SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT STAND & DELIVER PLE REPORT
APRIL 1, 2023
LOS ANGELES, CA AT THE CRYPTO.COM ARENA
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
NXT Commentators: Vic Joseph, Booker T
Ring Announcer: Alicia Taylor
Backstage Correspondent(s): McKenzie Mitchell
Tomorrow, a VIP-exclusive mailbag will be recorded. Send in your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: Due to various life circumstances, this report started after Stand & Deliver began by a few hours and is not a “live” report.
-The show began with the “hosts,” Pretty Deadly, hyping the show and going over the matches of the show, beginning with the women’s ladder match, the North American Championship match, the Men’s and Women’s Tag Team Championship matches, Waller vs. Gargano unsanctioned, and Breakker vs. Hayes.
-Tiffany Stratton had the first entrance for the Women’s NXT Championship ladder match, thought it appeared Indi Hartwell, Gigi Dolin, and Zoey Stark had their entrances at the end of the pre-show. Lyra Valkyria was next, then the returning champ Roxanne Perez. Well, I hate peacock so damn much. I hit pause and then when I hit play, it fast forwarded halfway into the match without letting me rewind! Sorry folks, but the report is going to have to pick up some time after S&D finishes.
OK the replay is finally up and I’m back. Sorry once again folks.
(1) ROXANNE PEREZ (c) vs. TIFFANY STRATTON vs. LYRA VALKYRIA vs. GIGI DOLIN vs. ZOEY STARK vs. INDI HARTWELL – Women’s NXT Championship ladder match
They began by all looking up at the title, and the Stark and Perez took it to Dolin and Stratton as Hartwell and Valkyria clashed with ladders outside. This is going to be chaotic. Double clothesline on the outside takes out both women, then Perez took over in the ring on Stark and Stratton. Valkyria came in only to eat a Thesz press. Perez kipped up, then hit a lope on Hartwell. She grabbed a ladder, but Stratton hit a baseball slide into the ladder to take out Perez. Dolin, Stark, and Stratton went at it in the ring, Dolin getting the better. She grabbed a ladder, but Stark ducked a lariat and hit her own baseball slide into it to take out Dolin. Stratton flipped out of a belly-to-back, but Stark did the same on a head scissors. Hartwell then came in and took out both women to cheers.
Hartwell grabbed a ladder and raised the ladder to avoid a double baseball slide and then took out both Stratton and Stark, but Valkyria hit a dropkick through the ropes to take out Hartwell and the ladder. Perez and Valkyria fought over a ladder in the ring, Valkyria ramming Perez into the corner with the ladder set on her at an angle. Valkyria then hit a kick combo and a suplex on Dolin onto the ladder, affecting the still trapped Perez as well.
Hartwell rammed Stark into the barricade with a ladder outside as Stratton grabbed her own ladder and hit a catapult on Hartwell into a ladder, but at the same time, Stark hit a rolling neckbreaker from the apron on Stratton. Stark entered the ring to thwart Valkyria, but Valkyria landed on her feet on a monkey flip and climbed. Stratton joined her, but Stark hit a missile dropkick to Valkyria as Stratton fell. Hartweel then took out Stark and readjusted the ladder to climb. Stratton joined her, then Perez climbed on the back of Hartwell and knocked her off. Hartwell then pushed the ladder over and both women hit the top rope. Hartwell reset the ladder.
She climbed, slowly, and was hit by Dolin with a ladder. Dolin whipped Hartwell into the ladder, then set the now broken ladder up in a corner and then went a little a Bubba Ray Dudley (if my memory isn’t too shot) by putting the ladder on her head and twisting it around, hitting everyone. She then hip tossed a rushing Valkyria into the angled ladder in the corner, then laid her on top with her leg trapped. Stark went for a flying crossbody, but Dolin ducked and Stark hit the prone Valkryia on the ladder. The ladder didn’t budge.
Dolin grabbed another ladder and entered the ring. This one was much taller than the ones they had been using. Dolin began to climb, but Stratton took her off of the ladder, then hit a rolling senton on Dolin onto a ladder. Stratton blocked a side Russian leg sweep onto a ladder from Perez, but Perez climbed quickly. Stratton ran to meet her, but they both knocked each other off of the ladder and to the mat. Stratton reached her feet first and hit her handspring back elbow to Perez against a ladder. Hartwell came in and hit Stratton hit a spinebuster onto a ladder, but she overshot and Stratton may have hit the back of her head on a different ladder.
