By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Raquel Gonzalez, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Franky Monet, and Dakota Kai: NXT had a much better post WrestleMania segment than Raw did. I loved this segment. Gonzalez’s championship win followup promo was solid. The debut of Monet (and her scene stealing dog) was perfectly timed and I can’t wait for her feud with Gonzalez. As if that wasn’t enough, the appearances of Ripley and Belair were terrific and really put this over the top. It will be very interesting to see what the future holds for Kai. Gonzalez seems like she’s moving into babyface mode. And while Kai is versatile and could swap sides and play the little buddy role where challengers destroy her just to get to Gonzalez, she’s an outstanding heel and could be a strong rival for Gonzalez when the time is right.
Santos Escobar vs. Kushida for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship: An excellent match. I wasn’t a fan of keeping the NXT Cruiserweight Championship in North America because Escobar strikes me as a heavyweight, and there just didn’t seem to be a need for a cruiserweight division. Fortunately, the NXT creative forces were a step ahead with their plan to move the title to Kushida, who scored his biggest NXT win to date. Plus, Jordan Devlin confronting Kushida backstage left me more excited about the the cruiserweight division than I’ve been in some time. On a side note, it was good to see Kushida back in traditional ring gear rather than the low budget denim look. I liked the switch initially because it seemed to give him more of an edge, but it just wore out its welcome.
Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Bronson Reed, and Dexter Lumis vs. “The Way” Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, Indi Hartwell, and Austin Theory: An enjoyable main event that I suspect would not have ended up in the main event slot if NXT were still running opposite AEW Dynamite. The childish antics of Hartwell being smitten with Lumis were good fun, and the overall match clicked.
“MSK” Nash Carter and Wes Lee vs. Killian Dain and Drake Maverick for the NXT Tag Titles: A good first title defense for the new champions. Dain and Maverick were kind of an odd choice as their first opponents because they are also babyfaces. Nevertheless, the match was enjoyable (and the Dain and Maverick entrance theme is still awesome). The post match attack was a decent followup to the Dain and Imperium angle. I thought there might be a bit more mystery regarding where Dain’s allegiances lie, but they opted to cut to the chase.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher: Was NXT planning ahead when they didn’t book these teams to face one another in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic or did it just work out that way? Either way, I’m all for this feud. They work completely different styles and it should be a blast to see how they mesh.
Isaiah Scott vs. Leon Ruff: Scott is starting to click. His in-ring work is strong, but those studio promos he’s delivering are the key to effectively establishing his persona. Meanwhile, Ruff took the loss, but he showed good fire in the backstage segment that extends their rivalry.
Mercedes Martinez vs. Jessi Kamea: A solid win for Martinez. Kamea showed good poise in her backstage verbal exchange with Martinez. Kamea has potential if she continues to improve in the ring. Meanwhile, veteran gatekeeper Martinez entering a program with NXT rookie Zoey Stark is perfect.
Karrion Kross and Scarlett opening: That was it? Kross’s promo was well delivered, but I’m surprised there wasn’t more to the segment. No one confronted him, nor did he didn’t call out anyone in particular. I was left hoping for something a little hotter for the the opening of the first NXT Tuesday night show. This felt even flatter considering how loaded Raquel Gonzalez’s championship win promo segment turned out to be. Nevertheless, I remain anxious to see what comes next for Kross in his first title defense.