Quick reactions to NXT Heatwave 2023: Melo beats Lee


With the summer beginning to wind down, the NXT brand attempted to keep the temperature up with its second annual Heatwave special.

The show, which takes its name from the old Extreme Championship Wrestling pay-per-view, was headlined by Carmelo Hayes vs. Wes Lee for the NXT Championship. We also saw a mixed tag team match featuring the North American and Women’s World Champions, and a British Rounds affair for the Heritage Cup.

This show had plenty of good action, even if it also came with the usual NXT nonsense.

Here are some quick(ish) reactions to NXT Heatwave 2023.

Ilja Dragunov def. Trick Williams (***1/2)- Trick Williams still has plenty of room to grow as a worker, and his inexperience in the ring is still apparent. Still, he deserves plenty of credit for hanging with Ilja Dragunov in this slugfest of an opener. The two told a good story that helped get the Orlando crowd behind Williams; his taking an extended beating from Dragunov built nicely to his comeback.

As for Dragunov, he should be in the Wrestler of the Year conversation, and his win should elevate him back into the NXT Championship picture.

Ivy Nile def. Ava (1/2*)- Including Tuesday, Ava has wrestled in a grand total of two singles matches, and it showed in this one. WWE wisely kept this one short, though the second consecutive night with less than five minutes of women’s in-ring action doesn’t reflect well on WWE. At least the finish was decent; after hitting a few basic body slams, Ava went for another, but Ivy Nile countered it into her Dragon Sleeper to pick up the win.

Noam Dar def. Nathan Frazer 2-1 (British Rounds) (***1/4)- Nathan Frazer’s high-flying meshed well with Noam Dar’s technical prowess. They started slow (but not too slow) with some crisp counter-wrestling, but picked up the pace as things progressed. Dar’s win indicates that the “injury” that caused him (or, more accurately, Oro Mensah) to lose the Heritage Cup was more than storyline fodder.

It’s either that or Shawn Michaels really wanted to rehash the “Who is the real IC Champion?” storyline he and Razor Ramon took part in.

Dragon Lee and Lyra Valkyria def. Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley (***)- A fun match with lots of neat spots. Raquel Rodriguez made a surprise appearance toward the end to add some heat to her feud with Ripley (and to give Ripley an out for losing). This opened the door for Dragon Lee to pin Dominik Mysterio, the North American Champion, clean (Dom’s second pinfall loss in as many nights.

Yes, this supports WWE’s booking of Mysterio as a vulnerable champion, but it also supports the belief that he shouldn’t have won the title to begin with.

Baron Corbin vs. Von Wagner never happened- Corbin attacked Wagner before the bell, and Bron Breakker fulfilled his promise to show up, spearing Wagner before he could put Corbin through the announcer’s desk. This was an angle that presumably sets up, sigh, a triple threat between these large men.

Next. Top three moments of The Bloodline story to date. dark

Carmelo Hayes def. Wes Lee (***1/4)- The first NXT main event featuring two Black wrestlers didn’t disappoint. Lee and Hayes feasted for 12 minutes while leaving enough on their plate for a potential rematch. In the end, a missed dive allowed Hayes to hit his guillotine leg drop to retain his title. It will be interesting to see where Lee goes from here. Meanwhile, it looks like another date with Dragunov is in Hayes’ future.