WWE NXT Review (February 22, 2022)

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This week’s WWE NXT featured grudge matches with LA Knight facing his rival Grayson Waller while Raw’s Dolph Ziggler went one on one with Tommaso Ciampa.

The last two weeks of NXT were on Syfy in the US. It’s back on USA Network now that the Winter Olympics are done.

This episode is taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. My WWE NXT Review archive is here. Let’s get to it.

This week’s NXT show started with highlights of last week’s NXT Vengeance Day episode.

Bron Breakker, the NXT Champion, made his entrance in street clothes including a jean jacket and jeans. The NXT commentary team was Vic Joseph and Wade Barrett as usual.

Let’s Hear from Bron Breakker

Bron Breakker said that Vengeance Day was a tough fight and Santos Escobar is a tough opponent, but Bron proved how difficult it would be to take the title from him. Breakker talked about how they are going on the road for NXT Stand & Deliver in Dallas during WrestleMania weekend. Breakker said that he’ll walk in as the champion and walk out of NXT Stand & Deliver still the NXT Champion.

Dolph Ziggler showed up for the interruption. Ziggler congrats “kid” for his first title defense because you never forget your first. Ziggler told Breakker you can’t make promises you can’t keep. Ziggler wasn’t sure that Breakker would make it to Stand & Deliver as the NXT Champion. Ziggler talked about how he’s going to end Ciampa and when he decides the time is right, that title will be his.

Breakker said he owes Ziggler a receipt for kicking him in the face last week, so Breakker wanted him to bring his skinny ass into the ring. Ziggler said that Breakker is a hothead and he doesn’t just mean the Canadian tuxedo he’s wearing. Ziggler said that Breakker is the champ, he’s the guy…in Orlando. Ziggler said that as soon as he walked through that door he was the biggest damn star in this business and in this building. Ziggler told Breakker to take the night off, he’s going to sit in the back and no cheap shots in his match because he’s barred from Ziggler’s match. Ziggler told Breakker to watch Dolph do what he does better than anybody else in this business. Ziggler left as his music played.

Analysis: Some of the things that Ziggler said were lies, but that’s okay because as I like to point out, heels lie. Ziggler hasn’t been presented as a huge star in WWE for a while. With that said, Ziggler is still talented, and it is a good thing to see him in NXT interacting with people like Bron Breakker, who can benefit from working with a respected veteran like Ziggler. Breakker is still raw when it comes to promos, but he gets to the point quickly, so I like that. Ziggler has been a very good talker for many years.

A video aired about how the LA Knight/Grayson Waller match was set up this week.

Grayson Waller made his entrance with the big man Sanga by his side. LA Knight got a big ovation from the crowd. Nice “YEAH” sign in the crowd and they don’t mean that famous Usher song.

Grayson Waller (w/Sanga) vs. LA Knight

Waller ran away from Knight for the first minute of the match, then they went into the ring and Knight him with a clothesline along with a knee to the face. Knight jumped over the top with a shoulder tackle. Knight sent Waller onto the top rope so that he was crotched across the top and Knight hit Waller with a forearm to knock Waller off the apron to the floor. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

Waller was on the floor, Knight went after him leading to Knight looking at Sanga and then Waller whipped Knight into the steel steps. Waller with elbows followed by a suplex and an elbow drop off the middle rope that looks impressive for a two count. Waller chokes Knight across the middle rope followed by a back elbow. Waller kicked the left arm of Knight followed by a slam off the shoulders into a spinebuster for a two count. Waller left the ring, then he charged in for an attack, but Knight caught him with a belly to back suplex. Knight went off the ropes with a clothesline followed by a back body drop. Knight stomped on Waller leading to the “YEAH” chants, a hard whip into the turnbuckle and a neckbreaker. Sanga held Waller to stop a Knight move and Waller got a cover with a grab of the tights for the pinfall win after ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Grayson Waller

Analysis: *** It was a solid match with a cheap finish. I thought Knight would get the win just based on the story they have had, but Waller continued his cheating ways with the big man Sanga helping him. I get the feeling that there’s going to be another match between them with Knight getting the win at that point. They work well together and the crowd was into the match. They like Knight as a face even though he was really good as a heel in the past.

After the match, Knight went after Waller with punches, Sanga into the ring and Knight hit him with the BFT neckbreaker. Knight hit Waller with the BFT as well. Knight left while saying he was the last man standing.

Dakota Kai was shown walking around backstage where she found a sleeping Wendy Choo, which led to Kai yelling at her for putting them in the Dusty Cup. Wendy said she told Kai’s imaginary friend, Kai wondered who it was and Kai mentioned she has had past issues with partners. Choo said that’s okay because Kai never had a partner like Choo before.

