SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
JANUARY 11, 2022, 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
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me and Kevin Cattani to break down the episode:
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-Recap of the Breakker-Ciampa saga that ended with Bron Breakker winning the NXT Championship last week in the main event. It was a longer recap than usual.
-New ring announcer Samantha Irvin introduced Breakker, who grabbed a mic. “You deserve it”/”no you don’t” dueling chant was about 60-40. Breakker put over Ciampa as a great champion and an outstanding human being. He mentioned Ciampa paying respect to his father after the match. He said he loves that they don’t have days off. He called out the entire locker room and essentially said he’d outwork everyone, and he’d earn the championship each and every week.
(Wells’s Analysis: Good to continue to keep things short. Breakker is still falling back on the old trope of yelling everything in place of peaks and valleys, but he’s a little more natural than he was before)
(1) XYON QUINN vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR (w/Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde)
The ridiculous stipulation here is that the winner will leave with Elektra Lopez by his side. Quinn charged in with a forearm before the bell to boos. “Santos” chant by the always Legado-friendly crowd. Quinn slammed Escobar to boos. Lopez was shown watching the match with the usual amount of emotion on her face (none). Quinn hung up Escobar on a turnbuckle to more boos. He’s not even getting 25-75 reaction here. Punches in the corner by Quinn. The match went to split-screen. [c]
As the intended heel, Escobar dominated throughout the split-screen commercial. Escobar worked an ankle lock and Quinn tried to crawl to no avail. Escobar stomped on Quinn’s leg a few times then ran the ropes and clipped him. More non-reaction shots of Lopez in a very memorable dress. Escobar continued to work the leg with a dropkick as the long heat segment continued. Escobar took Quinn to a corner and threw some palm strikes, then ran corner to corner right into a Quinn forearm. Combo punches by Quinn. Corner block and a backdrop by Quinn. Another corner block followed. Quinn got distracted while fully in control and Escobar dumped him. Escobar went to the floor and picked up Quinn, but the stoic Lopez walked over and Escobar got distracted as well.
Escobar was tossed back in the ring. Elektra Lopez seemed to get flirty with Quinn and pump him up, but after he nodded and turned his back, she kicked him where it counts. Quinn walked in the Phantom Driver.
WINNER: Santos Escobar at 10:36.
(Wells’s Analysis: So why did Lopez distract Escobar and allow him to get jumped in the first place? Otherwise, a decent enough story as Lopez establishes herself as all about the familia. The match was largely a slow heat segment all leading to the big moment and was nothing to write home about)
-Tony D’Angelo cut a taped promo on “Petey Poppers,” I think he said. He said tonight that Pete Dunne, like Tony’s dog, would learn that Tony D is in charge.
-Cameron Grimes hype package. He’s been chasing dreams, and in 2022 he’ll be chasing gold. [c]
-Mandy Rose plodded through another flat promo as she posed poolside for a bikini photo shoot. There was no specific mission here; it’s just a reminder she’s champion, I guess.
(2) CAMERON GRIMES vs. DAMON KEMP
Waistlock takedown by Kemp, who has an impressive power base. Malcolm Bivens hit the ramp to scout Kemp as the announcers put over Minnesota (Kemp’s stomping grounds) as a state that churns out great technical wrestlers. Kemp hit an impressive belly-to-belly before Grimes took over on offense with some speed stuff and hit the Cave In.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 2:21.
(Wells’s Analysis: Kemp is Bobby Steveson, brother of Gable. In googling the name Damon Kemp, there were a lot of hits for a double-murder suspect from a couple of years ago. I wonder if they’ve noticed that)
-Joe Gacy, with a staring Harland, said that everyone had an equal opportunity to win the Dusty Cup. He said that tonight, when Edris Enofe and Malik Blade face them, they’re in a safe space. They may be rivals in the ring, but they don’t need to be rivals in life. [c]
(3) EDRIS ENOFE & MALIK BLADE vs. JOE GACY & HARLAND – Dusty Classic play-in match
I would call it a qualifying match, but they said “play-in,” so here we are. The faces got an inset promo that showed decent enough fire. Gacy and Harland entered to boos.
Enofe got a short chant as he opened with Gacy. Gacy missed a shot in the corner, but hit a block. Forearm smash into a uranage, shockingly called correctly by Vic, by Gacy. Rollup by Enofe got a brief count. Blade tagged in and hit a nice dropkick, then hit an armdrag and got a chant of his own. Tag to Enofe, and the faces worked together toward a Blade neckbreaker. Harland seethed on the apron throughout.
Gacy finally managed a tag to Harland, who dominated Blade by shoving him into a corner and smothering him with a knee to the back. Harland attacked Enofe as well, then went back to Blade and relentlessly attacked him in the corner for the DQ. The ref explained to Harland what happened, and Harland closed in on the ref until Gacy calmed Harland down and convinced him to leave.
