The John Report: WWE NXT 04/16/24 Review

WWE NXT April 16

This is WWE NXT featuring a Trick Williams-Carmelo Hayes Steel Cage Match in the main event.

It’s back to the usual format where I do summary style for most of the show and then play by play for the main event.

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

The commentary team was Vic Joseph and Booker T as usual.

Dijak vs. Noam Dar (w/Oro Mensah, Lash Legend & Jakara Jackson)

It’s a matchup between heels. Dar hit a spinning back fist and a running forearm for a two count. Dijak got some offense going with a springboard clothesline for two. Dijak had Dar in his arms and Dijak tossed Dar over the top to the floor.


Dijak was in control with punches along with a kick to the head. Dijak battered Dar with repeated chops and a toss across the ring. Dijak hit a sitout Chokeslam for a two count. After Dijak was crotched on the top rope, Dar hit a clothesline and a brainbuster for two. Dijak was sent out of the ring where Dar hit a dropkick against the steel steps. Back in the ring, Dar hit a spinning back elbow on Dijak for two. They did an exchange of strikes with Dar hitting a forearm and Dijak came back with a discus boot. Mensah was on the apron, so Dijak kicked him down. Nova capitalized with the Nova Roller kick to the head for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Noam Dar

Analysis: ***1/4 Good match that was a smart choice for the opener on the show. I’m a bit surprised by the result because I expected Dijak to win here as the guy who’s been pushed a bit more, but Dar is a talented all-around performer who deserves a big win like this. I’m not sure if it will lead to a rematch or if one of them will officially turn babyface either. The way it was booked makes me think maybe Dijak could be going into a babyface role because Dar got help from Mensah for the win. I liked the match.

The NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov was shown talking to NXT General Manager Ava. She said he didn’t think it was fair for Ilja to have the night off since Trick Williams was in action this week and Trick faces Ilja next week. Ava put Ilja in a match but said Ilja could pick his opponent. It is an open challenge for somebody against Dragunov.

Lola Vice made her entrance. Those shorts…will make her popular. That’s all I’m going to say. #KeepItClassy


Tatum Paxley was featured in a video package saying she will always be there for the NXT Women’s Title. She mentioned past NXT Women’s Champions and left out my favorite Mandy Rose. Anyway, Tatum said that the NXT Women’s Title made her best friends with Lyra Valkyria, but then Lyra lost the title, so Lyra broke her heart. Paxley said Lyra is “nothing” to her now.

Analysis: That means that crazy Tatum Paxley only liked Lyra Valkyria because she held the NXT Women’s Title. Perhaps crazy Tatum will go on to win that NXT Women’s Title later this year.

Sol Ruca vs. Lola Vice

Sol showed off her athleticism early in the match with an X-Factor and a dropkick. Lola hit a spinning back fist to the head. Lola hit a running hip attack on Sol against the turnbuckle. Sol came back with a sidewalk slam. Sol got some offense going with a powerslam that wasn’t done perfectly and a standing moonsault for two. Sol hit a sunset flip off the middle ropes for two. Sol went up top, Blair Davenport hit the top rope and the referee saw it and did nothing. You could literally see Blair grab the top rope while Sol was on there and Sol bumped to the mat because of it. The referee was even pointing at it. Lola hit her spin kick to the head for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Lola Vice

Analysis: ** It was a decent match for the time given. They are pushing Lola more than Sol right now, so Lola getting the win makes sense. The finish was poorly executed. They should have done it where Lola was distracting the referee and then Blair grabbed the top rope to knock Sol down. Instead, it makes the referee look like an idiot for seeing the interference and not calling for a DQ ending. I get wanting to give Vice the pinfall win, which is fine. I just think this could have been done better.

After the match, Natalya appeared on the video screen. Natalya said she was going to fight Lola Vice in a match. Natalya said in two weeks at Spring Breakin’, she’s going to face Lola in an NXT Underground match. Lola seemed fine with that.

Analysis: They have been building that story well. Natalya is on the WWE Raw European tour so that’s why they had her do a taped message rather than appear live.

There was a NXT Anonymous video where Ridge Holland joked Joaquin Wilde after Ridge was talking to Ava. Ridge let go and left.


They showed Arianna Grace on a shopping spree with Gigi Dolin, who Grace calls Georgina. Grace said she needed Georgina to let Grace take the lead and she will look like Grace in no time. Dolin didn’t like that idea.

Ridge Holland vs. Joaquin Wilde

Ridge beat up Cruz Del Toro recently so Wilde was defending his friend’s honor. Ridge ran over Wilde with a running elbow smash. Wilde dropkicked Ridge out of the ring. Ridge hit a lefty clothesline to knock Wilde down on the floor. Back in the ring, Ridge hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex with a toss across the ring. Ridge hit a charging Wilde with a running shoulder tackle. Wilde countered a move with a DDT while Shawn Spears was shown watching in the aisle. Wilde hit a neckbreaker leading to Ridge going to the floor. Ridge caught a diving Wilde and powerslammed him on the floor. Ridge hit a cradle DDT on Wilde for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ridge Holland

Analysis: *3/4 A dominant win by Holland, who is in somewhat of a tweener role as a guy who has had issues about what kind of person he wants to be since he has anger issues. Wilde didn’t really have a chance here.

Josh Briggs was shown talking to a trainer earlier in the day. The trainer cleared Briggs for a match even though Briggs had a rib injury. Ivar told Briggs to let his ribs heal 100% so that Ivar can have his fight with Oba Femi. Briggs told Ivar to go back to Raw to get his ass kicked by Sheamus. Ivar suggested a match and Briggs agreed to it.

Brinley Reece was shown training with Edris Enofe & Malik Blade ahead of the team’s match with Authors of Pain.

Tony D’Angelo and The Family were shown walking backstage for a promo up next.


Thea Hail was backstage talking to Andre Chase. That led to Chase saying that last July he was knee deep into his gambling. Chase thought that Thea could beat Tiffany Stratton so when asked if she would bet against or for Hail, he risked it all. Chase said seeing her suffer with tears down her cheeks, he didn’t want to see her suffer and made sure she was okay. Hail wondered why he didn’t tell her sooner. Chase said that he’s always in the corner of Thea Hail. That led to Thea saying she was sorry for doubting his belief in her and Hail hugged her.

Analysis: That’s some story progression at least. I mentioned that in the past when they revealed that Andre Chase lost a lot of money betting on Thea Hail last summer and now we have some closure on that story.

Let’s Hear from Tony D’Angelo with The D’Angelo Family

Tony D’Angelo made his entrance with Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo, Luca Crusifino and Adrianna Rizzo. Tony D did a promo in the ring about how he’s not the NXT Champion. Tony said that a year ago, they made Pretty Deadly disappear and he was facing serious allegations. Tony said that Stacks & Luca are ready to add some gold while saying that Rizzo is the future of the NXT Women’s division. Tony said that at Stand & Deliver, he went toe to toe with Ilja Dragunov and said it was one of the hardest fights of his life. Tony said that toughness comes from longevity.

No Quarter Catch Crew’s Charlie Dempsey, Damon Kemp & Myles Borne walked out for a confrontation. Tony D said that they came to Tony’s family to take care of one of their own. Charlie mentioned taking care of someone and they told Charlie no specifics. Tony wondered when they would pay up. Charlie said that they thought it was for the good of the business. Luca said you can either handle this debt or they’ll settle it. Tony said he doesn’t do anything for purity. Tony said he didn’t care who they think they are and he didn’t like their interruption. Charlie asked if there was anything else. Tony said that Heritage Cup looks pretty nice. Charlie said that the Cup doesn’t need to be held with a two-bit gangster in wrestling boots. Tony said you didn’t have a problem with that when Tony was taking care of their situation.

There was a brief fight that saw The D’Angelo knock the NQCC guys out of the ring. That ended the segment.

Analysis: That’s the end of Drew Gulak in WWE, NXT and the No Quarter Catch Crew, I guess. They didn’t mention Drew by name, but the insinuation is that Tony D’s Family took out Drew by request of No Quarter Catch Crew. Gulak is likely gone from WWE after Ronda Rousey outed him for grabbing the string on her sweatpants in the past. Anyway, I guess this sets up a rivalry for the NQCC guys with Tony D’s Family. That’s fine because it feels fresh.


The NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov made his entrance for an open challenge match. This was not for the championship.

Several wrestlers went out to the ring to try to get in the ring with Ilja Dragunov. However, it was the 19-year-old Je’Von Evans, who jumped over the commentary table and into the ring to go face to face with Ilja.

