By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
EC3 vs. Lars Sullivan: An unexpected violent brawl between two heavyweight dudes. Lars deserves some merits for letting himself get slammed into the steel steps and having his back all torn up and in three different colors. EC3 was great on his end showing some babyface intensity that we haven’t seen much of from him. It’s still a bit odd seeing him as a babyface. He was fine as a babyface in Impact Wrestling, but that was a result of a stellar run as the entitled heel. Now he’s just a wrestler who wrestles heels and wants to be “the top one percent”.
Johnny Gargano vs. Tony Nese: This was a fun overall match. I’m very happy to see Tony Nese in a new setting. In 205 Live, Nese was established from the start as their resident enhancement wrestler heel. Drew Gulak escaped that classification, Nese did not and was putting on some boring matches as the enhancement heel. In recent months, Nese has altered his in-ring style to tell great stories but his stigma as a job guy held him back because he didn’t change his character with the shift in creative. Here he gets a fresh start. He still lost, but got to have a barnburner of a match with the top babyface of the company. Nese got a lot of offense here and won over the crowd with his innovation. Gargano was his usual good self and here he reestablished his babyface moveset. This did a good job elevating both men with solid in-ring storytelling.
The Forgotten Sons vs. enhancement wrestlers: This was the best the Sons have looked since joining NXT. The trios format really did them favors in allowing them to differentiate themselves. Blake and Cutler had a generic tag team match while Jaxson Ryker had an underwhelming squash himself. This match set the trio up as a tactical squad with Ryker directing traffic. They still need a lot of work to do but this is a better showing then their last two. My solution for all of this is to add Lacey Evans to the act. Book it, Hunter!
Lacey Evans vs. Candice LeRae: This was a great match in terms of storytelling. Everything was logical here. Evans was powerful but LeRae outclassed her in terms of ability, speed, experience, and a bit of power. Evans had to resort to dirty tactics and trying to get LeRae off her game with taunts. The taunts paid off because Evans made a jab at Johnny which caused LeRae to drop the technical aspect of her game and just whaling at Evans. That allowed Evans to get an opening and hit LeRae with the Women’s Right. Just genus. I didn’t like Evans going back to the 1920s pinup look. Again, it will elevate her and elevate the Sons by making her the fourth Forgotten Son (or the Forgotten Daughter?).
Video Packages: I’m going to lump all of them in here, but this episode had four pre-tape vignettes and all four of them were effective and unique. The North American Championship video focused on the word “legacy”. Baszler got an MMA training vignette. Lorcan and Burch got to give a chronicle of their run as a tag team. Ciampa got to cut a standard promo. All effective and not repetitive.
Jaxson Ryker: A personal Miss from me. He looked fine this week. The annoying part is writing his name. Why is he not called “Jackson Ryker” or “Jaxon Ryker”. Why does there have to be a Jax and Son. Am I pronouncing it wrong? Nitpick. I kinda feel the need do that for NXT Misses.