By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT Tag Team Champions Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan vs. Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly in a non-title match: The story between Balor and O’Reilly continues to be compelling. I’m not sure where it goes or what happens with Undisputed Era, but I’m enjoying the ride. Burch and Lorcan are no longer the tough luck babyfaces who don’t back down from anyone. They are vulnerable heel champions, so losing to Balor and O’Reilly in a non-title match was fine. The post match angle with Pete Dunne’s latest attack on Balor put more heat on the heels. I’m not a fan of the finger snapping spot being used and forgotten during matches, but it’s effective when it’s sold like Balor did in this angle.
Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah Scott: The strong outings continue for both men. Reed feels like a rising star. Scott isn’t far behind, but it’s seems like it’s not quite his time creatively. His day will come and he’s upped his game to the point that he seems ready for whenever his number is called.
Santos Escobar and Curt Stallion: I’m not sure if NXT creative was a step ahead or if they called an audible, but they made the right move by not going forward with the advertised NXT Cruiserweight Championship match this week. Stallion needed to be properly introduced to the NXT audience to make the match matter. His sit-down promo was super sappy and yet he pulled it off. Legado Del Fantasma attacking Stallion to get Escobar out of the match made him sympathetic while putting heat on the heel trio.
“MSK” Nash Carter and Wes Lee vs. Drake Maverick and Killian Dain in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic quarterfinal match: A good, high energy opening match with the right team going over. NXT desperately needs a strong babyface tag team. Maverick and Dain are fun, but MSK fills the real need.
Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. Kushida and Leon Ruff in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic quarterfinal match: A good win for Gibson and Drake. Kushida and Ruff served their purpose in the tournament with Kushida pinning Gargano last week and then putting over the Grizzled Young Veterans this week. It was encouraging that Gibson was given some pre-match mic time. He’s an excellent talker and his mic work feels like the key to the team getting over in North America.
Tyler Rust vs. Dante Rios: It’s hard to tell where this is going, which is fine. But it feels like the only thing that’s been established over the last two weeks is that Rust isn’t ready for strong competition and can only beat tomato cans who are handpicked by Malcolm Bivens. Rust is impressive so hopefully the story just needs more time to develop.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez vs. vs. Jessi Kamea and Aliyah in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round match: Kai and Gonzalez are the most polished women’s tag team in NXT. If NXT ever introduces tag titles, they would be excellent as the first champions. This was mostly a showcase for Kai and Gonzalez, but it was nice to see Robert Stone again. Ultimately, the match felt like it overstayed its welcome a bit and should have been a quicker and more decisive squash.