SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
DECEMBER 21, 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
-Tommaso Ciampa opened the show in the ring with the mic. He waited out a “Ciampa” chant and said he had something to get off his chest today. He said the champion is supposed to be the hunted, but last week, he was the hunter. He said he knows Bron Breakker’s music is going to start any time now, so he may as well come down to the ring so they can do this face to face.
Breakker’s music brought him to the ring and he went for a mic, and Ciampa told the officials not to give him one. He said he already knows what Bron is going to say – at WarGames he made a statement, and spiked Ciampa through a table and pinned him. He kept speaking as if he was Breakker’s thoughts, and said he deserved another chance, but let’s just hope he doesn’t drown like he did the first time. He said in two weeks at New Year’s Evil, he would get his second chance. He told Bron to remember what he told him about the deep end. He said there was no replacement for experience. He said Bron wasn’t ready to be a champion in Ciampa’s NXT. He brought up four past NXT Champions, all of whom are still on the roster (strangely, he didn’t mention Big E or Seth Rollins). He said he didn’t mean to demean Breakker because he’s doing great, but these are the bright lights and it’s too much too soon. He said Bron thinks he’s going to win the championship and bring it home to his family and they’ll all be barking and clapping. He slapped Breakker in the face.
Breakker snapped after a moment and pressed Ciampa, who tried to avoid the slam. Breakker smiled and set Ciampa down, and said “In two weeks, the blood’s in the water. I am the shark. I am going to eat you alive.”
(Wells’s Analysis: Naturally, Ciampa is needed to carry the load on the mic for this feud, as Breakker still has a long way to go in that department. Good “head games” stuff by Ciampa as he tries to fill the young Breakker’s head with self-doubt)
-Grayson Waller Instagram promo. He cut on AJ Styles, saying he has money, and he should consider a haircut. He put a pair of shades on and said “Check it out: The Phenomenal Grayson Waller.”
-Vic was going to throw to the street fight between Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai, and instead while Gonzalez was walking through the back, Kai tried to blindside her with a rolling cart. The two started brawling in the back, tossing each other into the lockers and other steel structures. Vic said the match wouldn’t even start officially until they reached the ring. Gonzalez picked up a steel stand and drove Kai into a rolling cart with it, then slammed her onto another cart. Kai started running off and threw everything she could find at Gonzalez, who flattened Kai with a boot, and then tried to pin Kai between two rolling carts, but Kai moved and threw a trash can at Gonzalez. Kai threw a back kick at Gonzalez to lay her out, and a couple of referees tried to convince Kai to get to the ring as she set up a table. Gonzalez set up Kai on a gurney and rolled her into a garage door. Kai escaped out a door that led outside. Gonzalez gave chase and started running Kai into walls and pillars as the match went to split-screen. [c]
During the split-screen segment, the action went to ringside. Vic said the bell sounded during the break at some point, so the match time will be an approximation. The battle stayed outside the ring as Kai tried to run Gonzalez into stairs, but Gonzalez put on the brakes. Kai tried a PK from the apron; Gonzalez held on and tried to walk Kai over to the corner, but Kai spiked Gonzalez’s head into the apron. Kai took a table and tried to roll it into the ring, but Gonzalez shoved it into Kai’s midsection. Both went into the ring and Gonzalez tripped Kai onto a chair in the ring. Gonzalez tried to powerbomb Kai through a leaning table, but Kai turned it into a huracanrana and took Gonzalez outside with it. She put a trash can over the head of Gonzalez, then double stomped her from above. Kai tried to follow up, but Gonzalez powerbombed Kai onto the half-segment of stairs still in the corner.
Gonzalez rolled Kai into the ring, then followed, only to eat a boot. Kai got up but Gonzalez booted her, then hit the Chingona Bomb on Kai through a trash can to finish. The announcers framed the feud as being over.
WINNER: Raquel Gonzalez in about 7 minutes (with about 7 minutes of brawling before the bell)
After the match, Gonzalez demanded Mandy Rose give her a title shot, and she wouldn’t leave until she got it. [c]
(Wells’s Analysis: It was bad enough that Gonzalez won the first match in this feud when the story was told in such a way that Kai was the logical winner, and now here’s a second dose. I’m not sure Gonzalez has a particularly high upside, but WWE remains committed to her even as NXT completely changes and different people are calling the shots. Gonzalez-Rose struck me as the worst match ever for the NXT Women’s Championship, so here’s hoping they can take a huge step forward for round two)
-Tony D’Angelo vignette. He cut a promo on Pete Dunne, relying a little less on cultural cliches and more on relevant storylines. Progress.
-Cora Jade hit the ramp while Raquel Gonzalez continued to call out Mandy Rose. She said she knows Gonzalez wants another match with Mandy Rose, but Jade wants to make them pay for trying to rip her arms out of their sockets. A few idiots chanted “What?”, just in case the segment threatened to be watchable. Gonzalez said she’d do anything to get her title match, and Jade said not if she gets there first.
Mandy Rose appeared on the tron from a pool. She said since she was in a giving mood this holiday season, they could have a triple threat match for her NXT title. When she said this, the camera panned down to her waist and the belt as an excuse to show Mandy’s incredibly risque swimsuit. She told the two of them to enjoy the beating, and on cue, Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolin attacked Gonzalez and Jade with kendo sticks from behind.
-Joe Gacy spoke to the camera on Harland’s behalf, and said Harland had regret all over his face over what he did to Brian Kendrick last week. Of course, Harland was scowling intensely.
-Grizzled Young Veterans were watching a video of the Creeds working out. Zach Gibson said they weren’t going to beat the Creed with muscles, they were going to defeat them with brains. [c]
-Persia Pirotta walked in and told Indi Hartwell their match tonight was postponed, and she didn’t know why. Grayson Waller walked in and Hartwell said he was a douche. Waller said he kicked “Papa” out of NXT and Hartwell wanted to go at him. Pirotta held Hartwell back as Waller walked off.
(2) THE CREED BROTHERS (Julius & Brutus) vs. GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zach Gibson & James Drake)
Julius threw around Gibson early. Brutus tagged in and Julius splashed Brutus atop Gibson. The Creeds teamed up on two takedowns of Gibson, and Julius ended up legal. Drake tagged in and got a slam in on Julius, and GYV tagged again and hit a tandem move and Gibson covered for two. Drake tagged in and threw some rights, then grabbed a headlock but Brutus tagged in and the Creeds took turns throwing knees at Drake’s midsection. Gut-wrench into a powerbomb by Brutus got two. Gibson made the blind tag and GYV dumped Brutus. The two teamed up for an elbow drop from up high to the floor. Jacket Time shimmied into the frame with a table with their logo on it, confusing all four competitors, as the match went to commercial. [c]
Back from break, Jacket Time was essentially acting as a Japanese announce team. In the ring, Drake took down Brutus with a headlock. Drake got a stunned look on his face as we saw Briggs & Jensen had made their way to the growing party and stood on the ramp. Vic threw to the Japanese announcers to weigh in, and the two of them spoke to each other in Japanese. Vic said he agreed with everything Kushida said but disagreed wholeheartedly with Ikemen Jiro. Brutus slammed Drake for two and Vic threw to Jacket Time again – the joke is pretty well done, guys. Action spilled outside and the Creeds wanted to but GYV through their little table. They protected the table, but the Creeds shoved GYV through Jacket Time, and Briggs & Jensen got involved and the bell sounded. The audience chanted “NXT” for this. Why?!
WINNERS: Double disqualification at 10:36.
(Wells’s Analysis: 2.0 indeed. There was some good wrestling on the way to this schmoz, at least)
-Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams, interviewed by McKenzie Mitchell, cut a promo on Dexter Lumis in front of a monitor in the back. A still shot of Lumis – an extreme close-up – appeared on the monitor and Williams freaked out. [c]
-Earlier today, Zoey Stark and Io Shirai arrived at the trainer’s room for a massage. Stark thanked Shirai for showing up. Legado del Fantasma argued with them about who should get the first massage, and Elektra Lopez showed up and had a short argument with Io.
(3) DEXTER LUMIS vs. TRICK WILLIAMS (w/Carmelo Hayes)
Lumis leaned in to scare Williams a couple times, then shoved him off when he tried a kick. Hayes tried to coach Williams, who bailed quickly when Lumis closed in. Williams ran into a Thesz press by Lumis, but took the bump awkwardly. Lumis worked a chinlock, and Diamond Mine appeared up on the perch, catching the eyes of Lumis and Hayes on the outside. Rope run and Williams hit a dropkick, then threw a few punches and drove Lumis into the mat. Lumis got put out on the apron and Williams tried a sliding dropkick, but Lumis trapped him with the apron. Hayes was face to face with Lumis. Lumis gave him a thumbs up because Roderick Strong was about to blindside Hayes for a beating. Strong and Hayes brawled to the back.
