NXT 2.0 is on your airwaves, ladies and gents! Come journey through two hours as the brand sets the battle lines for WarGames and makes it pretty clear what the brand will look like going forward. As per usual, show Claire some love on her blog, then come back here for what it all means.
Let’s talk NXT!
I’m Still #1
NXT 2.0 really is making this generational conflict the fabric of the brand. It was the basis for so much of the show this week, but none more prevalent than the two matches that bookended the two hours. We’ll get to the second in a few hundred or so words, but let’s start with the main event.
Carmelo Hayes defended his North American Championship for the first time. And he did it in a triple threat match with Pete Dunne in one corner, Johnny Gargano in the other, and Trick Williams by his side. Melo didn’t let the two NXT vets battle it out and pick the bones because he has too much ego for that.
Melo’s strategy was to apply beatdowns equally and without prejudice. Like another new school cat earlier in the show, Melo is compelled to prove he’s better than everyone else and belongs.
Gargano and Dunne eventually did the smart thing when they let their powers combine to neutralize the champ, but that only lasted but so long. Their old school mentality is hard to shake. Those two know of a very different wrestling world than their opponent, one where dog ate dog because apparently cannibalism was a thing.
Even when they have a chance to put the young cat down for the count, they can’t put aside their own disdain for each other to get ahead. Even for a little bit.
But one man who clearly doesn’t have that problem is Tony D’Angelo. Earlier, Tony let us know he put all his money on Melo for the win. So when it looked like Dunne had the champ right where he wanted him, D’Angelo made the save.
Not just to make sure his gamble paid off in the best way possible, but because Tony also has beef with NXT’s old guard. The Italian’s interference gave Melo the opening he needed to shoot and score.
From that point, all Hades broke loose. Grayson Waller and LA Knight, who legitimately fought backstage for almost two straight hours, spilled out ringside. You’ve seen wrestling so it was obvious where this was going.
Even more obvious when Grayson, Melo, and Tony were in prime pouncing position to injure Johnny Gargano, Mr. NXT himself.
A familiar tune played and the NXT champ made his way to the ring with chair in hand. Tomasso Ciampa came to defend his former best friend and bitter rival, along with his turf. The ring cleared, the old school cats stood tall and then Bron Breakker joined the reindeer games.
Breakker, who also fancies himself the leader of the new school, yelled “WAR GAMES” into a microphone, then he, along with Melo, Grayson, and Tony D, rushed the ring to fight Ciampa, Gargano, Knight, and Dunne.
And because WWE is always the most subtle of organizations, Vic Joseph proclaimed it’s old school vs. new school in two weeks at WarGames.
While LA Knight’s addition makes sense based on his age and background, his storyline integration as part of any team isn’t as smooth as one wants. BUT, the rest of this makes complete sense. Breakker and Melo’s team believe it’s a new day. Each of them said as much in different ways. Ciampa and Gargano’s team (most of them) says not so fast, young bucks.
The WarGames match means a lot to both squads and I’m curious how it plays out. Whoever wins, and how they win, will say a lot about where WWE sees NXT 2.0 going. But it also begs the question: Where do we go from there?
Last week, Grayson Waller talked greasy about DIY and did it all with his chest. DIY, what they represented and how they became a thing, are of the past, according to Waller. As far as he’s concerned, he’s just as good and deserves just as many props.
Guess who didn’t take too kindly to that?
If you said Tomasso Ciampa, then you clearly watched NXT last week. Thanks to Waller’s unkind words, he and the NXT Champion squared off this week in a good excellent match. Waller didn’t need to beat the champ so much as he needed to hang with him. But the champ needed to make an example of his challenger and put him away quickly. While he made good on the first part of that plan, the second part was, putting it mildly, less successful.
Waller started out looking completely overmatched but once he found his footing, it was clear Ciampa needed to take it seriously. For Ciampa, this was less about Waller and more about the entireNXT. Waller represents the new school but Ciampa believes there’s no school like the old school, and he’s the damn headmaster.
Ciampa hit his usual spots but it was Waller who surprised here, truly making the champion sweat and showing he ain’t no joke. In the end, after two…