WWE NXT 8/29/2023: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s freshly collaborative review of "WWE NXT!" If you haven't been following our change in format, you can check out our recent reviews of AEW All In and WWE Raw, but suffice it to say that we now have multiple WINC staff members providing their opinions and perspectives! Variety is the spice of life, they say, and even if that's not true, it has long been the spice of pro wrestling.


While most of us enjoyed this episode (particularly the main event, a four-way match to become No. 1 contender to the "NXT" Women's Championship) there are always things that could have been done better, especially on the constantly growing and changing yellow brand. As always, there was too much going on in "NXT's" full two hours for us to have an opinion about everything, but hey, that's what our live coverage is for. If you're looking for deeper dives and subjective analysis, here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 8/29/23 episode of "WWE NXT."

Hated: Crisis-of-confidence Carmelo (Miles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

Man, I was so excited about where the Carmelo Hayes/Trick Williams/Ilja Dragunov story was going after last week. If you're a regular reader of these columns (which, despite the fact that I was asked to use "we" and "us" all the time, have pretty much all been written by me to this point) you know how into that storyline I was going into The Great American Bash. Personally, I like my wrestling best when it's about feelings and relationships, i.e. when it gives me the romance novel vibes that I enjoyed so much at the time. The fact that we were getting interactions between these three again (with Wes Lee in the bargain) made me so, so happy to see what came next.


As it turned out, what came next in this particular storyline was ... not much. And what was there, I wasn't super into.

The big issue here for me is Carmelo's attitude this week, where suddenly he's not sure if he can beat Dragunov. That wasn't how it felt last week — last week it felt like he thought other people believed he couldn't beat Dragunov. He thought the stuff that happened with Williams at the end of that match had tainted the win, not that he couldn't win without Williams. And why would he feel that way? He just won without Williams in that amazing match with Wes Lee! For Hayes to come out of that match, and that Heatwave episode overall, feeling less confident is a huge miss for me.


Meanwhile, you've got Williams now saying "I don't think you can beat him, I know you can," which is nice, but doesn't have any of the conflict that was teased last week. And Dragunov has (presumably very briefly) been derailed by Noam Dar. I'm not saying those two in combination wasn't entertaining, because it was. Like, a lot. But "entertaining" doesn't slake my thirst for Ilja/Melo content, and while I have no doubt that we're just doing Dragunov/Dar for a week or three while we set up their respective No Mercy opponents (Hayes and the winner of the Global Heritage Invitational) it's a bummer that we have to work through this filler content before getting back to the good stuff.

Loved: The Street Profits Bring The Swag Back To NXT (Ella Jay, WINC news writer)

While the 2023 WWE Draft was intended to provide a definitive split between WWE's three brands, the aftermath proved to be quite the opposite. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. With talents' added flexibility in floating between shows, several main roster performers have traveled down to WWE's developmental territory of "WWE NXT" for special appearances, and in some cases, wrestling matches against the up-and-coming stars of "NXT."


Tuesday's episode saw the return of The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford), who were featured in a backstage segment with "NXT" Champion Carmelo Hayes and "NXT" Tag Team Champions The D'Angelo Family (Channing Lorenzo & Tony D'Angelo). Amidst their encounter, Montez Ford implied that The Street Profits may be keen on making a few more visits to their old stomping grounds.

"Maybe next time in the neighborhood, we'll check to see how you doing," Ford told Lorenzo and D'Angelo.

The Street Profits' characters appear to be in somewhat awkward territory right now, and another run in "NXT" may be helpful in redefining their identities. That, of course, is dependent on the possibility of their new ally, Bobby Lashley, following suit. Earlier this month, Dawkins, Ford, and Lashley seemingly turned heel when The Street Profits unleashed an ambush on Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows before celebrating the beatdown with Lashley on the entrance ramp, but during last week's episode of "WWE SmackDown," they arrived to their usual upbeat entrance song while slapping hands with several members of the audience. Naturally, this elicited a positive response from the crowd. Unfortunately, this move has caused many viewers, including myself, to question the character direction of the Profits, who, again, carried out an unprovoked attack on The O.C. just four weeks ago.


Given their current state of limbo, the Profits' "NXT" appearance presents a promising opportunity for WWE to reshape, or perhaps further experiment with, the characters of Dawkins and Ford, who have carved themselves out as beloved babyfaces of the main roster. The idea of Dawkins and Ford in "NXT" also provides the potential for WWE's developmental brand to continue boosting its ratings, and more importantly, the skills of its tag team stars. For these reasons, I am highly in favor of the Street Profits "bringing the swag" back to "NXT," and even potentially reclaiming the "NXT" Tag Team Championships.

Hated: Global Heritage Invitational Math (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

Look, I am always down for a new tournament or match concept, but much like Duke Hudson, the Global Heritage Invitational is just too confusing to keep up with for my taste. The matches themselves were good enough; Butch and Charlie Dempsey put on a solid fight, while Nathan Frazer and Joe Coffey's match was also decent. With that being said, I found myself being taken out of those bouts whilst trying to remember all of the rules — 12 minute time limit, which group the competitors were in, how many points a person earned depending on if the match was a draw or if they won via pinfall or submission, etc.


On top of all that, I can already feel the headache coming on from trying to keep track of who has already faced who in Group A and Group B. While it might have worked with just one group, having two different groups with two different sets of competitors makes it all the more confusing to remember who belongs to which group. The endgame of having the two people with the most points face off to determine who faces Noam Dar for the Heritage Cup seems simple enough, but getting there is proving much more complicated than it needs to be.

Loved: Donovan Dijak seems to get back on the right track (Ross Berman, WINC news editor)

On this week's "NXT," Dijak found himself on the winning end of a bout with 2019 NJPW Young Lion Cup Winner Eddy Thorpe. The win puts Dijak back on an upward trajectory after coming up short in an "NXT" title #1 Contender's Match Against Wes Lee on August 15.


As far back as his beginnings in "NXT," Dijak was always game to reignite his feud with Keith Lee from the independent scene — though that resulted in only a handful of matches between the athletic big men before Lee left WWE for AEW — and he's now thankfully left his days as "T-Bar" of the infamous Retribution group behind him. Despite his most famous dance partner leaving the company, Dijak continues to have a "put me in, coach" attitude, which is what led him to Retribution in the first place, and one can't help but hope that's rewarded someday. Dijak has now adopted a new character with a harder edge that is equal parts Terminator and Tom of Finland, cutting an imposing figure on "NXT" programming as of late, but despite this new character, the immense Massachusetts native has been a veritable punching bag for the likes of Trick Williams, Ilja Dragunov, and Wes Lee. Even if his latest win is simply a way to build the big man up before a fledgling star knocks him back down again, a dominant Dijak is always good for "NXT" programming, and hopefully a feud with Thorpe can help both men rise in the eyes of "NXT" viewers.


Hated: Rebooting Characters To Essentially ... Nothing (Matthew Carlins, WINC News Editor)

After weeks of dissension, Angel (Garza) and Humberto (Carrillo) are officially reunited as a tag team and will return to action on next week's "WWE NXT."

The announcement followed what I'd generously describe as an odd vignette on Tuesday night's "NXT," in which Angel and Humberto awoke from the same dream with the same claw-like wound on their chest. The image of the claw mark harkens back to Los Perros del Mal, a lucha libre stable that counted the late Héctor Garza among its members. Angel and Humberto are Garza's nephews; last week, we watched the duo tearfully exchange text messages, working through their feelings about carrying the burden of their family's professional wrestling legacy. The vignettes over recent weeks have also featured their late grandfather, Humberto Garza Sr., speaking to them from the afterlife.


On this latest episode, Angel and Humberto tore apart a Los Lotharios t-shirt, symbolically closing that chapter of their careers. It's clear that the gimmick had run its course in WWE, but I can't help but notice that this is more of the same from "NXT's" creative team. Baron Corbin recently faced a similar fate: being stripped of his outlandish main roster personas while being left with essentially ... nothing. The word "reboot" doesn't seem to go far enough. It's more like a factory reset.

Angel and Humberto have struggled for years to crack the WWE code and figure out the right on-screen presentation for themselves. Getting back to basics is not really what they need. They need a presentation that's larger than life, and with apologies to the Garza family legacy, this new incarnation doesn't feel like it's going to lead to much more than some solid matches and another necessary character refresh at a future date yet to be determined.


Loved: The opening and closing matches (Daisy Ruth, WINC news writer)

Being a child of the Attitude Era, there's nothing I love more than a good cage match, and a cage match with a good story is just *chef's kiss.* Tonight's episode of "NXT" opening with the bout between The Creed Brothers and The Dyad storyline, with the involvement of Joe Gacy and Ava, of course, was a great way to get fans excited for the show.


The match started off in a way that made me a little skeptical when it comes to the Schism and all their tricks, with the masked members taking out Brutus Creed and taking him backstage while Gacy locked Julius inside the cage with the Dyad. When Brutus made his way back out to the ring after the commercial break and straight-up ripped the cage door from its hinges, however, I was pleasantly surprised, and found my way back into the match. The cage door coming in to play multiple times throughout the match was also perfect.

It was great to see Ivy Nile in the ring, reuniting with her Diamond Mine stablemates after the match, as well. The Creed Brothers' future on the main roster was questionable, with varying reports on what was actually going to happen, and them seemingly remaining on "NXT" for the time being is good news, in my opinion. I'm also all here for more wrestling shows kicking off with stipulation matches.


After a great opening match, it was also wonderful to close the show with a fantastic women's fatal four-way match, especially with all the rhetoric around women's wrestling online in both major companies. While I was nervous when I glanced at the clock and saw it was already 9:56 p.m. EST, I considered the usual over-run time allotted for "NXT" on the USA Network and thought to myself, "The match is about to get good."

All four women — Gigi Dolan, Kiana James, Blair Davenport, and Roxanne Perez — getting their licks in during a fast-paced, physical match was a perfect note to end the show with. The fact that Perez and Davenport kept facing off after their feud culminated in a street fight a few weeks ago at the Great American Bash was a nice touch, since their styles work very well together. I believe all four women faced off against each other at some point in the match, and it was never boring.

James getting the win was a bit unexpected for me, but not unwanted or undeserved. I thought Dolan would get her time to shine as a singles competitor for the gold here, but any new challenger for Tiffany Stratton's "NXT" Women's Championship is good in my book, and I'm glad we won't have to wait long to see that match. "NXT" is one of the best places for women's wrestling in the world right now, and on Tuesday night, these four women went out and proved it.