SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
MAY 3, 2022, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph & Wade Barrett
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me and Bruce Hazelwood to break down the episode:
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-NXT enters a “special” episode as they’re down 42% this month year over year in ratings, and after the latest round of cuts, I’ve never had so little desire to consume the product, and I have serious doubts this show can survive on USA for much longer before they tell it to hit the road. I don’t know what WWE thought would happen to morale and ratings with all these changes, but they were foreseen by practically everyone shortly into the 2.0 era, and they’re still occasionally acting surprised. Well, let’s see if they can build back some goodwill tonight.
-A series of provocative shots of backsides, exposed bellies and legs played. Hilariously, Pretty Deadly were revealed. They used their tag team championship belts to do some tanning next to a pool and ran down some of tonight’s matches.
(1) CAMERON GRIMES (c) vs. SOLO SIKOA vs. CARMELO HAYES (w/Trick Williams) – Triple Threat match for the NXT North American Championship
Carmelo and Trick entered first, and Solo got a good pop to follow. Good reaction for Grimes, though still not as spirited as they were when he turned face but hadn’t yet changed a large part of his persona. Alicia Taylor handled formal intros, though strangely, she wasn’t actually in the ring. Grimes’ reaction was actually mixed here and a “Solo” chant got going.
Hayes talked trash early, and the faces peppered him with rights. Big back body drop from Sikoa on Hayes. Hayes bailed and the faces paired off. Grimes rolled up Sikoa twice, then a third time, while rolling Sikoa up in between each instance for two. Grimes hip tossed Hayes into Sikoa, and Hayes hit a rana. Hayes took over on offense on both guys with kicks, then a springboard legdrop for Grimes. Hayes got dumped again. Grimes hit a PK from the apron on Hayes, then a high-cross body on Sikoa. He covered and Hayes charged in to break it up. Grimes dominated briefly on offense until Sikoa hip tossed him into a buckle. He set up a charge, but Hayes took him out. Grimes hit his twisting slam on Hayes and Sikoa broke it up with a senton heading into split-screen. [c]
Hayes controlled the break, and Sikoa charged in with a senton but Hayes got his knees up. Grimes ran the ropes for some ax-handles on Hayes. Grimes lifted Hayes for something, but Sikoa thrustkicked Grimes and Hayes followed through with a destroyer. In the corner, a contrived, yet smooth, spot saw Sikoa powerbomb Grimes, who was suplexing Hayes.
All three guys hit their feet and exchanged rights. Forearms turned to kicks, and Sikoa was able to stack up Grimes in the tree of woe above a grounded Hayes, and he hit both with a hip attack. Powerbomb for Grimes, and then one for Hayes atop Grimes. Spinning uranage by Sikoa on Hayes, and Grimes flew in to break it up at two. Sikoa went up and Grimes grounded him with an enzuigiri. Grimes went up and missed, but landed on his feet and hit a rana on both. Poison rana for Hayes, who kicked out at nearly three. Hayes caught Grimes on a Cave In attempt and rolled him up for a very long two. Hayes went up but flew into a Sikoa thrustkick. Sikoa hit a frog splash on Grimes for the longest two you’ll ever see, broken up by Hayes.
Sikoa caught Hayes for a planned Samoan Drop, but Grimes hit a Cave In from the top on Sikoa and then covered for three. The camera went to a reaction shot from a guy wearing a Dakota Kai shirt (as am I).
WINNER: Cameron Grimes at 14:06.
(Wells’s Analysis: Incredible triple threat. I don’t typically need them in my life, but absences were explained and the work was relentless.)
-Mandy Rose greeted the workers at a tanning bed. She got into her bed and closed the door over her. Wendy Choo tiptoed in and turned the heat on Mandy way up. We caught it on video; is that a gross misdemeanor or just a misdemeanor? Rose came out looking comically red, and greeted the other members of Toxic Attraction, who giggled at her appearance. Rose said “Let’s go to the beach looking like only we can” which such weird emphasis on the wrong words it’s hard to believe this is her first language.
-Nathan Frazer was optimistic ahead of his match with Grayson Waller. [c]
-The ever-shrinking Diamond Mine met in their training room. He stated he was the leader of Diamond Mine and no mention was made of Malcolm Bivens (other than by the fans, who chanted his name). Strong, fighting to match the level of Mandy Rose’s acting chops, talked down the Creed Brothers for their failures.
-Indi Hartwell and Duke Hudson stood by lockers. Both looked sad in an acknowledgement of their major storyline being completely upended by the recent cuts; Indi played with her wedding ring. Hudson, misreading the situation, leaned in for a kiss and Hartwell said “Oh, hell no!” and Hudson said “You wish.”
(2) NATHAN FRAZER vs. GRAYSON WALLER
Speedy reversals to open. Headlock takeover by Frazer. Action went near a turnbuckle and both missed spots until Frazer hit a shotgun dropkick. Waller bailed and Frazer set up a tope, but was thwarted as Waller ran up the ramp. Frazer followed and Waller got the better of him. We were shown Chase University’s contingent watching from the stands. Frazer tried a springboard, but Waller tossed him to drape him over the top rope and dump him out. Waller went and got a beach ball from the decorations up on the ramp, and ripped it up to boos. The match went to split-screen. [c]
Frazer dumped Waller with a dropkick, but Waller recovered and hit a charging Frazer with a spinning heel kick, then a legdrop for two. Waller stomped his feet in mockery of Seth Rollins, and Frazer recovered and dumped Waller, then hit a tope. Frazer rolled Waller inside and went up and missed a shot, but hit a superkick right after, then another, and Waller grabbed the bottom rope to break the count.
Frazer missed a Phoenix Splash. He landed on his feet but Waller flattened him and covered for two. Waller charged the corner, where Frazer moved. Frazer took Waller up, and Waller shoved Frazer off the top and hung him up. Waller posed, and Andre Chase used an air horn, and Waller freaked out and also fell and hung up on the top. Frazer hit a Phoenix Splash and got the three count as Vic mispronounced his name as “Frasier” over and over and over.
WINNER: Nathan Frazer at 12:40.
(Wells’s Analysis: Other than the overly contrived finish, which they sort of got away with given Waller’s pinpoint fall and Chase’s excitement, this was pretty good action. Frazer moves around at lightspeed at all times, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can work a slower pace effectively, or if he’ll even be asked to)
-Fallon Henley segment. As I said on last week’s podcast, I didn’t recognize her at first away from Briggs and Jensen. She likes to get rowdy, but she’s a simple country girl at heart. She said she’d show everyone what she could do in the Breakout Tournament. [c]
-All of Legado del Fantasma met with Tony D’Angelo, AJ Galante and his tag team goons. Santos Escobar wanted to know why Galante was there. D’Angelo said he called the meeting so this doesn’t escalate. Escobar said D’Angelo chose to play games and called out “these two goofs” attacking him. He said playing games got them to this point. D’Angelo said there was enough “business” to go around in NXT – enough pieces of pie. Escobar asked if there was a way to come together and do business. D’Angelo said he doesn’t sit back to anyone. He asked Escobar who he thinks he is. Escobar asked for a truce. D said his consigliere (Galante) said that peace is best for business. Escobar sent over an already-poured glass of wine and called for a toast. Escobar drank water. They had a tense goodbye. Escobar told Cruz to start the car, and all members of Legado smirked. [c]
-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed the Viking Raiders. They put over the Creeds as world-class athletes but said it wouldn’t matter when they faced two grown-ass match. Pretty Deadly showed up and said they looked forward to the match, but pointed out that the Creeds are damaged. The Raiders said they came to NXT with one goal in mind, but they would gladly change their focus to Pretty Deadly.
-Joe Gacy said that people shouldn’t fear change because sometimes it’s necessary, perhaps also acknowledging his fired running mate in a subtle way. He said tonight, he’d be the change in NXT.
(3) CORA JADE & NIKKITA LYONS vs. NATALYA & LASH LEGEND
Jade’s gear looks to be inspired by High Energy (likely a coincidence, but I like it). Jade and Legend started. Back elbow by Legend. Shoulder block by Legend, who lifted and bealed Jade. Legend missed in the corner and Jade threw rights. Jade hopped up the corner and hit a rana. She went for another, but Legend caught her, brought her to the heel corner and made the tag. Natalya threw a slap, but Jade rolled through a powerbomb attempt for a rollup for two, then another. Crucifix for two. Nattie jawed with fans and told them to shut up. Natalya faked a handshake and Jade didn’t fall for it. Lyons tagged in and the faces did a tandem hip toss.
