By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT Level Up
Taped February 15, 2022 in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired February 18, 2022 on Peacock/WWE Network
Sudu Shah and Nigel McGuinness were on commentary. The commentary team checked in from ringside where they introduced the replacement for 205 Live…
Joe Gacy and Harland made their entrance. Gacy took the mic and took credit for the rebranding of 205 Live towards being more inclusive. Gacy said everyone who wants to make a name for themselves is welcome. Gacy talked about Harland being the first person to grace this stage and how Harland will welcome his first oponent Javier Bernal. Bernal made his entrance to generic rock music…
John’s Thoughts: Well, I was bored this week and had free time. So why the hell not? Anyways, we are looking for contributors to review this show weekly. If you would like to take the reins of the weekly Level Up reviews, feel free to contact Jason Powell via email at firstname.lastname@example.org so he can set you up.
1. Harland (w/Joe Gacy) vs. Javier Bernal. Harland quickly dragged Bernal to the corner and clubbed him. Harland then tossed Bernal across the ring. Harland slammed Bernal several times into the mat, face first. Harland then ground his elbow in the neck of Bernal. Bernal made a bit of a comeback with roundhouse kicks and a rally of strikes. Bernal went for a crossbody but was punched midair. Harland hit Bernal with a twisting Uranage. Harland then picked up the pinfall by crossing his wrists over the head of Bernal.
Harland defeated Javier Bernal via pinfall in 2:04.
The commentary team hyped up Fallon Henley and Kayla Inlay vs. Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley…[c]
John’s Thoughts: I get it, Harland’s a rookie, but he hasn’t come off as necessarily scary yet either which is what his characterization is supposed to imply. I’m kinda reminded of early Vladimir Kozlov where he got the big push out of the gate but looked mightily unimpressive. I don’t blame the guy. They’re rushing him out on TV, but I think Harland’s initial reps should have happened off camera as opposed to with an experimental character. Lars Sullivan, a very similar character, was WAY more impressive during his initial matches on NXT than Harland has been so far (it did help that Sullivan had that fun gimmick where he would beat up his random tag partners). Hopefully Harland gets to the level of Lars, but so far he’s fairly unimpressive compared to his “next Brock Lesnar” expectations.
Fallon Henley and Kayla Inlay both got different entrance music. Henley’s theme sounded like the royalty free bootleg version of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition song. Inlay’s theme sounded like generic runway music…
2. Ivy Nile (w/Malcolm Bivens) and Tatum Paxley vs. Kayla Inlay and Fallon Henley. Nile hit Inlay with an early belly to back suplex. The crowd was fully behind Nile with “Ivy’s gonna kill you” chants. Henley tagged in and nailed stereo dropkicks with Inlay in Nile. Henley hit Nile with a running uppercut. Henley rolled up Nile, but Paxley blind tagged herself in. Paxley hit Henley with a body slam. Nigel noted that Paxley is a former cheerleader and powerlifter.
Nile tagged in and hit Henley with a suplex. Paxley hit Henley with a corkscrew standing flip. Nile got a two count. Henley went for a bulldog, but Nile hit Henley with a German Suplex. Nile locked Henley with a leg-scissors choke. Nile got some pushups in. Nile and Henley traded rollups. Inlay tagged in and rallied at Nile with lariats. Inlay hit Nile with a delayed body slam. Inlay tackled Nile several times in the corner. Inlay did a backflip into a tackle.
Paxley broke up Inlay’s pin on Nile. Henley tossed Paxley to ringside. Inlay tried to backslide Nile, but Nile locked Inlay in a modified Dragon Sleeper Choke for the quick tapout victory.
Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley defeated Kayla Inlay and Fallon Henley via submission in 4:14.
Shah noted that this match might be a preview as to what to expect in the Women’s Dusty Classic. Nigel hyped up Kushida vs. Edris Enofe as the main event of Level Up…
John’s Thoughts: A showcase for Nile but also a good showing by Fallon Henley who had to carry the match from an experience perspective. I thought Nile looked good too because it looked like she was ahead in terms of experience compared to Paxley and Inlay. I think Diamond Mine is totally fine not bringing Tatum Paxley on board (she’s not ready for TV yet). This is also a match that I wouldn’t book on the main NXT show because it did have Nile selling a bit. That said, Ivy Nile looked great and has the potential to be a huge star on Raw and Smackdown once she develops a bit more.
The Rocky Johnson Black History Month video aired…
Kushida and Ikeman Jiro came out to the Jacket Time theme….
John’s Thoughts: Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I really really like Jiro’s very Ayumi Hamasaki/Hatsume Miku sounding theme (it’s one of my pro wrestling guilty pleasures), but I feel like Kushida is falling off a cliff with Jiro as his anchor. They really dropped the ball with Kushida once NXT became 2.0.
2. KUSHIDA (w/Ikeman Jiro) vs. Edris Enofe (w/Malik Blade). Kushida dominated the early chain wrestling sequence. Kushida maintained the advantage for a few minutes. Enofe made a comeback with a reverse Sling Blade for a two count. Kushida escaped Enofe’s restholds, but Enofe rolled up Kushida into a Half Crab. Kushida got to the ropes for the break.
Kushida kicked out at Enofe’s pin attempt at two. Kushida used handstand boots to stagger Enofe on the top rope. Enofe punched Kushida off the top rope. Enofe went for a dive, but Kushida swatted him out of the air with a dropkick. Kushida hit Enofe with n atomic drop and cartwheel dropkick. Kushida nailed Enofe with a Tornado DDT. Kushida locked Enofe in the Juji Gatame. Enofe broke it by getting Kushida’s shoulders on the mat. After trading punches, Kushida hit Enofe with a Pele Kick.
Kushida went for the handstand boots, but Enofe caught Kushida with a dropkick. Enofe hit Kushida with a Shooting Star Press for the victory.
Edris Enofe defeated Kushida via pinfall in 7:01.
Malik Blade held up Edris Enofe’s hand in victory to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A decent match, but nothing too stellar. I do like what I see from Enofe as he has good athleticism and has been impressing on NXT TV in recent weeks, especially in his tag team with Malik Blade. I think the bigger story is Kushida’s fall from grace. This guy was one of the most protected guys in NXT over the last few years. Now he’s comedy fodder. Ouch. I hope they eventually double back on Kushida because the former Ace of New Japan’s Junior Heavyweight division deserves better than this.
As expected this was 205 Live 2022 under a new coat of paint. Same show, showcasing WWE’s true “developmental” talent. On one hand, you might not to watch this show because you get to see lower quality matches (due to a handful of talents on the show still fairly new to pro wrestling). On the other hand, you get a peak as to some of the future stars of WWE/NXT before they get their coat of paint. And hey? Where the hell was Quinn McKay? She’s part of what I was looking forward to with this show. Yes, she’s the ring announcer, but I guess that means she’ll be off TV until they have her start ring announcing for NXT Championship matches. She was really good on the Ring of Honor broadcast team so I hope her role gets expanded past unseen ring announcer.