Reviews

The John Report: WWE NXT 02/01/22 Review

wwe nxt feb 1

This week’s WWE NXT featured some big team matches including the Imperium trio vs. Diamond Mine and NXT Champion Bron Breakker teaming with Tommaso Ciampa vs. Legado del Fantasma.

Other matches advertised include NXT Champion Bron Breakker & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Legado del Fantasma, Raquel Gonzalez vs. Cora Jade and Joe Gacy vs. LA Knight.

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.

This week’s NXT started with the entrance of Imperium. It was right to the action to start the show after the two six-man teams made their entrance.

Imperium – Gunther, Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner vs. Diamond Mine – Roderick Strong, Julius Creed & Brutus Creed (w/Malcolm Bivens & Ivy Nile)

Gunther got in a cheap kick on before the bell. Brutus hit a gutwrench suplex on Aichner. They did a power spot where Aichner lifted up Brutus on his shoulders leading to a slam. Barthel with an armbar, but then Brutus hit a spinebuster to counter it. Julius with a knee to the ribs of Barthel. Running kick to the chest by Barthel, then a blocked kick, a kick to the head, an overhead suplex and Barthel hit an uppercut off the middle ropes for a two count. Gunther tagged in with fans chanting “Walter” mostly because they are not used to the new name. Gunther crushed Julius with a forearm to the chest followed by a body slam. Julius was able to break free against Barthel with a suplex across the ring. Strong with a running clothesline, then a backbreaker and a running forearm on Gunther. Strong with running forearms to the head of Aichner, Gunther tagged in and crushed Strong with a clothesline to the head. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

Julius was in there against Barthel, then he slapped/tagged Brutus and Julius suplexed his brother Brutus onto Barthel for a two count. Barthel with a jawbreaker to break free, Aichner tagged and the Creeds tagged in for a double team spinebuster with Gunther breaking up the pin. Strong and Gunther tagged in as they exchanged strikes, Gunther blocked a knee, but then Strong ran the ropes and hit a running knee. Brutus tagged in with a chop, Gunther with a back elbow, Strong was taken out of the ring and sent into the steel steps. There was action on the floor with everybody knocked down. Gunther blocked a Brutus clothesline by punching the arm. Gunther with a hard chop and Gunther hit a Powerbomb on Brutus for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Imperium – Gunther, Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner

Analysis: ***1/4 A very good tag team match here with the biggest name Gunther getting the win over a younger tag team wrestler Brutus. Gunther is going to keep getting pushed in NXT most likely, so whenever he does lose it’s going to feel like a big deal. The Creed brothers got a lot of offense and looked good as did strong, but this was all about reminding us how strong the Imperium trio is.

LA Knight did a promo earlier in the day talking trash about Grayson Waller. Joe Gacy and Harland walked up to him with Gacy offering to help Knight. That was rejected by Knight telling Gacy that he’ll get his ass stomped because that’s just a fact of life.

The lovely Toxic Attraction trio of Mandy, Gigi and Jacy were shown walking backstage because they’re up next.

A commercial aired for Friday’s Smackdown promoting Ronda Rousey going after Charlotte Flair and Brock Lesnar seeking revenge against Roman Reigns.

(Commercial)

A video aired letting us know WrestleMania was 60 days away as of Tuesday.

The commentary team of Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett were shown at ringside. They reminded us that they’ll be on Syfy in the US (due to the Winter Olympics on USA Network) for the next two weeks.

Let’s Hear from Toxic Attraction

The Toxic Attraction trio of NXT Women’s Champion Mandy Rose and NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne. Dolin mentioned to Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta that last week was their death sentence. Jayne said that Indi & Persia will get their title match at Vengeance Day in two weeks while they get their vengeance.

