By John Moore
Hideo Itami vs. Oney Lorcan: Hot damn! Those slaps from Lorcan leading into the uppercut were vicious. Lorcan is NXT’s Mr. Intensity. He brings it every night even in untelevised house shows. And even though the guy loses all the time, you would never know based on the quality performances he puts in night after night. The closing minutes of this match had some good strong style wrestling in it. Full Sail usually does wrong by the heels by cheering them, but they did a good job giving Itami a heel reaction for beating up on Oney Lorcan, who wins people over with his good wrestling. Tom Phillips sold the strong style and Itami heel actions really well by acting shocked and letting out an “oh my God!!!” during his call.
Heavy Machinery vs. Lars Sullivan and Victor Andrews: For some reason, I can’t help but really dig Heavy Machinery. I’m usually not a fan of the bro-type tag team, but these are awesome bros that you can’t help but want to rally for. They’re fun, simple as that. This was another squash, yeah, but NXT really knows how to make their squash matches count and involve character development. The early part of the match had Tucker Knight stand toe-to-toe with Lars Sullivan, who gave Heavy Machinery their biggest roadblock to date. Then Victor Andrews tagged in and cost his team the match by feeding into the fun Heavy Machinery offense. Not only that, you had Lars (formerly Dylan Miley) continue his gimmick of beating up tag team partners who cost him matches. This match had all gains and no loss. Bonus points to Heavy Machinery for having awesome entrance music.
Roderick Strong and Bobby Roode: This segment had a simple formula. Have Roddy go out there to build up sympathy with his family story and then have Bobby go out to tear Roddy down in a heelish manner. This was a good segment in setting up Strong as the next challenge to Bobby Roode. One flaw I did see in the segment was Roderick started to get a bit too self-indulgent in addressing the popularity of his documentary. Other than that, he has improved on the microphone a lot since I last saw him speak. Roode has grown on his end as a promo and did a really good job a tearing down Strong to build sympathy for him. Being able to be witty on the mic is something Roode was missing in his TNA days because he had the luxury of James Storm cutting witty promos for him. Currently, Roode is the complete package and the top heel that NXT has been missing since the departure of Kevin Owens. Samoa Joe was a good wrestling heel, but he never got to carry the brand against multiple opponents. Rather, Joe just had endless feuds with Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura.
NXT Fans: This is a minor hit for a singular moment. During the Roderick Strong promo, one idiot fan tried to start a “what” chant. Full Sail gets the Hit for shutting him down and one fan audibly telling the guy to “come on, man!”. That cracked me up in a good way.
Killian Dain vs. No Way Jose: NXT has done a solid job separating Killian Dain and Nikki Cross from the losing ways of Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe. Why they don’t make EY and Wolfe strong as well baffles me, but they’ve even gone so far as to give Dain different entrance music separate from Sanity. The longer length of this match doesn’t hurt Dain at all because it wasn’t presented as a squash. No Way was put on the shelf by Dain so he was fighting for his life and for revenge. Jose got a bit of something with the TKO on the heavyweight. This match did more for Dain though as he got to show off his big man agility and a bit of his moveset.
Peyton Royce vs. Sarah Logan: This match was good in terms of match quality. Logan got to showcase a bit of her character and moveset and Royce continues to impress me in developing an in ring identity. What made this a Miss was the match length actually being detrimental in the development of the Royce and Kay act. Royce would have gained more if the match ended after Royce hit the spinning back kick or even the Death Valley Driver, but the huge crux behind the characters of Royce and Kay is they’ve never shrugged off their reputation of being losers. Another thing that sucks is that pointing thing that Royce and Kay do to try to say they are mean girls. It doesn’t make them look like valley girls, it makes them look like dorks trying to imitate valley girls. Summer Rae pulled this act off way better when she was running a similar stable back in the early NXT days. Kay and Royce need to break up with Kay getting a complete makeover to wipe away the losing identity. Royce has already started to change her look and I really think she has a good upside in the ring as evidenced in the smart matches she’s been having recently.
Ember Moon: NXT has been having Ember Moon talk more often the past few weeks and her interviews don’t really add anything to her. She just comes off as a bit generic and mopey at times whereas she had a mystique to her when she was silent. I compare her to Gail Kim, who also does her best work by being an utter badass in the ring. It also disappointed me during her promo that she talked about going back to temporary feud with Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. Moon has already beaten both women singlehandedly in handicap situations (another hallmark of Gail Kim is how she would destroy factions singlehandedly).