NXT recap and reactions (March 14, 2023): Is Bron ready for Melo?

Mutual Admiration Society

Bron Breakker can’t face Carmelo Hayes on the mic.

The two eventually signed their contract for the Hold and deliver main event and verbal joust for a while. Bron did some good digging about Melo making the North American Championship the A Championship in his mind because he knew he wasn’t ready for the NXT Championship, but he stumbled through parts and n didn’t seem as convincing as his opponent.

For my last Raw To recap, I noted that Cody Rhodes’ superpower is his sincerity. The public believes it because it believes it and its conviction emanates from its pores. Bron doesn’t have that skill yet and they rarely use it that way. Yes, he has mic skills and does his fair share of mic work, but he rarely goes back and forth with anyone in that context. And certainly not someone as polite as Melo to understand his character and believe every sentence.

I trace this back to his earlier feuds not preparing him for this moment character-wise or really pushing his limits as a wrestler. Bron speaks with his fists and feet, and he does it fluently, might I add. Putting him in a showdown with Melo in front of a crowd that might not like him as much as before doesn’t feel like putting the talent in a position to win. Emphasize his strengths rather than make him appear inferior to his opponent.

That said, the mutual admiration society that Melo and Bron are part of works because of the obvious tension. I’m not saying they don’t really like each other because I don’t believe it at all, but like Austin and Rock back in the day, they clearly see each other as competitors and that brings out their moments together. I’m normally against a feud where both opponents talk about how much they respect each other and throw side jabs at each other, but they made it work this week.

But my thoughts are still with Los Angeles on April 1st. I don’t know if this crowd gives the flowers to Bron and applauds. Even this week, a fairly loud “save us, Melo” chant erupted as Bron spoke. Every time Bron makes it to the main roster, whether it’s April 3 or months later, WWE needs to make it more complete.

One Trick Ponies normally become glue when spawning on Raw Or Smack down without much character or anything compelling about them. After 18 months, the NXT crowd seems a little bored, but those Raw And Smack down crowds, especially after Mania crowd on April 3? In less than 5 minutes, Bron could be a barbecue chicken in their eyes.

Both Melo and Bron are ready for the main roster, but one of them is just a bit more ready than the other. And in this game, that matters a lot.

Extracurricular activities

Alone at home

Johnny Gargano started the show by speaking directly to Grayson Waller. Waller, ultimately, had other plans.

Vic Joseph interrupted Mr. Wrestling by telling him that Grayson was at Johnny’s. Because of course Grayson broadcast it live. It takes a very vain man to live-stream his potential crime, but it’s a great character touch for Waller.

Johnny fled the arena and returned home where his wife and child waited in blissful ignorance. Once he finally showed up, he and Grayson got into a very rough fight outside of Johnny’s “main roster” money house. The video speaks for itself but I liked seeing the vicious side of Waller. Johnny excels in vulnerability and Grayson excels in jerkdom. Mix the two together and baby, you made yourself a stew you get some magic.

quite physical

This has been my favorite Pretty Deadly match since they appeared in NXT proper. They showed off their physique and hung with Gallus every step of the way. This is an important development for them as it takes them beyond pretty boys and shows an adaptability to any style.

That said, the irony of the story is that they lose the match thanks to reverting to their old ways. Even once they got an advantage! But cheating is in their blood and they paid the price. Gallus barely held on against the team in danger.

Gold stars all around with a dope opener that showed just how versatile both teams are. After losing, Pretty Deadly made themselves the hosts of Hold and deliver. I will allow it.

As for Gallus? Tony D’Angelo & Stacks, in another emotional moment, set their sights on the NXT Tag Team Championships. Tony D thinks Stacks needs gold after all his hard work and sacrifices to the family. I like these two.

First to scale

We’ll get to the Roxanne Perez angle later since I have multiple thoughts, but the long and short is that she’s out of commission after passing out last week. As a result, we get multiple qualifying matches where the winners face off in a ladder match at Hold and deliver.

Zoey Stark crosses the threshold first after beating Sol Ruca. Solid game where Sol showed improvement against a seasoned pro. Listen to me, but I actually think Zoey’s win is a bad decision here. Yes, she’s more polished than Sol and adds a distinct presence, but we miss seeing Sol in a ladder match. I think it’s a missed opportunity. I liked the game but I don’t agree with the decision.

Diamonds are not forever

Tatum Paxley finally broke. For weeks, Paxley felt like Ivy Nile’s useless appendage. Even last week, Ivy celebrated the Creed Bros. win without Tatum in tow. That said, the storytelling felt haphazard. We needed a few key beats to get to this point, like Tatum asking to join Diamond Mine and showing us the consequences. Or maybe show us what happens if Tatum tries to join the afterparty reindeer games.

