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3 Big Takeaways from NXT - April 18, 2023

It was a fast-paced week for WWE's third brand as the women's division got wilder, Apollo Crews battled Dijak, and much more

This week's episode of NXT featured some long, high-powered matches with plenty of good filler thrown in for good measure. NXT has been a solid program as of late, but it still seems like it's waiting to catch fire. Like they are one big star or storyline away from having a sizzling summer.

In the meantime, there's still plenty of action and intrigue to go around. Stars who were formerly on the main roster have returned to guide some of the young hopefuls along. That's starting to show. And it was definitely needed; NXt went through some growing pains after having the furniture moved around a couple of times.

For now, it's been a slow build back to glory with the likes of Bron Breakker, Grayson Waller, and NXT Heavyweight Champion Carmelo Hayes leading the way. The women's division, once ruled by Toxic Attraction, is wide open right now. In essence, the current atmosphere has allowed a lot of fresh faces to be featured.

This week, NXT continued to build on those same strengths. They went to some of their heavy hitters to put on an entertaining broadcast. Here are three quick observations about this Tuesday night tumble:

#1 - The NXT Women's Division continues to get better and better

It was a huge blow to the roster when Mandy Rose was relieved of her duties by World Wrestling Entertainment back in December. Naughty pictures aside, she was the undisputed star of the division and was probably in line to lead her group, Toxic Attraction, to inevitable glory on the main roster.

Since her departure, there has been no one as dominant, but that's turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise.

In the absence of Rose's faction dominating most of the airtime, newer talent - like Nikkita Lyons, Sol Ruca, and Tiffany Stratton - has emerged. Meanwhile, Indi Hartwell has blossomed from a sideline attraction to become the NXT Women's Champion now. While her in-ring work may never be great, the fans like her, and that's all that really matters.

The middle portion of this week's program focused heavily on the ladies, with (once again) a nice percentage of the roster getting some time to flex on camera.

That's a good thing because several of these attractive athletes also have the skills to pay the bills in the squared circle. And wrestling has always been a place where beauty and brutality are a winning combination.

In action on Tuesday was a set of contenders matches. Cora Jade defeated Gigi Dolin, while Roxanne Perez beat Zoey Stark. All four women could be worthy challengers to Indi, who also had her hands full during an in-ring faceoff with Tiffany Stratton and Roxanne Perez.

#2 - Apollo Crews and Donovan Dijak can hang with anyone... at ANY level

Two guys who never quite found their niche on the roster - Apollo Crews and Dijak - have both been reborn as they went home to NXT. They both thrived there before and for the two stars, everything old is new again. It's been a positive move for both, as they've had more of a chance to showcase their skills.

We learned that the two had a confrontation earlier in the day, which set the stage for the action in the ring.

Crews used his explosiveness to stagger Dijak early in the match, but the big man rallied back in a terrific, back-and-forth battle. Dijak hit Apollo with Feast Your Eyes and got the victory. Afterward, he would tussle with Ilya Dragunov which looks like it could be a great feud.

Big applause to both Dijak and Crews for illustrating how two seasoned stars know how to execute a believable battle. A very good match that should be a lesson to the kids in the back. Hopefully, everyone was watching closely.

#3 - Grayson Waller and Carmelo Hayes face off in a championship build-up

Two of the finest young talents in the entire WWE Universe stared holes in each other in a tense moment on Grayson Waller's interview segment. He's made it clear that he wants the NXT title belt that's currently draped over Carmelo Hayes' shoulder.

This is a classic match-up of two tremendously entertaining egos and one that promises to be a lot of fun to watch. Waller is the perfect foil for the cocksure Carmelo, who made sure to get as many personal shots in as possible.

Both men talked about how each could get a low-level job on the main roster. Then, Hayes heckled Waller by saying that he had no accomplishments in NXT. Waller was NOT amused.

It's hard to imagine that Hayes would drop the title this quickly unless he's already going to be moved up to RAW or Smackdown. However, Waller's star is on the rise. He might get a nice run as an annoying, heel champion. Then again, he's also the kind of performer who doesn't really need a belt to be an important part of the program.

Hayes is a special talent. He's got something that few dynamic physical performers possess: the charisma to go alongside their ability. Here's hoping he continues this steady run and is really given a chance to shine as the face of the brand. At least for the time being.



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