Kay Lee Ray interrupted the promo with her baseball bat saying she wants a title match against Mandy Rose. Mandy said no, she told Ray to put the bat down and Jacy/Gigi would leave. Ray went into the ring saying she was the longest reigning women’s champion of the modern era (when she was in NXT UK) and Mandy said she didn’t even care. Mandy bragged about how she has been flaunted across billboards, seven magazine covers, bikini World Champion while being what women want to be and being a woman that men wish they could be with. Ray said that doesn’t compare to in-ring skill while noting she was champion 649 days while Mandy was slipping at WrestleMania and sucking face with Otis. Mandy fired back saying that all the talent in the world will never replace this…she put her arms up to brag about her body. Ray said by the end of the night she’ll get her title match, Mandy said that was doubtful and Ray decked Mandy with a punch/slap to the face. Gigi and Jacy went into the ring, so Ray got her bat and chased the heels out of the arena.

Analysis: The promos were okay, but I wouldn’t say great. We know Ray is going to challenge Rose. It’s just a matter of how they get there.

Cora Jade was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Jade said she’s going to prove to Raquel she’s tough enough and why she’s worthy of being Raque’s partner in the Dusty Classic tournament. Cora said Raquel will learn that Cora has what it takes and then Raquel showed up asking if she was sure she wants to have this match. Cora said she was sure. That match was next.

Raquel Gonzalez made her entrance for that match after a break.

(Commercial)

They showed Mandy, Gigi & Jacy leaving moments ago. Mandy said that Kay Lee Ray wasn’t on her level. Mandy said that Ray didn’t deserve to be in the ring with her. Gigi and Jacy went into the car first, Mandy was trying to get in the driver’s seat and Ray was there. Ray drove off with Gigi & Jacy in the car while Mandy was furious about it.

Analysis: Auto theft to earn a title shot. That’s an interesting booking method.

Cora Jade vs. Raquel Gonzalez

Gonzalez was talking early on asking if Jade was sure she wanted to have this match. Jade hit a dropkick. Gonzalez got a hold of Jade and flipped her over with a slam. Gonzalez worked over Jade with kicks along with a forearm to the face. Gonzalez with a spinning sidewalk slam for a two count. Jade tried for a move, but Gonzalez overpowered her. The fans were chanting for both women and it got a bit annoying, but that’s what these fans like to do sometimes. Gonzalez lifted Jade and drove her into the top turnbuckle. Jade with a slap to the face, then a boot to the face and Jade countered slam into a submission on the right arm. Gonzalez dropped to the mat to slam Jade down. Gonzalez missed a move off the ropes when Jade moved and Jade avoided a move into the turnbuckle leading to Jade getting a rollup for two. Jade with a superkick to the head, then Jade got a hold of Raquel’s hand, ran the ropes and hit an armdrag. Jade with an enziguri kick to the head. Jade charged, Gonzalez got a hold of her and Gonzalez hit a Chingona Bomb for the pinfall win after six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Raquel Gonzalez

Analysis: ** It was decent for a shorter match. Jade got some offense, a few nearfalls and nearly fished off Gonzalez before Raquel hit her huge finisher to get the win. The story was about Jade earning Raquel’s respect again.

After the match, Gonzalez teased leaving and then she went back into the ring to help Jade back to her feet. Gonzalez told Jade she’ll be her partner. Gonzalez told Jade: “Let’s go and win this.” They left together.

Analysis: It was obvious they were going to team together. I doubt they win the Women’s Dusty Cup, but they might do well. I think it’s possible that Raquel is going to Raw or Smackdown after WrestleMania in April.

A video aired about Sarray, who is like a Japanese school girl character that has the power of her grandma’s necklace. She’s up next.

(Commercial)

Pete Dunne was shown in a promo talking about how he cost Tony D’Angelo his match last week while mocking Tony by saying he handles his business. Dunne said he can do that to Tony with a cricket bat, steel chair, brass knuckles and Dunne said he wanted a Steel Cage match.

Sarray was shown walking backstage with her new look as a Japanese schoolgirl and then when she appeared in the arena, she was back in her wrestling gear.

Sarray vs. Kayla Inlay

Inlay slapped Sarray’s hand when Sarray wanted a handshake. Sarray got a hold of the arms leading to arm drags across the ring. Inlay avoided a charging Sarray and delivered some shoulder tackles for a two count. There was an update from Mckenzie Mitchell that Kay Lee Ray returned. Inlay grabbed a waistlock hold on the mat, Sarray came back with forearms to the head and Sarray hooked the legs for a rollup leading to stomp to the chest. Sarray set up Inlay against the ropes leading to a running dropkick. Sarray hit an overhead suplex for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Sarray

Analysis: * Easy win to put over Sarray in her first match this year. Inlay got a bit of offense, but really had no shot here.

Duke Hudson was featured in a video package where he talked about his attack on Dante Chen with Hudson saying he’s addicted to pain and seeing people suffer. Hudson talked about his poker-playing past. Hudson said now he makes his own luck.

The NXT North American Champion Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams were shown backstage because they’re up next at the top of hour two.

(Commercial)

Bron Breakker, the NXT Champion, was in the locker room with Tommaso Ciampa walking up to him. Breakker said he appreciated his help last week. Ciampa said that Breakker can now learn what it’s like to be at the mountaintop. They said they respected eachother and agreed to kick some ass as a team.

Let’s Hear from Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams

Carmelo Hayes walked out with the NXT North American Championship while he was joined by his taller friend Trick Williams. Trick mentioned that last week Cameron Grimes beat a distracted Tony D’Angelo and now he’s ready for the A Champion? Hayes said Grimes ain’t ready. Hayes said even though the fans don’t see Grimes as a threat, Hayes claimed he sees Grimes as a threat. Hayes claimed he’s going harder in the gym, going harder in the ring, spending time with Ollie Jayy and got into his catchphrase. That’s when Grimes interrupted.

Cameron Grimes entered to a good pop from the crowd. Grimes said he had to come out there because Hayes said that the fans don’t care about Grimes. Cameron said they aren’t chanting “A Champ” because they’re chanting “To The Moon” for Grimes. Williams said that Melo don’t miss. Grimes mocked Hayes’ haircut and made some SpongeBob references. Trick did some trash-talking by speaking really fast. Grimes said he wasn’t sure what he said, but he wondered if he’s fighting Williams or Hayes. Melo told Grimes in two weeks at Vengeance Day he’ll find out that Hayes is him with Melo saying he’s going to shoot for the moon and take the stars as casualties.

When Melo left the ring, Grimes spoke up again said that at Vengeance Day it’s only going to be a one star match because that one star (himself) is going to the moon. Grimes’s music played to end it.

Analysis: A solid promo segment to build up their title match in two weeks. Grimes said it will only be a one star match because he was talking about himself, but in actuality, it’s going to be above three stars, and maybe at the four star or higher level because these guys are awesome. Hayes continues to improve on the microphone while Williams comes across as more of a goofy sidekick each week.

The team of Edris Enofe and Malik Blade were in the locker room talking about how they needed to have a tag team name. They came up with ideas, Edris suggested they should ask Mandy Rose, then Malik had to pretend Mandy Rose was there and then Mandy literally walked into the room where she landed in Malik’s arms. Rose said she needed help because Kay Lee Ray was chasing her. Kay Lee Ray pulled off Mandy’s jacket and the girls left with Edris saying they should go after them. Blade had his hands lowered and said: “I need a minute.” When they cut to the arena, Barrett said: “Looks like the competition for a date with Mandy Rose is…um….stiffening up.”

Analysis: That was funny at the end. If you get what he’s referring to it then you can enjoy the joke. If not, think about it. You’ll figure it out.

LA Knight entered for singles action wit the fans cheering him because he’s a babyface now.

A commercial aired for WWE Elimination Chamber on Saturday, February 19 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It’s a 12pm ET start time.

(Commercial)

There was a backstage interview with Mckenzie Mitchell talking to Malcolm Bivens and Diamond Mine. Grizzled Young Veterans appeared to trash talk the Creed Brothers about how they are going to win on NXT next Tuesday. Bivens said they’ll kick Grizzled Young Veterans’ ass next week.

