By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT 2.0 TV
Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired live November 23, 2021 on USA Network
[Hour One] The show started off with Grayson Waller heeling it up and cutting a promo in the center of the ring. Waller called out the fans for turning on him and compared it to the fans turning it on John Cena. Waller talked about people booing people with a lot of social medial following like John Cena or The Rock. Waller also talked about the crowd booing Roman Reigns and how he’s the biggest star in WWE now. Waller said he’s going to follow that path. Tommaso Ciampa’s entrance cut off Waller’s promo…
Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary. Beth noted that she knew Tommaso Ciampa since she and her were in OVW 20 years ago…
1. NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grayson Waller in a non-title match. Ciampa got Waller in the corner and stomped a mudhole in him. Ciampa also gave Waller face wash knees. Waller tripped up Ciampa when Ciampa went for the 10 punches in the corner and followed up with a neckbreaker. Waller got a few strikes in, but Ciampa came back with a back elbow. Waller recovered and gave Ciampa some kidney punches. Ciampa tried to get a comeback rolling, but Waller gave Ciampa a spinebuster.
Waller went for a People’s elbow, with a crossover, but Ciampa recovered and dumped Waller to Ringside with a lariat. Wade Barrett got out of the way, which allowed Ciampa to chuck Waller into the announce seat. The show cut to picture-in-picture.[c]
Waller worked on Ciampa with methodical strikes. Ciampa came back with a whip and shoulder tackle. Ciampa caught a diving Waller with a high knee. Ciampa hit Waller with a ripcord DDT. Waller reversed a Fairy Tale Ending with a few Jackknife rollups for a few two counts. Ciampa came back with a Kamigoye. Waller came back with a Sky High for a two count on Ciampa. Ciampa hit Waller with a rising palm strike to stagger him. Ciampa hit Waller with an Air Raid Crash. Waller kicked out at two.
Ciampa gave Waller a few chops. Waller reversed a Fairy Tale Ending into cravate knees. Waller hit Ciampa with an Argentine rolling drop. Waller hit Ciampa with an elbow drop for a two count. Waller hit Ciampa with a Tope Con Hilo. Ciampa tangled Waller in the ropes and hit him with Willow’s Bell.
Tommaso Ciampa defeated Grayson Waller via pinfall in 13:29 in a non-title match.
John’s Thoughts: Great stuff and more like an NXT 1.0 match with plenty of time given to develop. Ciampa doesn’t have bad matches and Waller has put on really strong in-ring performances against every opponent he’s been against. I think he’s also doing a solid job as the “enemy of the indies” guy for now, invoking hating on the indies for cheap heat. His whole social media junkie character also works better as a heel than a face and so far he’s looking good in that role. He kinda reminds me of Miz a bit with the indie and reality background, but at the same time Waller seems to have a better in-ring floor than Miz did when Miz came into WWE developmental (Miz had indie experience too, but Waller seems to be further along than when Miz first came in WWE). One other thing I like about Waller is his unique basketball-like high flying moves.
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed LA Knight about Waller’s match. Knight talked about how he could have cost Waller the match, but Waller did a good job doing that by himself. Knight said Waller sucks and that is a fact of live. Joe Gacy showed up and said that Knight’s words are destructive. Knight said he’s close to attacking Gacy now. Gacy said his safe space in the ring is always open. Knight said it sounded a bit of creepy. He said in the ring there will be no microaggressions but maybe ruthless aggression. Knight said Gacy will get his ass stomped and that is not an insult, that is just a fact of life, yeah. Knight left and Gacy said Knight should leave the aggression in the locker room…
Highlights from last week’s “Poker Showdown” aired…[c]
The unseen interviewer tried to interview Toxic Attraction. They brushed him off. Dakota Kai joined them, acting creepy. Toxic Attraction and Kai passed by a bunch of destroyed stuff. After they left, it was revealed that Kay Lee Ray was randomly destroying things with a baseball batt…
Cameron Grimes made his entrance looking less cheerful than he usually is. He of course had shorter hair due to Duke Hudson cutting it off. Grimes talked about growing up in a small town in North Carolina where there are people who told him he wasn’t good enough. Grimes said he showed them he was good enough. He said it didn’t matter how many times he had to scramble for change, just to eat, because he showed people that Cameron Grimes holds it down. He talked about striking it rich in this industry. He said through that he kept the hair and beard to remind him of his humble beginnings, to remind himself of a time he had nothing.
Grimes said Hudson took that away from him by humiliating him and embarrassing him. He said where Duke messed up is he made Grimes angry. He said he’s done talking and he wants Duke Hudson to come to the ring. Duke Hudson appeared in the big screen. He was in the middle of a haircut. Hudson joked about Grimes getting a free haircut in addition to getting some money from Hudson. Hudson said he made Grimes look less like a troll. Grimes told Hudson to be a man and come out to the ring. Hudson refused and said “sorry, not sorry”. Grimes said that all Hudson proved to the crowd is that he’s gutless and nutless. Grimes then challenged Hudson to go all-in in a Hair vs. Hair match at the NXT Wargames PPV. Hudson accepted and showed that he had Grimes’s hair trimmings in a zip loc bag…
Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix checked in from the commentary table….
Pete Dunne cut a promo backstage to hype up potentially winning the North American Championship…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Best promo in Cameron Grimes/Trevor Lee’s career so far (at least in the last 6 years of me reviewing his segments). Nothing ground shattering, but he showed that he does have it in him to cut a serious promo that doesn’t involve him yuk-ing it up. Duke Hudson was solid as the douchebag too. The only thing out of place is the random ass “poker guy that sucks at poker” gimmick that he currently has. This promo segment sold me on their PPV match and the match got bumped up another level with the Luchas De Apuestas stipulation being added to it. I’m hoping they
McKenzie Mitchell asked Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta about an update on Dexter Lumis. Hartwell noted that Lumis will be out for one month with a hand injury. Hartwell said what makes it worse is that Lumis value’s his hand because he’s an artist. Persia Pirotta offered to wrestle the next tag team match by herself again so Hartwell can cool down backstage. Hartwell said she’s ok to wrestle this week. Hartwell said she’s going to win the match in dedication to her injured husband. McKenzie noted that it was going to be Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta vs. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter after the break…[c]
A vignette aired to introduce Tiffany Stratton. She’s playing the role of a rich girl debutante….
John’s Thoughts: Very interesting and a potentially promising gimmick. Also reminds me of a combination of Taya Valkyrie and Summer Rae.
Entrances for the next match took place. Yes, Carter and Catanzaro are ravers now…
2. Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta vs. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter. Carter and Katanzaro worked on Hartwell with quick tags and tandem offense. Carter backdropped Catanzaro on Hartwell for a two count. Pirotta tagged in and lawn darted Catanzaaro into the top buckle. Hartwell gave Catanzaro a lariat after Catanzaro took a backbreaker from Pirotta. Wade Barrett joked about Hartwell’s kayfabe brother Dexter Lumis stealing Vince McMahon’s egg.
Pirotta tossed Catanzaro into the corner. Hartwell tagged in and continued to dominate, but she also was constantly distracted by her wedding ring finger. Carter tagged in and the ravers slammed hartwell to the mat and hit a double team dive to give Carter the win over Hartwell.
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro defeated Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta via pinfall in 3:31.
Hartwell continued to be distracted by her wedding ring finger.
A Santos Escobar vignette aired which led to Santos Escobar making his entrance with Legado Del Fantasma…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Good storytelling here to protect the Hartwell and Pirotta duo by having Hartwell’s mind stuck worried about her husband (though her overselling her wedding finger was a bit extra and over-melodramatic).
Andre Chase was giving a tour of the WWE PC to his students. Chase ran into Cameron Grimes and talked down to Grimes. Grimes told Chase to go to hell. Grimes walked off…
Already in the ring is NXT’s designated enhancement wrestler, Malik Blade…
3. Santos Escobar (w/Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza, Elektra Lopez) vs. Malik Blade. Blade managed to take down Escobar with a dropkick. Escobar came back with Muay Thai roundhouses and a PK to the back of Blade. Escobar wouldn’t let up with the strikes. Blade got a two count of a sunset flip. Escobar came back with more Muay Thai strikes and an Exploder Suplex. Escobar hit Blade with a meteora and Phantom Driver for the win.
Santos Escobar defeated Malik Blade via pinfall in 2:29.
Elektra Lopez took the mic and said that Legado offered Xyon Quinn the offer of a lifetime and he said no. She said they never needed him anyway. She said Legado is stronger thane ever with their leader back. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner made their entrance to say they want the tag titles, just like Legado do. Von Wagner cut a promo, sounded like a robot, and noted that his foot was on the rope in their last match.
Marcel Barthel and Fabien Aichner showed up on the balcony perch. Barthel mocked the crowd for not knowing a 2nd language. Barthel said everyone on the floor are acting like children. Barthel said that neither one of the teams on the floor will be able to topple the standard barers of the division. Aichner proposed the two teams on the ground to wrestle each other for a chance at Imperium at the War Games PPV.
Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, and Zoey Stark were bickering backstage due to their past history. Cora Jade cut in and mocked the pro wrestling trope of “can they coexist”. Jade said what they have to do is find a forth member for the war games team. Jade said she was off to the ring to kick Toxic Attraction ass…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Good return for Escobar, who’s still in NXT for some reason. This guy is one of the best pure in-ring guys in WWE and is really good on the microphone. Why isn’t he on Smackdown (I say that, and look what happened to WWE’s coolest act in Hit Row. Maybe it’s best he’s still on NXT)? The post match stuff to set up the tag title contenders was a bit generic and pro wrestling formula. O’Reilly and Wagner still have no chemistry and Wagner still can’t talk. What was a hidden gem in that segment was Marcel Barthel cutting a better heel promo than we’ve seen from him in a while. This version of Barthel reminded me why I really liked his mic work in WxW and PROGRESS when he was the mouthpiece for WALTER.
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Tony D’Angelo about his thoughts on the triple threat main event. D’Angelo said things like “Oh” and “forgedda bout it”. Ultimately, D’Angelo said he picks Carmelo Hayes to win…
[Hour Two] Entrances for the next match took place…
John’s Thoughts: Well… Of course they would stick Mandy’s entrance leading into the hour.
4. NXT Women’s Champion Mandy Rose vs. Cora Jade in a non-title match. Rose dragged Jade to the ground several times. Jade came back with some elbows. Jade got a one count off a jackknife. Jade hit Rose with a leg lariat. Rose reversed a corner knee into a spinebuster for a two count. Rsoe hit Jade with a snap suplex for a two count. Rose locked Jade in her signature body scissors hold. Jade got a two count after an inside cradle. Jade hit Rose with a huracanrana an knee in the corner.
Jade got a two count. Rose avoided a missile dropkick. Kay Lee Ray walked out to distract Mandy Rose. Ray was hitting the ring with a baseball bat. Ray destroyed a laptop to one of the crew members. Ray tossed the bat to the ring which distracted Rose enough for Jade to roll up Rose for the upset win.
Cora Jade defeated Mandy Rose via pinfall in 4:02.
The camera cut to Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams cutting a promo about Hayes potentially retaining the North American Championship…
The show cut to Joe Gacy cutting a promo about how he’s going to open the eyes of the blind. The segment ended with Harland’s hand showing up and patting Gacy on the shoulder…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Good win for Jade and they are laying it on thick that Kay Lee Ray is the forth member of Io Shirai’s War Games team. Standard and effective stuff. NXT does need to give Mandy Rose some wins under her belt so that her losses mean more with her having more in-ring credibility. They’re doing a good job giving their other champions non-title wins, so Rose should be included in that. Cora Jade is something special. I really think her pop punk skater girl gimmick has potential to lead her to main event a wrestlemania one day. What works for her is she looks like she’s being herself (even if it isn’t herself) as opposed to trying to “play a character”. What Jade could use is a good feud against a monster heel where she can be the plucky girl next door underdog (this is the type of character I would like to also see from AEW’s Kiera Hogan, but she’s hasn’t really gotten a shot to do anything on AEW yet).
Kay Lee Ray met up with Io Shirai, Zoey Stark, Cora Jade, and Raquel Gonzalez backstage and agreed to join their team. She also offered to wrestle in the “advantage” match next week…
LA Knight was making his entrance, but he was attacked on the ramp by Grayson Waller. Joe Gacy was already in the ring sitting on a chair. He said he wanted to teach Knight how to resolve his conflicts peacefully but that was not to be. Malcolm Bivens and the Diamond Mine made their entrance. Bivens said Gacy tried to steal the spotlight from the Mine last week, but now they want to steal it form him. Bivens told Gacy to clear the ring so Ivy Nile can have her match. Gacy said she respects that Nile has the right to have a match, but he doesn’t respect NXT Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong.
Gacy said Strong’s name invokes toxic masculinity. Gacy said the Cruiserweight division promotes weights shaming. Gacy said the concept of a cruiserweight division is meant to divide. Strong said he wants to embarrass this dork Joe Gacy. Bivens said he was going to get Strong vs. Gacy booked for War Games. Bivens told the Creed Brothers to take out the trash in Joe Gacy. Harland showed up out of nowhere and Bivens told The Creeds to back down. Gacy’s theme played to end the segment….[c]
John’s Thoughts: Well? That was random and abrupt. I’m all for Strong being moved away from a weird feud against Jacket Time and Odyssey Jones, but this was a bit random with no transition. Are Diamond Mine babyfaces? Maybe? Maybe not? Gacy is a heel cult-leader type so he’s not the face. That said, Roderick Strong is great in the ring and Joe Gacy has a lot of supposed indie wrestling cred, so maybe we can get an amazing Takeover style match out of these two indie veterans (It also looks like they might be trying to put the best “workrate” guys together for their Essentially-takeover show and not putting the 2.0 guys out there to fail.