Stark came in and hit Hartwell with a superkick, then set a ladder in the rope, ramming Hartwell with it and then locked into a ladder rung and on the middle turnbuckle like a table. Stark then hit a rope hung twisting senton to Hartwell onto a ladder. She hit her K360 finisher to Hartwell to effectively knock her out of the match. Stark climbed to the top as Vic Joseph said it’s her home arena. Perez thwarted her, then literally hung onto her leg. She forced Stark down and the two fought. Stark went for K360, but Perez blocked and hit Pop Rocks. Stratton came back in, blocked Pop Rocks, and then Perez countered a powerbomb with a rana over the top and she landed on the apron. She climbed, all alone, but Dolin grabbed the leg. Perez went for a ran from the ladder, but Dolin caught her and swung her into the ladder three times and then hit the Gigi Driver.
Dolin climbed, but Valkyria stopped her. They fought on the mat. Valkyria was on the apron, took out Dolin, then hit a shotgun dropkick to Stark, sending her off of the apron and onto Hartwell, landing on a ladder. Dolin stopped Valkyira as she climbed, then hung her from a rung. Dolin climbed up the other side as Valkyria did a sit-up to regain her footing and climb. Dolin flipped Valkyria off an then reached, but Jacy Jayne appeared and punched Dolin off of the ladder and onto the ladder set up earlier in the corner. The refs came in to tell Jayne off, but she was pleased with herself. Ref Tom Castor then took the ladder that was set and disengaged it from the ladder.
Stratton then looked for her moment, climbing to the top. However, Hartwell pushed the ladder over and Stratton landed outside on the other four competitors still in the match. Hartwell then set the ladder, selling the injuries as she did. Hartwell began to climb, but fell due to her selling. She started climbing again, but fell again. Dexter Lumis then appeared to a huge ovation! He lifted her up onto his shoulders and climbed! Hartwell is the new champ! InDex! The crowd erupted!
After the match, it all set in for her and the shock hit her face. They showed the other women outside and Perez, in my opinion, looked proud. She sat on top of the ladder giving a thumbs up to the crowd.
WINNER: Indi Hartwell at 17:02 to become NEW Women’s NXT Champion
(Hazelwood’s Take: OK, so that’s a finish we didn’t see coming. We were certain Perez retains or Stratton wins, but we all had Hartwell as the least likely to win and there to fill the spots. After all, she only qualified after winning the last chance match. Still, the crowd ate it up and while some may quibble at the decision, it’s undoubted that Hartwell has a connection wit the audience. If Lumis sticks with her, I can see her getting great reactions and then slowly becoming a heel champion doing everything she can – including using Lumis – to retain.)
-Diamond Mine entered for The Creed Brothers’ shot at the Men’s NXT Tag Team Championship. They showed Daniel Cormier at ringside. Tony D’Angelo and Stack entered next with some henchmen dressed as 20s mobsters. There was literally no reaction to their entrance. They showed Gallus in their pub and (gasp) putting aside their pints. They made their entrance to a nice round of boos.
(2) GALLUS (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) (c) vs. THE CREED BROTHERS (Brutus Creed and Julius Creed) vs. TONY D’ANGELO & CHANNING “STACKS” LORENZO – Men’s NXT Tag Team Championship triple threat match
This is the there are no rules and yet you have to tag in type of triple threat tag match, yet will still be chaotic. They all fist bumped, then went at it as Coffey struck D’Angelo and then Julius joined in before Coffey tagged in Wolfgang. Brutus also tagged in, then Stacks, then Julius again, just taking it to Stacks. Coffey broke up the pin, I guess he tagged back in, but then was taken out. Stacks hit an inside cradle counter on a bodyslam, but then at a deadlift bodyslam anyway. D’Angelo tagged in and took it to both Creed brothers, Stacks helping out with a dropkick. Holy, D’Angelo lifted Julius like a vertical, then literally flung him off and made Julius spin like a 540 before hitting the mat.
