Moore’s NXT TV Hit List: Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano in a cage match, Dominik Dijakovic’s debut, Io Shirai and Dakota Kai vs. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir


By John Moore, Staffer (@liljohnm)


Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano: Takeover worthy in terms of in-ring quality and TV-angle-forwarding worthy in terms of the ending stanza of this match. Ever since Black lost the NXT Championship, he has returned to form in terms of putting on good in-ring stories that involve cool looking kickboxing strikes. Gargano is doing solid job as a heel without looking like a heel chiche. Good back and forth. Gargano did get the cheap win, but they didn’t give Black the visual victory like a lot of WWE main roster matches get when it looks like the babyface is about to win. It looked like either Black or Gargano could win after Black stumbled from the desperation Black Mass. The temporary DIY reunion adds a hook for later weeks of NXT. Are Gargano and Ciampa on the same page? Is Ciampa just using Gargano to fend off Black (yes)? Will DIY become a tag team again (I hope not, since people would just cheer Ciampa and Gargano again)? Will Ciampa backstab Gargano yet again? Lots of hooks.

Dominik Dijakovic: The artist formerly known as Donovan Dijak has finally arrived on the NXT big stage. I am not sure why it took such a long time. Mauro Ranallo pointed out how Dijak has that WWE pro wrestler prototype look, yet the guy has spent over a year or two on NXT’s developmental Florida live event loop. Dijakovic looked as good as you would expect. Vicious and devastating. It also seems like they found a new way to pronounce his name. It’s pronounced “Dijak” “Kovich” like it’s two separate words. At least that made it better than trying to pronounce it without the separation (the name is still contrived and could use the WWE main roster simplification). Another plus goes to his finisher. I will always give the Burning Hammer a Hit so the finisher gets a double hit by combining the Burning Hammer with the GTS.

NXT TV Misses

Io Shirai and Dakota Kai vs. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir: The match wasn’t awful, but Duke and Shafir still looked very inexperienced out there. If they weren’t best friends with Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey, WWE would be keeping them off television at this stage in their development, but it’s obvious that WWE is rushing them to try to get them to Ronda Rousey as soon as is logically possible. Duke has a good look to her so there’s that. To Shafir and Duke’s credit, they did put on a better performance than their practice run in San Jose. This match also was supposed to have Kairi Sane in Io’s spot, but Sane missed this set of tapings due to an illness. That did allow Shirai to shine and she was the bright spot of the match with her match closing hot tag sequence. One more odd thing. Duke and Shafir are supposed to be MMA powerhouses I assume, yet they get easily destroyed by Io Shirai in their first match. Where do they go from here, especially when it looks like Baszler is going to move on to someone who’s not Shirai, Kai, or Sane?

Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Konnan, who discusses his return to the ring for MLW and shares the crazy story of how he started in pro wrestling.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir are not MMA powerhouses, and are not former MMA “stars”.

    Duke is 3-5-1, and 1-3 in the UFC. She has not won an MMA fight since 2013, and has not fought since 2016 after getting obliterated twice in Invicta FC, an MMA “minor league”.

    Shafir is 1-2 overall, and has never fought in the UFC. She has not won an MMA fight since 2014, and has not fought since 2015 after also getting destroyed in Invicta FC.

    Credit and respect due to them for even having pro MMA fight experience, but in the grand scheme of things, these two are mediocre fighters and only the most hardcore MMA fans will recognize their names due to their connection to Rousey.

    I’m not trying to be harsh for harsh’s sake. Duke and Shafir are probably being used correctly in their current roles. They were essentially “jobbers” in MMA and they likely should be doing jobs in NXT.

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