week. Strong should give Breakker one hell of a match, and this will be a good way to once again show Breakker’s resilience in taking a ton of damage from the more experienced, technical, and skilled Strong.)

-They returned with a mashup of MSK’s vignettes over the week and them meeting The Shaman” on Sunday. He will be revealed tonight.

(2) THE CREED BROTHERS (Brutus & Julius) vs. JOSH BRIGGS & BROOKS JENSEN – Tag team match

Grizzled Young Veterans joined on commentary. Seconds into the match, Imperium’s music hit. Imperium was shown watching from the elevated platform. The Brutusr Creed took the advantage, but Jensen hit a running shoulder tackle and an elbow to the back. He hit a chop and then a snapmare from the corner, hitting a big forearm to the back for a two-count. Briggs tagged in and they hit a double shoulder tackle.

The Julius Creed tagged in, but Briggs used a bunch of power moves and a big standing splash. Jensen tagged in and they slid out and hit a double punch to Creed. Creed dodged a corener rush and tagged in his brother, who hit an overhead belly-to-belly. He then just rubbed his forearm across the face several times. He tagged in Julius, and the pair hit knees to the side. Julius hit a big slam, then cockily kicked Jensen. He tagged in his brother.

Brutus hit a short fireman’s carry, then threw him into another one from his brother. Jensen fought of their corner, but Brutus clotheslined Jensen over the rope. Julius tagged in, then hit a front facelock suplex. As everyone was distracted James Drake loosened the padding on the face corner top turnbuckle. Brutus rolled Jensen in and scored a two-count. Julius tagged in and looked for a stretch muffler, but Jensen kicked his way out. He landed a huge right hand, and both men fell to the mat.

Actually, Drake took the tag rope, and the ref wouldn’t allow the tag. Earlier, the ref admonished The Creed Brothers for not grabbing the tag rope. However, Jensen rolled up Julius, who tagged in, for the victory, thwarting the plan of GYV.

WINNER: Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen at 5:50 (rollup stacked pin)

-McKenzie Mitchell was in the back and Wagner interrupted her and asked what she thought was going to happen? He said WarGames is over, O’Reilly is over, but his have just begun. She threw back to Joseph as Robert Stone approached; he was mad haha. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: If you didn’t catch the earlier bit of the ref calling for the tag rope, the finish might have seemed off. However, NXT has also generally been pretty strict about grabbing the tag rope before tagging in, so it still does work to some extent regardless. This was all about building toward what now looks like a triple threat between these three teams. Remember when GYV was the best tag team in NXT? Yeah, now they’re relegated to bad comedy skits and mid-card tag team feuds.)

-They returned with Xyon Quinn shadow boxing in the back. He called out Santos Escobar, and said he hoped Elektra Lopez was watching.

DUKE HUDSON AND CAMERON GRIMES IN-RING PROMO

-Duke Hudson made his way to the ring wearing a bad blonde wig, I mean bad. He said if the last 48 hours have taught him anything, it’s you shouldn’t believe anything you see on the internet. He said he saw multiple articles saying Cameron Grimes shaved his head bald, but here he stands, full head of hair. He said he trimmed it and put some color in it and looks good as new. He said that means Grimes is a disappointment to everyone in the WWE Universe and everyone who has come into his life: his friends, his family- Grimes’ music interrupted. Hudson pulled out and equipped amateur wrestling headgear. Grimes said he knew Hudson would come out and do this, but didn’t expect the headgear. He said we all saw him shave Hudson bald, but yet, here Hudson is denying it.

Grimes entered the ring and said Hudson put him through a table, cut his hair, and embarrassed him, but Grimes came out here and stood face-to-face like a man because he can’t change the way he is. He said Hudson can’t handle losing. Hudson said what Grimes did was illegal, cheating by pulling the trunks, calling Grimes scum, but Grimes interrupted him and said he knows what he is and where he’s from, and they handle things a little different. He challenged Hudson to a no holds barred match “so he can’t cheat again,” and Hudson accepted. Hudson tried a sneak attack, but Grimes thwarted him. Hudson escaped a Cave In and having his wig removed.

(Hazelwood’s Take: OK, I’ll kind of give the NHB stip a pass here as technically, Grimes did use a wrestling hold with some added help to win. Still, no holds barred DOES NOT mean no disqualification; it just means you can do any hold. Theoretically, you could still be disqualified for breaking other rules, but we know that’s not how WWE works. The match should be fine, though Sunday probably should have been the end of this months-long feud.)

-In the back. Jacket Time congratulate Briggs and Jensen. Kushida said they don’t like the Creeds, and they agreed. GYV came in and said they only won because of them. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter walked by with two extra concert tickets, and the big dudes went off. The other teams started fighting, then Karen Q just popped up in the back in PJs and drinking a slurpee. She then slunk back down.

-Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams made their entrance as Joseph cut to a replay of Hayes nearly breaking Dexter Lumis’ hand. They hyped the match as they cut to break. [c]

-In the lot, Grayson Waller was showing off his jumping off of the cage to a woman talent, but I don’t know who. She said she was already hanging out with someone else. Waller asked who it could possibly be. She pointed to L.A. Knight, who was standing at a Corvette. He drove off with the woman as Waller looked mad.

-Lumis made his entrance for this grudge match with Hayes. They showed Lumis’ return on Sunday, foiling the plans of Williams.

[HOUR TWO]

(3) CARMELO HAYES (c) (w/Trick Williams) vs. DEXTER LUMIS – Non-title match

Hayes had his midsection taped. Lumis immediately stared at Williams. Hayes tried using his quickness, but Lumis landed one upward thrust to floor him. Hayes used some grappling to take Lumis to the mat, then cinched in a modified front face lock. He then scored a one-count on a pin. Lumis stalked Hayes into a corner, but Hayes caught him with a gut kick and a punch, then a chop. He put Lumis in a side headlock, but Lumis literally just chucked Hayes chest-first into a corner. He then ripped off the tape.

Lumis hit a bodyslam, then returned to glaring at Williams. He exited the ring, Williams now hiding behind the announcers, then dropped Hayes as Hayes followed Lumis. Lumis threw Hayes back into the ring and ran Hayes into a corner. He landed some big shoulder thrusts, then set for a corner splash. Hayes moved, but Lumis caught himself. However, Hayes hit a springboard clothesline to drop Lumis for a one-count.

Hayes actually grabbed his side on the replay of that clothesline, nice touch midair. Hayes then stomped on the compromised hands, and Barrett noted that Lumis attacked Hayes’ ribs. Hayes grabbed a hold of the glove, but Lumis fought to his feet and landed a body shot. Hayes responded with a gut knee, but Lumis landed a Thesz Press and falling hammerfist. He stood on Hayes’ throat in the corner, then tossed him outside. Lumis returned his attention to Williams, slithering toward him, but Hayes landed a running knee to send Lumis outside as they cut to break. [c]

Hayes had Lumis in a shoulder lock as they returned from break. He then just slammed Lumis into the mat for a two-count. They showed a replay of Hayes using the corner to further damage the hand during the break. He cinched in a rear chinlock to Lumis. He went for a leaping stomp on the hand, but lumis dodged and landed some body shots. Hayes countered an Irish whip by kneeing the hand and hitting a cavate snapmare. He then slammed Lumis’ arm into the mat, then again.

He hit a big chop to Lumis in a corner, then whipped him hard across to the other (he actually put the effort into the whip!). He stomped on Lumis in the corner. Williams was trash talking, but Lumis just sat up and glared at him, scaring Williams. Hayes hit a big leaping kick, but taunted too long and Lumis hit a vertical suplex counter. Lumis hit a few clothelines and a big right, then a corner splash and bulldog. He followed with a belly-to-back suplex, then kipped up into a leg drop for a two-count.

Lumis went for an uranage, but Hayes hit a rollup for a two-count. Lumis locked in Silence, but Hayes made it to the ropes. Williams then slugged Lumis, causing the DQ. Lumis then locked in Williams to Silence, but Hayes made the save.

WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 12:40 (DQ)

-The announcers then shifted to Gargano, and Joseph said Gargano will speak from the heart. He then shifted to “The Shaman.”

THE SHAMAN REVEAL

They cut to the video, and “The Shaman” was Riddle. Riddle put his “Shaman hat” on (a backwards cap) and they sat cross-legged with candles. Nash Carter said they thought they were going to be on the bottom, but they won The Dusty Cup, and Riddle went off on a tangent about winning with Pete Dunner, saying he missed Stallion Pete. Carter asked if they peaked too soon. Lee said they lost the titles to Imperium. Carter asked if they were goofing off too much. Riddle said they need to MSK all day, saying they’ll climb together and he’s going to be there every step of the way. He said he wouldn’t leave under one condition and said sharing is caring. Riddle opened it and they all giggled and said bro a lot.

-Suddenly, Mandy Rose told Joseph to shut up as they cut to the back. She said when she’s speaking, we all shut our mouths. She was joined by Jacey Jayne and Gigi Dolan. She said they have real work to take off and said, “Oh Vic, stop drooling.” They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Riddle was the payoff…and it seems rather underwhelming. I know most people predicted RVD, but I was hoping they’d go away from the “we like to smoke weed if you couldn’t tell!” gimmick with MSK. The questions they asked are interesting because these are the exact questions many fans of NXT have been asking about the team. We know they’re very talented, particularly Lee, and the tag team division could REALLY use a successful MSK right now.)

-They returned with Indi Hartwell in the back as Persia Perotta asked if she knew Lumis was returning. She said no, and Perotta said good, now we can get back to what we were doing before and how we were in Australia, all about business. She said if they’re going to be championship contenders, she needs her best friend and told Hartwell to leave the love at home. Hartwell said she’s committed to the team and Lumis. Lumis walked in and she jumped in his arms. Gargano approached and said the family’s back.

(4) TOXIC ATTRACTION (c) (Gigi Dolan & Jacey Jayne w/Mandy Rose) vs. VALENTINA FEROZ & YULISA LEON – Non-title tag team match

Jayne began and slapped around Feroz a little bit. She caught Jayne in a side headlock, then hit a roll for a two-count. She forced Jayne into their corner and made a tag to her partner. Leon handsprung out of an arm wrench, but didn’t see Dolan making the tag. Dolan kicked her in the back, then proceeded to take her time with punches. Dolan hit a corner knee, then tagged in Jayne, who hit a cannonball in the corner for a two-count.

Leon suddenly lifted Jayne and hit a running Death Valley Driver, driving both women into the math. Both made tags. Feroz took the advantage on Dolan with hip tosses and then a big top rope crossbody for a two-count. She grabbed the waist, but Jayne tagged in and hit a neckbreaker on Feroz as Feroz had Dolan rolled up. Jayne then knocked off Leon before hitting a discus boot to Feroz for the pinfall victory.

WINNER: Toxic Attraction at 3:47 (discus boot)

-After the match, Rose took a mic and said that’s how it’s done. She said they’re still the baddest bitches in town and they still have all the gold (she said “got all the gold”). She said she knows everyone wants a shot at them and they’re the talk of the town because when you’re this damn good, it’s expected. Rose said let’s get one thing straight, they’re not running from anyone, so they called out anyone who wants an opportunity, whether it’s “little” Cora Jade or Io Shirai or Raquel Gonzalez. Jade’s music hit.

She had her arm in a sling and thanked Rose for talking about her…again. She said two weeks ago, she beat Rose. Rose said Jade got lucky. Jade said they won WarGames, so she figured she would come out there to handle things face-to-face. Rose said no, Jade, you’re not the one, but she can embarrass Jade right now. Gonzalez’s music hit as she stormed to the ring with a chair (in high heels no less!). Toxic Attraction escaped and taunted the faces.