He then hip tossed Stacks into Brutus in the corner, then threw Julius from a belly-to-back into a neckbreaker from Stacks. They were dragged outside by Gallus, but then the Creeds hit synchronous topes to all four men outside. Brutus lifted Wolfgang into a Fairytale Ending position and Julius leaped from the apron in an assisted on outside; Wolfgang grabbed his knee. They posed with Cormier after. Brutus reentered and took it to D’Angelo and Coffey. He climbed to the top for the Brutus Ball, but had to evade and got hit by Coffey. He tagged in Wolfgang, who hit his inverted crossbody to Brutus and then a double uranage to Brutus. He bodyslammed D’Angelo and then traded blows with him on their feet. They turned to Brutus, but he escaped and tagged in Julius.
Julius hit overhead belly-to-belly suplexes to both men, and then Coffey as he tagged in. He just kept going, suplexing everyone he could get his hands on. D’Angelo tagged in Stacks, who showed great agility and balance as he took over, basically hitting a Cesaro hot tag to everyone, even on the outside and a top rope crossbody. Julius dodged an attack and went for an apron suplex. Coffey came over and put Stacks in the electric chair, and then Julius put both men on his shoulders. Brutus went for the Brutus Ball, but completely missed! Ha!
The ref was checking on Coffey, who looked legit hurt. Julius was hit with a fisherman’s buster by D’Angelo in the ring, then Stacks went to the top and hit a big splash. The pin was broken up by Coffey, who I guess is OK. D’Angelo hit his belly-to-back slam finisher, but Wolfgang shoved D’Angelo into the pin to break it up. D’Angelo is really showing a lot of intensity tonight. They hit their double team finisher, but Joe Coffey made his return and took out Stacks. D’Angelo then shoved Stacks aside to avoid the stiff forearm from Joe Coffey. Gallus hit their Busaiku Knee-TKO finisher to retain. Gallus is now whole, and Gallus boys still on top.
WINNER: Gallus at 8:11 to retain the Men’s NXT Tag Team Championship
(Hazelwood’s Take: Honestly, it would have been rougher for me, but that should have been tornado. I think the crowd wasn’t into the match much, and sure, that can be because of the ladder match, but this match just felt a bit disjointed at times. Who would have thought the highlights of this match would mostly belong to D’Angelo?! He really put in some work out there tonight, adding some aggressive flair to his moves – that vertical suplex 540 throw! – and I think is finally starting to turn the corner. Let’s see if he can extend it beyond just tonight.)
-They showed Johnny Gargano preparing before throwing to Pretty Deadly outside of Bron Breakker’s locker room. They were in purple (Elton Prince) and blue (Kit Wilson) velvet suits with huge fake glasses, Prince’s bedazzled of course. They had on blouses like Prince before playing basketball with Charlie Murphy. They wanted to get a word from Breakker, then kind of playfully argued over who would knock on his door. Wilson mentioned he put them through a table and speared them, so he’s in the zone and they’ll just leave him be. Smart!
-Video for Wes Lee and the build to this culmination of his North American Championship open challenge. They’re actually labeling this match as an open challenge. Ilja Dragunov entered first, conducting the symphony as he did. Axiom entered next looking like the White Ranger. JD McDonagh was third to a round of boos. Dragon Lee was next and to prevent confusion, I’ll be using their first names during the match. Dragon had a bit of slowmo like Axiom, and even a vertical infographic touting him as a second generation “superstar”, former two-time CMLL World Lightweight Champion, and that he turned pro at 17-years-old; nicely done. He had rap for his entrance music. The champ Wes Lee entered last to the biggest pop of the five.
(3) WES LEE (c) vs. DRAGON LEE vs. AXIOM vs. ILJA DRAGUNOV vs. JD MCDONAGH – North American Championship open challenge fatal five-way match
Dragunov and McDonagh glared at each other. Dragon walked up to both and punched each of them. Lee then let he and Axiom square off around him, dodging both men and using their momentum against each other. Dragunov came in and hit about 30 rapid fire chops to Axiom as McDonagh stomped away at Wes. The two turned to each other, but Dragon took out one and then turned to McDonagh. He easily hit a step-up rana, then a corner dropkick to the apron, leg trip, springboard knees. Dragunov tried to take advantage, but Dragon was too much. He then hit running corner dropkicks to both men.
