3/1 NXT ON USA REPORT: Wells’s Report on Carmelo Hayes vs. Pete Dunne, Breakker & Ciampa vs. Ziggler & Roode, Solo Sikoa vs. Gunther, more

by Kelly Wells, PWTorch Contributor

PHOTO CREDIT: WWE

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NXT ON USA
MARCH 1, 2022, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON SYFY
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentary: Vic Joseph & Wade Barrett


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[HOUR ONE]

-Bron Breakker’s music played to bring he and Tommaso Ciampa to the ring in matching gear (Breakker’s colorful Steiner singlet).

(1) BRON BREAKKER & TOMMASO CIAMPA vs. THE DIRTY DAWGS (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode)

The action got started outside the ring and the heels had a very brief upper hand before the faces took over and laid them both out. Breakker and Ciampa both did Ciampa’s clap and self-back-pat spot, then did the Steiner bark. Breakker and Ziggler hit the ring and the bell sounded. Breakker got a couple of near-falls with impact stuff, but Roode interfered and Ziggler hit a ZigZag for a long two. Ziggler dragged Breakker to the heel corner and tagged. Roode took over with some ground & pound, then hit a Rude Awakening for two. Roode and Ziggler soaked up a “Go Back to Raw” chant. “You don’t go here” followed. Ziggler tagged in and worked a headlock and laid out Breakker, then tagged, as Vic pointed out that Ziggler was the only man in the match never to be NXT Champion.

Roode and Ziggler kept it slowed down and worked a heat segment. “We want Ciampa” chant was met with a very small “No we don’t” response from some weirdos. Ciampa made the hot tag and got his forever clothesline spot out of the way immediately. He pulled down the singlet straps and fired up. He wanted Fairytale Ending but Roode took him to a corner, then hit a spinebuster for two and the match went to split-screen. [c]

The babyfaces got back into it while my computer briefly and inexplicably locked me out of the page. Breakker ran in for something but Ziggler lifted a knee. Ziggler missed a superkick and Breakker speared him. Faces made the tag and Breakker assisted a top-rope bulldog, and Roode made the save. Rapid reversals for Ciampa and Ziggler led to Fairytale Ending.

WINNERS: Tommaso Ciampa & Bron Breakker at 13:05.

(Wells’s Analysis: There was no extracurricular activity, so it appears that never mentioning Ziggler as the number one contender wasn’t an accident and this loss would seemingly suggest the mini-feud is over. Outside of the confusion following the supposed number one contender’s match, this was a lot of fun to open)

-LA Knight talked to us. He’s up next. [c]

-Knight hit the ring. He only did two “YEAAAHs” before “Let me talk to ya,” thankfully, so hopefully someone is in his ear reminding him that when repeated enough, anything is just annoying. He cut a promo on Grayson Waller. A few people chanted “We want Grayson” and way more responded “No we don’t,” and Knight cheekily congratulated Waller for doing enough to make three fans. He talked down Waller’s recent activity, such as getting a restraining order and a giant bodyguard.

Grayson Waller and Sanga showed up on the perch and Waller started with three “YEAAAHs” just to prove it’s annoying. Knight said something back that was bleeped, and I was looking at the computer screen and didn’t see his lips move. Waller tried to claim he and Knight are “done, not a thing” but Knight pointed out that Waller was being punked on Twitter for being the coward he is. He tried to sucker Waller into a confrontation by testing his manhood, and invoked “Last Man Standing.” Waller took the bait and said he’d be the Last Man Standing next week. Knight got the last word and the crowd chanted his name.

-Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta talked about their focus ahead of their match. Pirotta got distracted by her phone at the lockers, and when Hartwell yelled for her from offstage, she did some laughably bad acting like she was glancing back at a judgmental Hartwell.

-Brief hype segment for the Women’s Dusty Cup.

(2) DAKOTA KAI & WENDY CHOO vs. INDI HARTWELL & PERSIA PIROTTA – Women’s Dusty Cup first round match

Choo entered to her usual lukewarm reaction. Kai entered and Choo tried to stop her so they could admire the Dusty Cup together. A guy in the audience right next to them was holding up a “WENDY I CHOOSE YOU” sign with Pokemon Pokeballs on it, and Vic made a big deal about it which guaranteed the guy was a plant placed so they could pretend that the Choo character is popular. [c]

“Dakota” chant before the bell. Toxic Attraction sat at the top of the ramp surveying the match, and they threw melodramatic dismissive hands because overacting is what they do. Choo and Hartwell opened, and Choo eventually backed Hartwell into their corner and Kai tagged in. The two teamed up on a lariat and Kai sold surprise that they were working well together. Choo tagged back in and the two worked together to slam Hartwell face first and Choo covered for two. Choo missed in the corner and Hartwell tagged Pirotta. Pirotta tossed Choo off of her and Choo tripped and almost fell out of the ring, but corrected, thankfully. Tag to Hartwell and she and Pirotta teamed for a slam and Hartwell covered for two.