WINNERS: Blade and Enofe by DQ at 3:15.
(Wells’s Analysis: Not a bad thing to put some stakes on this and at least attempt to justify the budding team’s spot in the tournament. Good offense by the babyfaces, and Harland did Harland things, which are working for him so far)
-Imperium hype segment. The road to perfection is paid by pain and suffering. They are Imperium, and they are not like you. [c]
(4) PETE DUNNE vs. TONY D’ANGELO – Crowbar on a Pole match
Both guys eyed the crowbar. Exchange of strikes and knees. Dunne hopped up and hit a guillotine and grounded D’Angelo, then stomped his head. He went for the crowbar and D’Angelo yanked him down. Dunne tried again after grounding D’Angelo and got the same result. D’Angelo hit an exploder suplex out of the corner, though Dunne recovered quickly and went up for the crowbar. Both guys fought on the turnbuckle, trying to grab the crowbar. Action moved away from the corner and D’Angelo slammed Dunne. [c]
D’Angelo had Dunne grounded, but Dunne kicked his way out of trouble and got up for a PK. Neckbreaker by Dunne. Dunne stomped on D’Angelo’s arm, then set him up and did it again. Once more, Dunne went up for the crowbar, but D’Angelo caught Dunne for a huge belly-to-back suplex. D’Angelo went up and got the crowbar and smiled. He missed once, then again. Dunne ended up with the crowbar and missed once, then again himself. D’Angelo went outside and yanked Dunne out and slammed him on the apron, then went in and reclaimed the crowbar. D’Angelo tried to use it on Dunne on the outside and missed twice, and Dunne took control and dropped a knee on the back of D’Angelo’s arm. He entered the ring and caught D’Angelo in a hold with the crowbar. D’Angelo wriggled free and hit an neckbreaker assisted by the crowbar and got a two count.
D’Angelo stomped on Dunne’s hand to keep him from getting the crowbar. Dunne countered another crowbar choke and worked D’Angelo’s arm, then hit a thrustkick. Dunne caught D’Angelo in another submission using the crowbar, but D’Angelo struck his way out and grabbed a chair. He brought it to the ring and referee Darryl Sharma wrested it away from the two. D’Angelo reached a rope on a Dunne submission attempt. D’Angelo charged Dunne down onto the chair (how is that not a DQ?) and then swung the crowbar at Dunne, hit him, and covered for the 3.
WINNER: Tony D’Angelo at 13:16.
(Wells’s Analysis: This setting is kind of a waste of Dunne. A crowbar makes for a terrible weapon in a wrestling match. Any successful swing obviously has to end the match, so it’s just a series of wildly contrived misses leading to the finish. D’Angelo is crisp enough but still very limited on offense)
-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Grayson Waller, who said he was everywhere right now. He cut a brief promo on AJ Styles ahead of tonight’s main event. [c]
-Toxic Attraction hype segment. Mandy Rose dead-voiced again as both others have surpassed her with their basic mic work.
(5) KACY CATANZARO & KAYDEN CARTER & AMARI MILLER vs. INDI HARTWELL & PERSIA PIROTTA & WENDY CHOO
Karen Q’s new gig as “girl who’s constantly just waking up” is one of the most bizarre character ideas in recent years and may actually be less believable than “evil woman who lives forever.”
Early on, action spilled outside and Amari Miller overshot on a tope attempt and had to be caught to avoid disaster. Let’s maybe retire the tope on NXT until we can reach a 50% success rate? Choo was the story of the match as she rested on the turnbuckle and continued to act tired. She tagged in and ducked a clothesline because she stretched her arms and arched back in a yawn. Everyone hit lightning-quick moves in the ring and afterward, Choo laid down to sleep on the mat, complete with the hands pressed together on the side of her head. Hartwell finished on Miller after another quick schmoz.
WINNERS: Hartwell, Pirotta & Choo.
(Wells’s Analysis: Choo is great on offense, but this character is legit the dumbest I can remember in some time)
-MSK went back and admired the Dusty Cup they’ve won before. Dakota Kai stopped by and pointed out that she’d won it as well. She warned MSK that nothing divides friends more than success. They told her to get that evil out of here. [c]
-Kay Lee Ray destroyed a bunch of gear backstage while she cut a promo on Mandy Rose.
(6) SOLO SIKOA vs. BOA
They didn’t give us the opening bell for some reason, but we weren’t far in. Sikoa took Boa down for some forearms to the skull, then leveled Boa with a chop. Boa bailed after another forearm and Sikoa followed. Boa ran Sikoa into a post, then rolled him back inside and worked his leg, then stomped his midsection. Boa lifted Sikoa for some knees, then ran hitm from rope to rope and hit more knees. The ref put on gloves as Sikoa was bleeding from the mouth from one of the shots. Boa also had blood on his forehead that I thought was Sikoa’s, but on second thought was likely his own.
