The John Report: WWE NXT 01/03/23 Review

wwe nxt jan 3

This week’s WWE NXT featured Carmelo Hayes facing Apollo Crews along with NXT Champion Bron Breakker as a guest on the Grayson Waller Effect talk show.

For this NXT review, I will go summary style for most of it and play-by-play for one match. It is back to being a live show after two weeks of taped show to end 2022.

This episode is taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. My WWE NXT Review archive is here. Let’s get to it.

The opening video package showed some highlights of 2022 including title changes along with people that debuted in NXT last year.

It was Vic Joseph and Booker T on commentary as usual.

Carmelo Hayes (w/Trick Williams) vs. Apollo Crews

I am going play-by-play for this one. Crews hit an impressive dropkick. Crews came back with a springboard clothesline. Hayes set up Crews against the ropes followed by a kick to the head and a springboard leg drop for two. Crews hit delayed vertical suplex into a slam followed by a senton splash. Crews hit a corner splash along with a backbreaker for two. Crews hit a German Suplex, Hayes tried a move, but Crews overpowered him and hit a belly-to-belly suplex. Crews hit a moonsault off the apron onto a standing Hayes on the floor.


Crews charged at Hayes, who sent Crews to the apron. Williams with a distraction, so Hayes kicked Crews off the apron to the floor. Hayes sent Crews knee-first into the steel steps. Hayes attacked Crews with repeated kicks to the left knee that was against the ropes. Crews charged right into a dropkick by Hayes into the knee. Hayes hit a Powerbomb for two into a single leg crab submission. Crews powered out of that leading to a kick to the head. They each tried moves that didn’t work due to their speed, then Crews hit a Backstabber and a leaping clothesline. Crews blocked a kick leading to another kick to the head. Crews hit an impressive superplex off the ropes while Hayes was on the apron so that got a two count. Hayes countered a slam into an armdrag, Hayes with a kick, Crews with a kick and Hayes with a lifting Cutter. That was great! Hayes went up top with a leap, but Crews got a boot up and Crews jumped off the ropes with a Blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count. Williams saved Hayes from an attack, then Crews knocked him down and Crews hit a knee/German Suplex and press slam. Hayes avoided a standing moonsault by Crews and Hayes hit a Codebreaker. Hayes jumped off the top with the Nothing But Net leg drop off the top with Booker shouting about Hayes is at the top of his fave five. Hayes covered for the win. It went about 15 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Carmelo Hayes

Analysis: **** This was an excellent match. They worked well together with lots of athleticism from both guys and a lot of counter holds throughout the match. The distraction by Williams was a minor thing, but not significant and it was relatively a clean win by Hayes. Crews is so talented in the ring. He has put over Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes clean, so he’s doing what he is supposed to in NXT as a credible main roster guy that’s part of NXT for now. It was the right move to have Hayes get the win because he should continue to build moment as a potential future NXT Title challenger.

After the match, Axiom jumped on Hayes and Williams with a cross body block. Axiom jumped off the top with a moonsault onto Hayes & Williams on the floor.

This Friday on Smackdown: The Usos defend the WWE Tag Team Titles against Drew McIntyre & Sheamus, plus we’ll find out what’s next for the Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair.


Axiom vs. Trick Williams (w/Carmelo Hayes)

Trick had the size advantage and was aggressive with a leaping clothesline. Axiom came back with a dropkick. Axiom got a two count after a cross body block. Trick hit an impressive kick to the head followed by a neckbreaker. Axiom decked Trick with a punch followed by the Golden Ratio kick for the win. It went about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Axiom

Analysis: *3/4 It was a short match to put over Axiom clean with his impressive running kick. I thought Trick was impressive with some of his offense in the match.

Post match, Hayes and Williams attacked Axiom from behind. They stomped on Axiom a bit, so Crews made the save and Hayes/Williams ran away.

The New Day were backstage with their NXT Tag Team Champions giving orders to Pretty Deadly. The Schism walked up to them complaining about not getting a title shot. Joe Gacy said they are a family unlike The New Day. Kofi said he seems to have a problem, so he challenged Gacy to a match and Gacy accepted that singles match.

They showed last week’s NXT when Dijak took Stacks to the back to allow Wes Lee to hit his finisher on Tony D’Angelo to win the match.

They showed a clip from “last Wednesday” with Dijak talking to Stacks, who had scarring around his eye. Dijak said that disrespecting him will never go unpunished. Dijak said he was the face of fear in NXT and punched Stacks in the gut. Stacks told Dijak to uncuff him and settle this in the ring. Dijak said that this is just the beginning.

Analysis: That was weird, but NXT likes doing strange vignettes. Having Dijak kidnap and torture Stacks is an interesting gimmick. I wouldn’t call it great, though.

Dijak entered for singles action.


They showed a Drew Gulak training session with some Chase U students. Andre Chase mentioned Charlie Dempsey was hurt, so Gulak said he wanted to find out if Chase U students were soft. Hank Walker said Gulak didn’t mean anything by it. Chase said nobody that wears Chase U red is soft.

Dijak vs. Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo (w/Tony D’Angelo)

Dijak was attacking Stacks’ ribs, which were already bruised so Dijak kicked and kneed Stacks in the ribs. Dijak with a knee to the ribs followed by a toss across the ring. Stacks hit running uppercuts repeatedly, but then he ran into a big boot by Dijak leading to Stacks doing a flip bump. After Stacks got a rollup, Dijak hit a kick to the head. Dijak hit the Feast Your Eyes knee to the head for the pinfall. It went about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dijak

Analysis: *1/2 They are pushing Dijak as a guy on a mission since coming back to NXT, so of course he was going to win. Dijak’s moves look great. Stacks is technically sound. They just don’t push him much.

Post match, Tony D saved Stacks from another knee to the face, so Tony clotheslined Dijak out of the ring. Tony D put over Stacks’ heart while trashing Dijak. Tony D challenged Dijak to a match next week and DIjak said he’s got it.

Analysis: That sounded like a babyface promo from Tony D so maybe he’ll be a face moving forward.

Oro Mensah was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell saying he’ll dive into NXT headfirst this year. Javier Bernal showed up to interrupt the interview saying he had a Christmas album with Mensah saying when he’s done with him tonight, Javy won’t have a singing voice.

Toxic Attraction’s Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne made their entrance in non-wrestling gear.


Let’s Hear from Toxic Attraction

Gigi Dolin started the promo saying they’re leaving 2022 in the past and now all eyes are on them. Gigi said they’ll push the envelope further than they did in the last 18 months as they cut through the roster with reckless abandon. Jayne said that this year they’ll be calling all the shots and they don’t do stupid New Year’s Resolutions because they do revenge. Their promo was interrupted by different women all spread out through the arena.

There were promos from Indi Hartwell about how she’s going to be at the top of the division, Cora Jade said nobody wants Indi to be Women’s Champion, and Nikkita Lyons trashed Cora Jade for having a big ego. Zoey Stark had some trash talk of her own about how Nikkita shows off her assets on Instagram. Wendy Choo joined the promo party to trash Cora Jade and Thea Hail shouted “Girl Fight!” That led to a big brawl between all the women while even more women came out from the backstage area and they were brawling around the ring. Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn were fighting around ringside too. The fans chanted “let them fight” for them.

Roxanne Perez, the NXT Women’s Champion, appeared on the platform to inform them that there will be a 20-woman battle royal next week. The winner of that will challenge Perez for the title at Vengeance Day. The women started brawling again while the referees tried to break it up.

Analysis: That was a good way to build a battle royal. The promos were quick and basic, but the brawling really helped. The fans were into it. Since NXT doesn’t really have an on-screen figurehead like when William Regal was the GM, they used Perez to announce the battle royal next week, which is fine. They could use Shawn Michaels for an announcement like that, but I think he is content in being used only for major stuff like when he took the North American Title off Solo Sikoa a few months ago.

Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn were still fighting outside since they were in an Extreme Resolution match.


Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn were still fighting in the backstage area in the warehouse. Dawn threw Fyre into some objects. Fyre gave Dawn a body slam onto an old NXT 2.0 logo that was in an “X” shape. Fyre tried to attack with a steel pipe, but Dawn avoided it. Referees were there telling them to wait for the match. Fyre tried to throw a ladder onto Dawn, but Dawn had a lot of time to move, so she did. They were fighting on top of some equipment, Fyre headbutted Dawn and Dawn went crashing onto some chairs and other weapons. Fyre put Dawn into a wheelbarrow and brought her out to ringside.

Analysis: They started the fight backstage and it was time to start the match at that point.

Extreme Resolutions Match: Isla Dawn vs. Alba Fyre

With both women in the ring, they rang the bell to start the match. Dawn was in control with a suplex into the turnbuckle. Fyre hit a Gory Bomb for a two count. Fyre went up top, but Dawn stopped that by throwing a chair at her.


Fyre was in control with a front suplex along with a superkick that knocked Dawn out of the ring. Fyre set up a table on the floor, but Dawn avoided a move to put her through it. Dawn trapped Fyre’s hand in a toolbox, but Fyre got her hand out before Dawn could smash the hand. Fyre put Dawn on the table after a headbutt. Dawn was smiling while on the table. Fyre jumped off the top with a senton onto Dawn on the table, but the table didn’t break. Fyre put Dawn through the table with a Gory Bomb instead. Back in the ring, Fyre pinned Dawn for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Alba Fyre

Analysis: *** It was an intense match between two women that know eachother well. The actual match went ten minutes, but if you add in the brawl before the break then it was about 15 minutes total. It was a revenge win for Fyre over Dawn, who screwed her out of the NXT Women’s Title in October, so it made sense for Fyre to win.

Grayson Waller was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell showing confidence about getting to host his talk show with Bron Breakker later in the show. Waller talked to “Bronathon” by looking into the camera saying that Bron has the dog in him, but that doesn’t make him immune to the Grayson Waller Effect.

Analysis: I like Waller promos.


A video package aired about Indus Sher’s rivalry with The Creed Brothers. Sanga talked about his success in India as an actor while Veer was a MLB pitcher and they complained about being idolized in India, but they don’t get respect in the US. The Creed Brothers said they have never been stepping stones for anybody. Julius said nobody will ever make their names off of them. Sanga talked about beating them at the perfect moment because they didn’t want any excuse. Julius and Brutus talked about how that respect is earned, not given. That match is at New Year’s Evil next week.

Javier Bernal vs. Oro Mensah

Javy attacked Mensah from behind in the aisle and then he hit a belly to back suplex along with a clothesline for two. Mensah got some offense with a sweep kick, but Javy dropped him with a DDT for two. Mensah got some offense going with a springboard moonsault onto a standing Javy along with a spinning kick to the head. Mensah hit an Exploder Suplex followed by the running spinning heel kick in the corner for the win. It went about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Oro Mensah

Analysis: ** It was decent for a shorter match. Javy is a bit of a comedic heel in terms of his promos, but in the ring he’s pretty solid for a guy that’s fairly new on NXT TV. Mensah is a talented athlete that needs to work on the personality. He’s fun to watch.

There was a backstage segment with Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen & Fallon Henley talking backstage about how great their 2023 is going to him. Kiana James congratulated Henley for beating her fair and square while admitting that she would keep up her end of the deal by not putting up condos where Henley’s restaurant is. James wished Henley good luck in the battle royal next week. James told Brooks to text him later, so Brooks said he will.

Analysis: Kiana James is evil and will manipulate dummy Brooks to get what she wants. It’s a long-term story at least.

Andre Chase was up for a match up next.


They showed a mystery Twitter account @NXT_Anonymous that filmed Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro talking to a doctor. Katana wondered why this person was filming that and Carter called this person a creeper.

Analysis: We don’t know who it is. NXT’s creative team loves these mystery segments.

Drew Gulak (w/Hank Walker) vs. Andre Chase (w/Duke Hudson & Thea Hail)

Charlie Dempsey was watching backstage with his arm in a sling. Gulak and Chase did some basic wrestling holds and exchanges. Gulak got some offense going with a belly to back suplex. Dempsey took the sling off his right arm and left the room he was in. Chase did a Russian legsweep followed by his CHASE U stomp with the fans joining in. I saw him do that on Main Event and the crowd was dead quiet. It’s just not the same out of NXT. Chase applied the Figure Four Leglock, but Gulak got to the ropes. Gulak came back with strikes along with a suplex into the ropes. Gulak applied the Gulock submission choking out Chase. It went four minutes. Drew held onto the hold a bit long after the bell too.

Winner by submission: Drew Gulak

Analysis: ** It was a friendly match early on until Gulak got angry and finished off Chase easily. Gulak is trying to teach Walker the right way to wrestle, but Gulak also has heel tendencies, so we’ll see how the story develops.

Wes Lee, the NXT North American Champion, was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Lee spoke about how he wanted to watch Tony and Dijak beat eachother up next week. Lee said maybe he’ll watch them from commentary and the winner will get a shot at his title.

The New Day, the NXT Tag Team Champion, were next because Kofi Kingston has a singles match.


Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Joe Gacy (w/Rip Fowler, Jagger Reid & Ava Raine)

Xavier Woods was on commentary. Kofi hit a cross body block, but Raine tripped him up won the turnbuckle, which led to Gacy hitting a superplex. Kofi hit a dropkick, but Gacy hit a backbreaker. Booker was ripping on New Day saying they shouldn’t be there because they should be on Smackdown and Woods talked about wanting to put people to the test while making sure that everybody is as good as they can possibly be. Kofi got some offense going with a kick, a dropkick and a Frog Splash onto Gacy’s back for a two count. Gacy avoided Trouble in Paradise leading to a DDT for two. After Kofi hit a neckbreaker, there were distractions that allowed Gacy to get some offense. Woods argued with Schism on the floor, so Kofi hit a somersault over the top to the floor. Kofi got out of a uranage attempt followed by a Trouble in Paradise kick by Kofi for the pinfall win after five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston

Analysis: **3/4 It was fine for a TV match with the veteran Kofi picking up the win. Gacy looked competitive. I’ve been watching and writing about Kofi matches for 15 years. He’s so smooth in everything he does.

Drew Gulak was shown talking to Hank Walker saying that a win is a win. Charlie Dempsey walked up to Gulak/Walker to say that his match with Walker is on for next week. Gulak said Hank will be ready.

The main event promo segment was next.


They showed Pretty Deadly in the locker room with the NXT Tag Team Champions The New Day. Pretty Deadly’s Kit Wilson said that next week they’ll take on three top tag teams and beat them all. Woods said if they win the gauntlet match then they get a shot at the titles.

A video aired about some woman in a dress being revealed next week. My guess is it is for Tiffany Stratton’s return.

There was a rundown of NXT New Year’s Evil matches.

* NXT North American Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Dijak vs. Tony D’Angelo

* Charlie Dempsey vs. Hank Walker

* 20 Women NXT Women’s Championship Contender’s #1 Battle Royal

* The Creed Brothers vs. Indus Sher

There’s also Pretty Deadly facing three other teams in a Gauntlet Match and Bron Breakker defending the NXT Title against Grayson Waller.

Grayson Waller Effect with Bron Breakker

Grayson Waller was in the ring hosting his talk show. Grayson said that next week he’s going to save NXT when he takes the NXT Title from Bron Breakker.

Bron Breakker was wearing a leather coat similar to what his father Rick Steiner and uncle Scott Steiner used to wear. They sat at a table in the ring.

Grayson asked what it felt like to have Bron play his hero Goldberg when Waller had a steel plate on. Bron said he was outsmarted, Waller said it was brilliant and Bron said a point for him. Waller wondered where’s the Bron that wants to take his head off. Waller said if he’s not there then next week will be a coronation for Waller as the new champion.

Bron wanted to talk about all of his viral moments like WarGames jumping off the top of a cage, hitting Johnny Gargano with a chair and jumping off a ladder at Stand & Deliver. Bron mentioned Waller blinding Apollo Crews. Bron said that some people may talk about Grayson Waller that night, but Bron will leave as still the NXT Champion. Bron said “Grayson Waller Effect” to him, so Waller called Bron overrated and said that the only thing Bron has done is steal his dad’s gimmick. Bron said he didn’t care about what Waller said because Bron loves his father. Waller wanted to say more, so Bron punched him. Bron hit a press slam into a powerslam. Bron grabbed the phone saying if you want to see a viral moment and Bron hit a somersault dive over the top onto Waller. Bron stood over a fallen Waller with the NXT Title in his hands.

Analysis: It was Waller having the advantage the last time they were in the ring together, so this time it was Breakker’s turn to stand tall. I thought what they said was fitting for their characters with Bron showing a lot of confidence while Waller was his usual cocky self. I believe Bron is going to hold the title until NXT Stand & Deliver, but there’s always a chance he could lose and WWE may call him up to the main roster for the Royal Rumble with a plan for WrestleMania. I just think it makes more sense to do a Bron-Hayes match at Stand & Deliver. Anyway, it should be an entertaining match between Breakker and Waller next week.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Carmelo Hayes
  2. Apollo Crews
  3. Bron Breakker-Grayson Waller

The Scoreboard

This week: 7 out of 10

Last week: 7

Final Thoughts

A solid show overall with the Carmelo Hayes-Apollo Crews match standing out as the best of the show. What a great call to put that on first to start NXT’s year the right way. I think Hayes is on his way to getting pushed for the NXT Title and I’m happy to see it.

The women’s division was represented well with Alba Fyre beating Isla Dawn even though the finish was a bit messed up due to the table not breaking on the first attempt. There was also an effective segment with the women’s division getting into a big brawl to set up a battle royal next week.

They did a really nice job of building the NXT New Year’s Evil special next Tuesday. Bron Breakker and Grayson Waller had a talking segment to for their NXT Title match that saw Bron stand tall to end it. Waller is really impressive although I don’t see him beating Breakker. Hopefully we get Breakker-Hayes for the NXT Title this year after they were kept apart last year.

Here’s the New Year’s Evil lineup for next week’s New Year’s Evil show on Tuesday.

* NXT Championship Match: Bron Breakker (c) vs. Grayson Waller

* 20 Women NXT Women’s Championship Contender’s #1 Battle Royal

* NXT North American Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Dijak vs. Tony D’Angelo

* Gauntlet Match: Pretty Deadly vs. Three Other Teams – If Pretty Deadly wins, New Day have promised them an NXT Tag Team Championship shot.

* The Creed Brothers vs. Indus Sher

* Charlie Dempsey vs. Hank Walker


Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport