By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Matt Riddle and Johnny Gargano vs. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly: Undisputed Era went through a little transition in moving Roderick Strong out of the designated tag team role and bringing back Bobby Fish as a designated tag team wrestlers with Kyle O’Reilly. Hopefully we get more reDRagon matches from now on because they showed why having Undisputed Era in the tag division is nothing but good. This was a fun match. Riddle’s MMA style meshed well with the MMA style of Fish and especially O’Reilly. Gargano mixes it up well with anyone so there was do doubt there as well. The finish was your usual Undisputed Era screwy finish, but it didn’t come off as obligatory or mundane. It came off as calculated, like Adam Cole premeditated this. Successful screwy finishes like this make the group come off as a cerebral unit. It should also be noted that their screwy finishes haven’t paid off for them at all in 2019; that’s the whole reason Roderick Strong and Adam Cole had their feud to begin with.
Io Shirai: The leather jacket, the kendo stick, the amber highlights in her hair, beating up Ronda Rousey’s friends, you can’t help but make the Becky Lynch comparison, right? Granted, Shirai has been presented as a badass in Japan and in Lucha Underground so this isn’t a ripoff by any means, you just can’t help but make the comparison when she’s running the MO of the top star in WWE. That said, this was great. Io showed great fire while also looking very focused. Those kendo stick shots were pure mean as she broke the stick across the backs of Shafir and Baszler (Duke got hit hard too). I can’t help but love it when I see someone wail on someone with a weapon like that.
Tyler Breeze and Velveteen Dream: NXT homecomings are always welcome and heartwarming. Tyler Breeze in particular has been really underutilized on the main roster, as a lot of wrestlers are. It was good to see Breeze back in the land where he thrived, and without the sad beard of sorrow. Breeze wasn’t perfect on the mic by any means, as it seemed like he struggled to remember his script at times, but what I did like was he brought a different promo approach to the table. In the past, he’s tried to talk in an accent to try to give himself a Derrick Zoolander persona. This was more of the natural speaking Breeze that viewers got to see on UpUpDownDown. Velveteen Dream didn’t relent either, as he was solid on the mic, and he didn’t struggle through his comebacks. Dream’s jabs at Breeze’s main roster run were fun. The best jab of the night came from Breeze mocking Velveteen Dream writing “call me up, Vince” on his tights and not getting called up.
Sean Maluta vs. Mansoor: Harmless, but effective enhancement match in the favor of Mansoor. On one hand, it’s very cool seeing Bay Area Local Mansoor being pushed on NXT (Mansoor went by Manny Faberino in his home market of the San Franscisco Bay Area). Mansoor also earned the push given his stellar performance against Dominik Dijakovic a few weeks ago, which the commentators pointed out. As I mentioned in my review, don’t be surprised if we see Mansoor featured in a segment at WWE Super ShowDown due to his Saudi heritage. Mansoor was heavily featured at the Greatest Royal Rumble last year when he was featured in the segment with Shawn and Ariya Daivari.
Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole: A solid opening segment. Adam Cole is always good on the mic and he’s evolved to way more than just being the Bay Bay guy. He’s arrogant, confident, and shameless. Johnny Gargano hasn’t been featured on TV recently because he’s taken a back seat to the Cole and Matt Riddle feud as well as the Cole and Roderick Strong feud. Now that the players are all settled in places, it was a welcome change to have the NXT Champion get some promo time. Gargano got to exhibit a bit of a snarky edge here and it worked. It was a bit dickish, but Adam Cole is presented as a dick so it’s fine.
Candice LeRae vs. Reina Gonzalez: The match was fine. Candice LeRae got another win. The problem is LeRae’s wins never really lead anywhere. I don’t blame NXT fully on this one, as it seems there is unfortunately no spot in their story threads for Candice given the timing of when she decided to enter the women’s division again after essentially playing Johnny Gargano’s wife for an extended period. It also hurts the NXT Women’s division that Shayna Baszler has hogged the top of the division for so long. Kairi Sane leaving does free up a spot. Hopefully they find something to do with LeRae. As much as I don’t want NXT and NXT Takeover to expand in length, might expanding 30 minutes be a solution to get one more featured women’s feud on the show (which in turn would allow wrestlers like Deonna Purrazo, Xia Li, Candice LeRae, Taynara Conti, Reina Gonzalez, and other women struggling to get tv time to get a chance to show what they can do)?
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Gursinder Singh (a/k/a Tony Gill), who explains why he asked for his release from Impact Wrestling. He also discusses his background, being trained by Lance Storm, being in the Desi Hit Squad, his future, and more.