The John Report: WWE NXT 02/28/23 Review
This week’s WWE NXT featured Carmelo Hayes facing Tyler Bate, Wes Lee defending the NXT North American Title and more.
Next week’s show is an NXT Roadblock special featuring some matches that have been built up well and is a lead-in to NXT Stand & Deliver during WrestleMania weekend.
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.
The show started with a chaotic brawl in the backstage area between wrestlers fighting about who will get to make their way to the ring to challenge Wes Lee for the NXT North American Title. Lee was in the ring waiting for an opponent. It looked like it would be Edris Enofe or Malik Blade, but Dabba Kato took them out. Apollo Crews jumped onto Kato to go after him, so Nathan Frazer ran into the ring to get the title shot.
NXT North American Championship: Wes Lee vs. Nathan Frazer
I will go play-by-play here. The fans chanted “welcome back” for Frazer, who has been out since last October. Lee shoved Frazer down to start, but Frazer grounded Lee with a headlock. Lee and Frazer each did armdrags, then a double dropkick and Frazer got a rollup. They slapped hands out of a sign of respect. Lee with a shoulder tackle leading to a front facelock. Frazer gave Lee a back body drop over the top to the floor. Frazer tried a moonsault to the floor, but Lee moved. Lee tried a somersault dive to the floor, but Frazer moved and Lee landed on his feet. When Frazer charged, Lee hit him with a rising kick to the face.
Frazer with a kick that stunned Lee. Frazer went up top, he went for a dive, but Lee moved and they ran the ropes leading to a double cross body block spot. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Lee with a kick, Frazer with a roundhouse kick to the head and Frazer hit a lifting reverse suplex/slam for a two count. Frazer teased a superplex, Lee shoved him back down and Frazer was back up. Frazer hit a superplex followed by a lifting neckbreaker for two. The crowd thought that was it. Lee hit a neckbreaker across the top rope, but Frazer came back with a dropkick that knocked Lee into the commentary table. Frazer jumped off the top with an attack, Lee moved and Frazer hit the commentary table. Lee hit a somersault dive over the top onto Frazer on the floor. They were back in the ring, Lee did a cartwheel with a backflip leading to the Cardiac Kick for the pinfall win after 13 minutes. I’m glad that move has a name.
Winner by pinfall: Wes Lee
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a terrific match. There was no story going in since it was an open challenge, but I think Frazer was a great choice to face Lee. They are both amazing athletes, there were some big moves from each guy throughout the match and it was exciting the whole way. Lee is doing really well as champion. I think he can lose the title when there’s a feud that has a challenger that is deserving, but I don’t know who the person will be that beats him. I enjoyed the match.
Post match, Lee and Frazer hugged as a sign of respect since they are both faces.
JD McDonagh was shown talking about his retinal tear injury. They showed clips of him getting his eye treated saying he’ll make Dragunov feel what that pain feels like. JD said that his vision is coming back, he’ll push Dragunov and make him suffer. JD said he’ll send Dragunov home permanently.
Brooks Jensen & Josh Briggs were shown in the locker room. Brooks said that things haven’t been the same with Kiana James since Valentine’s Day. Briggs said when it comes to women, men are stupid. Briggs said forget about the Kiana stuff because it will figure itself out. They were off for a tag team match up next.
A commercial aired for Smackdown showing Roman Reigns back on the show. Also, Cody Rhodes will be on Smackdown as well. That’s going to be good.
There was a video about Tyler Bate ahead of the main event match.
Hank Walker was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell, so Axiom showed up to complain about Hank fighting with him during the show opening brawl. Axiom said Hank couldn’t beat Wes anyway while Hank was mad about that. They were separated.
Indus Sher (Veer Mahaan & Sanga) (w/Jinder Mahal) vs. Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen
Jensen started with a takedown on Veer and Briggs tagged in with a shoulder tackle. Jensen wasn’t paying attention when Briggs wanted a tag. Briggs was back in, Jensen wasn’t focused after he tagged in and Sanga hit him with a Chokeslam that was massive. Veer crushed Jensen with a massive lariat for the pinfall win after four minutes. Booker called Indus Sher future NXT Tag Team Champions.
Winners by pinfall: Indus Sher (Veer Mahaan & Sanga)
Analysis: ** Easy win for Indus Sher due to Jensen not being focused. That Chokeslam by Sanga was impressive while Veer hit the lariat for the big finish. It worked just fine.
After the match, Jinder Mahal did a promo about how they are going to beat The Creed Brothers next week at NXT Roadblock in a six-man tag team match.
A video aired about Jacy Jayne facing Indi Hartwell last week, but Gigi Dolin attacked Jayne and beat Jayne up.
Gigi Dolin was shown walking backstage for a promo up next.
They showed a clip from moments ago with a trainer checking on Nathan Frazer, but Katana Chance ran into the room saying Wendy Choo was attacked.
Analysis: The NXT brand loves mystery parking lot attacks.
Let’s Hear from Gigi Dolin
Gigi Dolin entered to the Toxic Attraction song saying that’s the last time you’ll hear that song. Gigi talked about having her head kicked in and thrown into a door. Gigi said that Jacy Jayne has made Gigi realize who she is. Gigi spoke about how it was fun being the mean girl for a while saying that deep down she has been happy to just try to survive. Gigi revealed that Jacy knows that her mother abused her and she was determined to make it to WWE to show her brother that they can make it. Gigi said she has been knocked down time and time again, but she continues to get up. Gigi said that at Roadblock against Jacy, she will hammer the final nail in the coffin of Toxic Attraction.
Analysis: It wasn’t long, but it was effective. Gigi added a personal touch by talking about her abusive brother and getting away to try to make it in WWE, which she has done. That makes Gigi easy to root for not just because Jacy turned on her, but also because of what Gigi has overcome in her personal life.
Chase U was shown in “class” with Duke Hudson apologizing Thea Hail for his behavior last week. Duke said he thinks that Thea is a strong woman. Andre Chase taught the class about factions, but a video aired featuring Schism talking about how Chase U was a failing institution. Schism talked about how Duke Hudson knows the only flag he should be waving a white flag meaning he should quit. Chase said that next week at Roadblock, he’ll hand deliver Joe Gacy an Andre Chase University-sized ass whooping.
Analysis: The Chase U drama continues. Duke may not really be on their side while Thea is still rattled and Chase has a lot of pride when it comes to the fake university.
Meiko Satomura entered for her match against Zoey Stark, which was up next.
Dijak did a promo in a video package talking about a Jailhouse Street Fight with Tony D’Angelo. Dijak said that Tony is a street rat and next week at Roadblock, Dijak will lock him down for good.
We were informed that a Jailhouse Street Fight is a match where you have to lock your opponent into a cage/cell.
Analysis: I don’t know if that stipulation is a good idea or not. We’ll have to see how the match is.
Meiko Satomura vs. Zoey Stark
Roxanne Perez, the NXT Women’s Champion, was on commentary since she defends her title against Meiko next week. Meiko did a creative legsweep followed by a knee drop. After some trash talk from Stark, Meiko hit a spinning kick. Stark got some offense with a lariat. They battled on the floor with Meiko hitting a kick to the chest leading to a break.
Stark was in control with a kick to a charging Meiko. When Stark went for a top rope attack, Meiko kicked her in the left knee. Meiko went up top with a top rope splash for a two count. Meiko went for a handspring attack, but Stark moved out of the way and did a hair pull takedown. Stark got a running knee for a two count. Stark went for a splash off the top, Meiko moved and Meiko hit a slam off the shoulders. Meiko walked across the back of Stark and hit a Scorpio Rising kick to the back of the head for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Meiko Satomura
Analysis: *** A good match with Meiko getting the clean win since she’s getting the title match against Perez next week. Stark has been pushed fairly well since turning heel, so having her lose clean is a bit of a surprise, but I think if Meiko beat somebody that was not pushed as much then it would be less interesting. Stark put up a fight, hit some big moves, Meiko was able to counter her when needed and the finisher was impressive.
Post match, Roxanne Perez went into the ring with her NXT Women’s Title for a staredown with Meiko Satomura.
Analysis: I think Perez beating Meiko next week is very likely. They’ll probably do a handshake after the match.
A recap was shown of last week when Grayson Waller took over the production truck and invited Shawn Michaels onto the Grayson Waller Effect talk show.
They showed a tweet from Shawn Michaels about how he’s there to focus on the development of NXT talent and he’s had his time in the spotlight. Shawn said he will hear what Grayson has to say next week at NXT Roadblock and will be as professional as he can be.
Analysis: As I mentioned last week, this seems like it will lead to Michaels picking an opponent for Waller at Stand & Deliver that will be a mystery person. That can be where they debut Dragon Lee. Another option is that perhaps Shawn can introduce Dragon Lee next week. Just my guess at this point.
They showed Wendy Choo getting medical attention after getting attacked in the parking lot. Tiffany Stratton showed up to suggest that people should stay out of the parking lot. Kayden Carter and Katana Chance showed up to say things weren’t looking good for Wendy. Stratton trashed Choo saying nobody cared. Stratton insinuated that maybe Chance attacked Choo in the parking lot. Chance didn’t like that and told Stratton to get ready because they’re going to have a match.
Analysis: Find somebody to love as much as NXT loves booking mystery parking lot attacks and you’ll be happy forever because NXT loves doing it.
Sol Ruca made her entrance for singles action as she had a staredown with Zoey Stark, who she has had issues with.
They showed the WrestleMania 39 commercial with Montez Ford and Bianca Belair doing the Titanic boat scene.
The Creed Brothers were shown walking backstage talking as they walked up to Damon Kemp, their former friend. Julius called Damon a bad person, Brutus said Damon had no remorse for anybody and they asked Kemp about teaming with them against Jinder & Indus Sher. Damon said absolutely not. The NXT Champion Bron Breakker showed up to ask if they need a third for next week, Brutus said yeah and Bron said they kept his match clean against Jinder last week, so he’s in. Brutus was excited while Julius was mad that Bron didn’t do it one minute earlier to save Julius from talking to Kemp, then Bron/Brutus laughed about it and Julius joined in the laughter. They did some barking together.
Analysis: These guys are likely good friends and you could tell by that interaction. It’s a smart move to have Bron interact with some babyfaces like the Creed Brothers.
Sol Ruca vs. Elektra Lopez (w/Valentina Feroz)
They did a spot early on where Sol slipped a bit, but they got through the spot okay. Sol went up top and Lopez was back up to shove her off the top leading to Sol taking a hard bump onto the floor. Lopez hit a back body drop. Sol got some offense going with shoulder tackles and a dropkick. Sol hit a double underhook suplex. Lopez avoided a corner attack and sent Sol back-first into the turnbuckle. Lopez looked for brass knuckles by the turnbuckle, but Feroz had them in her hand instead. Lopez shouted at Feroz to give her the brass knuckles, so Sol hit a Soul Snatcher (a Cutter off the ropes) for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sol Ruca
Analysis: ** The rise of Sol Ruca continues. She’s clearly a prospect on the rise that’s a great athlete and keeps getting better. Sol keeps adding moves to her arsenal as well, which is nice to see. The story was Feroz didn’t want Lopez to cheat and that cost Lopez the match. I would have liked to see Sol hit a move to stun Lopez a bit to set up the Soul Snatcher because Lopez had to stand there to wait for it to happen. If you had Sol hit Lopez with a forearm or something like that then Lopez could stumble around a bit leading to the Soul Snatcher move. A small thing, but it would look more realistic that way.
Post match, Elektra Lopez got mad at Feroz and shoved her into the ropes. Feroz had the brass knuckles on her hand and punched Perez with them. The fans cheered for that while Vic said “good for you, Valentina.”
Analysis: That story played out for a few weeks, so now Feroz got to fight back against Perez trying to be a bad influence on them.
The NXT Tag Team Champions Gallus were shown playing pool at a place called Big Daddy’s. Mark Coffey talked about Pretty Deadly and tried to motivate Wolfgang about getting their hands on Pretty Deadly as payback. Mark wanted Wolfgang to be angry. Some random guy in the bar bumped into Wolfgang, so Wolfgang smashed a drink on him and beat the guy (we never saw him actually punch or kick the guy).
Pretty Deadly were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell as PD celebrated their attack on Gallus last week. A Drew McIntyre tweet was shown with a warning for Pretty Deadly about what they did to Gallus last week. Pretty Deadly said they’ll meet Gallus face-to-face to have “civilized discussion” about their upcoming match. PD left.
Analysis: I guess this is a way to put Gallus into a babyface role as a tough guy team while PD continues to be the somewhat comedic heel team.
Tiffany Stratton vs. Katana Chance (w/Kayden Carter)
Booker was excited to see Tiffany and wanted to take photos on his cell phone. I can’t say I blame the man. Chance hit some impressive moves including a handspring on the ropes leading to a headscissors. Stratton blocked a move and sent Chance into the top rope, throat first. Chance came back with a hurricanrana and a double foot stomp to the back. Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn went down to ringside, Carter & Chance looked at them, Stratton caught a humping Chance and Stratton hit a rolling senton. Stratton hit a triple jump moonsault onto Chance for the pinfall. Stratton landed on Chance’s legs, so the landing wasn’t great. It went about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tiffany Stratton
Analysis: ** It was a fine as a shorter match to give Stratton a decisive win. Chance is very creative in the ring and has improved a lot in the last few years. They are clearly pushing Stratton as a singles star, so it’s not a surprise that she would get the win here.
Tiffany Stratton did a promo saying she was the best in NXT. Stratton said she didn’t want to just be the best, she wants to be the NXT Women’s Champion. Stratton issued a statement to Roxanne Perez and Meiko Satomura saying she didn’t care who wins because that title belongs to her.
Analysis: I think that likely means Tiffany will be the challenger at NXT Stand & Deliver. They need to put her in a contender’s match to have her earn the title shot instead of just giving it to her.
Brooks Jensen & Josh Briggs were talking backstage with Briggs saying that whatever is happening to Jensen needs to stop. Jensen said he’s sorry. Briggs tried to give his friend advice while saying that he can talk to Kiana James for Jensen and Jensen liked that. The guys hugged.
Analysis: I’m not sure what’s next here. Maybe Briggs will get a crush on Kiana too? Briggs wears a wedding ring so I assume he’s married, but that could be where it’s going. Maybe Jensen and Fallon Henley become more than friends down the road. I don’t know.
Axiom entered for a match up next.
Hank Walker vs. Axiom
Axiom delivered a hard slap to the face early in the match. The bigger man Walker knocked down Axiom with a boot to the face. Walker did a spinning slam that caused Axiom to land stomach-first on the mat. Axiom came back with a dropkick and a cross body block off the top. Walker got some offense with a corner splash along with a clothesline. Axiom came back with a running knee. Axiom hit the Golden Ration running kick for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Axiom
Analysis: ** Axiom is so fun to watch. Walker is getting better for a “rookie” and looks better wrestling in a singlet than he did wrestling in a shirt. I hope Axiom gets a meaningful storyline soon because this guy is so exciting in the ring.
Axiom thanked Walker for the match since they are both faces.
They showed a video tweet from Grayson Waller saying he’s excited about getting to talk to Shawn Michaels on the Grayson Waller Effect show. Waller wanted Michaels to show him respect.
Analysis: They are teasing that Michaels may wrestle Waller, but I don’t think Shawn to wants to wrestle again.
NXT Roadblock lineup for next Tuesday on NXT:
* Grayson Waller Effect talk show hosted by Grayson Waller with Shawn Michaels.
* Roxanne Perez defends the NXT Women’s Title against Meiko Satomura.
* Jacy Jayne vs. Gigi Dolin.
* Andre Chase vs. Joe Gacy.
* Bron Breakker & The Creed Brothers vs. Indus Sher (Jinder Mahal, Veer Mahaan & Sanga).
