By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Tommaso Ciampa, Aleister Black, and Johnny Gargano: A very strong main event promo segment with each person adding more layers to their combined story. Tommaso Ciampa started things off by building up heat for himself by verbally attacking people in the crowd directly. One benefit Ciampa has is that older lady in the front row who he antagonizes all of the time. She might as well be a permanent part of his act. Black came out and cuts what may be his best long-form promo in NXT. A lot of times when Aleister cuts longer promos he comes off as if he’s reading a script. He was passionate here and it worked. Gargano came out and played a chickens–t heel similar to what we see Miz do on the main roster. Gargano did a good job in that new role. To tie things all together, it was great when Ciampa sold being giddy in stirring the pot while manipulating Gargano, Black, and the NXT audience into not giving Black his contractually obligated rematch for the NXT Championship by proposing a Gargano vs. Black cage match instead.
Shayna Baszler vs. Dakota Kai: Baszler’s matches never go too long, but she’s really good at telling jam-packed stories in the shorter amounts of time. Kai and Baszler have had a great series of matches and this is no exception. Each of their past encounters built upon the previous encounter with Kai showing signs of growing confidence. Kai was a sorry sap at one point, but NXT has done a good job having her crawl out of that sappy hole. The best part here, is Baszler won clean. Heels don’t always have to cheat. They can just be a heel because they are crappy people and Baszler is really good at playing a crappy person.
The Forgotten Sons vs. Humberto Carrillo and Raul Mendoza: A fun tag team match with the Forgotten Sons surprising viewers with another good tag team outing. The Sons had a forgettable first few matches but have really put things together with a series of hard hitting matches. I won’t say they’re the next big tag team yet, but they’re getting there. Blake and Cutler were really good at being innovative and rough. Their offense was practical. Blake and Cutler may lack charisma, but that’s where Jaxson Ryker comes into play as he exudes charisma by just standing in a corner and crossing his arms. Another positive is the Sons haven’t resorted to cheating in the last few matches which would define them down as just any other team. Carrillo and Mendoza looked great on their end. Mendoza’s offense may look clunky at times, but that clunkiness just makes him come off as more natural. Carrillo is the opposite because the guy is as smooth as ice with the ability to fly high. Carrillo does the same moves as any other luchador, but he adds about a foot of air into it which makes the moves stand out.
Matt Riddle vs. Punishment Martinez: In a way, this was a good introduction to Punishment Martinez, but also it was a good introduction as to what Matt Riddle can deliver on a regular basis if given more than a minute of match time. This was a fun big man match with some awesome striking from both men who use CQC (close quarters combat) in unique ways. Martinez lost, but NXT does this on the regular so he’s just awaiting a repackage just like his buddy Donovan Dijak. Hopefully Martinez gets a name change because Punishment Martinez was never the best of ring names (but hopefully he doesn’t get something as tongue twisty as “Donnovan Dijakovic”)
Undisputed Era Promo: Nice attention to detail with Adam Cole acting a bit paranoid due to their last NWO-style promo getting crashed by War Raiders. These UE promos are always solid at keeping UE’s various feuds in the minds of viewers. The funny line of the week goes to Roderick Strong instead of Kyle O’Reilly. It was a bad line, but it was so bad that it was hilarious. I couldn’t help but laugh when Strong dubbed The Mighty as “The Weaky”.
NXT YouTube Post Show: I checked out their YouTube channel the last few weeks and noticed that WWE is running an unadvertised post show on their YouTube Channel hosted by Sarah Schreiber with interviews done by Jeremy Borash. I spoke with Paul Levesque a few weeks ago in Los Angeles and he mentioned how Borash was coming up with new ways to get their non-match content up because of their saturated roster and I’m guessing this is one of their approaches (it was funny seeing JB run around with his DSLR and tripod to film these segments too). JB interviewed Matt Riddle, Forgotten Sons, Bianca Belair, and others and these interviews allowed each act to follow up on what we saw on television.
NXT TV Misses
None: After two weeks of respite after Takeover, NXT was back to putting on a jam packed show with good matches and solid promos.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guests David McLane and Selina “Bambi” Majors discussing the launch of the WOW women’s wrestling promotion series on AXS TV.