By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa: A strong segment and what was needed to get this feud back on track. Injecting Candice LeRae and the potential retirement storyline only convoluted things and made this feud look like it was about to jump the shark. This segment did the job in going back to basics. Even in the mediocre segments from the past few weeks, Ciampa has consistently been good in all aspects. His biggest strength is being able to manipulate the crowd. Credit to him for shutting down the fans who were trying to cheer the heel with the “psycho killer” chants and calling that “bullcrap”. Gargano was great on his end with the basic brawl angle and tossing Ciampa into the LED (along with the false end to the show with the copyright signature) was good parallelism to the segment where DIY broke up.
Kairi Sane vs. Lacey Evans: Evans isn’t quite ready for the main events that the NXT Women’s division has been known for in the past, but she has shown immense improvement in the ring over the past few months. The huge thing holding her back was the fake and tired 1920s cosplay gimmick. This is similar to what happened to Velveteen Dream after he used to cosplay as Prince and make Purple Rain puns. Evans is still developing in the ring and she was clunky at spots but, as I said, she has improved and it helps that Sane is such a good worker. Sane is developing on her end too. I liked that she decided to mix up her attire a bit. She still has to work on reacting to the crowd because she does tend to come off as an eager enhancement talent at times, but thankfully things usually pick up once she hits that spear. This looks like the end of this feud for now. For Sane, maybe she can move up to the main event scene with Kai, Baszler, and Cross. For Evans, the next step for her is to win a feud over one of the undercard women on the NXT roster to launch her to the main event.
Velveteen Dream and Ricochet video package: The structure of this was simple but very effective in flushing out both men involved in this feud. It included both men addressing some of the criticisms put on them by critics. With Ricochet, he pointed out how he is more than just a guy who does flips (his reputation is a bit overblown by people who don’t watch his matches). Velveteen Dream addressed his time as the “loser of a reality show” when he was the nerdy wrestling fan named Patrick Clark on Tough Enough. They even showed clips from that season of Tough Enough. Dream can do no wrong at this point. He’s fire on the mic and fire in the ring. Ricochet is mega fire in the ring. He was bad on the microphone in the past but in NXT he’s been pretty good. We haven’t seen bad Ricochet in NXT, which means he’s learning and developing.
Roderick Strong vs. Danny Burch: Strong’s matches are usually Hits and this was no exception. Burch has a nice physical style, which meshed well with Strong’s breakneck pace. Burch has won only one singles match since 2012 in WWE so one more loss doesn’t hurt him until they are finally ready to utilize him in a winning position. This match does the simple job of giving Undisputed Era a win while protecting Burch’s team due to the dirty finish. The one criticism I have is Burch looking a bit dopey for letting go of his submission when Adam Cole stood on the apron.
Shayna Baszler and Nikki Cross: This was a really fun segment between two strong personalities. Baszler utilized the same techniques that she utilized against Dakota Kai and Ember Moon to dominate them. It worked on those two white meat babyfaces. Nikki Cross’ unorthadox personality deflecting Baszler’s bullying made for good television and a nice change of pace for Baszler’s latest feud. It keeps her feuds from getting repetitive.
The Mighty: This miss is just from first impressions of their new name. It sounds like an incomplete phrase. I understand not using “The Mighty Don’t Kneel”. TM-61 would have been fine if they had the announcers clarify what it meant a bit. They did mention in their documentary that TM-61 is a cruise missile along with TM being the initials to “The Mighty”. Maybe this will grow on me but for now it sounds incomplete.