NXT recap & reactions (May 24, 2022): Bron’s got character

It’s been a day. Let’s just get into it, shall we? Claire’s blog is still the best place for your Tuesday night needs.

Let’s talk NXT!


Poppa Was a Rolling Stone

We got something new this week with Bron Breakker. While I am not a fan of this thing between him and Joe Gacy — seriously, I dislike it with a passion — I do like NXT adding some layers to his character. Until now, we know Bron as the cat who comes through, wrecks everyone, and leaves. He barks, he yells, and beats people to a pulp. Gacy’s mind games this week showed us a different side to the NXT champ. Childhood pictures and a video of a high school football game brought out Bron’s softer side.

Bron remembered the times his dad wasn’t there because he was busy making a living. The physical stuff was never a way to get under Bron’s skin. But picking at childhood wounds? That’s a pretty good way to go. It doesn’t work completely, but I understand where they’re going and why. Gacy wants Bron so off of his game that the slightest thing pushes him over the edge during their match at In Your House. And we get a glimpse at Bron’s humanity and weaknesses. If I squint at the right angle, it’s pretty damn compelling. If only it was through a better angle because Gacy is still a black hole on this show.

Bron’s state of mind bled over into his match with Duke Hudson. With Gacy and his goons ringside, Bron was focused for about two minutes. Hudson controlled most of the action in the slowly paced match. As soon as Bron regained his footing, he lost his focus and went after Gacy’s goons. He lost his composure, got DQ’d, and Duke won. We then got some awful horror movie villain dialogue from Gacy, and that was all she wrote.

This is the epitome of one step forward, two steps back. Bron getting character development? Good. Wrapping said development around Joe Gacy? Bad. Good idea with very meh execution. To quote Geno, the sooner this is over, the better off we’ll all be.


I’ll Be …

Indi Hartwell finds herself in the same situation as Wes Lee. Her support system is gone and she’s dolo, for better or worse. Unlike Wes, Indi is aiming for the top of the food chain. She challenged Mandy Rose because she’s got nothing to lose, and Mandy, incensed by the lack of respect on Toxic Attraction’s dirty name, accepted.

I liked the match and it had actual stakes. Mandy wants respect and Indi wants to know where she stands. Mandy is a great villain and Indi is a fantastic sympathetic heel. I dig all of it. The match itself even played into this. Indi held her own in the beginning and put the champion on her heels. But one tug of Indi’s hair gave Mandy all the momentum she needed for the second act. Mandy dominated with methodical offense meant to punish Indi as much as embarrass her.

The moment Indi mounted a comeback, out came the rest of Toxic Attraction. Katana Chance and Kayden Carter jumped Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne, keeping them from ringside earlier in the contest. The moment they came to and showed up, all hell broke loose for Indi. That distraction showed that even with this newfound focus, Indi still doesn’t have the focus she needs. Mandy got the W, and Indi has nowhere to go but down at this point.

Yes, we got a Wendy Choo attack on Rose after the match, signaling this is Mandy’s next challenger, but I’m a lot more interested in Indi’s plight.

And yes, Wendy, hit Mandy with a sack of balls. I’m not mature enough to ignore that. I chuckled very hard. In fact, I’m still chuckling.


Extracurriculars

Hit ‘Em Up

Look, the moment Stacks and Two Dimes, led by Tony D’Angelo, walked to the ring talking trash to LdF, the direction for their match with Edris Enofe & Malik Blade was obvious. As the match, which wasn’t bad at all, reached its climax, LdF showed up to ruin the fun. Stack of Dimes got the W, and a turf war broke out between Tony’s crew and LdF. I’m into it.

Big Bad Xyon

We’re telling the story of Wes Lee finding himself. Sometimes that means finding himself on the wrong end of a beatdown. This time, said destruction comes at the hands of Sanga. Wes fought his heart out but let’s be real here. While the match itself didn’t interest me in the least, the drama after the ding really did.

Xyon Quinn strutted to the ring, clapped for the big man’s win, and made his way into the ring. Before he attacked Wes, Sanga went back to the ring and protected his opponent. Xyon wanted no smoke with a man that big — who can blame him — and retreated into the good night. Wes earned Sanga’s respect and possibly his friendship. That’s an interesting winkle for Wes’ story, along with adding some character to a man who, until now, was just “a really big guy.” I dig it a whole lot because it’s surprising character development.

The Fire Rises

Shoutout to Bane. And an even bigger shoutout to Alba Fyre for picking up the win over Elektra Lopez. Elektra’s matches never wow me and this one was no different. Although, in fairness to her and Alba, they didn’t have a lot of time to really do anything. Even with a brief story beat of Alba nursing a hurt arm.

Cora Jade sat ringside, which supposedly distracted Elektra during the match. Their beef continued after the match, so look for that in the near future. Which, I gotta be honest, I’m not looking forward to it. After Cora’s match with Nattie, she needs to scale the mountain. Elektra is still getting her feet under her in NXT, so the match feels like a step back for Jade.

Surprise Breakout!

Roxanne Perez upset Lash Legend. Seriously, this is an upset. Every tournament needs an upset and I’m okay with this one. Mostly because Lash in the “breakout” tournament makes no sense in my head. Roxanne needs the W a whole lot more than Lash. And it was a cheap win so Lash can complain about it later — like a good heel should — and get more boos as a result. Win-win for everyone.

I’m Sorry … What ?!

Nikkita Lyons is out of the Breakout Tournament. Out of the blue, she pulled out due to injury. On one hand, I love seeing Lyons because … well that’s all I’m saying. But on the other hand, she, like Lash, doesn’t need this tournament. The shock eventually wore off.

Instead, we got Tiffany Stratton in her place, taking on Fallon Henley. Fallon provided the line of the night when she yelled, “Yee-Haw, bitch” to Tiffany during a backstage segment. Anyway, this was a really fun match. Mostly because of Stratton. Tiffany is a great character and getting better in the ring each time out.

Her gymnast background really comes in handy and her timing in hitting those moves, like a nice dismount from the top rope or somersaulting into the turnbuckle, only improves with time. Every move she does is in service of her character, and she nails the mannerisms. At one point, she put Fallon into a submission and blew kisses to the crowd. Yes, yes and more yes.

So obviously, she got the W. Both women put on a good show. And we get Tiffany Stratton vs. Roxanne Perez in the Finals. I’m pulling for Tiffany.

Meh

I’m trying. I really am. But I can’t get with Von Wagner. He wrestled Ikemen Jiro this week and did what you expect him to do. The most interesting part was Briggs interfering at the end of the match to give Wagner some business.


NXT moved at a brisk pace this week. Everything was all good till we got to the main event, which was overshadowed by everything Bron and Gacy. They set up a lot for next week, which looks like a good show. This week? A good show still dragged down by the NXT championship picture.

Grade: B

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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