-A Tiffany Stratton vignette aired, showeing her doing gymnastics in shadows so that you can’t see her face. They showed actual home video of her in competition, where you still couldn’t see her face. She talked about making the Olympic team, but she’s a solo star and the gold she wants is the Women’s Championship.

-Mitchell interviewed Tony D’Angelo in the back about Dunne. He called Dunne “Petey Poppins” and said he proved he’s not someone to mess with. Andre Chase interrupted and said D’Angelo would have come out looking like a star if he followed Chase’s advice. D’Angelo challenged Chase to a match next week and walked off. Chase said who even talks like that and was cutoff as they cut back to the ring.

Legado del Fantasma made their entrance for Escobar vs. Quinn. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Rose has done well on the mic and in character presentation since returning to NXT. Jade has the fans’ backing, but it appears the arm injury was legit – or they’re working us. I don’t really want to see Gonzalez in the main event picture right now, thinking it would be best to build her back up, but if she’s there to assist Jade, then I’m down. It might be one of those where Rose will force Jade to beat Dolan and Jayne before granting her a title match, presumably at the next PPV.)

-They returned with Jade in the back thanking Gonzalez. Jade said she could be the next Women’s Champion, but Gonzalez told her to take it easy. Jade said yeah, but she’s never been champion. Gonzalez laughed her off a bit. Kay Lee Ray approached and handed Jade a bad, saying she might need it more than her after Sunday. Jade asked what Ray would use and she said, “Sweetheart, I’ve got plenty, don’t worry.”

-LDF were standing the ring posing as they cut back to the ring. Quinn’s music hit as he mad his entrance. He and Lopez stared at each other a bit as he entered the ring.

(5) SANTOS ESCOBAR (w/Legado del Fantasma) vs. XYON QUINN – Singles match

They locked up, with Quinn taking Escobar down still locked up. Escobar reversed position, but Quinn kipped up still in the lockup. Escobar hit a big chop, but then ran right into Quinn, who floored him. Quinn locked in a cavate and then dragged Escobar’s face along the top rope. Quinn lifted Escobar and dropped him on the top turnbuckle. Escobar tried fighting back, but one shot from Quin would end his flurry.

Quinn methodically beat on Escobar in a corner, again just ending Escobar’s advances with one strike. He hit a big bodyslam, but was distracted on the apron. Escobar hit a leaping knee to send Quinn to the ground, but Quinn immediately threw Escobar into the announce desk. He tossed Escobar back in, but Escobar immediately escaped to regroup as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Escobar hitting running knees to the midsection and then the back of Quinn in a corner. He wrenched on the arm with his knee on the ribs as Quinn was forced to the mat. Quinn fought to his feet, landed a body blow combo, a headbutt, then a big lariat that dropped Escobar. He tossed Escobar across the ring with a biel, then hit a running shoulder thrust in the corner for a two-count. He set and rushed Escobar in the corner, but Escobar sidestepped and hit a big enziguri in the corner.

Escobar now set himself for the running double knees. He landed, then set for the Phantom Driver, but Quinn fought out and hit a swinging DVD. Lopez briefly distracted him, but Quinn recovered and forced Escobar into a corner. He lifted Escobar to the top, setting him for a superplex attempt. Escobar hit some punches to fight him off, but Quinn hit a headbutt. Instead of a superples, he went for a fallaway slam, but Escobar sliterhed to the apron. He climbed again, and after some manuevering by Quinn, Escobar hit a top rope avalanche rana.

Suddenly, the camera showed Lopez put brass knuckles on Quinn’s hand; Quinn didn’t even realize. Once he did, he looked at Lopez, who just smiled at him. The ref saw the knuckles, so he tossed them to Joaquin Wilde on the apron and kneed him off. He turned right into a knee and the Phantom Driver for Escobar’s victory.

WINNER: Santos Escobar at 10:39 (Phantom Driver)

-They showed Diamond Mine in the parking lot as Bivens was asked about Brekker and he said Strong would win because Strong is the champion. Hayes interrupted and said HE’S the champion. Bivens said Strong has beaten Odyssey Jones, Joe Gacy, and Breakker next week. Hayes said he knows Strong is part of the foundation, the last member of that group, but not the A champion. Bivens threw a towel down and yelled, “Why is everyone so disrespectful around here!?”

-They showed Candice LeRae with their pup in the back, giving Gargano some love before he headed for the ring. I smell an overrun coming. [c]

-They returned with a Boa vignette where he called out Edris Enofe. Subtitles were fast, but he basically said he would send Enofe out of NXT 2.0 as quickly as he came. It ended with him in the face paint saying “Next week!”

JOHNNY GARGANO “ADDRESSES HIS FUTURE”

The crowd chanted “Johnny Wrestling.” His music hit and he looked like he was about to cry already. He greeted some fans in his gear at ringside, then entered the ring.

[OVERRUN]

Gargano grabbed a mic as the fans cheered and chanted for him. He paced the ring with wide eyes. He said “heartbreak” told him he can go as long as he want, saying Chucky isn’t on and the movie can wait. They chanted “Please don’t go” as he walked around the ring. He said this won’t be the most eloquent promo because he didn’t prepare and he wanted to live in the moment. He said he didn’t just enjoy the moment enough over six years, always worried about putting on his best for the fans. He said the fans deserve wrestling they can be proud of and he hopes he did that.

He said the first time he was in this building was in 2015 at a tryout where he was told he would never be in NXT. He said he obviously hasn’t been blessed with best genetic gifts, but because of William Regal, he had a dark match with Apollo Crews and because they chanted “Johnny Wrestling” so loud, they kept bringing him back even though he wasn’t under contract. He said the main events, the contracts, the moments have all been thanks to the fan.

He said inside is still the same shy, chubby, eighty-year-old kid who is still battling the fight of self-doubt, but the only place he’s felt special was in the ring in front of fans. He said people have asked him why he’d been in NXT so long and it’s because he truly loves and beleives in the place. He said his family might be in Cleveland, saying hi to his mom and dad, and then named a bunch of people like Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Sara Amato, Matt Bloom, Joseph, and more, saying this is like his family and that will never change. He said change is scary, but sometimes it needs to happen. The crowd chanted “No.”

He said if there’s one message he wanted to leave it’s that you will never fail if you bet on yourself. He said he doesn’t know what his immediate future holds, but he knows one thing for sure and that’s in February, he’s going to start the most important job of his life as he becomes a dad. The crowd chanted “Baby Wrestling.” He said the baby will watch this back one day and thank them all. He said he’s so excited to be a dad, but right now, the most important thing is to worry about his wife and son and to teach his son to be the best man he could be.

Suddenly, Waller hit Gargano in the back with a chair. The crowd kept yelling, and this is why. Waller threw him out and taunted Joseph, asking if he’s going to do anything for “his boy.” He put Gargano in the chair and slammed it into the steel steps, jamming it into his throat. Waller cleared the table, still taunting Joseph, and powerbombed Gargano through the table. He said you want views, you come to Grayson Waller and it’s his house now. Gargano was prone face-first as the the crowd berated Waller. The show faded to black.

(Hazelwood’s Take: Well, it seems like Gargano is done with NXT. Sure, there’s always the possibility he returns – and the Waller angle has a feud ready for him should he return – but his comments and demeanor really made it seem like he knew this was the last time he would be in an NXT ring. You could tell everything he said was genuine, and I’m sure everyone is happy at his excitement at becoming a father. WWE just couldn’t let him have his moment, though, huh?)

FINAL TAKE: The show was solid, if not a great builder after WarGames. We saw the continuation of Jade and Rose, Breakker being set for his next feud before Ciampa, Strong’s next feud after his eventual loss to Breakker in Hayes, and overall, just another show where every segment was meant to build story…except maybe MSK-Riddle. The big talking point, of course, will be Gargano’s promo, which I’m sure we will dissect heavily on PWT Talks NXT. For more of my thoughts and analysis as well as from rest of the crew, tune into the show!

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