Let’s dive in this week, folks! We have a lot to talk about. Claire also spoke of it in her usual place with her usual skill.
NXT used its history this week as part of the hype for Worlds collide. Ciampa, Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler, Gunther, Alba Fyre and even Pete Dunne. The former champions of their respective belts all spoke to the current champions about legacy, history, pressure and all that was at stake on Worlds collide. I’m two minds on how this turned out, so walk me through what worked and what didn’t.
Seeing these former champions certainly underlined the importance of the match. It also raised the stakes in a way that commentary just can’t do. And that’s no objection to Vic or Wade either. Some things just sound better when pronounced as a result of experience. Their words also reminded everyone of the finality of Worlds collide. NXT UK is leaving. A few of these current championships are on the clock. What we currently know as NXT is changing before our eyes, so yes, this is serious business.
The interactions worked better with established connections. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate. Alba Fyre and Meiko Satomura. Pete Dunne and Gunther. And, last but not least, Ciampa and Bron Breakker. Speaking of Ciampa, I have to love how NXT transforms wrestlers back into their previous gimmicks as soon as they walk through the doors. Miz who?
Either way, the ones that are connected at different levels, making them feel like integral storytelling tools rather than perfunctory tricks of the trade. That’s probably why Finn and Bron didn’t work, and neither did the combination of Shayna and Mandy Rose. Oh, and let’s not even get into Rhea and Blair Davenport. Those appearances at the other end of the spectrum, because they lacked depth and meaning.
They make the audience pop and scratch that nostalgic itch for the old NXT, but that’s really the only purpose. Unlike the other phenomena that scratched that itch and meant something to the wrestlers involved and the public because we know their shared history.
I love that WWE is embracing its history in this way. Former champions expressing their respect for championship belts show that those titles are bigger than the feuds or even whatever former beef the fighters have. It’s a different build-up to a title match and sets Worlds collide separate as a unique event. Those are all very good things.
Maybe I’m easy to get hold of, but most of the cameos made me more excited for the unification matches and reinforced that I have no idea who will leave the event with titles in their hands.
Finger Poke of Doom
Grayson Waller defeated Apollo Crews. Normally I’m against such shenanigans, but now I’m okay with it. Why? Because Waller cheated, which gives Apollo a way out and reason for a rematch. Plus? It’s another example of heels acting like heels, which I always go over.
This was also a pretty good match as Waller is getting better and better and Apollo is Apollo. Waller poked Apollo twice in the eye. Once in the first act and again before the finish. The first time, Apollo threw him out of his game for a while and the second time happened so quickly that you might miss it unless you pay attention.
These two aren’t finished yet, but I’m curious how Apollo finds a way around Waller’s cunning.
Here comes a new challenger
This was a weird title defense for Katana Chance and Katana Carter. They defeated Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley, but mostly because of Toxic Attraction’s interference. They barely got into their game when Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne got involved. The story is there though: they missed their chance at the other tag championships, so they don’t want anyone to have something they don’t have.
Doudrop x Nikki ASH showed up when Carter x Chance told the world they have no one left to beat. The women’s team of Raw challenged NXT’s tag champions to a match on Worlds collide, finally giving them something to do and someone new to fight. I like that for them.
Denzel, John Lithgow and Ice-T
Ricochet is back! Well, for at least one event. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams entered the ring before the night ended. The A Champ was incensed at his absence from Worlds collide. So much so that he dropped the rule of the night:
“I broke a rebellious heart. This is not a dream and you cannot avoid me.”
After stating that he will not defend his title at the event – she will show that, Melo – Ricochet’s music hit. mr. O’Shea explained: Worlds collide can have more than one meaning and the event needs a blue mark.
They briefly exchanged barbs, with Melo clearly in shock. So yes, we get a match between these two on Worlds Collde that will definitely bring the house down.
I’m known that this story has to end with Roderick Strong and the diamond mine. He cost the Creed Bros. and Damon Kemp another game this week. This time against Gallus when he stupidly ran to the ring with cell phone evidence to clear himself of wrongdoing and that he’s not a liar. Kemp was distracted, the Brothers Creed were confused, and Gallus got the W.
To Roddy’s folly, this was the best game of the night. I want more of these three because it’s just physical. The Diamonds in the Rough are filled with mat wrestlers, but they are also powerhouses. They can fight with the best of them and match the battle of Gallus for battle and intensity.
When the match ended, the locker room in the ring emptied because, you know, worlds really collide.
You know what I don’t like too? This Joe Gacy/Cameron Grimes feud. And the audience agrees with me because they dropped a lot of F-bombs during this segment with Schism and Grimes.
On the plus side, Grimes has finally told Gacy that he’s not joining Schism, meaning a fight is coming. Which means this thing is thankfully almost over. Thank God to everyone who suffers as much as I do.
Gallus wants Briggs & Jensen so badly that they can taste it. The British trio interfered in the NXT UK Tag Champs trio match against Pretty Deadly and Lash Legend. Even with Fallon “Yee Haw, Bitch” Henley by their side, it wasn’t enough to stop Gallus from influencing the direction of the match. That’s why Pretty Legendar (Good one, Barrett) got the W. This was not the best match for these teams as it was clearly serving Worlds collide was the greater goal. Honestly? However, I’m more interested in an argument between Paxley and Legend. Whenever those two get their hands on each other, it feels like a real fight between two people who don’t like each other.
Chase the dragon
When Andre Chase gets time, he produces some pretty good matches. He and Charlie Dempsey got some time this week and they made it. Chase is always interesting in the ring, and like Stella said, you have to respect a guy who wrestles in a jersey. Chase got the W here after Dempsey was distracted by Bodhi Heyward. As always in wrestling, taking the eyes off the prize often leads to terrible ruin.
So Zoey Stark, fresh from losing a championship game to Mandy Rose, took out her frustrations on Kiana James. Outside of Kayfabe, James wrestling with Stark is good for her because it will only improve her game and make her look better. As for kayfabe, James continues to write checks that she cannot cash in the ring. Last week it was Nikkita Lyons. This week it’s Zoey Stark. Zoey got the W, which serves as a kickback, but the real moment of the match came when Lyon showed up for her revenge on James.
What does that say about Zoey? What is her role now? That’s the weird thing about NXT with a single strap for the women. Not everyone has a big game to fill in after losing a title match like Wendy Choo with Tiffany Stratton. Lyons’ appearance overshadowed Zoey’s win and underlined the fact that Zoey is currently a woman without a country. The match was okay, but yeah, the ending was the intrigue.
This was a solid outing. It did its main job, which was to prepare the pump Worlds collide. Nothing more nothing less.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.