The Toxic Attraction trio of Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne were shown walking backstage because they’re going to watch the Women’s Dusty Cup matches.

A commercial aired for WrestleMania on April 2 and April 3. Stupendous!

(Commercial)

A video aired about Raquel Gonzalez and Cora Jade having a training session to continue their bonding as a team. Cora tried to help Raquel get over her fear of heights. Their first match as a team in the Women’s Dusty Cup is next week.

The Toxic Attraction trio of NXT Women’s Champion Mandy Rose, and NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne were in the “Toxic Lounge” with Mckenzie Mitchell interviewing them. They were asked about teams in the tournament and how the winners get to challenge Dolin & Jayne for the titles. It was typical heel trash talk from the Toxic Attraction trio.

Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Kay Lee Ray & Io Shirai vs. Lash Legend & Amari Miller

Legend with a shoulder tackle on Shirai followed by some hair pulling. Shirai with a headscissors into the ropes leading to a 619 kick. Shirai slipped off the ropes, then she stunned Legend a bit and went up top with a missile dropkick. Miller tagged in, missed an elbow and Shirai hit a flapjack. Ray tagged in with a kick to the back, Shirai with a dropkick and Ray got a two count. Miller got an inside cradle for two and then a spin kick. Legend with a pump kick. Ray with a superkick on Legend and a KLR Bomb. Shirai tagged in, Ray with a moonsault onto the legs and Shirai hit the Over the Moonsault off the top for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Kay Lee Ray & Io Shirai

Analysis: * That was an easy and dominant win for the new team featuring established names in NXT. The Legend/Miller team really had no shot and barely got any offense. Miller moves around fine. Legend is very green in there. She just needs more experience. Ray and Shirai worked well together.

Dante Chen was interviewed about facing Duke Hudson after Duke attacked Chen several weeks ago. Chen said that last week was Vengeance Day, but this week he’ll get his vengeance. Chen said it will be hard for Duke Hudson to sweep Persia Pirotta off his feet when Chen will make sure Hudson won’t have any feet to stand on.

This week on Smackdown, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar is on Smackdown for a confrontation with Universal Champion Roman Reigns. No matches announced yet.

(Commercial)

There was a video featuring Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen with Briggs telling Jensen to film a video for a dating website. They had problems making it entertaining. Thrilling.

Duke Hudson made his entrance leading to Dante Chen attacking from behind before Hudson was in the ring.

Dante Chen vs. Duke Hudson

Hudson had the size advantage, so he tossed Hudson out of the ring. Chen got a hold of Hudson’s legs and whipped the right leg into the ring post. Hudson managed to send Chen shoulder first into the post. Chen came back with a forearm, a neckbreaker, a splash in the corner and a DDT for two. Chen with punches, but then Hudson sent him face first into the top turnbuckle. Hudson with a running kick to the head of Chen. Hudson hit his Razor’s Edge style finisher for the pinfall win after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Duke Hudson

Analysis: * An easy win for Hudson after Chen got some offense early on. It only took a few power moves for Hudson to get the win. They are trying to give Hudson some momentum after he lost the feud to Cameron Grimes, so they want him to get some wins over lower-card guys like Chen.

The NXT North American Champion Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams were shown walking backstage for a segment up next.

(Commercial)

Let’s Hear from Carmelo Hayes with Trick Williams

The NXT North American “A” Champion Carmelo Hayes entered for a promo with his buddy Trick Williams by his side. Hayes said when he shoots he don’t miss. Hayes said it was a Melo-bration. Hayes said that last week he was going to have match of the night (Williams said he did that), he would beat Cameron Grimes (he did that) and he said he was going to steal the show, which he did. Hayes said when last week’s show was done, they were talking about the A Champion and the A stands for “Absolute Best.” Hayes said you can get it in the ring, on the mic or the bird app. Williams said in April they’ll be in Dallas where America’s Team (Dallas Cowboys) and the A Champion will be there at the same time.

Pete Dunne walked out there doing a promo saying Hayes said that he has beat everyone while Dunne said Hayes hasn’t beaten him. Hayes told Dunne he can’t make everybody famous. Dunne wanted Hayes to face him next week on NXT. Williams told Dunne he doesn’t get a chance. Hayes said he has never backed down from a fight and never well. Williams said that Hayes will beat Dunne like he beat Cameron Grimes last week. Speaking of Grimes, he ran out to the ring and cleaned house by sending Hayes/Williams out of the ring. That led to a break.

