By John Moore
Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami: A strong match between two wrestlers that need to be introduced/re-introduced to the NXT audience to what they are capable of in a main event setting. The MMA influence was solid. Roderick really got to get over his backbreaker. As I noted for weeks, Itami has made subtle tweaks with the way he’s carrying himself and he’s carrying himself like a champion. The respect, the coldness, and the coolness are some traits that he is showing, and he’s also gotten better on the promo end. The presentation of Roderick Strong via the documentary was also effective going into the match in that it made you care about both wrestlers. Both men came out looking strong even though Roderick Strong had to take the loss.
Focus on the Women’s Triple Threat: It’s unfortunate news that Ember Moon suffered the shoulder injury, and here’s hoping it isn’t serious enough to keep her out of Takeover: Brooklyn in August. That said, NXT is doing a solid job all across the board at rebuilding lost divisions. In this case, WWE ran two totally different video packages to highlight Riot and Cross. Ruby had the straightforward interview where she told us her mission statement and who exactly Ruby Riot is. She’s a spunky babyface with a bit of an underdog charisma to her. Cross didn’t even put together a coherent interview, which was really good. Her character is crazy, simple as that, and NXT spotlighting that helped make us believe it rather than telling us she’s crazy and expecting viewers to take their word for it. Nikki is also coming off very similar to how Eric Young was in his last TNA run, which was solid character.
Aleister Black vs. Cezar Bononi: This was yet another squash win for Black, but he got to showcase his moveset against a different type of opponent. Kona Reeves was a bigger dude that Black got to take down with his strikes. Cezar was martial artist who Black got to overcome with his superior martial arts and cool demeanor. I’m also liking how he shows off his meditation in his matches. On the other side of the coin, I wonder if they have Bononi signed to a deal since his martial arts moves looked pretty good.
Patrick Clark: A minor miss. There’s nothing wrong with the Prince gimmick even though I think he has to work on altering his voice a bit to fit the character. The miss comes in the feeling that this is the third time viewers have been reintroduced to the same Prince character. Not only that, the last time they ran these vignettes, NXT said he was debuting next week as Prince. He debuted and then went back into obscurity only to be put back in vignette mode. NXT should give viewers a more creative vignette, such as showing Clark do Prince things in his Prince mansion or something. Maybe they’re saving it for a possible main roster debut, but again, the Miss comes from the fact that we’re re-debuting him yet again.