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WWE Week In Review: January 28-February 3, 2019

Usual broadcasting, along with World’s Collide and Halftime Heat should make for an interesting week of WWE. How did it all shape up?

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Chairshot WWE Week In Review

Usual broadcasting, along with World’s Collide and Halftime Heat should make for an interesting week of WWE. Let’s see what Tiffany thinks!

RAW

Seth Rollins kicking off RAW was what I expected since the winner of the Royal Rumble usually kicks off the RAW after, but I loved Seth’s very humble bragging about winning the Rumble. The Royal Rumble has been a career maker since 1993 when WWF decided to make the winner the #1 Contender. Triple H getting involved was a nice nod to their former partnership during the Authority years. Dean’s involvement sets up a potentially great feud between him and Hunter, much like the brief one they had in 2016.

Ambrose vs Rollins: I always love watching Ambrose and Rollins face off and I wish they’d had more time on Monday, but I get that Rollins, as the new face of RAW, at least until Roman Reigns gets back, needed to really establish himself by beating Dean clean, I just wish the match had been longer.

Dean staying in the ring and the face off with Nia was really confusing. I’m not a fan of intergender wrestling since, in my opinion, no one looks good doing it. I’m also interested in hearing what Dean was going to say before he was cut off.

Bliss/James vs Samoan Dynasty was ROUGH watching. I am intrigued by Bliss/James being semi-babyfaces against heel!Nia and Tamina. That said, I can’t say I had any doubts that Jax/Snuka would be the winners given their size advantage over James/Bliss. So, Samoan Dynasty will be at Elimination Chamber, but I’m guessing Bliss/James will stay contenders afterwards because their work wasn’t awful.

Corbin vs Angle: I was really…not thrilled with the Corbin/Angle match. Given their verbal feud last summer leading up to SummerSlam, I had higher hopes for the match than what we got. It was a good match and Corbin has shown a lot of improvement since he first arrived in WWE, but it wasn’t a Kurt Angle classic, though I give Angle serious props for putting Corbin over, I’m not happy about him clearly jobbing to a lesser talent.

Balor/Lashley: The respect shown to Balor by the locker room after his match with Lesnar was nice to see. He really shined in that match and proved that he could hang with the monsters, very much like Shawn Michaels did in the 90s. The segment with Lashley and Rush was not a great one. Rush is a great, if extremely annoying, mic guy, but him calling Balor a twerp was dumb. That said, I did like the beatdown Lashley gave him. It sets up an Intercontinental Championship feud that will probably go to WrestleMania.

Revival vs Edgeheads was fun to watch, even if the build was stupid, in my opinion. I don’t get why WWE is booking the Revival the way they are, but seeing them get to be effective, ass-kicking, heels was a lot of fun to watch.

Daniel Bryan/Erik Rowan: I’m not a fan of Bryan being some sort of environmental version of Bray Wyatt, which is what him and Erick Rowan look like together. It’s obnoxious and I’m glad that the backstage segment was his only appearance of the night.

Elias/Jarrett: I’m going to admit that I was NOT a fan of Jeff Jarrett’s during his WWF/WCW run, but watching him in TNA was a real eye opener to how talented he is/was. That said, I’m not a big fan of this feud with Elias. I think there are better ways for someone with Jeff Jarrett’s head for the business to contribute to WWE than trying to squeeze himself into his old Double J gear and pretending its 1994.

The Dana Brooke/Nattie segment before their tag match was really interesting. Since Nattie comes from a family of tag team specialists, her being part of the Women’s Tag Team tournament was a no-brainer, but the addition of Dana Brooke since Ember Moon is injured was an odd choice because it feels like WWE realized that they didn’t have a lot of tag teams in their Women’s Division until after they decided to do this tag team tournament.

Mojo Rawley: I don’t like Mojo Rawley, so I tuned out his segment for the most part, though him quoting my favorite Michael Jackson song, ‘Man in the Mirror’, got my attention, but not enough for me to really care about what he was talking about.

Nattie/Dana Brooke vs Riott Squad: I’m not terribly surprised that the Riott Squad won the tag match against Nattie and Dana Brooke, WWE is favoring established teams over the ad hoc ones, but I am surprised at how bad they made Nattie and Dana look in the process and that Ruby Riott wasn’t in the match. I’ll admit that Dana Brooke isn’t the best worker, but her gimmick of trying too hard to impress more established wrestlers is irritating. I do love Liv getting some revenge on Nattie for Liv’s ignominious elimination in the Royal Rumble by rolling Nattie up for the pin.

Open Challenge: I was honestly surprised that Becky didn’t answer Ronda Rousey’s open challenge or attacked Rousey from behind. I did love Bayley answering the challenge and showing an edge, it was really refreshing because her Hugger gimmick gets really grating quickly and it was a great match, even if the end wasn’t a shocker.

If the pop for Becky was as loud in the arena as it sounded on TV, she’s the hottest superstar in WWE since the Attitude Era, that was incredible. Rousey’s promo, however, was a dud to me. She tried too hard to sound like a badass instead of just being herself and her dismissal of Becky’s career because Becky didn’t train for wrestling all her life like Rousey did in Judo was just…ugh. Hopefully, the promos will get better as they get closer to WrestleMania.

Strowman vs McIntyre: I hated Strowman vs McIntyre. I’m not a fan of either guy and really saw no reason to restart this feud other than WWE needing to find something to do with these guys since neither of them are in the title picture.

Brock Lesnar: Seth’s decision to face Lesnar wasn’t a shock to me. As much as I like the idea of Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship, Seth’s too important to RAW for them to let him go to SmackDown right now. Still, Seth managing to get in a few hits before being completely thrashed by Lesnar was nice, but it’s hard for me to buy him beating Lesnar at WrestleMania without any funny business involved.

SmackDown

Becky Lynch/Charlotte: I was happy to see Becky kick off Smackdown, but I wasn’t happy that Charlotte came out, seeming to insert herself in the Rousey/Lynch feud. Charlotte’s a great talent, but she has no business being involved in Rousey/Lynch. She got her chance at Survivor Series and now it’s Becky’s time to get the match she built in November and Charlotte would be excess baggage.

United States Championship: The US Championship double match thing was weird. I’m guessing that WWE’s realizing the big problem with doing away with the rematch clause is figuring out how to keep talent in a title picture when there’s no rematch clause. That said, I’m thrilled that R-Truth won, but the sequence of things was odd and kind of took away from the victory. It didn’t help Rusev or Nakamura either. I did like the teasing of a feud between Carmella and Lana.

Mysterio/Almas: I’m a big fan of Mysterio vs Almas, but I’m not really sure why Samoa Joe vs Mysterio was sacrificed for it.

Good Brothers vs Rusev/Nakamura: Loved the Good Brothers being faces, but I’m not sure what to make of a Rusev/Nakamura tag team just yet. Hopefully it’ll be better in practice than it sounds on paper.

Shane/Miz: The victory celebration for Shane and Miz was fun, if a little boring and sappy. Loved Miz’s dad being included, even if I’m not sure why he’s involved in this storyline. Them immediately calling for a match to decide who their next challengers will be was refreshing.

Mandy Rose/Naomi: Let’s talk about Mandy Rose’s ‘reasons’ for hating Naomi, because it was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in a long time. A person gives you constructive criticism to help you improve so you can be successful and your reaction is to wait four years and try to ruin her marriage out of spite? Sit down and shut up.

Fatal Four Way: The Fatal Four Way for the #1 Contendership was really good. Otis Dozovic of Heavy Machinery has quickly become the star of the team, despite Tucker Knight being better in the ring. Heavy Machinery were the real stars of the match, but one of the more established teams winning wasn’t a big shock, even if it was a little disappointing. Usos vs Miz/Shane will be a good match and Heavy Machinery will probably get a shot down the road.

Daniel Bryan: Let’s get something straight about Daniel Bryan’s new belt, other than it looks like a craft project: No, no one’s going to light it up and smoke it on live TV. The belt is made of hemp and hemp is NOT marijuana. The spot with throwing the WWE Championship belt away was ‘eh’.

The segment with all the contenders cutting promos was good, Samoa Joe on the mic was savage and Orton’s laughter was justified. The Elimination Chamber stipulation wasn’t a surprise once Rollins picked Lesnar, it was more a question of who would be in it and there’s a pretty good mix of vets and young guys that should make the men’s Elimination Chamber match fun to watch.

205 Live

Kalisto vs Mike Kanellis was a good match, but it still feels like Kanellis is still trying to find his footing in 205. Lucha House Party is a gimmick that is getting old fast, even if they had nothing to do with Kalisto beating Kanellis, it’s just annoying.

Gulak/Gallagher: WWE needs to figure out what they’re going to do with Gulak and Gallagher. They’ve had very little to do since the end of their feud with Brian Kendrick and Akira Tozawa. However, the potential feud with Humberto Carrillo is an interesting one given his style compared to the No Fly Zoners.

Itami/Daivari: The Daivari/Itami team is an interesting one, but I’m not sure why Daivari is Itami’s mouthpiece when Itami speaks English.

Tony Nese vs Noam Dar: The attack on Dar by Nese was interesting in terms of their feud and I wish 205 had more time to really make the feud something special.

Buddy Murphy: Murphy’s lack of comment one way or the other about Nese’s attack on Dar was interesting. Nese being suspended removes his one supporter in 205, so you’d expect him to support Nese and the fact that he didn’t was odd. There’s still a question of who will be Murphy’s next big feud going into WrestleMania, but there’s plenty to time to sort that out.

Tozawa vs Itami: I loved the Tozawa/Itami match. 205 always puts on a great main event and this was definitely a great main event. Tozawa’s win was a little bit of a surprise since it seemed like Itami would be in line for a title shot. Daivari’s turn on Itami, seeming to turn him face-ish was DEFINITELY a shock, but an interesting turn of events.

NXT UK

Dave Mastiff vs Jay Melrose: If I had to pick a favorite superstar on NXT UK, it would probably be Dave Mastiff just because he’s so huge but moves so well and his match with Jay Melrose was why. Mastiff strikes me as a stiff worker, but he and Melrose worked really well together. Mastiff getting the win wasn’t a surprise, but it makes me wonder when the undefeated streak is going to earn Mastiff a title shot, unless they’re waiting for the WALTER/Dunne thing to be over with.

Xia Brookside: Liked the little vignette for Xia Brookside. She’s definitely one of my favorite female performers on NXT UK and I’m happy she’s coming back.

Grizzled Young Veterans are probably one of the best teams in WWE, but I’m extremely confused by the whole ‘People taking their shoes off when Zack Gibson comes to the ring’ thing. I just don’t get it. That said, they’re a great team and Gibson is pretty good on the mic, even if half the stuff he says makes no sense to American me. I love Lorcan and Burch, so the prospect of them taking on GYV is really exciting to me.

Walter vs Jack Starz: Walter may be one of the most hyped people in WWE right now, but I don’t get it. He looks like a character from a WWII movie. I will say that his chops look and sound like they hurt like hell, if Jack Starz’s selling is anything to go by, but I just don’t get what the big deal about Walter is. However, I like that they’re having one of the Coffey brothers challenge him and that Aichner and Barthel are Walter’s back up, making an interesting three way feud.

Jinny vs Kasey Owens: Jinny is another part of NXT UK that I really don’t get. She’s talented, but I can’t say she’s better than anyone else on the roster. Her one outstanding talent is being mean and there’s plenty of that in the Women’s Division in WWE. Her match with Kasey Owens was good, but I don’t get why Jinny is being groomed for a run at the title.

Rhea Ripley really has the chance to be a top heel in WWE and I’m excited to see her having a rematch against Tony Storm at the next NXT UK TakeOver, or whatever NXT UK Phoenix is going to be.

Moustache Mountain vs European Alliance was FANTASTIC. Aichner and Barthel have really gelled very quickly as a team and going up a very established team like Moustache Mountain can only help them improve, even in defeat, which did surprise me a little. I’m guessing that Trips wants to keep MM strong after TakeOver Blackpool while giving EA some needed ring experience. Love the match!

NXT

Kairi Sane and Io Shirai vs Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafire: I’m glad the feud between Team Sane and the Horsewomen is continuing, even if it’s without Dakota Kai, who is out with an ACL injury. Duke and Shafir have a lot of kinks to work out of their ring work, but I think they’re doing a pretty good job and stars like Sane and Shirai can only help them improve. The spot between Duke and Sane with their height difference was fantastic and I hope this feud continues.

Johnny Gargano: I’m glad Johnny Gargano finally won a singles title, but his interview was not much to write home about.

Bianca Belair: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of Bianca Belair, and I’m not a fan of her reaction to Sam Robert’s comment about her not being worthy of being in the match with Baszler. If her reaction to criticism or people not being a fan is to tell them to kiss her ass, she needs to rethink things because it’s only going to get worse if she makes it to the main roster.

War Raiders: I’m warming up to War Raiders and I LOVED their entrance at TakeOver. I know the feud with Undisputed Era is going to continue but it was refreshing to see them get a moment in the sun, especially after their performance.

Matt Riddle: I don’t like Matt Riddle. Every time I see him, I see red, so I basically tuned out his post-match interview so I didn’t throw my remote through the TV.

Tommaso Ciampa: I think the best compliment to Ciampa would be having the praise of Paul Heyman and raises interesting questions about his future on the main roster.

After Show Footage Six man confrontation after TakeOver went off the air was fun and set the stage for the return of Halftime Heat, but I’m not sure what it all means beyond a one-off match.

Street Profits vs Forgotten Sons was a really great match between two teams that seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle with the Undisputed Era around. I honestly thought Street Profits would get the win over Forgotten Sons, but the addition of Ryker made that win pretty much expected. I hope these teams will get more attention and consideration in the tag team picture down the road.

Worlds Collide

Battle Royal: The battle royal to determine who would get the bye in the tournament was really good. I like that WWE’s making the battle royals last longer and feel important instead of like time fillers. This match definitely had the feel of being anyone’s game, which is rare in battle royals. Jordan Devlin of NXT UK was a great choice to win the match, he gets a lot of heat and can back up his mouth with ring work.

Mark Andrews vs Drew Gulak was definitely a meeting of opposites in terms of personality and styles and a lot of times those can result in ‘eh’ matches, but that didn’t happen this time, thankfully. It was a really great match and let both guys show off their skills. I was a little disappointed that Gulak won, but Andrews definitely had made a statement about how much he belongs in WWE.

Travis Banks vs Keith Lee was a surprisingly good match. I’m not a Keith Lee fan, but he was really good in here and it wasn’t as big a squash as I’d feared given the size difference between Lee and Banks. I can’t say Lee’s win was a surprise, but it was a good starter match. One surprise was Devlin not interfering in the match and further his feud with Banks.

Shane Thorne vs Adam Cole was hard to get into because I actually forgot who Shane Thorne was. That aside, this was another great match. Cole’s a great talent and it’s always fun to watch him show off his skills and him winning wasn’t a real shock.

Dominik Dijakovic vs TJP was a surprisingly good match. TJP has gotten lost in the shuffle on 205, but that doesn’t take away from his great talent. Dijakovic has already established himself as a rough and tough customer, so this contrast of styles was fun to watch, but I had no illusions that TJP stood a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Dijakovic.

Cedric Alexander vs Tyler Bate was a dream match that lived up to the hype. This match was definitely my match of the First Round, both guys did amazingly well and worked so well together, you’d never guess that this was the very first time they’d been in the ring together. Bate won the match, but the fans ended up being the real winners.

Velveteen Dream vs Tony Nese was another first time match and it’s interesting that Nese was allowed to compete given that he’s supposed to be suspended from 205 Live after attacking Noam Dar on Tuesday. It was a good match, I wasn’t really blown away by either guy, but it was good. Sadly, the 205 guys seem to be the sacrificial lambs in this and Dream picked up the win.

Zack Gibson vs Humberto Carrillo was a really great match. I THINK this was another first-time match, but don’t quote me. Both of these guys are really great competitors and this match let both guys show themselves off for the Universe. Surprisingly, Carrillo is one of only two 205 Live guys to win his match and advance.

Jordan Devlin vs Drew Gulak I LOVED this match. Both of these guys are fun to hate and are great performers. Unfortunately, the 205 curse hit Gulak as Jordan hit Ireland’s Call and got the win.

Keith Lee vs Adam Cole ended up being the shocker of the Quarterfinals. On paper, this looked like a piece of cake victory for Lee who had the size advantage on Cole, but Cole ended up being a tougher opponent for Lee than anyone expected and ended up beating Lee with two superkicks and a Last Shot. I was honestly shocked Lee lost to Cole, but it was a great match.

Dominik Dijakovic vs Tyler Bate was another seeming no-brainer match that ended in a huge shock for me. I like Tyler Bate, but if you had asked me yesterday if he had a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Dijakovic, I would’ve laughed at you, but that’s what happened. Bate not only gave Dijakovic his longest match to date, but he handed him his first defeat with a Tyler Driver ’97.

Velveteen Dream vs Humberto Carrillo after two shocking victories, I was pretty ready for Carrillo to beat Dream, but that didn’t happen. There definitely seemed to be an effort to not have 205 guys make it past the quarterfinal, which sucked because the 205 guys are probably a little better known than the NXT/NXT UK guys. ANYWAY, Velveteen Dream would hit his Death Valley Driver and advance to the semifinals, but Carrillo definitely made an impression.

Adam Cole vs Tyler Bate was a match I was really excited about, I’m a fan of Bate and Cole’s a good competitor, so this promised to be a good match and it was. I honestly expected Cole to sneak out a win, but Bate’s Tyler Driver struck again and the Big Strong Boy put away the leader of the Undisputed Era and advanced to the Final Match.

Jordan Devlin vs Velveteen Dream was one of the few instances where I wanted the heel to win just so I could watch Devlin vs Bate. A betting man would’ve put his money on the Ace and he would’ve lost his shirt. Devlin and Dream put on a heck of a match but the Ace got trumped by the Purple Rain Maker, even after doing some serious damage to Dream’s ribs. It’s going to be Tyler Bate of NXT UK vs Velveteen Dream of NXT.

Velveteen Dream vs Tyler Bate was a really great match, but they almost seemed to be building to Dream winning by giving him no time to recover from the match with Devlin. That said, it was a FANTASTIC match. Dream would pull out the win with the Purple Rain Maker again, but he showed Bate respect after the match was over. Per the stipulation of the tournament, Dream is now entitled to challenge for a championship of his choosing.

Thoughts: This was a good tournament, but the lack of filler matches made it drag a little for me. I’m not happy that 205 Live basically got left out at the end and the final match was between Triple H’s pet projects.

Halftime Heat

For the first time since The Rock and Mankind had an Empty Arena Match during the halftime show of Super Bowl 33, WWE put on a Halftime Heat match. It is a six-man tag match between Ricochet, Aleister Black, and Velveteen Dream and NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, NXT North American Champion, Johnny Gargano, and Adam Cole.

I have no words for how great this match up was. The atmosphere sounded amazing and these guys left it all in the ring. It was definitely better than the ACTUAL halftime show the Super Bowl put on, but that’s just my opinion. Velveteen Dream definitely seems to be getting the rub right now. He won ‘When Worlds Collide’ and got the pin in the Halftime Heat match, so we’ll see how that will pan out.

 


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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.

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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.

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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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