The John Report: WWE NXT 11/23/21 Review

wwe nxt

This week’s NXT 2.0 features a big title match with NXT North American Champion Carmelo Hayes defending the championship against Pete Dunne and Johnny Gargano in a triple threat match.

Other advertised matches include Mandy Rose vs. Cora Jade, Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grayson Waller and Kacy Catanzaro/Kayden Carter vs. Indi Hartwell/Persia Pirotta in tag team action.

This episode is taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The show started with Grayson Waller doing a promo in the ring. Waller said he was the fastest rising star in the game right here. Ciampa said that Tommaso Ciampa is not a superstar like him. Waller said that you booed John Cena out of every building and now he’s killing the game in Hollywood. Waller mentioned The Rock is the biggest star in Hollywood and you booed him out of town. Waller also brought up Universal Champion Roman Reigns headlining WrestleMania after WrestleMania, he gave everything for you, he’s the Head of the Table and you booed him, but now he’s killing the game. Waller said that you Twitter freaks with 80,000 tweets and three followers don’t matter, superstars do. Waller mentioned Cena, Rock, Reigns and himself.

Analysis: Waller was a face for a few months and now he’s a heel ripping on the fans. I guess that decision was made because the face run wasn’t going that well for him. Waller is a good talker from Australia.

The NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance to face Waller in this match. The announcers were Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix as usual.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grayson Waller

Waller used his quicks to get a slap to the face, then a shove, so Ciampa punched and kicked Waller into the turnbuckle. Ciampa stomped on Waller followed by a running knee. Ciampa with another running knee to the face much to the delight of the crowd. Ciampa worked over Waller with punches, then Waller slipped out to send him into the turnbuckle and Waller hit a neckbreaker. Ciampa with a running elbow, then a cop, but then Waller hit a spinning neckbreaker. The fans chanted “Let’s go Ciampa” for the champion. Ciampa ran the ropes, leapfrog over Ciampa and a spinebuster. Waller did his own version of a People’s Elbow, but Ciampa moved. Ciampa with four straight running clothesline, a duck under and another clothesline over the top to the floor. Ciampa with a clothesline while on the floor. Ciampa tossed Waller over the commentary table and the show went to a picture in picture break.


Ciampa worked over Waller with chops to the chest, then they collided after a charge by Ciampa. Waller jumped off the turnbuckle, but then Ciampa hit him with a rising knee to the head. Great move. Both guys were down selling. Ciampa hit a DDT. Ciampa went for more, but Waller countered into two pin attempts for two. Ciampa with a hard knee (with a big slap). Waller with a punch and then a sitout slam off the shoulders for a two count. Waller to the middle ropes, Ciampa went after him there, Ciampa had Waller on his back and hit an Air Raid Crash off the ropes for a two count. Great nearfall there. Ciampa with chops, then Waller got out of a move and hit repeated knees to the head. Waller with a rolling slam off the shoulders. Waller to the middle ropes and he hit an elbow drop for a two count. Ciampa went to the floor, so Waller hit a somersault dive over the top to the floor. Waller tossed Ciampa back in the ring first, then Waller went back and Ciampa set up Waller by the apron where Ciampa hit the Willow’s Bell DDT. Ciampa hit the Fairytale Ending for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa

Analysis: ***1/4 That was a good match with Waller putting up a fight before Ciampa got back into the ring and hit two of his big moves for the clean win. I thought they did a nice job of having an even match with Waller showing he could hang with Ciampa. I feel like the finish could have worked better if Waller missed the dive on the floor instead of connecting because then Ciampa went back in the ring, basically no sold the moves that Waller did and then Ciampa won. Anyway, NXT doesn’t always deliver longer matches like that anymore, so we’ll take them when we can. Ciampa is always going to have a great match when given time while Waller impressed me a lot there.

LA Knight was shown watching on a TV with Mckenzie Mitchell showing up for an interview. Knight knew that Waller would lose that match. Knight said the NXT Universe chanted “Waller Sucks” and that’s a fact of life. Joe Gacy walked up to him saying we should build eachother up, not tear eachother down. Gacy suggested a safe space that is open for them, which is a reference to a match. Knight replied by challenging him to a match.

A short video aired showing highlights of the Duke Hudson/Cameron Grimes poker segment from last week when Hudson was mad about Grimes bluffing him to win money. Hudson attacked Grimes and cut some of Cameron’s hair/beard after that.


The gorgeous Toxic Attraction trio of Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne were shown arriving. They were asked questions as they arrived while Mandy ripped on Cora Jade, who Mandy faces this week. Dakota Kai was shown nearby, she walked around with them without saying a word because Kai is weird now. They walked over to some part of the building with some broken glass and other things on the floor with Mandy saying it was like a rage room. The girls left with Kay Lee Ray there showing that it was her that did it.

Let’s Hear from Cameron Grimes

Cameron Grimes made his entry with a serious look. Grimes had shorter hair and his beard was trimmed while wearing a black suit jacket. Grimes said that he grew up in a small town in North Carolina and every day he had people push him down or tell him he wasn’t good enough. Grimes said he showed them that even though he had to sleep on concrete floors, he showed them that Cameron Grimes holds it down. Grimes said that he kept his hair and beard to remind himself of those humble beginnings to remind him of those times when he had nothing. Grimes said Duke Hudson took that all away from him because he humiliated him, embarrassed him and he messed up by making Grimes angry. Grimes called for Hudson to come to the ring right now because he’s done talking.

Duke Hudson was shown backstage somewhere getting his beard trimmed. Hudson wondered why Grimes is mad since he took money and got a free haircut. Grimes wanted to help Grimes from looking like a troll to look like a decent human being. Grimes wanted Hudson to come out there to settle it. Hudson said that’s not going to happen and “sorry but not sorry.” Grimes said he gave Hudson a chance to show how big those balls were, but Hudson proved he’s gutless and nutless. Grimes said let’s go all in, then Grimes challenged him to a match at NXT WarGames in a Hair vs. Hair match. Hudson said he wouldn’t mind taking more off the top. Hudson agreed to it and said that WarGames, he’s going to take the rest of Cameron’s hair. Hudson held up a bag that had hair in it. Cameron’s music played to end it.

Analysis: It’s a big match for WarGames with Hudson getting his first major match on PPV while Grimes has had other feuds this year like his rivalry with LA Knight. I don’t mind seeing Grimes with the trimmed-down look that he had here. I don’t know what guy is going to lose to become bald, but I assume Grimes wins as payback for Hudson attacking him in the ring last week.

Pete Dunne did a pre-tape promo talking about how he’s waited too long to hold a title in NXT. Dunne said he’ll take Gargano out and make Hayes pay his dues. Dunne said tonight he’ll become NXT North American Champion.

Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. Indi talked about her husband Dexter Lumis dealing with a broken hand after being attacked by Carmelo Hayes/Trick Williams and Indi said Johnny Gargano will get the NXT North American Title from Hayes. Indi said Dexter will be out for about a month while adding that they took away Dexter’s ability to draw (since he’s an artist). Persia asked if Indi wants to sit this one out since Persia won on her own last week, but Indi said it’s okay, she’s got this. Indi said this is for Dexter, she loves him, and Persia pulled her away.


A video aired about Tiffany Stratton coming to NXT soon. She’s a tennis player. They love having characters that have gimmicks where they do things other than wrestling.

Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter

Persia with a shoulder tackle on Carter. Indi tagged in and didn’t look focused at all because of her husband being attacked last week. Kacy with a trip leading to Carter hitting a dropkick. Carter with a boot to Indi, Kacy tagged in and hit an assisted splash for two with Pirotta making the save. Indi sent Kacy into the corner, Pirotta tagged in and sent Kacy face first into the top turnbuckle. Pirotta with a backbreaker and Indi tagged in with a clothesline for two, but Carter was there to break up the pin. Pirotta powered Kacy into the turnbuckle, then Pirotta missed the corner attack and Indi didn’t look focused, but Pirotta tagged her anyway. Indi hit a sidewalk slam and then looked at her wedding ring. Carter got a rollup for two. Kacy tagged in, she went on Carter’s shoulders and Carter launched Kacy into a splash on Indi for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter

Analysis: *3/4 It’s a meaningful win for the likable babyface team of Kacy & Kayden due to Indi being focused on the sadness of what happened to Dexter instead of focusing on her match. Good double team finisher by Kacy/Kayden with the splash off the shoulders. I wonder if this will lead to Pirotta turning heel on Hartwell since Indi cost her team that match and it wouldn’t surprise me if NXT wanted to push Pirotta as a singles wrestler.

A video aired about Santos Escobar talking about how he was blessed in this business while saying no one can touch him. Escobar entered for a match.


They showed Andre Chase walking around with members of Chase University. They walked up to Cameron Grimes, Chase insulted Grimes and his haircut, so Grimes told him to go to hell.

Santos Escobar (w/Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza & Elektra Lopez) vs. Malik Blade

Escobar got a waistlock, Blade broke free and hit a dropkick. Escobar with punches, a snapmare and then a kick to the back. Escobar stomped on Blade. Blade got a sunset flip pin attempt for a two count. Escobar with an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle. Escobar with a running double knee attack followed by the Phantom Driver for the pinfall win after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar

Analysis: * It was an easy win by Escobar in his return to the ring after not being in a match for a while.

Elektra Lopez said that no one says no to Legado del Fantasma. Elektra said that Xyon Quinn said no to them, so look what happened to him. Lopez said now that their leader Santos Escobar is back, they are stronger than ever. Wilde said now that they are back at full strength, here comes the interruption. It is Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner saying they want the NXT Tag Team Championships. Wagner said that his foot was on the rope when Legado beat them, so they have unfinished business. Kyle said that Von had a hell of a point.

The Imperium team of Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner were on the stage in the back part of the arena with their NXT Tag Team Champions. Barthel insulted them saying they should be ashamed of themselves fighting down there like little children. Barthel said that neither of those teams can stop the standard-bearers of this division. Barthel said that the era of Imperium will continue. Barthel told them to figure it out and they’ll defend the titles against the winners at WarGames.

Analysis: That should lead to the Legado guys against O’Reilly/Wagner next week so I would assume O’Reilly/Wagner get the win there as the babyface team that would challenge Imperium at WarGames. That makes sense to me anyway.

Cora Jade was shown in the locker room with Io Shirai, Raquel Gonzalez and Zoey Stark with crutches walked up to them. Cora Jade said that the co-exist thing is old. Cora is excited about WarGames, but they need to find a fourth and she’s going to kick some Toxic Attraction ass.


Tony D’Angelo was interviewed backstage by Mckenzie Mitchell. Tony talked about people betting on the NXT North American Title match and how you can bet on the match with his bookie. There wasn’t much to it.

The lovely Mandy Rose made her entrance as the NXT Women’s Champion looking great as usual. Cora Jade was the opponent on her skateboard and she’s the youngest woman on the roster at 20 years old. This is not a title match.

Mandy Rose vs. Cora Jade

Rose did some trash-talking, so Jade hit her with a forearm to the face. Jade with a pin attempt for two, then an enziguri kick and Rose caught Jade leading to a spinebuster for two. Jade with a suplex for two leading to a chinlock as the fans chanted for both women. Rose grounded Jade with a body scissors around the waist while pulling back on the head. Jade countered a suplex into an inside cradle. Jade with a jumping hurricanrana followed by a running knee in the corner for a two count. Jade has jumped off the turnbuckle, Rose moved and Jade hit the mat. Kay Lee Ray walked out with a silver bat to ringside and she hit some objects at ringside. Rose was distracted by it, Ray tossed the silver bat in the ring, the referee caught it, threw it back up and Jade did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! with her body on top of Rose for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cora Jade

Analysis: *3/4 An upset win for Jade after the distraction by Ray. Having a champion lose non-title is something we see on Raw or Smackdown often although not necessarily some of the main champions. They don’t do it as often in NXT either, but I get why they did it here to have Ray go after Rose while Jade picked up the huge upset win. Maybe they can do Rose/Jade for the NXT Women’s Title on TV soon with Rose getting the win there.

Rose yelled at Ray from a distance while Jade celebrated her win.

Analysis: It’s obvious that Ray is going to be part of the WarGames match. That was my guess last week. Ray has been more of a heel in her career so far, but in that match, she’ll be on the babyface side while targeting Rose and friends.

Carmelo Hayes, the NXT North American Champion, was backstage with Trick Williams for a pre-tape promo. Hayes said he’s the A Champion and the leader of the new school. Hayes talked trash about Gargano saying it’s not like it’s a good thing to be in NXT for over five years. When talking about Dunne, Melo noted that Pete is the same age while wrestling a lot longer and Trick had a comment that Pete looked like he was 40. Melo added that he’s the one that has everything to lose. Hayes said that they chase Melo, he doesn’t chase them and Melo is everything he says he is. Melo ended it saying when he shoots, he won’t miss.

Joe Gacy did a promo saying he is a provider and we will bring a new sense of belonging. Gacy had a hand placed on his right shoulder – it was Harland. Gacy is in action up next.


There was a backstage scene with Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, Cora Jade with Zoey Stark with crutches. Kay Lee Ray walked up to them saying she’s on their team and she’s going to be in the advantage ladder match next week too. The other women seemed to agree.

Joe Gacy was in the ring for a match. LA Knight made his entrance, he was attacked by Grayson Waller and they exchanged punches. Referees appeared to break it up. Knight went after Waller again and they went brawling continued.

Analysis: That Waller/Knight feud has been going on for over a month now, so that story continues.

Joe Gacy did a seated promo saying he wishes we could have shown LA Knight how to handle anger issues peacefully. Gacy said now he wants to use this time to see how we can fix…and here comes Diamond Mine.

Diamond Mine walked out with Malcolm Bivens doing a promo complaining about Gacy trying to steal the spotlight from Diamond Mine. Bivens told Gacy to leave the ring because Ivy Nile is in a match. Gacy claimed he didn’t have respect for Roderick Strong, the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Gacy complained about the title being about exclusivity and weight shaming. The fans chanted “shut the hell up” at Gacy. Joe said that the cruiserweight division was meant to divide. Strong said that he fears no one and he didn’t care about Gacy or any damn weight limit. Strong said that his next money match is standing right here, so he wanted Bivens to make this happen. Bivens said that he’ll make sure this contract is signed and said that Strong will beat him at WarGames. Gacy said he was looking forward to resolve this issue together as one. Brutus and Julius stepped up to Gacy, but then Harland was behind Gacy, so Diamond Mine backed away. Gacy smiled at Harland.

Analysis: That was an interesting promo with Gacy somehow getting a Cruiserweight Championship match even though Gacy is much heavier than the 205-pound cruiserweight limit. They explained it by saying that Strong was waving the weight limit. It was clever to have Gacy complain about it since he complains about it a lot, so having him whine about that is fitting for Gacy’s character. Strong always has good matches no matter the opponent, so it should be a solid match at the WarGames event. As for Harland, he has yet to get physically involved in NXT, but I imagine that’s coming soon.


They showed a video with the MSK team looking for the special shaman guy as part of this story going on for over a month. The MSK guys got pulled over while driving and they were nervous about it. Nash Carter was wearing a John Cena shirt. They were only driving 7 mph for some reason. They had a bag with them that they were going to open up. However, at that moment, the cop told them next time to go the speed limit.

Analysis: They are really taking their time in moving along with this storyline with short segments week after week.

Ivy Nile vs. Yulisa Leon

Nile with a takedown leading to push-ups in the ring. Nile was in control early after a running clothesline. Nile grabbed a headlock and lifted Leon over the head. Nile applied a headscissors across the upper body of Leon and did some sit-ups. Leon got back up, she did a cartwheel and Leon rolled through for a pin attempt. Nile got to a standing position and applied a dragon sleeper for the submission win after three minutes.

Winner by submission: Ivy Nile

Analysis: 3/4* A dominant win by Nile like every one of her matches so far. I like her style and I assume the winning will continue.

Solo Sikoa was shown in a video saying NXT is the perfect battleground right now. Solo said one day he was walking with the “down since day ones” (referencing his brothers The Usos) and now he’s on his own. Solo said he’ll fight anyone.

Grizzled Young Veterans were shown walking backstage where they walked into some guy on the phone, but then Zack Gibson took the guy’s wallet. LA Knight and Grayson Waller went brawling into the screen with referees trying to separate them.


There was a video from Boa saying that Mei Ying has passed on her strength and spirit and he can’t control the power that takes over. Boa said once he can control, you will fear him.

Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake)

Jensen started with Drake and then Briggs tagged in with a double shoulder tackle. Briggs and Jensen punched Drake at the same time. Jensen with a series of punches on Drake. Drake with a slap to the face, Jensen chased after him and Gibson tagged in with a knee to the back of Jensen. Gibson had a headlock on Jensen while they showed Waller/Knight continuing to fight in the backstage area. Jensen hit a belly to back suplex. Briggs got the hot tag with kicks for both guys, then a spinning slam and a splash on Drake. Briggs went for a suplex, but then Drake sold it like his right knee was injured. Briggs kicked Gibson off the ropes. Drake was fine while Briggs grabbed him and hit a backbreaker. Briggs and Jensen hit a high/low clothesline/legsweep combo for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen

Analysis: ** A win for the team of Briggs and Jensen, who are trying to get over as babyfaces that love to fight and drink beers. GYV just aren’t being pushed that much in the last few months. The deal here was that Drake was faking the injury to try to set up Gibson to get a cheap shot, but Briggs saw it coming, took out Gibson and then the Briggs/Jensen team got the win.

The announcers mentioned NXT WarGames on Sunday, December 5:

* Hair vs. Hair Match: Cameron Grimes vs. Duke Hudson

* NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Roderick Strong vs. Joe Gacy

* Women’s WarGames Match: Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jayne & Dakota Kai vs. Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, Cora Jade & Kay Lee Ray

Next week on NXT is Kay Lee Ray vs. Dakota Kai for a WarGames advantage for their team.

Johnny Gargano entered for the main event.


Carmelo Hayes and Pete Dunne were already in the ring for the main event.

NXT North American Championship: Carmelo Hayes (w/Trick Williams) vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne

Hayes sent Dunne out of the ring, Gargano with a headscissors on Hayes and Hayes with a handspring into a kick to Johnny. Dunne back in with a running clothesline. Gargano went for a kick, Dunne ducked and Gargano/Dunne exchanged holds leading to Dunne getting a two count. Gargano held onto the ropes after they exchanged more moves. Hayes took control with a forearm to Gargano and a clothesline on Dunne. They did a spot where Dunne took down both guys by the legs and Dunne applied a double half crab submission, but then Williams pulled Hayes out of that. Gargano and Dunne went for moves against, so Hayes did a springboard cross body block on both guys. Gargano used a knee to the head to get out of a suplex and then Johnny did a bulldog/clothesline combo on both guys. Gargano with a leaping attack on Dunne. Both guys were out on the floor, so Johnny hit a suicide dive on Dunne first and then on Hayes on the other side of the ring. Gargano with a hurricanrana on Dunne on the floor. Gargano was fired up in the ring as the show went to a picture in picture break.


The show returned with all three guys down and out on the mat. The three guys were on their knees exchanging strikes. Gargano and Dunne each with forearms to Hayes. Dunne with a kick to Gargano and then an armbar. Gargano got back into it with slingshot Spear on Hayes. Dunne with a lift, but Gargano hit a DDT and covered again for a two count. Gargano with clotheslines, Hayes with a clothesline on Dunne and Johnny/Pete each kicked Hayes at the same time. Hayes got back into by hitting a Cutter on Dunne onto Gargano. Dunne with a boot to the face followed by double knees to the arms. Gargano with a Reverse Rana on Dunne, then Hayes charged and Johnny did a clothesline. Gargano launched Hayes to the apron for an attack. Gargano with a kick to Dunne, who avoided a Spear off the apron and Dunne hit the Bitter End on Gargano for two, but Tony D’Angelo showed up, pulled Dunne off and D’Angelo whipped Dunne into the steel steps. No DQ in triple threat matches. Hayes went up top and hit a huge leg drop to the back of the head of Gargano for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Carmelo Hayes

Analysis: ***1/2 This was a great match with the champ retaining in a cheap manner. Since there are no DQ’s in a triple threat match, what D’Angelo did to Dunne was legal within the rules of the match. They had a lot of cool spots in the math with all three guys having different chances to win, so it was really up in the air the whole way although I figured Hayes winning was the obvious choice. Gargano is so great, Dunne keeps up with him really well and Hayes is the younger/newer/fresher guy that continues to impress me every time he has a big match.

After the match, Tony D’Angelo was hanging around ringside with Trick Williams looking like they made a deal or something. That led to Knight and Waller brawling out to the ringside area. The ring was full of wrestlers. Hayes was about to stomp on a chair on Gargano’s left arm, but that’s when Tommaso Ciampa made the save.

Ciampa had a chair, so he hit a few guys with the chair. Hayes faced off with Ciampa, but then Hayes bailed to the floor. The newer guys were outside the ring while the veterans were in the ring.

Bron Breakker walked out with a microphone in hand. Breakker yelled: “War Games!” The sirens went off in the building and the guys started brawling in the corners. Joseph tried to get over the idea by saying “It’s the New School vs. The Old School” as a way for them to get fans to buy into this. The wrestlers kept brawling and that was the end of the show.

Analysis: I thought it was well done. Chaotic? Sure, but that’s fine and that’s the right way to set up a WarGames match. It’s not necessarily young vs. old because Dunne is closer in age to the other team, so it’s more about NXT tenure with the veteran team of Gargano, Ciampa, Dunne & Knight against the newer NXT guys that we’ve only known for a few months – Breakker, Waller, Hayes & D’Angelo. The heel/face side of things doesn’t matter that much here either, which is a shame, but I think the fans are still going to care about the match.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Carmelo Hayes
  2. Johnny Gargano/Pete Dunne
  3. Tommaso Ciampa/Grayson Waller


The Scoreboard

This week: 6.75 out of 10

Last week: 6

2021 Average: 7.12


Final Thoughts

A better effort this week due to the great match to start the show and the even better match in the main event. Some segments were goofy while matches were kept short, but that’s how it goes in NXT where it’s all about developing newer talent.

I like how the WarGames card is taking shape. It might not be full of classic matches like NXT Takeover events used to have, but I think it should be pretty good anyway.

NXT WarGames takes place on Sunday, December 5th. Here’s what we know so far.

* Men’s WarGames Match: Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne & LA Knight vs. Carmelo Hayes, Tony D’Angelo, Bron Breakker & Grayson Waller.

* Women’s WarGames Match: Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jayne & Dakota Kai vs. Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, Cora Jade & Kay Lee Ray

* Hair vs. Hair Match: Cameron Grimes vs. Duke Hudson

* NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Roderick Strong vs. Joe Gacy

* NXT Tag Team Championships: Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) (c) vs. Winners of Legado Del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza) and Kyle O’Reilly/Von Wagner


Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport