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NXT’s Longest Championship Reign Is In Jeopardy At Heatwave

Mandy Rose will square off against Zoey Stark and Bron Breakker will battle JD McDonagh for their respective NXT Championships.

By Chris Phelan
Wwe Bron Breakker Jd Mcdonagh4

Tonight’s edition of NXT 2.0 won’t be just a normal episode.

It seems, on a more regular basis than ever before, the powers that be have given the WWE Universe what it wants most — frequent NXT experiences that are truly larger than life. NXT experiences that are Premium Live Event in quality with matches and stories that unfold in the grandest way imaginable.

That’s exactly what tonight’s NXT Heatwave is all about. Make plans to catch it live as it happens or, at the very least, set your DVRs right now.

With an absolutely stacked card of matches, it’s hard for the WWE Universe to focus on just a few, but that’s exactly what we’re going to attempt to do right now because the two longest-reigning champions in NXT are going to be facing their toughest challenges yet. 

First, let’s take a look at the men’s main event, Bron Breakker vs. JD McDonagh for the NXT Championship.

When JD McDonagh arrived in NXT by cowardly ambushing Bron Breakker last month, it seemed like this would be a fairly straightforward feud: The dominant champion needs a challenger, a challenger makes himself known and a title match is scheduled.

However, the buildup to their NXT Championship match tonight has been anything but straightforward. In fact, it featured some unsettled twists and turns that may have given McDonagh the mental advantage needed to beat the champion in the end.

JD McDonagh realized early on he’s never going to win a wrestling match against Bron Breakker. So, he decided to try to gain the upper hand via mind games. Whether it was driving Breakker through a table at ringside or giving the WWE Universe a creepy, impromptu anatomy lesson, one has to wonder if Breakker has been mentally... Well, broken.

It sure seems like McDonagh has a plan for Breakker, but as the champion once said on the August 2 edition of NXT 2.0, “Everyone has a plan until I break them in half.”

Not to be outdone, the women’s main event has the opportunity to outshine the boys with Mandy Rose vs. Zoey Stark for the NXT Women’s Championship.

While the leadup to their highly anticipated match tonight at Heatwave has involved a lot of vertigo-inducing high knees to the face courtesy of Zoey Stark, both ladies took advantage of social media to get the last word in over the weekend.

Proving to be laser-focused with her eyes on the prize, she called herself “a whole other breed” in regards to her in-ring abilities, a new breed that Mandy Rose has never faced before and thus has no answer for.

Not to be outdone, Rose seemed as well-prepared as ever, even going as far as posting a two-minute-long video on Twitter that served to remind Stark exactly what she’s capable of as champion.

Of course, no Mandy Rose selfie video would be complete without the champion conveniently showing off her “toxic” bod every chance she gets, but we have to hand it to her, she’s consistent in her trash talk in every sense of the way!

If both champions successfully defend their titles, it’s safe to say the status quo in NXT is restored.

After all, both Bron Breakker and Mandy Rose have defeated every challenger who’s stepped in front of them thus far, and it would be interesting to see who steps up to try to take their championships away from them.

But if one of them loses their respective title, or even if both of them do, then we’re truly in store for a new era in NXT. 

Aside from a handful of weeks when Dolph Ziggler captured the NXT Championship, Bron Breakker has been the proud flag bearer of the locker room for the majority of 2022.

Many insiders and fans alike have pegged Breakker as (no pun intended) Mr. Lesnar, the next “big thing” in WWE, with hopes that Breakker will show up on Monday Night Raw in the very near future. Others view him as a long-term champion that will help steer NXT into a new and vibrant direction that will capture the hearts and minds of the WWE Universe as well as bring back fans who may have stopped watching.

Regardless of the future, Breakker has unequivocally been the present focus week in and week out on NXT. The WWE Universe has come to expect that whoever holds the top title in NXT is a hard-working, valiant champion who can put the brand on his back when the going gets tough. 

JD McDonagh would not be that champion. 

McDonagh's conniving — some say sadistic — way of operating both in and outside the ring would do no favors to the prestige that the NXT Championship brings to a man. 

The truth is, if McDonagh wins the championship then we would all be collectively aching for somebody to return honor to the title while we have to succumb to the reign of a man who truly enjoys playing mind games with his opponents, a man who infamously signed his name in blood on his Heatwave contract just a few weeks ago. 

As for the women’s championship, it’s been nearly 300 days of the WWE Universe having to endure the “toxic” title reign of Mandy Rose. 

Maybe we all have Stockholm Syndrome, but we really can’t remember a time when Rose wasn’t the NXT Women’s Champion! Rose has been so integral to the development of the women’s division as a whole that Stark as champion would herald in a whole different vibe for all involved. On paper, Stark is arguably a better athlete than Rose, in better physical condition than Rose, and undoubtedly has the support of the WWE Universe behind her.

Oh, and let’s not forget about that insane finishing move of hers.

However, recent news being announced has us unsure that Zoey Stark is 100 percent focused on capturing the women’s title at Heatwave.

She was recently announced as participating in the prestigious WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship tournament, partnering with Nikita Lyons. This tournament — to be played out on Raw and Smackdown outside of NXT — is a big deal. 

Is this news enough of a distraction to throw Stark off her game? Or will she manage to keep her eyes on the prize? After all, Mandy Rose isn’t participating in any extraneous events outside of her NXT responsibilities. The champion has no reason not to be laser-focused on the title match tonight.

Either way, we’re beyond excited to see these two women throw down in what will surely be an NXT Women’s Championship match for the ages.

We’ll see what happens when these two huge title matches take place live from the Capitol Wrestling Center, tonight on USA Network! You can watch more WWE content on Peacock as well.