By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Karrion Kross vs. Dominik Dijakovic: A good main event with strong storytelling with Kross destroying Dijakovic in front of Keith Lee. It doesn’t happen often in WWE, but this would have been more effective had Dijakovic bled to make the beatdown look even more vicious. All signs point to Lee vs. Kross at Takeover and I’m counting down the days to what should be an excellent main event.
Keith Lee and William Regal announcement: It was no surprise to see the announcement that Lee will only keep the NXT Championship, but I really liked the way it was framed by having him announce that he was relinquishing the North American Championship. Normally, it’s the authority figure announcing that a double champion is only allowed to hold one title. In this case, Lee was established as the good person who wants others to have a chance to win gold. I was actually hoping for another tournament to give NXT television some meaningful matches given how entertaining the cruiserweight tournament was, but the Triple Threats that will lead to the ladder match at Takeover can have a similar effect.
Roderick Strong vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed in a qualifying match for the NXT North American Title ladder match: My favorite match of the night on both shows. It’s hard to find two better wrestlers than Strong and Gargano when it comes to helping make an opponent. They did a terrific job and Reed truly shined. Reed has had some good outings lately and hopefully the NXT creative forces are serious about moving him up the card.
Dexter Lumis vs. Killian Dain: A nice win for Lumis. Sure, everyone above a certain level on the card beats Dain, but this was affirmation that Lumis is one of those guys. It was also a good in-ring outing for Lumis. Dain feels underutilized. It would be nice to see him repackaged and given another opportunity because he is a talented big man.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Oney Lorcan: Another standout match from Thatcher and Lorcan. The only thing working against their matches is the feeling that the outcome is predictable with Thatcher getting the push while Lorcan loses more than he wins. As much as I like Thatcher, it would be cool if the long term plan is to build to Lorcan finally beating him someday. On a side note, how in the world was this match not advertised in advance when NXT is in the midst of a ratings battle with AEW?
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Aliyah: A solid match. The post match angle seemed to suggest that Blackheart was graduating from the weekly Robert Stone comedy gag to feud with Mercedes Martinez. Instead, Martinez joined Stone later in the show. Stone plays his comedic part well, but I hope he becomes more serious now that he’s managing Martinez. I’m not holding my breath. Either way, Blackheart vs. Martinez looks good on paper.
“Breezango” Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. “Ever Rise” Chase Parker and Matt Martel: This felt like a throwaway 205 Live match on NXT television. I’m downright begging for a Breeze and Fandango heel turn complete with Fandango reverting to his Johnny Curtis persona. The babyface stripper tag team act has gone as far as it can go and continues to feel out of place in NXT. They are talented and I really believe they could be a good throwback heel tag team. Why not ditch the mostly ineffective comedy and try something different?