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Cook’s WWE NXT Review 9.14.21

September 14, 2021 | Posted by Steve Cook
WWE NXT Tommaso Ciampa
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Cook’s WWE NXT Review 9.14.21  

There’s nothing I love more than relaunches.

For years people have told me that Paul Levesque’s NXT was the best wrestling show on television. It had a heck of a run, with plenty of exciting NXT TakeOver events & matches that re-shaped the snowflake scale for WWE show reviewers. Many of our favorite indy wrestling stars got to NXT and were allowed to do the things that made them indy wrestling stars. At its peak, the NXT Super Indy Era was some good stuff, pal.

That being said, it wore out its welcome and faced some tough competition from AEW Dynamite on Wednesdays (and even lost stars like Adam Cole to them). We can talk about all of the reasons this NXT 2.0 thing is happening and all the rumors, but everybody’s ridden them into the ground already. I’ll just say that from my perspective, NXT hasn’t been Must See TV in a long time. Even the TakeOvers have been difficult to get into. I’m all for tearing things up and starting over. If nothing else, it gives me something interesting to write and/or talk about. That’s what’s important here.

NXT 2.0? Sure, why not?

Cook’s WWE NXT Review 9.14.21

The opening video package informs us that Samoa Joe vacated the NXT Championship over the weekend, so one of four wrestlers will become champion tonight as part of the lineup. Tommaso Ciampa tells us that no matter what, he’ll always be the top guy. Meanwhile, Pete Dunne will prove he’s the baddest man in NXT. Kyle O’Reilly says he is one win away from achieving a goal 16 years in the making. LA Knight talks to us and lets us know that it’s LA Knight’s time. Bron Breaker introduces himself and wants a chance to prove himself. LA Knight promises to beat his brakes off in 2 minutes. Sounds like a questionable plan. Especially if that’s the trainee I think it is with that singlet and a somewhat familiar look.

Wale sings the theme. The venue does look brighter, and the stage is a smaller version of the WWE Raw & WWE SmackDown stage. Seeing the people helps.

Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett & Beth Phoenix are still with us.

LA Knight vs. Bron Breakker: This Breaker is a pretty big boy, with a multi-color singlet reminscient of the new NXT color scheme. I could see Vince & Bruce salivating over this guy, let’s see what he can do. Knight dominates early before Breakker runs him over with a clothesline. Shoulderblock. Some nice mat rasslin by Breakker, gut-wrenching Knight and rolling him around. Knight re-takes control with a kick & clothesline of his own. Knight with the neckbreaker, and he soaks in the boos. Breakker fights back, big shoulder blocks. Belly to belly! Gorilla press into a powerslam gets the three count!

Winner: Bron Breaker
Match Rating: ***

Listen. I hate the name. Like the rumored “Rex Steiner” name 15,000 times better. But the kid looks like he’s taking to this wrestling stuff as well as his father did. That’s the kind of talent you can see doing big things on the main roster. Basically, I like everything about this kid except the name. Which will probably change 15 times during his time with WWE.

We return and Breaker accepts congratulations from the backstage folks.

Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) vs. Brooks Jensen & Josh Briggs: I like anybody that enters to classical music, so Imperium are right up my alley. Tell ya what though, Jensen & Briggs have a good look to hem for wrestling, much like Breaker. Jensen & Aichner start. Jensen with a powerslam and a tag to Briggs. Barthel tags in and does some grappling with Briggs. Standing side slam & a splash from Briggs get two. Barthel fights back, hits a PK. Tags Aichner, they hit the two for one kicks with Briggs in the ropes. Briggs hits the suplex and tags in Jensen, who is 20 years old and a second generation wrestler. Briggs is sent into the stairs on the outside, so it’s Jensen against two here. Doesn’t end well, a double underhook suplex off the top rope ends it.

Winners: Imperium
Match Rating: **1/4

Seems like the fans are getting behind the established acts here. Knowing wrestling fans, that doesn’t come as a huge surprise. You don’t want to put all the new kids over though, so Imperium winning here was smart. I also liked the finish with a move that should finish everybody. Probably usually got 2 in the Super Indy Era.

B-Fab (w/Hit Row) vs. Katrina Cortez: Some lucha rolls from Cortez, B-Fab with the kick and some boots in the corner. She goes for a arm lock of sorts and a throw to the mat. There’s a pump kick to the chest. Rude Awakening neckbreaker makes short work of Katrina.

Winner: B-Fab
Match Rating: N/A

Not long enough to assign snowflakes to. B-Fab gets on the microphone and talks about how they all do this. She gets cut off by Legado Del Fantasma, Elektra Lopez in particular. She says B-Fab didn’t learn her lesson the first time, but they can do it again, and she won’t need a pipe. B-Fab offers to have the match right now. Legado Del Fantasma opts against it.

Like I said, it didn’t go long enough to properly rate, but I can say that the Jade Cargill squash I watched earlier today went a bit smoother. B-Fab needs some work on the in-ring, but there’s nothing wrong with that. She’s got the look to make an impact, and showed some speaking ability as well.

