The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT 2.0 – 10.12.21
The show was delayed in Canada due to yucky sportsball tonight, but Sportsnet put the replay up on the website immediately afterwards, which is pretty cool of them. Also the Sportsnet video player and interface is WAY better than the WWE Network. Too bad it’s still NXT they’re replaying and not something good.
Live from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Vic, Wade and Beth.
Meanwhile, Legado Del Fantasma attacks Hit Row in the parking lot and kidnaps everyone but Swerve, throwing them in the back of the truck and driving off. The cameraman is like “cool bro I’m just gonna keep shooting this kidnapping and pretend it’s fine.”
Joe Gacy joins us in the ring to start the show proper, after the kidnapping, and he’s still talking about safe spaces. The space wasn’t so safe for Hit Row. They got KIDNAPPED and thrown into the back of a car! Isn’t anyone gonna call the authorities or act concerned for them? Just me? OK.
Non-title contendership thing: Tommaso Ciampa v. Joe Gacy
Ciampa takes him down and works the arm to start as Gacy fights for a chance to earn a championship opportunity, and Joe comes back with a backbreaker and stomps away in the corner. Also there’s a creepy bald guy in the crowd watching and Vic reveals that his name is Harland or something. Well that’s better backstory than 90% of these dweebs have been getting. Ciampa takes Gacy to the floor and beats on him out there for a bit, running him into the desk. Back in, Gacy misses a dropkick and Ciampa beats him down while Vic and Wade have to say with a straight face “Championship opportunities don’t just pop up!” after we saw Unfrozen Caveman Beverly making his IN RING DEBUT in an NXT title match a few weeks ago. Gacy gets a powerslam for two and Ciampa bails to the apron, and Gacy hits a senton out there as we take a break. Back with Ciampa making the comeback and hitting corner clotheslines and a flying clothesline on Gacy. Gacy escapes the Air Raid Crash and they slug it out, but Gacy powerbombs him for two. He goes up and misses a moonsault, but gets a rollup for two. Gacy tries his stupid handspring, but Ciampa dropkicks him in the face to block and finishes with the Fairytale ending at 11:35. Sadly, Gacy will receive no championship opportunities based on this. But at least the match was pretty good by recent standards of the show. *** And then the bald guy attacks Ciampa for no particular reason and lays him out, and Gacy calls him off.
Toxic Attraction joins us for their weekly scheduled posing and they pose at the entrance and pose and pose and then come to the ring and pose for the hard cam and then it’s time for another promo from them. They don’t care about the rules! They do what they want when they want! As long it’s done in alignment with the hard camera and they’re hitting their time cues. Anyway, Mandy is challenging Raquel for the title at Halloween Havoc. And before they even finish posing, Xyon Quinn interrupts for his match. How rude.
BUT FIRST! Someone is burying stuff in a graveyard.
Xyon Quinn v. Malik Blade
Blade still doesn’t have a wacky side career to fall back on, so he’s dead meat. Quinn runs him into the corner for two and goes to a chinlock while Vic hypes up Drew Gulak live tweeting his thoughts on NXT during the show. Frankly I wouldn’t be checking my phone these days if I was him. Never know when you’re gonna get a text you don’t want from Nick Khan. Blade gets a couple of moves but walks into a spinebuster and Quinn finishes with a superman punch at 2:50.
Meanwhile, Ciampa is ready to defend his title against Bron in two weeks, but the Grizzled Young Vets interrupt for no particular reason other than everyone apparently needing to have 17 feuds going on at all times, but Bron chases them off. Oh man I wonder if they’re be able to get along in a tag team match before they fight each other for the title? What if they can’t? It’ll make want to see the title match even more! How come no one’s ever tried this amazing booking strategy before now?
