This week’s WWE NXT featured Eddy Thorpe facing Dijak in an NXT Underground match, plus Bron Breakker in action, the semifinals of the Men’s Breakout Tournament and more on the final NXT episode of 2023.
It’s the last NXT episode of 2023. This episode was taped two weeks ago. They are back to doing a live show next week for New Year’s Evil. I’ll do this summary style and play-by-play for one or two matches.
The commentary team was Vic Joseph and Booker T as usual.
Chase University – Andre Chase & Duke Hudson vs. Out The Mud – Lucien Price & Bronco Nima (w/Scrypts)
If Chase U wins then somehow their debts are paid. If OTM wins then they get a NXT Tag Team Title match. The NXT Tag Team Champions Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo were watching the match.
Chase hit a couple of dropkicks on Price. Chase and Duke made some quick tags as they worked over Price in their half of the ring. After a side kick by Price, Nima worked over Chase with elbow smashes. Price and Nima worked over Chase for a couple of minutes including a running clothesline by Price. Duke got the hot tag and he was on fire with a running boot along with some combo punches. Duke slammed Price onto Nima. Chase tagged back in, said “he’s got this” and Price avoided a cross body block. Nima and Price hit a double team spinebuster on Chase for the pinfall win after six minutes. Duke was knocked off the apron to prevent a save.
Winners by pinfall: Out The Mud – Lucien Price & Bronco Nima
Analysis: **1/2 The losing ways of Chase U continue while OTM will get a NXT Tag Team Title match with that victory. Chase tagging himself in was a big mistake because Duke was on fire.
NXT Year End Awards – Tag Team of the Year: The Creed Brothers
NXT Year End Awards – Female Superstar of the Year: Tiffany Stratton
NXT Year End Awards – Male Superstar of the Year: Ilja Dragunov
Analysis: That was voted on by the fans. The Creeds were not in the title picture for a lot of the year, but they are very good. Tiffany and Ilja are both logical choices.
Noam Dar and Meta-Four entered for Dar’s match.
Trick Williams was shown backstage with Carmelo Hayes talking about what happened to Ilja Dragunov last week. Trick said he thought about pushing the match back and wanted to face Dragunov at 100%. Melo said take the shot when you get it. Melo said it’s important that Trick takes his shot.
Eddy Thorpe was shown arriving earlier in the day.
NXT Heritage Cup Match: Noam Dar (w/Oro Mensah, Lash Legend & Jakara Jackson) vs. Josh Briggs
Round 1: There wasn’t much going on here. Briggs used his power early, Dar got a bit of offense and Briggs hit a sidewalk slam. Briggs kept going for power moves and Dar avoided being pinned.
Round 2: Briggs hit a Bossman Slam for a two count. Briggs used one arm to counter a Dar submission and Briggs sent Dar into the turnbuckle. Briggs hit a Clothesline From Hell for the pinfall. Josh Briggs leads 1-0. Heritage Cup matches are 2/3 falls.
Round 3: There were 30 seconds left in round three when the show returned. Dar hit Briggs with a DDT on the apron. Briggs was bleeding from the nose. Dar hit a jumping kick to the face to knock Briggs down on the floor.
Round 4: Dar continued the attack with a running kick to the face. Briggs came back with a boot to the face along with a Chokeslam for two. Dar jumped off the top with a double foot stomp on the knee and Dar followed with a kneebar submission. After Briggs knocked Dar down, Lash Legend hit Briggs in the back with the bucket (the referee didn’t see it) and Dar covered for two. Briggs fought over the bucket with Dar and Briggs hit Dar in the back with the bucket (the referee saw it) for the DQ finish. The ended the match with 0:15 in the fourth round. The bucket usage is a DQ, so Dar wins by DQ.
Per the rules, the disqualification ends the match. It is not a fall in the Heritage Cup. It is the end of the match.
Winner by disqualification: Noam Dar
Analysis: **3/4 They were on their way to having a pretty good match and then it had an abrupt ending with the DQ finish. I don’t recall seeing a DQ finish in a Heritage Cup match or maybe I just forget it. Anyway, since Briggs got one fall in the match, that gives him a reason to complain a bit and maybe Briggs will get another title shot against Dar.
There was a backstage scene with Noam Dar talking to Nathan Frazer, who said he was glad that Bron Breakker didn’t win Superstar of the Year. Bron Breakker walked up behind them. Bron advised Frazer to slow down. Bron told Frazer that he’s the badass of WWE and Bron doesn’t need to win a popularity contest. Frazer asked for a match and Bron said careful what you wished for. Frazer said that Axiom could have warned him while Axiom said he was winking, which is funny since Axiom is masked.
Cora Jade entered for singles action.
Karmen Petrovic vs. Cora Jade
Jade hit a running splash on Petrovic followed by a running back elbow to Petrovic’s neck while Petrovic was against the ropes. Petrovic avoided a move leading to a spin kick and two forearms. Petrovic hit a spinning kick to the back for two. Jade sent Petrovic into the middle turnbuckle and Cora hit her Jaded double arm DDT for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cora Jade
Analysis: ** A decisive win by Jade over a newer wrestler like Petrovic. Cora Jade is back and picking up wins regularly to build her up as a future title challenger.
After the match, Cora Jade wanted to attack Petrovic again, but Gigi Dolin made the save. Jade left. That should set up a Jade-Dolin match.
Dijak was shown arriving earlier in the day.
Lexis King entered for singles action.
Men’s NXT Breakout Tournament Semifinals: Lexis King vs. Riley Osborne
Riley represents Chase U. King knocked down Osborne and Trey Bearhill showed up to watch the match. Bearhill was taken out of the tournament by King. Thea Hail and Jacy Jayne were in the Chase U student section since Hail has a crush on Riley. King had Osborne trapped in a half crab, but Osborne got out of it and Osborne hit a twisting splash. King hit a backbreaker and a backstabber for two. King set up Osborne on the turnbuckle, King teased a move, so Bearhill distracted King a pit. Osborne knocked King down and Osborne hit a Shooting Star Press on King for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Riley Osborne
Analysis: ** It made sense for Trey Bearhill to cost Pillman the match since Pillman took his spot in the tournament. It was just an average match. Obsorne’s SSP looks amazing.
After the match, Trey Bearhill punched King and did the dreaded back rake twice. King left the ring after being sent into the ropes.
NXT Match Of The Year: Ilja Dragunov vs. Carmelo Hayes. That’s my pick too.
NXT Moment Of The Year: The Undertaker arrives on October 10th.
Ava was asked if there was any news on Ilja Dragunov. Ava said we’ll find out later if Dragunov’s NXT Title match is still on for next week.
Nathan Frazer vs. Bron Breakker
I’ll go play by play here. The fans chanted “Bron is going to kill you’ at Frazer to start the match. Frazer grabbed a headlock, so Bron tossed him across the ring. Frazer ran the ropes a few times, which led to Bron knocking him down with a shoulder tackle. Baron Corbin was shown backstage watching the match. When Frazer applied a headlock, Bron launched him into the turnbuckle. Bron sent Frazer hard into the turnbuckle. Bron worked over Frazer with shoulder tackles to the ribs along with a punch. Frazer avoided a charging Bron and Frazer hit a running dropkick to knock Bron out of the ring.
Bron did a double leg takedown followed by punches. Bron hit a gutbuster with two knees to the ribs for two. Bron launched Frazer across the ring. Bron hit a huge German Suplex with Frazer taking a moonsault bump to sell it on his ribs. Frazer came back with a jumping kick to the jaw. Bron charged, but Frazer sent Bron out of the ring. Frazer hit a suicide dive onto Bron on the floor. Frazer hit a running dropkick to send Bron back-first into the steel steps. They went back into the ring, Bron caught Frazer and Bron hit a front powerslam for a two count. Brock charged leading to Frazer hitting a superkick for two. Frazer went for a Phoenix Splash off the top, Bron avoided it and Bron was back up with a running Spear for the pinfall win. It went 12 minutes. Corbin seemed impressed from watching the match.
Winner by pinfall: Bron Breakker
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match that was competitive rather than a squash. That Spear from Bron looks amazing while Frazer is an incredible athlete, so of course Frazer sold it well. Bron worked over the ribs throughout the match. I thought it might be a shorter match that was a more decisive win for Bron, but Frazer put up a fight and it turned into a very entertaining matchup. I thought Bron would be on the main roster by now. It hasn’t happened yet, so maybe the Royal Rumble is when it happens.
Drew Gulak was backstage with his crew of four wrestlers known as the No Quarter Catch Crew. There were comments from all four guys in the group making comments. Drew challenged the LWO’s Dragon Lee, Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde to a 6-man tag team match at NXT New Year’s Evil next week.
Josh Briggs was backstage when Brooks Jensen & Fallon Henley showed up to talk with Briggs. Jensen reminded Briggs that he didn’t want their help. Jensen said two years ago Briggs helped him and they were a team, but he can see Briggs wants to be a singles wrestler. Jensen spoke about Henley’s rivalry with Tiffany Stratton, so Henley spoke about wanting to make Stratton get her hands dirty. They all looked at eachother and realized “this is over.” They all put their hands in together, they said they were family and they love eachother. Briggs left and Henley did too while Jensen had his fist raised in front of him.
Analysis: This trio was aligned for over two years. They never won any titles or anything like that, but they did have some decent feuds along the way. Now it appears the guys will be in singles while Henley will be on her own too. I hope it works out for all of them.
Arianna Grace went up to Ava backstage talking about how Roxanne Perez assaulted Grace in the women’s locker room last week. Ava said that Roxanne wanted a match against Grace at New Year’s Evil and Ava said that the match was official.
Face To Face: Lyra Valkyria and Blair Davenport
This was a sitdown interview with Sarah Schreiber conducting the interview. Lyra talked about how she earned this NXT Women’s Title while Blair attacks people in the parking lot. Blair said that she had to make people look in her direction and it worked. Lyra said that people don’t forget Blair’s cowardly actions. Blair talked about winning the Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge and she is Lyra’s only competition. Lyra said she welcomes competition. Lyra said that she knows Blair will do whatever it takes to win this. Lyra said she wants to be the best. Blair said she witnessed Lyra’s rise, but she will be the reason why Lyra falls. Lyra said we’ll see about that and they had a staredown.
Analysis: It was a decent promo exchange. I think Lyra will win and the person to beat her will probably be Cora Jade within a few months.
Men’s NXT Breakout Tournament Semifinals: Oba Femi vs. Tavion Heights
They were both impressive in their first matches. Femi had the power advantage that he used to hit a backbreaker onto the knee. Height tried coming back with punches, but Femi grabbed him and a toss into a slam. Femi hit a running uppercut on Heights. Heights got some offense with a slam off the shoulders and an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. After leaving the ring, Femi went back in and decked Heights with a clothesline. Femi hit a Popup Powerbomb for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Oba Femi
Analysis: **1/2 A decisive win by the bigger man Femi although Heights is a pretty big guy too. Femi’s power was why he managed to get the win. Heights has a lot of technical skills already. I think they have a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing how these guys improve in the coming months and years.
That means the NXT Breakout Tournament Finals will be Oba Femi against Riley Osborne at NXT New Year’s Evil. Osborne showed up at ringside and had a staredown with Femi.
Analysis: I am going with Femi to win. Obviously, it could go either way. The women’s tournament was more predictable with Lola Vice win.
Ilja Dragunov, the NXT Champion, was shown arriving and said he was looking for Trick Williams.
Joe Coffey of Gallus was in the ring for a match against Joe Gacy, who entered by coming in from the back part of the arena.
There was a recap of last week’s injury angle with Ilja Dragunov suffering a neck injury during a match with Ridge Holland. They showed a message from Holland saying he was sorry about what happened.
Joe Coffey (w/Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) vs. Joe Gacy
It’s a matchup of the Joe guys while Gacy has been acting weird. Gacy connected with a dropkick. Coffey sent Gacy out of the ring and followed with a suicide dive. Coffey continued the offense in the ring with a backbreaker and elbow drop. Gacy came back with a back body drop. Gacy hit a suicide dive on Coffey on the floor. Gacy hit a uranage slam. Hank & Tank arrived at ringside to fight with the Gallus boys, who were on the apron. That fight took the four of them backstage. Coffey hit a running forearm. Gacy avoided Coffey’s clothesline and Gacy bounced off the ropes with the Upside Down clothesline for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Joe Gacy
Analysis: **1/2 It was a much-needed win for Gacy, who has gone through a transition due to the Schism group dying a few months ago. Gacy can go in the ring for sure, so it’s just a matter of giving him some momentum and perhaps Gacy will be a babyface.
Dragon Lee, the NXT North American Champion, was backstage with Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde as Kelly Kincaid asked if they accepted the challenge that was issued earlier and Lee said yes. Elektra Lopez walked in to hug her former Legado buddies. They introduced the guys to Lola Vice, who said “hola” and that was it.
Eddy Thorpe and Dijak were shown getting ready for their match up next.
Next week on NXT New Year’s Evil has this lineup.
* NXT Women’s Championship: Lyra Valkyria vs. Blair Davenport
* Ranch Hand or Servant For A Day Match: Tiffany Stratton vs. Fallon Henley
* 6-Man Tag: Dragon Lee, Joaquin Wilde & Cruz Del Toro vs. 3 Members of the No Quarter Catch Crew (Drew Gulak, Charlie Dempsey, Damon Kemp & Myles Borne)
* Roxanne Perez vs. Arianna Grace
* NXT Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. Trick Williams
* Men’s Breakout Tournament Finals: Oba Femi vs. Riley Osborne. They didn’t show this with the other graphics, but it has been advertised for taking place next week.
Analysis: It’s a solid lineup with everything built up pretty well. I think Trick Williams may win the NXT Title, but I’m not sure about that. I think the NXT Women’s Title will stay with Valkyria.
NXT Underground Match: Eddy Thorpe vs. Dijak
It was an Underground Match meaning there were no ropes. There was a black carpet in the ring and wrestlers/trainees surrounded three of the four sides of the ring. The referee was dressed in all black with black gloves on rather than a classic striped referee shirt.
The rules are: No counts, no pinfalls and the only way to win is by knockout, TKO or submission.
Thorpe hit a German Suplex right away. Thorpe applied an armbar and Dijak managed to get out of it. Thorpe hit some kicks followed by a belly-to-back suplex. Dijak went for a Chokeslam, but Thorpe countered with a submission. Dijak managed to hit a sitout slam onto the mat. Dijak tossed Thorpe so that Thorpe’s hands hit the steel ring post and Thorpe went crashing onto a pile of wrestlers standing outside the ring.
The match returned with Dijak hitting a running dive onto Thorpe on the floor. Back in the ring, Thorpe delivered a couple of kicks followed by two German Suplexes in a row. Thorpe hit a brainbuster as the referee checked on Dijak, but Dijak didn’t quit. Thorpe tried a lift so Dijak fell backwards on top of him. Dijak hit a spinning boot to the face. Dijak hit a second spinning boot to the face. Thorpe hit a spin kick to the head. The fans were chanting “Eddy Thorpe” for the babyface in the match. They were by the edge of the ring apron where Thorpe went for the German Suplex, but Dijak landed on his feet on the floor. Dijak hit his Feast Your Eyes knee to the face (similar to a GTS). Dijak beat up some random trainees at ringside just because he’s a mean guy. Dijak charged at Thorpe, who hit a back body drop onto the edge of the ring apron. There were “NXT” chants. Dijak put a leather strap on his right hand and Thorpe blocked it when Dijak tried a punch. Thorpe hit the Manifest Destiny (an Impaler DDT). Thorpe used the white leather strap to hit Dijak in the back repeatedly. Thorpe applied a sleeper hold, but Dijak walked towards the ropes and Thorpe hit the steel ring post. Dijak teased a Powerbomb from inside the ring to the floor, but Thorpe countered with hurricanrana that sent Dijak bumping to the floor. Thorpe jumped onto Dijak with an elbow drop on the floor. Thorpe hit another Manifest Destiny DDT on the floor. The referee checked on Dijak, who yelled at the referee: “Don’t stop it.” Thorpe jumped on Dijak’s back with a sleeper, but Dijak rammed Thorpe into the barricade. Dijak got back up, Thorpe was on his back and Dijak climbed the steel steps that were beside the commentary table. Dijak was selling like he was fading, but then the referee checked the arm and the referee said that Dijak was still in it. Thorpe gave Dijak the Manifest Destiny DDT off the steel steps through the commentary table. The referee checked on Dijak, who was knocked out, so it was a knockout win for Thorpe. It went 16 minutes.
Winner: Eddy Thorpe
Analysis: ***1/2 I thought they did a great job. It was given a lot of time and they put on a match that was fun to watch. It’s a tougher match without the use of ropes, but they worked well together and had an entertaining match. The win by Thorpe likely means that he has won the feud and the rivalry is over for now, but perhaps Dijak will come for revenge.
Trick Williams was shown sitting at a table with the NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov. Trick said he needed to know if Dragunov was ready for the match. Trick signed the contract and said that if Dragunov needs more time, they can push the match back. Dragunov took off his neckbrace saying that nothing and no one could stop him. Dragunov signed the contract. Dragunov said that the match was on. Trick and Dragunov shook hands followed by a staredown. End show.
Analysis: It will be interesting to see what happens there. As I said earlier, I think Trick Williams could win, but there could also be a non-finish due to Dragunov selling the neck injury. There’s also the possibility that Carmelo Hayes turns on Trick Williams too. I’m not sure how it will go, so that makes me even more interested in the match.
Three Stars of the Show
- Bron Breakker
- Eddy Thorpe/Dijak
- Nathan Frazer
This week: 6.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
2023 Average: 7.08
Final Thoughts on WWE NXT
It was a decent episode with two longer matches and then a bunch of shorter matches. The Bron Breakker-Nathan Frazer match was a lot of fun. That Spear by Breakker is so impressive and he does the Spear as well as anybody I’ve ever seen. Eddy Thorpe and Dijak had a very entertaining NXT Underground match in the main event. It’s not easy with no ropes, but they told a good story and had a match that had a decisive ending.
I like the choice of Oba Femi and Riley Osborne in the NXT Breakout Tournament Finals next week. I think Femi should win, but it could go either way. Femi is an impressive athlete with a very bright future.
The card for NXT New Year’s Evil next week is pretty good with major title matches. I’m interested to see how they book the Ilja Dragunov-Trick Williams match because there are a lot of things that could play into the finish.
Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.