SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
APRIL 12, 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, Nate Lindberg and Bruce Hazelwood to break down the episode:
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-Recaps from last week focused on Gunther’s fast-track to an NXT title loss before his promotion, heading into the, ahem, high-concept stuff with Joe Gacy, Harland and Rick Steiner.
(1) CAMERON GRIMES (c) vs. SOLO SIKOA – North American Championship match
Good reaction for Sikoa with a few boos mixed in, given his opposition. Lots of people yelling “to the moon” as Alicia Taylor introduced Grimes. Grimes took Sikoa to a rope, then rolled him up for two. Reversal and two for Sikoa. Reset and cheers. Arm drag into an armbar by Grimes, quickly escaped into a head scissors by Sikoa. Escape and an armbar by Grimes. To a corner, another arm drag into an armbar by Grimes. Grimes transitioned to an arm submission, and Sikoa finally powered out and hit a shoulder block, and then another. Senton by Sikoa. Quick reversals and Grimes tried a Cave In and Sikoa slid away. Another reset. “Solo” chant. The two shook hands. Grimes said “I respect you…but your bloodline can kiss my grits” to an OOOOOHHHH from the crowd. Sikoa fired up and beat Grimes from corner to corner. Sikoa hit a lariat to clear Grimes to the outside, then followed and tossed him back. Step-up enzuigiri by Grimes to send Sikoa out, followed by a PK and a rolling senton heading to split-screen. [c]
Sikoa had Grimes grounded, but Grimes hit an arm drag to break. Forearm exchange was won by Sikoa. Charge into the corner by Sikoa, and a second charge missed. Grimes hit a rana, then ran the ropes and hit a clothesline. Deadlift German got two for Grimes. “Solo” chant as the crowd has been about 70-30 in his favor. Grimes charged a corner and Sikoa dragged him into the corner, then hit a hip attack in the corner for a long two. Grimes blocked an attempt at a Samoan drop, and the two exchanged shots. Grimes missed from the top, then hit his twisting slam for two. Grimes went for the Cave In and Sikoa lifted him for a Samoan drop and covered for a very long two. Sikoa went up to the top and Grimes followed. Sikoa pushed Grimes off, and then Trick Williams showed up and distracted Sikoa, who splashed him on the outside. Sikoa walked into a Cave In for the Grimes victory.
Sikoa and Grimes tried to fight off Williams and a charging Carmelo Hayes, but the fresh men won the exchange. Hayes grabbed the belt, and then he and Williams posed to Hayes’ music.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 13:09.
(Wells’s Analysis: Excellent TV match that really gave Sikoa some believable near-falls and probably was justified in having the interference as an “out” for him. Wild that the NXT audience have taken so completely to Sikoa in such a small amount of time, but if the worker is up to the task, a no-nonsense badass usually works.)
-The screen ran down the five teams for tonight’s gauntlet match. Grayson Waller & Sanga spoke to the camera from backstage (well, Waller spoke). Waller said he was going to stand there and look pretty while Sanga earned his keep in the gauntlet match. [c]
-Malcolm Bivens and the Creeds cut a promo on Pretty Deadly and the rest of the field. Brutus is finding some fire on the mic. Julius…is trying. There’s time. Bivens was awesome as always. Earlier today, the Creeds drew their gauntlet number from a tumbler a la the Royal Rumble. Julius picked the number, looked at it, and said “We wouldn’t want it any other way.”
-Bron Breakker headed to the ring in a tank and jeans. He said Joe Gacy wanted to get his attention, and he did. He said his dad was home safe and sound now, but Gacy has some nerve messing with his family, and especially his father, a legend in the business. He yelled that Gacy should get to the ring and see who the big guy is when they’re standing in front of each other.
Gacy showed up on the tron in front of a fire outside. He apologized for not being able to be there. Gacy said now he understood why Bron was so strong, because Rick took his beating like a man. He said Breakker may have freed his father, but he left behind a memento: his Hall of Fame ring. He said a family can only be tested by fire, and he tossed the ring into the flame and laughed hysterically. That was it for the segment, as the show awkwardly just transitioned to a video package on the women’s division.
-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Toxic Attraction as they held all their gold in their little cabana. Mandy Rose said Dakota Kai had a lot of voices in her head, but none were telling her that she would be taking the title.
-Backstage, Jacket Time were firing up for…something, and Von Wagner attacked them and destroyed them with the environment. Robert Stone walked into the frame, smiled, and said “looks like there’s no match tonight.” [c]
-Moments ago, Bron Breakker told an interviewer to get the mic out of his face, and he got in his car and drove off.
-Robert Stone and Von Wagner were in the ring. Stone said it looks like Jacket Time ran out of time, and we’ll never see Jacket Time again, because this is Von Wagner’s world, and we’re just living in it. Ikemen Jiro hit the ring, selling pain in his side, but got the better of Wagner and said “Ikemen is pissed!” The match was on.
(2) IKEMEN JIRO vs. VON WAGNER
Jiro got in a few more shots, but Wagner hit a hard lariat and some elbow drops. Irish whip and a fallaway slam by Wagner. Wagner put up Jiro in a bear hug, but Jiro escaped and got in a few more rights. Dropkick by Jiro and a superkick. Jiro went up and hit a Swanton bomb for two. Jiro kipped up, but ran right into a big boot. Wagner hit his finisher.
Once again, the pretty woman from the crowd got Wagner’s attention. She pointed at Wagner to cause more harm. Stone told him to ignore her. Wagner grabbed Jiro and threw him from the ring into the front and second row of the crowd, into a waiting sea of clear PC trainees.
WINNER: Von Wagner at 2:56.
(Wells’s Analysis: Just the right type of match to get Wagner over further, and also continues the TV feud between Wagner and Jacket Time.
-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Nikkita Lyons for about fifteen seconds, at which point Lash Legend flew in with a boot to lay out Lyons as she was cutting a promo on Legend. [c]
-During the break, Ikemen Jiro got some medical attention after the big spot.
-Pretty Deadly – Kit Wilson and Elton Prince – had their vignette ahead of the gauntlet match. They laid their act on thick, and it was great. We also saw them pick their numbers from the tumbler, and they were thrilled. I’d say just about everyone has figured out how this entire gauntlet will go now.
(3) DAKOTA KAI vs. MANDY ROSE (c) (w/Jacy Jayne & Gigi Dolin) – NXT Women’s Championship match
Kai’s introduction criminally happened during the break. Decent heat for Mandy Rose with a brief chant from the usual deep voices. Lockup was won by Kai, who took Rose to a corner and shoved her repeatedly into the buckle. Mandy threw an awkward boot to lay out Kai, then hit a body slam and Toxic Attraction cheered huge for the small spot. Rose kicked Kai in a corner, then dragged Kai’s face along the top rope. Body slam, blocked, and Kai hit a crucifix that was slow as Rose forgot to put her far arm into it. Corner rollup by Kai for two. Arm drag by Kai, and another. Dropkick by Kai. Rope run and Jayne tried to mess with Kai, but Kai dumped Rose to the floor, then splashed all three of Toxic Attraction as the match went to commercial and Kai got a hero’s closeup. [c]
Rose had Kai in a bodyscissors. Kai escaped and the two went through an intricate rope run, after which Rose slammed Kai face-first. Rose hit an Irish whip and leaned on Kai with a knee. The two worked the mat a little and reset in the center of the ring. Punches and a hook kick by Kai. Double stomp by Kai. Face wash by Kai. She dropped Rose and covered for two. Gigi Dolin sold concern from the outside. After a few reversals, Rose chopped Kai’s leg, then missed a big boot but hit a spinebuster for two. Rose got in Kai’s face, and Kai hit an inside cradle for two. Kai went for the Kai-Ropractor and Rose didn’t remotely take it correctly. Oh boy. Dolin and Jayde tried to get involved and Rose hit her finisher, booting the championship belt into Kai’s face in full view of the ref, who counted the three anyway. What a mess.
WINNER: Mandy Rose at 10:48.
Wendy Choo showed up with two super-soakers and drenched Toxic Attraction to allegedly bring some levity to this unfortunate finish. [c]
(Wells’s Analysis: Kai is about two years overdue for a callup and main roster push, so seeing her lose in yet another championship match, and one where her opponent looked ill-fit to be in the ring period, is completely deflating. Worse yet, we’re apparently immediately pivoting to Wendy Choo, which likely takes Kai out of the title picture completely. This only works for her if she’s getting called up as well. As for Mandy’s performance here, I don’t know what to say. She appears to be an improved act, but still has these misstep matches in the ring all too often)
-Back by the lockers, Tony D’Angelo tried to offer a “peace offering” (a fat envelope) to Santos Escobar. Escobar refused and the two shared an awkward moment.
-Cora Jade hit the ring with a mic. She said WrestleMania week was the most important week of her entire life. She said the best part was that her parents were in the second row. She said she was working on first row, guys. She said she was sure she was going to leave with the title that night, but she’s learning you don’t always get what you want. She said after coming so close in Dallas, she needs to become NXT Women’s Champion. She said the goal remains the same – she wrote in her notebook at age 8 that she was going to become a champion in this company. She said she was going to put her name among those she idolized. She mentioned several wrestlers, including AJ Lee(!!!). Natalya’s music played to a pretty big pop.
When Nattie hit the ring, Jade waved like a starstruck kid, then shuffled around on her feet. “Holy sh*t” chant. Natalya introduced herself, and Jade fangirled to her and said Nattie was her first favorite wrestler, and her first action figure. Natalya said she was going to DM Jade on the night of her debut, and she saw that Jade had DMed her as a fan in 2009. She was overcome with genuine emotion as she said she was proud she inspired her. The lovefest continued and Nattie continued getting very emotional and said Cora was the future of the NXT Women’s Division…but the future is bleak. She slapped Jade, then snapped on the Sharpshooter. Jade tried to tap to no avail, and a few refs broke it up. No surprise that it was heading there, but Natalya played her part extremely well and put some doubt on the segment. Jade is a work in progress on the mic, of course, but seems to be making strides.
-Briggs and Jensen fired up ahead of the gauntlet main event. Fallon Henley screamed that it was time to kick some ass, and after a quiet moment, the two guys fired up even further. [c]
-Nathan Frazer promo. He can’t wait for NXT 2.0 to see what he’s all about.
(4) XYON QUINN vs. DRACO ANTHONY
Tom Stoup, live in the audience, mentioned to us in DMs that the crowd was dead silent for Anthony, so they’re going to have to start that project over or actually pay off his next storyline. Lukewarm reaction for Quinn.
Anthony took Quinn to a corner, and then after a rope run, Quinn blocked Anthony and stood over him to challenge him to get up, I guess? Anthony got up and took Quinn to a corner and slapped his chest. Reversal, shoulder blocks, and after a rope run, Anthony hit a lariat. Anthony hit a suplex and slapped Quinn on the back of the head, then mocked the Samoan pre-match ritual, which seems like a pretty uncool thing to do to. Quinn fired up and beat Anthony from corner to corner, then threw a forearm to lay him out. Quinn picked up Anthony and hit a running charge to finish.
WINNER: Xyon Quinn at 2:58.
(Wells’s Analysis: Two guys desperately in search of a feud, or something)
-Natalya walked backstage by all the women of NXT, who looked on reverently. Tatum Paxley asked her for a match, and Natalya said you’ve got it.
-The Creed Brothers were introduced as the first competitors in the gauntlet heading into commercial. [c]
-Backstage, Indi Hartwell, Dexter Lumis, Duke Hudson & Persia Pirotta talked about the upcoming match. Pirotta wanted the men to team up because they could be champions, and both guys pushed back. Indi talked Dexter into giving the thumbs up. I don’t think they were added to tonight’s match, but I’ve been surprised before.
-Next week, Sarray faces Tiffany Stratton and Tatum Paxley faces Natalya.
(5) THE CREED BROTHERS (Brutus & Julius) vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde) vs. JOSH BRIGGS & BROOKS JENSEN vs. PRETTY DEADLY (Kit Wilson & Elton Prince) vs. GRAYSON WALLER & SANGA – Gauntlet match for the vacant NXT Tag Team Championship
The Creeds were followed by Legado del Fantasma. As always, the crowd was in their corner. Brutus and Mendoza started. The match took on a frenetic pace early with everyone getting involved, as many of these single matches won’t get a ton of minutes. Reset in the ring and Julius and Wilde were legal. Quick tags and corner lariats by Legado. Wilde hit a rolling senton and covered for two. Tag to Mendoza for another senton for two. Tag to Wilde, who threw a boot, and another, but got caught in an ankle lock. Brutus laid out an interfering Mendoza and put him in an ankle lock. Legado pulled toward each other to noggin-knock the brothers to break. Bonzo gonzo again and Brutus ended up legal with Wilde and battered him on the mat, then hit a power slam for two. Tag to Julius, who got caught with a jawbreaker. Tag to Mendoza, who tripped Julius into a corner. Missile dropkick by Mendoza. Frog splash got two for Wilde, broken up by Brutus. Brutus also broke up the Legado finisher, and Julius hit a Samoan Drop on Wilde. They did their finisher and Brutus hit a hard lariat.
WINNERS: The Creed Brothers at 4:30.
5b: Creeds vs. Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen. Fallon Henley and an exiting Elektra Lopez briefly fought on the ramp. Fist bumps to start, but Briggs and Jensen put the fists to the Creeds right after. [c]
Briggs and Jensen destroyed Brutus through the announce table with a power bomb. Briggs and Julius were legal as Brutus sold on the outside and the announcers talked about Julius being alone. Julius fought off Briggs with a dropkick, but he made a tag and the two body-blocked Julius, then went outside and laid out Brutus again, playing fully heel for this match. Back inside, Jensen worked a chinlock, then tagged. They sloppily pulled off a tandem big boot. Jensen covered for two as Briggs yet again laid out Brutus. Briggs and Jensen pulled off another big tandem move, and Brutus bulldozed Jensen into the pile to break it up. Briggs laid out Brutus yet again but Brutus tagged in. Briggs and Jensen slammed Brutus into the ring. Julius tripped up Briggs on high-low, and Brutus hit his hard low lariat to win.
WINNERS: The Creed Brothers at about 13:20.
5c: The Creed Brothers vs. Grayson Waller & Sanga.
Sanga slammed and covered Julius for two. The announcers sold the story of Waller not being able to compete (he was in a sling). He tagged in anyway and it was, of course, a ruse as he attacked Brutus in the corner to boos heading to split-screen. [c]
Waller worked a headlock on Brutus. Brutus deadlifted Waller into a backdrop to break. Brutus crawled to his corner as Malcolm Bivens tried to fire him up. Julius made the tag and cut off Waller from doing the same. He beat Waller around the ring, and Brutus tagged in and hit a couple of blocks. Bling tag and Sanga came in, but Brutus deadlifted him as well to a huge reaction. Tag to Julius, who lifted Sanga for a slam, then hit a hard low lariat to finish.
WINNERS: The Creed Brothers at 19:47.
5d: The Creed Brothers vs. Pretty Deadly.
Pretty Deadly, in their obnoxiously fabulous gear, went at the Creeds before the bell of their match. They made frequent tags and covers on Julius. Wilson tagged in and hit some running knees. Tag to Prince, and the two tried a tandem suplex, but Julius fought it off as long as he could before he hit it. Prince worked an armbar until Julius hit a jawbreaker, but Prince laid him out and made the tag. Wilson threw uppercuts, mocked Brutus on the outside and splashed Julius in the heel corner. Julius fought to his feet and the two exchanged forearms. Julius fought to the hot tag, but Wilson also tagged in and the two hit a tag move. Wilson laid out Julius on the outside to cut him off, and Brutus kicked out anyway. Inside cradle by Brutus got two. Pretty Deadly teamed up for a jawbreaker and again Brutus kicked out, frustrating Pretty Deadly. All four got involved, and Brutus looked set to hit the low lariat, but Prince broke it up away from the ref’s eyes and the two hit their finisher, Spilled Milk.
WINNERS: Pretty Deadly at 27:07.
Pretty Deadly continued to mock the Creeds from the top of the ramp, now holding gold. MSK and the reason for the vacation of the belts was never mentioned a single time tonight. The Creeds sat together, dejected, as Bivens tried to console them and Pretty Deadly continued mocking them as the show ended.
(Wells’s Analysis: Nothing wrong with the match…EXCEPT…anyone who’s seen wrestling more than a few times could have laid out the entire thing for you if they watched the full episode. The show boldly told us that the Creeds were going to run the table and then Pretty Deadly would pick up a cheap win, and in the end, the Creeds ran the table until Pretty Deadly picked up a cheap win. Really, the only available surprise was for Lumis and Hudson to show up as team #6 to win the titles and bring some real weirdness to the tag scene while Pretty Deadly and the Creeds could still feud regardless. The match was, of course, well worked, and the Creeds were absolutely killer in their roles of relentless machines continuing to fight despite the odds)
FINAL THOUGHTS: There was some stuff to like tonight, as long as you can look past the inevitability of how the tag gauntlet was going to play out. The Women’s Championship match was kind of a mess as Mandy Rose seemed to be confused multiple times about spots, which remains frustrating as it seems like the act could all move to the main roster together otherwise. Natalya’s run in NXT will likely be a fun time as she bulldozes a couple of women on the way to Cora Jade putting her down and getting back on the championship trail. Carmelo Hayes also isn’t quietly leaving the North American Championship scene, though he could be fast-tracked to the main roster and I have to think he’d be fine (although Trick likely isn’t ready yet). Joe Gacy and Bron Breakker on top in a championship feud marks the first time that the main feud has been two 2.0 guys, which does kind of seem like a watershed moment for the brand. Bruce, Nate and I will break things down further tonight on PWT Talks NXT. Cheers.