Dragon dodged an Axiom leap and then the two men squared off to cheers. Dragon hit a big dropkick as Axiom went for a leapfrog. Dragon then hit a perfect tope con hilo to Axiom and Wes outside. Back in the ring, Dragon went to kick Wes, but he blocked it and shook it off. They went at it, Wes hitting a corner snapmare and then a strike combo followed by his leaping basement dropkick. Dragunov then entered, but Wes flipped out and landed on his feet on a German. Wes then hit a running pump knee to Dragunov to send him outside. Wes went for a top and McDonagh moved, but Wes landed on his feet. Axiom then climbed, but Wes hit a running uppercut to send Axiom outside. McDonagh took advantage, but Dragon came in to quickly thwart that…until McDonagh hit a back elbow. He then took over hitting offense on everyone including a tope tornillo to Wes and then a Spanish fly to a rushing Dragon. He then hit Devlin’s Side on Wes, but Dragunov stopped the ref’s count.
The two then yelled at each other and went head-to-head. Dragunov backed off as he realized that Axiom and Dragon wanted a piece, then they all hit simultaneous dropkicks (I think Axiom hit the Golden Ratio). McDonagh was sent out as the other four remained in the ring. Dragunov had a cut on his forehad. He took it to everyone with strikes and suplexes, flipping Lee onto his gut on a German. Axiom tried to counter, but Dragunov hit the Constantin Special. He hit running knees to Dragon and Wes in the corner, then a big discus chop to Wes. He lifted Wes and hit a running Death Valley Driver into Dragon, sitting in a corner. Dragunov climbed and hit a big senton, then to another corner, but McDonagh pushed him off. McDonagh then climbed only to be kicked by Axiom. Axiom hit the Orihara moonsault outside to the two out there, leaving the Lees in the ring.
Dragon climbed, but Wes met him. Axiom then came to meet both, but was knocked off to the mat. Lee had his leg caught up and Dragon hit the leaping double stomp, sending Lee to the apron and outside. While the Lees were outside, the other three were in the ring. Axiom hit a lariat on McDonagh, who had Dragunov in DDT position. Axiom then hit a double Northern Lights. Dragunov rolled him up, Axiom countered with an omaplata attempt, then an ankle lock until McDonagh kicked him. Axiom sprung back up and hit a super kick, then went for a Rings of Saturn on Dragunov. Dragunov grabbed McDonagh for a sub, so Axiom hit the Fujiwara armbar on McDonagh. After that was broken up, Dragon put McDonagh in a rear naked choke, but Dragunov lifted and powerbombed Axiom onto them. On the cover, Lee hit a Spiral Tap to break it up, landing on all four men.
McDonagh dodged Wes’ finisher, who was hit in midair by the Golden Ratio. McDonagh took out Axiom, but Dragon took out McDonagh until Dragunov hit a running knee and a Freak Accident. Wes broke up the pin and hit a standing moonsault stomp for a two-count. The replay showed Golden Ration hit flush on the face. Wes went for a rana on Dragon, but Dragon lifted him into a sit-out powerbomb for a two-count. Impressive height on that one. McDonagh was able to hit an uranage on Axim onto Dragon, then a moonsault onto Dragon, but the pin was broken up by Axiom. Axiom was able to hit a top rope springboard tornado DDT to McDonagh for a close two-count. Ref Daryl Sharma has his work cut out for him if my hand pains are any indication.
Axiom and McDonagh fought on the apron. Dragon ran and hit a leaping rana to McDonagh, who landed on Wes. Dragunov went for and hit a deadlift superplex to Axiom, then his running hammer fist, but the pin was broken up by both Lees. The Lees and Dragunov were in the ring. Dragunov went at both men with stiff forearms, but the numbers game caught up. He fought back with chops to both men, but ate more shots. He blocked some others and then hit a stiff roundhouse kick to Wes. He then hit a decleating lariat to Dragon, who flipped inside out. The crowd cheered for Dragunov’s display. He called for Torpedo Mokau, but he hit Dragon just as Wes hit his back handspring Pele kick on both men. He pinned Dragunov.
