By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher in the NXT Fight Pit: I enjoyed the first Fight Pit match more, but this was still a good match and a quality main event. I like that Thatcher won in both Fight Pit matches. While his booking has been erratic, the creative forces are establishing the Fight Pit as his match. If they play this right and give him additional Fight Pit wins, there will come a time when it will feel like a huge deal when someone finally beats him inside the structure. One can only hope that Thatcher is booked strong coming out of this match. I’m still not sure why that didn’t happen after he beat Matt Riddle, but this win provides the creative team with a second opportunity to get it right with him.
Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory vs. Leon Ruff and Kushida in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: A strong opening match that logically moved the babyface team into a second round match against the heel Grizzled Young Veterans. More importantly, Kushida continued his recent dominance over Gargano. I assume this match was more about building to an eventual NXT North American Championship match between Gargano and Kushida than it was about establishing Kushida and Ruff as major players in the tournament.
Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm vs. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: A great feel-good start to the women’s tournament. The brief ceremony hosted by Beth Phoenix prior to the match was nicely done, and the actual match was a blast. I was disappointed when the brackets were announced because I didn’t think Catanzaro and Carter would be booked to beat Martinez and Storm, and I hoped that one of NXT’s only consistent women’s tag teams would be rewarded with at least one tournament win. So it was a pleasant surprise to see the plucky underdog duo get the upset win, complete with Catanzaro’s awesome finisher. The booking of the match was really well done, as the heels were protected by having Io Shirai attack Martinez, and yet it still didn’t feel like a tainted win for the babyface duo.
Karrion Kross vs. Ashanti Adonis: Kross feels like he’s in a bit of a holding pattern in that he’s not moving right into the obvious NXT Championship program with Finn Balor. It will happen eventually, so having him rack up dominating wins in the meantime is a good approach.
Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado vs. Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: It’s nice to see the Lucha House Party duo unleashed in NXT rather than chasing after R-Truth on the Raw show. The appearance of Alexander Wolfe after the match was a cool development, and Barthel and Aichner acted like they were just as surprised to see their fellow Imperium member as viewers were.
Bronson Reed vs. Tyler Rust: Another momentum building win for the talented Reed. They are obviously telling a story with Rust, as Malcom Bivens didn’t seem pleased that Rust took this match without his approval.
MSK video: The brief video effectively showed off the fun-loving nature of the Wes Lee and Nash Carter characters while abandoning the bad That ’70s Show parody skits that they took part in as Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz in Impact Wrestling. And it was nice to see some better camera angles of their push-off moonsault move that the production crew failed to capture properly on last week’s show. It was a rare miss for NXT’s strong production team.
Santos Escobar and Curt Stallion: NXT is racing into their NXT Cruiserweight Championship match without introducing Stallion to the NXT audience. Sure, he’s been a regular on 205 Live, but there’s no reason to believe that the bulk of NXT viewers are watching the Friday night WWE Network show. Stallion is really good in the ring, so perhaps he will win over unfamiliar viewers with his performance against Escobar, but it still seems strange that he wasn’t properly introduced to the bigger audience.