NXT recap and reactions: Carmelo Hayes’ last roadblock



Carmelo and Tyler Bate have a big strong fight, Gigi Dolin gets real, and the NXT parking lot continues its reign of terror in the last show before Roadblock.

Rather than my usual intro, I just want to shoutout the cat who shows up to NXT events every freaking week rocking a Wu-Tang Clan shirt. I’m more impressed with his devotion to the Wu than his devotion to NXT because, I mean, Wu is always number one in my heart.

Read Claire’s blog as you always should then come back here.

You back yet?

Let’s talk NXT!

Big Strong Fight

I love it when a wrestling match turns into a fight during its third act. It signifies the opponents have very little left in the tank and know their best stuff just isn’t working. That’s exactly what happened when Carmelo Hayes fought Tyler Bate in this week’s main event. Both dudes wrestled, really wrestled each other for most of the runtime and realized they’re evenly matched.

But that’s the best way for this kinda thing as it symbolizes, hopefully, Melo’s last roadblock before Stand & Deliver. Bate represented Melo’s biggest challenge on his path to WrestleMania weekend, so of course they pushed each other to their respective limits. Trick Williams poked his nose where in their business twice, but he only saved Melo from an attack and then distracted Tyler. That doesn’t belittle Trick’s importance, just underlines the fact that Melo won this match fair and square, which gets at something that I keep thinking about: What if the crowd in Los Angeles cheers for Melo over Bron?

I’m not saying Melo needs a change in direction or should start kissing babies. But it’s getting harder and harder for wrestling audiences to boo this man. Crowds are, at best, split down the middle in either cheering against him or for him, but commentary acknowledges Melo’s very vocal fanbase in the Performance Center. Hayes sticks to his character in small ways, like slapping Bates’ hand away rather than shaking it early during their match. But very similar to Shawn Michaels back in the day, I wonder if admiration for the cocky, brash, arrogant wrestler grows by the day.

That’s just one aspect that makes this potential match between him and Breakker exciting. The Performance Center faithful aren’t exactly all aboard Team Bron like they were only a few moons ago. I put none of that on Bron and more on the booking as they kept remixing the same story with him time after time: Bron has a weakness, the opponent acknowledges it, tries exploiting it, Bron turns it into a strength and overcomes the odds. Besides the repetitiveness, that kinda thing only sparks interest maybe twice, three times if I’m being gracious.

But Melo’s beefs, win or lose, always felt different because someone either chased him as the A-champ, or stood in his way on the path to something greater. It helps having someone like Trick Williams in his corner because a good sidekick keeps things fresh in all stories. Melo’s stories or matches never feel old or one note partially because Trick brings something new to the table every time. And, more importantly than all that high-minded stuff I typed, Trick makes Melo more entertaining.

Heel acts become face acts pretty regularly when the heels keep the crowd happy and look cool while doing so. Bron, for as dope as he is as a wrestler, seems hamstrung by the fact NXT seemingly can’t make him more interesting than his opponents. The Joker is a bigger character in terms of performance when compared to Batman. But writers who understand what makes Batman compelling never lose sight of that when putting the two against each other.

Batman shouldn’t and doesn’t become less interesting just because Joker steps into the picture. If anything, Joker’s presence adds more layers to the Dark Knight. Outside of Ciampa, I don’t believe NXT found a match for Bron that gives him a complete feud. Apollo Crews came the closest but even that had moments that felt off track. But that’s probably related to Apollo journaling more than anything else.

Melo might be that guy. Melo also might be Him but that’s a different story. Maybe they find a compelling story for this for Bron because the story of the journey is all on Melo’s side. He’s the guy who started from the bottom and climbed the ladder. He’s the guy who defeated everyone in his path until only one man remained. And he’s the guy who repped almost every night to prove the NXT championship belongs on his waist. When looking at the big picture, I have a hard time rooting against that.

And I imagine I’m not the only one. Especially after this week.


Toxic Cleanup

Gigi Dolin cut a poignant and heartfelt promo. Just letting this video speak for itself. Needless to say, this is why she’s perfectly positioned as a face and has a very bright future as a solo act in NXT and beyond.

She gets her hands on Jacy at Roadblock, and I’m all in on Gigi.

See You Soon, Lad

Shawn Michaels answered Grayson Waller’s challenge and will see him at Roadblock next week. Grayson pretty much said he wants the Heartbreak Kid and not the guy who runs NXT, so I predict Grayson provoking Shawn with every ounce of annoyance he has in his body.


Off top, I approve of how NXT started this week. Last week, Wes Lee told the world they could find him standing in the middle of the ring waiting for his next challenger. This week? Smash cut to a bunch of cats in the back destroying each other just for an opportunity at the North American championship. That sense of urgency shows that championship’s importance and how hot Wes Lee is at the moment.

They even got some story into the mix as it looked like Dabba-Kato might get his shot at gold until Apollo Crews ran up on him and cut his plans short. Tony D’Angelo and Stacks stopped Dijak from getting his shot. That provided an opening for a returning Nathan Frazer! Frazer was milk carton status since Halloween Havoc.

Unsurprisingly, these two tore down the house. The story, besides a championship match, focused on Frazer’s supposed rust and Lee’s workaholic attitude. Lee overcame that little hill and Frazer showed no rust whatsoever.

Wes hit another gear with his Vengeance Day title defense, and he found the perfect dance partner in Frazer. This was almost like a mirror match from Mortal Kombat, with the two reflecting one another’s move sets every so often.

They shook hands and hugged at the end of it, signaling that Lee might finally have a true friend in NXT after walking his path dolo for several months.

Watch this match as soon s you can.

Love Sick

Brooks Jensen’s heart hurts. Things aren’t great between him and Kiana James, which spilled over into the tag match against Indus Sher. Josh Briggs tried getting his partner’s head into the game but yeah, nah, that didn’t happen. Veer & Sanga have no sympathy for broken hearts, nor do they have antidotes for love sickness. They just have hands and those hands break bread, ribs, and hundred dollar bills. Brooks didn’t realize he was the legal man and caught all four of those hands on his way to taking an L for his team.

Indus Sher promptly moved on from Briggs & Jensen and turned their attention to the Brothers Creed. Just give us this match already, geez.

See? This is Why Corey Graves Referenced the NXT Parking Lot!

Wendy Choo finds herself the latest victim of the dangerous NXT parking lot. That led to a very spiteful conversation between Tiffany Stratton and Katana Chance. Tiffany accused Chance and Kayden Carter while also saying nobody cares about Wendy Choo anyway. Of course, Chance & Carter accused Stratton since she and Wendy had on-sight beef at one point. Tiffany’s Tiffany epiphany led to Katana going to Shawn Michaels for a match. And….


Tiffany defeated Katana with a pretty moonsault that didn’t quite hit. The fact she landed on Katana’s legs and still got the W sits wrong with me but hey, I get it. That said, Katana found herself distracted when Isla Dawn & Alba Fyre showed up out of nowhere. They didn’t interfere, but their presence alone caught Katana & Kayden off guard, distracting Katana long enough for Tiffany to get the W.

Afterward, Tiffany says she wants the Women’s championship and I’m ready for that match even if I don’t think she’s ready for the championship just yet. BUT, her verbally sparring with Roxanne for a few weeks might develop Roxanne’s mic game and personality, because Tiffany has her character down pact while I’m still unsure who Roxanne Perez is or her personality.


Schism did its best at destroying Chase U. They sent the uncredited university a video aimed at Thea Hail, Duke Hudson, and Andre Chase. Their words clearly cut their intended targets, threatening the harmony even after Duke made up with Thea. Chase challenged Joe Gacy to a match at Roadblock next week. If this thing is going the way my spider sense says it’s going, Chase U might lose more than its tax-free status…which it doesn’t have.

Final Boss Moves

The key moment in this match between Meiko Satomura and Zoey Stark came when Stark leapt from the top rope and Satomura countered with a kick to Stark’s injured knee. Before that? Starks looked like a woman possessed. She believes she deserves the title shot that Roxanne gave Satomura, and wants the same respect. She was this close to giving all those words weight but that moment changed the tone in a very physical match and Satomura got the W.

Of course she got the W ahead of her championship match at Roadblock but I also don’t believe in Stark enough at this point to think she had a chance. If anything, the match didn’t go far enough after that incident in putting Meiko in true jeopardy. Still, a solid match that earned its stripes truly because it looked like a fight.

One weird moment was on commentary when Vic Joseph asked Booker T if Zoey’s beef seemed legit. Why was it weird? Because Roxanne Perez sat right there on commentary. Why not ask her?

My Dogs Go…

Indus Sher wants the Creeds. The problem is that means they’re outnumbered because Jinder Mahal made himself a part of the twosome turning it into a threesome (get your minds out of the gutter). Julius and Brutus, desperate for a third man, went to Damon Kemp of all people. Thankfully for all of our souls, Kemp laughed at Julius and said nah. Bron Breakker made the save and said he owes the boys for them keeping his championship match with Jinder fair and square, so he’s down.

You know what that means? At Roadblock we get possibly the meatiest men slapping meat in quite some time with Indus Sher & Jinder in one corner, and the Creeds & Bron in the other. Somebody text Big E.


Valentina Feroz finally used those brass knuckles but not the way Elektra Lopez envisioned. While facing Sol Ruca, Elektra went to the corner looking for the brass knuckles. Valentina had them the whole time and told Ms. Lopez she didn’t need them.

Elektra spent so much time arguing with Valentina that she forgot about Sol and got her Soul Snatched as a result.

Elektra blamed Valentina for the loss and pushed Feroz one time too many. Literally. So, yeah. Feroz did what any human being in that situation would and nailed Lopez with the brass knuckles.

That was a very cool moment and a good segment. Sol got more tv time and ring time, while Elektra and Valentina pushed their thing forward while giving Valentina her big moment. Everybody wins…well, except Elektra.


Axiom and Hank Walker got into it because the latter got a little rough with the former during NXT’s opening brawl. Axiom wanted a match and Walker gave it to him.

This was one of the weaker matches of the night, even though I’m sure that’s partially by design. Walker, as a character, still doesn’t have it completely together in the ring. He’s figuring out the ropes, doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and adds to his repertoire every week.

Axiom controlled most of the match within that narrative, but Walker got his shots in with some big hits and showcased his power. Showcasing said power always works better with someone like Axiom, who sells it all perfectly and works well with big men. Luckily it wasn’t a long match, and given that story, shorter makes sense. But it’s just not an interesting match within that context. Axiom got the W and gave Walker his props afterward, which is a nice rub for the big man.

The Eyes Have it

JD McDonagh got too weird for me this week. Gotta be completely honest there. He talked about his detached retina and showed the eyeball while he went into great detail about what happens when one detaches a retina. Even with all the Lucio Fulci movies I watch, it was a lot. He made a promise to Dragunov though, and had a pretty good line about his desire to inflict pain clashing with Dragunov’s pain threshold.

This thing will get violent and I can’t wait.

I enjoyed this week quite a bit. Roadblock might be a sleeper event since the card is shaping up nicely. This week did a lot in terms of anticipation for next, which was the territory’s main job.

Just my thoughts. Right or wrong, just how I was feeling at the time. What say you?

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