If you’re looking for some excellent professional wrestling to watch, check out the first and last match from this past Saturday’s NXT Halloween Havoc.
The opening contest was a five-person ladder match for the vacant North American Championship. Carmelo Hayes, Wes Lee, Oro Mensah, Nathan Frazer and Von Wager pulled out all the stops. Jaw-dropping moment after jaw-dropping moment increased the level of excitement.
Carmelo Hayes is main roster ready, and I hope he’s Hit Row’s mystery partner on SmackDown this Friday. Hit Row has been missing that one excellent wrestler in the group since they returned to WWE and Swerve Strickland signed with AEW. Carmelo is the missing piece and along with Trick Williams, gives Hit Row a needed upgrade.
Nathan Frazer is going to receive that Will Ospreay hype before too long. No matter how you feel about Ospreay, he’s immensely popular online, and Frazer has the good to garner such a following. For someone still learning the ropes, Frazer has a maturity to his work that helps him stand out more than most.
Wes Lee…Man, way to go! He was outstanding in this match, which made his win even sweeter. Until now, Lee’s 2022, through no fault of his own, was two thumbs down. Lee’s MSK tag team partner, Nash Carter, was fired in March, days after they won the NXT tag team titles.
It is difficult for one-half of a tag team to flourish in a single’s capacity. Especially when the other half was released for controversial reasons. Lee proved he’s not just the product of a team or trio but can stand on his own as the new North American Champion.
Bron Breakker defeated Ilja Dragunov and JD McDonagh in a hard-hitting triple threat match to retain the NXT Championship. Breakker is still developing and has only been wrestling full-time on television for 13 months. This led many to believe that Dragunov and JD McDonagh would carry the lion’s share of the match.
Breakker more than held his own. Dragunov is a world-class talent who wrestles his size and can wrestle bigger without looking like he’s a smaller guy trying to act big. McDonagh is someone who I didn’t buy as a top guy in NXT until this match. As good as his in-ring work was, his character work shined.
McDonagh attempted to play devil’s advocate throughout the match with both Breakker and Dragunov. Near the end, McDonagh blocked the referee’s count of three as Dragunov had Breakker pinned. The look of disbelief and anger Dragunov gave McDonagh was worth a thousand words.
The key element is that Breakker never kicked out, meaning McDonagh cost Dragunov the title. The closing moments saw Dragunov call for his finishing maneuver, only for Breakker to drill him with a spear for the win. More salt on the wound for Dragunov, who was pinned by the guy he had beaten, thanks to McDonagh.
Everything else was a mixture of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Grayson Waller worked his tail off in an ok casket match with Apollo Crews, Julius Creed toppled Damon Kemp in a clunky ambulance match, and the haunted house prelude with Alba Fyre and Mandy Rose tainted their women’s title showdown.
Ladder match mayhem and triple threat madness sandwiching Halloween Havoc are worth going out of your way to see. If you watch the entire show, please, skip the Quincy Elliott, Lash Legend, and Shotzi segment. It is not worth your time.