NXT recap & reactions (Jan. 17, 2023): Be wary of toxic relationships

It’s always weird covering a show under the cloud of something awful in the wrestling world. Condolences to Jay Briscoe’s family and everyone affected by his death. WWE did the very classy thing acknowledging his death during the show. I can’t imagine how hard it was for those in the building who knew Jay or shared a locker room with him at one point in their careers.

Weird transition but hey, I’m feeling this out just like you are right now so bear with me. Claire’s blog is still dope and the jelly to my organic peanut butter. Read that then come back here for context.


Chemical Waste

Toxic Attraction cut a promo this week that didn’t do much for me. The words were there but the delivery didn’t connect. They’re still finding their voice without Mandy Rose, at least on the microphone. But let’s get to what they said not how they said it: There’s no animosity between them and it was all part of the plan to tie in the Women’s rumble last week. The Toxic Attraction revenge tour is full steam ahead and headed for Roxanne Perez in Charlotte, NC.

Well, Lyra Valkyria had thoughts.

Lyra admonished both women for not being woman enough to handle Roxanne on their own and if it weren’t for Cora Jade, the title match at NXT Vengeance would look a lot different. Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolin didn’t like that one bit, so the beatdown ensued. Roxanne ran in for the save and we got the setup for our main event: Lyra & Roxanne vs. Toxic Attraction.

Roxanne & Lyra started a little slow because, well, this is their first tag match together. To say nothing of the fact their opponents are former tag team champions. But they eventually found their groove, which feeds into the story that Gigi and Jacy aren’t as tight as they want us to think.

The turning point came when Ms. Jade showed up and pushed Lyra off the top rope behind the ref’s back. An incensed Lyra attacked Cora and the two brawled in the locker room, leaving Roxanne all alone with former tag champs. Also good storytelling because Cora clearly wants beef with Lyra, so sticking it to her and her former best friend at the same time makes all the sense in the world. Plus, it’s not like Lyra doesn’t want Roxanne’s title, so she feels no true loyalty to her. Their partnership was merely one of convenience.

But oh, Toxic Attraction, how you fail at being on the same page. Jacy & Gigi had Roxanne right where they wanted her but miscommunication caused Jacy to Russian Leg Sweep Gigi and not the champ. Roxanne capitalized with a Pop Rox on Gigi, and skated out of the building with the W and her title in hand. Toxic Attraction argued in the ring, clearly coming a part at the seams.

I liked the storytelling here a lot in this match. We got intersecting stories, sowed some seeds for the upcoming title match, while showing more cracks in Toxic Attraction’s foundation. It’s standard fare for a triple threat match where two of the wrestlers are part of a team, but I like the execution. Gigi and Jacy’s issues resonate more within the larger context of Mandy’s exit and Roxanne’s reign. I do wonder if Roxanne comes at Lyra for ditching her, but that also doesn’t seem within character. That said, if/when they get to that feud, there’s already something there for which the champ can chew.

Solid main event that really got me invested in the characters and their drama. Amazing how wrestling works when you keep it simple.


Extracurriculars

Violence

That headline is all you need for a Gallus match. Their return match in NXT against Briggs & Jensen was very on point. I love tag matches that fit the personas and styles of the combatants. Briggs & Jensen love a good bar fight almost as much as the Gallus boys, so why not let them get physical? Early in the match, Gallus removed the mat from part of the entrance, revealing the concrete floor. That came into play later and definitely affected the match’s outcome.

Gallus worked on Brooks’ lower back throughout the match. Brooks tried lifting Coffey but that back just couldn’t take it. So, when Brooks found himself outside the ring, it was no surprise when Gallus hit him with a back body drop on the concrete.

This left Josh all by himself, and it was academic at that point. Kiana James rushed to check on Brooks, which of course rubbed Fallon Henley the wrong way.

While sitting in the “medical area,” Fallon rushed in with questions and accusations. She believes Kiana is up to no good and only using Briggs to which Briggs made the great point: Using him for what? She has her bar, so what exactly is Kiana trying to get from him?

Later on, Fallon showed some legitimate growth! She asked for a tag match next week with Kiana James as her partner. The rubber will hit the road and we’ll truly find out if Kiana’s feelings are true or if Fallon’s first instincts were correct.

They missed

Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams shot and missed. That’s the headline coming out of their tag team match against Axiom & Apollo Crews. The four went about 15 minutes, with Trick and Axiom starting since both men wanted to rip each other apart.

Axiom sliding out of Trick’s wrist lock with that much quickness is really cool. It’s subtle but a great illustration of his agility in contrast with the power Trick showed soon after. We don’t get a lot of Trick in the ring but this is his best showing so far. Melo did most of the heavy lifting later on but Trick held his own in the early moments and looked like a powerhouse against the smaller Axiom. Trick often functions as comic relief but giving him more moments like him shoulder tackling Axiom anytime Axiom tried attacking him goes a long way in adding another layer to his persona.

Apollo picked up the W by catching Melo off guard. Melo went to the top to hit Nothing but Net, but Apollo blocked it and turned it into a pinning combination. In essence, it looks like they stole the win but it’s just Crews exerting that veteran intelligence over someone who still has a lot to learn. Good match that sets the stage for more down the line, while giving Trick some work.

The Coat of Arms?

Look, I have no idea what my family’s coat of arms looks like. In fact, I doubt my family has a coat of arms, so maybe I have no room to say what I’m about to say: Tony D’Angelo’s coat of arms looks tacky as all hell. It’s like the Eagle Fang Karate logo only less cool.

Tony presented a leather jacket to Stacks, his newly minted underboss. And on the back of said jacket was the family’s coat of arms. I’d keep the promotion but burn the jacket because whew. Anyway, the main takeaway here is Stacks is no longer a goon; he’s an underboss in the family, which follows up on the finish between Tony D and Dijak last week. Tony loves Stacks and sees him as family and an equal.

Fyre Fighter

Alba Fyre dominated this match. Like she was completely on top of Sol Ruca. She displayed a newfound aggression clearly brought about from her ongoing feud with Isla Dawn. Well, right on cue, Isla appeared in the sky high position in the Performance Center. Alba lost focus and paid the price when Sol caught her in a beautiful Sol Snatcher.

This was a great way to capitalize on Sol’s performance in last week’s rumble, continue this story between Alba and Isla, and put over Sol’s finishing move in a big way against her biggest opponent to date.

As for Alba, she took out her frustration on a referee only for Katana Chance and Kayden Carter to stop her from making a huge mistake. Rather than thank the tag champs, Alba challenged them to a tag team championship match next week. And, AND, she says she doesn’t need a partner. Alba is tired of losing, and I like this for her. I’m pretty sure Isla Dawn ends up being her partner next week though, even if it’s reluctantly. Right? I mean that’s where we’re going or am I wrong?

Not Your Locker

Indi Hartwell took issue with Tiffany Stratton’s comments last week. So much so that she kicked Stratton out of her own dressing room. Apparently, Indi speaks for all the women in NXT, but she’s the first one who gets a crack at Stratton next week.

Ivy is So Over This…

Ivy Nile is done with whatever macho BS identity crisis the Creed Bros. are going through. She told them to grow a set and get back to what they do best rather than engaging in petty nonsense with Jinder Mahal. Both brothers agreed, so we’ll see how this plays out.

More from Stevie…

Stevie Turner retuned this week, breaking down the Women’s rumble and Stratton’s return. She noted that Elektra Lopez helped Valentina Feroz during the rumble and asked why. It’s every woman for herself after all, so what gives? Well…

Cheaters Never Prosper

Thea Hail got her first W in NXT! She defeated Valentina Feroz after Valentina refused to use the brass knuckles Elektra Lopez handed her. It was a quick match with a little intrigue: Why is Elektra taking an interest in Valentina? And what’s happening with Chase U? Before the match, Andre Chase showed some footage, courtesy of NXT Anonymous, that didn’t put Duke Hudson in the best light. Anonymous caught Hudson talking to another Chase U student about everything he believes Andre Chase does wrong. Chase backpedaled quicker than a cornerback in man coverage, but Chase wasn’t completely convinced. When will the implosion happen? Sometime soon I suppose because this underlying tension has brewed for long enough.

Elektra visited Valentina in the locker room and tried to talk some sense into her. I like this for both of them because it gives them something to do while providing Feroz some needed character.

New Day Violence

New Day came to the ring dressed in their Sunday best. They celebrated being completely done with Pretty Deadly and moving on to Gallus. Pretty Deadly said “nah” to all of that. They believe they’re the rightful #1 contenders. Of course, logic says nah because they failed that test last week. Gallus hit the ring, got on the mic, and Xavier said no one understood a word they said but clearly they want to fight and New Day is ready to fight.

Pretty Deadly for some reason, thought jumping these four men was a good idea. That didn’t go so well for them and the segment finished with a nice brawl.

New Day vs. Gallus intrigues me because the styles are so different. Truthfully, I don’t want Pretty Deadly involved because I believe Gallus vs. New Day straight up is the more interesting match. But, hey, we’re getting a triple threat at Vengeance.

Big Strong Boy vs. Big Body Javi

Part of me feels like going from Bron Breaker and JD McDonagh to Javier Bernal is a step down for Tyler Bate. Another part of me knows Big Body is entertaining as hell. But I’m also not sure the crowd hates him. I think most of them are just as entertained as I am, which means seeing Tyler beat up on him in his first match back isn’t that fulfilling. That doesn’t mean they did anything wrong! They put on a fine match without much time to truly get busy, but seeing Javi get beat up just isn’t doing it for me anymore. Even if his music is still awful.


This was a show with so much going on. But they actually found a really good rhythm and pacing throughout most of it, and told some interesting stories. We got solid wrestling with a fantastic tag match in the middle, and a lot of set up for NXT Vengeance. I didn’t even mention the sit-down interviews with Bron and Grayson Waller! That’s how packed these two hours truly were. That said, the interviews just teed up the upcoming steel cage match, and the fact that Grayson might have Bron’s number and be champion if not for the faulty rope. Solid storytelling again.

Grade: B+

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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