Natalya grounded Lyons with a headlock, and Lyons hit a headscissors. More mat reversals, and Lyons tried to kip up but sort of tripped. She shook her backside at Natalya. Natalya rolled up Lyons for two. Lyons worked a headlock and Natalya elbowed free, then tagged Legend, who threw knees and forearms. Forearms were exchanged until Legend got the better of it and hit a suplex. Legend charged into a waiting Lyons boot, and Legend clotheslined Lyons and both flipped over and out of the ring as the match went to split-screen. [c]
Natalya threw hands at Jade and tossed her to the mat. Nattie lifted Jade for a torture rack. Jade slipped free, but Natalya threw a cheap shot at Lyons, then clotheslined Jade for two. Nattie no-sold a couple of back elbows while mocking Jade, then tagged Legend. Legend hit a corner splash/lariat and hit some knees, then tagged Natalya. Snap suplex by Natalya. Natalya posed and danced above Jade, who rolled her up for two. Another rollup got two. Natalya worked a headlock. Jade freed herself and ran for the tag, but Nattie caught her and powered her to the heel corner. Legend tagged in for some blocks, but she missed a third and fell to the outside. Jade got to her corner, had to shove off Natalya from a sharpshooter attempt, and made the hot tag.
Lyons got some shots in, after which she and Natalya exchanged rollup attempts. Float-over neckbreaker by Lyons got two. Natalya tried a sharpshooter and got kicked away, right into Legend, who tagged in and threw knees to the side of Lyons. Lyons rolled up Legend, and when Legend tried to kick out, Nattie accidentally kicked her. Natalya got dumped. Lyons hit a belly-to-back on Lyons. SHe tagged Jade, hit her split-legged drop, and Jade flew in with a senton to finish.
WINNERS: Cora Jade & Nikkita Lyons at 13:28.
(Wells’s Analysis: Ehhhh, this easily outdid my tempered expectations. Lyons is showing some growth after weeks of stagnating, though Jade seems to have been plateauing for some time now. Legend is working up some speed, with some work still to be done, obviously. If I’d known this going thirteen and a half I probably would have worried a lot, but the takeaways from the match were pretty good here)
-Tatum Paxley segment. She’s a power lifter. She spoke woodenly about visualizing victory. There’s work to be done on the mic. [c]
-Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne walked and talked outside. They wondered if Wendy Choo was behind the Mandy Rose thing. Meanwhile, Rose and Roxanne Perez were spying on them. Perez asked if she should be training for the Breakout Tournament, and Wendy said this is training. We got gratuitous slo-mo shots of TA playing around in the water, and Choo and Perez stole their shoes and keys. Lots of crimes committed by Choo tonight. Choo and Perez had moved the car so TA had to run on the hot asphalt without shoes. As good as it sounds.
(4) THE VIKING RAIDERS (Erik & Ivar) vs. THE CREED BROTHERS (Julius & Brutus)
The Raiders dominated Julius with power stuff early, but Julius got a rollup in, then tagged Brutus, who battered Erik with some ground & pound. Brutus cleared Ivar from the corner, then deadlifted Erik for a gut-wrench suplex. Julius tagged in and Brutus slammed him on Erik for two. Julius threw rights, then tagged again. Brutus hip-tossed Julius on Erik, who (allegedly) got his knees up at the last moment. Brutus got dumped and Ivar tagged in and splashed him from the apron. The match went to split-screen. [c]
Erik had Brutus grounded with a headlock. Brutus couldn’t elbow out, so he shifted and back suplexed Erik instead. Ivar and Julius both tagged in. Julius cleared Erik from the corner and chop-blocked Ivar. Big gut-wrench for Ivar. Brutus made the tag and the Creeds teamed up for a slam. Julius held Ivar at bay as Brutus got two. Erik hit Brutus with a big KO knee to the head and got a long two. Ivar tagged in after taking out Julius on the outside. Powerslam on Brutus got two.
Erik tagged in and Ivar bombed Erik on top of Brutus. Ivar hit a frog splash and Erik covered for two and did the WWE “shocked” face when he didn’t get the three. Brutus made the tag and Julius and Ivar jockeyed for position. Ivar hit a sort of Thesz press out of the corner, then went high. Julius recovered and hopped up and hit a superplex. Ivar recovered enough for a spinning heel kick, and the Raiders hit their tandem top rope legdrop. Brutus broke up the count.
Julius slammed Erik and he draped over the rope. Roderick Strong flew by and hit a knee on Erik, and Julius, none the wiser, finished.
