WWE NXT 2.0 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from November 23
Carmelo Hayes has made a clear statement since the arrival of WWE NXT 2.0. He is the A Champion. He is the main event, and he had a chance to prove against both Johnny Gargano and Pete Dunne on the November 23 edition of NXT.
While the triple threat was sure to get the featured spotlight for NXT 2.0, multiple other big matches were promised as the past clashed with the future of NXT.
NXT women's champion Mandy Rose fought Cora Jade in a non-title clash ahead of NXT WarGames. Grayson Waller challenged NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa to a non-title match, looking to make a sure statement.
With Zoey Stark sidelined, only two teams were ready to step up to Toxic Attraction to challenge for the NXT Women's Tag Team Championships. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter would fight Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta with a future title opportunity looming.
With NXT WarGames so close, this was a huge night to build toward the first big event of the NXT 2.0 era.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grayson Waller
Grayson Waller interrupted the opener to talk up his own star power. He told the crowd he did not care about their reactions because he was a talent soon to be at the level of The Rock, John Cena and Roman Reigns.
Tommaso Ciampa shut up Waller at the bell, kneeing him into the corner. The young star tried to come back but got thrown over the announce table for his trouble. The Blackheart got a little too comfortable though, and his opponent took advantage.
The two battled back and forth until they reached the top rope, ending in a Ciampa Air Raid Crash off the second rope for a nearfall. Ciampa nearly caught Waller with a Fairy Tale Ending, who turned it around and hit a second-rope springboard elbow drop for two.
Waller hit a somersault plancha but rolled right into a Willow's Bell and Fairy Tale Ending for the win.
Ciampa def. Waller by pinfall.
The heel turn of Waller has barely had a chance to breathe, and he is already going after the NXT champion. While this story would have been more impactful with a slow build, Waller is so much better as the cocky heel.
He looked great working with Ciampa. The whole match worked from The Blackheart beating him down early to his furious comeback. He looked like he could hang with the champion, even though he was never truly close to victory.
The Blackheart is one of the best in the business right now. He is helping build the present and future of NXT with performances like this.
Cameron Grimes and Duke Hudson Agree to a Hair vs. Hair Match
Cameron Grimes came out, broken and emotional. He explained that he kept his hair long as a reminder of his hard upbringing. Duke Hudson mocked his pain. Grimes and Hudson agreed to a hair vs. hair match at NXT WarGames.
Andre Chase used an angry Grimes backstage as an example to his students that you should not ever make decisions in anger.
Grimes' transformation has absolutely improved his presentation, and he sold the change beautifully. His emotional explanation for what his hair meant to him made clear that Hudson had truly taken something special from him.
Hudson has worked well with Grimes and should have a great match at WarGames. This is his biggest opportunity to prove himself. Perhaps shaving his head will even help him find the edge he needs.
Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter vs. Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta
NXT aired a vignette for Tiffany Stratton, a privileged blonde woman that would use her family's fortune to take over the brand. Indi Hartwell was clearly distracted by Dexter Lumis' recent injury, explaining that he would be out injured for a month.
This led into the match where Persia Pirotta was struggling to get Hartwell in the fight. When Indi tagged in, she hit Kayden Carter with a sidewalk slam but could not capitalize. Carter elevated Kacy Catanzaro for a diving splash to take the win.
Catanzaro and Carter def. Hartwell and Pirotta by pinfall.
This was not much of a match, but the story made sense. Hartwell was not prepared for this match, and she cost her team on the rise a win. Since Pirotta thought she could win alone and did so last week, she is going to start questioning if her friend is holding her back.
This also kept Catanzaro and Carter in title contention where they deserved to be in a limited tag team division. The two remain the most competitive team in that division, just waiting to earn the title run they deserve.
Santos Escobar vs. Malik Blade
Following a video package to hype his return, Santos Escobar made quick work of Malik Blade. He threw him around and hit running knees in the corner. It set up the Phantom Driver for the victory.
Elektra Lopez made clear that Xyon Quinn got what was coming to him after saying "no" to Legado del Fantasma. Joaquin Wilde talked up the potential for him and Raul Mendoza to become the NXT tag team champions.
This brought out Kyle O'Reilly and Von Wagner, who wanted the title shot. Imperium mocked both teams, telling them to settle who would challenge them before WarGames.
Escobar def. Blade by pinfall.
Escobar always looks good in the ring, and the squash served its purpose in reintroducing The Emperor. However, the story quickly moved from Escobar alone to Legado del Fantasma as a unit.
The tag team segment that followed felt far too similar to last week's segment that led to Carmelo Hayes vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne. It was almost a surprise that Imperium did not just challenge both teams to a triple threat.
NXT is supposed to be a fresh part of WWE. There is no excuse for repeating segments this early in the NXT 2.0 run.
Mandy Rose vs. Cora Jade
Toxic Attraction arrived, walking with an unstable Dakota Kai. The group walked past a pile of destruction left by Kay Lee Ray, making fun of it all. Cora Jade told Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai and Zoey Stark to go find a fourth while she fought Mandy Rose.
While the NXT women's champion dominated Jade early, she could not put her away. KLR arrived to distract God's Greatest Creation, allowing Jade to stack her up for a shocking three count.
Backstage, Jade, Gonzalez, Shirai and Stark celebrated. KLR walked up and added herself to their team.
Jade def. Rose by pinfall.
It would have been nice to see more of what Jade can do, facing the champion, but NXT 2.0 rushed through that to get to the point. Jade gets another upset win after getting beat down, this time thanks to Ray.
The champion should not be losing short matches like this. However, Rose at least is a veteran that can sell her dominance in spite of losses.
The women's match at WarGames is stacked, and it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. KLR, Shirai or Jade could walk out of that match the clear next challenge much as Gonzalez did last year at WarGames.
Diamond Mine Interrupts Joe Gacy; Ivy Nile vs. Yulisa Leon
MSK got pulled over by a police officer on the way to The Shaman for going too slow. LA Knight mocked Grayson Waller for his loss in the opener. Joe Gacy took offense to his negative language, challenging him to settle their differences in the ring.
Before The Million Dollar Mega Star could get down to the ring, Waller was on top of him. The two brawled to the back, which left Gacy to speak alone. Diamond Mine arrived to demand he get out of the ring for Ivy Nile's match. Roderick Strong agreed to face Gacy at WarGames.
Nile dominated Yulisa Leon, toying with her as she was doing push ups and crunches for extra insult. She put her opponent away with a dragon sleeper.
Nile def. Leon by submission.
This whole sequence was a pretty clear showcase of NXT 2.0's worst weakness. The brand is always trying to do too much. Knight vs. Gacy had a chance to be an interesting match. Instead, it was just a set up for two separate segments.
Gacy vs. Strong is not all that interesting a pairing, especially since the NXT Cruiserweight Championship should not be involved. At least it is fresh unlike Strong vs. Odyssey Jones, which has been done to death already. The NXT Cruiserweight Championship may need a full rebrand based on Strong's recent rivals.
Nile was the best part of this section of the night. Her work is impressive in a way that is hard to sell without seeing her perform. She will be exciting to watch as she keeps learning.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen
NXT aired a vignette, highlighting the dominance of Solo Sikoa. Grizzled Young Veterans stole a man's wallet and walked away before that same man got thrown back by the ongoing brawl of LA Knight and Grayson Waller.
Zack Gibson and James Drake struggled with the strength of Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen early on. Grizzled Young Veterans tried to a few cheap tricks, including Drake selling a new injury, but it did not work. The big men picked up a dominant win off a high-low finisher.
Briggs and Jensen def. GYV by pinfall.
Once again, NXT should have made a major match more competitive. Instead, Grizzled Young Veterans got squashed by a rookie team. The story is supposed to be that they were too distracted with schemes to wrestle, but that only takes away from the rookies turning around their luck with a win.
Briggs and Jensen lost big to Kyle O'Reilly and Von Wagner, but they defeated GYV. It seems the hierarchy is materializing in the tag team division. Gibson and Drake deserve better than being at the bottom.
NXT NA Championship: Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne talked himself up, promising to win the NXT North American Championship. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams demanded the disrespect for the NXT North American champion stop. Tony D'Angelo explained why he was betting on the champion in the main event.
Melo tried to take the ring early, laying out both Johnny Gargano and Dunne with strikes, but the action was far more back and forth. Johnny Wrestling hit a bulldog/clothesline combination on both competitors then a pair of suicide dives to take over.
The three men met in the middle where the champion tried to show his mettle, but instead he got punched in the mouth and dropkicked. Gargano reversed the Bitter End into a DDT for a nearfall. Johnny Wrestling dived right into the Bitter End on the second try.
D'Angelo ran in to pull Dunne out of the ring, allowing Melo to hit a diving leg drop on Gargano for the win.
Afterward, Melo, Trick and D'Angelo started a beatdown. Knight and Waller joined the action followed by Tommaso Ciampa, who helped the veterans take the ring. Bron Breakker arrived to call for WarGames, beginning a second brawl that would not stop.
Melo def. Gargano and Dunne by pinfall to retain the NXT North American Championship.
This was a fun chaotic main event, but these three absolutely have better in them. It felt rushed to the finish so that NXT could get in the WarGames announcement. A better match will come when not as many people have to be involved anymore.
It is the old school vs. new school WarGames match that NXT started building in the past couple weeks. It was rushed, but the end result is a positive. This is a combustible match with a lot of moving pieces and a ton of talent.
It should especially be fun to see what the new NXT stars can do when they step into the cage for the first time. This is their shine to truly make a name for themselves.