Choo tried to make the tag and finally made it through Hartwell’s legs. Kai struck quick and often and hit the face wash in the corner and fired up. Pump kick and a cover for two. Pirotta tagged in and darted Kai into the buckle, then hit a cutter and covered for two, broken up by Choo. Pirotta tried to throttle Choo but Kai hit a pump kick. Choo hit a splash and Kai hit a double stomp to finish. Up on the ramp, Toxic Attraction sipped drinks and looked annoyed.

WINNERS: Dakota Kai & Wendy Choo at 5:20. [c]

(Wells’s Analysis: This pairing is designed to get Choo over, but she still isn’t grabbing a large segment of the crowd with this gimmicky act. Kai, for her part, seems to be tweaking into another permutation of her character, and it’s starting to finally click. Gone is the overreliance on the imaginary friends, and in its place is some simple paranoia and self-doubt, and Kai has always really done the whimsical stuff well and as a result it’s coming together. I’d still prefer the version of Kai who teamed with Raquel Gonzalez, but the gap is closing)

-Vic and Wade threw to a video package that asked whether The Creed Brothers can win the tag team championships. The Creeds and Imperium were both featured in a predictably strong and well-produced video package to hype the tag team championship match, coming next week. A graphic also hyped the Last Man Standing match between Knight and Waller.

(3) AMARI MILLER vs. LASH LEGEND

We got a replay of these two arguing last week after their Dusty Cup loss.

Legend shoved Miller to a corner but Miller struck back with some punches. Legend caught Miller with a kick, then did a spot where she lifted and lowered Miller, hitting her head against the ropes over and over. Cool in theory, but I’m not sure yet about it in practice. Legend stretched out Miller over her knee, then missed a running senton. Miller crawled for the ropes and Legend grabbed her, so Miller threw a kick. Rapid kicks and a dropkick by Miller. Thrustkick by Miller, who ran up and hit a moonsault for two. Vic said “What an upset this would be,” which is odd since Legend has never won an NXT match. Legend hit her finisher to win. Legend jawed into the camera, and said everyone was talking about Nikkita Lyons (false) when they should be talking about her.

WINNER: Lash Legend at 2:56.

(Wells’s Analysis: Miller continues to look good with her underdog offense. It isn’t always smooth and seamless, but she’s on the right track. Legend needs quite a bit of work)

(NOTE: Reports from fans attending NXT tonight are that Miller was injured in this match, and taken out on a stretcher)

-Solo Sikoa said some very brief words to hype the upcoming match with Gunther. [c]

[HOUR TWO]

-Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs are still bizarrely getting TV time. They were watching a video on a phone and said “Look at the rear on that thing. I would ride that all night.” Elektra Lopez was standing nearby and thought they meant her. She said Jensen wouldn’t know what to do with a real woman if he had one. Jensen said the joke was on her, because he’s never been with a real woman. Lopez rolled her eyes and walked off and Briggs questioned Jensen’s word choice. Is Jensen secretly the son of one of the bookers?

(4) SOLO SIKOA vs. GUNTHER

Quick strikes by Gunther. He took Sikoa to a corner for some big windup forearms and Sikoa fought back with some chops, but a giant Gunther chop dropped Sikoa. Gunther did the head twist with his feet, then hit a body slam. Gunther clubbed Sikoa, who caught a club and fought back with back elbows. Gunther laid him out this time with a big boot, then hit a headlock takeover and worked Sikoa on the mat. Sikoa tried to run the ropes to break, but Gunther held on. Sikoa escaped but Gunther hit another boot. Gunther fought off a fireman’s carry and laid out Sikoa with a big lariat. Gunther snapped on a Boston crab and eventually released and threw a stiff chop. He put some forearms to Sikoa, who tried to fire himself up.

Sikoa hit some body shots, but Gunther threw back. Sikoa tried another flurry, then ran the ropes and hit a forearm, but Gunther didn’t go down. Sikoa hit a spinning heel kick to put Gunther briefly on his back. Samoan drop by Sikoa and Gunther rolled out of the ring. Sikoa hit a splash from the turnbuckle to the floor. He rolled Gunther back into the ring and hit a superkick, nearly missed by the camera that was in tight on Sikoa’s face. Two count. Sikoa missed a top rope splash and Walter put on a sleeper, but Sikoa fought it off. Gunther hit a hidden blade and snapped it on again, then hit a powerbomb, then another. Sikoa’s undefeated streak, as expected, has ended.

WINNER: Gunther at 7:36.

(Wells’s Analysis: A good match with a good story of a young, hungry lion absorbing as much pain as he could from one of the masters of dishing it out. Sikoa looked just as promising fighting from underneath as he does from on top most weeks. Gunther, as always, was excellent. Sikoa’s easily best match to date.)

-Dolph Ziggler was getting interviewed in the back, and Tommaso Ciampa tried to shut him up. Bron Breakker showed up as well and pointed out that he’s already beaten Bron Breakker. Breakker said “You know what? Screw you guys. I’ll beat you both.” Ziggler laughed and said “That’s what I’m talking about,” and then left. Ciampa stared at Breakker like he was an idiot. [c]

-Hartwell and Pirotta tried to talk through their loss. Hartwell said “How could this happen? They don’t even have matching gear!” Duke Hudson showed up and hugged Pirotta to comfort her, and glared at an unhappy Hartwell as it happened. Hartwell begged Dexter Lumis to text her.

(5) DRACO ANTHONY vs. HARLAND (w/Joe Gacy)

Harland took immediate control and threw Anthony to a corner. Anthony tried to kick his way out, then hit a shoulder tackler for a quick count. Harland broke up a suplex attempt and threw Anthony’s head to the mat a few times. Gacy smiled creepily from the outside. Harland hit his finisher. Afterward, Gacy convinced Harland to pull in Anthony for a hug.

WINNER: Harland at 2:24.

(Wells’s Analysis: Harland worked extremely stiff, but I think Anthony was taking charge of some of the bumps he took and it wasn’t quite as rough as it looked)

-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Carmelo Anthony and Trick Williams. Carmelo said it wasn’t going to be who’s next for Melo, it’ll be who’s left for Melo. That soundbyte has been making the rounds in wrestling a lot lately for some reason. [c]

-Ivy Nile boxed a dummy and Tatum Paxley came in to talk about their loss last week. Nile wasn’t into conversation.

(6) RAQUEL GONZALEZ & CORA JADE vs. YULISA LEON & VALENTINA FEROZ – Women’s Dusty Cup first round match

Jade and Leon did a quick few spots and Gonzalez tagged in. Lots of new gear for people made this the most brightly colorful match I’ve seen in some time. The audience was loud throughout the opening minute or two, with one woman genuinely shrieking for 10-15 seconds at a time. Weird. Jade tagged in and leaned on Feroz in a corner. Feroz dumped Jade and made the tag. Feroz launched Leon for a ridiculously high plancha. Feroz followed with one of her own. There’s the shriek again. Toxic Attraction tried not to look impressed on the outside.

Action went back in and the heels teamed up for a move on Jade and Feroz rolled her up for two. Leon tagged in and hit a missile dropkick for two. Jade fought her way to her corner for a tag. Fallaway slam by Gonzalez. Club by Gonzalez and a Chingona Bomb. Tag to Jade, and Raquel slammed Jade onto Feroz for the win.

WINNERS: Raquel Gonzalez & Cora Jade at 4:46.

(Wells’s Analysis: Lively work from the three non-monsters, and Raquel was fine in her limited time being legal. Feroz and Leon are improving at a very rapid pace; the assisted plancha was absolute dynamite)

-Backstage, a bunch of not-yet-on-TV Women’s wrestlers admired Sarray’s necklace. Tiffany Stratton showed up and called it tacky, and said Sarray could have one of hers. Sarray politely declined, and Stratton chucked her into the garage door and said nobody says no to her. [c]

-Tony D’Angelo said he’s got his eye on a big fish, and at Stand and Deliver, he’s going to become a made man. At Stand and Deliver, his opponent will sleep with the fishes.

(7) ANDRE CHASE (w/Bodie Hayward) vs. VON WAGNER (w/Robert Stone)

An attractive woman, an obvious plant, admired Wagner upon his entrance. Not sure if that’s a subtle storyline beginning or just an attempt to make Wagner…a sex symbol? Wagner controlled from the bell and battered Chase in a corner. Slam by Wagner followed by some knees in the corner. More leaning and slams by Wagner. Wagner took Chase to a corner, missed a shot, and Chase threw a few kicks to try to get into it. He chopped at Wagner’s leg, then hit a clothesline. Chase stomped Wagner and spelled out “Chase U.” Outside, Stone got into it with Chase’s student Bodie Hayward, and Wagner put the student into the post. Back inside, Wagner hit his finisher – a new one. Like a Roode Bomb?

WINNER: Von Wagner at 4:08.

(Wells’s Analysis: Chase didn’t get much offense in, but against Wagner, I’m not sure he should get any. Competent work)

-The world is abuzz about Nikkita Lyons! Here’s some twitter-based proof. This was “one of the most impressive debuts in memory,” per Vic. Lyons got a small amount of mic time afterward to lessen the moment. If they like Lyons as much as it seems they do, they really should have kept her off TV for a while longer. [c]

-NXT Roadblock: Next week, live!

(8) PETE DUNNE vs. CARMELO HAYES (c) (w/Trick Williams) – NXT North American Championship match

Vic mentioned Dunne has never had championship gold in NXT, which is true enough as I’ve seen every episode of NXT, but still jarring to hear acknowledged. Alicia Taylor handled formal intros.

Collar and elbow, and Dunne took Melo down with a wristlock. Reverse to a Melo lock, and a rope run that ended finally with a Melo lariat. Rope run and this time, Dunne hit one. Dunne kicked Melo, who reached a rope. Dunne continued kicking Hayes and ran him to a rope and hit a lariat. He went for another but Melo charged in with one of his. Both guys hit simultaneous lariats over and over that turned into clubs. The audience applauded. “This is awesome” chant. Modified X-plex led us into split-screen.

[OVERRUN]

Dunne had Hayes on the mat with an armbar. Hayes got to his feet and the two exchanged forearms to continue the strong style affair. Hayes threw some kicks to the back of Dunne’s leg, then tried a springboard in the corner but Dunne kicked him. Trick distracted Dunne and Hayes laid Dunne out on the apron. Back in the ring, Melo retained control and worked a chinlock. He threw some forearms and Dunne came back with a big one, then hit a big kick in the corner and jumped on Melo’s arm. Dunne hit a huge forearm as Hayes flew in with a springboard and covered for two.

Dunne fought off a suplex and tried something, but Hayes hit a big lungblower for a very long two. Dunne caught a big boot attempt and transitioned to an ankle lock. Dunne kicked Melo’s elbow, but Melo got back into it with a kick and cover for two. Reversals led to a Bitter End but Dunne, for some reason, couldn’t cover right away. That…did not feel properly motivated by the action preceding it. Hayes monkey flipped Dunne into the bottom rope, then snapped on a crossface. Dunne broke it by snapping the digits, then went for Bitter End, blocked, and Hayes hit a cutter. Hayes went up but Dunne charged in with a right. Trick Williams jumped up to the apron and Dunne worked his digits. Jockeying for position on the top. Carmelo tossed Dunne to the floor and hit a top rope legdrop, sending Dunne to the mat face-first. It was good to finish.

WINNER: Carmelo Hayes at 12:30.

Trick Williams announced Carmelo as “Still your ‘A’ champion.” Hayes did some mic time and got a bit thrown when his music strangely played in the middle of his comment. Good job, gang. Hayes said he’d be defending it the same way he won it – in a ladder match.

(Wells’s Analysis: I assume the early playing of Hayes’s music was because the show was about to go longer than usual (it was 9 after when the show ended, which is a minute later than the norm). The match was, of course, quite good – the first half played out like a New Japan or PROGRESS strong style match, and moved into a faster gear to finish. The one mark against it is the weird moment where Dunne couldn’t cover after his Bitter End, because he really hadn’t been punished much before the spot. That aside, it’s hard to criticize anything besides perhaps the fact that Dunne has never won singles gold in NXT)


FINAL THOUGHTS: NXT always has some dizzying highs and lows, and we got a good helping of both. Here’s hoping Amari Miller’s injury isn’t too severe, because I like her progress. The opening and closing matches both delivered, and the two women’s tag matches were decent enough, though the entire first round was a foregone conclusion.

The more things change, the more they stay the same with “very special” NXT episodes – we had one two weeks ago, and we have another next week. It seems the new guard is just as nervous about grabbing ratings as the old guard was when they were up against AEW. Perhaps not firing an entire mountain of talent wasn’t such a great idea after all, but that toothpaste isn’t going back in the tube. Check out PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream tomorrow. Cheers.

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