Cameron Grimes asks Johnny Gargano who is going to win later. Gargano is more focused on the wedding. Austin Theory returns, and has brought Damian Priest with him. Turns out Damian isn’t an actual priest, but he’s here for the open bar. Dexter Lumis appears, and he & Gargano hug.

Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams make their way to the ring as we go to commercial. We return and Carmelo has things to say to Samantha Irvin. He won the Breakout Tournament three weeks ago. At the end of the day, this is all a numbers game, which led to him calling Trick Williams. Trick is bout it bout it. Apparently Trick’s going to help protect Carmelo’s portfolio gimmick. At least it’s not a briefcase? Trick has the gift of gab and is proud of Carmelo. But wait. Trick repeats a line twice and explains that Carmelo has gotten soft. Carmelo agrees. He’s the golden child & the chosen one. If he shoots, he doesn’t miss. I was a bit confused halfway through Trick’s speech, but they eventually got to the point.

As they leave, Duke Hudson appears. Duke says that Carmelo got lucky in the Breakout tournament. Trick says this stops today, and launches an attack on Hudson. Hayes joins in and they lay waste to this guy. They still stomp him a couple of times during their song, which is a nice touch. Duke’s line of verbiage came off pretty stiff, so he’ll need to work on that.

Apparently there’s a new Mandy Rose.

Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs. Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne: TK would totally spring for the Marilyn Manson version of “Sweet Dreams” instead of doing a knockoff version. Then again, we probably don’t need to give Manson money. Dolin gets worked over while Pete Dunne & Ridge Holland assault Kyle O’Reilly backstage. Jayne tags in, things don’t go much better for her. Mandy Rose interferes and it’s a 3 on 2 attack. Sarray runs down to get the three baddies out of the ring. Match wasn’t much and a bit overshadowed by the kerfluffle backstage.

We get a six-woman tag with the folks involved anyway. Now this is some Raw/SmackDown flava. Kacy & Kayden continue their dominance of Gigi until they get distracted by Mandy. Who the hell can blame them, Mandy’s new look is on point. Kacy established early on that she can sell her butt off, which is a great quality to have except you end up getting beat up every match. Mandy Rose’s bodyscissors is a thing of beauty. That’s all I’m saying about that, mmmhmmm. Jayne & Rose keeping Kacy on their side of the ring until that tag to Kayden. Kayden with some near falls on Mandy. Sarray comes in with the dropkick on Dolin. Rose & Sarray face off, Rose hits a face plant but then gets kicked in the face by Kayden for two. A “This is Awesome” chant from the crowd. Knee to the jaw gets the three count for Rose.

Winners: Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jayne
Match Rating: **3/4

Not sure I’d go full “This is Awesome”, but they worked hard & I’ll never fault a wrestling crowd for liking something. (Unless it’s like Katie Vick or something, then I call the police on the wrestling crowd.) It also has to be mentioned that the dark hair works so much for Mandy Rose. Like, so much.

Candice LeRae tries to advise Indi Hartwell on her wedding gown.

So many entrances right before commercials. This time it’s Ridge Holland.

Raquel Gonzalez is still the NXT Women’s Champion.

William Regal announces to Mckenzie Mitchell that Kyle O’Reilly will be replaced by the big fella that saved him from the attack, Von Wagner. He sure looks big. Apparently he’s the son of Wayne Bloom, who you might remember from the Beverly Brothers or Destruction Crew. I was hoping for a member of the Wagner wrestling family from Mexico, but it’s not to be,

Ridge Holland vs. Drake Maverick: Honestly, if this lasts longer than a minute they’re doing it wrong. Ridge should just kill this guy, even if “this guy” is an established in-ring veteran. It takes a bit over 2. I guess it was more because Ridge wanted to punish him.

Winner: Ridge Holland
Match Rating: N/A

Ridge looks big. As long as his leg doesn’t explode again he should be ok.

Tommaso Ciampa comments on how NXT is chaos.

Hey, another entrance before commercial!

We’ve got a Paisan out here on the street talking about waste management & amateur wrestling. Tony D’Angelo is his name.

Julius & Brutus Creed (w/The Diamond Mine) vs. : Brutus starts and he physically dominates his opponent. Poor boy tossed over the top rope to the floor. Other poor boy gets tripped on the apron. Poor Boy 1 tossed into Poor Boy 2. Julius joins the party. Brutus continues man-handling Poor Boy 1. Julius tags in, pretty hard tag. Julius makes 1 tag 2. 2 lands some shots, even a dropkick to knock Julius down. Julius hulks up & slams 2 down. The Unnecessary Clothesline ends it.

Winners: Julius & Brutus Creed (Creed Brothers)
Match Rating: N/A

I know I’m going to get heat for all these N/As, but Larry didn’t rate matches under 3 minutes either. I will say these kids seem fun…and hopefully they won’t kill anybody in the process of becoming finely tuned machines.

