The John Report: WWE NXT 05/23/23 Review

wwe nxt may 23

This week’s WWE NXT featured the semifinals of the NXT Women’s Title tournament on the final show before Battleground.

I will use a summary style for most of the review and play-by-play for one match. I didn’t do a review last week because I was on vacation.

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.

There were promos from the four women left in the NXT Women’s Title tournament.

It was Vic Joseph and Booker T on commentary as usual.

NXT Women’s Title Tournament Semifinals: Lyra Valkyria vs. Cora Jade

There was a spot early with Lyra slipping while doing a move off the ropes, but they recovered and continued the match. Jade trapped Lyra in the ropes leading to a dropkick. Lyra managed to come back with a barrage of kicks leading to a Northern Lights Suplex for two. When Jade tried a running knee, Lyra caught her and hit an overhead suplex. After Jade missed a charging forearm and hit the ropes, Lyra hit a spin kick to the head for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Lyra Valkyria

Analysis: ** It was just an average match kept under four minutes. The finish felt flat with Lyra winning with a spin kick that didn’t look impressive at all. I thought Jade might win going into this, but obviously, they had a different plan in mind.

Post match, Jade did a chop block to Lyra’s left knee followed by a kendo stick to the back of the left leg of Lyra for added punishment.

Axiom and Dabba-Kato were shown walking backstage.


Ilja Dragunov attacked Dijak backstage with a steel chair and Dragunov sent him into the garage door. Dragunov tried to trap Dijak against the garage door, but officials showed up to stop it.

Analysis: Dijak did that to Dragunov so Dragunov got some payback. That match at Battleground will be amazing.

Dabba-Kato vs. Axiom

Big size difference here. Axiom got a kick, but Kato came back with a hard chop and he tossed Axiom out of the ring. Kato pressed Axiom back into the ring. Axiom got Kato down to his knees, but Kato hit an uppercut punch. Kato hit a sitout spinebuster for the pinfall win after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dabba-Kato

Analysis: *1/2 A squash win by Kato as the bigger guy. I’d like to see Axiom used better than this.

After the match, Kato attacked Axiom. Reggie showed up in blue gear and managed to avoid a charging Kato to send him out of the ring. More officials went out to ringside to keep Kato back. There were “Reggie” chants while Axiom wasn’t sure about Reggie helping him.

They showed Tony D’Angelo in the “interrogation room” with an officer interviewing Tony D. Another investigator said they had new information.


A video package aired about Bron Breakker losing the NXT Title at NXT Stand & Deliver. After Bron lost the NXT Title to Carmelo Hayes, Bron turned heel with a cheap attack on Hayes. The video was Bron saying he’s about to “burn this bitch down” since he’s a heel now. Bron said he’s coming to Battleground to dish out a massacre.

Let’s Hear From Gallus

The Gallus members consisting of Mark Coffey & Wolfgang, the NXT Tag Team Champions, were in the ring with Joe Coffey for a promo. They mocked Tony D’Angelo for being detained with Joe saying we won’t see Tony for a long time. They had a green light on the ring for this promo as they mocked Tony D and Stacks.

The Creed Brothers interrupted the promo and joined Gallus in the ring. Julius wanted a title match at Battleground. They exchanged some words with Julius saying they aren’t there to throw darts or shoot pool. Julius said it’s their time to win the gold again. A fight started from there with Gallus in control since it was 3 on 2, but Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo made the save with an uppercut. The Creeds and Stacks stood tall in the ring.

Analysis: The green light on Gallus during the promo was a terrible idea. Don’t do that again. The Creeds challenging for a match is okay although I think NXT’s booking team could do a better job of having teams earn title shots.

Wes Lee, the NXT North American Champion, was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Lee talked about issues he has been having with Joe Gacy and about how Tyler Bate is challenging him for the NXT North American Champion. Bate showed up, so Wes left, Bate said he respected Wes and didn’t feel the same way about Gacy. Bate was in action up next.

Eddy Thorpe entered for singles action.


Tyler Bate vs. Eddy Thorpe

The NXT North American Champion Wes Lee was on commentary for this match. Thorpe hit an impressive leaping cross body block. Thorpe worked over Bate with chops and a hard kick to the back too. Bate got some offense going with an exploder suplex and a standing SSP splash for two. They each tried some moves leading to Bate bouncing off the ropes with a running clothesline. Bate hit the Tyler Driver 97 for the pinfall win after about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tyler Bate

Analysis: **3/4 That was pretty good for the time given. Bate is getting an NXT Title match at Battleground on Sunday, so giving him the win makes sense. Thorpe got plenty of offense and put up a fight as a newer guy that has plenty of potential.

After the match, Joe Gacy attacked Bate from behind. Wes Lee went into the ring, tried to punch Gacy and then Lee punched Bate by accident. Gacy hit the Upside Down bounce off the ropes into a clothesline to knock both guys down.

Analysis: That triple threat match at Battleground could see Lee lose the title to either guy. They are both viable contenders and Lee’s reign has gone so long that I can see a title change coming.

Lyra Valkyria was with Mckenzie Mitchell with Lyra saying her knee is swollen, she has a bruised knee and said she’ll be ready for the final. Lyra said she wants to take on Roxanne Perez in the finals.

Noam Dar and Nathan Frazer were shown walking backstage separately ahead of their match.


During the break, Wes Lee and Tyler Bate argued about what happened.

Noam Dar vs. Nathan Frazer

Dar has the Heritage Cup and is defending it against Dragon Lee at Battleground. They did a fun spot where Frazer ran the ropes about six times, Dar couldn’t hit him and Frazer hit a running kick that sent Dar out of the ring.


Frazer tried a springboard move, Dar kicked him and Frazer collapsed on the ropes. After a few minutes of Dar offense, Frazer did a backflip off the ropes leading to a reverse DDT. Frazer was aggressive with a leaping forearm along with a twisting neckbreaker for two. Dar avoided a leaping Frazer, kick to the head by Dar and Dar applied an armbar on the left arm. Frazer hit a superkick for two. Dar with a punch to the face, then there was an inside cradle and Dar hit a back elbow for two. Dragon Lee walked out to check out the Heritage Cup at ringside, so Dar left the ring and pushed Dragon. Frazer hit a suicide dive on Dar. Back in the ring, Frazer hit a Phoenix Splash off the top on Dar for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Nathan Frazer

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a lengthy TV match that was fun to watch. Dar is a talented athlete with nice strikes and submission moves. Frazer is one of the fastest, most athletic guys in all of WWE. A good win for Frazer, but it was also cheap because Dragon Lee got involved to cause Dar the loss. I would like to see Frazer receive some more character development and a push because he has so much talent.

Ilja Dragunov was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell in the locker room talking about his issues with Dijak. That led to Dijak showing up to fight with Dragunov in the locker room, but other wrestlers were there to break it up.

A special look at Carmelo Hayes was up next.


There was a video about Carmelo Hayes promoting the NXT Battleground event by doing media interviews. Carmelo is from Massachusetts and Battleground is in Lowell, Massachusetts, so Carmelo talked about how great it was being back home in front of his family and friends. Carmelo was at an NBA playoff game of the Boston Celtics as well. Carmelo did the usual promo about how he’s better than Bron Breakker is.

Hank Walker vs. Tank Ledger

They entered the match together even though they are against eachother. They shook hands. Booker: “I don’t know what the hell is going on here. This is not productive as far as these guys being a tag team.” Tank was in control with a whip into the turnbuckle, a body slam and a headbutt. Hank hit a powerslam, then they ran the ropes and did a cross body block collision with Hank covering Tank to win. It went three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Hank Walker

Analysis: * It wasn’t that interesting, but it was kept short. A reminder that NXT is a developmental show that is trying to always get some new characters on the show and build them up. Hank & Tank will probably be a team in the future. This match likely took place because of what happened next.

After the match, Bron Breakker went into the ring and hit a Spear on Hank. Bron hit a Spear on Tank too. Bron spoke into the camera saying he’ll see the champ on Sunday.

Analysis: That Spear by Bron looks so great. It looks as good as anybody that I’ve ever seen do it. The speed he has running off the ropes helps a lot.

The Creed Brothers and Ivy Nile thanked Stacks for helping them out. Stacks said they would be outnumbered at Battleground again, so maybe Stacks can have their back again. The Creeds said no because they have had issues with people before. Stacks said no offense taken. The Creeds said that Stacks & Tony can get the first title shot when The Creeds win the titles and that was it.


Let’s Hear from Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne

Gigi Dolin did a promo in the ring talking about how she didn’t know what a stable family was like. Then she came to NXT, she thought she was part of a family and then Jacy Jayne took all that away from her.

Jacy Jayne was in the crowd doing a promo saying she was sick of this emo talk. Jacy said that it was the run of Gigi’s career running shotgun to Jacy. Jacy got sick of carrying Gigi through every match they had. Jacy refused to let Gigi drag her down. Gigi said that Jacy will do whatever it takes to make sure she is not remembered as the third wheel. Jacy said that last time they wrestled she beat Gigi. Dolin said Gigi needed eight stitches in her face and Gigi said that she beat Jacy at Roadblock. Dolin wanted a match right now.

Jacy told Gigi to pander to the loyal fanbase that lives on social media and love her pathetic Instagram stories. Jacy said she can’t wait to be done with Gigi once and for all. Jacy said she didn’t want to end this in an ordinary match, she wanted a Steel Cage match. Gigi said she wears her heart on her sleeve and has no problem doing so. Gigi said that she is real while Jacy Jayne is a “fake ass bitch.” Gigi suggested a Weaponized Steel Cage Match. Jacy said she’s on.

Analysis: I liked that promo exchange. It was better than some of the promos I have seen them do together, especially in Gigi’s case. A Weaponized Steel Cage Match next week on NXT is a good way to put an end to the rivalry. I think Gigi might as the face, but I like Jayne more as an overall performer at this point.

Luca Crusafino was outside of a courthouse talking about his match with Von Wagner coming up.


A video aired about the Heritage Cup match rules for the Noam Dar-Dragon Lee match at Battleground. They have different rules in those matches so there was a summary of all the rules.

There was some anonymous video with Noam Dar trying to get Oro Mensah to help him, but he wasn’t interested.

Von Wagner (w/Mr. Stone) vs. Luca Crusafino

Luca wrestles wearing a top that includes a tie and vest because he’s a lawyer. Luca did a nice hiptoss/neckbreaker combo move. Luca went after Stone, grabbed the picture of Von as a kid and called him a freak. Von was angry so he clotheslined Luca on the floor. Luca was against the ropes leading to Von punching him repeatedly leading to the DQ finish. It went three minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Luca Crusafino

Analysis: 1/2* It was more of an angle than a match to advance the story about how Von didn’t like being made fun of and he punched Luca repeatedly for the ending.

Post match, Von gave Luca a Powerbomb onto the table. The fans loved that even though the table didn’t break.

Analysis: It’s a babyface turn for Von with the fans rooting for him to do the Powerbomb on the table and cheering when he did it. The story of him overcoming something as a child is a way to make him more likable.

They showed Tony D’Angelo in the interrogation room where he was arrested. The one investigator looks like a wrestler we haven’t seen on TV yet. Anyway, they took Tony D out of the room.

Tiffany Stratton entered for her main event match. She looks better every time I see her.


Next week on NXT: Jacy Jayne vs. Gigi Dolin in a Weaponized Steel Cage Match.

NXT Women’s Title Tournament Semifinals: Tiffany Stratton vs. Roxanne Perez

I’ll go play by play for this. Perez got a bridging pin attempt early on. Perez tried a headscissors, but Stratton did a handstand to get out of it. Perez got a rollup for two and a sunset flip for two. Perez took control with an armdrag into an armbar. Stratton tried to overpower Perez, but Perez did a headscissors that sent Stratton out of the ring. Perez tried a dive, Stratton caught her and Perez sent Stratton into the apron. Perez went up top, but Stratton was there to trip her up leading to a break.


Stratton tried a slam, Perez got out of it and Perez dropkicked Stratton out of the ring. Perez hit a suicide dive on the floor. Perez did a second suicide dive. Back in the ring, Perez did a cross body block off the top, Stratton caught her and did a rolling senton. Stratton went for the moonsault off the top, but Perez moved and Stratton rolled through. Perez with some punches along with a running uppercut. Stratton hit an impressive sitout spinebuster for two. Stratton tried something off the top, but Perez hit a hurricanrana off the top for a two count. Stratton countered a leg sweep attempt and Perez countered another move with a hurricanrana. They each got rollups for two. Perez hit a knee to the jaw and a legsweep for two. Perez tried for Pop Rox, but Stratton powered out of that and hit a rolling senton. Stratton hit the triple jump moonsault for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tiffany Stratton

Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very good match. It was probably one of the best Stratton matches I’ve seen and Perez deserves a lot of credit for it too. Perez does so many hurricanrana/headscissors variations throughout a match like that and she was on offense for a lot of it. Stratton is continuing to improve with a nice of power, speed and aerial skills. I think the right woman went over there because I want Stratton to win the tournament. Perez has already been the champion, so she didn’t need to win again and I think Stratton possibly winning the title is a great idea.

The win by Tiffany Stratton means she’ll face Lyra Valkyria at Battleground to determine the new NXT Women’s Champion.

There was a rundown of the NXT Battleground lineup for this Sunday, May 28th.

NXT Women’s Championship Tournament Finals: Tiffany Stratton vs. Lyra Valkyria

NXT North American Championship: Wes Lee vs. Tyler Bate vs. Joe Gacy

NXT Tag Team Championships: Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang) vs. The Creed Brothers (Julius Creed and Brutus Creed)

Last Man Standing Match: Ilja Dragunov vs. Dijak

Heritage Cup Match: Noam Dar vs. Dragon Lee

NXT Championship: Carmelo Hayes vs. Bron Breakker

Tiffany Stratton and Lyra Valkyria were shown arguing around the NXT Women’s Championship. There was a hooded individual that attacked Roxanne Perez from behind and then ran away without showing who it was. Officials showed up to break it up, so the hooded individual ran away.

Analysis: NXT loves mystery attacker stories. There is another one.

Dijak and Ilja Dragunov appeared in the ringside area and they were fighting eachother all around the ring. Dijak threw Dragunov over a barricade. Dijak signed the Hold Harmless agreement ahead of their Battleground match. Dragunov knocked Dijak over the barricade, so Dragunov signed the agreement as well. Dijak and Dragunov beat up security guys. Dijak decked Dragunov with a boot to the face. Dragunov stopped a steel steps attack and then hit a jumping forearm on Dijak. Referees tried to keep them separated while Dijak was selling against the ring. Dragunov celebrated. That was it.

Analysis: That was awesome. I think Dijak and Dragunov are going to have the best match at Battleground. Those guys are both intense. It should be great.

A video aired promoting NXT Battleground this Sunday from Lowell, Massachusetts. They showed some WWE history taking place in Lowell in the past.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Tiffany Stratton-Roxanne Perez
  2. Nathan Frazer
  3. Tyler Bate


The Scoreboard

This week: 6.5 out of 10

Last week: No review

2023 Average: 6.92


Final Thoughts

It was solid overall in terms of promoting Battleground and next week’s Jayne-Dolin Steel Cage Match. I wouldn’t call it a great episode, but that’s okay.

The second hour was weak with poor matches and it just lost my interest for the most part. I thought Stratton-Perez was a pretty good main event and clearly the better of the two women’s tournament matches on the show.

I like the Battleground lineup for the most part. I’ll try to get a preview done later in the week and a review might be Monday morning because Sunday night is busy with another show too.

Here’s the NXT Battleground lineup for this Sunday, May 28th.

NXT Championship: Carmelo Hayes vs. Bron Breakker

NXT Women’s Championship Tournament Finals: Tiffany Stratton vs. Lyra Valkyria

NXT Tag Team Championships: Gallus – Mark Coffey and Wolfgang vs. The Creed Brothers – Julius Creed and Brutus Creed

NXT North American Championship: Wes Lee vs. Tyler Bate vs. Joe Gacy

Last Man Standing Match: Ilja Dragunov vs. Dijak

Heritage Cup Match: Noam Dar vs. Dragon Lee


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

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport