By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Kassius Ohno vs. Tommaso Ciampa: NXT Takeover: New Orleans seemed like a good climatic end to the Ciampa vs. Gargano feud where NXT would run the risk of a feud overstaying its welcome if they continued it. With the beatdown angle last week and the brutal brawl this week, the NXT creative team has found a way to continue the Gargano and Ciampa feud while also keeping a fresh feel to it. Kassius Ohno deserves a lot of credit for carrying the torch from Gargano for a bit to continue to tell this story. Ohno did some of his better character work in NXT by being focused and looking legitimately vengeful for his friend Gargano. The downside of Ohno in this “Gatekeeper” role is that he is pegged to lose all of his meaningful matches, but at least he’s found a way to hide that if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief. Ciampa continues to make the most of the monster heat he inherited from Gargano. It’s not all Gargano though, as Ciampa is just being a bad guy heel that people are projecting heat on. Plus points to Ciampa for translating that heat into absolute in-ring brutality, and credit to Ohno for being brutal himself.
Dakota Kai and Shayna Baszler: This is now my favorite feud in 2018 so far due to the real-life nature and intricate storytelling. Kai is showing off an amazing amount of range here by looking confident and kickass at one moment only to transform into a mouse the moment Shayna Baszler enters the picture. Baszler is continuing her great in-ring and character work, so there’s no surprise there. Baszler and Kai also have real-life-like interactions between a bully and victim outside of the ring too. Not only are they setting up for a great payoff where Kai kicks the head off of Baszler down the road, but they also set up a Nikki Cross and Shayna Baszler feud, which could be initiated as soon as next week based off the laughter that Cross interjected in the segment on this show. The potential Dakota Kai and Nikki Cross relationship reminds me of Rosemary and Allie from Impact Wrestling with their odd-couple-ness and how it will allow Dakota Kai to develop her confidence away from Shayna while Nikki holds off Shayna.
EC3 vs. Raul Mendoza: A good enhancement match that showed off EC3’s signature moves. The post match promo left me a bit worried. It was well delivered, but I felt like this was a promo he would cut two months before that Feast or Fired match in Impact Wrestling. He seemed like he was continuing from his Impact character and NXT viewers missing out on the character arcs that led to him becoming such a sensation in Impact. There are a lot of gaps in the EC3 character now. What is motivating him? What does EC3 stand for? Is he a bad guy or good guy? What does he think of the fans? It also doesn’t look like they have him pegged for any feuds which would be a waste.
Velveteen Dream and Ricochet: Ricochet is continuing his string of cutting not-bad promos. He isn’t doing anything mind blowing but he was known in the past for cutting some strange promos. There’s a reason Lucha Underground made him a silent protagonist with Konnan as his talker. Ricochet is doing a great job getting over his friendly cocky character on the mic. Velveteen Dream is at another level when it comes to promos and is already the complete package at age 22. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand in that promo segment. Their show opening interaction was just a standard feud starting promo but it was a feud starting promo done well.
NXT TV Misses
War Raiders vs. Heavy Machinery: The match wasn’t bad. War Raiders got to show a bit of what makes them popular in their tandem offense and Tornado Tag sequences. What was disappointing was the amount of match we got here. This was essentially a one-sided squash in the favor of War Raiders. It was set up for this type of ending with Otis Dozovic oddly starting off the match rather than the more seasoned Tucker Knight. Hopefully we get a longer encounter down the road but they put some effort to build to this match only to have it be a squash. They even did the “Tale of the Tape” last week. I wonder if that was a Jeremy Borash influence given how many times I remember Mike Tenay doing random Tale of the Tapes.