That said, Tatum dropped Ivy in their triple threat match against Kayden Carter & Katana Chance and Isla Dawn & Alba Fyre shocked my system again. And they made the turn mean something since Tatum punched Ivy, threw her back in the ring and changed the direction of the match. Tatum practically fed his former partner to Wolves and as a result, Alba and Isla are now the number one contenders for the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships.

The road to get here was sloppy, but the end results seemed significant. Plus, we had a fun match with chaotic triple threat action.

Batman x Joker

First of all, and I know I’ve said this before, but whoever changed Ilya Dragunov’s theme music is a war criminal. From top to bottom, they belong to The Hague.

With that out of my system, let’s move on to what happened between Dragunov and JD McDonagh. Both men took to the microphone and narrated their respective versions of this long dance towards and around each other. JD quoted the Joker saying he believed they were destined to do this forever. Of course, Dragunov strongly disagreed, because just like Edge when it comes to Judgment Day, he’s tired. JD also said like a scalpel to the eye, it’s hard to watch.

They can’t all be winners.

The conversation stopped and they fought like two men who were sick and tired of each other. This fight entered the locker room and persisted despite the officials separating them….

Challenge closed

It even spilled over into Wes Lee’s Open Challenge! JD went for Lee with gold in mind only for Dragunov to tell him “no” and the beatings continued.

Of course, they were only one side of a major fight to have a chance with Wes. And, unfortunately for the challengers, the match never happened because no one got a chance to enter the ring. Well, properly anyway.

Axiom nearly got there but… SCRYPTS cut him off. Yes, Scrypts. After weeks away, masked Reggie is back with his eyes on Axiom.

Coincidentally, NXT Anonymous caught Wes chatting with Shawn Michaels backstage. Shawn loves Wes but hates the chaos caused by open challenges. Wes wants all the smoke because he still has that chip on his shoulder and needs to prove himself. Shawn disagrees with all of this, but Wes says that Shawn, of all people, knows what it’s like to win and only feels more pressure to compete.

It’s an interesting angle for Wes and also foreshadows his possible downfall. He wanted 10 opponents to Hold and deliver who… yeah, no, that doesn’t happen. Instead, Shawn negotiated a Fatal Five Way and Wes chooses all five.

I can’t wait for this, but I’m also so invested in Wes’ story now.

Second in scale

Gigi Dolin defeated Kiana James and punched her ticket to Hold and deliver. They’ve only had about six minutes, but Gigi continues her hot streak. I actually expected some interference from Jacy Jayne since they interviewed her earlier. Yes, she had an arm in a sling and said she was absent due to a separated shoulder, but I still believed it! But if Jacy is really down for a while, putting Gigi in a title match on the biggest stage makes sense. Even without seeing the third member of this ladder match, I put my bet on Gigi. She is ready for the big belt and her rise rightly ends the story of Toxic Attraction.

But there are also problems in heaven for women’s champions. Fallon Henley and Josh Briggs broke into Kiana’s office and found potentially incriminating evidence. Apparently, Kiana engineered this relationship with Brooks just to work her way into a tag team with Fallon for tag team gold. And, she meets or dates a cat named Sebastian. With Fallon snooping out of the building, it left Kiana all alone and vulnerable after her loss. Alba & Isla took advantage of this and only left the stage when Brooks showed up.

Brooks, Kiana, Fallon and Josh met backstage after the match and, frustratingly, Fallon and Josh didn’t reveal anything about their findings. If there’s a good time for revelation, then it’s during a discussion of who was wrong not to show up for whom and the added pressure of a league game at Hold and deliverbut it’s odd that Fallon is keeping this information to herself given her animosity towards Kiana and her love for her friend.

Dragon Watching!

NXT continues to slowly roll Dragon Lee. Last week they showed him in the crowd and this week he did a backstage interview. Interesting moves indeed.

Chasing Ava

After everything was seemingly gone at Chase U, this week’s edition saw Andre Chase mending fences. Or at least try. Chase shone here delivering a moving speech about the importance of Chase U and how it affected his life. He also noticed how much it affected Duke Hudson, giving Duke a passion he lacked during his days as card shark battling Cameron Grimes. Chase handles seriousness as well as he handles comedy, and I hope NXT uses him more in the old role. Ava Raine appeared after Andre’s speech, just scary and getting into Duke’s head, but Chase owned that segment and that moment.

Really enjoyed NXT this week. A LOT happened but the two hours moved around like pulp on a kitchen table. Two more weeks until Hold and deliver and I can’t wait for the Nest couple shows.

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