By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Adam Cole vs. Bronson Reed: A strong main event match that left me wondering what the future holds for Reed in NXT. He worked WWE Main Event and main roster tryout matches and dropped the NXT North American Championship, so one has to wonder if this was NXT’s way of writing him out before he moves to Raw or Smackdown. The post match attack by Kyle O’Reilly on Cole kept their feud alive heading into NXT Takeover 36.
Samoa Joe and William Regal: Joe’s three-step process for addressing their Karrion Kross problem was perfect. It was simple, logical, and effective. Joe always brings the intensity, and Regal is a tremendous performer with the type of range that makes him shine regardless of the situation and what he’s asked to do.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher vs. Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan: A good tag match that turned out to be the setup for the return of Ridge Holland. Dunne and Lorcan (and Danny Burch once he returns) needed a leader, and it looks like Holland will be that guy now that Pat McAfee is the full-time Smackdown color commentator. I dig the team of Ciampa and Thatcher, but I can’t help but wonder whether the two of them teaming up is getting the most out of them. NXT needs star power on the singles side. Ciampa was the face of the brand at one time. And while Thatcher never got a sustained push as a singles act, he could be a real player with the right creative support.
Josh Briggs vs. Carmelo Hayes in a first round match of the NXT Breakout Tournament: The best of the three tournament matches by far. Hayes won the match and seems like the early tournament favorite. Briggs impressed and should have a future in NXT.
Dakota Kai turns on Raquel Gonzalez: We all assumed it was going to happen sooner or later, but the big breakup angle left a lot to be desired. Kai’s attack consisted of a running kick in the corner and nothing more. It wasn’t a particularly memorable turn and it was certainly a far cry from Kai’s amazing turn on Tegan Nox. It’s also odd that Gonzalez appears to be turning babyface because Kai turned on her, not because her character saw the light. I really enjoy the work of both women and they should have a heck of a match together. It will be interesting to see if Kai forms an alliance with another wrestler or forms a faction to make her seem like more a threat to beat Gonzalez, who towers over her.
Franky Monet and Jessi Kamea vs. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter: I enjoy the Catanzaro and Carter tag team, but it was disappointing to see Monet lose in NXT for the first time in such forgettable fashion. Sure, Robert Stone’s latest failure was to blame for the loss, but it’s still an underwhelming way for Monet to be pinned for the first time. I can’t be the only one who assumed when Monet debuted that she’d be the person challenging Gonzalez at the SummerSlam weekend Takeover. I don’t mind waiting for that match, but I hope they don’t do too much damage to Monet before then.
Cameron Grimes and LA Knight on the golf course: Every time I think NXT is finally on the verge of flipping the switch on Grimes becoming a more serious character, they feature him in another over the top comedy skit. It’s not that he isn’t funny. He definitely is. But NXT needs fresh faces in the upper mix and he has the talent to be there. So while the golf course skits were cute and good for some laughs, I’m more concerned about what feels like a stale upper mix aside from the new life that Samoa Joe returning to the ring creates.