wrestling / Columns

411’s NXT Halloween Havoc 2022 Preview

October 22, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
NXT Halloween Havoc NAT Image Credit: WWE

Hello 411 guys, gals, enbies, and everyone else! Welcome to 411’s NXT Halloween Havoc preview! I’m Jeremy Thomas, here as always, and WWE is bringing their spooky season back to Peacock with the latest iteration of this NXT PPV (nope, still not calling ’em PLEs). NXT has seen quite the resurgance since the end of the 2.0 era, and they have a pretty fun card on paper set out for us on Saturday. A solid six matches are in play including three title matches, “Weapons Wild” and more. We have a lot to get into for Saturday’s show so without further ado let’s get our masks on, thank Sam Hain that the Schism isn’t booked and dive in!

Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal
Apollo Crews vs. Grayson Waller

Image Credit: WWE

First up in our preview is (hopefully) the culmination of this rather odd rivalry between Apollo Crews and Grayson Waller. Crews’ time in NXT has been a strange sort of beast; he started off with a weird “mind’s eye” gimmick that saw him imagining scenarios and didn’t particularly seem to have a direction to it. That changed when he battled Waller, which resulted in Waller winning via an accidental eye poke. That somehow caused Crews’ character to gain pseudo-supernatural bloody eye powers that have justifiably freaked Waller out. All this is to say that the whole thing’s been very weird, but it’s somehow kind of worked in spite of itself, because Crews appears to be having a lot of fun and Waller does a good job of playing the annoying heel character opposite Crews. Both of these guys can work and had a solid outing in their first time against each other, so the match should be pretty solid. As for the result, Crews seems to be having fun in NXT but he hasn’t had the most successful run as of yet. Waller won the first match and doesn’t lose much if he takes a loss here, so expect Crews to get the win. Whether it’s by freaky bloody eye nonsense or not is another question altogether.

WINNER: Apollo Crews

Ambulance Match
Julius Creed vs. Damon Kemp

Image Credit: WWE

This feels like the easiest match on the show to predict. The Diamond Mine storyline felt largely lost after Malcolm Bivens left WWE, meandering its way through a feud with Legado del Fantasma while the slow heel turn tease of Roderick Strong took way too long to play out. But the swerve of Damon Kemp being the one to make the heel turn has revitalized this whole thing quite a bit, in part because it no longer has to rely on Roderick Strong’s promo skills. (I love Roddy but we have to acknowledge that promos are not his strong suit, to say the least.) Kemp has been doing very good work as a heel and he’s been nicely elevated by his rivalry against the Creeds. All that said, there’s no way Kemp is coming out on top here due to the stipulation that Brutus leaves NXT if Julius loses. The Creeds are a good team but they’re not ready for the main roster, and there’s no way that they split them up at this point; they work great as a team but they don’t exactly scream “singles stars,” at least right now. Expect Strong to come out and get involved in this match, which will give Diamond Mine a much-needed win and get Kemp his comeuppance without hurting his momentum too badly.

WINNER: Julius Creed

Weapons Wild Match
Roxanne Perez vs. Cora Jade

Image Credit: WWE

While you could argue that the feud between Roxanne Perez and Cora Jade has gone on a little long without any real progression, it’s working out quite nicely. After an unfortunate skateboard malfunction that kicked off her turn, Cora has followed the Bayley route of being an obvious babyface who is finding her true calling as a heel. Meanwhile, Roxy is quickly developing into a star, both in NXT and potentially on the main roster before too long if her Smackdown appearance (and the reported high marks she got from it). The two work incredibly well off of each other and while “Weapons Wild” just sounds like a silly name for a street fight, it seems entirely appropriate for the way their feud has unfolded. Expect the lead pipe to get involved as it’s become Jade’s weapon of choice. Jade has been booked very strong since she turned heel, and this is the chance for Roxanne to pick up a big win, putting the seal on her upward rise in the division.

