By Darren Gutteridge
NXT Call Ups: Regardless of where they end up and how they do in the long run, the majority of the NXT call ups were smart. Bálor has been ready for at least the last six months, if not more. Bliss, Carmella and American Alpha also feel like they had little left to gain from the NXT trainers. I question Nia Jax as she is still quite green, but it seems unlikely that she’ll be doing anything other than squash matches for the next few months, AKA what she’s doing already. And with Mojo, I get the feeling they just decided he wasn’t going to get any better, so he may as well work the full house show circuit to get more time with Ryder.
Authors of Pain vs. American Alpha: The start of this match was uninspired, but things picked way up when they abandoned the usual layout of a tag match and instead made it a fight. It suited the Authors of Pain more, and American Alpha really brought the intensity. Working with lesser teams, I fear how the AOP will fare, but things clicked on this show.
Austin Aries and No Way José: A minor Hit. Aries’ match with Patrick Clark was drown out by the incredibly loud tights Clark was wearing, but I liked the anger No Way José brought in his attack on Aries. As with Dalton Castle in ROH, it is important that these usually quirky characters can show intensity and real emotion when it is required, lest they be doomed to lower card purgatory for their entire careers.
Bayley vs. Nia Jax: It feels like we’ve seen this match quite a few times over the past six months, which is why I believe I found it to be really flat and uninteresting. They didn’t add anything new, and instead went to the “beat the count-out” spot far too many times. If this is about to become true of all Bayley NXT matches (which isn’t her fault given her long tenure on NXT), we better hope she is getting called up on Sunday at Battleground.
Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno: I found it very hard to get into this match, and I don’t think it was solely because of the heel vs. heel dynamic. The match just felt sluggish, and lacked a certain dynamism that almost all Samoa Joe matches have. It’s a solid win for Joe, but literally nothing else.