By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Karrion Kross and Samoa Joe: I like that NXT essentially blew off Kross taking that ridiculous loss to Jeff Hardy on Raw. Joe showed his usual great intensity while spending the night searching for Kross, and I like the twist at the end with Kross leaving William Regal lying. Regal’s character tried to keep Joe under control earlier in the show, and one can only assume that Kross’s attack will lead to Regal giving Joe his blessing to get physical with the NXT Champion sooner rather than later.
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Austin Theory: A very good match between one of NXT’s top workers and one of its brightest young stars. Theory playing the dimwit character as part of The Way is entertaining, but it also creates a mid-card vibe that makes it tough to view him as a threat to beat top wrestlers. Here’s hoping that Theory walking out of The Way’s dressing room in frustration is a sign that he’s on the verge of becoming a more serious character.
LA Knight vs. Drake Maverick: Maverick scored the fluky win, but the real story was Knight forcing Cameron Grimes to punch Maverick after the match. Grimes did a good job of showing hesitation and frustration before he obeyed Knight’s command. NXT has plenty of lighthearted humor these days, so hopefully this story leads to Grimes moving away from his comedy role and eventually moving up the card, just as I am hopeful that Austin Theory will do. I’m all for some comedy in pro wrestling, but NXT needs to create new stars and they have two strong candidates currently playing lovable goofballs.
Hit Row and Legado Del Fantasma: A decent segment that furthered the issues between these teams. Hit Row continue to come off as a cool new act. The problem with LDF is that Santos Escobar is the only member of the group who has been booked to have in-ring credibility. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde are a good tag team, but they have been framed as henchmen rather than strong members of the faction.
Franky Monet vs. Jacy Jayne: Another showcase win for Monet. This was fine, but hopefully Monet is on the verge of entering her first program. Perhaps that’s why Mandy Rose was “scouting” on the broadcast table.
Overall Show: NXT has to get out of the WWE Performance Center. Raw and Smackdown are back on the road and running packed arenas while NXT is stuck at the PC. The venue served its purpose and they made it look the best they could, but they desperately need to find a new venue if they can’t go back to Full Sail University soon. In a perfect world, they would take the show on the road rather than run Full Sail, but that doesn’t seem to be in the works, perhaps due to budgetary reasons. But while the venue is an ongoing issue, we have seen NXT produce better television there than they did this week. This was a flat show, perhaps because the second hour ran head to head with the NBA Finals. By the way, congratulations to the Milwaukee Bucks (no, I don’t have the same disdain for the Bucks or the Milwaukee Brewers that I do for the Green Bay Packers).
Roderick Strong and Tyler Rust vs. Kushida and Bobby Fish: A questionable choice for the opening match slot. The match was certainly well worked, which is no surprise given the wrestlers involved. But let’s be real. None of these guys are known for having standout personalities. The only hooks for the match was the in-ring work and the history between Strong and Fish. NXT creative has yet to establish what the Diamond Mine faction is all about, and it’s tough to care when they are already losing matches. If only the faction had a strong mouthpiece serving as their manager. Oh, wait…
Raquel Gonzalez vs. Xia Li for the NXT Women’s Championship: Hopefully Gonzalez just knocked the wind out of Li when she landed on her. I’m surprised they didn’t just call for the bell and rule it a TKO, as that would have played into Gonzalez’s powerhouse gimmick and not required Li to take another move. This was an awkward matchup on paper given that both women have been working as heels.
Odyssey Jones vs. Andre Chase in an NXT Breakout Tournament match: Jones had some rough moments, including when he failed to catch Chase and nearly dropped him on his head at ringside. Chase did an admirable job of hanging in there with the green big man to the point that I was actually sorry to see him lose.