By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Ridge Holland: A solid TV main event with a somewhat surprising finish. It was the good kind of surpising in that it really sets up Ciampa for a potential run back at the main event. It was surprising in that I didn’t expect Ciampa to win so decisively after Holland was brought back with a bit of a monster push (while also progressing nicely in the ring). I am curious to see where they go from there though, because this loss for Holland sets up Pete Dunne as the alpha of the former Pat McAfee stooge squad.
Roderick Strong vs. Ikeman Jiro: A minor Hit in that Diamond Mine looked better here than they have in recent weeks. I’ve actually liked the last two weeks of presentation of Diamond Mine with last week’s vignette and this week’s squash match. Bivens got some mic time last week to explain Diamond Mine as a squad of blue chippers. I like the addition of the Creed Brothers to the act. They may be green as all hell (or maybe they’re completely natural), but they have a good imposing look and Diamond Mine is a good spot to have them develop in. Strong continues to put on good matches and I wonder if they’re setting him up to take the NXT Cruiserweight Title off of Kushida (they kinda have to do that, or else Diamond Mine is a diamond bust). An effective squash over Jiro, with Strong reestablishing his old End of Heartache finisher.
LA Knight vs. Johnny Gargano: I can see the finish being divisive because of how cheesy it was. I tend to like a good amount of camp, so I liked the finish and overall interaction between Johnny and Dexter. I’m assuming the whole high-five thing is a reference to Johnny always high fiving his “son” Austin Theory, and how Dexter is about to become his “son” in law. The rest of the match was solid and LA Knight continues to thrive in a workrate heavy environment (and people underestimate that Knight is very very good in the ring when against an opponent that can go).
Santos Escobar and Carmelo Hayes: A quick interaction, but an effective promo by Escobar, who is extremely eloquent in English promos. If Vince McMahon starts putting a closer eye on NXT as people assume, I would be surprised if Vince doesn’t see money in Escobar by his promo ability alone (not to mention the guy has a good Randy Orton-like methodical in-ring style). Hayes is getting his feet wet in NXT and Escobar would definitely be a good feud for him to have down the road. This segment made Escobar look relevant while also inserting Hayes into the North American Title orbit.
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Duke Hudson: A good styles clash between Hudson’s power and O’Reilly’s martial arts. O’Reilly continues to struggle in terms of getting over his character, but that hasn’t stopped him from having good matches with a plethora of opponents. The various arts he utilizes allows him to be versatile with opponents of all sizes. Duke Hudson is a solid prospect himself. I wasn’t too familiar with him before WWE, but I did hear that he used to team up with Bronson Reed and Shane Thorne as a part of TMDK in Japan. TMDK had a lot of positive buzz, so I’m assuming this guy is at least somewhat decent. Hudson has good agility for a big man. Reminds me a bit of Donovan Dijak.
Sarray vs. Mandy Rose: A minor Hit that could easily be a Miss due to the oddball finish. It’s actually the oddball finish that has me a bit intrigued. The match overall was solid. Rose’s time on the main roster has lead to her being competent in the ring. Good to see Sarray back to being a buzzsaw, though I wish she would find a character other than just “being happy to be here” babyface. Rose sold that face-wash dropkick very well (at least I hope it was a sell). Does the whole face cover-up lead to some sort of “phantom of the opera” gimmick for Mandy? We’ll see, but at least I’m intrigued.
NXT TV Misses
Imperium vs. Drake Maverick and Grayson Waller: I actually liked the pairing of Maverick and Waller with Maverick now filling in the Big Damo role of being the straight-man of the group (which Beth Phoenix clearly laid out). I’m just not sure if they’re sticking with Maverick and Waller as a long term thing? I hope they put Maverick in some sort of program because he is legitimately one of the best babyfaces in pro wrestling and totally deserves to be in a meaningful storyline. The Miss partially comes from the uncertainty of them moving forward with Waller-Maverick, but the big Miss comes from Imperium continuing to look pretty eh without WALTER. There really needs to be some sort of shakeup with this group. They just tend to win one or two matches, then lose their tag team title opportunity.