By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Damien Priest vs. Cameron Grimes for an NXT North American Title shot: A match that was even better than it looked on paper and my pick for best match of this week’s Wednesday night battle. One of the cool things about the match was that I didn’t have a strong feeling about who would win since it was for a North American Title shot. Lee going over sets the up the most attractive of the potential title matches with him challenging Roderick Strong on television in two weeks.
Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, and Toni Storm vs. Bianca Belair, Kay Lee Ray, and Io Shirai: The women’s title picture angle that opened the show was decent and showcased some of the women’s roster depth between the two NXT brands. The match that followed was highly entertaining and seemed to set the table for some potential matches and/or feuds.
Johnny Gargano and Finn Balor: Gargano delivered a strong promo to establish himself as the real NXT flag bearer while making the Balor character seem like a guy who couldn’t wait to leave the first chance he had. I also enjoyed the shot at the awful “extraordinary man who does extraordinary things” slogan that Balor was saddled with on the main roster. Balor’s brief rebuttal was also strong and set up their match at Takeover while also including a threat from Balor that Gargano may not actually make it to the event.
Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish vs. Wolfgang and Mark Coffey in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: The live crowd didn’t seem to be familiar or enamored with Wolfgang and Coffey. The atmosphere throughout the majority of the match was rough, but this was a well worked tag match. It was logical to have Adam Cole interfere from ringside to set up the finish, as it protected the NXT UK Tag Champions.
Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner vs. Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: I didn’t know what to expect from the heel vs. heel match, but it turned out well. The right team went over and they looked strong in the process.
Mia Yim vs. Kayden Carter: A showcase win for Yim and yet another match with Carter looking impressive in defeat. Chelsea Green showing up afterward was a pleasant surprise and she’s a strong addition to the NXT women’s roster.
Tommaso Ciampa video package: A good video for newcomers who don’t know Ciampa’s story and still a good view for longtime fans who do.
Joaquin Wilde: The return of the BroMans sound effect and Wilde’s pre-match deejay look were both awful. I really enjoy watching Wilde wrestle, but he just won’t let his bad TNA gimmick die. The “is this really happening?” look on Austin’s Theory’s face while he watched Wilde make his entrance was perfect. Perhaps we’ll find out that the idea is to make Wilde a douchey heel like the BroMans tag team that he managed, but it looked like he was working as a babyface. That said, the match quality was Hit worthy, and Theory continues to stand out as a rising star in NXT.
Robert Stone: No, it’s not another BroMans burial. I have actually been looking forward to seeing the former Robbie E debut as a manager. Unfortunately, his look left a lot to be desired, as he came off like a guy who was dressed up in a hokey outfit complete with awful glasses.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...