By John Moore
The Authors of Pain vs. Heavy Machinery for the NXT Tag Titles: I had the slight fear in the back of my mind that these two heavyweight teams with little to no independent wrestling experience would put on a bad match, but they did just the opposite. Heavy Machinery is so damn fun to watch due to their infectious characters and the Authors of Pain are showing the experience they have gained for working with such great tag teams in the past. The Authors initiate quick tags and heavy strikes which keep them away from being “Ascension Mundane”. Heavy Machinery’s Otis Dozovic just puts and keeps a smile on my face. I’ve been a huge fan of his work since his WWE Breaking Ground days when Matt Bloom dubbed him “Cream Cheese”, and it looks like the Full Sail fans have become fans of him as well. This guy has breakout potential as a fan friendly singles babyface down the road. Tucker Knight isn’t bad either.
Aleister Black vs. Bobby Fish: This was a solid NXT debut from the former Ring of Honor TV Champion. This was also another good match for Aleister Black, who’s still impressing now that he’s facing real competition. When Fish come out, I was afraid Black was going to defeat him in a few seconds but luckily they got to have a longer striking battle with a good clash in martial arts styles. Aleister Black is like a Japanese martial artist from a martial arts movie in the way he moves, dodges, and integrates the meditation. On the other side of the ring, the fact that they made Fish look credible makes me think that they have more in plans for him. This could also be a stop for him like James Storm in NXT. Or might we be getting that world famous tag team we’ve been waiting for for ages?
Johnny Gargano: The best part of this was seeing Johnny Gargano back. Gargano deserves credit for doing such a great job selling the beatdown on social media and by not appearing for weeks on the show. Gargano looked fine here, but I’ll just say he’s a quick healer in the NXT world. Gargano’s promo wasn’t the greatest of all time, but it was simple, formula, and effective. I also liked that Gargano received the lyrical upgrade to his entrance music. Adding lyrics to generic stock music is usually a sign that WWE is going to get behind you and hopefully if this he eventually lands on Smackdown, he can end up being one of their biggest fan favorites (bigger than Tye Dillenger has been at least).
Vanessa Borne vs. Jayme Hachey: This match made me smile. Not because it was good or anything. It was actually pretty bad from Borne’s end. It actually reminded me of watching a Rebel match from GFW/TNA. Borne’s selling was humorously bad. One funny part was Hachey had her in a arm stretch and she had some extremely bad-acting selling in that spot. She also blew the stretch on her end by exposing that she had full range of motion with her arms. The funniest bad part was her finisher. For another Impact reference, I called Allysin Kay’s bad version of The Pounce move used by Monte Brown “The run and Push”. Borne’s finisher is “The Pick Up and Put Down”. Classic, but still a Miss.
Sanity: So they’re building to Sanity vs. The Authors of Pain? Okay? A monster heel team vs. a monster heel and a heel that gets beat up a lot. I’ve pointed out in past Hit Lists that they’ve constantly found ways to make Sanity not work. I thought they had some potential with Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain as a tag team while Eric Young goes to singles. They even found a way to muddy that up by setting up this odd heel vs. heel dynamic. Who is the crowd supposed to cheer? This should have been Heavy Machinery vs. Sanity at least. Another comical moment was the raining paper. Oh, it’s on! Because pages from Paul Ellering’s book fell from the sky? At least I got a laugh out of how absurd that was. Maybe a Hit should go to the commentators trying to sell the paper falling as epic. Nigel McGuinness get’s the line of the night for stating the obvious: “It looks like pages from a book.”