* Jailhouse Street Fight: Dijak vs. Tony D’Angelo.
Analysis: It’s a pretty good lineup with every match having a story going into it. Only one title match.
Carmelo Hayes entered with Trick Williams with plenty of “Melo” chants.
Tyler Bate made his entrance for the main event.
Carmelo Hayes (w/Trick Williams) vs. Tyler Bate
I will go play-by-play here. Bate got an armbar, Hayes managed to send him out of the ring and then they each did moves that were escaped by the other guy. Bate and Hayes exchanged pin attempts for about 30 seconds with nearfalls by both guys. They exchanged holds again, Hayes backed away and they locked up again with Bate hitting uppercuts. Bate hit a back body drop, then a headscissors and a dropkick out of the ring. Bate jumped over the top with a cross body block onto Hayes on the floor.
Bate got some offense going with a knee lift to the chest followed by an uppercut off the turnbuckle. Trick pulled Hayes out of the way of a charging attack, Bate punched Trick and hit an overhead suplex. Bate hit a standing SSP on Hayes for a two count. Hayes got a sunset flip for two. Hayes with a pump kick. Bate caught Hayes on his back and did an airplane spin leading to a slam off the shoulders for two. Bate with a punch to the face followed by a clothesline leading to Hayes doing an incredible flip bump to sell it. Bate got a two count out of it. Hayes sent Bate face first into the turnbuckle. Hayes came back with a double underhook spinning slam for two. Hayes with a rollup using his legs for two. Hayes with a knee to the face. Hayes lifted up Bate leading to a creative Cutter (a suplex into a Cutter) for a two count. Hayes up top, but Bate hit a superplex off the top. Bate went up top, Trick was on the apron so Bate kicked him down. Bate tried a spinning splash off the ropes, Hayes moved and Hayes hit the Codebreaker double knees. Hayes went up top and hit the Nothing But Net leg drop to the back of the head for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Carmelo Hayes
Analysis: ***1/2 These guys are terrific and delivered a quality main event match here. With a few more minutes it could have reached that next level, but they certainly made the most of the time they were given. Hayes is getting that NXT Title push, so having him win is the right move. The key spot was when Trick was on the apron leading to Bate knocking him down, which led to Bate being delayed going into his leap off the top. That allowed Hayes to avoid the splash, hit another move and the Nothing But Net leg drop to win. I love that Nothing But Net leg drop to the head finisher as well.
Post match, Hayes spoke to the camera saying there was no roadblock standing between him and Stand & Deliver. Melo said there was only one man left and “I am him.”
Analysis: A message from Hayes that he’s coming after the NXT Title held by Bron Breakker at Stand & Deliver. I think Melo might be the guy that ends Bron’s title reign and then Bron goes to the main roster after WrestleMania. Hayes is ready for the main roster too, but I think it will only be one of them.
Three Stars of the Show
- Wes Lee
- Carmelo Hayes
- Tyler Bate/Nathan Frazer
This week: 7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
2023 Average: 6.84
A really good show this week. It’s still developmental in a lot of ways and some people are green for sure, but I thought this was one of the better episodes of NXT this year. The opening match that saw Wes Lee beat Nathan Frazer was outstanding. Carmelo Hayes had a terrific main event match with Tyler Bate. I wish they had some more time, but they made the most of what they were given. The match quality overall was very good this week. Some matches were kept short to give some people decisive wins, but that’s fine.
The women’s division was well-represented as usual with a Gigi Dolin promo along with three straight matches featuring women. Bright futures for Tiffany Stratton and Sol Ruca especially. They booked another mystery parking lot attack (NXT loves doing that) to take Wendy Choo out too, so that’s the second one of those in the last month. Beware the NXT parking lot!
Next week is the Roadblock special in the regular NXT timeslot, so they have a lot of things announced including Shawn Michaels as a guest on the Grayson Waller Effect talk show. Waller is teasing that he wants a match with Michaels, but I doubt Shawn does it and instead we see this leading to Dragon Lee’s debut at Stand & Deliver against Waller. Just my hunch anyway.
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