By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT TV Hits
Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole for the vacant NXT Championship: It was the right call to open the show with the title match given the way that last week’s show ended without a new champion being crowned. It let viewers know that there was no chance of the show concluding before a new champion could be crowned unlike last week. The actual match was very well worked in Takeover main event style. Balor going over was logical. It was just too soon to go back to Cole, who is fresh off the longest reigning championship run in NXT history. The more intriguing story with Cole is what he does without the championship, but as the former longtime champion it was important for the new champion to beat him. Balor’s versatility makes him an intriguing champion, as he can bounce back and forth between working against babyface and heel challengers.
Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez in a cage match: A strong main event slugfest. Both wrestlers did a hell of a job and helped provide this show with excellent bookend matches. Martinez is awesome and it remains baffling that she wasn’t signed by WWE sooner. This was the best Ripley outing since her push was derailed at WrestleMania and hopefully she can build momentum coming off this win.
Io Shirai, Shotzi Blackheart, Aliyah, and Robert Stone: Stone getting his ass beat on a weekly basis is up and down, but I got a kick out of it this time around and the way they incorporated Shirai into the mix. While the beatdown was fun, the moment at the end with Blackheart holding onto the NXT Women’s Title belt was the true highlight that sets the stage for what should be a fun match.
Velveteen Dream vs. Ashanti The Adonis: The match was a showcase win for Dream. The post match angle with Kushida seeking revenge felt intense. But I continue to wish Patrick Clark or WWE would address the online allegations made about him. I want to enjoy watching Velveteen Dream matches again, but they’re not making it easy.
Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory: Theory also has some explaining to do. As for the match, Reed continues to make the most out of the push that he’s been getting. It will be interesting to see where Reed goes from here.
NXT TV Misses
Roderick Strong vs. Killian Dain: A Hit from a match quality standpoint. They seem to be building toward a Dain and Drake Maverick alliance, which could be fun. Even so, it felt odd that viewers were pushed to pull for Dain in the match against Strong when Dain hasn’t really done anything to warrant fan support. I’m sure they will get there eventually, but it felt a bit awkward in the moment.
Tegan Nox visits the Garganos: The segments were fun. I did come away wondering whether Gargano and Candice LeRae would be more fun if they were portrayed as lived idyllic lives. I gave AEW a Miss for wasting a good pizza last week, so you bet your sweet ass that NXT gets a Miss for destroying a perfectly good television! Why must pro wrestling destroy the things I love?
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...