By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
North American Championship Introduction: I can understand being a bit apprehensive about the possibility of over saturating the brand with a secondary title, but NXT has grown enough to warrant a second title. I can see this either being a mid-card title, a title more attainable to true “developmental” wrestlers, or a workhorse title akin to the old school Intercontinental Championship. The announcement of this match was well done and spread out throughout the show in logical ways. It was a bit goofy to have Cathy Kelley constantly bug William Regal for the next piece of the announcement, but that little nitpick can slide.
EC3: Fresh from getting “Fired” from Impact Wrestling via a dumb TNA gimmick match, EC3 had a good first night in front of the Full Sail audience. It’s because it’s in front of the Full Sail University crowd, that the lack of build up vignettes can be excused because the crowd treated him like a star as expected. Full Sail buys into hype easily, and I’ll assume it’s hype because it’s almost a given that most of them haven’t been watching some of the great work EC3 has done in Impact Wrestling. Not to mention, he got some kickass new theme music. EC3 looks to be initially playing a babyface as he was pandering to the crowd but there were also aspects of his entitled rich-boy character in there when he thought he was getting the title handed to him. Here’s hoping that EC3 transitions to being a heel down the road because he’s so good at being a prick and this brand is in need of strong bad guys.
Andrade Almas and Aleister Black: A vicious and brutal beatdown. Beating up Black holds a lot of merit because Black stands on par with the monster figures of NXT. When Black is in the ring with the likes of Lars Sullivan and Killian Dain, the guy comes off as equally dominant. Almas was an enhancement talent around this time last year and today he did a great job putting the beatdown on one of the strongest forces in NXT. This brutal beatdown also comes off as petty, in a good way, because he’s beating up Black because Black decided to spend a few minutes making short people jokes at Zelina Vega. In a way, Black got beat up by the combined rage of Vega and Almas. In a nice touch, I liked the way that the beatdown interjected itself into the “regularly scheduled programming” by interrupting whatever match Dakota Kai was about to have. This was one of several things on this episode that sets up NXT as a universe because things can happen in different parts of this universe. Nice world building here.
Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon: This was shot in a different way to the Almas and Black brawl, but it shared similarities in the world building aspect of it by showing that anything can happen from anywhere in this large-scale NXT universe. This brawl happened under the guise of a standard TM-61 interview. This segment had a great link to the viewer to because just like I was, the camera man was also more interested in what was happening behind TM-61 than TM-61 themselves, and that was the intention.
Lars Sullivan vs. John Silver: The diving headbutt is a move that has to go away. It’s unnecessary and only brings up bad memories. Not to mention the potential cringing for Sullivan’s health. Sullivan’s great at playing the monster role so such moves are gratuitous. Moving past that, Lars Sullivan squashes are the best. The only thing better than Lars Sullivan beating up jobbers is Lars Sullivan beating up tag team partners. It’s good to have Sullivan back from whatever kept him away.
Ricochet: He was only on the screen for about ten seconds, but he looked confident and didn’t flub his one line. That’s a success there and a good first impression. Him in the suit was a good look as well as he looked suave with a bit of cockiness to him. I am looking forward to his anticipated in-ring debut.
NXT TV Misses
Sanity vs. Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a Dusty Rhodes Classic match: There wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with the match. Ultimately, the match was just a bit disappointing and didn’t seem to get out of second gear. What stood out is we didn’t get any of the signature characteristics that made these world class athletes standouts. We didn’t get Roderick Strong hitting those spark plug backbreakers. We didn’t get Eric Young acting like a maniac. We didn’t get Alexander Wolfe showing fire. What was most noticeable was that we didn’t get much Pete Dunne brutality. That stood out the most because Dunne was working standard babyface stuff here. Their tag team finisher, the double flapjack, wasn’t too devastating as well. One more negative was Mauro Ranallo overselling this as an upset. Strong and Dunne are presented as main eventers on this show. If this was Lorcan and Burch or Sabbatelli and Moss that superlative will ring true, but Strong and Dunne have a history of dominating.
Street Profits vs. Authors of Pain in a Dusty Rhodes Classic match: An odd night for Montez Ford who usually stands out in a positive way. The guy looked like a dope here for getting awkwardly pissed off because Paul Ellering didn’t want to drink his mystery drink. To Ellering’s credit, you shouldn’t accept drinks from strangers let alone from the medium of a frat party solo cup. The right team did go over. AOP got to look dominant. Angelo Dawkins had a nice hot tag moment. Ford was the odd thing that made this fall apart, but hopefully this leads to an evolution of the Street Profits where they try to grow character-wise from this misstep.
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