By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
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.