Malcolm Bivens tells us you might walk in this ring but you’ll be carried out. We have a new member of the Diamond Mine: Ivy Nile. Guessing on the spelling. Girl is jacked. She hasn’t had a car since 2005, and was the star of Titan Games. Kushida comes out and says they talk too much. Who is this guy, Maffew? Bivens says Roderick Strong will take on Kushida next week.

Beth doesn’t want to talk about Edge’s situation, as it’s main event time!

NXT Championship Fatal Four-Way: Pete Dunne vs. LA Knight vs. Von Wagner vs. Tommaso Ciampa: I think this one will go over three minutes. Hopefully. Ciampa & Wagner stomp people down and then face off. Wagner gets DDTed by Knight. Knight slams Ciampa, but gets overpowered by Wagner. Dunne goes for the joint manipulation on Wagner and stomps those fingers. Ciampa & Dunne face off. Ciampa gets the edge for a second. Knight gets put out of the ring. Ciampa runs the ropes before getting clotheslined by Dunne. More finger snapping before Wagner breaks it up. Kid will learn. Wagner hits a Flatliner on Knight, the fans are not digging this kid at all as we go to commercial.

Ciampa goes to town on Dunne & Knight. Then he tries to lift Wagner up, and that doesn’t work, Knight with Blunt Force Trauma on Dunne for the two count. Ciampa almost wins it with the Fairy Tale Ending, but Dunne breaks up the pin attempt on Knight. So Ciampa dives onto them on the floor. Dunne snaps Ciampa’s fingers, hits the Bitter End. Knight throws him out, Wagner hits the Angle Slam on Knight and gets 2. OK, I bit on that one. Ciampa & Dunne combine to take Wagner out, then they face off. Strike exchange, then Dunne suplexes Ciampa out of the ring. LA Knight meets him up top and hits the superplex. Wagner gets a nearfall on Knight, but it’s a Fairy Tale Ending on Wagner than reunites Tommaso Ciampa with Goldie.

Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
Match Rating: ***1/2

A bit rushed compared to your NXT title matches of years past, but got the job done. Hopefully this leads to more Ciampa/Dunne stuff. Ciampa poses with the title in the entranceway and I’m shocked nobody attacked him. Good, there’s time for that later.

Recap of the InDex Saga. This takes awhile, and is one of those things you either really love or really hate. Of course I’m in the middle! Loved parts of it, was meh for other parts, but all in all it’s good, stupid fun.

Main Event Wedding: Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis: After a commercial, the bridesmaids, groomsmen & Dexter are ready. Here comes the bride, accompanied by Father Johnny. Why is he wearing gloves? Dexter Gaylord Lumis? John Gargano eventually agrees to give the bride away. Austin is asked if he has the rings, and apparently he doesn’t. Fortunately, his guy has them. Many different hands are raised on the stage when asked if anybody has any objections. Dexter shows off an axe in his jacket, and the hands go down. Indi reads her vows. She sees Dexter as her cuddly teddy bear, a caring man with a well-groomed mustache & tight clothes. Damn right he’s a freak! She’s Dexter’s freak. John becomes alarmed when Indi begins a story about how Dexter snuck into her bed. This is all so touching. Time for Dexter to offer his vows, which consist of a thumbs up. The priest is offended by this, and Dexter puts him out with a choke hold. Well, the guy had it coming, he was getting a little off-script there. Mr. Regal is nominated to take the place of the priest, he seems reticent. Beth Phoenix jumps in and does it instead, as she was ordained as a minister last night online. Andre Chase jumps up because somebody said his name, but he gets sat down. John presents the rings. Indi says “I do”. Dexter places his hand over Beth’s microphone so he can say “I do”. The crowd goes wild. Beth proclaims them husband & wife, they kiss, and all is right in America!

As it turns out, Tommaso Ciampa was looking on backstage. Bron Breakker congratulates him on his victory. Ciampa returns the favor, they shake hands, and there’s some staring going on as we fade to black.

7.1
The final score: review Good
The 411
Welp, this is definitely more of a "WWE style" Vince McMahon presentation than what we grew accustomed to over the past several years. I can see being discouraged over parts of it. Lots of short matches instead of the longer matches typically featured in the past. Different faces. Some will be good. I think Rick Steiner's kid looks great. Shame about the name, but that'll probably change a few times. I'm good with a wrestling show featuring the next big stars, even if they aren't as polished as the top indy wrestlers Triple H liked to use. What I loved about OVW back in the early 2000s wasn't the star ratings or the workrate, it was following future stars on their way up. You grow attached to these kids and hope they do big things. Hopefully that happens for some of the new faces featured tonight. And if it helps at all, you'll still have guys like Ciampa, Dunne, Gargano, Strong & others helping work with those new faces. That should make things easier for them, and the dedicated NXT fans reticent to give this thing a chance. I'll be working the next couple of Tuesdays, but I'll keep an eye on this thing.
legend

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WWE NXT, Steve Cook