By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
El Hijo Del Fantasma vs. Drake Maverick in the finals of the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title tournament: I give NXT creative and the wrestlers in the tournament a lot of credit. The cruiserweight division never recovered from the way it was featured on Raw. Sure, 205 Live improved once Vince McMahon tapped out, but the show and the division never felt like priorities. This tournament has been highly entertaining and made this viewer care about the division again. The actual match between Fantasma and Maverick was really good benefitted from the excellent story of Maverick fighting for his job. Fantasma was more aggressive than usual and even rolled up Maverick while they were shaking hands to start the match, which certainly adds to the speculation that he will be revealed as the leader of the Lucha Dark Order (or whatever they will be called). The post match scene with Maverick signing a new contract was a nice touch. That said, be careful what you sign, Drake. The last thing you’d want to do is sign an NXT deal thinking you’re getting a raise only to find out they secretly structured the deal to run a year longer than you wanted.
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae vs. Keith Lee and Mia Yim: LeRae and Yim did a great job of creating intensity during their brief double count-out, which set the stage for the impromptu mixed tag match. And, yes, we see a lot of impromptu tag matches on Raw and Smackdown, but it’s not so common in NXT, and I like the touch of having Gargano and Lee in their street clothes to make it feel unplanned. The finish was logical in terms of putting more heat on the heel couple heading into the NXT North American Title match on Sunday.
Isaiah Scott vs. Tony Nese: They crammed a lot into the five and a half minutes they had to work with. Scott really needed the win coming off of his disappointing record in the Interim Cruiserweight Title tournament. Granted, Nese also needs wins, but he’s a tougher restoration project at this point due to the abundance of losses he’s taken and there’s no indication. Scott can bounce back quickly and this felt like a good first step.
Fandango and Tyler Breeze vs. Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in a Triple Threat match for a shot at the NXT Tag Titles: As much as the Breezango comedy feels out of place in NXT, and as much as I would prefer to see them turn heel and ditch the comedy stripper gimmick, this was a well worked match. It’s also logical to feed Breezango to new NXT Tag Champions Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner.
Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed: Reed looked good as he dominated the bulk of the match before Grimes avoided his top rope splash. It felt a little awkward to see Grimes giving up so much of the match following his win over Finn Balor, but it was still an enjoyable match. I continue to hope that NXT creative will find the right role for Reed, as I’m still not convinced that the Thicc bit works. Grimes continues to impress whenever he’s given an opportunity. Hopefully they will turn him loose on a Takeover special one of these times.
Aliyah vs. Santana Garrett: A quick match that spotlighted the Robert Stone saga. It was nice to see Garrett get a rare win, but this felt like it was more about Aliyah continuing to lose while making her bid to join Stone. That said, I guess we can’t rule out the possibility of Garrett ending up with Stone.
None: A good show. The less appealing matches were kept brief and still felt like they served a purpose. Likewise, the Prime Target video features felt appropriately timed. Granted, I would actually enjoy longer Prime Target features, but they might not be for everyone and thus could actually drive some viewers to the competition if they overstay their welcome. I was disappointed that we didn’t get something with Tommaso Ciampa and Karrion Kross heading into their Takeover match, but it’s not like they hadn’t sold me on the match already. Wednesday nights continue to be the best night of the week for pro wrestling fans, as both shows are delivering consistently entertaining episodes.