A lariat by Sikoa took both guys to the outside. This warranted an “NXT” chant from the audience, apparently. The two brawled outside the ring for the incredibly silly double-countout when either one could easily have gotten into the ring. They were framed as not caring, which wasn’t a good look.
WINNER: Double countout at 3:34+.
(Wells’s Analysis: It’s bad enough that they do the finish, but worse when the wrestlers are framed as not trying to win. It doesn’t make them look aggressive, it makes them look dumb. The match was decent enough, though just getting going)
-McKenzie talked with AJ Styles, who put over NXT before saying the Waller Effect is all over tonight. He said he’d win the Royal Rumble and headline WrestleMania, all starting tonight when he finishes off Grayson Waller.
-Recap of the championship unification match last week. [c]
-Boa and Sikoa brawled all over the back. Boa threw a fireball into Sikoa’s face. Boa had his paint on now.
-Vic announced that Von Wagner’s suspension has been lifted and his fine has been paid, but he doesn’t know by whom.
-Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams hit the ring for a talk segment. He said when Hayes was a champion, they were both champions. Trick starting talking about their amazing chemistry until Hayes mentioned that they have business. Hayes said he wanted to have a moment of silence for Roderick Strong’s Cruiserweight Championship reign. He tried to pour out a drop for Strong’s reign but the bottle was empty. Hayes hit his catchphrases to (mostly) boos. He said that the North American Championship was the “A” Championship because it’s around his waist. He posed as the segment was seemingly over, but the theme of AJ Styles played to bring him out to the ramp. He had a brief look at the two heels as he went to the ring. [c]
-Hayes and Williams attempted to get to their vehicle, but couldn’t find their keys. Cameron Grimes was leaned against the car and he said he’d be coming for the championship. He said he was going to…the…moon. He threw the keys up and said “don’t miss,” but Hayes didn’t catch the keys. Grimes walked off and laughed.
(7) AJ STYLES vs. GRAYSON WALLER
Stalling by Waller to start. The audience relentlessly chanted for one guy or the other for the loudest fan contest. Lots of brief holds and reversals in the early going until Styles struck with some kicks, then took Waller from corner to corner for some more. Backbreaker by Styles. Waller tripped Styles into the bottom turnbuckle to take control to boos. Waller ran the ropes into a Styles dropkick. Styles hopped to the apron but Waller tripped him there. Waller hit a neckbreaker on the second rope, dumping Styles. Waller charged out and hit a hard lariat on Styles to put him on the floor. Split-screen. [c]
Styles got back into it with combo strikes and a clothesline. He fired up and hit a flying corner lariat. Cover for two. Action spilled outside and Styles tried to set up Waller for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Waller saw it coming so he didn’t walk into it.
Waller hit a flying elbow from the second rope for two. He missed a follow-up corner splash. AJ rolled Waller into a calf crusher and Waller crawled desperately to the bottom rope and reached it. Waller rolled Styles up for two, then hit a spinebuster for two. Waller set up and called for the Styles Clash to boos, and Styles wiggled free. Styles walked into a stunner and Waller got another long two. Waller tried a superplex but Styles ducked out of it and hit a Pele kick. Vertical drop brainbuster by Styles. Phenomenal Forearm finished.
WINNER: AJ Styles at 14:14.
After the match, Styles said Waller was good, but not phenomenal. He said he wanted to introduce Waller to one of his friends. LA Knight’s music played to return him from the injury that Waller kayfabe caused. Knight battered Waller around the ring and over the announce table, then back into the ring. He dumped Waller to cheers to end the show at the fairly common eight minutes after the hour.
(Wells’s Analysis: A very good match on a night that desperately needed one. If it takes a little stunt casting to ensure a strong main event and reaction each week, I suppose I can live with that. Good to see Knight back, though I guess I’d barely noticed that he missed a few weeks as there are so many talents being thrown at us each week now. Waller gains something just being in there with AJ, and now moves on to a feud he could feasibly win)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This one was a definite trudge at times. While the relentless workrate of black and gold could get tiresome and predictable, the pacing in the ring this week was slow and plodding for much of the night. The double-countout was wildly contrived. A crowbar in a wrestling match just doesn’t do anything but detract from the action. Wendy Choo’s character has nowhere obvious that it can go without major tweaks.
That said, the show remains committed to paying off storylines eventually and introducing new ones. If we could get a strong episodic show AND consistently strong matches and characters? Well, boy howdy. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream tomorrow. Cheers.