NXT HALLOWEEN HAVOC HITS & MISSES: Breakker vs. Dragunov vs. McDonagh, North American Title Ladder Match, Rose vs. Fyre, more.

By: Nate Lindberg - PWTorch Contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

ORO MENSAH vs. NATHAN FRAZER vs. WES LEE vs. VON WAGNER vs. CARMELO HAYES – NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH

Halloween Havoc kicked off with one of the most anticipated matches of the night, the North American Title Ladder Match. Coming into the night, I could have made an argument for anyone to win the match. I felt Mensah was the least likely to win since he just debuted, though if he did win that would surely strap a rocket to a new up and comer. Nathan Frazer gave an amazing performance in his best of three with Axiom. Wes Lee has been on a journey since Nash Carter was let go earlier in the year, it would have felt like a great climax to said journey. Von Wagner is being built to be an upper mid card/main event gate keeper, a la Kane or Big Show. The NA title would be a great notch on his belt to give him added credibility.

Then there’s Carmelo Hayes, arguably the greatest North American Champion in NXT history. Enough said.

As expected, this match had it’s fair share of high spots and chaos. Towards the end of the match, Oro Mensah took a bump from the top of the ladder inside the ring to the outside and took out Wes Lee, Von Wagner and Nathan Frazer. He hit the top rope on his way down and it looked like someone may have gotten hurt, though it wasn’t clear who as of this writing. The match kept going, but the urgency of the referees after that bump was intense.

Ultimately, Wes Lee walked away with the title after being hurled out of the ring and through the announce table by Von Wagner mid match. It seemed as if he may not recover, yet he made a comeback and over came the rest to become the new champion.

Verdict: 75% HIT

ALBA FYRE vs MANDY ROSE – NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

It’s been quite awhile since we’ve gotten a cinematic match. This segment played like a cheesy horror movie. Toxic Attraction showed up to this spooky house where Alba Fyre said she would be waiting. Scared out of their minds, Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolan and Jacy Jayne made their way into the building which was decked out like haunted house. They wound up splitting up to find Fyre which was their first mistake. I don’t even really like horror movies, and I know that’s rule number one – never split the group.

Fyre ran into Jacy Jayne first and abducted her. Gigi Dolan wound up sitting down at a haunted tea party that included Chucky. As she was settling in for tea, Alba Fyre pounced and Fyre locked her in a large freezer with some crazy murderer looking guy. That seemed safe.

Mandy Rose was the last woman standing in the hunt for Alba Fyre. Fyre attacked her as she was distracted by a haunted pipe organ. The other ghouls and goblins in the haunted house helped Fyre take Rose down and put her in the back of an SUV. Dolan and Jayne then attacked out of nowhere (didn’t they get abducted?) but Fyre fended them off and drove off with Mandy Rose in her SUV.

A little over an hour later, we saw that SUV roll up to the Performance Center and Alba and Mandy got out and continued to fight. I wonder what the small talk was like on that road trip…The action spilled into the arena where the match actually began proper. This time, there was no way that Toxic Attraction would be able to interfere in the match – they were over an hour away!

Mandy Rose wound up getting way more offense than any person who was just attacked and abducted should have. Just as it looked like Fyre had the match won, somehow Dolan and Jayne showed up and in the fray the ref took a bump. Alba got the visual win, but then was jumped by Toxic Attraction to allow Mandy to retain.

This was the wrong move as far as I’m concerned. Mandy as champion is absolutely stale at this point, she’s not nearly as believable as somebody like Roman Reigns to be this dominant of a champion. Alba Fyre would make a fantastic champion, and I hope she gets her rematch sooner rather than later.

Verdict: HIT

APOLLO CREWS vs. GREYSON WALLER – CASKET MATCH

I’ve watched almost every single episode of NXT (three, I think I missed three) since I started writing this column three years ago. I still don’t understand what the hell is going on in the feud between Greyson Waller and Apollo Crews. Crews seems to have some supernatural powers or something, eyes keep bleeding, it’s weird. Maybe I’m just missing something?

The Spin The Wheel, Make A Deal landed on casket match. The first ever casket match in WWE to not feature The Undertaker.

The supernatural aspect to this feud does lend itself to the spookiness of the casket match as well as Taker himself. But a casket match without the Deadman just seems… less than? Waller and Crews did pay homage to the Undertaker, re-creating the infamous Undertaker/Brock Lesnar double sit up (the one where Taker had Karen-length hair and very awkwardly laughed at Lesnar after sitting up), which was a nice touch.

Everything almost came to a confusing end when Apollo Crews was pushed off of the top turnbuckle and fell through the top of the casket. The referees didn’t know how to call the match. The lights went out in the confusion and Apollo Crews disappeared. He reappeared on the stage with the Undertaker’s retired druids who brought another casket to the ring. A Mabel-sized casket. As soon as I saw the size of the casket, I wondered if we’d see both men lose the match somehow? That was almost the case, as they did tease that. But ultimately, Crews and his weird supernatural abilities put Waller in the casket and made him Rest. In. Peeeeeeeace. *rolls eyes in the back of my head*

Verdict: 75% HIT. The match was great, but the confusing nature of Apollo Crews’ character just took me out of it. 

CORA JADE vs ROXANNE PEREZ – WEAPONS WILD MATCH

What the heck is a Weapons Wild match? Apparently the same thing as an Extreme Rules match. Or a No Holds Barred match. It’s just No DQ and you must get the W inside the squared circle.

Skateboards, trash cans, bug spray, chairs, brooms, chains and tables were just some of the weapons used during the match. Yes, I did say bug spray. While the two women put on a pretty decent extreme rules match, I’m finding myself growing tired of this feud. Neither woman seems on the level that WWE wants them to be, they’re a notch below that point. With all of the TV time they’ve gotten, I don’t feel like either Jade or Perez has enough charisma to carry the feud in the way a top star should.

There was a high spot off of the platform above the crowd where Jade and Perez both went through a table on the floor which did a great job to build suspense. Perez used the momentum from that spot to pick up the win shortly thereafter.

Now that she’s given Jade her comeuppance, I hope they both move on to bigger and better things.

Verdict: 75% Hit

DAMON KEMP vs. JULIUS CREED –  AMBULANCE MATCH IF JULIUS LOSES, BRUTUS CREED RETIRES

Diamond Mine has looked like it was going to implode for the past few months now and it looked like Roddy Strong was going to be the impetus for that. Instead he was the red herring and Damon Kemp was the man trying to break up the stable.

Julius Creed challenged for this match and Kemp only agreed if Brutus put his career on the line. The Creeds agreed to the stipulation and the match was made. I wish this was more of a wrestling match than a gimmick match. These two hosses could have an incredible traditional wrestling match. Instead, they had to add a stipulation to the match to fit the theme of the PLE itself. I feel like it took away from the feud as a whole. The match felt like it was booked to go back and forth between the ring and the ambulance, it looked like the two men were trying to hit their spots in a choreographed manner rather than an organic fight.

There were too many false finishes where someone was put into an ambulance and then blocked the door from being shut. They went back and forth between the ring and ambulance no fewer than four times, it seemed excessive.

Julius did wind up getting the win and saved his brother’s career. I really wanted to see Damon Kemp win and use said win as a way to propel himself up the card as a monster heel. Brutus and Julius could then go to the main roster. While I am glad to see Julius give Kemp his comeuppance, I’m wondering how Kemp recovers from the loss.

Verdict: 50/50

BRON BREAKKER vs. ILJA DRAGUNOV vs. JD MCDONAGH – NXT CHAMPIONSHIP

Mandy Rose didn’t lose her title though her run has gotten stale. Maybe Bron Breakker and his stale run is about to end? Surely they wouldn’t continue two stale championship reigns right?

Riiiiight?

The constant threat of Austin Theory potentially inserting himself in the match in some capacity, cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase loomed over the match. He made his presence known at the end of this week’s NXT TV, maybe making history by cashing in for an NXT strap.

I have to give Dragunov and McDonagh credit. As smaller guys, they didn’t back down to Breakker whatsoever. They both went toe to toe with the NXT Champ like they were equal in size and made it look mostly believable. Unfortunately, the crowd was mostly dead for the match with the odd “Dragunov” chant as an exception. They haven’t been behind Breakker for quite some time, and neither Dragunov nor McDonagh feel like NXT championship material. Like me, I think the crowd probably expected Breakker to retain and that Theory was probably going to cash in after. Or at least tease it. So until Theory showed up, nothing was really super important.

That all changed towards the end of the match, however. These three men went into sequence after sequence, false finish after false finish and kept the crowd on their toes. It was almost like watching two different matches with two different crowds. Once they kicked into high gear, the atmosphere became electric. Simply through the story of this match, both Dragunov and McDonagh “levelled up” (if this was a video game) and hit that main event status and felt like championship material, Dragunov especially in my eyes. I don’t remember the last time I saw someone give Breakker such a run for his money. McDonagh got some offense in on Breakker, don’t get me wrong. But Dragunov got two finishers off before Breakker was able to retain.

Oh, and Austin Theory? Yeah, he didn’t even show up.

Verdict: HIT

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