By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT TV Hits
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango for the NXT Tag Titles: The bad news opening segment (and I don’t mean Wade Barrett) was followed by a feel good title change. The match was entertaining. And while the comedy antics of Breezango often feel out of place in NXT, they have been more straight forward in recent weeks. The title change makes sense on multiple levels. I assume that Aichner and Barthel will be heading back to NXT UK now that the brand is firing up again never month. Plus, NXT has some quality heel tag teams that can challenge the new champions while there’s a shortage of strong babyface tag teams.
Wade Barrett on commentary: I will never understand why Barrett never got the big run on the WWE main roster. He carried The Nexus early in his WWE career and seemed destined to be a future world champion, but it never happened. He’s gone on to become a good color commentator. He did a great job on NWA Powerrr when he replaced Jim Cornette on commentary, and he was good on this show. Barrett has shown enough promise on commentary that he would be worthy of serious consideration for the third chair on Raw when/if Samoa Joe returns to the ring. While I doubt this is the plan, Barrett would actually be a strong leader of the Retribution faction.
Santos Escobar vs. Isaiah Scott for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship: A Takeover worthy match with a television finish. The loaded mask gimmick felt clunky, but it also protected Scott to keep the feud going.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jake Atlas: It was all Ciampa during the match and he showed off his sadistic side by destroying Atlas afterward. I hope that Atlas was selected for this role for good reason. There’s definitely a way for him to be elevated if his character sets out for revenge once he returns.
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Mia Yim: A good and interesting match between a pair of babyfaces. They ditched the friendly approach early and worked a spirited match. The interesting part is Blackheart scoring the clean pin over Yim. I wondered last night in my NXT audio review if this was Yim’s swan song in NXT. Her boyfriend Keith Lee was elevated to the main roster, and she could be a good fit in the Retribution faction.
Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley vs. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez: I wonder if the NXT creative forces would have felt confident enough to put this match in the main event slot had they faced AEW competition. Either way, the match was entertaining and it concluded with Gonzalez getting the biggest win of her career. Ripley has really cooled off since she lost to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania, but the blow of this loss was softened due to the interference by Mercedes Martinez.
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Drake Maverick: The match was well worked, but the post match angle grabbed my attention with the heelish attack on Maverick. I guess all of the Undisputed Era members will not turning babyface after all? I assume this is leading to a split within the faction.
NXT TV Misses
Karrion Kross relinquishes the NXT Championship: A rare Miss where no one is to blame. What a shame for Kross, Scarlett, and the promotion. It’s rare to see NXT’s creative forces strap a rocket to a wrestler as new to the promotion as Kross is. They obviously have high hopes for the duo and for good reason. I’m sure no one is more disappointed than Kross, and we can only hope that he makes a quick recovery and comes back better than ever. The announcement of the four-way Ironman match to determine the new champion works for me because they picked the right four wrestlers given their past success within NXT. That said, I am surprised that they didn’t opt to go with a tournament spread out over several episodes, which could have helped them in their ratings battle.