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NXT 2.0 TV REPORT
MARCH 29, 2022
WINTER PARK, FLA. AT THE CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
NXT Commentators: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett
Ring Announcer: Alicia Taylor
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 calls and emails.
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-The show began with Imperium’s music hitting for the six-man tag team match to open the show. As they posed, Gunther was DRILLED from behind as they were attacked by the faces, so entrances are still rare in the recent 2.0.
(1) IMPERIUM (Gunther & Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) vs. L.A. KNIGHT & MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) – Six-man tag team match
Knight and Aichner began as ref D.A. Brewer called for the bell as soon as two men were in the ring for each team. Aichner took over after a shoulder tackle and side headlock takedown. Barthel made a tag and hit an arm drag, working the left. Knight tried working Barthel’s arm a bit, but Barthel snapped back and took over. Knight hit a running neckbreaker counter and tagged in Carter (who’s had some troubling allegations come to light since last night by Kimber Lee), who tagged in Lee as they hit a double team. There was an audible boo for MSK from the anit-MSK crowd.
Knight tagged back in and worked Aichner, who escaped the ring after a sneaky tag by Barthel. Barthel rushed Knight from behind and hit him so hard he whiplashed off of the ropes. Gunther tagged in to a big pop and began working his foe for Saturday. He went for a chop and missed, missed again, but grabbed Knight and landed a big one. Aichner tagged in and bodyslammed Knight into the ropes. A rear chinlock slowed the pace.
Knight tried fighting back, but Aichner floored him. Aichner slapped Knight as Vic Joseph said, “That was a Will Smith slap,” (damnit, Vic, no). Knight took it to Aichner, then tagged in MSK, who took out all three men on the other team with superkicks off of the apron. Carter hit a tope to Barthel, but as Lee went for one on Aichner, he got pounced by Gunther. Brewer held off Knight and Gunther as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Aichner in control Lee, but Lee fighting back. He hit an enziguri out of the corner. On replay, it wasn’t a pounce, but a big boot from Gunther before the break. Both men made tags as Knight and Barthel entered. Knight hit Gunther off of the apron, then hit a neckbreaker and Oklahoma Slam to Barthel, followed by a leaping elbow for a pin that was broken up by Aichner. Carter tagged in and hit an assisted dropkick with the help of Knight. As the ref’s back was turned, Gunther took out Carter. He and Knight began to brawl and headed to the back behind the stands.
Barthel rolled Carter in and tagged in Aichner. Carter hit a jackknife pin on Barthel, but didn’t realize Aichner was legal. Aichner took out Lee and then hit a thunderous lariat to Carter for the clean pin.
WINNER: Imperium at 12:15 (lariat)
-Afte rthe match, The Creed Brothers stood on one side of Imperium as MSK stood in the ring.
-They played a video of Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray winning the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic last week. Ray said Mandy Rose said she could beat any woman on the roster, so they teamed together to get payback. Shirai spoke in Japanese a bit before Ray said they’re no strangers to championships; Ray put over her 600+ day reign. They argued a bit at the end over who would be the winner on Saturday. Ray said “Gambate” in Japanese as Shirai said may the best woman win. A graphic of the fatal four-way for Saturday showed with Cora Jade the fourth.
-They cut to break as the next announced was Ivy Nile vs. Tiffany Stratton. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: The faces attacked before the match and still couldn’t win. Granted, their three-man group is far less seasoned than Imperium. I wonder if The Creed Brothers’ attackers will come into play on Saturday or wait until next week. I think The Creed Brothers have to win the title on Saturday. The titles need a spark. On the attackers, I joked that it should be Jacket Time because we suck at discerning accents, but someone noted on Twitter it’s probably Pretty Deadly. It makes a lot more sense The Creed Brothers couldn’t tell a Scouser accent – Grizzled Young Veterans – apart from a different English accent.)
-They returned with Dakota Kai in the back looking for Wendy Choo. She found Wendy’s body pillow, slippers, and pajamas on the ground and torn apart.
-Nile was in the ring as they returned to the ring. They showed a video from earlier in the week where Tatum Paxley was cleaning up Diamond Mine’s area. Nile told her they kick ass, not kiss ass. Paxley dragged off the punching bag. Stratton made her entrance. Joseph cut to her Stratton’s attack on Sarray two weeks ago. They showed Sarray frantically searching and then finding the necklace after the attack.
(2) IVY NILE (w/Malcolm Bivens) vs. TIFFANY STRATTON – Singles match
Stratton called for a test of strength, but Nile suplexed her. Stratton took her down and hit a standing moonsault for a two-count. Nile responded by blocking a hip toss and hitting a short clothesline. She hit a running hip attack while Nile was leaning against the second rope. They traded some sloppy pins before Stratton took down Nile with a side headlock. She locked in a standing Cobra Clutch that didn’t look painful at all before she slammed Nile into the mat face-first.
She blew a kiss at Nile, which incensed her. She hit a standing kick combo and a flying forearm in the corner on Stratton. Nile then hit a running side kick into the chest in the corner before locking in a standing surfboard, then slamming her into the mat. Nile tried following up but Stratton hit a lariat. Smoke started filling at the entrance as Sarry, in her gear, appeared on the apron. Stratton went for a bodyslam, but Nile slipped out and locked in her standing modified Dragon Sleeper that I need to look up the name in 2K22.
WINNER: Ivy Nile at 3:30 (modified Dragon Sleeper)
-They hyped a Dolph Ziggler video as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: You can still see both women thinking through their sequences, but they both should be fine with their looks and talents already. A distraction finish is too common, but at least the first match was clean for the most part. I’m glad they didn’t just forget about Sarray and Stratton, and I like how they showed Sarray frantically searching for what she holds so dear. I wonder if this will get added to Saturday or held off for next week’s show. It’s obviously at a point where they need a final match. Whoever wins there will definitely be a signal on who they’re higher on now. Regarding Paxley, she has something, even if I can’t quite put my finger on what that might be. I’m intrigued to see more of her interactions with Nile, who is just awesome in the ring and in character presentation.)
-They returned with a backstage Tomasso Ciampa promo. He said this has been his sanctuary and place to connect for so long. He said when he first arrived, he had so much to prove. He said it’s been a long journey and you (the fans) have been a part of it all. He said something as public as becoming champion, or something private like his wife having five miscarriages until the birth of his “miracle child,” the fans were along the whole time. He said they made so many memories together, “so many Black & Gold memories,” and he’s heard all the rumors, but they’ll create the magic one last time. He folded up his chair, which had his debut from September 2015 and his last match (presumably) for this Saturday. Good stuff.
-Joseph and Wade Barrett were standing ringside as they hyped the big event and said tickets are still available. They shifted to a Ziggler video.
-Ziggler listed off his accomplishments, culminating in the NXT Championship, with his music in the background. He said this isn’t just NXT 2.0, it’s “DZ 2.0.” It was a documentary-style follow along video. He was going from Raw to 2.0. He said this was his 18th(!) time doing WrestleMania. They showed Ziggler doing interviews as NT Champion, posing with the title, and wondering what his career would have been like with all of these coaches, saying yes, he’s bitter, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He said this title is the genesis of the second half of his career, the DZ everyone’s been begging for. He said all he wants is for everyone to leave Saturday with shocked looks on their faces. They always do these kinds of videos so well.
-Legado del Fantasm entered (sans Santos Escobar) for a tag team match. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Go out of your way to watch both of the previous segments with Ciampa and Ziggler.)
-They returned with Jade showing a hand-written note to herself and posing with the Divas Championship in school. She said she graduated early so she could focus on becoming “a WWE Superstar.” She listed off all of the great NXT Women’s Champions, then said Rose only cares about herself. She said the others carried it with dignity. She then said last week her climb got harder as Shirai and Ray were added to the match.
(3) LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza w/Elektra Lopez) vs. BROOKS JENSEN & JOSHUA BRIGGS (w/Fallon Henley) – Tag team match
Jensen began with Wilde, tossing him high up into the air. Jensen only has one kneepad on by the way, on the left, as he and Briggs donned jeans and cowboy bots. Briggs tagged in and was also only wearing a left kneepad. Mendoza tagged in and used his speed to gain the advantage. Briggs was late on a corner spot, but then caught Mendoza into a bearhug and tagged in Jensen. They hyped a Nikkita Lyons match for later. They slid out and hit tandem punches. Jensen then turned to Lopez and said something before rolling into the ring.
Mendoza took out Jensen outside, then tagged in Wilde. He held himself parallel to the floor with the post(!) and hit a splash. Back in the ring, they traded tags and running clotheslines into the corner, a good ten or so. Mendoza finished it with an enziguri, then a double suplex followed as Wilde tagged in for a two-count. Wilde hit a sleeper, but Jensen shook him off and tagged in Briggs. Briggs used his power to take it to both men. He hit a butterfly backbreaker, flipping Wilde onto his knee, then sent Mendoza outside.
Briggs called for a big lariat, but Lopez hit the apron to stop him. Mendoza tagged in and hit a missile dropkick, then Wilde tagged in. Henley then took out Lopez at ringside. which distracted Wilde long enough for his 450 to be caught into a choke, then a chokeslam. Jensen tagged in as they hit a high-low (clothesline and chop block) for the victory. They posed with Henley after their victory.
WINNER: Brooks Jensen & Joshua Briggs at 5:36 (high low)
-Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta were in the locker room on their phones as they talked about their relationship. Persia called them “Dusia.” They agreed to a “Texas-sized showdown” as the fans vote on who they think is the hottest couple.
-They showed Toxic Attraction making their way as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I saw a good bit of light on a good number of moves from the less experienced team, but LDF may just be too fast for them, honestly, like that corner spot that Briggs was really late on that it just looked dumb.)
-They returned with a Stand & Deliver promo.
-McKenzie Mitchell was in a locker room with Cameron Grimes. He said he’s usually pretty confident, sometimes too cocky, but he said tonight he’s nervous because this is the biggest match of his career. He put over his opponents, but said they don’t need this like he needs this. He said he needs this because it’s more than just becoming North American Champion, it was about the promise he made to his father. He thanked her and walked off. Now THAT was a fantastic promo that showed layers and humanized Grimes in such a short time.
Toxic Attraction made their entrance.
TOXIC ATTRACTION IN-RING PROMO
Rose said she was supposed to fight Jade one-on-one, but instead, Shirai and Ray got a “little win” and “manipulated” her words. She said she would fight any woman…not at the same damn time. She said she’s not scared, she is never scared, not her. She said everyone needs to remember who the hell she is: the “baddest bitch in the game” with the “greatest backup this company has ever seen.” She said they’ve been dominating the last six months and will continue to do so. She said she will humiliate Jade, rid NXT of Shirai once and for all, and send Ray back under whatever bridge she came from. She said she will cement her legacy in becoming the greatest NXT Women’s Champion of all time.
She said hold on, before they witness greatness, they have business tonight. She brought up Choo and Kai. She said they practically handed them the tournament, but “they failed us.” She said Choo apologized for not getting the job done. Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolan then grabbed and tossed stuff from a bag, including Choo’s sippy cup! Those fiends! Dolan said they’ve beaten everyone and they run the division. Jane said who’s left at this point? She said it’s a trick question since there’s no one left. She said this Saturday, they’ll walk in and walk out as the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion as they watch Rose “beat three other bimbos” at the same time. Rose said they walk in and out with all of the gold.
Kai’s music hit as she rushed the three women. The numbers game caught up quick. I think rose even threw her shoe at Kai. Raquel Gonzalez’s music hit as she stormed to the ring unlike Rhea Ripley or Jeff Hardy. She took it to them, laying them out. Kai and Gonzalez looked at each other as the crowd chanted “Yes!” Gonzalez went for a fist bump, but Kai jumped into her arms. I guess we know who’s left. They grabbed a tag title, which was in the ring, and held it up. So much for Choo, the hell?
-Mitchell was in the back with Carmel Hayes and Trick Williams. Hayes said people need to put some respect on his managerial skills as he put together all of these great qualifying matches. He said he was on commentary tonight, but Grayson Waller interrupted (with Sanga). He mentioned he practically sacrificed himself for their team to win at WarGames and just imagine what he’ll do. Waller said his (bodyguard) is bigger than Melo’s (Williams). Hayes said, “Who says that?”
-They showed Andre Chase readying Bodhi Heyward for the latter’s match with Von Wagner. [c]
-They returned with Wagner’s entrance. Joseph introduced the Japanese commentary team, Jacket Time! Heyward and Chase were already in the ring.
(4) BODHI HEYWARD (w/Andre Chase) vs. VON WAGNER (w/Robert Stone) – Singles match
Heyward had a red headband so he looked like Ken was trying to be Ryu. They went outside and Heyward rammed Wagner into the steps. He went into a three-point stance, but ate a big boot as he charged. Sofia Cromwell made her way next to Jacket Time, behind the barrier, as a fan visibly looked at her backside. Wagner worked Heyward in a corner with shoulder thrusts and a running clothesline. Heyward rolled to the apron and hit a sunset flip for a two-count, but got caught into a fallaway slam.
Ikemen Jiro was transfixed by Cromwell as Wagner pulled on the ponytail for leverage. Heyward fought back, dodging a corner strike, then hitting a front chop block and flying shoulder tackle. He hit a standing frog splash, but Wagner slipped out of a slam. He then lifted and hit basically a Death Valley Samoan Drop for the victory.
-Wagner slammed Kushida’s head into their announce table after the match, then attacked Jiro. Jiro, in a suit with oranges on it, took Wagner’s finisher. Wagner tried to preen, but still had no charisma. He tore Jiro’s jacket, again with no charisma.
WINNER: Von Wagner at 3:41 (Death Valley Samoan Drop)
-They cut to a Tony D’Angelo vignette. He was eating at an outdoor restaurant and discussed making a name for yourself on the street. He said once you make your way up the chain, you have to make the decisions that are best for the family. He said it will be Ciampa’s last match and “Tony D” will take his spot atop the family, the new “Don of NXT.”
-Joe Gacy’s music hit as he and Harland made their way to the ring. They cut to break. [c]
-They returned with a short thing on Triple H’s retirement, including a plethora of tweets.
-They showed Lyons shadow kickboxing in the back.
(5) JOE GACY (w/Harland) vs. DRACO ANTHONY – Singles match
Gacy used his strength to floor Anthony, then motioned for a hug. Anthony then took it to Gacy with strikes and a slam. Anthony whipped Gacy across, then turned to Harland. He turned back to see Gacy hanging upside-down in the corner, then suffering a DDT from Gacy. Gacy applied a rest hold, working the arm, then headbutted the chest as Anthony tried to fight back. Gacy said Xyon Quinn doesn’t have to be his only friend, then hit a big uranage that Joseph called a belly-to-belly.
Anthony fought back by spinning around a running strike and landing his own, then a big exploder suplex. He went for a vertical suplex, but Gacy slipped out then hit an O’Conner Roll. Anthony kicked out, but this propelled Gacy into his handspring lariat for the victory.
WINNER: Joe Gacy at 3:57 (handspring lariat)
-They cut to break hyping a Bron Breakker video. [c]
-They returned with Joseph and Barrett putting over the Hall of Fame with The Undertaker and The Steiner Brothers. Joseph mentioned Rick being Breakker’s father, which makes it even more dumb that his name isn’t just Bron Steiner. They shifted to Breakker’s video. He said damn right it’s the biggest match of his career. He said his first run was about proving that he could be the guy. They showed Ziggler winning the title by pinning Ciampa and Breakker’s shocked reaction. Breakker said Ziggler is a poison because “no one’s bigger than the brand” (AND THAT’S THE EXACT ISSUE WITH WWE, BRON). He said Ziggler gives nothing back, but he says this is his life. They showed him training as he said he works every single day here (there is such a thing called overtraining, by the way). He said there’s too much on the line for him not to win. They showed his name at the top of a the PC leaderboard in something as he ended his promo. Joseph and Barrett then ran through Saturday’s card.
-Lyons made her entrance. A sign said “The Lyons Den.” Sigh.
(6) NIKKITA LYONS vs. SLOANE JACOBS – Singles match
Joseph always mentions “social media lighting up” when it comes to Lyons. Lyons landed a series of moves and a bodyslam that didn’t look that safe. She kind of snapped them off instead of guiding them down. She hit a spin kick to the chest for a two-count, but Jacobs started working the left arm. She just let Lyons out of the corner to reset, though, that was weird. Lyons took over, hit a Samoan Drop, then posed and screamed again. She hit two leg kicks, a cyclone kick, then her split legged legdrop for the victory.
WINNER: Nikkita Lyons at 1:45 (split legged legdrop)
-After the match, Lash Legend appeared on the screen and sarcastically congratulated Lyons. She said after this Saturday, they have business to take care of. She said she’s more talented and a bigger superstar than Lyons. Lyons barely reacted before posing again for the crowd.
-They showed Diamond Mine in the back. Bivens said people brag about walking the streets alone, but can’t attack Diamond Mine alone. He said Roderick Strong will win the match tonight and become a two-time champion. He said The Creed Brothers will then win the NXT Tag Team Championship and after that, Bivens will have more gold that Mr. T himself. As they walked away, Brutus got a text from a 781 area. He said it was those same dudes that attacked them, but Julius calmed him down and said after Stand & Deliver.
-Strong made his entrance (with Bivens). They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: The biggest takeaway I got from Lyons tonight is that she’s trying way, way too hard.)
-They returned with A-Kid making his entrance. Grimes’ music hit as he made his entrance, much more subdued than usual, looking focused even as he pointed to the crowd. Layers, folks, it’s good to show layers to such an over-the-top character like Grimes.
(7) RODERICK STRONG (w/Malcolm Bivens) vs. A-KID vs. CAMERON GRIMES – Last chance triple threat qualifying match for the North American Championship ladder match at Stand & Deliver
Grimes went after A-Kid, but Strong went after Grimes. The three put on a clinic of grapples, reversals, and pins between three people in a furiously-paced opening minute. Wow. They reset, looking at each other in acknowledgement. Grimes did his “Kiss my grits” taunt, then kicked Strong in the chest. A-Kid hit both with dropkicks, but Strong rushed him and hit a Gunther-esque chop in the corner. He whipped Grimes over to A-Kid, who was monkey flipped into a rana on Strong. Grimes then tossed A-Kid over his head and A-Kid hit a dropkick to Strong, but landed hard on his back. Hayes and Williams joined commentary. A-Kid hit a move on both men, then hit a tope forearm to Strong. Grimes hit the apron and hit a PK, but then Strong came in hit a belly-to-back falling suplex on the apron. Sikoa appeared at the ramp as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Strong hitting a superplex and A-Kid immediately hitting a frogsplash on Grimes. They showed Escobar watching from the stands, then Waller and Sanga made their way to the crowd. Everyone in the match was now watching the match. Strong caught A-Kid and slammed him onto Grimes, looking for a double Strong Lock. Kid kicked out, then Grimes hit a double rana. Grimes hit a few running forearms to both men. He slipped, but then caught A-Kit with a kick and hit a crossbody on Strong. He hit a swinging uranage side slam for a pin that was broken up by Strong.
Strong then went for his running forearms, but ate Collision Course. A-Kid went for a top rope moonsault, but Grimes caught him. A-Kid turned that into a spike tornado DDT. The three men then traded strikes in the middle of the ring, A-Kid getting the better until Strong hit a few big chops and forearms. He then caught A-Kid with a big backbreaker and Grimes with a flying clothesline. Strong hit a gutbuster to Grimes, then caught and slammed A-Kid onto Grimes again. A-Kid slipped out of a suplex, but kipped up into a big knee and Strong’s version of End of Heartache (vertical suplex lungblower). He turned into a (kind of late) Cave In as Grimes won.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 10:56 (Cave In) to qualify for the North American Championship ladder match
-Hayes congratulated Grimes after, saying his pops must be proud of him. Escobar said callete to Hayes, then Waller jumped in, then Sikoa, and finally Grimes. He punched Hayes, and then things broke down as everyone fought as they went off the air. LDF came down to help Escobar as Sanga helped Waller.
(Hazelwood’s Take: That was a furious, fast-paced match, hard to keep up with. The three men worked well together, A-Kid getting some good spots after last week’s unceremonious loss. This was a good way to show that he’s a player even if he’s not set to be a big player as of yet. I really don’t know what Strong’s plan is once his contract expires. I feel like he has a ready-made position to be a coach and producer in NXT should he desire, but he’s still so damn good in the ring. It’s just his charisma and promo work have never been his calling card. For Grimes, if he doesn’t win on Saturday, I expect him to debut on Raw or Smackdown for his next televised appearance. If you’re just going to have him lose big match after big match, then what’s the point? The ladder should be interesting in one big way – the lack of long-time veterans who may be to glue to keep the match from falling apart should that occur.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: As far as a go-home is concerned, they did a very good job of hyping the big card Saturday while still keeping matches and angles on the card that will culminate after the Saturday event. Stratton vs. Sarray and Gacy vs. Anthony are two examples of this. The issue for Stand & Deliver is that with everything going on this weekend and the dubious start time, the card has a big chance to be overshadowed by the rest of the weekend, even non-WWE events. The videos from Ziggler and Breakker and the promo from Ciampa are all segments worthy of revisiting before Saturday. The matches, for the most part tonight, were good, particularly the opener and closer. All in all, it was a solid show.