By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano video: An outstanding piece of production. This had to be helpful for fans who haven’t seen the entire saga involving the former DIY tag partners, and it was also a highly entertaining recap for those of us who did. The fresh commentary from both men was a great touch and it was very interesting to hear them tell the story from the perspective of their current characters. I love Ciampa’s logic that he let Gargano have his title shot before attacking him, whereas Gargano cost him the NXT Championship in a match against Adam Cole. Gargano also had a great line about how the fans are too stupid to see Ciampa for what he is. They dedicated nearly 70 minutes of the show to this recap and I wouldn’t have complained if they had given it the full show.
Finn Balor feature: A good video with Balor telling his own story. The only part I didn’t care for was Balor talking about how some of the wrestlers he faced were having the best matches of their career. While there’s truth in what he was saying, the goal of his character should be to simply win matches, not to have great matches. But this was still a strong character profile that did a great job of recapping Balor’s WWE/NXT career and set the record straight that he wanted to return to NXT rather than it being some type of demotion.
Rhea Ripley feature: This was solid, but it was my least favorite of the three features. Ripley has a good story, but we heard a good portion of it on the recent video piece from Raymond James Stadium. On a pet peeve note, Ripley’s foot stomp entrance bit is fine. It’s just not the kind of thing that WWE should show as often as they did in this piece because it served as a reminder of how choreographed the entrances are.
None: In many ways, this edition of NXT was similar to the style of show that I felt NXT should have run during the two weeks they ran unopposed on USA Network prior to the premiere of AEW Dynamite. This episode recapped NXT’s most epic feud while helping establish the history of Finn Balor and Rhea Ripley, whereas those first two NXT shows were filled with matches and had minimal character development. I’m guessing this approach won’t serve NXT well in the ratings this week simply because AEW ran a more traditional show and a very good one at that. But don’t sleep on this episode. If you skipped NXT because there were no fresh matches, I strongly advise you to find a way to see it, particularly the awesome Ciampa and Gargano piece.