By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza to become No. 1 contender to the NXT Cruiserweight Championship: This was a very good match and one of the only matches on the show with an outcome that didn’t feel completely predictable. Rush has been awesome since returning to NXT and his performance with the ultra talented Garza was no exception. I am really looking forward to what should be a terrific NXT Cruiserweight Title match between Rush and champion Jordan Devlin.
Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes: A contender for match of the night. There wasn’t much doubt regarding the outcome, but it was a very well worked match between two elite wrestlers. Here’s hoping that Grimes isn’t settling into a mid-card role. I can’t tell if the creative forces aren’t sure what to do with him or if it’s simply not his time yet.
NXT Champion Adam Cole vs. Kushida in a non-title match: A well worked main event. It is kinda sad that Kushida’s match with the NXT Champion was a non-title match on a night when there was no mystery regarding the outcome due to it being a go-home show. I don’t see a Cole vs. Kushida title match headlining a Takeover event, but they certainly could have had a quality television feud that paid off with a good title match. The post match angle with Tommaso Ciampa staring at the title belt and then telling Cole that he’ll take his life back on Sunday worked for me. They didn’t need more physicality heading into the title match and the intense staredown was an effective way to close the show.
Dakota Kai vs. Candice LeRae: An entertaining match with the right outcome that kept the heat on Kai going into her street fight match with Tegan Nox at Sunday’s Takeover event. While it’s unfortunate that it happened, the visual of LeRae suffering a bloody nose helped further establish Kai as a ruthless heel.
Roderick Strong vs. Bronson Reed: A soft Hit for a well worked match that went a tad long given Reed’s slot in the NXT pecking order. I didn’t buy into the possibility of Reed winning until Velveteen Dream’s mood lighting came into play and then it at least seemed possible that Reed could steal a distraction win. I really want to like Reed. He’s a talented big man. But the whole “Thicc” thing feels a little too cute for a guy who creams monster badass. Velveteen Dream’s post match promo was well delivered and continued to heat up the personal nature of his feud with Strong.
Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett: A strong showcase win for Belair heading into her title match against Rhea Ripley at Taker. The post match angle with Ripley was well done. Belair feels like the underdog and needed to look strong against the rising star who holds the NXT Women’s Championship.
Overall show: A minor Miss despite the total Hit to Miss count. This episode simply felt subpar compared to some of the excellent shows that NXT has produced in recent weeks. I was hoping for a hot go-home show, but instead we got a lot of predictable matches with solid rather than spectacular final pushes for most of the Takeover matches.
Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne videos: Clearly, Riddle didn’t watch Sunday’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or he’d know how that pilots don’t tolerate an overweighted plane. Anyway, there were some fun moments and this is probably as close as we’ll get to a Riddle and Dunne buddy cop movie, but this was a little more “sports entertainment” than I want to see from NXT. I’m all for working in a little humor in NXT, but I don’t want to have to turn my brain off to enjoy it.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Mike McMahon of PWTorch.com discussing his background and podcast work, plus a long chat regarding Impact Wrestling coming out of Slammiversary, including a breakdown of the notable additions to the roster, and more...