The commentary team checked in from ringside. Vic Joseph sent the show over to MSK’s journey to find “The Shaman”. Wes Lee and Nash Carter got pulled over by the cops. The were worried and were implying that they had a weed stash. The cop pulled them over for driving 7 miles per hour on a highway. For some reason Carter was wearing a John Cena shirt. The cop wanted Carter to open his bag. They were about to open their stash, but a speeding car passed by which the cop had to deal with. The segment ended and Beth wondered what was in the bag.
5. Ivy Nile (w/Roderick Strong, Brutus Creed, Julius Creed, Malcolm Bivens, Hachiman) vs. Yulisa Leon. Leon avoided Nile early on with a judo roll. Nile came back with a judo trip. Nile did pushups on Leon which pressed Leon into the mat. Nile took down Leon with a nice rebound lariat. Nile locked Leon in a seamless headscissors, while also doing crunches. Leon escaped the hold with a cartwheel. Nile rolled Leon into a Dragon Sleeper for the win.
Ivy Nile defeated Yulisa Leon via submission in 2:44.
Diamond Mine celebrated in the ring as Roderick Strong’s theme played…
John’s Thoughts: Better than her first match and Ivy Nile continues to impress me with her presence and unique look.
The show cut to a Solo Sikoa video package. Sikoa talked about how he grew up with the “Down Six Day One” guys (The Usos) but they left him to fend on his own. He talked about how all will bow down before street champion of the islands, Solo Sikoa…
Zack Gibson and James Drake were shown randomly stealing a person’s wallet. LA Knight and Grayson Waller brawled into the scene and had to be pulled apart…
John’s Thoughts: Ok, so they’re bringing Solo Sikoa back to reality by referencing that he is a Uso brother, and made it fit their weird non-referential character they tried to push out before. Ultimately though, I would like to see him join the bloodline, or maybe even be the Uso brother that goes out winning singles titles. I like that Joe Uso has shown us that he looks like his brothers, wrestles like his brothers, but also has that Muay Thai background in it. Looking forward to more of him. What I’m not looking forward to is the Grizzled Young Veterans playing the roles of Cryme Tyme lite. Oh god.
Boa was sitting on Mei Ying’s throne. Boa noted that Ying has passed on and passed her strength to him (so he fusion danced her?). Boa said when he’s possessed all will fear Boa. Boa spat smoke into the screen and his face was in the Mei Ying face paint…
John’s Thoughts: Welp. Possessions. Not looking forward to that, but Boa might find a way to make it work? He needs to because he’s been very unimpressive for years in NXT and needs to prove something. I’m rooting for him to represent my motherland, but at the same time Xia Li is way more further along in doing that.
Entrances for the next match took place…
6. “The Grizzled Young Veterans” James Drake and Zack Gibson vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen. Jensen and Briggs used tandem offense to isolate Drake. Drake ran a lap around the ring to avoid Jensen. Gibson blind tagged in to catch Jenson off guard with a running knee. Gibson worked on Jensen with methodical offense. The picture-in-picture showed that Grayson Waller and LA Knight were still brawling backstage.
Jensen escaped a cravate with a back suplex. Jensen backdropped Gibson to tag in Briggs for the hot tag. Briggs hit Drake with a senton. Drake avoided a Dragon Suplex, but sold an injured knee. Briggs caught Gibson with a running Yakuza Kick. Drake kicked Briggs which proved he was faking an injury. Jensen tagged in and the face team hit the GYVs with a modified Total Elimation for the win.
Birggs and Jensen defeated the Grizzled Young Veterans via pinfall in 4:30.
John’s Thoughts: So they go from badass heel tag team (similar to FTR) to being lame ass con men who also just lost to NXT’s lamest tag team. Great. Eh.
The commentary team checked in and ran through the following War Games Matches: Duke Hudson vs. Cameron Grimes in a hair vs. hair match, Roderick Strong vs. Joe Gacy for the Cruiserweight Champion ship with the weight limit waived, and the Women’s War Games match. Kay Lee Ray vs. Dakota Kai was announced for next week to figure out who will have the advantage in War Games…
Johnny Gargano made his entrance heading into commercial…[c]
An ad aired for WWE”s Day 1 show…
Alicia Taylor handled the formal in-ring introductions for the North American Championship match…
7. Carmelo Hayes (w/Trick Williams) vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne for the NXT North American Championship. Hayes dumped Dunne to ringside and took chops from Gargano. Gargano hit Melo with a huracanrana and dropkick. Melo hit Gargano with a handstand kick. Dunne turned Hayes inside out with a lariat. Gargano and Dunne traded submission counters. Dunne and Gargano had a stalemate after running the ropes. Melo took out both opponents with lariats. Dunne tripped up Gargano and Hayes and put them both in a Half Crab at the same time.
Trick Williams dragged Melo to ringside. Gargano tried to hit Dunne with a Russian Legsweep, but Hayes flew out of nowhere with a springboard slingblade that took out both opponents. Gargano hit Hayes with a bulldog and took out Dunne with a lariat in the same motion. Gargano kicked off of Hayes and hit Dunne with a Tornado DDT. Gargano hit Dunne and Hayes with quick suicide dives. Gargano hit Dunne with a huracanrana heading into picture-in-picture.[c]
Dunne took down Gargano and put Melo in a Kimura. Gargano broke up the move and hit Melo with a Slingshot Spear. Gargano reversed a Bitter End into a DDT for a two count. Hayes hit Dunne with a Codebreaker and a Diamond Cutter on top of Gargano, who he took down earlier. Dunne hit Melo with a gamengiri and knee drop. Gargano hit Dunne with a Poisonrana. Gargano turned Melo inside-out with a lariat. Gargano lawn darted Melo into the second buckle. Gargano took out Trick with a PK from the apron.
Dunne reversed the slingshot spear with a clubbing blow. Dunne hit Gargano with the Bitter End. Dunne had the visual pinfall win, but Tony D’Angelo ran out and pulled Dunne to ringside. Gargano staggered to his feet, right into Melo’s top rope scissors kick to give Melo the pinfall win…
Carmelo Hayes defeated Johnny Gargano and Pete Dunne via pinfall in 11:29.
Wade Barrett wondered if Melo payed off Tony D’Angelo to help him with the match. Grayson Waller and LA Knight brought their brawl back to the ring. A “War Games” chant ensued. Trick and Melo tried to pilmanize Gargano’s hand like they did to Lumis. Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance to clean house. CIampa cleared the heels (LA Knight is a face in this case) from the ring. A DIY and War Games chant ensued. Ciampa helped Gargano to his feet.
All of a sudden, the Scott Steiner sirens blared as Bron Breakker made his entrance with a mic in hand. He simply said “War Games!”. The NXT 1.0 guys brawled with the NXT 2.0 guys to close the show….
John’s Thoughts: A fun championship match with Johnny Gargano returning to his “Johnny Takeover” form of match. He had a fun run as the suburban dad, but Johnny’s main event matches are where it’s at. I’m not 100% sold on D’Angelo’s cartoony character, but I did like the simple storytelling thing of planting the seed of D’Angelo’s involvement earlier in the show with the McKenzie Mitchell interview. I knew they were going to protect the hell out of Dunne (they’ve been doing this for months and they even gave him the visual pinfall here), I was just wondering how they were going to protect Gargano and D’Angelo was that answer. Wasn’t the most nuance finish, but I like that I didn’t see it coming.
So the men’s war games match is going to be NXT 1.0 vs. NXT 2.0. I’m okay with this as it also delays Ciampa vs. Breakker for another takeover and I don’t think they need to rush the matches between those two. Odd that 2.0 is being presented as heels, but I guess that’s what WWE is going with. Reminds me of the ECW vs. New Blood storyline from WWE-ECW. Breakker doesn’t seem to be turning heel, so he’s going to be the wild card on his team . He’s going to be in there with a lot of really good in-ring wrestlers, the only questionable wrestler being Tony D’Angelo who hasn’t had a chance to show much yet.
This week’s NXT episode was really solid and it seems like we bounce between really good and really eh episodes week to week. The “good” episodes tend to be the ones that have 1.0 style of matches while also having a good slew of promo segments. The “eh” episodes are the ones where they are throwing a bunch of green wrestlers and random gimmicks on air to see what sticks. Hopefully we get more of this time of episode regularly. Some hidden gems on this episode were Marcel Barthel getting back to his old indie promo form and Cameron Grimes finally cutting a serious promo after all these years. There were also a good amount of in-ring storytelling.