By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic: Another standout match in what’s been an entertaining series going back to their days on the independent scene. It was a Takeover quality match and I suspect we’ll be seeing them meet again on the next Takeover special, as they’ve absolutely earned their spot.
Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain in a Street Fight to earn a shot at the NXT Championship: A strong back and forth brawl. It was cool to see the wrestlers brawl into the bleachers. Only time will tell whether AEW will have an advantage by running in larger venues, but I like that NXT isn’t going to great lengths to hide the size of Full Sail University. Riddle going over and earning the NXT Championship match sets up next week’s big showdown night with arguably the brand’s hottest match.
Dakota Kai vs. Taynara (Conti): It wasn’t the best match of the night, but the likable Kai making her emotional return from ACL surgery was more than enough to earn a thumbs up. I’m surprised that a bully heel didn’t spoil the party after Kai won, but I actually like that they simply gave Kai the full spotlight. While the focus was on Kai, Taynara’s new look stood out in a positive way.
Rhea Ripley vs. Kayden Carter: A minor Hit for a simple showcase win for Ripley.
Lack of promos: New viewers must feel late to the party. They are being treated to some great wrestling, yet they’ve heard very little from the wrestlers involved. And I assume this is all by design. It’s not like Paul Levesque and his team have forgotten to include promos. But I am surprised that they didn’t spend some time during their two-week head start on AEW attempting to hook new viewers on these characters via promos and vignettes in addition to the great wrestling. No one wants 20-minute promo segments from NXT, but the new viewers deserve a proper introduction to the characters.
Imperium vs. Kushida, Tyler Breeze, and Fandango: A minor Miss. The match was fine, but I don’t think it sent the right message about Imperium to have them lose their first NXT TV match. Granted, Walter was spared and even took out Kushida afterward, but I hope the rest of the faction are not cast as disposable henchmen.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Chase Parker and Matt Martel: This was another showcase win. And while I like Lorcan and Burch, I don’t feel like their characters needed a showcase win. Rhea Ripley’s act is built on her size and dominance and so her win made sense. This is an example of time that could have been spread out during the show on promos or character profile videos. I assume that the brand will eventually find the right balance once they settle in on USA.