Ivy Nile v. Valentina Feroz
So they keep doing this weird formatting of the segments where they have the featured person make their entrance (in this case Nile) and then take a four minute commercial break, and then come back from the break and go to a completely unrelated interview segment in the back or vignette, and then finally come back to the ring for the start of the match after making both wrestlers stand in the ring for about 10 minutes total and then do a 2 minute match. How am I as a fan supposed to be engaged with anything presented on this Excedrin headache of a show? They trade takedowns to start but Nile catches Feroz on a bodypress attempt and powers her up into a slam. She whips Feroz into the corner for an UGLY bump and then continues beating Feroz down as this match gets worse and worse, and finally she puts Feroz in a torture rack and taps her out at 2:40. This was too long even at 2 minutes. ½*
The Diamond Mine moves right into a promo in the ring, but Ikemen Jiro interrupts Roderick Strong and then hits a Creed as we take a break.
Ikemen Jiro v. Julius Creed
Creed throws Jiro around the ring and powerslams him, and then follows with a gut wrench suplex. Jiro fights back with forearms and does a headstand in the corner and turns that into a splash for two. Creed bails to the floor and Jiro hits him with a quebrada to the floor. But back in the ring, Creed slams him and finishes with a low clothesline at 3:25. Jiro is such a geek. ** The Diamond Mine beats Jiro down, but Kushida makes the save and he also gets beat down as WWE’s stellar job of building up babyfaces continues on NXT 2.0.
Meanwhile, Raquel challenges Mandy Rose to a Spin the Wheel match for their feud that only started a week ago.
Meanwhile, Lash Legend does terrible scripted banter about the draft and she’s apparently feuding with Tony D’Angelo?
Kool Kyle & Von Wagner v. Pete Dunne & Ridge Holland
Oh hey, there we go again as one side does their entrance, and we take a break, do the Lash Legend bit, and then return to start the match. Also the storyline here is ALSO “Can the two babyfaces trust each other?” Wagner’s had, what, two matches? Why do I give a shit if he and Kyle can trust each other? They’re doing the EXACT SAME STORYLINE with Ciampa and Breakker earlier in the show! Dunne tries to work on Wagner’s arm and Kyle comes in to save, but Ridge throws him around and Dunne goes after Kyle’s leg to take over. Holland gets two off a forearm and works the arm for a bit, and then Dunne switches back in and works the leg again. Kool Kyle makes his own comeback while Wade rightly points out that Wagner is completely useless and has literally done nothing for the entire match. Kyle and Dunne trade forearms and Wagner finally tags in and makes a comeback on Holland with various punches before clotheslining him to the floor. And we take a break as they fight out there and Vic tries to make “Big Von Country” a thing. Back with Holland now working on Kool Kyle and hitting a spinebuster into a low dropkick from Dunne that gets two. Wagner breaks it up but gets sent out of the ring like a doofus and Kyle has to make his own comeback. AGAIN. So Holland beats him down and tosses him and Wagner comes crashing in like a bull in a china shop to make the save. Back in the ring, Kyle makes the tag to Wagner, who makes an oafish comeback and yells a lot. You know, he could always grow his hair out and do a decent Van Hammer impression. Wagner finishes Holland with a double arm slam thing at 13:15. I have no idea what they see in Wagner that he has to be on TV RIGHT NOW, but aside from the fact that he’s tall I’m not seeing anything here. Match was fine and just kind of meandered along. **1/4
Meanwhile, Andre Chase harasses another class of students. How many people are they paying to be extras on these stupid segments?
Meanwhile, Tony D’Angelo bitches about getting left off the Lash Legend show and then reveals that the producer is now locked in his trunk. Well that makes two kidnappings on the same show. Who’s agenting these kidnappings? Also why is this guy feuding with a TALK SHOW HOST?
Grayson Waller v. Duke Hudson
Since Waller’s career as a thrill seeker apparently didn’t stick last time, he’s now fully into a boxer gimmick instead. Waller tries to take Hudson down and Duke blocks, so Waller takes him down with an armbar while the announcers make lame poker metaphors because Hudson plays poker as his one character trait that they’ve bothered to explore. Hudson whips him into the corner and goes to a bearhug on the mat. Waller necks him on the top rope and into the stunner, and that gets two. Waller tries a springboard, but Duke takes him down and pins him with a handful of boxing shorts at 2:40. Well maybe Waller can try a new gimmick and win a match at some point. *
Meanwhile, Imperium are displeased with the current NXT tag team champions and voice their disgust in GERMAN, the language of being disgusted with people.
Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta v. Sarray & Amari Miller
Sarray gets double-teamed in the corner while Beth talks about how fans on social media want the Queen of the Ring matches to get more time, which is a weird thing to be lampshading in kayfabe. I mean, if it’s supposed to be a legitimate competition, how are you supposed to control the length of the matches? Pirotta does various slams on Miller and it’s pretty bad, and Indi comes off the top with a flying elbow to finish at 2:25. Also thumbs up for the staggeringly tone deaf irony of Beth standing up for longer women’s matches and these geeks get two minutes while she’s putting the division over. ½*
Io Shirai and Zoey Stark interrupt the post-match promo and much like the first two babyface teams on this show, they also are unsure if they can trust each other. But then Toxic Attraction interrupts the interruption and tries to attack, which allows Zoey and Io to clear the ring. This ends up setting up a three-way tag title match for Halloween Havoc even though Indi and her friend have done nothing to earn a title match besides winning one squash. But, you know, championship opportunities are few and far between in NXT according to the announcers!
Meanwhile, Grayson Waller hits on a girl backstage, and Cameron Grimes is amazed that Grayson just lost 20 minutes ago and still got the girl. So Waller teaches him about dating apps.
NXT North American title: Isaiah Swerve Scott v. Santos Escobar
So after four months as champion without ever defending the title, Swerve finally wrestles a match on his way out of the brand. Swerve runs him into the stairs before the bell and then hits him with a dive on the other side of the ring. Back in, Swerve pulls off a turnbuckle and slams Santos for two. Swerve goes to the apron for another highspot and Escobar SWEEPS THE LEG and hollows with his own dive as we take a break. Back with Escobar holding a surfboard while the announcers discuss the excitement of the North American title potentially moving to Smackdown with Swerve should he win. That would never happen because you KNOW that RAW would have to immediately get a revived European title to balance it out and they haven’t filed any trademarks on it yet. Swerve comes back with a diving elbow to the back, but the rolling flatliner is countered by Escobar for two. Escobar gets a running knee in the corner and they go up for a top rope rana from Escobar and follows with a frog splash for two. Swerve comes back with a 450 for two as we get shocked two count face, but Legado runs interference, and Carmelo Hayes and Trick make the save and chase them off for some reason. And Swerve hits his JML driver to finish and retain the title at 11:00. Hey, finally a legit great match on this show! ***1/2 And then Vic is like “OMG he’s headed to Smackdown with the title!” But then of course Carmelo turns on him in a shocking SWERVE (see what I did there?) despite already being a heel and having no pre-existing relationship with Hit Row or interaction with them at any point I can remember, and then cashes in his contract, which apparently works the same as Money in the Bank because THAT’S what we needed in NXT.
North American title: Swerve Scott v. Carmelo Hayes
Carmelo hits a springboard clothesline for two and then follows with a pump kick, before going up and finishing with a guillotine legdrop at 1:00 to win the title. Here’s the thing, though: Hayes had that contract for weeks, but at no point was it ever established that it was a magic contract that he could cash it in whenever and wherever he wanted like Money in the Bank is. They just said he could challenge for any title he wanted, and then suddenly did a Vince Russo “We forgot to mention the fine print” plot twist here for a cheap pop. That’s really disingenuous storytelling and doesn’t help anyone. Like, it’s not a clever booking twist when you haven’t established what the rules are in the first place. It would have been a much bigger deal if they had just booked Hayes to use his contract for a main event title match here and then put him over strong instead of their stupid “GOTCHA!” stuff from the main roster. It just again raises the question of what the point of the show is supposed to be – making new stars from scratch or trying to pop a rating with the same old tricks that don’t work anymore? Neither one is working yet, so just pick a lane already.
Anyway, 90% of the show was the usual seizure-inducing garbage, but the main event was great and then the Money In the Developmental Bank twist made me hate the show all over again. So par for the course I guess.