WINNER: Roxanne Perez

NXT Women’s Championship Match
Mandy Rose vs. Alba Fyre

Image Credit: WWE

Look, Mandy Rose’s NXT Women’s Championship reign has been enjoyable. Toxic Attraction has been a way better group than I think most people expected, and Rose’s title reign has been strong. But it’s also become a bit stale now that she’s essentially making a second run through the entire division that she beat the first time around. There’s certainly an argument to be made that Fyre is better positioned this time around; last time she faced Mandy, it was when NXT was under Bruce Pritchard’s creative purview and Shawn Michaels seems more on board with Fyre’s potential. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s time for Fyre to win; she needs to be rebuilt a little after meandering a bit following her last loss to Rose. I expect Toxic Attraction (and perhaps Sonya Deville) to do their thing and cost Fyre her title shot, and that Roxy will be the person to eventually take the title off Mandy. Fyre and Rose will deliver a pretty enjoyable match and there’s always the possibility that Fyre is able to counteract Toxic Attraction, but right now my money is on Mandy to retain.

WINNER: Mandy Rose (STILL NXT Women’s Champion)

North American Championship Match
Carmelo Hayes vs. Oro Mensah vs. Wes Lee vs. Von Wagner vs. Nathan Frazer

Image Credit: WWE

A lot of times with multi-man matches, I’ll do a rundown of each individual competitor and why I think they are or aren’t likely to win the title. With this match, I don’t particularly feel the need to do that. No offense to the other competitors, but the writing really feels like it’s on the wall for this one. The North American Championship was vacated after Solo Sikoa won it, but did so in a “non-sanctioned” manner when he jumped the line and competed in a match he wasn’t scheduled to be in. And yes, that’s incredibly silly by WWE logic — we had competitors, we had a referee, and thus we had a match.

Regardless, this just seems like it was a convoluted way to get the North American Championship in another multi-man ladder match… and you know what? I’m okay with that. This is going to be a lot of fun because everyone not named Von Wagner can deliver big here, and even Wagner will provide something different for the other guys to work off in order to keep it from just being high spot after high spot. But yeah, this is clearly down to two people, and one of them is the obvious choice. Taking the title off of Melo just to put it back on him would be a really weird choice, and it definitely feels like time to push him up toward an NXT Title feud. Meanwhile, Wes Lee just seems like the too obvious choice to win. He’s over with the fans, and he’s been fighting his way to this title shot in storyline, building momentum along the way. I would be legitimately shocked if it was anyone but Lee, who has a real chance here to break out as a singles star and deserves this title reign.

WINNER: Wes Lee (NEW NXT North American Champion)

NXT Championship Match
Bron Breakker vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. JD McDonagh

Image Credit: WWE

Bron Breakker’s NXT Championship run has been dominant, holding the title for more or less the past year with the exception of that brief Dolph Ziggler run in March. Breakker has defended the title against several opponents over the last 10 months, including one of his two opponents at Halloween Havoc in JD McDonagh. That said, the other opponent is one of his toughest tests yet in Ilja Dragunov, who returned to NXT TV after Worlds Collide and was immediately inserted into this program. Dragunov also happens to be the person who sent McDonagh out of NXT UK. WWE has done a nice job of setting this storyline up, using McDonagh as the connecting tissue between Breakker and Ilja while also finding ways to put the two at odds with each other. All three of these guys can deliver in the ring, so the match itself should be a hell of a lot of fun. McDonagh is a strong performer but is also the least likely to win here, as he mostly provides the X-factor and can take the pin which will allow one of the other two to win without pinning the other. Breakker is one of the best-built stars in NXT over the last year-plus and while he’s not ready for the main roster yet, he makes a great centerpiece for the Tuesday night brand. Expect the champion to retain by beating McDonagh, which will keep an eventual Bron vs. Ilja match strong should WWE decide to go right into that or even wait while someone like Carmelo Hayes steps up to the champion.

WINNER: Bron Breakker (STILL NXT Champion)

And that’s all we have for NXT Halloween Havoc! This looks to be a solid show without a lot of filler matches, so we should be in for a good time on Saturday. Thanks once again for reading and remember that we will have live coverage of the show courtesy our own Scott Slimmer right here on 411mania.com. I’m outta here; I hear tank treads and I remember what happened the last time Shotzi was in a rambunctious mood with that thing…

Image via Tenor