WINNER: Wes Lee at 19:16 (Cardiac Kick) to retain the North American Championship
(Hazelwood’s Take: A match that lived up to its billing. It was furious, hard-hitting, and entertaining. Wes Lee once again beats the odds, and I think it was a great debut showcase for Dragon Lee, showcasing his athleticism, strength, and skills. All around, the best match of the three thus far.)
-Pretty Deadly were outside of Carmelo Hayes’ locker room. They called the previous match “barbaric.” They discussed maybe not knocking on the door again because of what Hayes did to them, then said to remember who they are, then debated the type of knock. Trick Williams opened the door and yelled out, “Shut your double breasted lips when grown folks are talking!” Williams said here’s the scoop: Hollywood, L.A., and Breakker aren’t ready for Hayes.
-A video played on the build to the unsanctioned match between Grayson Waller and Johnny Gargano, stepping in on behalf of Shawn Michaels. Waller entered first, livestreaming on his phone. He stopped by where Candice LeRae was with Baby Wrestling. Gargano received a special video before his entrance, basically a reintroduction to him for NXT viewers who began watching after his initial departure, going over his title victories (Triple Crown) and his connection to the crowd. He got a big pop as his crappy music hit.
(0) GRAYSON WALLER vs. JOHNNY GARGANO – Unsanctioned match
Gargano hit Waller with a superkick before the bell as the latter tried to sneak up on him. They went outside and Gargano threw Waller over the announce desk and into Booker T, who went down. Waller took out the leg to gain the advantage, then turned to Joseph and talked to him about “his boy.” Gargano took out Waller. Joseph asked Booker T if he was OK. “No, I’m not OK!” He wasn’t on headset, but you could hear it over Joseph’s haha. Gargano took advantage and then grabbed a trash can and some other weapons. He threw them into the ring, the trash can hitting his foot. Gargano hit the interceptor slingshot spear on Waller, then hit him with the trash can.
All Gargano thus far as he sent Waller outside with a lariat. He went for a middle rope tope, but Waller nailed him with a trash can lid. The sound was loud. Waller pulled out a bunch of chairs and spiked Gargano’s gut with one, then set up six chairs, three facing each other in a row. He took Gargano the apron and lifted for a DVD. Gargano slipped into the ring, but Waller countered. They weren’t into the ring, hitting counters on each other until Waller hit a buckle bomb in the corner with the trash can from earlier. Waller lifted Gargano, but Gargano dodged. Gargano hit the apron and hit an enziguri. He set for a suplex to the chairs outside and they both landed hard and awkwardly. Waller was yelling in pain. He almost landed like a brainbuster.
Gargano rolled Waller back into ring, but then went for more weapons. He grabbed a table to satiate the crowd. He set it up outside perpendicular to the ring so it was between the ring and barricade. He went for a suplex, but Waller fought it off. He did a rope run and countered the slingshot spear with a pump knee. Waller then tuned up the band in the corner to loud boos (he knows what he’s doing, a smart wrestler), but Gargano thwarted it as they hit counter after counter on each other until Waller hit a discus forearm. He slid outside for a punch, but Gargano hit him with a trash can lid, then countered a Waller lift into a destroyer on the outside.
LeRae was shown cheering on her husband with Baby Wrestling in hand. He went and set Waller up on the table he set up a short while ago, then climbed to the top rope. Waller rolled off of the table and then leaped over to hit Gargano with his rolling stunner. He then easily powerbombed Gargano through the table. He rolled him inside the ring for a two-count. Waller grabbed a chair and spiked the gut again twice, then some mounted punches from the former trained boxer. Waller set the chair in a sitting position and then beat on Gargano with strikes. Gargano fought back, but Waller caught him and hit a sidewalk slam through the chair for a two-count.
Waller then grabbed a kendo stick and struck Gargano on the back, then again. Gargano rolled outside. Waller followed, looking at LeRae, then hitting Gargano in the gut. He mocked LeRae, then beat on her husband in front of her and their child. He even yelled at Baby Wrestling, who started crying. Waller set Gargano on the steel steps, but Gargano moved. He rose with a kendo stick and hammered Waller. LeRae handed of Baby Wrestling to their babysitter or something, then she jumped the rail and destroyed the kendo stick over Waller. He caught the stick, but Gargano came from behind and walloped him. Gargano hit One Final Beat, but Waller kicked out. Joseph, “What?!”
