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NXT ON USA TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 22, 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: Samantha Irvin
Backstage Correspondent(s): McKenzie Mitchell
Tonight after the show, join the PWT Talks NXT self-proclaimed “gang of idiots” to break down the show with emails.
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-The show began with a vignette recapping last week’s Vengeance Day with almost the exact same few seconds of intro as last week, making me think I had tuned in for a replay. They showed highlights of each match, focusing on the interaction between Carmelo Hayes and Pete Dunne, then the four-man story for the NXT Championship with Bron Breakker defeating Santos Escobar after interference from Dolph Ziggler and Tomosso Ciampa.
-Breakker’s music to hit what sounded to me like very little pop, but this crowd is also…weird. Breakker entered the ring with a mic and looked around a bit before saying last week was a tough fight and Escobar is a tough opponent, but he proved to everybody that only over his dead body will anyone take the title from him. He said he couldn’t think of a better place than WrestleMania weekend for Stand and Deliver. He said he promises he will walk in and walk out of Stand and Deliver still the NXT Champion. Cue the interruption.
Yup, it was Ziggler as Breakker started talking. Ziggler had a mic and from the entrance said congratulations on his first title defense and you never get your first, some advice he says he gave to Wilt Chamberlain; ha. Ziggler said Breakker can’t be making promises he can’t keep since that’s a long time. Ziggler said Breakker is F-350 and will make it there, but as champ, he doesn’t think so. Ziggler said tonight, he stomps out the last breaths of Ciampa, then says he’ll carry Breakker’s ass. He said when he decides for the title to be his, it will be.
Breakker yelled that he owes Ziggler a receipt for kicking him in the face last week, so bring his skinny ass to the ring. Ziggler said in seven to ten business days, he’ll get the taste back in his mouth. He called Breakker a hothead that’s in his genes, like the Canadian tuxedo he knew he’d be wearing. Breakker said he doesn’t get paid to dress, he gets paid to kick ass. Ziggler said Breakker is the man…on Tuesdays, but he’s the biggest star in the business and the building. He “gave” Breakker the night off and said Breakker is barred from ringside during his match with Ciampa.
-Vic Joseph kicked to a video recap brought to you by Progressive recapping the L.A. Knight-Grayson Waller saga and the events from last week that led to tonight’s scheduled match between the two. Waller’s music hit as he made his way with Sanga beside him. Waller is so good at making you want to smack him in the face. They hyped Corey Graves and Carmella’s new reality show, so catch that if you want. Knight made his entrance to a big pop.
(1) GRAYSON WALLER (w/Sanga) vs. L.A. KNIGHT – Singles match
Waller immediately left the ring as the bell rung, then bobbed and weaved on the outside like a boxer. Knight followed, then Waller reentered the ring and did some quick lunges with a smile on his face. Waller exited as Knight entered, then back only to be hit with a clothesline. Knight hit a knee to the face and a slingshot shoulder tackle from the apron. Waller dodged an attack and hit a knee himself, but then got crotched on the top rope by Knight. Knight then moved the rope up and down before hitting a running clothesline to send Waller outside. [c]
I was informed that Kelly Wells is stuck in a blizzard and unable to watch the show, so his report will be back next week. Waller was sent outside by Knight as they returned from split-screen which doesn’t happen on the internet player for USA. Sanga DISTRACTED (took that from Wade Keller) and was forced into the steps by Waller. He rolled Knight back in for a two-count. Joseph said ot too many people like Waller and he’s been kicked out of the locker room, so my prediction that his floor is The Miz seems more correct every week!
Waller hit a nice vertical suplex, then took his time to hit a second rope froggy bow for a two-count. Actually, he dribbled between both legs in the air before the elbow. He then sat on Knight’s back, forcing his neck into the middle rope as he posed for the camera. Waller whipped Knight into the ropes and hit a back elbow for a two-count. Waller forced Knight’s face into the middle turnbuckle, then kicked it from the apron. He lifted Knight onto his shoulder and basically a reverse AA, dropping Knight on his back for a two-count.
He went outside to set his rolling neckbreaker, but Knight caught him and laid him out with a belly-to-back suplex. Knight blocked strikes and hit his own before flooring Waller. He then hit a big backbody drop before some stomps in the corner. Ref D.A. Brewer backed him off before Knight sent Waller chest-first into the corner and hit a leaping neckbreaker for himself. Knight went for his finisher, but Sanga grabbed Waller’s arm to keep him standing. Waller then rolled Knight up with a handful of tights to win.
After the match, Knight attacked, then took out Sanga with his finisher, then Waller. He walked off after taunting Waller some more.
WINNER: Grayson Waller at 10:00 (pin with tights)
-They showed an earlier today video with Dakota Kai in the back looking for someone, then seeing Wendy Choo sleeping on a production crate. She approached and asked why Choo didn’t tell her they’re in the Dusty Cup. Choo complained about not getting her midday sleep. Choo said she told Kai’s friend, the one she’s always talking to, then acted like she was talking to Kai’s imaginary friend. Kai said she’s not good with friends, but Choo said she hasn’t had her as a partner. She smiled, then walked off. Kai said she chose us, she chose me; third time’s a charm, right? “Probably not.”
-Joseph and Wade Barrett then showed the women’s Dusty Classic bracket with two matches taking place tonight. They showed Toxic Attraction in the back on their way to the ring. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Aside from the end with Sanga, where the spot seemed mistimed at first, that was a good match and probably the best of what to expect from a Knight match. Waller is so good at being a smarmy, arrogant piece of crap, but usually those types don’t turn and go after their foes when they know they’re going to lose, like last week after the cops left and tonight after the match. Still, Waller’s potential in WWE, particularly with how WWE likes to create and book characters, is immense. I doubt he would work in AEW or even TNA, but he’s perfect for WWE.)
-They returned with another Raquel Gonzalez and Cora Jade vignette where they tried doing things Jade’s way instead of the former’s. They were at some tree climbing obstacle course place, and Gonzalez revealed she’s scared of heights (me too!). They played basically a montage of them proceeding, with Gonzalez acting terribly like she’s afraid of heights. Jade was having the time of her life. Jade then shifted them to ziplining, which terrified Gonzalez. For someone who was so scared, she filmed herself on her phone the whole time. She said Jade helped her conquer her fear of heights, so they conquer the Dusty Cup next week.
Toxic Attraction were at the Toxic Lounge as McKenzie Mitchell joined them to ask about their setup. Jacy Jayne said they’ll be there to watch the whole tournament, then said what an adorable video on the two. Gigi Dolan made a joke about where they’d go next, then they downplayed their chances. Mandy Rose credited Kay Lee Ray and Io Shirai for realizing they’ll never be NXT Women’s Champion as long as she is, so they became a team. Ray entered and pointed her bat at Rose. She waited at the entrance for Shrai, who got NO response; this crowd is definitely weird.
(2) KAY LEE RAY & IO SHIRAI vs. AMARI MILLER & LASH LEGEND – First round match in the women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
Shirai and Legend began the match with Legend trying to use her height and strength, flooring Shirai with a shoulder tackle. Shirai popped up and got in Legend’s face, but Shira flipped out and hit a head scissor and then a Tiger Feint Kick. Shirai then set for her springboard dropkick, but she fell. Credit to Legend for immediately following up with forearms, but Shirai then responded and climbed to the top to hit the dropkick.
Miller tagged in, but Shirai hit a flapjack. Ray tagged in and hit a PK to the back after a snapmare from Shirai for a two-count. Ray hit a short-arm chop, then another, but Miller countered a suplex into an inside cradle for a two-count. Miler hit a spin kick to the head and tagged in Legend. Legend hit a pump kick to Ray, but Ray caught Legend with a super kick and hit the KLR Bomb. She tagged in Shirai and hit a middle rope moonsault. Shirai hit Over the Moonsault for the victory. Poor Legend took both moonsaults on the knees.
WINNER: Kay Lee Ray & Io Shirai at 2:44 (Over the Moonsault)
-In the back, Mitchell was with Dante Chen. She asked about his match with Duke Hudson, which he asked for. He said Hudson thinks he’s a big shot attacking him during a match and then when being held back by referees. He said Hudson talked a big game two weeks ago when he knew Chen had a family emergency. He said tonight he gets his vengeance. His cadence was a bit odd here. [c]
-They returned with Brooks Jensen and Joshua Briggs in the back. Briggs said they’re going to get Jensen out of the zone by recording him for those “dumb dating apps.” It was as bad as you’d expect, though Briggs is much better than Jensen, which isn’t a high bar at all.
-Hudson made his entrance first for his match with Chen. Chen attacked him from behind; good!
(3) DANTE CHEN vs. DUKE HUDSON – Singles match
A blonde woman referee I haven’t seen yet called for the bell when both were in the ring. Hudson sent Chen outside, but Chen took his legs out and drove his right knee into the apron, then across the ring post. Instead of working the left, Chen is working the right. However, Chen was forced into the post by Hudson as Hudson countered another drive into the post. Back in the ring, however, Chen took the advantage with a lot of offense, strikes and maneuvers, with a stinger splash and a DDT for a two-count.
