By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest for the NXT North American Championship: The match lived up to expectations and concluded with a good, clean finish. Lee going over strong is not a surprise so this might turn out to be a bit a reach, but I can’t help but wonder if Priest will be moved to Raw soon. With Drew McIntyre as the WWE Champion and Vince McMahon’s being hung up on size, I could see McMahon wanting to load up the Raw brand with bigger heel challengers.
Newly Bros Show: A canned audience track has never sounded so good. Byron Saxton found his true calling and that suit was absolutely perfect for his game show host role. Matt Riddle was fun, and it’s cool that NXT creative has found a way to make good use of Timothy Thatcher’s gruff personality so quickly. The attack by Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel was timed well in terms of not letting this segment overstay its welcome. Sports entertainment style comedy rarely works for me, but this segment made me laugh a few times.
Isaiah Scott vs. El Hijo del Fantasma in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title tournament match: A hot opening match. In fact, I’m beyond baffled that NXT didn’t advertise this match in advance. Nevertheless, this was an entertaining match with a surprising outcome. I was very surprised when Scott was beaten by Akira Tozawa in the opening match and I thought they would actually save Scott vs. Fantasma as the final B Block match to determine the winner. Scott’s win actually puts him right back in chase because the tiebreaker in the round robin portion of the tournament is head-to-head wins, meaning Fantasma must win his final match and then have Scott lose to Jack Gallagher in order to pass him. If there’s a three-way tie, will it be broken by a Triple Threat?
Drake Maverick vs. Tony Nese in an Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title tournament match: Maverick’s story took a positive turn with a tournament win. He has one match remaining in the round robin portion and the story goes that it could be his final match if he loses due to being one of the wrestlers cut by the company. Some fans have issues with this being used for storyline purposes, but it’s made his next match feel must see. Assuming his release is legitimate, WWE really should reconsider. They have a lot of talented wrestlers still under contract, but they don’t have many who possess the versatility that Maverick has displayed throughout his career.
Candice LeRae vs. Kacy Catanzaro: A nice showcase of the new heel LeRae persona. Catanzaro is an undersized sympathetic babyface, so she was a good choice for this role. I remain surprised that NXT didn’t attempt to strike while the iron was hot by thrusting Catanzaro into a meaningful role early in her run to take advantage of her American Ninja Warrior fame. While some fans will surely remember her from the NBC show, her star from that series fades with each passing day.
Dexter Lumis vs. Shane Thorne: I grumbled after Lumis’s last showcase match because he released his finishing hold the moment the referee called for the bell, which felt like the last thing a sociopathic individual would do. In this match, he still released the hold shortly after beating Thorne, but he more than made up for it when he went full on post match creeper by cradling Thorne’s head in his lap while caressing his hair. Perfect.
NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Mia Yim in a non-title match: A soft Hit. The match was well worked, but it suffered from the predictability of being Flair’s first match back on NXT television since winning the championship. There was no reason to think she would lose, nor should she have lost given that she is facing Io Shirai in a title match next week.
None: NXT delivered one of its better empty venue shows. Every segment felt like it had purpose and wasn’t just there to pass the time. This wasn’t a home run show that will be remembered, but it was a good, solid outing, which is the best you can ask for in these strange times.
The Best of The Boom features Eric Bischoff joining Jason Powell in this March 20, 2019 discussion on whether there are similarities between Verne Gagne's booking during the AWA's dying days and Vince McMahon's WWE booking today, AEW, a Turner network shakeup, and more...