By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Undisputed Era: A fast paced and hard hitting brawl as expected given the movesets of both teams involved. I’m going to have to research it a bit more, but I think Bobby Fish appearing in a sling here (taped May 18, way before Takeover 25) means he suffered some sort of minor injury around this time and his arm being in a sling at the end of Takevoer was an attention to detail added to maintain continuity? If so, good for NXT. This tells you that Paul Levesque got that long term planning on lock. Anyway, good match with a well utilized screwy finish to build up Lorcan and Burch, protect O’Reilly and Strong, and build up Jaxson Ryker. Ryker was made to look weak about three weeks ago when Undisputed Era treated him like a crash dummy by burying him under a ladder. NXT did a great job at Takeover and this episode establishing that Ryker is out to avenge that scene and Ryker has come off like a powerful monster in recent showings.
Kushida vs. Drew Gulak in a submission match: A really good change of pace from your traditional professional wrestling match. It’s sorta become Gulak’s MO in NXT to have submission matches since that’s pretty much all we see him in (in his matches against Matt Riddle and Kushida). That said, Gulak has been valuable in showcasing Kushida and Riddle’s submission style and making them look good. To compare Gulak to Kassius Ohno, Gulak has been more beneficial in the gatekeeper role because there’s a showcase goal behind his virtual enhancement matches. The fun part about this match was that it was similar but not a carbon copy of their last submission style match.
Io Shirai and Candice LeRae vs. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke: To clarify, Duke and Shafir are still not fully ready for television. That said, they have improved a lot since we last saw them showcased in a contained match. For starters, I liked that they got unique entrance music. Their black and white gear was an upgrade over the cheap looking camo gear they wore before. While they still looked rehearsed during their entrance routine, at least they didn’t look dull. Their in-ring has improved in a sense that they are employing more of a MMA moveset. Their major weakness is that their offense looks soft and choreographed, but again, at least they are improving and they aren’t rushed now because Ronda Rousey is on hiatus. Shirai and LeRae carried them to a pretty decent match. LeRae in particular is really good at hiding the weaknesses of her opponents with good selling. The finish did a good job to continue the feud between the two factions.
NXT TV Misses
None: A fun NXT show top to bottom. This was a huge improvement over their last set of pre-Takeover house show tapings (the ones I attended in SJ before Takeover Los Angeles). The matches fit well into storylines while also enhancing them. There was that unique Gulak vs. Kushida match which would have totally fit on a Takeover card if Drew Gulak meant more on television. This was a solid hour of wrestling television.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Pat McNeill of the Wayback Playback podcast, who discusses how the more things change the more they stay the same with the return of the XFL and AEW coming to TNT, plus thoughts on WWE’s struggles, how wrestling from 20 years ago holds up through today’s eyes, and more.