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Opinion

Smackdown Live – How WWE Is Killing The Blue Brand

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WWE Smackdown Rating

WWE Smackdown Live. What a difference a year makes…

Smackdown Live – The Land of Opportunity. The show which won WWE plaudits from fans and critics alike for its wrestling-first approach following the brand split of 2016 has been on a slippery slope for the last 12 months. SDLive has effectively become WWE’s C show behind RAW and NXT but it didn’t happen by mere coincidence, it all comes down to a series of bizarre decisions and mistakes on WWE’s behalf. The sudden decrease in quality has seen a drastic plight in live show attendances, and backstage sources have recently leaked information which suggests the superstars and staff aren’t happy. So, what happened? How did a show housing the likes of AJ Style, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and many more talented superstars end up as somewhat of an afterthought?

The copious amounts of steroids had given Jinder nasty constipation that week…

  • Unusual Booking Decisions

Ask any member of the WWE Universe and they will unanimously agree that one of the major catalysts for the sudden decline on the blue brand was WWE’s short-sighted decision to put the WWE Championship around the waist of Jinder Mahal. This isn’t to say he is entirely to blame as that would be unfair on a man who was thrust in to the spotlight and did the best he could with limited material but considering the calibre and talent of the names mentioned above this was never going to sit well with regular viewers. The fans aren’t stupid, this was quite clearly a marketing ploy on WWE’s behalf, one intended to help drive the company forward into the Indian market, but what WWE failed to recognise is the impact this would have outside of its intended market. Viewing figures down, network subscriptions going nowhere, half empty arenas for live shows… all for the sake of making a few extra bucks on a different continent where wrestling isn’t even close to being their number one sport. WWE absolutely baffle me sometimes, the merchandise sales from keeping the belt on a guy like AJ Styles, the best wrestler in the world, would’ve more than outweighed all the negative impacts that the Jinder experiment had.

Dolph Ziggler won the United States Championship out of nowhere against Bobby Roode and Baron Corbin. It was a genuine shock and for a lot of fans quite a welcome one, you can question Dolph’s commitment, but you certainly can’t deny his talent, plus we so rarely see actual surprises anymore. What did WWE do next? They had him vacate the title just 2 nights later, seemingly quitting the company in the process, then held a tournament to determine a new winner. Dolph then surprisingly returned as the number 30 entrant in the Royal Rumble, another decision which made no sense whatsoever, just to have him leave little impact on the match before being eliminated. A few short weeks later and he is shoe horned in to the WWE Championship fatal 5-way match at Fastlane. So that’s: 1. Gives up his title 2. Walks away while insulting fans and company 3. Gets handed an opportunity at the main title. Am I the only one seeing something wrong there? If I quit my job and walked away while saying my employer doesn’t deserve me, I wouldn’t then walk back in a month later as the new CEO…

When Tyler Breeze & Fandango formed to create the fashion police, barely anybody batted an eyelid, myself included. But then when Fashion Files came along out of nowhere, the world started to pay attention. These two guys had something special, they had ‘it’… we already knew they were good enough in the ring, but now they were entertaining, hilarious, clever, witty and with a marketable gimmick to boot. They were so good they even managed to bring The Ascension back out of obscurity, which should never have happened in the first place seeing as they were the longest reigning NXT Tag Team champions in history, but that’s WWE’s horrible booking for you. So, what have Breezango done since? Surely they’ve won the titles by now? Shown the world what we always knew they could do right? NOPE! They’ve been relegated to short clips on wwe.com, turned into a complete joke and they’ve been jobbing out to the Blugeon Brothers for no good reason in ridiculous squash matches.

Can somebody please find exactly what it is WWE are smoking and bring it my way please?

The only good thing to come from the Jinder experiment… this GIF

  • Limited Roster

Another problem SDLive has is the roster. While they do have some outstanding talent on offer, once you look away from the WWE Championship picture there really isn’t a lot going on. The mid card scene right now is one of the poorest I’ve ever seen, and while it is centred around the gifted Bobby Roode does anybody really want to see him taking on the likes of Mojo Rawley and Jinder? In their desperation, WWE have shifted Randy Orton into the mix, but unfortunately the move has come about 3 years late when the majority of fans are fed up of seeing yet another one of Vince McMahons golden boys given undeserved opportunities.

With a smaller roster comes the big problem of having fewer storylines, and therefore having to extend the current programs way longer than they need to be. It feels like at this point AJ Styles has been facing off against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for about 6 months, I know it hasn’t been that long, but it genuinely feels as though it has been, and that’s a real problem. Don’t get me wrong, RAW suffers from this problem too most notably with anything Bray Wyatt ever does, but SDLive has this issue all over the show. Charlotte v Natalya, Uso’s v New Day (amazing but still overextended), AJ v Jinder… the list goes on. We want short, snappy and exciting feuds lasting a couple of months at most.

While SDLive is suffering badly with its talent pool, RAW is facing the opposite problem of having too many great superstars to utilise them all correctly. The blue brand will hopefully get a shot in the arm when we see the return of the Superstar Shakeup this spring, bringing talent from RAW such as Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Elias and Seth Rollins who could make a monumental impact and conjure up some dream matches with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and Styles. A few NXT call-ups wouldn’t go amiss either, with Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black more than deserving of their time to shine after incredible 2017’s.

The gold that can be struck from intelligent booking. From Roman’s boot boys to the greatest tag team in the world

  • Tag Team Division

While the show has been on a downward spiral, the one thing that SDLive got right in 2017 was the tag team division. The Uso’s and The New Day produced main event calibre matches week in and week out, their promos were absolute fire and a rivalry which spanned across both shows somehow managed to never get boring and they single handedly saved awful PPV’s. The back end of 2017 was equally as entertaining with the addition of Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin (Benjable) and the unlikely duo of Rusev & Aiden English (Rusev Day) into the mix. We saw these 4 teams put on some of the best tag team contests I have ever seen, harking back to the glory days of Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boys and The Hardy’s. The division was so good that it was gaining plaudits from all over the world and was keeping people interested in a show which was lagging in other aspects.

Then around 4 months ago, WWE said ‘screw you guys’ and decided that what we really wanted to see was The Uso’s v Benjable. The best tag team in the world versus the weakest of the four teams mentioned before competing in a series of regular 2v2 tag matches, when we had just been treated to some absolutely insane and frantic contests. The going plan seems to be The Uso’s v The Blugeon Brothers leading into WrestleMania and I’ve got to be honest, I can’t think of anything that I would want less right now. The Uso’s were almost universally voted as the best tag team of 2017, and now Vince is going to feed them to his favourite thing. Big. Burly. Angry. Sweaty. Homoerotic. Muscly. 7-foot-tall men. Because god forbid natural talent should be rewarded eh? What we REALLY want to see is Erik Rowan lumbering around the ring slapping himself…

WWE really need to let go of the likes of The Colons, The Ascension and (it pains me to say it) Breezango. Let them go and shine somewhere else, they would thrive in other promotions such as Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling, and could be quite nicely replaced with a couple of NXT call-ups like Authors of Pain, SAnitY or Bobby Fish & Kyle O’ Reilly.

The crap that can be forced out through lazy booking. From the best woman on the roster as a heel to losing all credibility as a face

  • Women’s Division

I’ve tried to find a way to say this nicely but its proving impossible so ill just come out with it. The SDLive women’s division is an absolute clusterfuck right now. There is no direction, no appeal, no storyline and no credible challenger for the championship. Charlotte v Sasha Banks on RAW was the rivalry which reminded fans that with the correct booking, the women could be main eventers. Since Charlotte moved to the blue brand however, she has lost everything that was great about her, The company are building her as a natural babyface, but it just doesn’t work at all, she is a natural born heel like her daddy, but she finds herself on a show already full of heels… albeit very average ones.. Natalya was the last woman other than Charlotte to hold the belt for a short while and it was one of the most painful and forgettable experiences that I’ve seen. Of all of the other women on the show there are only one or two who can be believable champions, and even they are a bit of a stretch. Becky Lynch is very talented in the ring and she is good enough on the mic but was treated like absolute shit in 2017. Naomi is probably the closets to Charlotte in terms of ring work and athleticism, but she falls flat when it comes to mic work where she is horribly stereotypical with almost every sentence.