In the ring, Williams took over and hit a body slam for two. Lengthy headlock by Williams. Lumis broke free and took Williams down with some uppercuts. Corner lariat and a bulldog by Lumis. Backdrop by Lumis, who kipped up and hit a legdrop. Lumis pounded Williams in a corner. Williams grabbed a shoe from the corner and tried to swing it at Lumis. Lumis sidestepped it and caught Williams with the Silencer. Williams dropped the shoe for the visual cue that he had passed out.
WINNER: Dexter Lumis at 5:38.
After the bell, Grayson Waller attacked Lumis with a chair. On the tron, AJ Styles arrived at the arena. Waller sat in a chair and waited for him. [c]
(Wells’s Analysis: Williams has just the most basic of movesets at this point, but outside the weird way he fell into the Thesz press, there was nothing egregious. Fun finish with the boot dropping from the hand of Williams)
-Pete Dunne said he was the baddest man in NXT 2.0. He said all this talent was young and hungry, but he’s the same age and he’s hungrier. He threatened Tony D’Angelo ahead of their match tonight.
-Grayson Waller continued cutting a puffed-up promo until AJ Styles’ music played in a fairly surreal scene. He had a mic as well and waited out a chant of his name. Waller said it was the Grayson Waller effect. Styles told him to shut up. He said this is Grayson Waller, the biggest jackass in NXT. He asked Waller if he feels popular right now after his viral videos. Waller said of course he felt popular after getting the attention of a future Hall of Famer. Waller said Styles was here because his meal ticket left him last night and he’s here looking for a partner, but Waller is a solo act. Styles said Waller was cocky and he appreciates that, but he was only calling Styles out to get the rub. Waller said he was the star of the WarGames match, and Styles told him he had a good three weeks, but he should try being phenomenal for twenty-plus years. Waller ripped off his shirt and threatened to do something, but skinned out and said “Hey, I’m gonna let Omos get you first. I got next.” Waller went up the ramp and postured as AJ’s music played.
(Wells’s Analysis: Another winner of a segment for Waller, who’s just relentlessly cocky enough to look like he belongs even when he’s completely dwarfed in terms of star power)
-Malcolm Bivens, with Diamond Mine, cut a promo on Carmelo Hayes. He challenged Carmelo Hayes to a match – title vs. title. He finished with “Merry Christmas, ho! …ho, ho.”
(Wells’s Analysis: I’ve been wondering how Vince and his goons would write out the Cruiserweight Championship this time rather than find a way to promote another division, and this looks like the way it’s headed)
-Matt Riddle told MSK that a scooter is like…a journey to its destination. Nash Carter and Wes Lee acted like it was deep. Riddle gave each man the gift of an RKBro t-shirt. Riddle said next week when they call out Imperium. They all rode on their scooters and suddenly got hit by a bus. MSK thought they had dreamed it, but Riddle appeared again and produced three more scooters with the snap of a finger. They rode off again. These segments sure are…happening.
(4) EDRIS ENOFE vs. VON WAGNER
Dropkicks by Enofe, who ran into a body slam by Wagner. Up on the ramp, Robert Stone watched. Enofe hit an inside cradle for two. Wagner threw down rights on Enofe, then peppered him with knees. Enofe rolled through a slam attempt and hit one of his own for the shock pin.
WINNER: Edris Enofe at 1:07.
Wagner destroyed Enofe after the bell to boos. Wagner strode down the ramp after the match and bumped into Stone, who straightened his jacket and followed.
-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Imperium, who spoke in their native tongues. She apologized for not speaking Italian or German, and Fabian Aichner offered a basic threat for MSK.
-New Year’s Evil hype: Bron Breakker challenges Tommaso Ciampa while Mandy Rose defends against both Cora Jade and Raquel Gonzalez in a triple threat.
-Elektra Lopez walked with Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde and spoke into the camera ahead of the biggest match of her career with Io Shirai. She’s still a definite work in progress. All three walked past the camera and far behind, Xyon Quinn had appeared, and Vic speculated on whether he’d appear sometime tonight. [c]
-A video of NXT wrestlers appearing at a school for Boys & Girls Club aired. We got a lot of shots of hated heels being warm, caring people.
(5) IO SHIRAI vs. ELEKTRA LOPEZ (w/Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde)
Knee to the midsection and a slam by Lopez. Back elbow in the corner, but a second missed. Shirai took down Lopez in a corner and went for her double knees, but Lopez blocked and booted Shirai. Lopez yanked Shirai around by the hair until the ref broke it up. Rope run and a spinebuster by Lopez got two. Headlock by Lopez. Shirai wrestled free and hit a dropkick, then a 619. Missile dropkick by Shirai, followed by double knees for two. Io went up for the moonsault but Lopez crotched Shirai on the top turnbuckle. Xyon Quinn walked to ringside and destroyed both members of Legado on the outside. He went to the apron and held a piece of mistletoe. As Lopez closed in, Quinn got yanked to the outside by Legado. Shirai booted Lopez down after the distraction and hit Over the Moonsault – AGAIN misnamed “Moon Over Moonsault” by Vic – and got the three.
WINNER: Io Shirai at 4:04.
(Wells’s Analysis: At least one match without extracurriculars wouldn’t be terrible, would it? Shirai did what she could with Lopez, but Lopez is just soooo raw in the ring at this juncture)
-Carmelo Hayes agreed to the title vs. title match with Roderick Strong for New Year’s Evil, and said he’d be the one walking out with two titles. [c]
-Next week, Dexter Lumis faces Grayson Waller and the tag team of Raquel Gonzalez & Cora Jade faces Jacy Jayne & Gigi Dolin.
(6) PETE DUNNE vs. TONY D’ANGELO
Collar and elbow. D’Angelo narrowly evaded the arm stomp. Reset. Arm wringer, reversed, D’Angelo reached a rope to break. Rope run and D’Angelo hit a big belly-to-back and Dunne landed awkwardly on his neck but didn’t appear any worse for wear. Backdrop by D’Angelo. Possibly of note, D’Angelo has been occasionally called “Tony D” tonight, which may be a tweak to the name in time (as a recapper, I’m in favor). Belly-to-belly was flipped through by Dunne. Thrustkick by Donne put him outside, and Dunne dropped knees on D’Angelo’s draped arms on the apron. [c]
Back from split-screen, Dunne was working the arm and the digits. Stomp. Dunne kicked dismissively at D’Angelo in the British Strong Style tradition. Chops by Dunne and D’Angelo just got angry and speared Dunne. Corner lariat by D’Angelo. Suplex with a bridge by D’Angelo, but Dunne caught him in a triangle.
D’Angelo hit an exploder suplex on Dunne to escape and covered for two. A corner graphic promoted Harland vs. Brian Kendrick for next week. Additionally, a graphic hyped “Riddle and MSK confront Imperium.” Kind of a weird thing to be able to promote. Dunne caught D’Angelo and stomped him while holding his arms, and then both sold on the mat. The extremely pedestrian match got a “this is awesome” chant. The two exchanged shots and D’Angelo slammed Dunne for two. There was a needlessly long segment of D’Angelo crawling to surreptitiously grab the crowbar from WarGames; he swung and missed, and Dunne snapped on an armbar. D’Angelo broke free, ripped out Dunne’s mouthpiece and worked toward his finisher. Dunne blocked with his legs, worked the digits, and hit The Bitter End.
WINNER: Pete Dunne at 12:49.
D’Angelo tried to blind Dunne, but Dunne hit a knee and put D’Angelo to the floor. On the outside, D’Angelo hit his finisher on the announce table hood, then choked Dunne with the crowbar. D’Angelo trapped Dunne’s hand and crushed it with the crowbar. At least in real time, it looked as if he may have actually smacked Dunne’s knuckles rather than the table just beyond his fingers, so hopefully nothing went too wrong there.
(Wells’s Analysis: D’Angelo, who sort of disappeared in the WarGames match, got a chance in a big singles match and came off well enough. The match wasn’t a banger or anything, but D’Angelo was believable in the role of the man with more natural power who just keeps coming with offense. The belly-to-belly near the opening of the match looked a bit dangerous, so hopefully D’Angelo knows his own strength. It would be nice to see Dunne get moved up again, but the beatdown at the end would seem to keep him in a feud that he might be destined to lose. Oh well)
FINAL THOUGHTS: The goal was to return NXT to its developmental roots, and this show felt extremely successful in that regard, which of course is a very mixed bag for viewers. A lot of acts – or in some cases just some aspects of acts – are definitely not ready for prime time. Trick Williams is excellent in his role of second to Carmelo Hayes, but in the ring he has a long way to go. Elektra Lopez is still extremely green. Cora Jade, for as much as I love about her progress, is still pretty raw on the mic. On the upside, NXT continues to work storylines hard enough to make each week seem like it can’t be missed for continuity’s sake, which wasn’t always true in the otherwise strong black and gold era where an entire night full of no-frills matches was always possible. A mixed bag tonight as I prepare to talk with Tom Stoup on PWT Talks NXT. Listen tonight or stream tomorrow. Cheers.