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NXT ON USA TV REPORT
JANURAY 4, 2022
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, join the PWT Talks NXT crew to break down the show with live callers and emails.
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(Hazelwood’s Take: This is my first official alt-perspective report for NXT 2.0. I did fill in a few weeks ago, but that was in a substitute capacity. Moving from Raw coverage, I will have to recalibrate a bit, but I’ve always been a fan of developmental and thus excited to now cover 2.0. I just love going on career journeys with wrestlers, and 2.0 seems to be the place where this will happen. Also, I’ll be appearing on more of the post-shows with Kelly, Nate, and Tom, so you’ll be able to hear me extrapolate my thoughts more verbally. By the way, Kelly is covering Wrestle Kingdom, so you can catch his NXT coverage again next week.)
-The show began with a video splicing new year’s celebrations scenes with some “evil” scenes, including the Mandy Rose vampire look. They showed the MSK & Riddle vs. Imperium hype, Carmelo Hayes and Roderick Strong for their unification bout, Grayson Waller’s build with A.J. Styles, Raquel Gonzalez and Cora Jade making their way to a triple threat title match, and Tomasso Ciampa vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship.
-They showed the New Year’s Evil graphic as Vic Joseph welcomed viewers to the packed Capitol Wrestling Center. Many of the fans were masked. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams were shown making their way from backstage. Roderick Strong was shown with Diamond Mine, who then made their way as Malcolm Bivens hyped him up. Hayes entered first wearing a Strong shirt. He and Williams entered the ring and posed. Strong and Diamond Mine then made their entrance with a faint “Roddy” chant. Strong picked up the discarded shirt from Hayes and tossed it into the crowd. There is now a side plate instead of a lower third for wrestler info. Alicia Taylor was in the ring for formal ring introductions.
(1) CARMELO HAYES (c) (w/Trick Williams) vs. RODERICK STRONG (c) (w/Diamond Mine) – North American and Cruiserweight Championship unification match to become North American Champion
Looks like it’s ref D.A. Brewer. Both men locked up and jockeyed along the ropes. Hayes broke clean, then talked some smack. They locked up again in the middle of the ring with Hayes taking the left arm and wrenching on the limb. However, Strong countered and reversed position, but Hayes rolled out and then hit a dropkick, posing in a taunt to Strong. Bivens and Hachiman were at ringside for Strong, Williams on the outside for Williams. Hayes took a side headlock, took Strong down, but then they traded head scissors-side headlock takedown-arm drag then Hayes faked a kip up and hit basically a short Pele kick.
Hayes evaded a few chops from Strong, then cinched in a strong side headlock. Strong shoved Hayes off, then finally landed a huge chop that floored Hayes. He hit a few more against the ropes, but Hayes rolled outside. Strong followed, landed another chop, then took it to Hayes as they reentered the ring. Dueling chants began. Strong hit a big back elbow, but as he went for a running bulldog, Hayes sent him into a seated position on the rope, then hit an enziguri and springboard leg drop to a draped Strong. He went for another springboard, but Strong caught him. Hayes blocked a move, but Strong caught him. They kept trading position on attempts to throw the over the top, then Hayes hit a leaping DDT over the ropes and onto the apron. Back in the ring, Strong evaded a leaping attack and hit the Sick Kick for a two-count. They cut to break. [c]
They returned with Hayes holding Strong in what appeared to be an Americana submission. Strong fought to his feet, then came off of the ropes with a big clothesline. The Messiah of the Backbreaker landed a pendulum style one, then another. He hit a third, methodically. He went for the Olympic Slam, but Hayes slipped out and hit a titl-a-whirl armbuster, then into an armbar. Strong shifted, looked for the Stronghold, but Hayes slipped out and hit a turnabout-is-fair-play with a Boston Crab. Strong was able to power out, but then locked in the Stronghold. Hayes got a leg free and kicked Strong in the face to escape, but Strong hit a uranage backbreaker for a two-count; Strong hooked the far leg to prevent a rope break.
Both men were in a seated position and traded slaps, but then Strong gained the advantage. He hit a rolling elbow, then a series of running forearms as Hayes was against the ropes. He hit the Olympic Slam for a two-count. Strong looked to lift Hayes in the corner, but Hayes fought out and jumped out with a sunset flip, then rolled through to hit a cutter on Strong for a two-count. Wade Barrett said Hayes couldn’t get high enough on the cutter. Strong hit a sudden inside cradle for a two-count, then landed a thunderous forearm. He went for End of Heartache, but Hayes landed on his feet and landed a big super kick.
Hayes went to the top, but Strong met him with a leaping knee. Crowd behind Strong. He went to the top and hit an avalanche X-Plex to Strong, but Hayes, covered with an arm for a two-count. Maybe Hayes countered with a facebuster? No replay. Hayes climbed to the top and hit a leaping axe kick across the back of Strong’s head. He pinned him for the victory to unify both titles as Bivens looked on in dismay.
WINNER: Carmelo Hayes at 15:29 (avalanche axe kick) to unify the North American and Cruiserweight Championships and become Unified North American Champion
-They cut to an “Earlier Today” video with Breakker arriving for tonight’s event; Ciampa was in the locker room holding Goldy. Styles entered and wished Ciampa good luck. Ciampa said Styles looked like he’s dressed ready for a fight. Styles said he had business with Waller. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: A great match, though the commercial break helped. While the outcome was a foregone conclusion, the near falls in the match were done well, and The Messiah of the Backbreaker and Cardio Monster really showed his worth. Hayes is one of the best stories of 2.0, undoubtedly a star of the future. He just keeps getting better and better each time in the ring. That weird X-Plex spot aside, Hayes’ charisma, talent, and athleticism make him a perfect workhorse champion.)
-They returned with the announcement of the return of the Dusty Classic for both the men’s and women’s tag divisions. It begins with the women’s tournament in February and men’s in two weeks.
-Styles’ music hit to a good pop, even more when he entered. He was in his black and red tights. He entered the ring and grabbed a mic after posing a bit. He soaked in the adulation from the fans a night after getting beat by Omos unceremoniously in five minutes. He said he never gets tired of hearing fans chant his name, so they kept going. The crowd can be a bit…annoying at times. He said he’s done a lot in his career and that will never get old; he thanked the fans. He said he won a lot of championships too, and thanked the fans again. He said he’d be lying if he didn’t have any regrets. He said when he first started in WWE, he wasn’t down in NXT. He said he knows people think he’s crazy for saying something like that since his debut was at the Royal Rumble and on WrestleMania within months, but there’s something special about NXT. The fans predictably chanted.
He said it’s that: passion. He said it’s the passion that the fans have for the “superstars” here and the passion the superstars have for the fans. He said he doesn’t care if it’s 1.0 or 2.0, it’s passion that makes NXT go around. Another “NXT” chant began. He said he’ll be damned if he’s going to let someone take that passion away from them. Styles named Waller to huge boos. He said there’s always going to be one person that thinks they’re bigger and better than the place, then was interrupted by Waller’s music.
Waller cockily made his way out in a flashy button up. He said mate, credit where it’s due, Styles really tugs at the heartstring. He said he has people emotional, this guy over here’s crying, but it’s an incredible deflection throwing shade on him to deflect from losing to Omos last night. Waller said he doesn’t buy the whole “wish I started in NXT thing.” He said he knows what’s coming: you can’t wrestle, you didn’t pay your dues, etc., but he’s a student of the game. He pointed out a guy and said he’s been watching WWE his whole life and didn’t see why Styles lost last night, and also that the guy hasn’t seen any sun or anything. Waller said Styles lost last night because he was thinking about Grayson Waller.
Styles said he’s right: Styles is hurt, beat up, not a hundred percent. He said why doesn’t Waller take advantage of the situation and since Styles hasn’t had a match in NXT, they can do this right here. Waller cut him off and said they’re on Grayson Waller time. Styles said why don’t you grow a sack and get in here and do something. Waller removed his shirt and entered the ring, but said naw, this is the money fight and they need the spotlight: next week in the main event. Styles said rather than the biggest victory of Waller’s career, it’ll be the biggest embarrassment. Waller telegraphed a punch and ate one from Styles, but gained the advantage. He landed a stiff right, but then ate a Pele kick. Styles was sent to the apron, then set for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Waller rolled outside and toward the entrance. The crowd booed as Styles’ music hit.
-They cut to video of Pete Dunne angrily going at Tony D’Angelo for breaking his hand. He said D’Angelo’s poked the bear. Dunne said naw mate, this is just the beginning and this time, there’s only one of them. He said it’s too late to consider because he’s going to rip D’Angelo’s arm out of its socket and stomp his mouth shut for good. He called out D’Angelo for a match next week and invited him to bring the crowbar.
-Imperium made their entrance to a big pop as soon as the music and spotlight hit. The fans sung along to the music. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Nothing Waller is doing is making him think anything other than he’s going to get the Austin Theory treatment in terms of quickly ascending to Raw or Smackdown. I said last week with Wade Keller that I see Waller eliminating Styles in the Rumble match for a Mania weekend match, but I’m not so sure with their match next week. There’s always a chance this still happens, especially if Waller wins sneakily and wants to keep rubbing it in Styles’ face, but we’ll see. Regardless, I don’t see Waller as long for NXT, which is both a benefit and detriment. He needs more seasoning in the ring, but his charisma can carry him far.)
-They returned showing Amari Miller with Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter working out. The latter said they’re gearing up to be tag team champion. Persia Pirotta and Indi Hartwell then came over and said they’re going to be champion. Miller challenged them to a handicap match, and Pirotta accepted. Pirotta looked to Tiffany Stratton, but she declined and walked away. Wendy Chu was then shown sleeping. She said her name, then went back to sleep.
-They cut back to the ring where Imperium where still standing in their poses in the middle of the ring. MSK’s music hit with a live DJ at ringside. Actually, it was a remix with Riddle’s theme, too. Then they played Riddle’s theme proper as he made his entrance. They posed with the crowd before entering the ring while Imperium waited at ringside.
(2) IMPERIUM (Walter & Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) vs. MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) & RIDDLE – Six-man tag team match
Barthel and Carter began the match with Barthel using some technical mat wrestling to work the arm. Carter tried grabbing the head, but Barthel hit a handstand out of it. Barthel maintained a front face lock, but Carter used his agility to leap and roll away. He took out a leg, then hit a running basement dropkick to the head. Aichner made a tag and then hit an arm drag. He then rammed Carter shoulder-first into the middle turnbuckle. Carter fought out of the corner with chops, spun out of a crucifix, then tagged in Lee. Lee evaded and hit a head scissors from a handstand, then hit moonsault that was caught by Aichner on the shoulder. Aichner then blocked a kick and hit a thunderous lariat than spun Lee around.
The crowd chanted “We Want Riddle.” Aichner grabbed a leg again, but Lee flipped out and tagged in Riddle to a big applause. Joseph said it was the first time since May 27, 2017 since Riddle was in an NXT ring. Walter then tagged in, and Riddle went right after him until Walter caught a kick and landed one chop to floor Riddle. He tagged in Aichner. Aichner hit a snap bodyslam and falling elbow for a two-count. He cinched in a rear chinlock, but Riddle flipped out of a belly-to-back suplex. Lee, then Carter tagged in and landed a flurry of double team moves. Barthel tried to stop them, but was sent outside. Walter then entered and took out Lee and Riddle, then Carter, but Lee fought back only to be laid across the top rope and slapped across the chest, then double dropkicked by Aichner and Barthel. They said picture-in-picture (really split screen), but the USA player went to full commercials. [c]
Barthel was preventing Carter from making a tag, hitting a big uppercut as they returned. Carter evaded a clothesline, hit a superkick to Aichner on the apron, then an enziguri to Barthel in the ring. Barthel tagged Watler first, who stopped Carter before the tag. Walter stomped away at Carter, who slapped back to the chest, but as he went to make the tag, Aichner and Barthel pulled out his partners. Walter took advantage and hit a seated senton for a two-count. Riddle climbed to the apron first, but Walter stood between him and Carter. Carter countered a powerbomb with a rana and tagged in Riddle.
Riddle came in and hit a bunch of kicks to the chest, then an overhead kick. he hit a running forearm, then one to their corner to take out the two. He then hit an exploder to Walter, followed by a PK and eventually, the Broton. He tried for the draping DDT on the other two, but Walter came in with a rear naked choke. Riddle flipped out, then Lee and Carter hit superkicks to Aichner and Barthel. The two then hit stereo topes as Riddle hit a springboard moonsault to all three on the outside. Back in the ring, Riddle hit a deadlift bridging German suplex to Walter for a close two-count. Riddle started pounding the ring like Riddle, but Aichner and Barthel took out Lee and Carter on the outside. The distraction allowed Walter to hit a shotgun dropkick and powerbomb for a two-count!
Walter angrily yelled at his partners, then tagged in Barthel. Aichner tagged in, then Barthel tossed Riddle into Aichner for a vertical suplex. Carter just broke up the count before three! Barthel came in and tossed Carter outside as Walter called for the finish. Aichner set Riddle for their finisher (Barthel tagged in), but Riddle fought out. He hit another German to Walter, then tagged in Carter, who tagged in Lee. Riddle tagged in as MSK hit a leaping spinebuster-neckbreaker combo. Riddle hit a Floating Bro to the downed Aichner, then dodged Barthel and hit an RKO for the victory.
WINNER: MSK & Riddle (RKO) at 13:52
-McKenzie Mitchell was in the back with Joe Gacy and Harland. She asked about last week with Andre Chase and his student. Gacy said Harland has been working through the ramifications of how people have treated him in the past and has made great strides in the past few weeks, showing more restraint than ever before. He said he discussed with Harland that if they competed for the Dusty Cup, it would bring him joy, peace, and happiness. He said as a new tag team, they don’t want handouts; they don’t want the same privilege as an established tag team would receive, and would prove to the community that they’re a viable tag team. He thanked her for her time.
-They cut outside where a helicopter was approaching. They showed inside the copter, Rose sitting there, then saying this is how a champ arrives in style. She raised the title to the camera, then they showed the helicopter landing. She exited as they hyped the Women’s Championship match next. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: A perfectly fine, reasonable, and expected six-man tag team match. It doesn’t hurt that you have Imperium in there to guide everything. I guess if you’re going to have your Tag Team Champion take the fall, at least have it be to another Tag Team Champion on the bigger show.)
-They returned with Mitchell in the back with Elektra Lopez. She asked about Xyon Quinn. Lopez said keep on wondering. She said she joined Legado del Fantasma because Santos Escobar knew she is a different maker. She said family comes first, but she is attracted to success and she makes no apologies to anyone. She said she still sees Mitchell looking at her for an answer, so she said next week, it’s Escobar vs. Quinn and the winner leaves with her. Mitchell cut back to the announcers. It’s a small touch, but throwing back just seems more realistic.
-Jade skated her way to the ring to a good pop. Gonzalez rode to the ring on her motorcycle to a mixed reaction; there was one obvious person screaming for Gonzalez. Toxic Attraction’s music hit as the camera panned up to Rose, who had black wings and the title around her waist. Barrett said her entrance via helicopter was rock star level. Interestingly, Taylor wasn’t in the ring for formal introductions, only at ringside; that’s disappointing. I believe all championship matches should have in-ring formal introductions to really put over the importance of the title.
(3) MANDY ROSE (c) vs. RAQUEL GONZALEZ vs. CORA JADE – Triple threat NXT Women’s Championship match
Gonzalez quickly took out Jade, then went after Rose (there was no formal introduction, sadly). She then hung up Jade on the top rope, but Rose used that to take over with some knees that sent Gonzalez outside. Rose turned to Jade, but Jade hit a head scissors. Gonzalez reentered, then blocked Jade’s head scissors attempt, but Jade hit a rollup for a two-count. She then baited Gonzalez and sent her outside. Rose then grabbed Jade’s ankle to trip her, drag her outside, and rammed her into the apron. Gonzalez ran over and kicked Rose in the face. Jade then hit a rolling senton from the apron. Furious pace. Rose grabbed and threw Jade back-first into the steel steps, then rolled her back into the ring for a quick one-count as Gonzalez dragged Jade outside.
