The John Report: WWE NXT 02/21/23 Review
This week’s WWE NXT featured Bron Breakker defending the NXT Title against Jinder Mahal, plus Ilja Dragunov facing Trick Williams and more.
A reminder that for NXT I go summary style for most of the show. I’ll go full play-by-play for at least one match as usual.
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.
It was Vic Joseph and Booker T on commentary as usual.
Trick Williams did a pre-match promo saying he’s going to prove he can do more than just talk. Trick said he’s going to beat Ilja Dragunov into oblivion.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Trick Williams
Trick punched Dragunov before the bell rang. Dragunov got some offense going with a side headlock takeover. Trick broke free with a body slam. Dragunov hit a running knee in the corner along with a hard forearm to the back. Dragunov hit a corner clothesline. While Dragunov was on the middle turnbuckle, Trick tossed him over the top onto the apron and the floor. JD McDonagh showed up at ringside to watch his rival Dragunov as the show went to break.
JD McDonagh joined commentary. Dragunov hit an impressive clothesline off the ropes. They exchanged strikes leading to Dragunov hitting a jumping kick to the head. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Dragunov hit a knee drop off the ropes. Trick hit a kick and a running neckbreaker. Dragunov blocked a kick leading to a Powerbomb. Dragunov smashed Trick with a forearm to the face. Dragunov hit the Torpedo Moscow running uppercut for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ilja Dragunov
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very good match. It was one of the longer Trick Williams matches I have ever seen and he did well, so kudos to him for improving over the last year. Dragunov is one of the best in NXT thanks to his ability to sell everything well and his offense looks believable.
Post match, Dragunov had a staredown with McDonagh.
Jinder Mahal was featured in a promo saying that he waited to challenge Bron Breakker while saying that the boos from the crowd are growing. Jinder mentioned Bron losing the NXT Title to Dolph Ziggler last year. Mahal talked about his WWE and US Title wins shocking everybody saying he’s made a career of that.
Analysis: Jinder made a good point about surprising people with title wins. There is a history of that, so it’s smart to mention it. I also find it interesting that they keep mentioning Bron getting booed.
Fallon Henley was on the phone trying to talk to her friend Brooks Jensen, but he wouldn’t answer it. Josh Briggs said that Fallon was wrong last week. Fallon said she was going to apologize to her tag team partner Kiana James in person.
There was a video shown of Meiko Satomura training a bunch of women wrestlers. Roxanne Perez, the NXT Women’s Champion, showed up to join the class. They showed some of the drills with Perez excelling at all of them while other women quit. Meiko and Perez did 1000 squats…or so we are led to believe. Meiko told Perez that was just the warmup.
Analysis: It is a way to show that Meiko is a relentless hard worker.
Let’s Hear from Tyler Bate
Tyler Bate made his entrance in a sweatshirt and pants, so he was not in wrestling gear. Bate said he is not necessarily a man of many words. Bate thanked the fans for their support during his journey in NXT so far. Bate spoke about some of the guys he has faced. Bate said that he believes in timing while saying they are going on a mystical journey together.
Joe Gacy and Schism made the interruption joined by Rip Fowler, Jagger Reid and Ava (no longer Raine). Gacy said they are forward thinkers. Ava said they may be kindred spirits in some ways, but not all ways. Jace said that the journey a man takes does matter, but be careful who you surround yourself with. Gacy told Bate that they are a true family while Bate left his family across the Atlantic. Gacy said they gave Thea Hail a preview of what life is like with them. Ava said that Bate had no one, but they are four roots and one tree. Chase U’s Andre Chase, Duke Hudson and Thea Hail made the save. A tag team match was up next.
Analysis: Tyler Bate isn’t known for doing longer promos like that, but he did okay in terms of coming across as a likable babyface.
Chase U (Andre Chase & Duke Hudson) (w/Thea Hail) vs. The Dyad (Rip Fowler & Jagger Reid) (w/Joe Gacy & Ava)
The Dyad were in control of Chase in the early part of the match. Fowler decked Chase with a forearm to the head and a shoulder breaker. Reid grounded Chase with a chinlock. Chase broke free leading to Hudson getting the tag with some punches, a sidewalk slam, senton splash and he suplexed Reid into Fowler. Chase tagged back in with a double team leading to Chase hitting a superkick on Reid for two. Fowler knocked Chase out of the ring, Hudson clotheslined Fowler out of the ring, Fowler pulled Hudson out of the ring and Reid hit a suicide dive onto Hudson.
Hudson gave Fowler a back body drop leading to Chase tagging back in. Chase did a DDT/flatliner combo on both opponents. Chase hit a neckbreaker on Reid and a moonsault off the ropes onto Fowler on the floor. Chase hit a cross body block off the top on Reid for two since Fowler made the save. Chase did the legsweep leading to the C-H-A-S-E-U stomp routine, but Ava approached Thea, so Chase left the ring. Hudson got the tag with a German Suplex, then The Dyad did a double team move and a double knee attack by Fowler-Reid on Hudson led to Fowler got the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Dyad (Rip Fowler & Jagger Reid)
Analysis: *** A good match especially with an exciting final few minutes. The story of Thea being scared of the Schism group played into the finish with Ava confronting her on the floor, Chase was distracted by that and The Dyad capitalized to win. A basic distraction booking finish.
Post match, Duke Hudson yelled at Andre Chase saying that Thea has to grow up. Hudson said this is a university, not a charity.
Analysis: It’s nice to see Hudson show his loyalty to the group and wanting Thea to toughen up. Thea’s character is like an energetic child, so I hope she evolves in the coming months. I think Chase U could become Tag Team Champions if they get a push.
There was a clip from NXT earlier today with Von Wagner talking to Mr. Stone with Wagner asking what Stone wanted from him. Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo walked into the room with Wagner declining a match because Stone told him to turn it down. Tony and Stacks mocked Wagner, so Wagner accepted the match. Stone didn’t like Wagner playing into their hands and Wagner told Stone to shut up.
Drew Gulak was backstage with Charlie Dempsey as Mckenzie Mitchell was there to interview them. Gulak said that Hank Walker is a nice guy, but he’s not the best. Gulak talked about how Dempsey is the kind of guy that will snap limbs to get what he wants. Drew and Charlie left.
Jacy Jayne entered for singles action.
There was a Sol Ruca video showing her surfing, skateboarding and doing other physical activities. They showed her conquering some skateboarding trick. Sol said she wanted another match with Zoey Stark because there will be a day when she beats Stark.
Jacy Jayne vs. Indi Hartwell
Hartwell with a clothesline, but Jayne came back with a neckbreaker along with two senton splashes. Jayne did a standing side kick for a two count. Jayne was yelling and screaming a lot. Harwell did a comeback with punches and a spinebuster. Jayne sent Hartwell back first into the turnbuckle and a cannonball splash in the corner. More screaming from Jayne: “It’s about me!” Jayne was attacked by Gigi Dolin for the DQ finish.
Winner by disqualification: Jacy Jayne
Analysis: **1/2 This was all about putting over Jacy since she’s a heel solo act now. Indi doesn’t really get pushed much these days although it’s a DQ finish, so that’s better than a loss. Jacy is good in the ring, but she overdoes the screaming and yelling a bit too much to try to get reactions.
Dolin attacked Jayne with punches. The referee made Dolin move back, then Dolin went after Jayne again and sent Jayne into the barricade. They went fighting into the backstage area.
Analysis: I liked that Dolin attacked Jayne during the match. If you wait until after Jayne gets the win then that’s unrealistic because Dolin should want to attack during the match.
They showed Meiko Satomura and Roxanne Perez doing more intense training in the ring. Meiko told Roxanne that to win it comes from the heart, not just from your muscles. Meiko said she’d see her in two weeks.
Gallus was shown walking backstage ahead of their match.
Zoey Stark was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Stark said she’s beaten Sol Ruca so she’s done with her. Stark complained about Meiko Satomura getting a NXT Women’s Title match against Roxanne Perez. Stark said if she gets to face Meiko she will show her who the real “final boss” is.
Analysis: I like Zoey as a heel. She will probably get a title push soon.
Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) vs. Edris Enofe & Malik Blade
This is not for the NXT Tag Team Titles held by Gallus. Coffey caught a leaping Blade with a back body drop. Wolfgang ran over Blade with a running uppercut. Coffey hit a Full Nelson Slam on Blade. There were two guys that appeared in the aisle with a cake. Enofe tagged in with a clothesline and a dive off the top onto Wolfgang onto the floor. Blade was back in double knees to Coffey’s back. Wolfgang clotheslined Enofe out of the ring, Coffey knocked down Blade. Wolfgang got the tag leading to the forearm/powerslam combo move for the win after four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang)
Analysis: **1/4 A solid match to put over the champions in under five minutes. Gallus boys on top yet again.
The two guys went into the ring with a kick about Gallus losing the NXT UK Tag Team Titles to Pretty Deadly two years ago. Gallus beat them up and tossed them from the ring. Pretty Deadly’s Kit Wilson & Elton Prince beat up Gallus with steel chairs. PD sent Coffey and Wolfgang into the steel steps repeatedly. Wilson gave Wolfgang a spinebuster on the steel steps. PD held the NXT Tag Team Titles.
Analysis: It was a more intense version of Pretty Deadly instead of the goofy role they are often in.
Dabba-Kato talked about how Apollo Crews was so busy looking towards the future that he forgot about the past. Kato complained about how Crews coming to NXT without hm and Kato said now he’s there to hurt Crews.
Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo entered for Tony’s match.
Stevie Turner was shown on set for her fake stream show. Turner spoke about Lyra Valkyria with some critical words about her.
Von Wagner (w/Mr. Stone) vs. Tony D’Angelo (w/Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo)
Wagner hit a jumping knee smash, then a headbutt and a running kick. Stone told Wagner he was waiting on him. Wagner with a body slam. Wagner remained on offense with two straight corner clotheslines. Tony avoided a charging Wagner leading to a clothesline and belly-to-belly slam. Tony hit a spinebuster on Wagner followed by a lifting belly-to-back slam with an elbow smash to the chest.
Winner by pinfall: Tony D’Angelo
Analysis: *3/4 A quality win for Tony D after Wagner was on offense for most of the match. They seem to be retooling Wagner, so having him lose matches is a way to set up some of the changes that are coming.
Post match, Tony D’Angelo was interviewed in the ring. Tony talked about Stacks being loyal to him saying he chose family last week. Tony spoke into the camera saying he wanted to make things to end with Dijak. Tony challenged Dijak to a Jailhouse Street Fight at NXT Roadblock. Tony told Dijak he had seven days to answer.
Analysis: It seems like Tony D and Stacks are going the babyface route a bit now.
Nikkita Lyons was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell talking about missing the next year due to knee surgery, but she’ll try to be back in less than a year. Tiffany Stratton denied attacking Lyons in the parking lot. Stratton told her to vanish for a full year.
Analysis: There’s a mystery attacker that took out Lyons in the parking lot to explain her major knee surgery. We might find out in a year.
Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley talked backstage. Paxley was freaked out by Isla Dawn a bit, so Nile encouraged Paxley that they are a team.
Trick Williams was shown in the trainer’s room with Carmelo Hayes saying he was proud of Trick. Hayes said he had to watch the main event. Tyler Bate credited Trick for having a good match. Hayes told Bate that “I am him” and Hayes/Trick left.
Ivy Nile (w/Tatum Paxley) vs. Alba Fyre (w/Isla Dawn)
Nile with punches to start, but Fyre shoved Nile into the middle rope. Fyre hit a running kick to the chest. Nile got some offense with a headscissors and she countered a move into a sunset flip for two. Dawn on the apron, Fyre bumped Nile into Paxley on the apron and Nile sold that. Fyre with a kick followed by a Gory Bomb slam off the back for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn
Analysis: *1/2 A victory to give Fyre some momentum in this heel role she is in. I think Fyre and Dawn are likely going to be NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions at some point this year.
A video aired about the NXT Champion Bron Breakker.
Kiana James was in her office with her assistant telling her that Fallon Henley was there. Henley said she was wrong about Kiana was dating somebody else and Kiana said she wanted Henley to trust her. Henley apologized and James accepted. James thinks that Henley is jealous, Henley said she wasn’t and then they shook hands saying they are partners. They are the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Analysis: The drama and trust issues continue. Perhaps it will lead to James being disingenuous towards Brooks Jensen and then we see Henley has a crush on her friend Brooks. I don’t know if that’s where it is going.
The NXT North American Champion Wes Lee was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Lee said that the fans like the open challenge, so he’s going to do it again.
Next week on NXT:
* Meiko Satomura vs. Zoey Stark.
* Carmelo Hayes vs. Tyler Bate. That should be outstanding.
It was main event time with Jinder Mahal up first as the challenger with Indus Sher’s Sanga and Veer Mahaan joining him. Bron Breakker was up next as the NXT Champion with mostly cheers, but some fans don’t like him too.
NXT Championship: Bron Breakker vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Veer & Sanga)
Mahal with a shoulder tackle. Bron came back with his own shoulder tackle. Bron caught a leaping Mahal into a powerslam. Veer and Sanga pulled Mahal out of the ring to save him from a submission, so Bron jumped over the top with a somersault dive on the trio on the floor. Mahal and Bron did a double clothesline spot. Veer and Sanga went on the apron, so The Creed Brothers showed up to brawl with them leading to a picture-in-picture break.
Bron caught Mahal with an Exploder Suplex. Veer and Sanga were gone from ringside. Mahal drove Bron to the ropes followed by a kick that knocked Bron out of the ring. Mahal rammed Bron face first into the hood of the commentary table. Mahal whipped Bron into the steel steps, back in the ring to break the count and Mahal sent Bron into the steel steps again. Back in the ring, Mahal got a two count. Mahal worked over Bron with elbow smashes to the head. Bron came back with a suplex. They exchanged strikes and punches leading to Bron hitting two straight German Suplexes. Bron hit a spinebuster. Mahal bailed to the floor while Bron was setting up in the corner. Bron sent Mahal into the hood of the commentary table. Back in the ring, Mahal hit a jumping knee lift followed by a Falcon Arrow suplex for two. Mahal had Bron on his shoulders leading to double knees by Mahal for two. Mahal with slaps to the face, Bron drove Mahal to the turnbuckle and Bron hit a Frankensteiner off the top rope. Bron hit a suplex into a slam for two. Bron jumped off the middle rope with nothing, so Mahal kicked him in the ribs. Bron countered The Khallas with a hiplock takeover, then Bron hit a Spear and that was it for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bron Breakker
Analysis: *** A good match that was competitive the whole way. Mahal got plenty of offense before Bron was able to make the superman comeback to put Mahal away. The finish was a bit flat since it was so sudden with Bron countering The Khallas followed by a quick Spear for the win. They got a solid amount of time and Bron was able to find a way to get another win.
Post match, Carmelo Hayes appeared on the platform in the back part of the NXT arena.
Analysis: There’s the Stand & Deliver main event with Breakker facing Melo for the first time with the NXT Title on the line.
They showed Grayson Waller in the production area with a remote control pressing buttons on Peacock. Waller shouted at somebody to shut his mouth. Waller said he took something from the DX playbook. Waller said that Shawn Michaels isn’t going to hold him back. Waller invited Shawn Michaels to the Grayson Waller Effect talk show in two weeks. Waller shoved the camera and that was it.
Analysis: I like the storyline with Waller being a pain in the ass to Michaels, who runs NXT. That should be an interesting talk show segment in two guys. I feel like it’s going to lead to Michaels putting Waller against a mystery opponent at Stand & Deliver, so that could be where they debut Dragon Lee in NXT. Just an idea.
What just happened?!@GraysonWWE took a page out of the DX playbook to send a message to @ShawnMichaels 😳 pic.twitter.com/cBBn4ONTqG
— WWE (@WWE) February 22, 2023
Three Stars of the Show
1. Ilja Dragunov
2. Bron Breakker
3. Trick Williams/Jinder Mahal
This week: 6.75 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2023 Average: 6.84
A solid show this week. Three matches gave plenty of time and all of them were good. The stories advance well on this show as they continue to feature a lot of different people in the ring, interview segments, backstage and elsewhere. Quality wins for Bron Breakker, Ilja Dragunov, Tony D, Alba Fyre and The Dyad among others. Another tease of Bron Breakker facing Carmelo Hayes at Stand & Deliver on April 1. It’s obvious that is coming, but it’s not official yet.
I liked the Grayson Waller production truck bit to end the show with him inviting Shawn Michaels to the Grayson Waller Effect talk show in two weeks. Waller is doing well in this role as the heel going against management.
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