Ilja Dragunov vs. Je’Von Evans

Ilja was in control early on in the match with multiple German Suplexes. When Ilja tried a German Suplex, Evans landed on his feet and bounced off the ropes leading to a jumping kick to the head. Ilja caught Evans leading to a Powerbomb and a massive running lariat for a two count. Ilja nailed Evans with a knee to the body, but then Evans caught Ilja leading to a standing Spanish Fly type move for a two count. When Evans tried a springboard attack, Ilja chopped Evans followed by a running knee for just two. Evans did an impressive DDT to counter Ilja. After Ilja left the ring, Evans dove over the top onto Ilja on the floor. Back in the ring, Ilja blocked a top rope splash with his knees. Ilja slammed Evans back first into the turnbuckle followed by Ilja hitting Torpedo Moscow to win. It went about six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ilja Dragunov

Analysis: ***1/4 That was fun. I ended up going with play-by-play a bit because I’m such a fan of this amazing 19-year-old Evans, who continues to impress every time I see him. This was booked in a way where you know Ilja wouldn’t lose to this rookie, but Evans got enough offense where it felt like maybe he could pull off the huge upset.

After the match, Ilja shook hands with Evans. Vic called it a superstar making performance for Evans.

Karmen Petrovic was interviewed by Kelly Kincaid. Lola warned Karmen about supporting Natalya and said that she’ll have somebody special in her corner too. Lola mentioned a contract signing next week.

Thea Hail and Chase U entered for a match.

A commercial aired about the WWE Draft on April 26 (Smackdown) and April 29 (Raw).


Sol Ruca was shown talking to NXT GM Ava saying she wants to put an end to her. Sol said she wants Blair Davenport in a No Disqualification Match next week. Ava wondered if she was sure and Sol said she won’t stop until Blair was carried out of the arena.

Thea Hail (w/Andre Chase, Duke Hudson & Riley Osborne) vs. Tatum Paxley

Paxley was in control of a backbreaker followed by some neck choking against the ropes. Paxley applied a strange submission hold stretching Hail a bit. Hail hit double knees to the arm. Jazmyn Nyx was on the apron distracting the referee. Hail hit a spinning slam and went for a move off the ropes, but Jacy Jayne tripped Hail. Paxley hooked Hail’s arms for the pinfall win after about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tatum Paxley

Analysis: *3/4 A cheap finish to give Paxley a meaningful win. Hail could use a win in a match like this, but at least she has an out because she was interfered with during the match.

After the match, Hail fought with Jayne until security stopped it. Tatum Paxley also was attacked by Lyra Valkyria in the ring and the referee

Roxanne Perez, the NXT Women’s Champion, was interviewed by Kelly Kincaid. Perez talked about Lyra and Tatum having issues, so she wanted to face the winner of the match. Perez said that Ava’s job as NXT Commish was easy, so Ava walked in and put Perez in a triple threat title defense against Lyra and Tatum at Spring Breakin’ so Perez complained about that.

Analysis: Roxanne Perez will win that match. It’s not like her title change is going to end this soon. I guess it’s possible if Roxanne is drafted in the WWE Draft, but there’s no rush on that.

Authors of Pain entered with The Final Testament for tag team action.


Edris Enofe & Malik Blade vs. Authors of Pain – Akam & Rezar (w/Karrion Kross, Scarlett & Paul Ellering)

The AOP guys were in full control after Rezar rammed Enofe back-first into the turnbuckle. Blade got the tag for his team with forearm smashes and a dropkick sent Rezar out of the ring. Blade dove onto AOP, but AOP caught him and AOP stopped legal man Enofe from diving by tossing Blade into Enofe. AOP hit the Super Collider double team move and Rezar pinned Blade to win after about three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Authors of Pain – Akam & Rezar

Analysis: ** It was all about putting over AOP in a big way with a dominant win. There was some offense from Enofe & Blade, but this was a match that was done to make the bigger AOP team look dominant.

After the match, NXT Tag Team Champions Axiom & Nathan Frazer walked out with their titles to stare down AOP since AOP attacked the champions last week.

There was a shopping spree segment with Arianna Grace and Gigi Dolin, whom Grace calls “Georgina” because she’s like her father Santino in terms of butchering names. Gigi was handed a dress and she made her own by cutting it up and “Gigi it up” a bit. Gigi said this one was a keeper and said Grace was paying, so Grace had a bunch of credit cards to pay.

Analysis: Good for Gigi finding a way to make it work.

Ivar entered for singles action.


Josh Briggs vs. Ivar

Briggs had his ribs taped up and some tape on his back. Briggs tried a Chokeslam, but Ivar stopped that with a punch to the gut. Ivar caught Briggs leading to a spinning slam. Ivar hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Briggs caught a running Ivar with a Bossman Slam for two. Briggs nailed Ivar with a shoulder tackle on the floor. Ivar sent Briggs into the steel steps and hit a spin kick. Back in the ring, Ivar hit a Doomsault for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ivar

Analysis: **1/4 A dominant win for Ivar to build him up for an NXT North American Title match against Oba Femi. Briggs was selling the rib injury well throughout the match.

Next week at NXT Spring Breakin’ has this advertised for the show.

* Natalya and Lola Vice have a contract signing.

* NXT Women’s Championship: Roxanne Perez vs. Lyra Valkyria vs. Tatum Paxley

* Beach Brawl: Sol Ruca vs. Blair Davenport

* No Quarter Catch Crew vs. Tony D’Angelo, Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo & Luca Crusifino

* NXT Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. Trick Williams

There were highlights shown of Trick Williams-Carmelo Hayes match at Stand & Deliver. Trick won clean with a knee smash.


Carmelo Hayes was interviewed by the entrance area. Melo said that he gave trick everything and tonight he’s taking it all.

Steel Cage Match: Trick Williams vs. Carmelo Hayes

Trick got some offense going with a dropkick and body slam. Melo rammed Trick into the cage and Melo hit a springboard clothesline. A Melo security guy handed Melo a club to use as a weapon and Melo hit Trick multiple times with it. They went to a break.


The match continued as Melo stomped on Trick’s left arm against the ropes. Melo hit a double knee attack on Trick’s left arm for two. Melo sent Trick face-first into the cage. Trick avoided a charging Melo, who hit the cage and Trick took control with punches. Trick gave Melo a Book End off the middle rope for two. Trick came back with punches along with a jumping side kick and flatliner. Melo tried a move, but Trick caught him and hit a reverse suplex. Trick sent Melo into the steel cage multiple times along with a neckbreaker for two. Trick sent Melo into the cage again. Melo tried a move off the cage, but Trick caught him and hit a Book End/uranage for two. Melo countered a move into a DDT for two. Melo hit double knees, but Trick came back with a clothesline. Melo came right back with a knee smash. Trick went after Melo against the cage and they rammed each other’s heads into the cage. Melo went for a move off the ropes, but Trick blocked the bulldog attempt. Trick hit a pump kick to knock Melo down. Trick knocked down three Melo security guys on the floor. Trick beat up a four of the security guys. The security guy brought in a chair. Melo tried to use the chair, Trick avoided it and Trick hit a jumping knee smash called the Trick Shot for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Trick Williams

Analysis: ***1/2 I enjoyed the match. It was a decisive win for Trick as you would expect here since Melo is likely leaving NXT soon for the main roster. Trick took care of Melo’s security guys and hit that Trick Shot knee for the decisive win. I thought it was a bit better than their Stand & Deliver match. The result was obvious since Melo is going to the main roster soon and should be losing matches on the way out.

Trick Williams celebrated the win on the top of the steel cage. Trick had a staredown with NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov, who Trick will face on NXT next week.

Analysis: I think Trick will win next week too to become NXT Champion. We know the WWE Draft is coming on April 25 and April 29 with Dragunov and Hayes likely going to the main roster, so having Trick beat both of them back to back makes sense since they won’t be in NXT any more after that.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Trick Williams/Carmelo Hayes
  2. Ilja Dragunov
  3. Dijak


The Scoreboard

This week: 7.25 out of 10

Last week: 7.75

2024 Average: 6.98


Final Thoughts on WWE NXT

I thought it was a pretty good show. They had an entertaining main event with Trick Williams beating Carmelo Hayes, who is likely going to Raw or Smackdown soon, so obviously Trick would win as his ascension continues. I also liked the Dijak-Dar match to start the show. These guys worked well together.

The Dragunov/Evans match was also a lot of fun for something that was under ten minutes. Other matches were kept under five minutes with obvious results. The card for Spring Breakin’ Part 1 looks good with Trick Williams likely to become NXT Champion when he beats Ilja Dragunov, who is headed to the main roster like Melo is.

As usual with NXT, they used a lot of people on the roster whether in matches, promos, or backstage segments. They do that very well.


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter/X @johnreport