NXT recap and reactions: Two for the money


NXT on X

The Trick Melo Gang saga concludes, Roxanne Perez bites off more than she can chew, and the NXT champ gets a surprise challenger on this week’s NXT.

Take Two and Pass

Not many people get second chances, but it’s something often utilized in professional sports entertainment wrestling. Sometimes it’s planned that way while other times it’s necessary due to the first time not going quite the way anyone planned. I don’t know where Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams’ Stand & Deliver match falls on that equation, but they got their second chance on the latest NXT.

Thankfully for everyone involved, it improved on much, provided a more logical ending, and just felt less rushed. Even if it followed some of the same beats, it just felt better.

Like their first encounter, Melo dominated act one. He played up his quickness and utilized his steel cage experience. For a while, Trick looked outclassed and outdone. Given that this was Trick’s first steel cage match, that early advantage made sense. Melo is already a skilled cat; putting him one-on-one in a setting where his opponent has no knowledge whatsoever automatically gives him an edge.

That played to Trick’s strengths at the moment too, as he pretty much just sold everything Melo did and worked from under. The fact that Trick’s height advantage isn’t exactly minuscule made all those moments even more remarkable. It’s a testament to Melo’s prowess and Trick’s ability that the former A Champ looked like the bigger man for the first few minutes.

When Trick finally mounted some offense after Melo rammed his former best friend into the cage one too many times, it foreshadowed the ending. Melo signaled his security guards (who finally did something useful) the instant he got in a little trouble. Once he got a billy club in his hand, Melo went to work on Trick once again.

Trick made his comeback again, indicating that he finally got used to the cage. He dished out his own punishment, once again making it more of a fight than a wrestling match. That’s when Melo called for help one more time.

It was his last time.

The security guards swarmed the cage, Trick took them each out one at a time, but not before one of them tossed Melo a chair. I don’t know if it was intentional, but Melo hesitated on the chair shot. He had a chance to hit Trick in the back but didn’t. That set up the finish but I like to think of it as a character beat where maybe, just maybe, he had one or two second thoughts. Or maybe I’m just grasping for something greater in a match that I felt was just fine.

Either way, Melo missed with the chair and Trick hit the Trick Knee on the chair which collided with Melo’s face. I love when a wrestler gets hoisted on their own petard. The reason the former NXT champ lost the match is because he kept asking for help. He took advantage of the lack of rules and pushed everything too far.

Every time he felt that fear creeping down his back and doubted whether he could beat Trick, he sank lower. Maybe that’s this whole feud in a nutshell. The better and more popular Trick got, the worse and more desperate Melo became.

There’s a draft next week and as of now, Melo’s not on the Spring Breakin’ card. If this his last match in the territory, it’s a fine way to go out putting over the guy who meant the most to him. And for Trick, he survived the cage proving he can possibly survive Ilja.

It’s not the exclamation point on the end of the sentence that I wanted, but it’s a fine period.


For Your Eyes Only

Dijak is penciled in as a must watch any time he’s on my television. No matter the opponent, no matter the stipulation, and regardless of venue, the man treats every match like it’s his last. He and Noam Dar set a high bar in an opening match that went a little less than 20 minutes. Dijak is the perfect opponent for Noam on the count of the way he moves and his strength. Meta Four standing ringside didn’t add much until the end of the match, which played off Dijak’s hair trigger temper. Seriously, dude needs a Tylenol or a new role model.

After a back and forth affair where Dijak showcased his toughness and Noam proved pesky, Dijak called for the Feast Your Eyes. That’s when Oro Mensah ran interference simply by jumping on the apron. Like I said, Dijak can’t help himself with that temper. He turned his attention to Main Man Mensah, kicked him square in the jaw, then walked right into a Nova Roller.

1-2-3, Noam gets the win and Dijak stays angry.

Fantastic opening match that is clearly the first of several chapters. Does Dijak continue with Noam or does he target Oro? Or is Meta Four on the hunt for 1980s RoboCop wannabes? We shall see.

Da Mad Face Invasion

Ridge Holland convinced Ava to reinstate him. Quickest retirement since Tom Brady’s first. Joaquin Wilde took serious umbrage with all of Ridge’s dramatic shenanigans. Ridge choked, yes chocked Joaquin and that led to this match.

This was an efficient way in showcasing the new Ridge Holland. Joaquin got in his offense, but it revolved around an angrier Ridge with a more vicious moveset. And when Joaquin went for a high risk move through the ropes, Ridge caught him in mid air and power slammed him on the floor. That exchange exemplified the match and Ridge’s new outlook.

Shawn Spears stood ringside, seemingly admiring his handiwork. He takes full credit for Ridge embracing his inner self. Ridge got the win, which only made Shawn smile. Ridge rushed passed him on the way out of the ring, which made Shawn smile even more.

Still not completely into this story but I’m curious how dark things get for Ridge when it comes to his inner demons.

Da Bounce Master

Ava kept it real with Ilja Dragunov: It’s unfair that Trick has a match while he gets a night to himself. She put him in action and Dragunov declared an open challenge. The first person who comes to the ring gets the Mad Dragon.

Nice visual of seemingly every male wrestler leaving the locker room and fighting for a spot against the champ. It not only looked chaotic and real, but it set the stage for Je’Von Evans. The young cat outsmarted the whole locker room when he came from the other direction through the crowd, hopped over the commentary table, and landed right in front of the champ.

Fantastic character moment that says so much without overdoing anything. In one move, NXT showed us his hunger, his smarts, and his bravery. He showed no fear and stood toe-to-toe with a guy who strikes fear in many. And he looked good in the match as well. Je’Von is all high impact offense right now. He flies high, he strikes fast, and he makes even a simple Power bomb into a DDT counter look spectacular.

He didn’t get the win. It was never about him getting the win. He looked good, he frustrated the champ, and got the handshake seal of approval when it ended. If Ilja is on his way to redder or bluer pastures, he’s putting over a few people on his way out the door.


  • I liked Thea Hail and Andre Chase having their heart-to-heart this week. Andre made his loyalty and love for her clear, while Thea apologized for how she treated him. They both showed grown on the way to Thea’s match with Tatum Paxley. Thea lost thanks to Jacy Jayne’s interference, which is perfectly fine given the fact those two need to handle this.
  • Speaking of that match, Lyra Valkyria attacked Tatum during match activity and it’s the most I’ve liked Tatum in a while. She showed fire, she was unhinged, and it was just fun watching her let loose. Tatum explained earlier in the show why she attacked Lyra (and how she’s unhinged), so I expected nothing less from Lyra in this spot. And just to spite Roxanne Perez, Ava put the NXT Women’s champ in a triple threat match with Lyra and Tatum at Spring Breakin’. Oh, and it’s for her championship. Can Lyra and Tatum put their beef aside to focus on the main prize? Or will Roxanne take advantage of their hatred for each other? My money is on the former because, well, the draft approaches and I think Roxanne’s time in the territory is over.
  • Lola Vice defeated Sol Ruca thanks to, guess who, Blair Davenport. Sol gets Blair in a no DQ match at Spring Breakin’, which I think is a good move for Sol and the feud. We’ll get a different side of her and see how physical she can truly get against someone like Blair.
  • As for Lola, Nattie challenged her to an NXT Underground match at Spring Breakin’. I’m so curious how Nattie looks in this setting that clearly favors Lola.
  • AOP made mince meat of Edris Enofe & Malik Blade. Nothing more to say about the match. The most interesting thing is Axiom & Nathan Frazer came out post match and want their revenge on The Final Testament.
  • Ivar battled an injured Josh Briggs in a grudge match to see who gets Oba Femi first. It’s an okay way to heat up Ivar after taking the L to Sheamus. Fun match with a lot of meat gettin slapped, slammed, and beat. Ivar constantly punished Josh’s ribs and back, so the final Dommsault put the nail in Josh’s coffin. Oba looked impressed but didn’t say much because he doesn’t say much.

Stacked episode with a lot happening. But there was rhyme and reason to every event and match. Everything set up something else, they showcased fresh talent, and developed some characters too. Even Edris & Malik got some progress in a loss, which is key for a pro wrestling show. Melo & Trick reached its conclusion and the Mad Dragon awaits. The victory sets up Trick for a big W at Spring Breakin.’

New era indeed.

What say you , Cagesiders? Who’s leaving and staying after next week?

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