This week’s WWE NXT featured two Tag Team Title matches along with a very entertaining McDonagh-Dragunov match in the main event.
This was the follow up to the Halloween Havoc Premium Live Event from last Saturday. Wes Lee became a singles champion when he won the NXT North American Title in a ladder match while Bron Breakker retained the NXT Title and Mandy Rose kept the NXT Women’s Title. Other winners were Apollo Crews, Roxanne Perez and Julius Creed. Five babyface wins and only Rose was a heel win. A fun night for the good guys.
As usual, I’ll go summary style for the matches on most of the show and play-by-play for the main event.
A video package aired with highlights from Halloween Havoc.
The teams in the Women’s Tag Team Title match were already in the ring as ring announcer Alicia Taylor did the introductions. The commentary team was Vic Joseph and Booker T as usual.
NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships: Kayden Carter & Katana Chance vs. Nikkita Lyons & Zoey Stark
Carter and Lyons did a routine of moves at the start that looked like it was practiced probably because it was. After Chance got a tag, she hit some double team moves with Carter on Stark. When Chance did a headscissors, Stark managed to flip over to land on her feet and then Chance managed to do it successfully. Lyons used her power to wear down Chance, who turned it into a pin attempt. Lyons and Stark hit body slams on the floor leading to a break.
Lyons hit a spinning slam on Chance for a two count. Carter tagged in with a dropkick/splash combo move in the corner. Chance tagged in with Carter lifting her up into a pin attempt on Lyons, but Stark tackled Carter onto the pin attempt to break it up. Stark got some offense going with a German Suplex on Chance, who flipped over to sell it on her chest. Stark got a rollup on Chance for the pinfall win, but Chance complained that she wasn’t the legal wrestler. Another referee went into the ring to talk to the official of the match. Lyons and Stark held up the titles, but the match was restarted “due to an unseen tag.” Booker said he thought he saw the tag. They replayed it. The referee wasn’t looking when the tag happened.
The women were brawling after the restart. Lyons was sent out of the ring and Carter hit a dive onto her. Chance hit a Spanish Fly slam off the top on Starks for a two count. It was very close. Lyons hit a jumping kick and the split legged leg drop for two on Carter because Chance broke it up. Carter worked over Lyons with kicks, Chance tagged in and did the 450 Splash/neckbreaker combo for the pinfall win. Stark was on the floor so she couldn’t make the save. It went 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Kayden Carter & Katana Chance
Analysis: *** It was a good match with some twists and turns. The referee thing is something that you can do occasionally, but then there are times when a referee misses something and nobody does anything to change the result. So why do you do it this time, but not all the time? Because it’s pro wrestling. There’s no logic to this stuff sometimes. The champs retaining is fine with me. They did a really nice job of having some great nearfalls towards the finish, which built the excitement and the fans were really into it. Stark and Lyons work well together, but I still think Lyons should be the one to beat Mandy Rose for the NXT Women’s Title. Carter and Chance are fun to watch as a team.
A video aired about the main event of Halloween Havoc with Bron Breakker retaining the NXT Title against Ilja Dragunov and JD McDonagh. Dragunov talked about how he was so close to winning, but JD stopped the referee’s count. Dragunov said he removed JD from NXT UK and he’ll remove JD again, so that match is coming up later.
Wes Lee was shown backstage with the NXT North American Title.
A video was shown of a mask being tossed into a fire. Somebody said “the second coming isn’t about retribution, it’s about justice.” That was it.
Analysis: That’s for Dominik Dijakovic returning to NXT and Retribution was the group he was in when he was T-Bar. He’s a good talent that should do well in NXT.
Let’s Hear from Wes Lee
Wes Lee made his entrance in street clothes as the NXT North American Champion with the fans cheering him and chanting “you deserve it” for him. Lee thanked the fans for Saturday night saying he didn’t think he’d make it to WWE or be a champion or be a champion on his own. Lee said the faith and confidence shown in him motivated him especially when he was lost in the dark. Lee spoke about how winning the title gave him a sense of validation and shows that he is belonged, he is loved and he is forever grateful. Lee continued to thank the fans.
Grayson Waller interrupted saying Wes didn’t deserve a thing and neither did the fans while saying that he hates Halloween. Lee ripped on Waller for losing his match and Waller feels he is still up 1-0 on Apollo Crews.
It’s an interruption from…R-Truth. That’s pretty random that R-Truth is on NXT, but here we are. What’s up!? Truth welcomed us to Halloween Havoc because it’s his gimmick to get things wrong. Truth said Waller had a British accent. That’s funny because Waller is Australian, so the fans chanted “British accent” of course. Waller told Truth he was Australian (the fans said “no he’s not) and Waller informed Truth that Halloween Havoc was three days ago. Lee said he won that title at Halloween Havoc and Truth congratulated him. Truth: “My bad.” Truth asked Waller how he did, so fans chanted “he lost.” Waller said he was rolled in a casket by Apollo Crews and Truth said “you rolled one up” as a joke. Waller was sick of Truth, so he challenged him to a match next week. Waller went for a cheap shot, but Truth and Lee were ready for him with Truth hitting a jumping side kick. Truth tossed Waller out of the ring. Truth ended it saying “Happy Halloween.”
Analysis: I certainly didn’t expect an R-Truth promo on NXT, but it just shows that any main roster wrestler can show up on NXT any time in this era. Truth makes me laugh while Waller knows how to get it, so I thought that was well done. Lee delivered a good babyface promo as well – he’s a likable guy for sure.
The team of Malik Blade & Edris Enofe were shown in their locker room with Edris saying tonight is their night. Edris said some lyrics from the Eminem song Lose Yourself, Blade mentioned it and Edris said that they signed their contracts together on the same day. Blade said they are going to shock the world. They were ready.
Quincy Elliott introduced Shotzi, who made her entrance on her tank.
Apollo Crews was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Crews talked about how he’s now moved on past Grayson Waller and he’s focused on becoming the NXT Champion. Crews said he’ll be paying attention when Bron Breakker is on NXT week.
Analysis: It seems like they’ll be doing Breakker vs. Crews soon, which is fine with me. I would like to see Breakker facing Carmelo Hayes at the NXT Deadline show in December.
Shotzi vs. Lash Legend
Shotzi did a headscissors around the throat by the apron. Legend managed to kick Shotzi off the apron to the floor. Back in the ring, Legend hit a body slam while Booker saying he saw raw potential in Lash. Shotzi hit a punch to the face and hit a DDT move that she calls Never Wake Up for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shotzi
Analysis: *3/4 It was decent enough for a short match. Shotzi won easily after selling for a couple of minutes. Legend has some good moves, but she’s still very green and I think she could sell moves a lot better than she does.
The Creed Brothers and Ivy Nile were shown backstage as Brutus gets a match up next.
Julius and Brutus Creed were in the ring for a promo with Julius talking about how he was beaten and bruised. Julius said he wrote the final sentence on Damon Kemp and now it’s time for his brother to put on the final punctuation. Brutus thanked his brother and he said he loved him. Brutus said now it’s his turn to get five minutes with Kemp because he’s going to finish what Kemp started.
Damon Kemp appeared on the video screen saying Julius got lucky. Kemp told Brutus that the medical team hasn’t medically cleared Kemp, who grabbed his right shoulder and said he’ll see Brutus when he’s ready. Brutus said as long as Kemp makes him wait, the ass whooping will be worse because it’s Diamond Mine forever.
Analysis: It’s fine that they didn’t do the Brutus-Kemp thing this week. I wonder if this is going to lead to Kemp’s brother Gable Steveson making his debut to help Kemp, but I don’t know if WWE wants to debut Gable in NXT or make him a heel. I’m just saying that could be where it’s going or I’m way off on that.
The duo of Veer Mahaan and Sanga attacked the Creed Brothers. Veer and Sanga were in dress suits. Sanga was a bit reluctant (since he was a face), so Veer decked Julius with a lariat. Sanga hit Brutus with a huge clothesline. Nile walked in asking Sanga “why?” and she checked on her friends.
Analysis: That alliance with Veer and Sanga had been teased for a few weeks, so now they are together. Prior to that, Sanga was in a face role for a long time.
Pretty Deadly were shown in the locker room preparing for their NXT Tag Team Title match. They sounded like they praised their opponents, but then they laughed about them. That match was next.
The Toxic Attraction trio consisting of NXT Women’s Champion Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne had a conversation about Mandy keeping her title. Rose was in her career, Dolin was tanning by a pool and Jayne was at the gym. Rose said that next week they are going to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Rose’s title win.
Analysis: I will celebrate. Good for Mandy. The conversation felt very unnatural, but it’s how wrestlers speak when trying to put over their storylines.
NXT Tag Team Championships: Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince & Kit Wilson) vs. Edris Enofe & Malik Blade
Enofe and Blade started off aggressively with some quick moves including a neckbreaker and top rope elbow drop for two with Prince saving Wilson. The champions took over after Prince tagged in with a clothesline. Prince hit Blade with a sidewalk slam, but Enofe made the tag with a cross body block on both champions and a double clothesline by the challengers sent the champions out of the ring, which led to a break.
The champions were in control as they isolated Enofe with Prince knocking Edris down with a clothesline. Blade got a hot tag on Prince with an impressive clothesline, then Prince bailed to the floor and Blade hit a somersault over the ring post onto both PD guys on the floor. That led to a “holy shit” chant that was muted. Blade got a two count after a cross body block off the top rope. The fans bought that as a nearfall. Wilson tagged in with a double knee attack to the ribs for two. Enofe tagged in leading to a double team Stunner/neckbreaker on Wilson for two. When Enofe ran the ropes, Prince got involved to send him to the floor and Wilson sent Blade into the turnbuckle. Blade managed to get a nearfall sitting on top of Prince for just a two count. It was so close. Wilson knocked down Enofe on the apron, Wilson got the tag and PD hit the Spilt Milk (spinebuster/neckbreaker combo) for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince & Kit Wilson)
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very entertaining and competitive championship match. It was smart for the faces to start out on fire before the heel champions slowed it down. I thought Enofe and Blade looked impressive even in defeat. If NXT continues to keep building Enofe and Blade then they can certainly become the champions. Enofe and Blade need to work on character development more, but I have been really impressed by how much they have impressed in the ring. Some of the out of the ring stuff that Pretty Deadly does annoys me (as obnoxious heels that’s their job), but in the ring they are technically sound and always have good matches. I like Pretty Deadly’s matches. While I didn’t expect a title change, they did a really nice job of teasing it.
A video aired about JD McDonagh talking about losing the Halloween Havoc main event to Bron Breakker and Ilja Dragunov. McDonagh said he likes being called a “necessary evil” while saying Dragunov’s face was priceless when McDonagh stopped the pin attempt. JD said that Ilja will be bloody, incapacitated and regret coming to NXT.
The Schism group reveals their new member after a break.
Zoey Stark was interviewed in the locker room by Mckenzie Mitchell. Stark said that she had the Tag Team Titles in their hands and called Kayden & Katana the luckiest women. Nikkita Lyons said it was her fault, then Stark said it was not Nikkita’s fault and Stark was adamant that when they get a rematch they are taking that gold.
Let’s Hear from Schism
The Schism group consisting of Joe Gacy, Rip Fowler and Jagger Reid and their mystery new member in a red hood. Gacy spoke about how you should remove your mask and join the Schism or be torn down. Fowler did a promo saying that he hears your comments toward them, but it’s merely a reflection of your own shortcomings. Reid said that in order to be truly healthy, you must learn to control it directly because anger divides, but love brings love. Reid said that Schism builds stronger together as a unit. Gacy talked about how Fowler and Reid are showing their true selves. Gacy told the red-hooded person to reveal themselves while telling them there is no going back.
It was a woman wearing a yellow mask on her face. She removed her red sweater and the mask to reveal it was Ava Raine aka Simone Johnson, the 21-year-old daughter of The Rock. Ava: “The love and acceptance The Schism has given me defies any preconceived notions of who I am supposed to be. This family completes me. I am Ava Raine.” The group hugged with Gacy saying their hearts beat in harmony and the roots form one tree. They posted with two fingers in the air.
Analysis: I know Shawn Michaels recently said that Ava/Simone was close to appearing on TV, so here she is. I didn’t know she’d be in this group. I’m not going to say it was great promo from Ava, but she was probably nervous with some weird dialogue and it was okay as she got through a brief promo. The good thing for her is that she won’t have as much pressure being in a group. They can keep her out of the ring until she’s absolutely ready. I am sure most people watching know she is The Rock’s daughter and maybe they are mad that they don’t acknowledge it, but let’s see what she can do in this group. They can use her to interfere in Gacy’s matches and Fowler/Reid matches. She’s still so new to the business, so I hope he adapts well and learns.
Sol Ruca was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell with Sol talking about facing Indi Hartwell, who interrupted the interview. Hartwell said that it’s all about winning in NXT. That match was next.
They showed a WWE Performance Center call with the text on the screen from a mystery voice leaving this message: “Let go of all your pain, washing away your deepest fears. Listen with your eyes, speaking with your ears. Awaken from the pits you call the dark, opening up to my soliloquy is just the start. Watch as I come and leave my mark, as I plan to rip all of NXT apart. Sincerely, SCRYPTS.” That was it.
Analysis: I don’t know what it means, but there are a lot of mysterious characters in all of WWE these days. There’s another one.
Sol Ruca vs. Indi Hartwell
Sol is in her second NXT match. Sol is a smiling babyface character that is a good athlete. Hartwell with two body slams, then Sol hit two body slams of her own and Hartwell got out of a pin attempt easily. Hartwell held onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick leading to Hartwell hitting some clotheslines. Booker: “You can’t let some surfer girl come in and beat ya.” Hartwell hit a running forearm to the back of the neck for the pinfall win. It was under two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Indi Hartwell
Analysis: 1/2* That was quick. The story was that Indi was very aggressive, so that’s why she managed to get the win.
Post match, Elektra Lopez was back and she attacked Hartwell from behind while also throwing Hartwell into the turnbuckle. Lopez hit a spinning slam on Ruca and a kick to the ribs. Lopez: “La Madrina is back.”
Analysis: Lopez has an impressive look, but still needs to get better in the ring so it was smart to keep her in NXT rather than put her on Smackdown with the rest of the Legado del Fantasma group.
There was a Chase U skit with Bodhi Hayward missing and new “student” Duke Hudson sat down. Andre Chase mentioned covering big events, so he suggested taking some notes. Duke Hudson told Thea Hail he didn’t need to take notes because it’s his head. Duke stole his neighbor’s pen and the neighbor had to act like they didn’t know who took it.
Analysis: Riveting segment. That’s sarcasm. Just making it clear.
Ilja Dragunov made his entrance for the main event as the babyface with the fans supporting him.
A graphic was shown for NXT Deadline, which is the next Premium Live Event on December 10th.
There was a video featuring Roxanne Perez talking about her win over Cora Jade at Halloween Havoc. Roxanne said she’s not sorry for what she did. Perez said that Cora was afraid of Roxanne’s potential. Roxanne said that she can stand on her own, friends will come and go while she has to stay true to who she is.
Edris Enofe and Malik blade were shown in the parking lot. A truck pulled up that was driven by Odyssey Jones and there some lovely ladies with them. Odyssey told the guys to join the party. Enofe was eager to party while Blade was pulled into the truck to go party.
Next week on NXT:
* Mandy Rose’s 1-Year Championship Celebration.
* Bron Breakker returns after getting this week off.
* R-Truth vs. Grayson Waller.
JD McDonagh made his entrance for the main event. As he posed on the turnbuckle, Ilja slammed him into the ring.
Ilja Dragunov vs. JD McDonagh
I’ll go play by play for this since it’s the main event. Ilja with a German Suplex two times followed by a third bridging German Suplex for a two count. JD got some offense going with chops to chest, Ilja hit a jumping knee to the ribs and a jumping kick to the head. Ilja had some black tape on his ribs on the right side. Ilja hit a forearm to the back followed by a waistlock. JD with elbows to the head, then a headbutt to the injured ribs and JD punched Ilja in the ribs. JD hit a running knee to the gut. Ilja hit a body slam followed by a hard chop to the chest. When Ilja tried a move swinging his body across the ropes, Ilja sold it like he was in a lot of pain on the apron. JD hit a necksnap move across the top move. JD hit a running attack to send Ilja off the apron with Ilja hitting his right side against the commentary table. The referee made JD back away so that the referee could check on Ilja. The medical team was called in to check on Ilja as the show went to break.
JD was in control with a suplex sending Ilja’s ribs across the top rope. JD worked over Ilja with repeated knees to the ribs along with JD wrapping his arms around the ribs/waist of Ilja to wear him down some more. JD continued to wrap his arms around the ribs, Ilja fought back and they exchanged forearms to the head. Ilja hit a hard chop, then chops to the knees and back as well. JD with a hard slap to the face, but Ilja hit a jumping kick to the head. Booker was shouting about how this could be that “shucky ducky quack quack” moment of the night. Booker is a weird guy. The fans were getting into it as Dragunov hit a running knee in the corner along with a knee drop off the middle ropes. Ilja jumped off with a senton bomb, but JD got his knees up to block and hit the knees against the ribs of Dragunov. JD stomped on the ribs again. JD went up top, Ilja chopped him as they fought on the top rope and Ilja hit a superplex. Ilja hit a driving forearm while JD was on the mat. Ilja was doing a great job of selling the ribs as the fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Ilja was hurting again, JD was smiling about it, Ilja had a very serious look and Ilja charged right into JD, who caught him. JD caught Ilja in a submission mold where he trapped Ilja with his legs and JD was squeezing Ilja’s head while Ilja was spitting up blood. The referee called for the bell because Ilja wouldn’t quit and was spitting up blood. It went 14 minutes. After the match, JD held on for a few more seconds.
Winner by submission: JD McDonagh
Analysis: ***3/4 I really liked this match. Pro wrestling is about telling stories and if you’ve never watched these two before then you could easily get into the match with Dragunov putting on a valiant effort as the fighting babyface dealing with a rib injury while JD was a ruthless heel that was very aggressive for the whole match. These guys are great and this was an awesome match to watch. Dragunov is so good at selling. I’d go so far as to say Dragunov is one of my favorite wrestlers in the business right now because of how well he sells everything and makes it look believable. This felt like a fight because of how well Ilja was selling the rib injury. It also made JD look like a badass beating Ilja the way he did. If they got a few more minutes maybe it would have been even better, but I thought the match time was just fine and they had a nearly four-star match here. The Halloween Havoc triple threat with Bron Breakker was better, but this was an awesome match too.
Post match, Dragunov was placed on a board and loaded onto a stretcher while JD was smirking about it. Dragunov was wheeled out of the building while JD had a sickening stare on his face as Vic called JD “pure evil” to end the show.
Analysis: Earlier in the night, JD said that Ilja will be bloody and incapacitated after their match. Since Ilya was bleeding from the mouth and wheeled out on a stretcher, it makes JD sounds like a man of his word. That gives JD credibility as a vicious heel. Little things like that are good storytelling.
Three Stars of the Show
1. JD McDonagh
2. Ilja Dragunov
3. Pretty Deadly
This week: 7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
A very good show in terms of storyline building and a great main event by McDonagh-Dragunov as you would expect from those two. Dragunov is so good at selling and really is one of my favorites in all of pro wrestling right now. The men’s Tag Team Title match was really good with Pretty Deadly beating an impressive Enofe/Blade team. The women’s Tag Team Title match was controversial due to the missed tag spot causing the restart. I don’t think the match quality was that great from top to bottom, but the weaker stuff was kept short while the two tag team title matches were good.
I am sure The Rock’s daughter Ava Raine joining Schism will get people talking especially if Rock puts it over on social media. I don’t know if it’s a good fit yet for her as a 21-year-old with no experience on camera before this, but being in a group will mean there’s less pressure on her instead of being out there alone. I hope she does well.
An NXT appearance from R-Truth was unexpected although I enjoyed it because he is very entertaining. It set up an R-Truth vs. Grayson Waller match next week, so Waller should win that. Bringing in main roster veterans to work with the NXT stars is fine with me. I rated this episode a bit higher than Raw. I liked it.
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