WINNERS: The Creed Brothers at 12:57.
The Creeds saw the replay after the match and yelled at Strong, who said they should thank him.
(Wells’s Analysis: A banger of a power match. The Raiders absorb the loss with the Roderick Strong angle that will likely see one or both Creeds destroy him before he finally is granted his release. The Creeds continue to improve in their chain wrestling and transitions after being pretty decent even in the beginning.)
-Santos Escobar confronted AJ Galante outside. He said Tony was lucky to have him, and if Tony were to lose him, it would be tough. He said something in Spanish, then kneed Galante in the crotch. A vehicle pulled up, and the rest of Legado kidnapped him. Just like old times! [c]
-Alba Fyre, who formerly had an actual name, hyped her return next week.
-Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen got good news on Jensen’s wrist injury. The trainer asked if there was any particular reason Jensen’s right hand was so much stronger than his left. Oh boy. Briggs made the save by saying it was because he was right-handed.
-Next week, Wendy Choo and Roxanne Perez face Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne. Titles weren’t specified, so I assume it’s non-title.
-Joe Gacy was introduced in black and white. Bron Breakker, from the Gorilla position backstage, flipped a big fake switch from “off” to “on” and the camera went back to color. That was so much dumber than it must have sounded by whoever pitched it.
(5) BRON BREAKKER (c) vs. JOE GACY – NXT Championship match
Breakker drove Gacy outside to open, and Gacy stalled for a bit. Gacy hit the apron and Breakker tossed him in. Breakker was wearing the pink singlet with numbers all over it that his father often wore in WCW. Gacy took control with a brief chinlock, but Breakker broke it up with a jawhreaker and dumped Gacy again. Breakker kicked from the apron and Gacy got in a cheap low shot, then charged and knocked Breakker to the floor from the apron. Gacy hit a lariat on the outside as the match went to split-screen. [c]
Gacy tripped Breakker from the top rope down to the mat. Gacy did his upside-down taunt in the corner. Uranage from Gacy got two. Running legdrop by Gacy got two. Breakker got to his feet and the two exchanged some shots. Breakker hung up Gacy on a rope, then took him down with a block and again with a lariat. Gacy took back control with a reverse DDT that got two. Off in a corner there was a tall druid watching.
Breakker headed out and hit Gacy from the apron, then entered and hit a bulldog for two.
Breakker hit another running boot. He pulled down the straps on his singlet. He hit a Frankensteiner, then a dog-ugly belly-to-belly for two that Vic had to cover for. Breakker blocked Gacy in the corner, then missed a charge. Gacy dropped an elbow on Breakker’s back, then hit a sit-out powerbomb for two. Gacy’s turn to do the WWE shocked face. Gacy got into Breakker’s face and said he was taking the title, and with that, Breakker ran the ropes and hit a spear to finish. It wasn’t by much, but this was actually the shortest match of the night.
WINNER: Bron Breakker at 11:03.
Breakker celebrated with his title, and the show ended even as two druids with red facemasks showed up behind him. That’s a Nitro-style cheat going off the air there with something clearly about to happen.
(Wells’s Analysis: Not sure what will come of the druids here, though I’m with pretty much everyone when I say this whole feud was likely conceived in order to move Harland up to the next level before his surprising early firing. There’s nowhere clear for Breakker to go next now. The druids will likely have something to do with that, though I wonder if NXT writers actually have a plan for who’s next or if they’re going to find someone to fit the role now that Harland isn’t an option for them anymore. This match was fairly bland, and hurt from the fact that nobody bought Gacy as a potential champion)
FINAL THOUGHTS: NXT has done a lot of specials over the past few years, and some, just like this, were made up entirely of matches that went 10+ minutes. That said, the lack of Malcolm Bivens, Dakota Kai, Dexter Lumis, Persia Pirotta and Harland was definitely felt tonight, to the point where creative knew they were going to have to acknowledge their departures somehow. NXT put together a passable show, though it never seemed much bigger than a regular episode, and there were negatives (the Wendy-Toxic Attraction scenes were terribly conceived, and between Wendy and Legado, we got a lot of demonstrable real-life crime on camera this week). On the upside, a lot of wrestlers showed progress this week. If one can somehow manage to look past the horrible losses in personnel to NXT, I guess that’s something. Join Bruce Hazelwood and me tonight on PWT Talks NXT tonight or stream tomorrow. Cheers.