Rose threw Jade back in, but Jade was dragged right back out. Rose then rammed Gonzalez into the steps before reentering the ring. Jade went for an inside cradle that turned more into a north-south position pin, but Gonzalez broke it up and set Jade on the top rope. She lifted Rose to her shoulders, then grabbed Jade, and hit a double Samoan drop. They cut to break. [c]
Rose had Jade in a body scissors as they returned, but Jade stacked her for a two-count as Gonzalez reentered the ring. Rose hit a chop block to Gonzalez, but Jade then hit a sunset flip to Rose for a two-count. She then kicked Rose in the chest, but Rose hit a big lariat that floored Jade for a two-count after a brief moment of respite. Gonzalez went after Jade, then Rose, hitting a bodyslam to the latter. She then whipped Rose into the corner with Jade, but Jade kicked Rose and took out Gonzalez with a rana. She used the ropes to take out both women, but Gonzalez used her power to remain on her feet. She slipped, allowing Jade to gain the advantage, but Gonzalez hit a backbreaker.
She lifted Jade to her shoulder and then military press slammed her to the outside; Rose sidestepped to avoid. Gonzalez then taunted and called out Rose, even lowering the ropes for her. Rose then ran away, but Gonzalez caught her (after Rose hilariously slowed up). Back in the ring, Rose begged off, but Gonzalez grabbed her legs and hit an alley oop bomb. She then grabbed Rose and hit a Braun Strowman-like forearm to the chest. Rose rolled outside, but Gonzalez immediately threw her back in. Rose used that to hit a lungblower to Gonzalez for a two-count. Rose was shocked.
She slammed Gonzalez’s face into the mat, but Gonzalez threw her into the ropes. Gonzalez then grabbed her by the chin, lifting her for her finisher. She landed it, but Jade hit a top rope senton to break up the count. Gonzalez looked at Jade, furious, but Jade just smiled. Gonzalez lifted her to the top, then climbed to the second rope. Jade slipped out and sent Gonzalez over the top and to the floor. Jade turned to Rose, still laying in the ring. She slowly crawled toward Rose. She tried rolling her up, but Rose sat on top of her and sloppily stacked her for the victory.
WINNER: Mandy Rose at 12:32 (stacked pin) to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
-They cut to a video where Boa was washing his face. He said the power is uncontrollable. He sought out the power to fight Solo Sikoa by himself. The last time he washed his face, his painted visage appeared next to him.
-They cut to the parking lot where Riddle was celebrating with MSK. He said goodbye for now as he rode off on his scooter. The Creeds appeared. Brutus said the tag team division got more competitive. Julius said they’re going to win the Dusty Cup, then walked away.
-Barrett predicted The Creeds would win the Dusty Cup, and Joseph asked if MSK can become the first two-time winners. Chase’s music hit as he entered to boos. He entered the ring and said last week was indeed a teachable moment. He said he was in deep trouble and one of his students risked life and limb to protect him (shouldn’t it be limb and then life?). Chase said that’s the kind of bond they have between the student body and faculty at Andre Chase University. “Chase U” chant started. He said he’s so grateful that Harland didn’t follow through and throw him off of the roof of that building because that would have been terrible for enrollment. He said for his heroics and selflessness, he wants to recognize this student. The student with the long blonde hair began jumping as a “You Deserve It” chant began. Chase said he’s so proud to announce the first recipient of the Andre Chase full scholarship. Von Wagner’s music hit (it’s bad).
Wagner said enough with the bullshit (it was silenced). He said let the real star of NXT say something (that’s rich). He said he hears the boos and negative comments, but when he steps in the ring, all of the sudden, he’s their new favorite superstar. He said you all want to tune into the Von Wagner watch party to see who he tunes out next. He said he only needs to be liked by the people that matter, and none of you do. He said look at him; he’s everything they’re not, and the same to Chase. Chase said whoa, whoa, whoa, this is what teachable moments- Wagner cut him off with a lariat and Olympic Slam. The crowd turned to the student as Wagner beat on Chase some more. Wagner then stepped outside and to the student; he grabbed him and tossed him to ringside, then tried with another person, but grabbed another to throw him out. He went after another and things were out of hand. I’m guessing they were plants because if not, whew.
-They cut to a video recapping Ciamp vs. Breakker at Halloween Havoc, Breakker saying he made one mistake, but failure taught him a lesson he won’t forget and a mistake he won’t make again. They then showed him pinning Ciampa at WarGames. Ciampa said don’t mistake a battle for a war. Breakker yelled that he’s coming for the title. They showed Breakker making his way to the ring from the back, then Cimapa making his way from apparently the warehouse area. They cut to break hyping the match, which will be commercial-free. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: There were some sloppy spots, but that’s to be expected when all three wrestlers aren’t known to be ring generals. Jade definitely has something with the crowd at the CWC, but has it translated to the larger fanbase? She’s obviously still green, the greenest person to have wrestled tonight, but she also has oozing potential. Rose going over was the right decision, but now it’s about building that next challenger. Who will it be, possibly back to Io Shirai?)
-They returned with a replay of Wagner’s actions before the break. Barrett said laying your hands on the audience is one of the most disgraceful things to do, and Joseph apologized for the actions of Wagner who was being escorted out of the building. They showed him heading through the trainer’s room as he taunted Strong, then told Ivy Nile to get out of his face; yeah, she’d whoop his ass!
-They showed a Cameron Grimes vignette, going over his 2021 from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, “I went from cutting grass to kicking ass.” He said Ted DiBiase taught him how to conduct himself like a champion, but he wants to create his own. He said in 2022, he starts chasing gold. YES.
-Joseph went over next week’s card: Styles vs. Waller in the main event, Escobar vs. Quinn, and just announced, Dunne vs. D’Angelo in a Crowbar on a Pole match.
-Breakker made his entrance first (as he should), throwing down chains then kicking apart a big Styrofoam gold X in half. He entered the ring in a simple black singlet with “BREAKKER” in red across the midsection. Actually, in the light, it might be a darker camo look that I’ll update with the full lights. Ciampa then entered wearing his white jacket with black accents. He looked at the split X on the ground, then posed with the title before entering the ring. Taylor was in the ring for introductions as ref Aja Perera separated both men. Taylor gave introductions.
(4) TOMASSO CIAMPA (c) vs. BRON BREAKKER – NXT Championship match
Bell rung at ten before the top of the hour, thereabouts. Breakker’s singlet is black. He forced Ciampa into the ropes, then slowly backed away while glaring at Ciampa. Ciampa then forced Breakker into a corner and hit a chop, to which Breakker just laughed. Ciampa came back and hit a clothesline, then a corner clothesline. Breakker hit a leapfrog, then a running gator roll into a delayed vertical suplex. He kipped up as Ciampa went outside to regroup.
Ciampa grabbed Breakker’s ankle, but Breakker forced him inside and hit another delayed vertical suplex. He forced Ciampa off of the ropes and hit a forearm to the back, then did it one more time as the crowd barked like his father, Rick Steiner. Both men traded chops, but Ciampa kicked the knee to gain the advantage. He rubbed Breakker’s face across the ropes, then tried for the ten punches, landing eight before Breakker hit him with an inverted atompic drop and clothesline.
Breakker came off of the ropes, but Ciampa caught him with a dropkick to the face. Ciampa then arrogantly just kicked Breakker’s face. They hyped Sikoa vs. Boa for next week with a graphic, making four official matches. Breakker went for a leaping shoulder tackle, but Ciampa ducked and Breakker crashed. Ciampa hit a running knee to Breakker on the apron, then a corkscrew plancha; he sat on the apron and clapped.
Back in the ring, Ciampa dropped a knee to Brekker a few times before a rear chinlock. They also hyped a six woman tag team match with the six women from earlier (they spelled her name Wendy Choo). Breakker rose to his feet with Ciampa still on him, then just fell backward onto Ciampa. Both men began trading blows in the middle of the ring as Joseph discussed how Breakker’s lack of experience could be an advantage. Breakker hit a few clotheslines, then a leaping splash in the corner. Ciampa tried hitting a Thesz Press, but Breakker quickly turned it into a spinning spinebuster.
He hit a running shoulder tackle in the corner, then lifted Ciampa to the top. Breaker went for the Franken-Steiner, but Ciampa slipped out and crotched Breakker, then hung him in the Tree of Woe. He hit a few kicks, then a running dropkick to drop Breakker. Ciampa went for Fairytale Ending, but Breakker blocked. Breakker lifted Ciampa for a spinebuster, then hit a standing moonsault for a two-count; it looked good.
Breakker went to the second rope, but then he shook it off. He took too long so Ciampa sent him over and to the outside. Ciampa then hit a running knee to Breakker, sending him back inside after. Ciampa was busted open, but hit another running knee. He went for another, but Breakker hit a big spear that floored both men. Perera donned gloves to check on Ciampa’s cut. The crowd started a “This Is Awesome” chant. They started trading punches in the middle of the ring.
Ciampa hit a flurry of strikes into the corner, dropping Breakker to a seated position. He went for a knee, but Breakker hit a standing Franken-Steiner for a two-count. Breakker rose to his feet first, then grabbed Ciampa for the military press slam finisher, but Ciampa countered and was able to hit Willow’s Bell for a two-count! Ciampa, furious, then grabbed a single leg crab as Joseph said it was the knee Breakker injured. Breakker grabbed the bottom rope to break the hold. Ciampa rolled outside and removed the padding in front of the ring by the announce table. He broke the count and looked for Willow’s Bell on the concrete. Instead, Breakker hit a big Alabama Slam to Ciampa through the announce table!
Breakker rolled Ciampa back in, then lifted Ciampa and hit his finisher. He hooked the far leg, but Ciampa grabbed the rope with his right arm! Breakker did the right in hooking the far leg, but he didn’t account for the arm. Ciampa was on the apron, clinging to the bottom rope like it was a battle royal match. He then goaded Breakker through the ropes and hit the rope into Breakker’s crotch. He exposed his knee and hit a knee to Breakker, then a running one from inside the ring, then another. He hit Fairytale Ending, but Breakker kicked out! Joseph was saying, “Ciampa hit’s Fairytale Ending to retain the NXT Championshi-NO!”
Ciampa, shocked, lifted Breakker to the top in a seating position. He looked for an avalanche Air Raid Crash, but Breakker shoved him off and hit the bulldog from the second rope! He then unhooked the straps and sat on Ciampa’s back. He locked in the Steiner Recliner and after about ten seconds, Ciampa tapped. They panned to many shocked fans in the crowd. As Perera handed him the title, he looked over at Ciampa, who begrudgingly yet acceptingly nodded to Breakker. Breakker took the title and roared in victory. They showed replays on what was a damn good match, probably Breakker’s best singles match yet. Breakker celebrated in the ring, posing with the title as the show ended. You could see him looking off to the side for his time cues as they faded to black.
WINNER: Bron Breakker at 15:27 by submission (Steiner Recliner) to become NEW NXT Champion
(Hazelwood’s Take: As I said, a good match and Breakker’s best singles showing thus far. Now comes the real test with him needing to anchor a division and sometimes entire shows. His charisma in unbounded, but how can he channel that into better promos? They don’t have to be Paul Heyman level, but even something along the lines of Damian Priest will be enough for Breakker to be this side of HOOK of years to come. Props to Ciampa, pulling out all the tricks he could and still accepting his fate. His effort cannot be overlooked and he is the glue in all of Breakker’s best showings, regardless of type of match. Bravo, Tomasso Ciampa.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: For only four matches on a themed episode, those matches all were given ample time. The non-wrestling segments throughout worked, even if the Chase-Wagner segment seemed forced. Better yet, they’ve announced FIVE matches for next week, and it’s nice knowing what to look forward to after going so long with WWE just not advertising anything ahead of time for their weekly shows. Waller is a star in the making (I told Wade Keller that The Miz is his floor, and I stand by that), but Breakker is going to be the leader of 2.0 as Waller quickly makes his way out. The most intriguing thing to me coming out of tonight is exactly how they’re going to set Rose’s next challenger as I don’t think you can do either of the women who lost tonight’s match, but then not really sure who’s left; this could be a great time for a number one contender’s tournament! On the bright side, next week’s main event should be fun.