To paraphrase the great Bill Murray, NXT Halloween Havoc came, it saw, and it kicked some you-know-what during a spooking two and a half hours broadcast live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. There were surprises, there were shenanigans, and Shawn Michaels put together a show that had as many nameless druids as Shotzi costume changes – just to the puzzling chagrin of fans at home who fully bought into the prospects of a Halloween-themed “Premium Live Event.”
The show had a little bit of everything: stipulations, blood feuds, and a literal haunted house that paid off after an hour of Wade Barrett feverishly calling the Performance Center to see if Mandy Rose is okay. Though most of the card wasn’t particularly surprising, with the opening match of the show providing arguably the biggest surprise of the night with a new North American Champion, there’s still plenty of fallout from the show that could impact the NXT Universe for weeks, months, and maybe even years to come, especially if Michaels is given carte blanche to book shows as he sees fit.
3 takeaways from NXT Halloween Havoc
3. Shotzi is an absolute star, let her shine
Shotzi is a certified star, and yet, for some reason – Read: Vince McMahon – WWE felt that the best way to get her over on the main roster was to take away everything that made her special. After establishing herself as one of the more intriguing personalities in NXT, boasting an instantly recognizable look, a capable in-ring style, and a presentation that is second to none, SmackDown took away her last name, her featured spot on the show, and most brutally of all, her tank in the hopes of making the “Ballsy Badass” more palatable to… moms buying action figures at Walmart?
Since Triple H took over for his father-in-law as the chief creative mind of the WWE Universe, Shozti has slowly but surely recaptured what had her special, and that was on full display at Halloween Havoc, where she was afforded the title of host alongside Quincy Elliott. Though her television time wasn’t particularly expansive, and she wasn’t even afforded a spot on commentary for any of the six matches, Shotzi’s inclusion was a hit on social media, stole the show whenever she was on camera, and even ended up setting up a match with Lash Legend on NXT this week. Even if she won’t be known as Ms. Blackheart anytime soon, NXT’s Halloween Havoc was classic Shotzi, and the wrestling world was better off for it.
2. Wes Lee finally gets some shine
Heading into Halloween Havoc, few expected to see Wes Lee holding up the North American Championship when the Five-Way Ladder match came to a close. Sure, Lee can go, as long-time The Rascalz fans already know, but did anyone really expect to see Carmelo Hayes looking up at the performer he beat up in the locker room before the NXT 2.0 Anniversary show with the strap in his hands?
No, but that’s the thing about professional wrestling – the ability to surprise is always right around the corner. Assuming Lee isn’t booked like Leon Ruff back in the day, Michaels has a chance to showcase his star-making abilities and take up the card in an interesting way that makes every match, even the most benign, feel like it has stakes.
— WWE (@WWE) October 23, 2022
1. Who is going to unseat Bron Breakker?
Bron Breakker is the top dog of NXT. He’s NXT’s version of NWA’s Nick Aldis, of MLW’s Alexander Hammerstone, and of Impact’s Josh Alexander, even if his title reign was split in two by a 27 vanity run by Dolph Ziggler, his win-loss record in singles action – 22-2 – sort of speaks for itself. Though few really expected to see either Ilja Dragunov or JD McDonagh unseat the not-so-secret Steiner at Halloween Havoc, the match’s outcome does present a question worth asking: if not Dragunov or McDonagh, then who?
Eventually, someone is going to have to take the strap off of Breakker. Eventually, he’s going to get a full-time call-up to RAW as either a friend of Ciampa or as a solo babyface looking to prove his mettle against the best of the best the wrestling world has to offer, but unless Triple H really wants to embrace the crossover appeal of NXT in order to build the brand up, he’ll have to make the leap without the NXT Championship around his waist.
Could WWE simply opt to draft Breakker to RAW or SmackDown and have him drop the belt in favor of a championship tournament of some sort? You bet, that’s what some promoters would do without a doubt, but beating Breakker presents a unique opportunity hot shot a new star or elevate a mid-carder to Superstar status that seldom organically comes together in wrestling without months of preparation. Whether it’s a debuting star like Gable Steveson or a guy like Von Wagner, who has been building towards something for a while now, NXT needs to stick the landing on Breakker’s impressive run to really get the most out of his title reign.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) October 23, 2022