By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Tommaso Ciampa, Alister Black, and Johnny Gargano: Another heat filled segment involving Tommaso Ciampa. He is so great at interacting with the crowd to draw ire and he’s making it fun to boo evil heels in 2018. It’s gotten to the point that if you want to get noticed as a fan on television then it’s the in thing to boo instead of doing some sort of “you deserve it” type of chant. Ciampa’s promo content was on point as well even making fun of those “you deserve it” or “our NXT” promos. The icing on top was Ciampa getting in the face of the older lady that he antagonized before and rubbing his title win in her face almost literally. Combining all the pieces together along with his delivery, Ciampa put together one of the better World Champion promos in a while. Gargano ran out and was effective in portraying his unhinged character. Black was even better in his attack of Gargano. It’s so interesting to see the crowd turn on Gargano, but that’s the intention right since Gargano is doing a bunch of purposefully dumb things. Black seems to have reverted to cutting limited promos, which is what he should be doing given his mystique. It is reported that Black had surgery recently so the main event they are building to looks to be in question. If Black can make it then great, but I wonder if WWE will try to shift someone over because this match does need a babyface vector to counterbalance the unlikable Gargano and evil Ciampa.
Shayna Baszler vs. Candice LeRae: This match caught me off guard in a good way because I didn’t expect to see a Takeover worthy match barely advertised on a regular TV episode. This was the match that it looked like they were building to for Brooklyn and they decided to swerve into Kairi Sane. This match seemed shorter than it would have been had it occurred on a Takeover, which is a good thing in that we can expect more from these two when they do battle for the championship. I thought they would set up for Dakota Kai dethroning Baszler at Takeover: Los Angeles, but given Candice LeRae’s history in Southern California, I wonder if they are considering putting the title on her in Los Angeles to get the feel-good hometown pop? I’m actually excited to see LeRae’s hometown welcome at that Takeover (which I will be attending in person).
EC3 vs. Kona Reeves: The Kona Reeves gimmick looks like a flop and it looks like WWE might finally be giving up on it given how he was fed to EC3 for the past few weeks. Reeves was both in-ring fodder and promo fodder. Reeves has something in the ring, but this gimmick is bad, so bad now that it’s actually funny. They might have something on their hands here and I proposed doing something similar to how Cody Rhodes turned around the goofy “Dashing” gimmick into a dark and intricate “undashing” gimmick. EC3 gained something in this match too. One, by kicking out of Kona’s finisher (which might as well have been buried from that move). Two, he forwarded his feud with Velveteen Dream, who cut a good promo mid-match. EC3 has been looking really good in the ring during his NXT run as he’s a bit more agile and quick than he was during his Impact run.
Heavy Machinery vs. The Mighty: A good in-ring showing from Heavy Machinery. Otis Dozovic showed a lot of in-ring improvement in his handicap match against The Mighty a few weeks ago and it carried over here where Otis was the one doing the selling sequence during this match when he’s usually the quick hot tag. That made for a better hot tag where the more experienced Tucker Knight showed off some good explosiveness here. The match had the added bonus of also being the return vector for the Street Profits, who have been off “training” (in reality, Montez Ford was injured and he also got married to Bianca Belair during that time).
Moustache Mountain: A quick hit for Tyler Bate and Trent Seven slowly introducing themselves to the NXT audience after a rushed title reign and loss. They turned a mild negative into a huge positive by having that title match a few weeks ago, which already makes Takeover Brooklyn looking really hot. I called Moustache Mountain vs. Undisputed Era a Takeover-worthy match, which means that the actual match at Takeover will be better, right?
William Regal: A minor Hit for Regal returning to his role as the NXT version of Jack Tunney where he shows up on TV to deliver news straight from his office.
NXT TV Misses
None: I would usually give this Miss to Kona Reeves, whose gimmick is a Miss, but NXT found a way to use that that in their favor. This was another good edition of NXT and I continue to point out that NXT’s strength is that they make sure every single segment on the show serves a purpose. Sometimes on other wrestling shows, especially Raw, it feels like there are “filler” segments, but it’s tough to find one on the one-hour NXT weekly television show.