NXT’s BATTLE FOR THE BAR is cheesy pro wrestling fun



NXT airs tonight (Dec. 27) live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.

Before we get you up to speed for the show, a reminder that SPOILERS for this pre-taped episode are out there, including here. If you’d like to discuss them, please either do so in the SPOILER post, or use the SPOILER tag.

Several of the wrestlers introduced during the year-ish Vince McMahon & John Laurinaitis left their fingerprints on WWE’s developmental show weren’t just wrestlers, er, excuse me… sports entertainers. They were mafiosos and poker players who happened to sports entertain. It felt particularly over-the-top with the women’s division, where talents like Kiana James and Fallon Henley were a business shark and a horse girl.

Most wrestling fans will accept some level of this, but it was one of many ways the 2.0 rollout felt forced. The previous regime started to, and new management continued deemphasizing the more dated or ridiculous elements of these characters. But James and Henley characters still feel like throwbacks to when NXT’s women’s division felt like it was turning into GLOW or WOW. Which may be why Shawn Michaels & team decided to steer into the skid and put them in an angle straight out of Southpaw Regional Wrestling.

Fallon’s parents own a bar, but times are tough and the bills have piled up for Ma & Pa Henley. James sees a chance to buy low and sell high, makes some moves at the bank, and swoops in to cackle at the Henleys (and Fallon’s platonic friend Josh Briggs and his tag partner who seems to be smitten with both Ms. Henley & Ms. James, Brooks Jensen) like a movie villain before finalizing the purchase.

Scrappy gal that she is, Fallon wants to fight for the family business. So she challenges James to a match. If she wins, the bar stays with Ma & Pa. If Kiana does, she’ll hand the deed over without Kiana James Enterprises having to spend another dime.

Maybe it’s because my Gen-X ass watched Better Off Dead and Hot Dog… The Movie too many times. Or maybe I just like dumb stuff sometimes. But sign me up for this one, especially as a good way to write one or both of these ladies off to the main roster.

We’ll see if that happens, or if NXT moves away from these two gimmicks at all after tonight’s show. The HBK braintrust certainly isn’t above a campy rasslin act (cough Schism cough). Regardless, settle in and enjoy some cheesy pro wrestling fun.

The rest of the title scene

It took an old Bret Hart trick to do it, but Grayson Waller got the upperhand in his feud with NXT champion Bron Breakker. Hopefully whatever head & neck trauma the champ experienced after running head first into the steel plate the Iron Survivor had strapped to his torso won’t keep him from defending the title at Jan. 11’s New Year’s Evil show.

Roxanne Perez is still enjoying the afterglow of taking the NXT Women’s championship from Mandy Rose, but challengers are lining up for a shot at the wrestler Booker T calls “The One”.

It looked like Kayden Carter & Katana Chance’s NXT Women’s Tag title reign was going to end when Diamond Mine’s Ivy Nile had Carter trapped in a Dragon Sleeper during last Tuesday’s Triple Threat with Toxic Attraction. The champ countered into a cover, and the party continues for KC2.

Ditto for NXT Tag Team champions The New Day. Their first defense against Brooks & Jensen was a respectful affair. Former champs Pretty Deadly are angling for a rematch, and that won’t probably won’t end with handshakes & hugs.

Tonight’s main event will see North American champ Wes Lee defend against Tony D’Angelo. It’s a rivalry that’s been brewing since Tony D injured his knee facing Lee a couple months back in a #1 contender’s match. It’s also one that since been complicated by the arrival of Dijak, whose allegiances are unclear but who’s mission is clear… win the NA title.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

• She’s had it with Cora Jade’s bullying ways, and tonight Wendy Choo will be looking to get her win back after their last match ended with Jade throwing a drink in Choo’s face. Cora’s focus is already on her former friend Perez, though. Will that cost her this match?

• The fun-loving trio of Odyssey Jones, Malik Blade & Edris Enofé don’t like the Schism are a bunch of scrooges, so they’ll try to teach them about the Spirit of the Season in a six-man tonight. Better watch out for Ava Raine…

• Jones will be looking to build on his recent win over Von Wagner. Elektra Lopez and Zoey Stark’s wins weren’t as clean (Lopez hit Indi Hartwell with brass knuckles and Stark used the ropes to pin former tag partner Nikkita Lyons), but they’ll be looking to do the same.

• The Creeds continue to have issues with JD McDonagh, and they’re struggling to stay focused on him with Veer & Sanga looming.

• Meanwhile, Scrypts seems to hate everybody, and Drew Gulak is still scouting talent.

What will you be looking for on NXT tonight?

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