By John Moore
Tommaso Ciampa: While Ciampa is not considered one of the masters of the promo, he did a good monologue here justifying his actions in his own mind while tearing into Johnny Gargano and the fans. Ciampa had good self-reasoning as to why he did what he did. He pointed to online rumors of fans fantasy booking replacements for him at Takeover and said he was beating Johnny to the punch before Johnny replaced him after sustaining a big injury. It’s easy for the fans to call BS on that because Johnny took the bullet for him by pushing him out of the way during the ladder shot with all of his might. Ciampa had a tough promo to deliver because one of the problems with Full Sail sometimes is they don’t play along with the storylines but tearing into the fans and calling them replaceable did a good job turning as many of them against him. Back when Kevin Owens got called up to the main roster I labeled Tommaso Ciampa was one of my picks to escalate to the top of the heel ladder. What I like about NXT now is they are trying to fix deficiencies in WWE and one of those deficiencies is top heels with heat. Ciampa got some heat on Takeover and again here. I’m also very intrigued as it seems like NXT is building up a strong top tier heel roster with Bobby Roode, Hideo Itami, Tommaso Ciampa, Pete Dunne, and even Andrade Almas if what I’m sensing is correct.
Pete Dunne vs. Danny Burch: WWE really stumbled on a gold mine here with the UK division and integrating it into NXT instead of their Kevin Dunn produced shows. This was a really good match as usual from the UK guys. I do have one criticism which is actually a trend I see with the Progress wrestlers. A majority of the matches I see from these Progress/BSS-faction guys is that they always have to perform in 10-plus minute wars. This was a good match but a bit predictable in that we wait for the Bitter End flatliner to signify the end of what we totally expect is an enhancement match because has been in NXT for years and has never won a match to my memory. The problem with that is it makes 75 percent of the match skippable if you’re in a rush. Where I thought the match should have ended was after Dunne hit his X-Plex, which would have also established that as a viable finisher instead of a setup move. Criticisms aside, the match quality was solid. Dunne is good. Danny Burch also seems to have gotten himself in good shape since his tank top days. He still loses though which still baffles me, as even though he has a good look now he can’t win a match. Dunne was good post-match too in establishing he is still a heel which is what I talked about Ciampa and NXT building a solid top heel roster.
Andrade Almas vs. Cezar Bononi: This hit isn’t because I love pronouncing the name “Bononi”. Even though I do love saying “Bononi”! The Hit comes from this being both a solid enhancement match for Almas for a majority of the matchup while also proving that my suspicions may be true about NXT having huge plans for Almas. Even though Almas lost, it was one sided and a standard enhancement match in his favor. I’ve been suspecting this for months following Almas losing to Aleister Black. Since that loss, Tom Phillips has been produced to overly protect Almas by saying that he only loses due to his late night partying and lack of focus. The camera shot after the match also supports that theory. Before his feud with Oney Lorcan, it seemed like Almas was in a forgettable place but hopefully the attention he’s getting leads to big things for the man formerly named after my main Hero in Overwatch. Again, the story of this show is building up heels for NXT, and not in the Empire Strikes Back fashion.
Roderick Strong and Kassius Ohno vs. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe: The good part of the match was the babyfaces. Ohno looked good as usual and Strong continues to ascend as a hero to the people with a kickass moveset. The Miss is the same one I came up with at Takeover in that they are doing nothing to put any credibility behind Sanity. Wolfe just gets beat up all of the time. If he lost singles matches I would call him Danny Burch. Young works well with his opponents but he’s taking unnecessary loses as the leader of this faction. I like that they are protecting Killian Dain and keeping Nikki Cross away from the losing, but EY and Wolfe are having to eat a lot of loses. I almost want them to give up on EY as a heel faction leader and have him be “Showtime” EY, who’s one of the funniest guys in pro wrestling. No Way Jose coming out makes sense based on his history with Sanity, but I’m not a fan because it harkens back to that feud that was just spinning its wheels when NXT didn’t seem to know how to book storylines. I thought NXT had something with Rich Swann and No Way as a tag team but Swann is doing that 205 Live thing. Hmmmmm? This is just a thought, but how would a “Showtime” Eric Young and No Way Jose tag team do on the main roster? That may work?