Gargano hit his tilt-a-whirl into the Gargano Escape, but Waller poked the eyes. He then took out the knee and hit his beautiful somersault Unprettier. Waller’s back is just bruised and welted, discolored all over. He tossed in a trash can and hit a cravate knee to Gargano. He grabbed the trash can and put Gargano inside of it in a seated position. He went for a Coast to Coast and hit, EASILY .Gargano kicked out at two. He rolled Gargano outside and cleared the announce table. He set Gargano on top after mocking Joseph, even putting the mangled chair on top of him. He climbed to the top rope, but Gargano rose and threw the chair in Waller’s face. He then grabbed Waller and powerbombed him through the table. Waller hit the edge hard and bounced up before the table exploded on second impact. Joseph cheered on the attack and Waller was left screaming in pain.
Gargano went for more, but Waller hit a low blow, threw Gargano in the ring, and hit his rolling stunner for a two-count. He smacked Gargano across the back with a fresh chair, then spiked the kidneys before some more traditional chair shots to the back. Waller taunted Gargano, but Gargano hit his own low blow. Gargano then used the chair himself for about eight shots to the back and gut. He tossed in another chair and beat Waller with the old one, then set Waller in the chair head between the top and seat. He swung and hit the chair, spinning around Waller. He locked in the Gargano Escape and Waller held on for a bit, but tapped.
Gargano and LeRae triumphantly glared at Waller in the ring. After replays, the happy couple posed at the top of the entrance ramp. InDex walked out and LeRae jumped for joy as she embraced Hartwell. The Way is (mostly) whole in NXT. LeRae kept jumping for joy and embracing Hartwell. It was so wholesome.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano at 18:13 (Gargano Escape)
(Hazelwood’s Take: We thought this was a one-off for Gargano, but with Lumis returning and the mostly reunified The Way right there, do we see them all back in NXT for an extended period? That match was fine, bolstered by Waller’s great character work during the match. It wasn’t as melodramatic as I thought it would be considering some of Gargano’s past NXT matches, and they found ways to justify how the weapons were used than just using them because it’s an unsanctioned match. The big issue now with Waller is he literally has lost every big feud over those past 16 months since his attack on Gargano. He’s more Teflon than most to losses, but at what point does it becomes too many losses?)
-D’Angelo was telling Stacks he didn’t let anyone down and that they’re a team. PD entered for another scoop. Prince said their hopes and dreams just came crashing down. D’Angelo said it wasn’t their night, but they’re not quitters. PD had another wardrobe change. D’Angelo still kept trying to drill into Stacks’ head that they’re a team. PD made a snide comment and the two teams went at it to be broken up. I’m guessing a match on Tuesday.
-They went to Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre’s entrance for their match, this time with no pre-match video. Kiana James and Fallon Henley made their entrance, with Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen.
(4) KIANA JAMES & FALLON HENLEY (w/Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen) (c) vs. ALBA FYRE & ISLA DAWN – Women’s Tag Team Championship match
James shoved Henley out of the way as Fyre leaped with a swanton to the outside, taking the hit for Henley. Henley and Dawn began in the ring with Henley getting the quick advantage with a wheelbarrow bulldog. Fyre made a sneaky tag, tripped up Dawn, then struck her. She hit a knee drop to the back of the neck for a quick pin. Back in their corner, she tagged in Dawn, who put Henely in a modified tarantula so Fyre could hit a superkick for a two-count from Dawn. Dawn held Henley, then tagged in Fyre, who came in with a sunset flip aided by a chest kick from Dawn.
Fyre hit a running spear in the corner, but ate a kick on the next run. They then hit simultaneous punches on each other. Fyre recovered first, but she was able to make the hot tag. James went at both women, then sent both outside. She hit an apron moonsault to take out both women. She rolled Fyre back inside the ring, fought off Dawn, then avoided Fyre before hitting a belly-to-back for a two-count. Fyre was hit with a spinebuster for a two-count, then Henley tagged in and started punching away at Fyre. Dawn grabbed Henley behind the ref’s back, leading to more distractions from the face team as the heels beat on Henley.
