By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Undisputed Era vs. Tyler Breeze, Velveteen Dream, and Matt Riddle: A solid television main event and “Teddy Long Classic Tag Team Match” that protected everyone involved. The UE got to look strong in Cole’s first active night as Champion and the babyfaces were protected because they lost due to miscommunication resulting from being put in an impromptu team. The main roster style opening was done well to set up this match as it allowed Cole and crew to get over their jock-ish characters while also planting seeds involving potential feuds between UE members against Riddle, Dream, and Breeze.
Mia Yim: The Yim video package was really good and really relatable. This one really got to me because I had a very similar life experience being part Asian and part Black. Trust me, I’m not the only one with this shared experience because Yim straight up just laid out the American Blasian experience (not to mention, the experience of Hafu’s around the world). Yim instantly endeared herself to so many people and you don’t have to be Blasian to get the emotion out of this. This was the most character we’ve gotten from Yim even dating back to her TNA/Impact days and hopefully Yim takes the ball and runs with it.
NXT Breakout Tournament: You can’t go wrong with a good tournament. This tournament is really stacked. If this took place in Reseda, California, you could call this BOLA. I kid. I think this is a solid way to introduce the “New Generation” of NXT consisting of many familiar faces from other companies like Impact, ROH, and Lucha Underground. This is a great hook for upcoming weeks making the next few weeks of shows must-see. The person I’m most happy to see here is Cameron Grimes (a/k/a Trevor Lee), who spent the last five years stuck in TNA Jobber Hell. Lee has “Daniel Bryan-like” upside given what I’ve seen from him over the years and here’s hoping Paul Levesque and crew do him right.
Damien Priest vs. Raul Mendoza: A part of me is disappointed that Raul Mendoza has moved back to an enhancement role after getting a huge first WWE win a few weeks ago. That said, he’s against the former Punishment Martinez so it was understandable. He made Priest look good, as he usually does in these matches. He also got to look strong too, as Raul does in all his matches. On to Priest. I really like his new look. He removed the eye shadow which makes him look younger (though he’s actually one of the older wrestlers on the WWE roster as a whole at age 38). Priest got to look strong and I think there’s more milage of the rockstar club guy as opposed to the goth loner. Tommy End/Aleister Black made the Goth character work well, but it’s also good to try something different every once in a while to avoid redundancy at the very least.
NXT TV Misses
Xia Li vs. Taynara Conti: Not a huge miss, but a missable match overall. To give both women credit, the effort was really put in there. Xia Li’s very green and it shows, but she does also show flashes of potential with a unique implementation of wushu in her wrestling moveset. Conti is picking up the fundamentals very well, but she is very awkward in trying to play her heel role. It comes off as Conti hitting a bit of a wall character-wise because she’s not very believable when she tries to act like a “bad guy”. It feels like she’s acting. Time and maybe taking a different character direction might do her wonders because we’ve seen other characters in NXT start off rough, like Velveteen Dream or Lacey Evans, only to see those gimmicks finally click once the performer finds a groove in that gimmick.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Brian Fritz of the Between The Ropes podcast discussing WWE’s creative and ratings struggles, Bray Wyatt following the Firefly Funhouse, WWE Stomping Grounds, NJPW G1 Opening Night, and ROH’s issues, what would happen if AEW opted to run head-to-head with WWE Raw, and much more.