By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Ricochet and Velveteen Dream vs. Lars Sullivan: A good match and a smart way to protect Dream and Ricochet while making Lars Sullivan look stronger. I would have liked them to have turned up the volume of making Lars look strong (in a similar situation that Ricochet was involved in Lucha Underground when he and Pentagon went against Mil Muertes 2-on-1), but this was fine. It’s better than Velveteen Dream just dropping off the apron, which we’ve seen so many times in pro wrestling. The action was great. Lars sold a lot for Dream and Ricochet, which is what he should do when going against two main event players. Lars got enough offense in to not look weak either. Dream and Ricochet had great chemistry as a tag team where in a different universe you could see them as tag team mainstays. They were doing some fun things with their feet and flips. This is obviously setting up Dream vs. Ricochet at a Takeover and possibly Lars Sullivan going after Aleister Black.
Kairi Sane vs. Lacey Evans: A fun, hard hitting match. Lacey Evans finally picks up a big win and a big win at the right time. I’m glad they didn’t give 1920s cosplayer Evans any meaningful wins because that would have meant moving forward with that stale gimmick. Evans has done an amazing job reinventing herself in her last two appearances. She’s acting like an entitled heel. She’s also going military themed with her gear. There is still a bit of glam in her gear but I think it fits in her egomaniacal character. Her new “like a lady” entrance theme is starting to grow on me too and another sign of a positive reboot. One more thing that WWE is doing right here is establishing the “Women’s Right” finisher by really putting that move over week after week.
Heavy Machinery vs. TM-61: Some basic stuff here, but basic isn’t bad. Heavy Machinery was protected due to TM-61 cheating. Otis is still very fun to watch in particular while Tucker Knight carries things in the ring. TM-61 cheats in their second match as heels and therefore establishes their heel character. TM-61 wasn’t going anywhere as babyfaces so the new morality shift sets them up with new opponents and gives them a fresh start to try to finally catch on.
NXT TV Misses
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae: It’s not like this feud has jumped the shark. The Gargano stretcher angle did a powerful job freshening up this feud and it looked like they were going to try to do something with Ciampa and Black which would have been smart. With this segment and the last promo segment with LeRae in the ring, they have utilized LeRae in a very odd way. They are having her play a “worried wife” character that seems a bit too cliché, and NXT usually does a good job avoiding clichés. This segment teased Johnny Gargano retiring? I think? It was random and not built up with any vignettes. Based off of this build, the only good and logical payoff from this build seems to be a Tommaso Ciampa vs. Candice LeRae intergender match, which I don’t see happening based off of this being WWE and it not being a great match to present to begin with. LeRae’s bread and butter has been intergender matches and there is a correct way to present it such as what Lucha Underground does; but WWE has already gone in a bad direction by presenting LeRae as physically and mentally weak in the past two segments. I like that she’s at least presented as smart, but right now this feud is heading in a wrong direction. They can easily fix this somehow and hopefully they saw this as something to fix. It also helps that Tommaso Ciampa is still on fire here.
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...