Chen went for the ten punches in the corner, but Hudson slipped out and took out Chen’s leg. Hudson then hit a big running boot on Chen. Hudson then went for and hit the Razor’s Edge bomb for the victory.
WINNER: Duke Hudson at 2:20 (Razor’s Edge)
-They showed Hayes and Trick Williams making their way as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I like how Chen approached this match and the offense he showed. He takes good bumps as well, crumpling on that Razor’s Edge. Hudson right now just doesn’t do much for me, but I wonder if he was able to do more in the ring if it would be different. This character just doesn’t call for being flashy or having a diverse move set beyond strong strikes and his finisher.)
Hayes and Williams made their way to the ring as they returned. The A Champion was pure confidence as he made his way a week after defending his North American Championship against Cameron Grimes.
CARMELO HAYES IN-RING PROMO
Hayes said he wanted to say one thing before they start: when he shoots, he doesn’t freaking miss. He then said tonight, they’re here for a Melebration, but not a Mellabration. Hayes said he needed to talk his talk. He said he was going to have the match of the night, retain his title, and steal the show. He said he really doesn’t miss and he put on a performance of a lifetime last week. He said everyone was talking about the A Champion, and the A stands for absolute best. He said anyone can get it on the mic, in the ring, or the bird app, it don’t matter. Williams said in April, America’s team and America’s champion in the same place at the same time.
Dunne’s music interrupted. He said Hayes hasn’t beaten him, but to be fair, Hayes is the A Champion and Dunne doesn’t think the absolute best should sit on the sidelines during WrestleMania season. Hayes said he knows what Dunne’s trying to do, but Hayes can’t make anyone famous. Dunne said to prove that he doesn’t miss by challenging him to a match next week. Williams said whoa Petey (a good ten times), then asked if he couldn’t hear that good. Hayes interrupted and said “Skeet Dunne,” he won’t back down from a fight. Grimes attacked from behind, taking out both Hayes and Williams. They cut to break as a tag match seems to be coming. [c]
(4) TRICK WILLIAMS (w/Carmelo Hayes) vs. CAMERON GRIMES – Singles match
Grimes was in control as they returned, sending Williams outside. Williams was wrestling in non-wrestling footwear. Grimes cut down Williams with some leg kicks, then chopped him in the corner. He hit another chop off of a rope run. Williams then ate a chest kick for a one-count. Williams was forced into the corner, then just fell flat on his face in the middle of the ring. When Grimes tried to get him, Williams hit a back elbow, a kick, an uppercut, and a leaping clothesline.
Williams then beat on Grimes, sending him into the corner and hitting a bodyslam before posing. Williams then hit a very nice dropkick right to the face of Grimes. Williams trapped the arm and had a modified rear chinlock, then drove Grimes into the corner. Grimes was sent into the ropes, then ate a spin kick from Williams, his mid-leg hitting Grimes for a two-count. Williams then applied a modified sitting cobra clutch mid-ring.
Williams forced Grimes back to the mat when the latter tried regaining his feet as Joseph said the North American Championship match is official for next week. Grimes rolled out and hit a few flying forearms to Williams, then a running corner kick. Grimes climbed to the top, but Williams rolled away and hit a pump kick. Grimes hit a superman punch, but Williams hit a series of strikes. Grimes showed some power by hitting huge spinning uranage slam for a two-count.
Grimes called ror the Cave In, but Williams rolled outside. In a repeat of last week, Grimes went for it on the outside, but Williams moved. Grimes hit a superkick instead. Grimes then climbed to the top and hit a crossbody on Williams, but his knee hit Williams right in the head, appearing to land with his knee on the face as well. He looked woozy, but still took the Cave In as Grimes won the match.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 6:04 televised (Cave In)
-They shifted to another set of Jensen videos for the dating app. Look, they’re trying with them, but there’s just no improvement from Jensen.
-They showed Ciampa lifting weights in the locker room as Breakker thanked him for taking care of Ziggler last week. He said he won’t be out there, but he’ll be watching. Ciampa said the way he sees it, it’s 1-1 and he needs to know who the better man is. Breakker said he’s looking forward to the rubber match.
-They played another Nikkita Lyons video that may have been the exact same one from last week. Her debut is next. They cut to break with a highlight of MyGM in WWE 2K22. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Williams impressed! I do feel bad about that knee to the head as he really did look dazed after that. He has the personality, so if he can put things together in the ring, he’s going to have a bright future in NXT and possibly Raw or Smackdown.)
-They returned with a Chase University video. Chase’s lesson was on a phrase coined in 1913: intestinal fortitude. He said it means to have a set of balls “Michael you dumbass.” He says Von Wagner seems to have lost his balls, a perfect example of someone with no intestinal fortitude. When a student asked what he’s going to do when he steps into the ring with Wagner. Chase exploded on him, kicked the student out, and called that a teachable moment.
-Lyons’ music hit as she made her entrance; it sounds like her own music. Hs e was dressed like Cammie from Street Fighter and threw some shadow punches.
(5) NIKKITA LYONS vs. KAYLA INLAY – Singles match
Inlay tried an arm wrench, but Lyons countered and held one of her own. She transitioned into a side headlock, then hit an arm drag. They reset as Lyons took the arm (very telegraphed), then kicked Inlay. Lyons taunted Inlay, then locked up. Inlay hit a go-behind, mushed Lyons, but ate a back kick. Lyons then, for some reason, just grabbed an arm lock. Swell.
Lyons came off of the ropes with a shoulder tackle, rolled through a leap frog, then hit a hip toss. She hit a flying forearm into the corner, but Inlay shoved Lyons into the top rope neck-first. Inlay hit a couple of gut knees, then some shoulder thrusts in the corner which Lyons bumped too early for. Lyons did hit a sunset flip out of the corner for a two-count, then a big forearm.
She hit some Muy Thai plumb knees, then a body shot that dropped Inlay. Lyons roared instead of following up, but she hit a series of roundhouse kicks to the body and chest, then another corner forearm. Inlay countered with a go-behind, but couldn’t lift Lyons. Lyons reversed and hit a sloppy German before kipping up. She then hit a cyclone kick and split leg drop drop victory.
WINNER: Nikkita Lyons at 4:03
-They showed Hudson in the locker room as Persia Pirotta approached and congratulated him. He grabbed her and they started making out. Indi Hartwell walked in and said gross. Pirotta walked off as Hudson said Hartwell used to enjoy it. She said it was a long time ago, but he said it doesn’t have to be. Dexter Lumis saw and heard, then dropped his head and walked off. She said she despised Hudson.
-They hyped the celebration for The Creed Brothers next.
(Hazelwood’s Take: Lyons is very, very green. I’d argue she’s more green than any featured acts they’ve had on 2.0. There were just some in-ring psychological stuff that didn’t make sense, she telegraphed a lot, and some stuff was sloppy. Also, giving her a move that Naomi and Melina made notable in WWE seems odd considering her gimmick after the release of Hit Row. I see what they see in her, but I’m not optimistic she’ll hit the levels of even Mandy Rose.)
-Robert Stone said they heard what Chase said earlier and said he gets an F in street smarts. He said next week, Chase will get in the ring with Wagner and leave with a will. He said this is Von Wagner’s world, and Wagner said you’re just living in it with as little charisma and enthusiasm you could muster in four words.
THE CREED BROTHERS CELEBRATE DUSTY CLASSIC VICTORY
Malcolm Bivens accompanied The Creed Brothers to the ring, where the trophy was standing. Bivens took a mic and said tonight, let’s have a conversation about perception vs. reality. He said Imperium wants people to think they’re world class athletes, but they haven’t done NCAA championships or Olympic trials like The Creed Brothers. He said last time he checked, Imperium hasn’t won a Dusty Classic. He said they would like you to believe they’re fighting champions, but they haven’t defended in weeks. He asked if they’re Oochie Wally or One Mic, real or fake.
Imperium’s music hit and Gunther said his name is Gunther as Bivens called him Gunnar. They said to give Gunther their respect. They said the titles will never leave Imperium. Brutus and Julius took it to Fabian Aichner and Macel Barthel. This left Gunther in the ring with Bivens. He cornered Bivens, but Solo Sikoa stopped him and superkicked him with some nice Jordans. Bivens gave him the best thumps up after.
-They cut to another set of recording Jensen as a woman I still don’t know walked in and said he just needs a picture. Jensen said what’s that about, but Briggs said Jensen’s disastrous love life is his favorite form of entertainment. See, Briggs ain’t so bad at the acting thing!
-They hyped Ciampa vs. Ziggler as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Malcolm Bivens is a national treasure.)
-Mitchell was in the back with Joe Gacy and Harland as they returned. She showed some security footage between them and Draco Anthony in the gym at night, all alone. He said they had a difference of opinion as Anthony shoved Gacy before Harland stepped in. He called Anthony an athletic piece of clay just waiting to be molded by the right person. He said next week, Anthony will face Harland and will find out it’s better to be surrounded by friends then be alone.
-Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley were in the ring. Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro entered next.
(6) IVY NILE & TATUM PAXLEY (w/Roderick Strong) vs. KAYDEN CARTER & KACY CATANZARO – First round match in the women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
Paxley and Carter began as Paxley immediately threw off Carter. Carter hit a go-behind, tripped Paxley, then feinted a kick before taunting. Carter was kicked off a pin, but tagged in Catanzaro before leaping off the ropes with a kick to Paxley. Catanzaro covered for a two-count. She then hit an arm drag on Paxley, got caught on a rana, was put in the electric chair, then was tossed off into a body shot from Nile as she tagged in.
Nile hit a leaping side kick to the face of Catanzaro, then tagged in Paxley, who wrenched Catanzaro’s neck on the second rope. She tagged in Nile, who hit a second rope elbow to a seated Catanzaro for a two-count. Catanzaro slipped out of a bodyslam, then kicked off Nile to tag in Carter. Carter used her speed to take out both women, then hit superkick to the head of a seated Nile for a two-count. Carter lifted Nile, but Nile slipped out and hit a step-up enziguri. Paxley tagged in as they hit a double team for a two-count that Catanzaro broke up. Nile was taken out outside as Catanzaro and Carter hit a neckbreaker-450 splash combo for the victory.
After the match, Nile put Paxley in a choke for a while, then dragged her out of the ring, gaining the approval of Strong. They left without Paxley.
WINNER: Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro at 3:27 (neckbreaker-450 combo)
-Mitchell was in the back with Sikoa, confirming their match for next week. Sikoa said he was going to pick a fight with the baddest dude, and he did just that. Bivens approached and said he appreciated Sikoa’s help and said he had Gunther right where he wanted him. He put his hand up for a high five, saying Uce, but Sikoa just walked away.
-Ziggler’s music hit for the main event, which is going to get a good amount of time as the entrances began with 17 minutes before the hour and they usually happen with five minutes before the hour. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: All I know about Paxley is what I heard on Tom Stoup’s new VIP-exclusive podcast Bonus Point. Nile is my type of professional wrestler, and I LOVED what she did after the match to teach a lesson. It fits with not only her character, but with Diamond Mine. As for the two KCs, I’m not sure how much more beyond “can do fast, fun, flippy stuff” they’ll become, but they do have a good amount of crowd backing. They may make the finals, but I don’t think they’ll win as it seems set for Ray and Shirai to win, with Hartwell and Pirotta right behind them.)
-They returned with Knight in the back saying just when he thinks he has that last little piece of Waller, Waller got the 1-2-3. He said still, Sanga and Waller, down they go, but not L.A. Knight. He said yeah and walked off. It was less coherent than I wrote.
-They hyped Gunther vs. Sikoa and Hayes vs. Dunne for the North American Championship for next week.
-Ciampa made his entrance to a good pop as his music hit and he walked through the curtains.
(7) TOMASSO CIAMPA vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER – #1 contender’s match for the NXT Championship
The two men glared at each other for a bit before locking up. Red Darryl Sharma drew the assignment. Ciampa slowly worked the arm and out-wrestled the amateur wrestling champion and record holder. He smacked Ziggler on the ass to top it off. They reset as Ziggler hit a single leg and told the ref to watch as he rolled Ciampa over in a modified gator roll for a two-count. Both men then tried their multiple signature moves, dodging each other’s before resetting once again.
They taunted each other, then Ziggler hit a sudden headbutt for a two-count. He hit a neckbreaker, working the compromised neck of the former NXT Champion. He cinched in a rear chinlock, then raked the eyes of Ciampa. Ziggler dragged Ciampa’s face along the top rope, then trapped the arm into a modified crossface as he methodically took his time with Ciampa. Ciampa fought back to his feet with elbows and a chop, then laid out Ziggler with a few clotheslines, including one where he did two rope runs before landing the blow.
Ciampa hit a rolling forearm, then lowered his kneepad for a pump knee. He missed, then blocked a Zig Zag before sending Ziggler to the outside. As Ziggler tried to reenter, Ciampa hit the knee and sat on the apron, patting himself on the back as they cut to break with five minutes before the top of the hour. [c]
They returned with Ziggler still having Ciampa in a rear chinlock (for like, half the damn match!?). Ciampa fought back to his feet, then the two traded blows in the middle of the ring. Ciampa then catapulted Ziggler into the corner and hit a running attack for a two-count. Both men laid in the ring, showing the toll of the match. They traded blows again, but Ciampa fired up and stomped away at Ziggler in the corner. He went for his running knee in the corner, but Ziggler hit a big dropkick.
Ciampa responded with a punch, but Ziggler hit the Fame-Asser for a near-fall two-count. Ziggler then readied for Sweet Chin Music, but Ciampa hit a knee and then a powerbomb lungblower that Ziggler just kicked out of before three. Ciampa lowered the knee pad again and hit a bit pump knee, but Ziggler put his foot on the rope to prevent the three-count. A dumb “Fight Forever” chant started. Ciampa then worked the knee, sending Ziggler outside.
Ciampa followed, but Ziggler shoved him into the post and hit the Zig Zag on the outside, dropping both men. Is a double count out coming? Ziggler lifted Ciampa nd rolled him inside, then himself just before ten. Ziggler went for the superkick, but Ciampa sidestepped and went for the Fairytale Ending, but couldn’t lock it with his left arm compromised. Ziggler hit a knee, then hit a rear naked choke in the middle of the ring. Ciampa was fighting, spit flaring out of his mouth and sticking to his beard, but he made it to his feet with Ziggler on his back and fell backwards into a two-count.
Both men made it to the apron, where they teed off on each other. Ciampa got the better with a series of chops and a big kick. He went for an Air Raid Crash and hit on the apron! Ciampa rolled Ziggler back in, but took too long getting in, telegraphing something. A cameraman suddenly struck Ciampa with the camera, then quickly reset so the ref didn’t notice. Ziggler hit a superkick and won the match.
After the match, Ziggler looked at the cameraman in shock. Then, the cameraman revealed himself to be former NXT Champion “Glorious” Robert Roode. They celebrated like they pulled off a huge hesit in the ring as half the crowed cheered for Roode and the other half booed. They stomped away at Ciampa until Breakker came and dropped both men. He took a mic and then challenged them to a tag team match next week, I’m guessing in the main event slot. Breakker then said they could find their balls and fight right now. The heels acted like they were going to leave, but then rushed back to the ring to fight both men. All of the refs came out to break it up as the show went off of the air with all four men beating on each other.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler at 15:37 (superkick) to presumably become #1 contender for the NXT Championship (it was billed as such beforehand, but no mention was made)
(Hazelwood’s Take: First, to the match. With a lot of recent main events not getting as much time, even with the overrun, because of how late they started, it was nice to see a 15-plus minute match tonight. With Ciampa and Ziggler, it makes sense that you would give them the most time tonight and anchor the show around them. It was a great match with spots of fluidity, technical wrestling, brawling, some gritty ugliness in the best way possible, and although I hate interference and DQ endings, at least this was done well to set next week’s match, helped by going off of the air with such an intense brawl. I thought Ziggler would win to be a great bump machine and elevate Breakker, but how they got there at least wasn’t the usual interference finish. While it was telegraphed with Ciampa taking so long to get in the ring, which was set up by Ziggler taking so long to get into the ring earlier, there was never any indication that a cameraperson would be involved until they got involved. Roode also has a great connection to NXT, so that long-awaited and desired crossover between NXT and the other shows is finally happening in earnest and how it should have been done in the first place and was done in the early stages – use established talent to help create new stars in 2.0)
FINAL THOUGHTS: 2.0 is a show that has things that are arguably more entertaining than Raw or Smackdown, yet also has things that are far worse than those two shows. There’s really no in-between with 2.0. For example, the Jensen and Briggs stuff, Gacy’s act, and whatever it is they’re doing with Lyons are outright bad. However, Hayes and Williams, Waller being the smarmy heel, Ray and Shirai being on TV, and the attention to storytelling are great! The only negative I see with adding Roode is that, if Escobar still is involved, it muddies the waters even more with five people in the NXT Championship picture. It sounds like they’re leaning toward a singles match for Breakker come Stand and Deliver, so I don’t think we’ll see a fatal four-way or five-way then, but possibly in the weeks before the show. It’s also finally nice that the women’s Dusty Classic began, but in terms of match time, they really got short-ended, though I’m not sure how long you want Legend/Miller and Nile/Paxley in a match. Maybe the semi-finals and finals will receive around ten minutes, but the two matches tonight lasted over six minutes combined.