By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed in a steel cage match for the NXT North American Championship: NXT did a terrific job of setting the table for the Reed win. While it may have tipped off the win for some, it had to serve as a nice hook to keep viewers watching to see if they would follow through on the title change. The match quality was strong and this all made for a nice moment. The story that Reed won the title on the anniversary of his first match 14 years earlier made this feel even more special.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher vs. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde: A top notch tag team match. Ciampa was protected by losing as a result of the Grizzled Young Veterans interfering. But this was not an empty win for Mendoza and Wilde, who clearly benefitted from having a very competitive match with Ciampa and Thatcher before taking advantage of the interference.
“Hit Row” Top Dolla and Ashanti Adonis vs. Toni Nese and Ariya Daivari: A good showing for two of the new Hit Row stable mates. “Top Dolla” AJ Francis was especially impressive with his power moves. The new faction feels fresh and is off to a great start.
Prime Target on Karrion Kross vs. Finn Balor: A strong piece of production. Pat McAfee did a great job of making it seem like a major happening that the Kross vs. Balor match is taking place on USA Network, and Paul Heyman saying the match was too close to call was also a nice touch.
Killian Dain vs. Alexander Wolfe: A solid match between the two former Sanity members. I was surprised to see Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel attack Wolfe after the match. Perhaps I should not have been given that they saw through the Wolfe character faking the stomach flu to get out of facing Dain last week. It creates an interesting situation with Wolfe either being out of Imperium or in the faction’s doghouse. If he reunites with Dain, where does that leave Drake Maverick?
Toni Storm vs. Zoey Stark: A very good opening match. Storm’s finisher looked vicious to the point that one can only help that Stark was selling when she held her neck at ringside afterward. The post match spotlight stealing moment by Franky Monet was interesting. Storm desperately needed this win and actually could have used the spotlight, but it will be interesting to see if this was just a random interruption by Monet or if she’s going to feud with Storm or Stark.
Cameron Grimes vs. Jake Atlas: The usual dose of Grimes comedy complete with a quick in-person appearance by Ted DiBiase. The actual match was well worked and while the finish was predictable, it was a lot of fun.
Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell at the spa: The segments were actually entertaining. My complaint is that NXT didn’t put in the extra five seconds of thought to come up with a reason to explain why the cameras were present. In fairness, I could make this complaint most weeks, but for some reason it really stood out this time around. Yes, the audience has been conditioned to accept this as the norm because of WWE. But NXT is a unique product and it would be nice if they strived for realism at every turn. You won’t hurt a single viewer’s experience by explaining why cameras are present, but you can take some viewers out of the moment by not doing so.