LA Knight vs. Joe Gacy (w/Harland)

Knight with a running neckbreaker followed by some corner stomps with “YEAH” chants and then a running knee. Gacy hit a spinning uranage slam. Gacy grounded Knight with a chinlock of sorts, Knight fought back, Gacy hit a forearm and a belly to back suplex hit for Gacy. Knight with punches, Gacy with kicks to the legs and an uppercut for Gacy. Knight avoided a charging Gacy leading to Knight hitting a neckbreaker, body slam and a knee drop for Knight. Gacy and Knight collided for a double headbutt spot. Harland was on the apron keeping the referee occupied, so Grayson Waller and his big man friend Sanga showed up with Waller hitting a Cutter on Knight on the floor. Knight got back in the ring before the ten count. Gacy bounced off the ropes with a clothesline for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Joe Gacy

Analysis: ** A cheap win for the heel Gacy benefitting from Waller attacking Knight on the floor. The crowd has been behind Knight since he turned face and having Waller get more heat with a cheap attack is a smart way of furthering the story.

Post match, Grayson Waller yelled at Knight saying this was Waller’s NXT. Knight punched him in the face, but Sanga was there to grab Knight and drop him with a Chokeslam. Waller said that if Knight can beat Sanga next week then Waller will give him a match.

Wendy Choo was shown backstage walking around before her match and the rich girl Tiffany Stratton was shown looking on as well.

(Commercial)

Von Wagner was backstage with Robert Stone, who said he was focused on the entertainment side of the business in the past. Stone said then he saw Wagner and he said he had to be connected with that. Stone said that he has paid Wagner’s fines, he’ll keep paying his fines and he said that Wagner is a future NXT Champion, a future WWE Champion and a future Universal Champion. Stone wondered who could stop Wagner? Nobody. Stone said this is Von Wagner’s world and Wagner said: “And you’re just living in it.”

Analysis: I like the pairing because Wagner isn’t a great talker, so Stone can do the promos for him. Stone is a former wrestler (Robbie E when he was in TNA) that can get a lot of heat in that role. Stone was too much of a comedy manager in the past. Now that it looks to be more serious, I think it can work.

There was a segment earlier in the day where Tiffany Stratton complained about Wendy Choo to Amari Miller and told Miller she’ll take her shopping if Miller can beat Choo.

Wendy Choo vs. Amari Miller

Wendy Choo was wearing her pajamas while walking out there with her pillow due to her gimmick as the woman that likes to sleep. Choo avoided a charging Miller, then laid down on the mat and held onto Miler’s leg while falling asleep again. Miller got a hold of Choo with a backslide pin for two, but then Choo came back with a kick followed by an elbow drop while doing a sleep pose. Miller with a senton splash on Choo. There was an impressive overhead belly to belly suplex by Choo, then a handspring attack in the corner and an Exploder Suplex. Miller came back wit ha double knee attack to the face for a two count. Tiffany Stratton walked out there with her credit card that she handed to Miller and Choo got a rollup for two. Choo with a double axhandle to the face for the pinfall win. It went about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Wendy Choo

Analysis: * I’m still not sure about this Wendy Choo gimmick. I get that they want to have comedy characters that can kick ass in the ring, but I don’t know about the long term possibilities of this gimmick. Choo’s finisher was also a bit weak considering some of the other moves she did. Choo is a talented in ring performer, though. That’s obvious. I just think this gimmick is so limited in what they can do with her.

Post match, Tiffany Stratton wanted her credit card back and Wendy Choo had it, so Stratton screamed about it.

Persia Pirotta was backstage with husband/wife duo of Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell going up to her. The ladies said they would be NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. Persia said she was checking out Duke Hudson’s Instagram, Hartwell said he was trouble, Persia said she liked trouble and Dexter gave a thumbs down to that idea. Brooks Jensen walked up to Dexter asking for tips for Jensen’s relationship with Kayden Carter and Indi said when a guy talks too much it’s a turn off. Indi liked non-verbal communication. Books said that was the hot tub look. Brooks looked at Persia, she said she’s into somebody else, Brooks started rambling about Kayden and that was it.

Analysis: They are certainly open to more romance angles in NXT compared to what WWE does on Raw or Smackdown. It has seemed like Persia and Indi will split at some point soon due to Persia being upset about Indi’s relationship with Dexter hurting the team. If they put Persia with Duke, that sets up a feud between Hudson and Lumis soon.

A video aired about Draco Anthony talking about how hard he works. Anthon was in the Marines for four years and this is his NXT debut while adding that his action speak louder than your words.

(Commercial)

There was a video about Nikkita Lyons saying her dad was a bassist, her mom was a groupie and she was the result. Nikkita said that people complained about she learned her life skills, but everything has led to this moment. Nikkita said she’s now part of NXT and if she attacks the ring like she attacks the track, you better watch out for this lion’s roar. She will debut in NXT soon.

Analysis: Did they watch the old USA Network show La Femme Nikita to come up with her name? They added a T to make it Nikkita. This brand loves giving gimmicks to the characters. Now there’s a singing girl.

Sarray was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell with Sarray dedicating the win to her grandmother. Sarray said when she wears that necklace, she can do anything. Dakota Kai said she can tell the necklace is important to her and Kai said that the sun always sets on a relationship no matter how important it is.

Andre Chase (w/Bodhi Hayward) vs. Draco Anthony

Chase with an arm drag while telling Anthony that was a teachable moment. Anthony with a running shoulder tackle, then he went for a leapfrog and Chase countered with an atomic drop. Chase hit a neckbreaker for two. Anthony caught Chase with a powerslam followed by a knee to the ribs. Anthony hit an overhead suplex for a two count. Chase got some momentum going with the Russian legsweep followed by Chase doing the stomps leading to the “Chase U” call out. Anthony with a boot to the face, then he got the Chase U flag from ringside and stomped on the flag. The fans booed. Hayward got the flag back. Chase tackled Anthony into the turnbuckle and stomped away repeatedly. Chase hooked Anthony into a flatliner into the mat for the pinfall win after about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Andre Chase

Analysis: *3/4 A rare win for Chase on NXT. Anthony looks impressive physically and had some power moves that looked good. We’ll see how he develops in the months ahead. Most of the time Chase is there to do a comedy gimmick and put people over.

Post match, Chase looked into the camera telling Von Wagner he’ll have a teachable moment next week.

Analysis: That’s why they wanted to give Chase a win this week because he’s going to put over Wagner next week.

Mandy Rose, the lovely NXT Champion, was stumbling around backstage. Rose told others in the backstage area to leave and she was wondering where her girls (Gigi & Jacy) were. Kay Lee Ray appeared from behind a bar area and poured a bowl of spaghetti on Mandy’s head! KLR grabbed a cake and threw it in Mandy’s face as well. Mandy asked why she’s doing this, KLR said Mandy knows what she wants (a title shot) and they left that room.

Analysis: The story continued with Mandy trying to get away from KLR all night long, but KLR kept getting the upper hand.

The Legado del Fantasma group entered for the main event tag team match.

(Commercial)

A video aired promoting the NXT Vengeance Day special in two weeks on February 15.

Next week on NXT on Syfy for those of you in the US:

* Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Grizzled Young Veterans vs. The Creed Brothers.

* Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: MSK vs. Malik Blade & Edris Enofe.

* LA Knight vs. Sanga.

* Von Wagner vs. Andre Chase although they didn’t have a graphic for that.

* Sarray vs. Dakota Kai.

* Wendy Choo vs. Tiffany Stratton.

It was main event time with the NXT Champion Bron Breakker and Tommaso Ciampa making their entrance. The announcers commented about Bron having issues with Dolph Ziggler, so it looks like Dolph will come to NXT to put over Breakker at some point soon.

Bron Breakker & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) (w/Santos Escobar & Elektra Lopez)

Ciampa started with Wilde with some fun back and forth action along with taunting from both guys. Mendoza with a kick to the gut, then he jumped over Ciampa and hit a dropkick. Ciampa managed to get the advantage against Mendoza leading to some repeated stomps in the corner. Breakker tagged in against Wilde with Bron hitting an impressive tackle leading to a delayed suplex with Ciampa going in the ring to do it to Mendoza as well. Breakker and Ciampa each did the clapping along with the pat on the back at the same time. That was cool. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

Breakker was in the ring with Wilde with Breakker hitting a clothesline that knocked Wilde out of the ring. Breakker left the ring where Escobar was, the referee was distracted and Escobar whipped Breakker into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Wilde with a boot the face, corner splash and the Legado guys did their routine where they did quick tags leading to multiple corner clotheslines and Mendoza hit a jumping kick on Breakker. Legado hit a double suplex on Breakker for two. Wilde hit a running back elbow on Breakker for two. Breakker hit a back body drop to counter a headlock by Wilde. Ciampa tagged in with clotheslines on Wilde, then clotheslines on Mendoza as well and Ciampa hit a leaping clothesline on both guys. Ciampa launched Wilde into the air leading to Breakker hitting a spinebuster. Good spot. Escobar on the apron, Breakker got in his face, and that allowed Mendoza to hit a missile dropkick. Mendoza hit a somersault splash off the top for a two count on Breakker. That was a good spot. Mendoza avoided a charging Breakker, kick to the head by Mendoza and Breakker hit an impressive Spear on Mendoza for two with Wilde making the save. Ciampa sent Wilde out of the ring. Wilde went up top, so Ciampa shoved him and Wilde bumped onto the announce table. That was a big leap! The fans chanted “holy shit” for that. Breakker hit a press powerslam for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Bron Breakker & Tommaso Ciampa

Analysis: ***1/4 A good main event with a lot of action and Breakker continuing to look dominant. Ciampa was tremendous as usual in all the key spots, he was on fire after the hot tag and it led to an exciting final few minutes. Nice bump by wild going from the top rope to the announce table that was pretty far away. It was smart to have Breakker get the win right after that. They are obviously building to Breakker facing Escobar soon, so it’s a way to give Bron more momentum by beating Escobar’s buddies in a tag team match.

Post match, Breakker dared Escobar to try to come after him. Escobar told him only on his time.

There were still a few minutes left in the show, so a barefoot Mandy Rose and Kay Lee Ray made their way out to the ring. Kay Lee Ray had her bat saying she didn’t want to wait until Vengeance Day because she wants her match next week. Mandy said if you put down the match then you’ve got it. When Rose got up, KLR hit a superkick and KLR Bomb. KLR posed with the NXT Women’s Championship over a fallen Rose. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: Good call putting the NXT Women’s Championship match between Rose and KLR on next week’s show. You can’t put everything on the Vengeance Day card, so at least you have a well-built title match on next week’s episode as well. I think Rose will win to keep the title, but a title change is a possibility too.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Imperium
  2. Bron Breakker/Tommaso Ciampa
  3. Diamond Mine

 

The Scoreboard

This week: 6.75 out of 10

Last week: 7

 

Final Thoughts

It was a slightly above average show this week with some solid story advancement all night long. The in-ring action wasn’t as good as last week, but the opening and main event tag team matches were fun. They built up the Mandy/KLR story well with the NXT Women’s Title on the line next week. The NXT Vengeance Day matches in two weeks also are matches that have good storylines, so it will be interesting to see who wins those matches.

The second hour definitely dragged a bit, but at least they ended with a strong main event featuring Breakker/Ciampa beating the Legado boys. That match and Imperium (led by Gunther) beating Diamond Mine were clearly the best matches this week.

There is still some silliness and weird gimmicks on NXT that hurt the show a bit, but I don’t mind the overall direction of NXT these days. They are building stories well on a week-to-week basis.

The NXT Vengeance Day episode is in two weeks on February 15 with these matches announced:

* NXT North American Championship: Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Cameron Grimes

* NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship: Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne (c) vs. Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta

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

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport