NXT Roadblock 2023 recap and reactions: Not all roads are fully clear


Roxanne Perez needed a win against Meiko Satomura more than anything. It meant more than just avenging his loss six months ago; a win solidified her as a true champion in her own eyes. But that is a problem with his reign. While a challenger-obsessed champion works, the champion who feels like the brave underdog in this situation rarely does. I sound like a broken record but as much as I love Perez in the ring, his character seems stagnant which makes his reign feel less than right.

And I hate that feeling ’cause she and Meiko fought their ass off Roadblock. This match hit hard, used that physicality as a building block, and more importantly, as a storytelling device. Perez trained with Satomura and thought she knew all her stuff but things feel different with speed than in sparring. I like this idea. I like that the champion goes to another physical level or endures more after realizing that it’s different watching a shark behind the glass than swimming with one.

Make no mistake, Perez survived this game. Yes, she won, but at great expense and she barely got that W. The final boss kicked after punch after more kicks to Perez’s head. But she didn’t stay on the ground until the bell rang and the referee raised her hand.

This is where things got weird for me. NXT played the concussion angle for Perez as she collapsed in the middle of the ring and the stretcher came out with tons of officials in tow. The Heartbreak Kid even showed up and checked out their NXT Women’s Champion while helping her get to the ambulance. Booker T put the headphones down and got in the ring as well.

Maybe it’s because I don’t know the plan, but it just seems weird to me. In the context of these repeated headaches, I understand. But I’m lost on the big picture. Maybe it goes back to Perez’s scattered leadership at the moment. What defines his character? What defines his reign? If it is she who overcomes her opponents and survives, it is not enough. Especially headed to the territory’s biggest show of the year. And who is she? It is a miracle, yes. She’s talented in the ring, of course. But what does Roxanne Perez do? Even the concussion point hits me harder if I emotionally connect to the person.

Hope this happens in a cool place and does a lot for Roxanne. But right now? I’m down there and I don’t think it serves him well at all. However, as always, I hope I’m wrong.

Extracurricular activities

History of (choosing) violence

NXT needed no psychology or storytelling in this prison match between Tony D’Angelo and Dijak. The match has already rocked the Performance Center far beyond any word I choose. And yet they did.

Running with the “family” theme so strong Vin Diesel could blush, Dijak put Stacks between him, the cell door, and Tony D. If Tony D wanted the match, that meant slamming the door on his brother. Tony hesitated and Dijak took advantage. Dijak threw Stacks over the barricade and hammered the Don. Just before Dijak closed the cell door on Tony, Stacks jumped out of nowhere and sacrificed his body. The door did not close and the match continued.

Little did we know, Stacks did more than just keep his boss in the game. Stacks passed a crowbar on Tony and Tony used said crowbar against Dijak. Many times.

Eventually, Dijak relented because there are only countless times when you resist crowbar kicks to the head. D’Angelo closed the door and won a hellish match that had me emotionally invested more than I could have ever predicted.


Indus Sher dominated early on, which makes sense from a narrative standpoint. When you face a team that the NXT Champion is on, you have to look good on the break. It also showed Sanga, Veer and Jinder Mahal’s lack of fear. NXT showed Mahal could hold on to Bron even in a weak match overall, but that’s the story. While I’m not quite buying this narrative, I’m also not buying that the Creeds needed another man. because from Jinder. But hey, here we are.

Once the match really focused on the Creeds vs. Sanga & Veer, it got fun. Bron is always fun in these situations but isn’t normally a tag team performer either.

Carmelo Hayes on the commentary didn’t really add much for me either, although I understand. He picked up Bron and just watched.

The best time for me came for a Doomsday device on Veer! The Creeds pulled out all the stops and did something new for an opponent who has hounded them repeatedly. Beautiful narration even in its subtlety.

About that…

So Bron returned to the ring later in the show and finally came to the inevitable. He called Melo and they finally made their Hold and deliver match official.

I liked that both men acknowledged that they watched each other for 18 months. Bron saying he felt disappointed every time he didn’t hear Melo’s music during one of his title defenses said a lot without saying too much.

Melo had the most interesting moments though. He took the arrogance down a few notches and showed another side. He even left Trick Williams and moved on to Bron dolo. We have a Melo who respects his opponent and I didn’t hate that. Well, I did at first, I won’t face it. But Melo showing a bit of that signature attitude, even after reaching out for a handshake, made me smile. “Melo is secondary to no one” and just like that they sold me something.

It’s a different story for the two men and hopefully we’ll get more shades of their characters over the next few weeks mixed in with the mutual adoration society.

J. Fight

I love that Shawn Michaels poked holes in Grayson Waller’s case theory. Grayson is coming off two championship games when most people are scrambling for one. He is not “restrained” by any standard, much less the fictitious one in his head. Grayson fired and missed. It happens. I get that he’s the heel here, so the delusions of the variety of grandeur come with the territory. But Grayson’s story seemed hollow. Even in the segment, he claimed the ground as NXT’s biggest star deserving of a championship while eclipsing the brand. He is held back in NXT but NXT holds him back. It’s a lot of ‘is it ‘Black Girl Lost’ or ‘Shawty owes you ice cream?’ logic. And it pains me to refer to this as an avid Nas fan, but hey, a dope line is a dope line.

Once the angle moved on to Waller running on NXT, and of course challenging Shawn to a match at Hold and deliver, the intensity has gone up several notches. Shawn had good lines about how many times WWE asked him to come back for a Mania match. Or the wrestlers who begged him for a Mania match. But he doesn’t do it for Grayson because someone else bleeds more heavily from NXT and wants Waller just as much if not more: Johnny Gargano.

Johnny vs. Grayson at Hold and deliver makes sense and feels like the right place for both men. The segment itself took me a minute but once they found the thrill I got on board.

Good friends…

I thought they picked the wrong tone for Gigi Dolin vs. Jacy Jayne. Initially. I wanted a fight, which we had at first, but then it evolved into a wrestling match. I think there’s way too much bad blood between these two for a wrestling match. And they played a clean, solid game. But the form did not match the emotion. And then it ended quite abruptly too but then I saw why.

Gigi got the W and Jacy reacted like a heel. A post-match beating, with Jacy heading for the spot on the patent chair where it looked like she could seriously injure her former partner’s neck. The fact that the ref stepped in and forced Jacy to the back means we get another game and hopefully that suits the animosity between these two.

Chase who?

Duke Hudson vs. Andre Chase looks like a thing. Finally. After weeks, we finally got a blast from Hudson after Chase lost his match to Joe Gacy. Hudson not only complained about the loss, but also how it happened. Thea Hail finally overcame everything Schism did thanks to some mediation lessons from Tyler Bate. During the match, she walked into Ava’s face and eventually stood up to her bully. Great for her but bad for Chase as he took his eyes off Gacy and congratulated his student.

Like I said, this thing between Hudson and Chase seems overdue. Although, without an actual match announcement, it’s only me who wants it. LAW?


For anyone hoping Dragon Lee could debut against Grayson Waller on behalf of Shawn, sorry. Lee made his debut at Roadblock but within the framework of the public. It’s definitely a choice.

Poor boys

Pretty Deadly is not smart. They got into a Gallus buzzsaw this week when they said rubbish against the champions. No match set yet but it’s definitely coming.

Roadblock was a mixed bag for me. There’s a lot going on with only one part that really stands out or sticks. The opener remains the standout due to nailing the entire package. The main event match blew me away but everything after the bell rang had me scratching my head.

The road to Hold and deliver intrigues me.

What you say?

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