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Powell’s NXT Hit List: Ilja Dragunov vs. Pete Dunne, Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly, Dakota Kai vs. Sarray, Odyssey Jones vs. Trey Baxter in an NXT Breakout Tournament semifinal match, Gigi Dolan vs. Amare Miller, Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell date

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

NXT Hits

Pete Dunne vs. Ilja Dragunov: A Hit for this being a very good match, but the introduction of Dragunov to fans who don’t watch NXT UK was clunky. I wasn’t a fan of having him deliver an in-ring promo in front of fans who mostly seemed unfamiliar with him. For that matter, I wasn’t crazy about seeing him lose his first match on the main NXT television show even if he was protected to some extent by Walter causing a distraction. For those who got their first taste of the Walter vs. Dragunov feud last night, trust me when I say that you’re in for something special at Takeover if the rematch is anywhere near as good as their first encounter. One can only assume that Dunne is being kept strong for an eventual showdown match with Samoa Joe given all of the backstage staredowns they’ve had.

Dakota Kai vs. Sarray: There was no mystery regarding the outcome with Kai set to challenge for the NXT Women’s Championship at Takeover (and because this match wasn’t taped for WWE Main Event). But it was still a well worked match and Kai got a win over a previously unbeaten opponent to give her a boost heading into the title match. The post match angle with Raquel Gonzalez running off Kai and cutting a brief promo was flat. Gonzalez didn’t turn babyface, she was simply attacked by a fellow heel, so it felt like the live crowd wasn’t sure how to react to her.

Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly: A solid setup for what is being positioned as the blowoff match to their long feud. I want to be more excited about this than I am. Cole and O’Reilly always deliver in the ring, but their NXT feud just hasn’t connected with me. So while I am looking forward to seeing their best of three falls match, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m anxious for the feud to end so that both men can move on to other things.

Gigi Dolan vs. Amare Miller: It was a good night for Dolan, who came off well in her promo and then got a decisive win in the ring. Mandy Rose showing interest in Dolan was an interesting side story.

Odyssey Jones vs. Trey Baxter in an NXT Breakout Tournament semifinal match: Jones had a better outing than he did in his scary opening round match with Andre Chase, which isn’t saying much. Jones has a bright future in WWE, but he clearly needs more reps.

NXT Misses

Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell date: I can live with more sports entertainment style segments if that’s the edict from above, but the stubborn refusal to take five seconds to explain why the cameras are present continues to be a huge turnoff. More importantly, the tone of this oddball romance has been silly all along and while I’ve enjoyed some of it, they went way too far for my tastes with the wacky comedy, which included Johnny Gargano wearing a ridiculous disguise.

Boa vs. Drake Maverick: Maverick did his best to carry Boa to a passable match and mostly succeeded. But I get the feeling that NXT’s creative team came up with a cool origin story for the Tian Sha faction and doesn’t really know where to go next with the trio.

LA Knight, Cameron Grimes, and Ted DiBiase: Knight’s squash win over Andre Chase was good for a soft Hit, but the post match angle with Ted DiBiase standing up for Cameron Grimes felt slow and clunky. That said, I like that they set the table for the Takeover match with the stipulation that Grimes either wins the Million Dollar Championship or DiBiase must become Knight’s butler. It’s hard to tell whether the subdued Grimes we saw in this segment is a sign that he’s taking a more serious turn or if he’ll be back to his over the top comedic ways once he finally beats Knight.


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