Dawn tagged in, then Fyre again, but Henley fought out and sent Fyre outside. She hit an ugly blockbuster on Dawn for a two-count. Fyre grabbed her partner, but that distracted the ref enough for Dawn to slam Henley by the hair. Fyre tagged in and set for their finisher, a double Gory flatliner, but James broke up the sure pin. James was easily dispatched by Dawn as Henley was sat on the top in their corner. Both heels climbed, but James took Dawn to the outside and tagged in, grabbing James into a powerbomb as Henley hit a missile dropkick for the combo, but Dawn broke up the pin.
James lifted Fyre, but Fyre grabbed the eyes and hit a gourdbuster. She tagged in Dawn, who hit a meteora and then a double superkick, but Henley shoved Fyre into the pin to break it up. James hit a jawbreaker on Dawn, then called for her bag from Jensen. Briggs and Henley told him not to do it as Fyre tagged in and they took out the faces. Dawn hit the backstabber and Fyre hit the swanton for the victory.
WINNER: Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn at 8:40 (backstabber-swanton combo) to become NEW Women’s Tag Team Champion
(Hazelwood’s Take: Unfortunately for the four women, they were given the death spot on the card. The crowd just wasn’t into it from the beginning coming off of the unsanctioned match and with the main event coming up next. It wasn’t a smooth match by any means, but the correct booking decision happened. We’ve been predicting this for seemingly months at this point. They did also further the story between James and Henley – again – so that continues…)
-They hyped Tuesday’s matches including the predicted tag team match and Dijak vs. Odyssey Jones (let’s go!). They then shifted to the video for Breakker vs. Hayes. This was one of their better videos, and that’s saying something. They really gave it not just a main event feel, but a big fight feel.
-They showed Hayes and Williams making their way from the back, then Breakker. Hayes received cheers as Breakker received boos. Hayes received a special entrance. Trick Williams was his emcee. He said banger after banger, and then the jerseys of all of Hayes’ victims were displayed on the Tron in Lakers’ colors. Hayes’ music then hit the huge pops as he was in Laker purple and gold. His name on the Tron was stylized with the Lakers’ logo as well. His shirt had Breakker’s face in a target circle. He took it off and then stepped on the shirt. Williams stomped on the shirt. A bulldog face was on the Tron with dog barks for Breakker (if you don’t know, look up what his bigoted dad did yesterday). Breakker had nothing else special for his entrance, and the crowd mostly booed or were apathetic toward him. Formal ring introductions were given, ref Daryl Sharma on the call for this main event match.
(5) BRON BREAKKER (c) vs. CARMELO HAYES (w/Trick Williams) – Men’s NXT Championship match
It’s hard to tell if they’re booing Breakker or barking, actually, but what’s easy to tell is most of the fans were chanting “Melo.” They just squared off for a bit as the crowd chanted. They locked up as 90 percent of the crowd chanted for Hayes. Breakker pushed Hayes into a corner, so Hayes escaped and the next time, used his quickness to hit a go-behind. Breakker did the same and then just lifted and tossed Hayes. He called for more, then lifted Hayes, who jumped. He then went into a wrestling position and blocked Hayes’ path with barks. Hayes responded with quickness, skill, and a beautiful dropkick.
He mocked Breakker with his own taunt, but ate a big shoulder tackle after multiple rope runs. Hayes went for his springboard lariat, but slipped and ended up on the rope. He fought off Breaker and went for hit, but Breakker didn’t budge and then did a terrible dribbling taunt. He then hit a step-up rana, a gator roll, and then a vertical suplex. He kipped up and hit a standing moonsault for a two-count. He applie the front face lock and used the gator roll a few times to wear down Hayes. Hayes picked the leg, but Breakker rolled back into a sitting guillotine. Hayes rolled to his knees to make it more of a front face lock again. Breakker lifted him straight up, back down, then a quick suplex from that position. He stalked Hayes, but ate a drop toehold into the corner.
Hayes stomped away and then kicked away with some stiff ones to Breakker in the corner. Breakker hit a rope run, but this time the springboard lariat hit and turned the match in Hayes’ favor. He locked in a Fujiwara-like armbar to Breakker as the two men have gone with a more tepid, gritty pace early. The story is of them knowing each other and working to wear the other down. Hayes sent Breakker into the corner and hit a running chop. Breakker reversed the whip this time, but missed his chop to eat another from Hayes. Breakker held onto the rope on this whip attempt, then used it to hit a big hip toss. He hit a shoulder tackle and then a nifty spinning slam almost like a Protoplex. Breakker then drove his knee into the kidney of Hayes as he held the arm. Breakker then began working the lower back with forearms.
If Hayes wins, they’re trying to get over that he can win those gritty wars of attrition. Breakker then slammed him again with a big suplex for a two-count. He glared at Williams then went for another belly-to-back, but Hayes grabbed the top rope. Breakker did lift him into a torture rack, but Williams grabbed the feet to help Hayes right in the ref’s vision. Sharma tossed Williams. As Hayes and Williams regrouped outside, Breakker hit a running tope con hilo to both men. Breakker tossed Hayes in and then hit the top rope bulldog for a two-count. Breakker then just beat on Hayes, but Hayes blocked a suplex. He countered with a tilt-a-whirl mat slam. He went to the top and missed Nothing but Net as he rolled through, but hit a pump kick to Breakker. Breakker was on the apron, and Hayes used the leverage of bouncing on the second rope to hit a suplex back into the ring.
Hayes went back to the top and called for his finisher. Breakker met him at the top and hit a Frankensteiner. Both men were slow to rise. They sat, leaning against the ropes and glared at each other. Both used the ropes to rise and then we had our customary trade of strikes. Breakker was being booed. Both men then began countering each other’s signature moves until Breakker hit a big sidewalk slam. Hayes used that to lock in the crossface, but Breakker rolled him back for a two-count. Breakker hit a rope run and hit the spear, but also on ref Sharma, who folded up like a piece of paper. Breakker locked in the Steiner Recliner and got a visual tap. Williams reentered the ring and hit Breakker with the title, putting Hayes on Breakker for the pin. Sharma recovered, but Breakker just kicked out. Hayes went for the springboard, but Breakker caught him. However, Breakker turned the military press slam into a lungblower. He climbed and hit Nothing but Net. NEW CHAMP! CELEBRATE! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!
The crowd was heavily chanting “Melo” as they celebrated. After replays, Breakker took the title from Sharma. He glared at Williams, but presented Hayes with the championship after Hayes grabbed his fist bump like Get Out. Breakker raised Hayes’ arm and then left the ring to finally give Hayes his moment. The crowd was going wild. Hey, Crypto.com Arena, you have another banner to raise!
WINNER: Carmelo Hayes at 16:14 (Nothing but Net) to become NEW Men’s NXT Champion
(Hazelwood’s Take: Not quite the match I was expecting, but it picked up once Williams was tossed, really. The feeling out process probably went too long, but the match, overall, was good. Was it the best match on the card? No, but it had the highest stakes. I understand why, but I don’t like the visual tap here for Hayes. The story heading into this was about being the best of NXT. Well, Williams interfering and the visual tap doesn’t necessarily answer that question. Just a nice, clean finish would have been the best way to cap this story. Still, I’m not going to complain that not only is Breakker’s reign complete, but we are now in the Carmelo Hayes era! I mean, we BEEN in it in my opinion, but now he’s officially the top men’s champ. I’m looking forward to the celebration on Tuesday. The question now is who is his first opponent? Does Breakker get a rematch or is he off to Raw, which I think is most likely. Beyond that, I guess they could literally pick anyone who isn’t Wes Lee, Mark Coffey, or Wolfgang. I guess you can put people like Joe Coffey, Dragon Lee, Axiom, Dijak, and eventually Williams against him, but it might be best to have a #1 contender’s tournament instead.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A solid and at times spectacular PLE for NXT. It’s not in the top tier for me, but solidly in the middle tier. The ladder match and fatal five-way were the best matches – and most entertaining matches – of the night. The unsanctioned match exceeded my admittedly low expectations and the title change to kick off the show was unexpected, but it all tied nicely together with the reunion of InDex and The Way. As stories reset coming out of this weekend, it’ll be interesting to see who is matched up with who, though we already have some new or ongoing stories to look forward to (in some cases): James-Henley-Briggs-Jensen, Drew Gulak-Charlie Dempsey and Hank Walker, D’Angelo and Stacks, and Dragunov and McDonagh, among others.
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