By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Shayna Baszler vs. Mia Yim: A pleasant surprised between two women with good in-ring chemistry. It was good to see Shayna return to form in terms of targeting a body part and brutalizing it. A good story with Baszler conquering an injured hand while Yim trying to conquer an injured leg. If Yim had been presented as more of a player in the women’s division, this match has the potential to be Takeover worthy.
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano: Gargano has cut this promo several times before where he recapitulates his current story arc, and it is a solid formula. It keeps the viewers current and up to date with his multi-year story thread. Ciampa continues to play the “puppet master” role really well and making his manipulation make a lot of sense. The DIY reunion on one hand gives the crowd what they want. A good taste of a good memory. On the other hand, Gargano’s vagueness when talking with Ciampa adds a layer of intrigue, which was furthered with Gargano’s interaction with his wife outside of Full Sail.
Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic: A fast paced match that reminded me of a lot of PWG or Ring of Honor matches that include a lot of big men doing high flying indie spots. This match was fast paced. Dijakovic got to look imposing standing next to the big man Lee. While WWE shouldn’t overdo “cute” finishes like this match had, I like that this match was really good, yet didn’t get into its final gear meaning that this match was a good preview as to the barnburner that is soon to come.
Vanessa Borne and Aliyah vs. Taynara Conti and Xia Li: A fun showcase between four of WWE’s more “developmental” talents. All four have improved in big ways in the ring, but they are still not ready to be presented as featured stars yet. Conti in particular is doing a good job, finally, integrating her Judo background into her moveset. Xia Li’s still rough, but always impressive during her short spurts of offense. This match is an example of the potential that can come from an NXT Women’s Tag Team Division.
Sasha Banks and Bayley: It’s always good to see former NXT stars “return home”. Simple stuff here, but it was an overall heartwarming sight. This speech by Sasha and Bayley was much better than their Raw mission statement speech (which came off more like a sappy PR ploy). The icing on the cake for this segment was Bayley’s interactions with her biggest fan Izzy. Seeing the parallelism of the Bayley character grow and Izzy growing to a teenager adds yet another wholesome layer to all of this. Back to business, Bayley and Sasha teased they are wrestling in NXT. You can’t just tease things and pull back on that tease right? Bayley and Sasha vs. The Sky Pirates has the potential to be a show stealer. Hell, I don’t even have to add a potential qualifier given Io Shirai’s reliability, and the other three’s talent.
Keith Lee’s new entrance theme: I always throw in the qualifier of the possibility that some people may have liked this musical theme. If you do, I’m not complaining to you. Anyway, this entrance music was weird. The parts where Keith Lee is rapping like he’s Will Smith in the ’90s were actually good. Lee has a really good singing and speaking voice. Where the theme got a bit unbearable was the chorus. The “Bask in his glory” part was awful. It sounded like a horror movie remix of Bobby Roode’s Glorious theme.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Davey Boy Smith Jr. discussing what led to the Hart Foundation vs. Lucha Brothers match at MLW SuperFight getting physical, training at a young age, and much more.