By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT TV Hits
Drew Gulak vs. Lio Rush for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship: WWE has been starting some of its recent matches start with a big move and a near fall. And while it would be nice to see the occasional television match actually end with one of those big opening moves, it served as a nice hook for this match. The contrast of styles between Gulak and Rush was strong and this was a very good match. I like the move of putting the title on Rush now that the title is branded as the NXT Cruiserweight Championship (In part because it seemed odd to have a cruiserweight champion who was bigger than the NXT Champion).
NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong vs. Isaiah Scott: A good non-title match that made Strickland look like a viable contender before the rest of Undisputed Era provided the distraction that led to Strong going over. The post match bit with Velveteen Dream mocking Strong for having a micro penis was good fun. Tommaso Ciampa coming out at the end and telling “Goldy” (the NXT Championship belt) that Daddy is home was perfect.
Walter vs. Kushida in a non-title match: An outstanding match and one that strikes me as the best of any show that’s aired on television this week. Walter going over clean was logical as he is established on the main NXT brand and because he’s the reigning WWE UK Champion.
Cameron Grimes vs. Boa: Okay, despite what I wrote earlier, Grimes does get to end his matches with one big move at the beginning of the match. It will be interesting to see why Killian Dain came out. It could be as simple as he was there to destroy both wrestlers and could only get his hands on Boa, but it seemed like he had interest in Grimes, who left the ring before Dain could reveal his intention.
Rhea Ripley vs. Aliyah: I loved this showcase match. Ripley looked completely dominant and used some cool moves while destroying Aliyah. Ripley’s post match promo was short and sweet in that she established what she needed to by declaring her intention of going after Shayna Baszler’s NXT Women’s Championship.
Bianca Belair vs. Dakota Kai: A competitive match with a clean finish. No complaints. Belair’s post match promo was a pleasant surprise in that I did not expect her to take issue with Ripley wanting a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship. I’m all for a Ripley vs. Belair match to determine the rightful No. 1 contender.
Character development: There were good vignettes and promos throughout the night. NXT took a match heavy approach during their first few weeks on USA Network. And while NXT will surely lean heavier on wrestling than talking, they needed a better balance to help the wrestlers establish their personas so that newcomers have a reason to invest in their matches and feuds.
NXT TV Misses
“Breezango” Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. “The Forgotten Sons” Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake: I don’t get Breezango. They strike me as having real potential as a Midnight Express style heel tag team. I was optimistic that we’d see a significant change in their approach once they both arrived in NXT. Sadly, the change is that the are now a male stripper version of Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos’s “Destruction Crew” tag team. Their cutesy comedy approach just doesn’t work for me in NXT. Meanwhile, I like Jaxson Ryker, but Cutler and Blake continue to feel flat as his tag team sidekicks.
The Best of The Boom features Jim Ross joining Jason Powell in this May 9, 2018 discussion regarding his relationship with Vince McMahon, why Vince sticks with Roman Reigns, how Triple H has changed over the years, and more. New episodes of the Boom are typically available mid-week...