By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Finn Balor promo: A brief, yet strong promo. It’s refreshing to see Balor break away from the smiling babyface character and the once cool but now overplayed entrance routine. There were a lot of cheers from the live crowd for Balor. I’d love to see him attempt to put a stop to it by heeling on the Full Sail fans rather than being an Adam Cole-type heel who doesn’t fight the cheers. In other words, here’s hoping that this version of Balor has no redeeming qualities.
NXT Tag Champions Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. Keith Lee and Matt Riddle in a non-title match: Fish and O’Reilly are such a good team. They can look absolutely dominant with their impressive move set one moment and then unabashedly sell for the babyfaces in ways that make the babyfaces look great while making themselves look like bumbling fools (that’s meant to be praise). I was surprised to see them get a pinfall win over Riddle, but I’m not complaining. The tag team champions should beat two strong singles wrestlers despite what we’ve seen from WWE booking for far too long. The post match angle with Tommaso Ciampa helping run off the Undisputed Era and telling “Goldy” that he’s going to war apparently sets up a second WarGames matches.
Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae: The live performance during the show opening highlight package and Shirai’s entrance was a cool way to kick off the night. Shirai and LeRae continue to work well together. The finish with LeRae performing a springboard moonsault onto a chair and then being pinned was nicely done. I love Shirai’s cocky smile after she got the pinfall and that it was followed shortly thereafter by her running away from Rhea Ripley.
Kairi Sane and Asuka vs. Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: A good match that would have worked better if the live crowd wasn’t so pleased to see The Kabuki Warriors again. The match was enjoyable, it’s just that the fans still aren’t responding to Sane and Asuka as heels and therefore all the time spent trying to make the challengers look sympathetic didn’t click the way it should have. The post match angle with Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai, Candice LeRae, and Bianca Belair all getting involved and having a pull apart brawl was well done. William Regal’s announcement of a WarGames match surprised me and yet also felt perfectly logical.
Tyler Bate vs. Cameron Grimes: A good match, but I’d love to see them given more time and turned loose on a Takeover special. Killian Dain causing another distraction that once again benefitted Grimes is interesting. Are they aligned or will this be played up as a fluke thing that Grimes just happens to be benefitting from. Either way, I like the little mystery of their relationship, and I hope we see them team up to face Bate and Pete Dunne.
Bronson Reed vs. Shane Thorne: A good win for Reed. I’d hate to see a guy his size use the top rope splash as his regular finisher due to the long term toll it will take on his body, but it was pretty damn impressive to see him perform it on Thorne.
Angel Garza video package*: The rare Miss with an asterisk. If NXT creative intends to turn Garza babyface then this was a very good video that focused on his family history, including his late uncle. If he’s going to continue to be the vain heel then this was a completely contradictory piece.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net's Will Pruett discussing AEW Full Gear including the polarizing Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega match, what's drawing Will to AEW Dynamite over NXT TV, the appeal of NWA Powerrr, and much more...