SDLive have a nasty tendency to use every single woman on every single show. 99% of the time you can guarantee that we will be seeing some sort of 3 v 3 tag match with one of those teams being the Riott Squad and both teams having a manager or valet such as Lana. It’s such uninspiring drivel every single week, and although each woman brings something different to the match, they have absolutely no chemistry with eachother and it ends up a complete mess. The Riott Squad was a nice idea when they debuted, but neither Liv Morgan or Sarah Logan were ready for the main roster, they were brought in because one is pretty and one is dominant, and their matches are usually so bad that even Botchamania would struggle to fit in all the screw ups. I can’t be the only one who has a hard time generating any excitement for the next episode when I know exactly what matches I’m going to see before they’re even advertised.

The only saving grace here is that it seems Asuka will be using her Royal Rumble victory to challenge Charlotte at WrestleMania. While I may not be an Asuka fan, and I know I’m in a minority there, she is at least a credible threat and will bring out the best in the champ. Going forward SDLive desperately need to trim the fat from the division and say goodbye to the deadweight such as Tamina and Lana, bring Bayley over in the Superstar Shakeup and give debuts to someone like Nikki Cross or Peyton Royce.

“Shane mate, stop rolling up your sleeves to look like a badman. You’re not hench, you’re fat. Grow up. Stop wearing sneakers you adolescent dick” Bryan’s actual words. Honest.

  • Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan

Well here we go… the real kicker. Let me take a second to apologise in advance in case this gets a bit… sweary.

When Shane McMahon returned to WWE it was one of the most surprising and iconic moments of all time. The prodigal son had returned to challenge his sister Stephanie and father Vince and despite falling short he was rewarded by being put in charge of SDLive and taking on RAW in direct competition. Show v show, brand split, first WWE draft in years, new general managers… it was an exciting time. SDLive got off to a great start, with Shane outlining the direction of the show from day one. He proudly announced that SDLive would be the land of opportunity, it would focus on the talent and the superstars opposed to the management who were the focal point on RAW at the time. It was a welcome change from the norm, and something the fans had long been craving.

Fast forward almost two years. We have seen Shane face the legend, icon and challenger for the Greatest Of All Time title The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 32 in a terrible Hell In A Cell match, Kevin Owens in yet another less than average cell match, AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 33 and two Survivor Series main events. This is an old man who at no point of his career has been able to wrestle or sell, who has never been able to speak consistently well on the mic and is known for nothing more than falling off of tall things… and he is taking the spots and matches that superstars infinitely more deserving are missing out on. He hasn’t even won any of his feuds, so please tell me what was even the point? None of the men he has faced needed to be put over, they didn’t need someone to make them look good. It’s a non-stop ego trip from a man born into wealth and power and it makes me fucking sick.

We have seen him appear on virtually every single episode of SDLive in some capacity, and over the last 6 or so months we have seen his personal differences with Daniel Bryan take precedent over the actual wrestling and superstars. Their bickering and tension led to Styles v Owens going on for months longer than it needed to and has led to some terribly lazy writing in the process. SDLive is not the land of opportunity, it is the Shane McMahon show.

Daniel Bryan is a different story altogether. He is universally adored and respected for his ability, phenomenal career and heart-breaking early retirement. He is the general manager, someone whose character and job it is to defuse tension, make matches, interact with superstars etc. and he performs this job well. He appears as much as Kurt Angle does on RAW and that is completely the way it should be as they are both fan favourites who we are happy to see sticking around. But the constant need to have Shane on TV has dampened the impact that Bryan has. It never felt like it was about the management when Bryan was on screen, even during his great backstage rivalry with The Miz, but as soon as Shane appears it just becomes so draining to watch.

The saviour of SDLive?

The major appeal of Bryan throughout the latter stages of his career was that he was fighting against The Authority, constantly having to battle against all odds with his tyrannical bosses who were trying to hold him down. He was the common man, fighting and scratching for what he deserved and that is something which will always resonate with fans. However, over the course of the last 6 months he is becoming nothing more than just another suit in the back, playing politics and bickering with talent, which has recently led to small sections of the live crowds booing him. WWE have well and truly fucked this up and if it leads to a Shane v Bryan match, like they’re constantly teasing us with, I genuinely don’t think I’ll be able to keep supporting the product. Bryan deserves better and so do the fans. The only way I would take this match is if it was ‘loser leaves the company’ kind of deal, because there isn’t a chance in hell Bryan would lose and we would finally be rid of the geriatric, embarrassing, skin crawling, professional botcher, ego stroking, sneaker wearing piece of shit.

So to summarise, if SDLive want to climb back to the top of the mountain they need to:

Utilize the Superstar Shakeup, especially as they will likely lose Styles to RAW. Explore NXT and call up guys like Gargano who would thrive under the management of Bryan seeing as they are so similar (don’t believe me? Read this!). Invest time building Charlotte v Asuka as the new Charlotte v Sasha. Bring back the exciting tag team turmoil we grew so accustomed to last year. Give Shane much less TV time, only really utilizing him if the occasion requires the main bosses involvement to give it a sense of importance.

Never mind making it the blue brand…make these changes and it can be THE brand.


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Opinion

Booking The Territory: Greg DeMarco’s WWE NXT Stand & Deliver 2023

It’s WrestleMania season, and that means it’s the 2023 Stand & Deliver season for WWE NXT! Greg DeMarco builds the card for this now annual tradition!

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Bron Breakker Carmelo Hayes WWE NXT Stand & Deliver

It’s WrestleMania season, and that means it’s the 2023 Stand & Deliver season for WWE NXT! Greg DeMarco builds the card for this now annual tradition!

With Vengeance Day in the rearview mirror, WWE NXT makes its march toward Stand & Deliver, their WrestleMania Weekend Premium Live Event! What’s going to be on the card? I have no clue (well, I have some clues–they ARE telling two major stories right under our noses), but it’s going to be damn fun to get there.

Several matches were set up at WWE NXT Vengeance Day this past Saturday night, and more match-ups will come to light.

NXT Championship: Bron Breakker (c) defends vs. Carmelo Hayes (with Trick Williams)

Let’s go with obvious match #1: Melo challenging Bron. Vengeance Day ended with Bron Breakker standing tall, atop the steel cage, after defeating Grayson Waller. And who walks out? That’s right–Carmelo Hayes. Melo has been can’t miss since his debut as a babyface against Adam Cole, but Breakker has taken the top spot in NXT and held it for over a year now.

According to Cage Match, Breakker and Carmelo have crossed paths four times in NXT, one of them being on the same War Games team, and the rest being, at minimum, 2-on-2 tag team matches.

This is a money match, and Shawn Michaels knows it. It will be tempting to do so, but there is no reason to slap an unnecessary stipulation upon this showdown. Just book it, and let them do the rest.

Hollywood Backlot Brawl (or Hollywood Street Fight): Gigi Dolin vs. Jacy Jayne

It’s time for Toxic Attraction to fully implode, and what better way to do this than a Street Fight at NXT’s version of WrestleMania. Since we’re in Hollywood, bringing back the ol’ Backlot Brawl works for me, but that’s just a Street Fight under a different name,

But that type of match also works well for Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolin, who are very underrated brawlers (although, don’t expect Gigi to repeat any prior viral moments in this one).

Six-Man Tag Team Match: Indus Sher & Jinder Mahal vs. The Creed Brothers & Roderick Strong

Given the set-up, this HAS to be where Roddy Strong returns, right?

RIGHT?

While the man who took Roderick out–Damon Kemp–is currently just finding his way back onto NXT television, Brutus & Julius Creed find themselves outnumbered in this feud. It’s the perfect scenario for Roderick Strong to come back–and Diamond Mine would be stronger than ever.

NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship: Fallon Henley & Kiana James (c) vs. Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley vs. Kayden Carter & Katana Chance

Nile and Paxley could find their way here by winning the Dusty Classic, which will probably start-up here soon. Carter & Chance also makes sense in this spot–and it could be their swan song before heading to the main roster (as a team).

This is also the perfect time to blow the roof off the Kiana James/Fallon Henley/Brooks Jensen/Josh Briggs story. That likely leads to the victory for Nile & Paxley, who both capture their first championships in NXT.

NXT Women’s Championship: Roxanne Perez (c) defends vs. Zoey Stark

Shawn Michaels loves him some Zoey Stark. She can go in the ring, but she’s not electric in any way. And for the love of God, keep the microphone out of her hands. but Roxanne Perez has the Midas Touch, turning everything to gold. This would be a fantastic match, one that would see both women excel.

Ladder Match for the NXT North American Championship: Wes Lee (c) vs. Axiom vs. Nathan Frazier vs. Charlie Dempsey vs. Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo vs. Apollo Crews

It seems like a Ladder Match is tradition on these shows, and this one works quite well for me. You can also mix in a little Tyler Bate, or possibly Tony D’Angelo and DIJAK. If you don’t go the Jinder/Indus Sher vs. Creeds/Roddy route, you could put Julius in here.

Why Stacks? Because I assume Tony D will be busy with DIJAK in some shape or fashion.

Why Apollo? Obviously the Dabba-Kato program is happening, but I don’t think that’s a Stand & Deliver match. That can happen on go home show, where Apollo wins his way into this Ladder Match

What’s Missing?

Six matches does seem like the limit, but that leaves out a few important things:

  • Someone is going to win the Dusty Classic and the right to challenge Gallus for the NXT Tag Team Championships, and that makes sense to be at Stand & Deliver.
  • Grayson Waller is definitely going to be a focus, and since HBK ain’t wrestling anymore, he’s going to need an opponent (unless he’s moving up to the main roster before WrestleMania, which seems odd).
  • Andre Chase vs. Duke Hudson is going to happen sometime soon, and a WrestleMania Weekend crowd would be going nuts for Mr. Chase.
  • Tiffany Stratton is going to gain more and more spotlight time, and this seems like a card you want her to be on.

What are your thoughts on these proposed matches for WWE NXT Stand & Deliver 2023? Let me know in the comments or on social media @GregDeMarco44!


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Coverage

Greg DeMarco’s Results, Reaction, & Analysis: WWE NXT Vengeance Day 2023

The latest WWE NXT premium live event, Vengeance Day 2023, is history, and Greg DeMarco has all of your reactions and analysis!

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WWE NXT Vengeance Day 2023 Roxanne Perez Jacy Jayne Gigi Dolin

The latest WWE NXT premium live event, Vengeance Day 2023, is history, and Greg DeMarco has all of your reactions and analysis!

For the first time since 2020’s Takeover: Portland, the Black–err, White and Gold express that is WWE NXT made their way on the road for a stand-alone Premium Live Event: Vengeance Day 2023!

(I assume NXT Stand & Deliver doesn’t count since it’s not “stand-alone,” but accompanies a larger WWE event.)

(Another aside: the above-referenced 2020 Takeover event happened to fall on my birthday in 2020–look it up and don’t forget to wish me a happy birthday!)

Ticket Sales & Attendance

As far as the ticket sales, the always amazing WrestleTix Twitter account has us covered. Remember, sales and attendance are different things. Leave it at that–don’t get caught up in the Dave Meltzer/Conrad Thompson “inflated attendance” nonsense. Attendance is everyone in the building. Ticket sales are tickets purchased. It’s that simple.

A draw consisTent with many recent Raw and Smackdown tapings, which is a big win for the WWE’s developmental brand.

Set-Up

I am a big fan of when premium live events have a unique look and feel to them, so the “stage” here was a welcome sight to see.

WWE Photo

Let’s hope WWE keeps that trend going.

But those are sidebars, now let’s see what happened!

Wes Lee pinned DIJAK to retain the WWE NXT North American Championship

The last “stand alone” NXT premium live event, Takeover: Portland, was headlined by Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship against Tommaso Ciampa in a 33-minte banger of a match. The first match of their return to stand-alone events goes 17 minutes–great for an opener–and provided amazing action reminiscent of the Black and Gold Experience.

Wes Lee is an amazing performer. Even when MSK was a thing, I saw Lee as a potential Cruiserweight Champion. That is obviously not an option now, but him winning this championship and defending it the way he has is perfect. Booker T showing his career respect on commentary, including a nod to everywhere else ol’ Dez has worked, was a great touch. Booker T and Vic Joseph are really good fits for this brand.

WWE Photo

Wes showed immense strength in this contest, taking DIJAK over multiple times in spots where his opponent was nothing but dead weight. Extremely impressive for a guy legitimately giving up nearly 100 pounds.

But DIJAK also stood out, here. This is easily his best outing since he was formerly in NXT, and really showed what he can do. Much of his return has been character driven, but also “big man” style work. This match was reminiscent of his legendary battles with Keith Lee.

Too many kickouts? I wouldn’t say that–it all fit perfectly. This match was special, and in the modern day NXT, 17 minutes is great. You don’t need to go 30+ to thrill a crowd.

 

Fallon Henley & Kiana James beat Kayden Carter & Katana Chance to win the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships

While Carter and Chance had been champions for 186 days–a record for any iteration of Women’s Tag Team Championships in the modern era for WWE–they did not have the most memorable run. Much of it was overshadowed by controversy surrounding the WWE championship counterpart, along with a lack of competition.

Fallon Henley and Kiana James are outstanding solo performers, and the added element of Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen really drives the story home. If you watch closely, you can see Henley and Briggs holding everything together. Kiana James has tremendous upside, and is developing at a rapid pace.

WWE Photo

This story will obviously continue–and it should. James’ conversation with “Zach” last week on NXT will undoubtedly come up, and probably to lead a split between one or both tag teams. I assume “Zach” is her brother, and Henley is being overprotective. Can’t blame Brooks for latching on, the “King Of The Friendzone” is maximizing his shot, here.

Carmelo Hayes beat Apollo Crews In A 2-Out-Of-3 Falls Match, 2-0

Many are saying this match underdelivered, and I think it might require a second watch from me to fully say either way. On the first viewing, this match was entertaining and very enjoyable.

The booking? That seemed odd.

I’m  not complaining about Carmelo going over in 2 straight falls–that’s fine. Although I was surprised at the crowd response after the first fall. Might have been better if this match opened the show, with the North American Championship going on third instead. But it’s easy to say that AFTER the show has happened.

WWE Photo

The questionable booking–to me–was the use of the former Commander Azeez, Dabba Kato. He prevented Trick Williams’ interference, fulfilling Apollo Crews’ vision, but didn’t help his former partner at all. He also didn’t hurt him. it was just kinda…there.

Had he helped him score a second fall, and then Melo wins in a third fall, I think it all makes more sense, and the turn makes more sense as well. I was also surprised that Vic Joseph didn’t make a bigger deal out of their prior association.

Vic Joseph, by the way, had one of the best lines of the night, mentioning both “Nation” and “Casanova” in true IYKYK style–proving he picked up a thing or two when cohosting After The Bell with the King Of IYKYK, Corey Graves.

For the record, I don’t think Vic would translate to Raw or Smackdown. But he fits perfect in NXT.

Overall, Carmelo Hayes is a damn star, Trick Williams is the perfect associate, and Apollo Crews seems to be struggling to find where he fits in all of WWE.

Gallus (Mark Coffey& Wolfgang) captured the NXT Tag Team Championships when Coffey pinned Xavier Woods to win a Fatal 4-Way Match that included defending champions The New Day (Woods & Kofi Kingston), Pretty Deadly (Kit Wilson & Elton Prince), and Chase U’s Andre Chase & Duke Hudson

The amount accomplished in this 16 minute affair is astounding. It was mostly a sprint, but never seemed spotty to a contrived level. The New Day are some of the best in-ring storytellers in all of WWE, and their presence here helped everyone.

A side story of this match was Andre Chase returning home to the arena he saw many a wrestling event. They even mentioned his tag team with his (Bravado) brother (who I don’t believe was shown on camera despite being there), and had the crowd solidly behind his team. Andre Chase did get his moment, the C-H-A-S-E-U Stomps, and it will likely go down as a career moment for him having nearly 6,000 people chanting that.

I do believe he’ll do that in front of 50k+ on the main roster someday, but this had to hit different being in his hometown.

The finish seemed right, Gallus is a great team, and the door is open for Joe Coffey to surprisingly return to help them retain at some point.

Xavier Woods taking the pin signifies, to me, that The New Day is done with NXT at this point. They could drop a rematch on Tuesday, but since they weren’t victims of the “champions don’t have to be pinned to lose their titles” rule, they don’t have to get a rematch. They did their job, and did it well.

Roxanne Perez pinned Jacy Jayne to retain the NXT Women’s Championship in a Triple Threat Match that also included Gigi Dolin

This match was the right mix of story and action. And for this one, you needed both.

Let’s start with Roxanne Perez. She’s a goddamned star. I can’t put my finger on why, but she’s electric. She’s the type of start that internet stans will talk about her on Twitter 5 years from now referring to her as “Carla” when someone says one bit of criticism about her–or tries to send the attention into another direction.

If I’m Matt Bloom, Shawn Michaels, William Regal, Triple H–whoever–I am sending someone to Reality Of Wrestling weekly to scout talent. Booker T is doing something (many things) right.

WWE PhotoThen we have the Toxic Attraction part of the match. Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne are a fantastic combination, and they still work without Mandy Rose. It gives them a chance to spread their wings and fly. But I do think a feud between them is in order.

And allow me to fantasy book for a moment–here’s how you set it up: on Tuesday’s NXT, you start the show with an “earlier today” moment where Gigi & Jacy run into Fallon Henley and Kiana James (and Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs). They exchange pleasantries until Toxic Attraction points out Fallon & Kiana can never be as good as they are. The babyfaces (?) disagree, so a challenge is issued. Josh says they just found out they have the night off, and it’s time to party! Gigi and Jacy push harder, and of course it’s Brooks who accepts on behalf of their teammates.

The match itself sees a slight miscommunication between Jacy and Gigi, but it doesn’t factor into the finish. Kiana and Fallon win clean, and once they leave things finally boil over for Toxic Attraction. Full on brawl, all over the Performance Center, ending with both of them going off the infamous NXT perch and through some staging below. That’s how we end the show, and POOF!–we have our feud between them for Stand & Deliver.

Bron Breakker pins Grayson Waller to retain the NXT Championship in a Steel Cage Match

I get it–Bron is the centerpiece of the brand. And he should be. He’s got the charisma, he’s got the pedigree, and he just keeps getting better. Yet for the second straight big NXT event (NXT Deadline being the first), I felt like his match shouldn’t have closed the show.

WWE Photo

This was a good steel cage match. It was a great performance by Grayson Waller, and a damn good performance from Bron Breakker as well. but I think the guy is just too one-dimensional. He needs something more.

Carmelo Hayes coming out with Trick WIlliams in-tow to signify the next program for both men makes all the sense in the world. That should be the main event at NXT Stand & Deliver.

And this time around, Melo absolutely SHOULD. NOT. MISS.

I’d expect that the WrestleMania Weekend audience will be solidly behind Carmelo in this encounter. Use it. Push the envelope with it. Let Bron…wait for it…WAIT FOR IT…Embrace The Hate.

Let Bron snap. Attack the referee. Put his hands on Booker T. A plant in the crowd. On his way to the back he’s met by real life girlfriend Cora Jade. But she’s not talking in character, because this isn’t the Bron Breaker she knows.

AND SHE LIKES IT.

Lay the foundation for NXT’s new evil power couple, and turn Carmelo (and Trick) babyface in the process. Melo shoild still be Melo, now he just wants the love. He feeds off of it.

Now Bron has depth.


What did you think of NXT Vengeance Day? Sound off in the comments below, or hit me up on social media at @GregDeMarco44!


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