Powell’s NXT Hit List: Triple H sets up the final battle between Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, Malcolm Bivens debuts, Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong, Candice LeRae vs. Mercedes Martinez and Io Shirai vs. Aliyah in ladder match qualifiers

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

NXT Hits

Triple H, Tommaso Ciampa, and Johnny Gargano: Ciampa did his usual top notch work as the no nonsense babyface. Gargano was great as the weasel heel who didn’t want Ciampa to touch him, blamed Ciampa for the damage caused to the WWE Performance Center during their brawl, and then said insisted that they wait two weeks for their final match to take place. Triple H also nailed his part by being authoritative while enhancing the segment rather than making it about himself. The talk of Hunter finding a building and setting up a ring felt strange given their empty venue setting, but I assume they have something unique in mind and I’m looking forward to it. The big tease for Killer Kross at the end was interesting. Here’s hoping he shows up after the match and isn’t used for an easy way out finish.

Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong: The good match that one would expect from these two. The real story was the post match attack by the unnamed tag team managed by Malcom Bivens. There were a couple of clunky moments during their attack on Riddle and the newcomers struck me as a tad AOP Lite, but they have good size and a really good mouthpiece in the former Stokely Hathaway.

Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, and Damian Priest: This was one of the better segments of the night. Everyone involved sounded like a real person rather than wrestlers attempting to recite scripted lines. This was good final hype for next week’s Triple Threat for the NXT North American Championship.

Tyler Breeze vs. Austin Theory: A good match aside from the silly phone bit that cost Theory the match. I don’t mind Theory losing to Breeze, as there’s no rush in him beating the man who appears to be back in the role of NXT gatekeeper. Theory will get there eventually, as I continue to believe that he has a very bright future in NXT.

Io Shirai vs. Aliyah in ladder match qualifier: It was a nice surprise to have Shirai replace the “injured” Xia Li in the match. Shirai winning also makes the ladder match look even better on paper.

Candice LeRae vs. Kayden Carter in ladder match qualifier: A solid match with the expected outcome. Carter continues to lose the majority of her matches, which are laid out in a way that makes her look good in the process. Meanwhile, LeRae is still working as a babyface despite husband Johnny Gargano’s recent turn. Will it stay that way?

Cameron Grimes vs. Tony Nese: Joe Exotic would be a tremendous mouthpiece for Grimes if it wasn’t for that pesky prison sentence. Sorry, I needed to get that out of my system. Anyway, the match was well worked and this was a good win for Grimes.

Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink: It was surprising to see Thorne and Vink team up again after they were used as an enhancement team on Monday’s Raw. The broadcast team of Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton did a nice job of building up Thorne and Vink to the point that the match outcome did not feel predictable.

Killian Dain vs. Tehuti Miles: Dain needed a dominant win and got one. Still, there’s a noticeable formula for Dain in that he beats undercard wrestlers and always seems to lose to the bigger names when it counts.

NXT Misses

None: This was the best of the fan-free WWE shows thus far. There was plenty of good in-ring action, which was a nice change given last week’s video package edition. In fact, there may have been a bit too much, as it felt like they could have used at least one more verbal segment to help break things up a bit. But it was great to have a good night of in-ring action after getting so little of it from NXT in recent weeks.


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