SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
VON WAGNER vs. KYLE O’REILLY – CAGE MATCH
KOR just seems to make bad choices when it comes to his friends. Stabbed in the back by just about everyone he’s partnered with in NXT, KOR hoped that Wagner would be different. Oh, silly Kyle. Don’t you ever learn? After Wagner turned on KOR at War Games, KOR demanded this match for tonight.
This is Wagner’s first high profile singles feud in NXT and more notably for this column, his first high profile singles match. I’ve been critical of Von Wagner in the past for a few things such as looking like a create-a-wrestler, especially with those tights. Or looking like a lost puppy during certain moments while the cameras are pointed at him. However, he really impressed me during his tag match with KOR and Imperium this past Sunday. He looked, to me, as if he felt at home in the ring for the first time while on live TV.
For the most part, I still feel that way after tonight’s cage match. Where this was a singles contest and he didn’t have to tag in and out, he was a bit more exposed and did look a bit more green to me in some areas. But I give him a pass, as this is his first match as a heel as well. I have a feeling he’ll need a few weeks to find his way as a heel, but I have faith in the guy. I think he can do it. During the post-match beat down, he showed some fire. Lets see more of it.
KOR is probably the perfect opponent for Wagner at this juncture. He’s one of the best in-ring wrestlers that NXT has on the roster, and helped to make Wagner just that much more effective tonight.
CREED BROS. vs. BRIGGS & JENSEN
There are not many things that I hate more in wrestling than when a rule that is never enforced is all of a sudden enforced and causes a major issue in the match. In this case… The tag rope. Just because Josh Briggs wasn’t holding the tag rope, the rope that Grizzled Young Vets happened to steal during the match, a tag wasn’t enforced by the ref.
Stupid finish to an otherwise great tag match. I don’t have much more to add than that.
CARMELO HAYES vs. DEXTER LUMIS
During the Men’s War Games match, when Trick Williams went to interfere on behalf of Team 2.o, Lumis emerged from below the ring and scared him off. Melo looked to get a bit of revenge on Lumis tonight, taped ribs and all.
Lumis has had such a roller coaster trajectory in NXT and after his angle with The Way, he’s found his way (pun absolutely intended) into the hearts of the fanbase. Carmelo Hayes has essentially slot into Swerve’s spot on the roster. With a similar gimmick and the North American title around his waist, it’s hard not to draw comparisons. When we first saw Melo this summer, I saw something there although he was just being presented as a generic babyface. With Trick Williams by his side, I’ve really grown to like this act and look forward to seeing what their ceiling is.
TOXIC ATTRACTION vs. YULISA LEON & VALENTINA FEROZ
Unsurprisingly, Dolan & Jane made relatively quick work of Feroz and Leon but perhaps a bit surprisingly, Feroz and Leon actually got a bit of offense in against the NXT Women’s Tag Champs. Up until now, we’ve usually seen these two get flattened fairly quickly. Today, they were allowed to show off a bit to help the audience connect with them more.
After the match, Mandy Rose joined her partners in the ring and issued a challenge to whoever wants an opportunity backstage. Cora Jade and Raquel Gonzalez answered the call and scared off the three champs. With major wins under her belt and a rub up against Gonzalez, I feel like the moon is where Cora Jade is currently headed.
SANTOS ESCOBAR vs. XYON QUINN
Electra Lopez was the center of this matchup. Lopez, the newest member of Legado del Fantasma, has taken a bit of a liking to Quinn. Quinn and Escobar have been trading promos for weeks, leading to this match. Whose corner was Lopez going to be in? Well, she stood in Quinn’s corner opposite the rest of her LDF members. She climbed up onto the apron a few times to distract Quinn, but not a big enough distraction to cause Escobar to win.
Lopez then slipped brass knucks onto the fingers of a downed Quinn later in the match. Escobar used them to attack Wilde who was trying to make a distraction, but fell to a Michinoku driver from Escobar. So even though Lopez tried to help Quinn, she still wound up helping her stable.
There’s no way that was “planned” that way and there is just enough mystery surrounding Lopez’s intentions to keep me engaged.
GARGANO ADDRESSES HIS FUTURE
Johnny Gargano went out to the ring and cut a promo regarding his future in NXT. A promo that felt from the heart, unscripted and uncensored. He reminisced about his past, the video games, the action figures, and every great moment he’s had in NXT. He said that he never felt special anywhere but in an NXT ring, and gave credit to everyone behind the scenes. He then said change may be scary but it sometimes needs to happen. He then left us with one message: You’ll never fail if you bet on yourself. He said in February he’s going to become a dad, and that’s the most important job in his life. He’s not sure what’s next for him, but he needs to focus on Candace and their son right now.
As that was happening, Greyson Waller attacked Gargano from behind with a chair and tossed him out of the ring. Nuclear heat. He then used the chair around Gargano’s neck and ran him into the steps before putting him through a table.
While this attack will certainly write him off of TV, I think this answers our question as to whether Gargano is going to stay or not. Surely Gargano can’t go out without getting revenge on Waller.
KOR and Gargano supposedly said goodbye to the NXT Crowd after the show ended. KOR I can see leaving, but they made such a big deal about Gargano leaving I’m thinking he’s staying. The only time I can remember seeing them make such a big deal about someone leaving was when Dean Ambrose became Jon Moxley once again.