Analysis: I really like the confidence shown by Hayes with Williams doing a nice job supporting him. I think Hayes has improved a lot in terms of promos. Those promos were a weakness for him earlier in his NXT run, but he’s gotten better at them.

(Commercial)

Cameron Grimes vs. Trick Williams (w/Carmelo Hayes)

Grimes worked over Williams with a clothesline, then a whip into the turnbuckle and a back elbow. Grimes with a kick to the chest followed by Grimes sending Williams into the turnbuckle. Barrett claimed that Williams wasn’t ready. Williams got some punches followed by a jumping clothesline. Williams with a corner clothesline, a body slam and a dropkick for two. Williams with an armbar, then he sent Grimes into the turnbuckle and a spin kick for two. Williams grabbed a chinlock, Grimes got a takedown and two running forearms. Grimes hit a running kick on Williams. Grimes up top, he jumped off, Williams moved and Williams got a few strikes. Grimes got a hold of Williams leading to a spinning sidewalk slam for two. Grimes charged, Williams rolled out of the ring, Grimes missed a diving attack off the apron and then Grimes hit a superkick. Back in the ring, Grimes jumped off the top with a cross body block. Grimes hit the Cave In foot stomp to the chest for the pinfall win after six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cameron Grimes

Analysis: **1/2 It was a way to give Grimes a win after he lost to Hayes last week. Williams got some offense including a couple of nearfalls, but Grimes is the one that is pushed in NXT, so it was obvious what the result would be.

They showed Brooks Jensen with Josh Briggs again with Brooks talking about how he liked Kayden Carter saying he wishes they were more than friends. They stopped recording.

Tommaso Ciampa was shown working out. Bron Breakker walked up to him to wish him good luck. Ciampa said it’s Ciampa 1 – Breakker 1 and he needs to know who the better man is. Breakker said he’s looking forward to the rubber match.

A video aired about Nikkita Lyons debuting after the break.

(Commercial)

There was a video of Andre Chase “teaching” a class while a student mentioned Von Wagner, so Chase yelled that he was going to destroy him. Chase kicked the student out of class.

Nikkita Lyons vs. Kayla Inlay

Lyons with an armdrag takedown followed by a kick to the leg after they locked up. Lyons with a spin kick to the head, then a shoulder tackle and a hiptoss. Lyons with a running forearm, then some choking across the top rope and three knees to the ribs. Lyons got a sunset flip for two. Lyons with a forearm, knees to the ribs and a punch to the ribs with Inlay selling it as a big deal. Lyons with three kicks to the body, a jumping forearm and Lyons hit a German Suplex. Lyons hit a jumping spin kick followed by a split-legged leg drop for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Nikkita Lyons

Analysis: *1/4 An easy win for Lyons in her debut. It was a short match that went a bit longer than I thought it would go for Nikkita’s first match. The split-legged leg drop finish will make her popular with some fans. Just saying.

Persia Pirotta walked up to Duke Hudson in the locker room. Pirotta told Hudson he looked so good out there, so Hudson kissed her on the lips and they made out a bit in the locker room. Indi Hartwell said it was gross, so Pirotta left. Duke said that she used to enjoy it, Hartwell said that was a long time ago and Duke said that doesn’t have to be. Dexter Lumis (Indi’s husband) walked into the room, he put his head down, and Hartwell was frustrated while telling Dexter it’s not what it looks like.

Analysis: I mentioned in the past that they are doing the story where Hudson is going to break up the Pirotta/Hartwell team and then he’ll try to steal Hartwell, but Lumis will fight for his woman. It should lead to a mixed-tag team feud at that point.

The Creed Brothers were up next.

(Commercial)

Von Wagner was backstage with Robert Stone for a promo. Stone said that Andre Chase will be in the ring with Wagner next week while adding that this is Wagner’s world and Wager said, “and you’re just living with it.”

Let’s Hear from The Creed Brothers with Malcolm Bivens

The Creed Brothers entered with manager Malcolm Bivens of Diamond Mine. The Dusty Cup trophy was in the ring. Bivens said that Imperium wants everybody to believe they are world-class athletes while adding that his Creed boys were collegiate athletes that made it to the Olympic trials. Bivens bragged about his guys winning the Dusty Cup while Imperium hasn’t had a match in weeks. Bivens said that they are the real deal while ripping on Imperium.

Gunther walked out with his Imperium buddies. Marcel Barthel said that the Creed Brothers will never take the championships. Gunther said that Bivens can do all the talking he wants, but the titles will remain with Fabian and Marcel. The teams started brawling, Gunther went over Bivens in the corner and then Solo Sikoa appeared behind Gunther. Sikoa dropped Gunther with a superkick. Sikoa stood tall. Bivens was terrified, but he gave a thumbs up to Sikoa.

Analysis: It should be a good match whenever Gunther faces Sikoa. I expect Gunther to win, but it will be big for Sikoa to have a match against a bigger name like Gunther. I don’t think that means Sikoa joined Diamond Mine or anything like that. I think it was more about Sikoa laying out Gunther. The Tag Team Title feud needed some storyline going into it, so I get why they did a segment like that.

Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs were still filming a video. There was a woman that showed up to take a picture, she’ll set up Jensen’s profile and send it to him. Jensen wondered what Briggs was doing and Briggs said that Jensen’s love problems were entertaining, so that’s why he was filming. Jensen was frustrated while Briggs left.

Analysis: I don’t think these segments were very effective in terms of developing some personality for these guys.

Dolph Ziggler was shown warming up backstage.

(Commercial)

Joe Gacy and Harland were interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell. A video was shown from a few days earlier at 2:39 am where Draco Anthony was working out at the WWE PC. Gacy said that they approached Anthony to talk, but Anthony pushed back and Gacy mentioned Harland will face Anthony next week.

Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley vs. Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro

The babyface team of Carter and Kacy got a good response. Paxley used her power against Carter early, but then Carter hit a dropkick and Kacy tagged in with a cross body block. Nile tagged in with a punch to the ribs. Nile with a jumping kick to the chest. The heels from Diamond Mine made some quick tags with Nile getting a tag off the ropes. Carter got the tag with a forward roll on Nile followed by a superkick. The Toxic Attraction trio were watching the match. Nile with a kick, Paxley tagged in and they did a double team slam. Paxley with a splash on Carter. Kacy made the save, got rid of Nile to the floor and Carter hit a superkick. Kacy got the tag, she hit a 450 splash onto Paxley while Carter delivered a slam. Kacy pinned Paxley for the pinfall win. They got just over three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro

Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to put over the more established babyface team. The heels had control, then the faces made the comeback and it was all over. The Kayden/Kacy team is fun to watch since they are an actual team with tandem moves. Nile is usually booked strong as a singles wrestler, yet here she is losing in this match while Paxley took the pin since she’s less established of the two women on her team. I thought the finish was done well.

I think the team of Kayden and Kacy would be a good choice to win the tournament. However, I think it’s more likely that Shirai & Kay Lee Ray beat them next round since they are also pushed as singles wrestlers working together now.

After the match, Ivy Nile got a hold of Tatum Paxley and choked her with a headlock. Roderick Strong was at ringside coaching Nile. It led to Nile shoving Paxley at ringside.

Analysis: I guess that’s it for those two as a team although maybe it’s just being tough towards Paxley and she’ll be stronger in the future. I don’t know.

Solo Sikoa was interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell, who informed Solo that he has a singles match next week with Gunther. Solo said he was going to pick a fight with the biggest/baddest dude, he dropped him on his ass and next week he’ll find out what the street champion Solo is all about. Malcolm Bivens went up to Solo telling him to take out Gunther, then Solo told him he didn’t do that for Bivens, Solo did it for himself.

Analysis: While I don’t expect Solo to beat Gunther, it will be a good match with Solo putting up a fight and showing how talented he is.

Dolph Ziggler from Raw made his entrance for the main event. Wade Barrett talked about how he has known Ziggler since 2008 while wrestling him many times and said he was up there with Randy Orton & Kofi Kingston as the best that Wade has ever stepped in the ring with. Ziggler’s main event match is next.

(Commercial)

LA Knight did a backstage promo saying that Grayson Waller got the 1-2-3 but you can see how he did it. Knight said he was the last man standing after the match with everybody saying LA Knight…yeah.

Next week on NXT:

* Gunther vs. Solo Sikoa

* NXT North American Championship: Carmelo Hayes vs. Pete Dunne

* Von Wagner vs. Andre Chase

* Draco Anthony vs. Harland

Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance as the babyface with the fans cheering him. Ciampa said this is his home and it always will be.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Tommaso Ciampa

This is unofficially a number one contender’s match for the NXT Title with the winner getting a future title match against NXT Champion Bron Breakker.

There were loud “Ciampa” matches to begin the match. They did an exchange of moves with Ziggler going for a superkick, Ciampa getting away from that and going for a knee, but Ziggler ducked out of it. Ziggler with a headbutt leading to a rollup. Ziggler with a neckbreaker. Ziggler raked the eyes of Ciampa across the top rope leading to a chinlock. Ciampa got back up with chops followed by three clotheslines and a forearm to the jaw. Ziggler was on the apron, Ciampa hit him with a running knee (with a hard leg slap) and Ziggler bumped to the floor. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

Ziggler was in control with a chinlock, Ciampa broke free leading to a slugfest and Ciampa caught Ziggler with a catapult into the turnbuckle. Ziggler always sells that well. Ciampa hit another had clothesline for a two count. Ciampa worked over Ziggler with punches/stomps, but Ziggler stopped the momentum with a dropkick. Ciampa with a forearm to the face, Ziggler off the ropes and he hit a Fameasser for two. They didn’t call it the Fameasser (they didn’t even call it anything), but that’s what it was. Ziggler set up for a superkick, but Ciampa countered with a jumping pump kick and Ciampa hit an elevated Powerbomb into the double knees that hit Ziggler’s back. Ciampa hit another running knee for two because Ziggler got his left foot on the bottom rope. The fans chanted “fight forever” for them. Ziggler was out on the floor, he managed to shove Ciampa into the ring post and Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on the floor. The referee countered them out, so they were back in at nine before the ten count. Ziggler got up, he went for a superkick and Ciampa was selling a left arm injury, so he couldn’t hit a move. Ziggler with a sleeper hold while using a body scissors with Ziggler taking Ciampa down to the mat. Ciampa got back up and fell back on top of Ziggler for a two count. The fans chanted “holy shit” for them. Ciampa and Ziggler battled on the apron as they exchanged strikes. Ciampa with a boot to the face, Ciampa lifted Ziggler and hit an Air Raid Crash on the apron. Another “holy shit” chant after that. Ciampa sent Ziggler back into the ring, the referee checked on Ziggler and then a man in a hat with a camera hit Ciampa in the back with the camera. The referee never saw it. When Ciampa stumbled pack up to his feet, Ziggler hit a superkick for the one…two…three. Ziggler won it after 16 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

Analysis: ***3/4 This was an excellent match. The cheap ending keeps it under four stars, but I get why they did it since it was fitting for a heel like Ziggler to win in a cheap way. I enjoyed this matchup the whole way. It was very even the whole time with both guys hitting big moves throughout the match leading to some good nearfall spots. The crowd was into it the whole way, which is no surprise since they love Ciampa and they treat Ziggler as a big deal being in NXT. It was a controversial finish because after Ciampa hit the Air Raid Crash on the floor, the mysterious camera guy hit Ciampa with a camera and that led to Ziggler hitting his superkick finish for the cheap win. It was a smart way to get heat on Ziggler as the heel in the match while Ciampa has an excuse because it wasn’t a clean loss. That finish was fitting for the story of the match.

The mystery camera guy took off his hat and pulled down his facemask to reveal it was Robert Roode, the Dirty Dawg tag team partner of Dolph Ziggler. Roode is a former NXT Champion. Roode celebrated with Ziggler leading to boos from the crowd.

Ziggler and Roode stomped on Ciampa, which led to Bron Breakker making the save. Breakker cleaned house with punches on the heels. Breakker did a promo saying next week it’s the two of them against Ziggler/Roode in a tag team match. Breakker told them to find their balls and come fight right now. Ziggler & Roode went into the ring, they got into a brawl with Breakker & Ciampa while referees showed up to try to break it up. Breakker sent Ziggler out of the ring and then helped Ciampa deal with Roode. The referees were around the ring doing what they could to break up the fighting. That ended the show.

Analysis: A big tag team match for next week with Breakker & Ciampa facing Roode & Ziggler. That’s cool with me.

Here’s a post-show video that WWE posted on their Youtube page.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Dolph Ziggler
  2. Tommaso Ciampa
  3. Grayson Waller/LA Knight

 

The Scoreboard

This week: 6 out of 10

Last week: 8

 

Final Thoughts

This was a step back from last week’s great show. Every show can’t be a big one. It was more of a regular episode of NXT after last week’s Vengeance Day that had many better matches. They had shorter matches – especially in the Women’s Dusty Cup tournament – while starting some newer angles.

I really liked the Ziggler/Ciampa main event and would recommend it if you didn’t see it. The finish was cheap, but it was also fitting for Ziggler to get an assist from Roode to win the match. Bron Breakker continues to have respect for Ciampa, so the ending made sense with a wild brawl between the two teams.

I like next week’s card already with Breakker/Ciampa vs. Ziggler/Roode, Gunther vs. Solo Sikoa and Carmelo Hayes vs. Pete Dunne along with some other matches. That’s a pretty good lineup.

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Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport