The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT 2.0 – 12.05.21
Live from Orlando, FL, and EXCLUSIVELY streaming on Peacock! And PPV. And the WWE Network. And Sportsnet 360 for free in Canada, which is where I’m watching it tonight.
But otherwise, EXCLUSIVELY on Peacock!
Your hosts are Wade Barrett, Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix, doing her last broadcast for NXT 2.0. I know, I’m broken up too.
I’m kind of impressed they managed to squeeze two rings and a cage into that garage of an arena, actually.
Women’s Wargames: Toxic Attraction & Dakota Kai v. Io Shirai, Raquel Gonzalez, Cora Jade & Kay Lee Ray
I’m so glad we have this match to settle whatever the issue between these teams is! So we start with Kay Lee Ray and Dakota Kai, with a bunch of kendo sticks involved. KLR beats on Kai to start and gets a dropkick and some chops in the corner, but Kai survives a tornado DDT and sends her into the cage. Dakota puts some sticks on the ropes between the rings but that doesn’t particularly go anywhere. So they move to the other ring and KLR fights her off and hits a senton into the other ring. So then Kay Lee tries setting up the sticks on the ropes again and she suplexes Kai onto them, which feels like a lot of work setting up a nothing spot. Cora Jade is next in at 5:00 and she brings the skateboard for a couple of shots on Kai before hitting a running knee on the ropes. The faces double-team Kai and that’s pretty boring, and we get a couple of double suplexes. But then Kai reverses a third one into a double DDT. Next up is Gigi Dolan at 8:30, who brings in a garbage can and bag of something. So she comes in and runs wild as the psychology is completely backwards here. Gigi gets suplexes on both faces and puts Cora down with kicks, and Team Toxic gets stereo running kicks in the corner. Jade puts the garbage can on Gigi and dropkicks it, and Kay Lee hits the Gory Bomb on Kai, onto the can, and everyone is out. And with the faces in control, Shirai is next in at 12:10 and she finds some chairs and more garbage cans to bring with her. But then the heels manage to gain the advantage while being 2-on-3. Cora gets an incredibly awkward rana on Kai between the rings, as neither girl has any space to take a bump, and this continues going nowhere. Jacy Jayne is next in at 15:32 and she brings a table with her. Jayne kicks a garbage can at Kay Lee and they try to do a version of the Young Bucks super-kiss spot on Io, but Jayne somehow manages to kick Gigi in the head, and Io makes a comeback and runs wild. This leaves Jayne alone in one ring and the faces put her on a table while apparently the other heels are trapped in the other ring and unable to save. And then Cora goes to the top of the cage and does a senton through the table, and she looks like she dislocated her damn shoulder doing that stupid move. I’m assuming it was a work because then they do a weird spot where Io waves off the doctors and yanks Cora’s arm to pop it back in, but the match completely ground to a halt while they were doing that whole deal. Raquel Gonzalez is the last one for the faces at 22:00 and she sprays everyone with a fire extinguisher and runs wild, sticking poor Kai into a garbage can and tossing it down. So then everyone climbs up the cage while Cora Jade sells the shoulder on the mat and everyone falls off, leading to Io moonsaulting Kai in a garbage can. So everyone is out and Raquel is just checking on Cora and Mandy Rose is the last one in with literally nothing happening in the match. So she wisely goes after Cora’s arm but Io makes the save and they all stand there in opposite rings and yell at each other. Then they decide to wrestle and do a few near falls, and then Toxic Attraction triple-teams Raquel and sends her into a chair for two. Cora makes the save but ends up 4-on-1 with the heels and Mandy grazes her with a knee and gets two. So Mandy does SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE and Cora does SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE and probably the referee does it too. And then the faces make a comeback and Cora pins Jayne at 31:32 to win. This was a complete trainwreck, with endless weapons taking the place of actual wrestling, and with people just randomly doing stuff with no point, and with backwards psychology, and blowing spots all over the place in between the long stretches where nothing was happening. Also, kudos for a storyline where one of the babyfaces INJURES HERSELF DOING AN OFFENSIVE MOVE and we’re supposed to be inspired by her comeback. ** because they were trying hard, at least. But really, what does the finish set up? The fluke jobber beats one of the tag team champs? So what?
Meanwhile, Team Black & Gold prep themselves for the main event.
NXT tag team titles: Imperium v. Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner
Kyle quickly tries for an armbar on Barthel but he reverses out and brings in Aichner for some chops in the corner. Wagner comes in with a back suplex on Aichner for two, but Kyle comes back in and gets double-teamed and suplexed out of the corner by Barthel. He puts Kyle down with a PK, but Wagner comes in and runs wild again with his Warrior-level offense while yelling and grunting, but Aichner catches him in a Regal roll to take over. But then Wagner escapes that and it’s back to Kyle again, who quickly gets clobbered in the Imperium corner and he’s face in peril. Aichner slugs away on the mat, but Kyle fights them off and makes yet another hot tag to Von Wagner, who runs wild AGAIN and dumps them with clotheslines. Back in, Wagner with an Angle Slam on Barthel for two. Wagner trips and falls into the corner and Imperium double-teams him, but Wagner just shakes them off and brings Kyle back in again. Kyle jumps in with a heel hook on Barthel, but Aichner moonsaults him to break it up. Kyle jumps into a guillotine on Aichner and rolls into a small package for two, but Barthel pushes them over for two. Kyle and Aichner hit each other with clotheslines and they both go down, and this sets up the FOURTH hot tag to Von Wagner. They hit the high-low on Barthel for two, but Aichner comes in and wipes out Captain Caveman with a dive. Kyle hits him with a brainbuster into the armbar and turns it into a triangle, but Aichner powers him up and they turn into the Imperial Bomb at 14:52 to retain. Once again I have no idea what Von Wagner is supposed to be adding to the match but Imperium looked AWESOME here and Kyle O’Reilly is Kyle O’Reilly. ***3/4 Like this would have been a ****+ match but I was groaning every time Von Wagner came in and no-sold everything. And then afterwards Von Wagner tries to turn on Kyle, but Kyle beats the shit out of him and flashes the UE sign. Not often you see someone no-selling a turn like that. Kudos to Von for being so useless that he can’t even turn on someone properly. Like I said on Tuesday, I presume that now Kyle puts over Von Wagner on the way out to AEW in January.
Hair v. Hair match: Cameron Grimes v. Duke Hudson
They slug it out and Grimes hits him with kicks in the corner, but Duke tosses him and Grimes lands on the stairs, which are positioned sideways because they can’t fit in the corner otherwise. Why not just have them in the middle of the ring instead? Anyway, although they say “That’s gonna leave a mark!” it’s literally true in this case as Grimes has an ugly welt on his back from that. Back in the ring, Hudson hits him with a slam out of the corner, but Grimes gets a moonsault press for two. They head to the floor and Hudson suplexes him out there. Back in for an abdominal stretch and Duke puts the boots to him in the corner, but Grimes gets a rollup for two. Hudson sends him into the corner and gets a backbreaker submission, but Grimes comes back with a headscissor takedown and his weird bodypress for two. Duke tries a slam and Grimes reverses him into a DDT for two. Grimes with a sunset flip for two and superkicks to set up the reverse rana and a flying bodypress for two. Grimes tries the Cave In but Duke catches him with the Bossman slam for two. “Not like this!” yells Vic. Not with a legal move? But then Grimes reverses Duke into the corner and rolls him up with a handful of tights for the pin at 10:30. Duke Hudson is quite the loser. Not much to the match but it was OK. **1/2 Sadly we don’t actually get the haircut, as Grimes gets a few swipes and then Duke runs away.
Cruiserweight title: Roderick Strong v. Joe Gacy
Gacy asks for a hug to start and Strong beats him down, but Gacy hits him with a clothesline to the back and stomps him down. At this point Wade has to say with a straight face that “NXT champions get invited to magazine covers and mainstream interviews”. Gacy gets his shirt torn off by Strong and they fight to the apron, but Gacy takes over with a backbreaker in the ring. Suplex gets two. Strong fights back with a knee in the corner and a superplex gets two. They slug it out and Strong gets a gutbuster into an Angle Slam for two. Strong with the Stronghold, but Gacy makes the ropes and tries for a crossface, and Strong makes the ropes and bails to escape. Gacy hits him with a dive and Harland goes after Ivy Nile, but Gacy calls him off and powerbombs Strong for two. Strong with a high knee and brainbuster to finish at 8:07. Well thank god for that, I couldn’t take Gacy as champion. Match was just a couple of fellas having a match. **1/2
Meanwhile, Kyle O’Reilly smelled that turn coming a mile away and now he wants Von Wagner in a cage match on Tuesday. Well that’s an abrupt blowoff. Well, you know, winter IS coming, I hear…
Men’s Wargames: Bron Breakker, Tony D’Angelo, Carmelo Hayes & Grayson Waller v. Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne & LA Knight
We start with Johnny Wrestling and Carmelo Hayes and they trade hammerlocks, but Johnny sends him into the cage and hits him with chops. They trade DDT attempts in the middle and Gargano spears him into the other ring. Hayes hits him with a springboard clothesline, but they fight on the top rope and trade shots to the cage until Johnny takes him down with a powerbomb. Grayson Waller is next in at 5:00 and invites Gargano to come at him, then catches him with a suplex. Waller gets a backbreaker, but Gargano takes him down for the head kick until Hayes makes the save and the heels double-team Johnny. They try a DIY superkick and miss, hitting each other, but Trick Williams throws in a chair and tries to climb in himself. Johnny fights him off but gets jumped by the heels again and beaten down. Pete Dunne is next at 8:30 and he runs wild, suplexing Waller onto Hayes and then wrapping Waller’s fingers in the cage for some SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION. The faces double-stomp the heels fingers and we get stereo crossfaces while they kick the other guy in the face, and that’s tremendous. Carmelo fights back with a headscissors on Dunne to fight him off and Waller follows with a rolling stunner. Tony D’Angelo is next in and Trick Williams throws in a million weapons just like the women’s match, but Dexter Lumis appears from under the ring and chases him off. So Tony chains the door shut and locks it while they beat Johnny down. What’s really annoying is that it’s all exactly the same stuff that the women had – kendo sticks, tables and garbage cans. Twice in the same show is needless overkill. LA Knight is next in at 15:00 and the cage is locked, so he just climbs the cage instead, super easy, barely an inconvenience. But he gets the comeback and cleans house on the heels as the psychology is very much going the proper direction this time. Dunne further tortures the fingers of Waller while the idiot refs are somehow unable to use the bolt cutters on the chain holding the door shut. It’s one of those adamantium chains I guess. Bron Breakker is next in at 18:43 and he decides to cut the chain open and takes about 18 tries to get that. Free hint for the bookers: Next time you have him RIP THE DOOR OFF. You’re welcome. Bron gets a bit of a run and Dunne hits him with chops until Bron suplexes him and tosses Gargano into the other faces. The heels do a beatdown and Ciampa is the last guy at 22:00. He runs wild and puts the heels in four corners before smashing them with knees and taking a seat on a garbage can to celebrate. Then DIY teams up again and runs wild with the greatest hits, but Bron slams them onto each other and the heels take over. But then the faces regroup in the center and set up a table, leading to Waller going up and Knight suplexing him through it. Next up, we get the Tower of Doom spot and Knight hits Hayes with his neckbreaker for two. Knight tries a draping DDT on Bron and that looked hella awkward, but D’Angelo saves and they set up a spike piledriver on Knight. Ciampa saves that and hits an Air Raid Crash on Brakker onto a can for two. D’Angelo hits his neckbreaker on Knight and they put Knight on a table so that Waller can go to the top of the cage with a flying elbow through the table, and D’Angelo gets two. See again, we already saw that in the women’s match. Dunne stomps on Carmelo’s fingers but D’Angelo finds a crowbar and chokes out Dunne with that. He steals Dunne’s mouthpiece for some reason and gets a neckbreaker off the top and everyone is out. This leaves Bron and Ciampa, as Bron hits Ciampa with a Freakenbreakker, but Gargano and Ciampa team up again with the DIY knee, but Hayes makes the save. He goes low on Gargano, and Bron spears Ciampa through a table and does his powerslam deal for the pin at 38:11. This was going at a pretty good clip by the time Ciampa came in as the last guy but then it dragged on and on AND ON for another 15 minutes after that. Trust me, these guys did not need 40 minutes. Bron pinning Ciampa was definitely the right finish but they could have gotten there way quicker. Definitely better than the women’s match but still nothing special compared to even the other NXT versions of the gimmick. ***1/2
I’d call this a slight thumbs up, although really only the tag title match was anything worth going out of your way to watch. The rest was mostly inoffensive or just too long, but nothing was outright bad.