By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Velveteen Dream vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship: WWE did attempt to confuse people on this spoiler because according to reports they recorded two match finishes with Gargano and Dream winning. Maybe they did that because Gargano was all over other WWE shows with the NA Title so they didn’t want to screw up their canon? I don’t know. Anyway, it was a good match as you would expect from both men. This match wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but it was really compelling and the nearfalls at the end were what made it. As a side note, I saw Dream and Gargano work a very similar match as a dark match during the San Jose tapings (which was definitely not as amazing as the Gargano vs. Black match two days after).
Aleister Black vs. Roderick Strong: A good match that may have seemed a bit random. They managed to take away some of that randomness by saying that this was a result of last week’s Undisputed Era beatdown of the babyfaces in the ring. That’s an acceptable excuse. Anyway, a good match from Black as usual. It was also fun seeing Roderick Strong back in the singles division back to doing as many backbreakers as he can. He announced on a recent NXT episode that the former Red Dragon, Fish and O’Reilly, were reforming so Strong can shift over to singles competition.
Matt Riddle Interview: NXT is doing a decent job these days trying to fit some interviews and promo pieces into their really jam-packed show. They even had to cut this interview short because of the time constraints (I’ll post the full interview right below this). As for the content, it was a solid interview to give the viewers an update on who Matt Riddle is and what are his goals in NXT are. They were straightforward goals, but it’s good to hear the goals from the actual person because it acclimates them to the viewers. It’s also cool to see Jeremy Borash, who has a beard now, show up on WWE television after so many years seeing him on Impact/TNA. It’s also odd listening to the full interview because with the Borash introduction, it felt like I was watching a TNA video package.
Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir: The match preceding this beatdown was okay, but nothing to write home about. The real story behind the last two weeks of women’s matches is the Horsewomen trio running roughshod throughout NXT and causing havoc. It’s simple, effective, and a good way to hide Shafir and Duke’s weaknesses. This is definitely a better approach than having them stumble and looked overexposed in the ring. I also noted in my members’ exclusive audio review, which I recorded before this Hit List, that I didn’t like Yim replacing Eat Defeat with Kenta’s bad replacement GTS. I looked at the move again and Yim actually improved the parts of the move that I hated with Kenta, so after a few executions it might end up being a good finisher. I do really like the name “Protect Yo Neck” though.
Dusty Rhodes Classic announcement: While it wasn’t a TV deal as a handful of people fantasy speculated, this was a nice announcement of an annual tradition that NXT has. I like them holding back on announcing the next four teams until next week because it adds a hook to next week’s show. I also really liked the teams they already announced and this Classic would definitely be better than last year’s version, which consisted of a lot of injuries and odd booking decisions including the winners not even being in the tournament.
NXT TV Misses
None: I feel like I write this a lot on these NXT Hit Lists, but there aren’t a lot of bad negatives to point out on this show. I do constantly point out in my written reviews that I feel that NXT’s roster is clearly outgrowing the one hour time slot, but if I put that in my hit list every week then it would just be unnecessarily redundant. It would be like Jason putting “Three Hour Raws” in the Miss section of every Raw Hit List. Lack of time aside, this episode didn’t really have any glaring flaws.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and former WWE Smackdown lead writer Alex Greenfield discussing the NXT call-ups, Stephanie McMahon’s past contributions to WWE creative, the growth of MLW, and much more.