By: Frank Hyden
NXT’s go-home episode for Halloween Havoc was last night and it featured some big happenings, including a title change. Let’s get to the rundown.
GOOD- Kushida beat Tommaso Ciampa and Velveteen Dream
This was a fast-paced match that was given plenty of time. Kushida looked especially strong here, tapping out Dream on the outside (which didn’t count because it wasn’t in the ring) before Dream knocked out Ciampa with his cast and Kushida German Suplexed Ciampa and bridged up for the pinfall. Kushida has been looking really good lately.
GOOD- Ember Moon beat Jessi Kamea
Moon used a more grounded approach in this match, eventually making Kamea tap out to a crossface. I like Moon’s high-flying offense but whatever it takes to keep her healthy and avoid injuries. Plus, it’s also good to diversify things. After the win, Dakota Kai attacked Moon and said she’s no one’s stepping stone. That should be a good feud.
BAD- Bronson Reed beats Austin Theory twice
This was just more of the jobbing Theory out stuff. Reed beat him in a sort of competitive match but then Theory demanded a rematch and got squashed in seconds. I was done with seeing Theory after this because it’s just the same old crap over and over, but then they showed a segment with Theory leaving in the parking lot saying he was done with WWE. So maybe they’re finally doing something with this. The biggest problem is that, at this point, Theory might be too far gone for this to even matter. He’s lost to everyone under the sun at this point so who cares? No one feels bad for him because he’s done nothing to make you care about him. He’s been super arrogant, no one likes people like that.
GOOD- Legado Del Fantasma beat Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Jake Atlas, and Ashante “Thee” Adonis
This was a really good match featuring lots of quick action. There was a big Ouch moment as Swerve jumped onto the heels from the top rope but no one really caught him and he landed flat on his ass. That had to jar him. There was a lot of great athleticism on display during this match. At the end of the match, Atlas did a cartwheel off the announce table and DDT’d Santos Escobar and yelled at him that he would take his WWE Cruiserweight Title but Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza hit Adonis with a double-team move and got the pin. Escobar practically acted stunned and afraid as he was helped to the back, so I’m assuming they’re setting up Atlas to challenge Escobar next.
GOOD- Ever-Rise beat Drake Maverick and Killian Dain by DQ
Ever-Rise taunted Maverick until he lost it and attacked them both with chairs, leading to the DQ. Dain was impressed and they kind of celebrated. Not much to the match but this was all about the angle, so that’s fine.
GOOD/BAD- Kacy Catanzaro beat Xia Li, Raquel Gonzalez attacks
Catanzaro beat Li in an okay match. Again, this was more about the angle than the actual match. Afterwards, Li attacked Catanzaro and Kayden Carter until Raquel Gonzalez attacked and laid all three of them out. She cut a promo telling Rhea Ripley that she would destroy her at Halloween Havoc.
I’ve got a couple problems with the way this all happened. For one, Li shouldn’t have attacked Catanzaro this soon, especially if Gonzalez was just going to run in and lay all 3 women out. That takes away from Li’s story. They should have had Li get more and more desperate with each loss, maybe shoving one of them one week but apologizing the next. Have her lose a tag match one week where she gets double-teamed and complains about that the next week. But you don’t have her turn heel, just do the temper tantrum stuff of stomping her feet and pounding the mat, etc. And you build it slowly every week, where she gets more and more desperate until finally, she gets pushed too far and erupts, destroying one of the jobbers she just lost to. This brings out Catanzaro, who seemingly calms Li down until she attacks her from behind and lays her out. Carter runs out and gets destroyed. Have Li take out one of the female refs as well. You end with Li standing tall over a ring of fallen bodies. Then you end it there. You sure as hell don’t have Raquel Gonzalez come out and leave her laying. What the hell was that? That completely cuts Li off at the knees, to have Gonzalez bigfoot her like that. It’s nothing against Gonzalez, this is just bad booking. I don’t get what they were thinking here?
GOOD- Timothy Thatcher beats a student
This was more of the Thatch-as-Thatch-Can stuff, which is fine. It lends an air of authenticity to the show and keeps Thatcher on the show while making him look tough. I like it, I’m not sure how others really feel about this stuff, but I think it’s good.
GOOD- Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch beat Breezango to win the NXT Tag Team Titles, Pat McAfee interferes
Earlier in the night, Bobby Fish was laid out and injured. Then, Roderick Strong was laid out. This prevented Undisputed Era from getting the tag titles shot, so Lorcan and Burch were chosen to compete instead. The match was pretty good, no surprise, but the finish came when a masked man attacked Fandango then Burch low-blowed Tyler Breeze and they pinned the champs to win the titles. The masked man revealed himself to be Pat McAfee and he celebrated with Lorcan and Burch as the show ended. This was a good reveal, and much better than trying to draw out the mystery. They could have done that and gotten some mileage out of that but I prefer the big impact an immediate reveal creates. This is really interesting and ratchets up the tension between McAfee and Adam Cole even more, as surely they’ll say that McAfee is the one who attacked Cole and hurt his ribs. This was another good show for NXT.
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank