By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
DIY vs. Undisputed Era: A fun throwback for longtime NXT viewers to see the return of DIY for this tournament. NXT added a nice touch by having this be the time that Gargano and Ciampa brought back the Chrome Hearts music for the tournament. Add that on top of having a match with O’Reilly and Fish, and you have a recipe for success. Gargano and Ciampa looked on the same page for the most part and O’Reilly and Fish were just as crisp as ever with strong power moves and martial arts. I actually liked that the first part of the match was fairly slow because it served as a buffer given all of the good tag team matches that preceded this match. This match took the show into an overrun and if they had full commercials it would have gone close to two hours.
Street Profits vs. Moustache Mountain: Moustache Mountain have the same reputation as Undisputed Era in NXT in that you can always count on a good tag team match out of them. Ever since last year’s UK tournament, these two won me over as a tag team, especially Trent Seven, who I thought was dull as a singles babyface. The Street Profits continue to show that they are “Evolving” in the ring (which is a pun they used to reference that they are Evolve Tag Team Champs). I like that Montez Ford in particular is showing more of an aggressive side to him when he was the “high spot” guy at one point. Good match. The only thing that gets on my nerves a bit is nit picky, but Tyler Bate’s beard is thicker than ever to the point where it has completely absorbed his mustache which means these guys shouldn’t be called Moustache Mountain (Trent lost his a long time before Tyler).
Velveteen Dream and Matt Riddle: A simple and effective segment to allow the new champion to gloat while also setting up the next North American Championship feud. Riddle’s promos are really growing on me because the guy comes off as natural (a natural stoner, unlike Impact’s Rascalz who contrast due to “acting” stoned). Riddle has good comedic timing and his jokes about coming to say hi and to look at the title really clicked. I hope that Velveteen Dream returns to the form he was when he became such a sensation by implementing some of the mind games that made him famous.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. The Forgotten Sons: The weaker of the Dusty Rhodes Classic matches on this episode, but all of the matches on this show were great in their own way. The psychology was really smart here with the Sons utilizing backbreakers early on leading to the story of the match being Oney Lorcan’s back injury. Nigel McGuinness, in particular, was great on commentary and his best line was when he called out Danny Burch for making a bad move by tagging in Lorcan whose injury made him a liability. Within the storyline, it made sense for Burch to tag in Lorcan given their tag team rhythm so while it’s a mistake, Burch doesn’t look completely like a dope. The only looming flaw in this overall picture is the Forgotten Sons continue to not really click as an overall act. I had a problem during the review typing who Cutler and who Blake were because they are just so homogeneous. Jaxson Ryker is the cool one. The other two are cool wrestlers, but they don’t stand out and their promos are robotic as all hell.
Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Fabien Aichner and Marcel Barthel: This was a good match to kick off the show with four talented wrestlers. NXT did a better job than the main roster of explaining why two singles wrestlers in Black and Ricochet team up (it was because Undisputed Era kept interfering in their matches so they promised to have each other’s back). This was a fun spotfest. Someday, Aichner and Ricochet need to have a singles match against each other because these two guys are freak athletes.
NXT TV Misses
None: A good show and good usage of the rare hour and a half allotted time. I didn’t even mention the Io Shirai and Bianca Belair setup, but that was simple and effective too. I mentioned in my full review that this might end up being the best Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic if the first round is any indication (or at least it might be the best first round of a Dusty Classic). It might be tough though because they might have to rework things given Tommaso Ciampa’s surgery (I’m not dropping spoilers). I just make the reference due to last year’s tournament being very disappointing, mostly due to injuries all across the board. The winners of the match weren’t even in the tournament (and were also injured due to Bobby Fish being sidelined and Adam Cole having to pull double duty).
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Ian Riccaboni discussing his decision to re-sign with Ring of Honor, getting emotionally invested in matches, the March 15 ROH 17th Anniversary show, the G1 Supercard at MSG, and much more.