The John Report: WWE NXT 04/23/24 Review (Spring Breakin’ Week 1)

WWE NXT April 23

This is WWE NXT featuring Ilja Dragunov-Trick Williams for the NXT Title, Roxanne Perez defends the Women’s Title, and more.

It’s the first of two weeks using the “Spring Breakin’” name for these shows. I will do summary style for most of the show and then play by play for one or two matches.

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.

There was a meeting of General Managers with NXT’s Ava, Raw’s Adam Pearce there and Smackdown’s Nick Aldis via Zoom. They all talked about how great the NXT roster is. They spoke about the WWE Draft starting this week. Ava said that after Monday and Friday, it’s not about who goes to Raw or Smackdown. Ava said that after tonight, NXT will never be the same.

They showed the arrivals of Trick Williams and NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov. They also showed other arrivals featuring other talents.

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

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

All three women were in the ring without getting televised entrances. There are no countouts and no disqualifications in WWE triple threat matches.

Lyra was battling Paxley and then Perez tossed Lyra out of the ring. Paxley tried a kick on Lyra, but Lyra blocked that. Lyra nailed her through the ropes dropkick on both opponents on the floor. Lyra did a springboard cross body block on Paxley and a dropkick. Lyra hit a Northern Lights Suplex on Paxley for two because Perez broke it up. Perez and Lyra exchanged rollup pins. When Perez tried a pin, Lyra did a power kickout to knock Perez out of the ring. Perez shoved Lyra off the turnbuckle to the floor. Perez jumped onto Paxley with a cross body block, but Paxley countered it into a pin attempt for two. Paxley threw Perez onto Lyra on the floor so it was like a suicide dive by Perez on the floor. They went to a break. They go to picture-in-picture break, but here in Canada it’s a regular commercial.


The match returned with a Lyra doing a double Powerbomb to both opponents off the turnbuckle. Lyra worked over both opponents with kicks. Lyra hit a Fisherman’s brainbuster on Paxley for two although it’s really just a safer suplex. Perez made the save. Perez rammed Lyra face first into the middle turnbuckle. Perez hit running uppercuts on both opponents. Perez tripped up Lyra leading to a Crossface submission while hooking the left arm. Paxley tried a Crossface on Perez too and then Lyra broke up a pin attempt. Perez hit a combo legsweep/DDT on both women for two counts. Perez hit a version of the Eat Defeat move with a boot to the face of Paxley for two. The referee was talking to all three women likely telling them about how much time they have left. Lyra countered a Perez move leading to a German Suplex. Paxley sent Lyra into Perez, who hit a boot to the face. Lyra hit a spin kick on Perez for two. Paxley got a sunset flip on Lyra for two. Paxley hit flipping slam on Lyra. Paxley went up top and hit a 450 Splash on Lyra, but Perez was there with a jackknife pin on Paxley for the one…two…and three! Perez wins after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Roxanne Perez

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good match that was full of action. Lyra is terrific and Perez has really been impressive as a heel in the last few months. Paxley hasn’t been in bigger matches like this, but she more than held her own with the others. The fans wanted Paxley to win and when she got a nearfall, they thought that was it. That 450 Splash by Paxley was very impressive. That led right into the pinfall with Perez doing the jackknife pin right away to get the win. Normally we see the person “steal the pin” by pinning the person that hit the move, but in this case it was the person who delivered the move and I think it worked really well. Perez won the title recently, so it’s not like she was going to lose the title in this match.

There were comments from main roster WWE stars and fans talking about the Ilja Dragunov/Trick Williams match coming up later.

There was a women’s locker room scene with a bunch of women sitting around looking at their phones and talking. Thea Hail talked about facing Jacy Jayne last week and thanked Fallon Henley & Kelani Jordan for being her friend. Jaida Parker couldn’t take it, so she called Henley a popular loner. Parker and Henley got into a shoving match, but the other women separated them.

Analysis: Oh those women’s locker room scenes. The dialogue sometimes is very cheesy. They always lead to matches being set up like that.

The D’Angelo Family entered for a tag team match.


A video package aired about a new tag team debuting next week. They are Tyson Dupont and Tyriek Igwe. There were clips of them in action on NXT Level Up, which I don’t watch, but obviously they are ready for the main show. Good luck to them.

The Creed Brothers and Ivy Nile were interviewed by Kelly Kincaid. The Creeds said they were there to support their buddy Trick Williams. Ivy said they’re saying “Whoop That Trick” so all three of them said it as they left.

The D’Angelo Family – Tony D’Angelo, Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo & Luca Crusifino (w/Adrianna Rizzo) vs. No Quarter Catch Crew – Charlie Dempsey, Damon Kemp & Myles Borne

It started with Dempsey battling Tony. Stacks tagged in with a corner splash on Kemp. There more quick tags as Borne battled Luca, who hit an uppercut shot on Borne. There was an impressive dropkick from Borne right after that. All six guys got into the ring and were brawling as The Family cleared the ring. They were fighting on the floor until Kemp dove off the apron onto The Family on the floor.


Dempsey was in control of Stacks, who was the face in peril. Kemp and Borne did a dropkick/German Suplex combo on Stacks for two. Dempsey grounded Stacks with a half crab submission. Tony D got the hot tag with some impressive power moves including a spinebuster on Dempsey. Kemp and Borne hit a suplex/neckbreaker combo move on Tony for a two count. Dempsey hit a double underhook suplex for two. Stacks & Luca hit a Shatter Machine-style double team move to take out Borne. Tony nailed a huge spinebuster on Dempsey for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The D’Angelo Family – Tony D’Angelo, Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo & Luca Crusifino

Analysis: *** A good tag team match that saw all six guys get plenty of offense throughout the match. I was impressed by some of the tag team moves by the NQCC guys. Stacks & Luca work well together as a team too. Tony getting the win was the right call. The obvious direction from here is for Tony D to challenge one of the NQCC guys (likely Dempsey) for the NXT Heritage Cup.

There was a clip featuring Baron Corbin talking to the cameras while Lexis King walked up saying he’s a king while Corbin is a wannabe king. King talked about how there was talk that Corbin was leaving NXT in the WWE Draft and Corbin wasn’t sure about that. King said that Corbin was trying to find another second-generation wrestler to be his partner like Bron Breakker was. King tried to suck up to Corbin as if he wanted to be his tag team partner. After King left, Corbin called him a toolbag and said his beard was fake.

Jaida Parker entered for singles action joined by the OTM guys.


Fallon Henley vs. Jaida Parker (w/Scrypts, Lucien Price & Bronco Nima)

Henley was in control using her legs to flip Parker over and get a two count. Parker took over when Henley did a bump against the turnbuckle. Parker jumped onto Henley’s waist while Henley was against the ropes. Parker was in control for a couple of minutes. Henley made the comeback with strikes and a neckbreaker. Parker managed to counter a Henley move by sending her face first into the ropes. Good bump by Henley there. Parker hit a running hip check on Henley for the pinfall win after six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Jaida Parker

Analysis: **1/4 The rise of Jaida Parker continues by picking up a win over a solid worker like Henley. Parker had help outside the ring, but she didn’t use that help and won in a clean manner. That hip check works as a finish because Parker looks impressive physically and Henley sold it very well too.

Jacy Jayne was backstage with Jazmyn Nyx for a promo. Jayne claimed she made Thea Hail everything she wanted to be. Jayne said that Hail showed she was an ungrateful little girl. Jayne said that she’ll end Hail next week at Spring Breakin.

A video aired about Lola Vice warning Natalya ahead of their NXT Underground match next week. Natalya said that Lola can show her what Lola is made of.

The Natalya/Lola Vice contract signing was up next.


JD McDonagh was interviewed by Kelly Kincaid. JD picked Ilja Dragunov to beat Trick Williams. The New Catch Republic duo of Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate. Dunne picked Ilja while Bate picked Trick to win.

NXT Underground Contract Signing: Natalya and Lola Vice

The NXT General Manager Ava was in the ring that was set up for the Underground setup with no ropes. They had a black carpet in the ring along with wrestlers surrounding the ring. Ava introduced the women competing in the first-ever women’s Underground match next week.

Natalya was up first with Karmen Petrovic, who is Canadian like Natalya (and me!). Natalya signed the contract. Lola Vice was up next and Booker was excited about that as usual. Lola signed the contract when she got into the ring. Ava said that it’s official and history will be made.

Natalya asked Lola who was in her corner? Lola said that Natalya is more worried about that than the match. Lola said just because she shakes her ass doesn’t she can’t kick your ass. Lola said that they’ll make history and she’ll break Natalya. That led to Natalya saying she respects Lola for fighting in a cage and Natalya said that Lola didn’t respect Natalya for fighting in The Dungeon. Natalya said she’d beat some respect into Lola. Natalya told Lola to bring everything she has because Natalya will “tap your ass out.” Lola said that Natalya’s fate was in her hands. Lola said that she had the fastest hands in the division and her training partner would make Lola’s hands even faster.

The former two-time NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler made her entrance to a big reaction while the announcers put over Baszler as a tough woman and a former MMA fighter. The fans chanted “welcome back” to Baszler. Shayna told Natalya that her chances had gone from slim to none. Baszler talked about how Lola is aligned with her. Baszler suggested that Natalya tear up the contract immediately while mocking Petrovic. That led to Petrovic kicking Baszler down. Natalya threw Lola out of the ring and onto a bunch of wrestlers on the floor. That was the end of the segment.

Analysis: Good segment. I liked the promos from Natalya and Lola with each woman showing a lot of confidence. The words they said felt natural rather than something that was forced. The addition of Baszler there to support Vice drew a big reaction since Baszler has the reputation of being a badass. It worked in terms of getting a reaction. As a longtime Natalya supporter, I’m excited about the match for her and I think Lola will do well. Lola will probably get the win since it makes sense for Natalya to put over the newer star.

Ridge Holland was shown walking in the parking lot where Shawn Spears confronted him. Ridge said that Shawn needs to leave him alone. Spears said he knows Ridge wants to give in to those thoughts and let them out. Ridge said that Spears can’t rile him up. Ridge left.

Blair Davenport entered for her match up next.


A video aired featuring Karrion Kross and The Final Testament talking about how they would take us back to the good old days. Paul Ellering said the Authors of Pain’s path is clear. Akam & Rezar even spoke in English with warnings for Axiom & Frazer. Scarlett spoke at the end of it with a final warning.

The NXT Tag Team Champions Axiom & Nathan Frazer were in the locker room with other tag teams. Gallows & Anderson walked in being mean. Edris Enofe and Malik Blade were there as well. Edris wanted to say something to them about being mean, but then Edris broke a mirror, so that was it.

Beach Brawl: Sol Ruca vs. Blair Davenport

It’s like a Street Fight with no rules, but with a beach theme. There were tables, beachballs, surfboards and other beach items around the ring and in the ring. Sol put a tube around Blair’s upper body leading to Sol hitting a clothesline. Blair tossed Sol onto a picnic bench that was against the ring. Blair sent Sol into the ring post. Sol slammed Blair into a pool with some inflatable balls in it. Sol posed on a surfboard that was on Blair.


There were clips shown from during the break when Blair slammed Sol through a table. Sol hit a superkick to the jaw along with a standing moonsault. Sol hit an impressive spinning Powerbomb for a two count. Blair came back with a German Suplex off the middle turnbuckle. They were fighting out of the ring, Sol had Blair on her back and Sol fell backwards to put Blair through the table. Both women went through the table, but it was Blair taking the bump first. Back in the ring, Sol hit the Sol Snatcher move by jumping off the ropes, then doing a flip and hitting a Cutter. Blair sold it by acting like she hit the surfboard in the ring too. What a great move! It went 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Sol Ruca

Analysis: *** That was probably the biggest win of Sol’s career and it was also likely the longest match she has had. Considering all that, I thought Sol did very well. Blair is a talented veteran who did her part to make Sol look impressive. That Sol Snatcher finisher is so great whether she does it off the turnbuckle or using the ropes. The long term story here was that Blair attacked Sol last year leading to Sol having a knee injury and missing nearly a year (reality is Sol tore her ACL while training), so Sol finally got her revenge with a big victory in this match.

Trick Williams was in the locker room talking to his mother, who was in the hospital. Trick’s mom told him to “Whoop That Trick.” Trick said he loved his momma, she loved him and hung up. Johnny Gargano walked up to Trick Williams, who talked about how he loved NXT and Johnny said he knows that. Gargano said Trick lost to Dragunov in the past, but he can use it as a weapon because it has built him for this moment in time. Gargano said that Dragunov hasn’t beaten that Trick Williams. Gargano asked him if he was ready, Trick said he was ready and Gargano hugged Trick while telling Trick that it was his night.

Analysis: That was a great scene with Gargano hyping up Williams with some quality advice. Also, best wishes to Trick Williams’ mother in the hospital. Moms rule. I love my mom and cherish that relationship so much.

The NXT Battleground event will take place on June 9th at the UFC Apex building in Las Vegas. It’s not a big building, but I guess WWE wants to support their UFC buddies.

Baron Corbin entered for singles action.


They showed some TikTok videos from the Meta-Four group showing their travels to live events.

Lexis King vs. Baron Corbin

Corbin worked over King with punches along with a shoulder tackle. King hit a dropkick to the knee to get some offense going. King kept on working over Corbin’s legs to knock him down and King hit a running clothesline to the back of the head for two. After King hit a dropkick, Corbin bounced off the ropes and hit a clothesline. Corbin hit a vertical suplex leading into a Cutter for two. King tripped up Corbin leading to a pin using the ropes, but the referee saw it. Corbin hit a Death Valley Driver for two. King sent Corbin near the referee, Corbin stopped himself before he hit the referee and King hit a low blow kick. The referee never saw it. King hit The Coronation for the pinfall win. It went about six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Lexis King

Analysis: **1/2 This might have been the end of Corbin’s NXT run, so having King pick up the win makes sense. It was obviously a cheap win since King did the low blow right before hitting his finisher to win. I am rooting for King to do well in NXT. I don’t know how far he’ll go, but I do like him as a crafty heel.

The Creed Brothers and Ivy Nile sat behind the announcers for the main event. Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate & Johnny Gargano also sat in the crowd for the match.

A video package aired about the Ilja Dragunov-Trick Williams match for the NXT Title. It also involved Trick’s friend Carmelo Hayes turning on him. There were comments from both guys including Dragunov talking about how he’s beat Trick again and again. Trick was confident he would win. It was a terrific video.


Next week’s NXT Spring Breakin’ Week 2 lineup.

* Thea Hail vs. Jacy Jayne

* NXT Underground: Natalya vs. Lola Vice

* NXT North American Championship: Oba Femi vs. Ivar

* NXT Tag Team Championships: Nathan Frazer & Axiom vs. Authors of Pain – Akam & Rezar

The NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov was interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber. Ilja said that he’s all about his championship and his family and Trick isn’t going to change that. Damian Priest, the World Heavyweight Champion, wished Ilja good luck.

Trick Williams was interviewed backstage by Byron Saxton. Trick said either he wins tonight or he leaves NXT for good. Trick said either he’s the champion or a bust. Trick said he’s going to fight. Trick said he fears no man so he can live with tonight if it goes good or bad. Like his momma said, “Let’s whoop that Trick.”

Trick Williams made his entrance to a huge pop while the fans chanted “Whoop That Trick” for his song and Booker T joined in with his adlibs as usual. The NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov was up next with the fans giving him a big reaction as usual. Ring announcer Alicia Taylor did the championship introductions. The introductions are very basic since she doesn’t even announce the hometown or weights of the competitors.

Analysis: I think going into this match, the majority of the people watching knew what was going to happen. However, they still had to do it and put on a big match.

NXT Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. Trick Williams

If Trick Williams doesn’t win then he must leave the NXT brand. Dragunov was the champion for 206 days going into this match since he won the title way back on September 30, 2023.

Ilja caught a charging Trick leading to a German Suplex. Ilja hit a jumping kick to the head. Trick hit a standing side kick. Ilja blocked a kick and Ilja slapped Trick hard in the face. Trick came back with punches. When Trick tried a lifting move, Ilja hit him with a DDT. Ilja hit the running clothesline for two. Ilja nailed a Powerbomb without a pin attempt. Trick was able to get back up leading o a kick to the face. They slapped hands followed by a hug and they exchanged words. It turned into a slugfest right after that leading to Ilja hitting a running knee to the chest.


The match continued with Ilja going for a sunset flip Powerbomb off the turnbuckle, but it didn’t go smoothly and Trick landed on Ilja. The referee checked on Ilja, who was fine. Ilja hit another Powerbomb followed by a running kick to the head. Ilja went up top and hit the Coast to Coast dropkick from the top rope while Trick was against the far turnbuckle. That got a two count. Ilja jumped off the top with a move and Trick avoided it leading to a slam into the mat. Trick hit a Powerbomb of his own. Trick also hit an H-Bomb forearm to the head for a two count. Trick hit his own version of the Torpedo Moscow that Ilja likes to do and that got a two count. Trick charged, Ilja blocked with a jumping kick and Ilja slammed Trick hard into the turnbuckle. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. They left the ring where Ilja cleared off the commentary table. Trick gave Ilja a back body drop on the floor to counter a move onto the table. Trick got a hold of Ilja on the barricade and Trick gave Ilja a Book End/Rock Bottom through the table. It could have been a countout, but the referee was being lenient with the guys being outside the ring. Back in the ring, Trick was on the apron and Ilja hit a knee smash. Ilja hit an impressive superplex along with an H-Bomb forearm to the head. Ilja jumped off the middle rope with an H-Bomb for one…two…and no. The crowd came alive for that kickout by Trick while Booker said “wow” about the kickout. Ilja fell off the top with an H-Bomb but this time Ilja was selling his right wrist as an injury. Ilja covered with one arm across the chest and Trick kicked out at two. Ilja hit a German Suplex and Trick came back with a knee to the back for two. Trick charged at Ilja at the same time leading to Trick hitting his Trick Shot jumping left knee and Trick covered Ilja for the one…two…and three! Trick Williams is the new NXT Champion. It went 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW NXT Champion: Trick Williams

Analysis: ***3/4 I thought it was a very good match that was full of action and perhaps Trick’s best singles match while it’s more of the same for Ilja, who is incredible. The table spot was a nice idea except that they didn’t have Ilja sell it much because when they got back in the ring, Ilja was on offense. I think that maybe they could have had Trick do more to weaken Ilja because all it took was two knee attacks by Trick to beat the champion. I’m not a huge fan of Trick’s jumping left knee smash as a finisher, but as long as it’s protected and treated like a big deal then that’s what matters. The result of this match was never in doubt. It was one of the most obvious NXT Title changes ever. That doesn’t hurt the moment. I’m just saying it was an easy decision for the NXT bookers to make.

After the match, they showed replays of the key spots in the match. Ilja handed Trick the NXT Title. Ilja hugged Trick and kissed him on the cheek. Ilja left the ring while Trick posed with the NXT Title. Trick went on the barricade and celebrated with the fans. The fans were shouting “Whoop That Trick” during Trick’s song as usual. Trick continued to celebrate with the title. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: That’s likely the end of Ilja Dragunov’s great run in NXT since he’ll probably be in the WWE Draft. As for Trick, he is now the face of the brand, and thanks to his popularity, the brand should do just fine with him on top. Trick has only been wrestling for about four years. He turns 30 years old later this year. Trick has a very bright future in WWE. That’s for sure. Keep up the good work, Trick. Proud of you.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Trick Williams
  2. Ilja Dragunov
  3. Roxanne Perez/Sol Ruca


The Scoreboard

This week: 8.25 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2024 Average: 7.06


Final Thoughts on WWE NXT

This was an excellent episode of NXT. It was probably the best of the year so far. I liked the Trick Wiliams-Ilja Dragunov NXT Title match in the main event. It was a great match even though it was a very predictable result with Trick leaving as the champion. Trick deserves it after putting in the work over the last two and a half years. He’s really grown as a performer. It’s been fun to cover his career so far and I look forward to what’s next in what should be a long NXT Title reign for Trick, who is now the face of the brand. Ilja is likely off to the main roster, so the title change was obvious, but I’m still glad it happened and it was done the right way.

I was really impressed by how well they utilized the women’s division throughout the show. NXT does that so well all the time whether they are putting women in matches, backstage segments, or the contract signing segment. The triple threat NXT Women’s Title was a strong opener. Roxanne Perez is terrific as a heel while Lyra Valkyria & Tatum Paxley held their own as well. I thought Sol Ruca was impressive in that win she had over Blair Davenport. That finisher that Sol does is amazing.

There were a lot of cameo appearances from main roster stars throughout the show. A lot of those wrestlers likely live in the Orlando area so it’s not like they had to go far to there, but it’s still cool to see random people showing up. I think having the main roster stars there tells the fans that NXT is an important part of WWE where anybody could show up at any time.


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

John Canton


Twitter/X @johnreport