Marcus is off, presumably polishing his pitch to join Hit Row as their hip-hop historian. In his place, you’ve got a middle aged dude who likes rasslin’, and is excited to write about this Heatwave we all experienced on NXT 2.0 tonight (Aug. 16).
Claire called the action as only she can in our live blog here. Now crank up the AC and let’s break down Heatwave!
You know it was a big deal, because Triple H guy Paul Heyman did our intro.
The Big Heat
Apollo Crews appeared during Breaker’s obligatory “big match competitor warms up for big match” bumper and eyed the belt in Bron’s locker. Foreshadowing! But we could tell Bron was focused on the task at hand, because he used a sledgehammer to
destroy slightly damage a box with “JD” spray painted on it during his entrance. Not quite kicking through a gold “X”, but gotta pay tribute to the new boss.
McDonagh looked to apply his knowledge of anatomy from the start, pinpointing Breaker’s shoulder. Bron switched up his formula a bit in response. It was the Irish Ace who had to sell a shoulder injury when the champ added some dissection of his own to his standard offense. Sick bastard that JD is, he actually seemed to like fixing his dislocated shoulder, using that to propel him into the driver’s seat.
The challenger switched his focus to Breakker’s neck, then applied a submission that targeted shoulder & neck with a crossface. The champ made the ropes, and got a nearfall off a Frankensteiner. McDonagh answered with a top rope Spanish Fly, and immediately followed with a brainbuster, but Bron kicked out. It wasn’t long before the champ retained with spears and the gorilla press powerslam — some of which McDonagh seemed to welcome as he smiled through a mouth full of blood.
It was a different way to keep JD strong, which they needed considering they tried to pull the same trick with everyone who lost on the card. Breaker got experience working a psychology heavy match.
NXT UK champ Tyler Bate appeared at the end so he and Bron could show each other their belts. Bate hasn’t even won the title on television yet (it’s taped, but the tournament to crown Ilja Dragunov’s successor is only up to the semi-finals in released episodes). If that, and the influx of NXT UK talent throughout this show doesn’t tell you something about that brand’s fate, I don’t know what will.
Courage Under Fire
Stark was all business (which is part of why I really don’t get the QR code schtick… tonight’s featured an image of Zoey with the title). Rose & Toxic Attraction were their usual arrogant selves. The challenger tried to end this one fast, which sent Mandy scrambling to regroup. It was a winning strategy for the champ, as she caught Stark on the outside and smashed her surgically repaired knee on the announce desk.
Not only did Zoey have to fight through that, she also had to deal with Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne… for a while anyway. Jayne got caught grabbing the challenger’s foot and the duo was thrown out by the referee. When they argued, Stark’s new main roster tag partner Nikkita Lyons ran in to usher Toxic Attraction to the back.
As a one-on-one match, Stark survived a half crab on her bad leg, but almost won with her version of the GTS. Mandy managed to roll out before her wounded rival could cover. Zoey got to be the first person to kick out of the Kiss the Rose knee, but when the champ slipped on the brace she ripped off Stark’s knee to deliver her finisher again, Zoey could only look up at the lights during the three count.
Probably should have been a disqualification, but regardless it was my favorite Mandy Rose title defense in a long time. A good scrap that saw the champ cheat in a new way, while protecting Stark as she heads to SmackDown for a WWE Women’s Championship Tournament match with Lyons.
Heat of the Night
Befitting a crime saga spanning months of television, the Street Fight got a lengthy cinematic recap package before it opened Heatwave’s second hour.
We got a lot of what you’d expect from a Street Fight, but this was a very smartly constructed that didn’t let chaos get in the way of the story. Stacks and every member of Legado Del Fantasma got involved at various points. They used the stipulation so D’Angelo could really “injure” Escobar’s left arm with traditional and plunder-based offense. The heat segment seemed to silence the pro-Santos crowd, and they responded by noisily supporting his right arm-heavy rally (featuring the best suicide dive this side of Darby Allin).
Weapons that were involved in the program made appearances, and gave D’Angelo one of his better heel moments when he shrugged off running over Elektra Lopez when she tried to give Santos the crowbar. It set the stage for the finish, where both men realized victory was within reach in the form of that crowbar and the brass knuckles. It was a scene out of a Robert Rodriguez flick. The Don got to play El Mariachi, and his being quicker means Escobar has to leave NXT.
With the way the Performance Center crowd welcomed Santos & company with a “Le-gad-do” chant, it is hard to imagine NXT without him. But he arguably never needed to be here. While he’s a little undersized, he’s got everything WWE needs to make their next big Latinx star. With The Game in charge, a borderline cruiserweight frame shouldn’t hold him back.
My favorite match of the night, no question.
The McKenzie Mitchell interview with Perez led into this one, with Roxanne’s voice cracking as she talked about being betrayed by her former friend. I’d like to see some more fire from the young babyface, but we all know this program is just starting, so they’ll have plenty of time to show us what angry Roxy sounds like on the mic.
We saw what a pissed off Perez looks like in the ring, as she charged right into the ring and went for Cora as the bell rang. That fire didn’t serve her well for long, however. Jade continues to shine in her new vicious heel persona, relishing inflicting punishment on her ex-partner. It would have been a good opportunity for Roxanne to show a new side to her offense. But other than showing off Paige Turner, her comeback included the same spots she’d use in any other match.
The finish hinged on Perez’s acting ability. She was tempted to use the kendo stick Jade brought into the ring, but Roxanne’s moral compass prevented her from doing it. That created an opening for Cora to DDT her for the win.
WWE wants this to be, as Triple H he tweeted before the show, “just the beginning of another fabled tale of the NXT Women’s Division.” It’s going to struggle to get there, though. Partly because the break-up happened before we could connect with the team. And, at least at this point, because Perez comes across as more pathetic than sympathetic.
The proverbial hot opener started with some literal fire, as Carmelo Hayes showed up in Giovanni Vinci’s merch… and dropped it in a trashcan bonfire on the stage.
It started as a showcase for The A Champ, but the Italian Superstar slowed Melo’s roll with some LOUD chops that crumpled Hayes. Even Trick Williams experienced sympathy pain for his guy. Vinci has Castagnoli-esque sneaky strength, and the chops were just the start of this one’s efforts to showcase that. Some of those spots went smoother than others. Both his power and high-flying abilities put him in a position to win, but Williams interfered to save Hayes after both a double jump moonsault and before a powerbomb. Melo reversed another powerbomb attempt to get out with a win.
An entertaining match, but not one that’s going to linger in our minds when there are similar high quality ones on television almost every night of the week. The important thing is that it accomplished its goal of making the former Fabian Aichner look like a stud while keeping the belt on Hayes.
Other temperature spikes
• Mr. Stone & Von Wagner touted Wagner’s losing effort against Solo Sikoa as evidence he’ll hurt anyone who steps in the ring with him. Still not buying the Von experience, but can’t blame them for trying.
• Julius Creed studied the tape and realized the person trying to undermine the NXT Tag champs is none other than their mentor, Roderick Strong. Roddy and The Creeds put each other over, but Julius revealed the results of his tape study — Strong was taking signals from Tony D’Angelo in their eight-man tag against The Don’s Family a couple weeks back. With Brutus, Julius & Damon Kemp had Roddy cornered, NXT UK’s Gallus attacked. And they took out the Messiah of the Backbreaker, too! So we still don’t know if Strong is in Tony D’s pocket, but Julius held his own on the microphone. And now he & Brut have another set of brothers to fight, because Wolfgang, and Joe & Mark Coffey have arrived.
• The Sorkin-like walking & talking backstage interactions that have quickly become a staple of Triple H’s main roster shows set-up a future NXT UK Tag title clash between Briggs & Jensen and the newly arrived Gallus, who threatened to turn 2.0 upside down to get a chance to win the belts back. That match is next Tuesday.
• While chatting with new NXT Women’s Tag champs Katana Chance & Kayden Carter, Indi Hartwell got a delivery — an InDex drawing from her kayfabe husband Dexter Lumis! We didn’t get a chance to linger on that, however, as another NXT UK arrival ripped up the valentine from Sexy Dexy, Blair Davenport (fka Bea Priestley), arrived to announce her intentions to take over this version of the brand.
• The Tiffany Stratton/Wendy Choo feud will end next week in a Lights Out match. Looking forward to AEW fans complaining that NXT is guilty of gimmick theft.
• Level Up fave Quincy Elliott is coming to work it in NXT, because he is “it”. The Super Diva will be on Tuesday nights soon.
• New talk show alert! The Grayson Waller Effect will continue the host’s feud with Apollo Crews next week.
Not quite up to the standards of past themed episodes, but a very entertaining two hours+ that looks to have accomplished everything they set out to do — with the possible exception of selling Jade/Perez as an “epic” rivalry.
The stage is certainly set for an interesting time as they integrate all these NXT UK talents into the mix. None of them seemed to be working together, so my guess is it’s not an invasion per se… but I’m intrigued to see what it is.
Your turn, Cagesiders.