By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Studio overhaul: The new look of the venue is a big step up from the dark and dreary look. I get sensory overload when they have the new NXT: Bob Ross logo on the big screen, but I like the way they made the venue look completely unique.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Pete Dunne vs. LA Knight vs. Von Wagner in a four-way for the NXT Championship: A solid television match with a satisfying finish. It was a good call to go with someone who represents the old guard rather than rushing the championship onto one of the newcomers. I despised the way that Wagner was thrust into the match, but more on that later. It will be interesting to see if Ciampa works with the NXT regulars to start or if they intend to start rushing some of the newcomers into title contention. Knight losing the opening match and taking the pin in this match left me wondering if it’s main roster bound in the upcoming WWE Draft.
Julius Creed and Brutus Creed vs. Dan Jarmon and Travis Skelly: The Creed Brothers are off to a great start. They still haven’t been asked to do much in the way of bumping or selling and nor should they at this point in their television push, but it’s still tough to get a feel for where they are at in their development. Nevertheless, their squash matches are fun and I get a kick out of the way that Brutus seemed to find humor in his brother taking a little punishment before Julius flipped out on his opponent.
Carmelo Hates and Trick Williams: The good of Hayes outweighed the bad of Williams, who either got lost during his promo or lost this viewer somewhere along the way. The reframing of the Hayes character was intriguing.
Sarray, Kayden Carter, and Kacy Catanzaro vs. Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolan, and Jacy Jayne: The Carter and Catanzaro vs. Dolan and Jayne tag match was nothing special and had a lousy finish. The big reveal that Mandy Rose dyed her hair made me laugh and I’m sure that’s not what they were going for. The idea that she wore a hood over her head so she could reveal this new hair color once she was in the ring was a bit much. Anyway, you know you’re watching a WWE main roster style show when a tag match evolves into a six-person tag match. Nevertheless, the six-woman portion was much better and moved all of this into the Hit section.
Ridge Holland vs. Drake Maverick: The massive Holland destroying the smaller Maverick felt like NXT 2.0 in a nutshell. Even so, Holland needed a bounce back win following his recent loss to Tommaso Ciampa. I wonder if Maverick was sacrificed because his appearances on Raw are a prelude to him returning to the main roster full time.
Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell wedding: Sports entertainment fun. Most pro wrestling weddings are lousy, but this was a fine chapter in the oddball storyline romance between Lumis and Hartwell. Most of the humor clicked and the live crowd was invested every step of the way.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Overall Show: I anticipate this episode performing well in the ratings due to the interest the company generated in the show’s reset. But I just don’t know that the true minor league version of NXT is going to be a long term ratings success. Some fans will certainly enjoy seeing the green prospects take center stage, but there are also fans who resent that WWE has opted to blow up the Paul Levesque version. Only time will tell. The creative forces really need to get some of the new talent over quickly and that’s tough to do when they are rushing so many new faces out there at the same time. This was a hard reset and while some aspects worked, it felt like they tried to do so much at once with the newcomers that none truly stood out by the end of the night.
William Regal logic: Von Wagner entered a room with a chair and never got physical, but it was enough to run off Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland following their attack on Kyle O’Reilly. Somehow, this was also enough for Regal’s character to justify giving O’Reilly’s spot in the four-way for the NXT Championship to Wagner? Would he have done the same had a Performance Center janitor entered the room with a broomstick and scared off Dunne and Holland? Regal plays his part so well. I hope they don’t turn him into another moronic WWE authority figure
LA Knight vs. Bron Breakker: Bron Breakker?!? Someone really thought it was a good idea to ditch the Rex Steiner name in favor of Bron Breakker? They could have grabbed the attention of longtime fans by introducing Breakker as the son of Rick Steiner and the nephew of Scott Steiner. Rather, they gave him a generic name that seemed to be left over from the ’90s and then had him act like Mojo Rawley 2.0 when he approached Knight in the backstage area. The match was the best part of this and I am genuinely looking forward to seeing Breakker in NXT, but I disliked too much around the match to put this in the Hit section.
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen: This was the second match of the night and it served as the first indication that it wasn’t going to be a total burial of the wrestlers who were featured before the relaunch. Still, the live crowd was flat and didn’t seem to have much interest in rooting for Briggs and Jensen even though the Imperium duo have been firmly established as heels.
B-Fab vs. Katrina Cortez: A rough first showing for B-Fab. On the bright side, it was encouraging to see that the Hit Row and Legado Del Fantasma feud wasn’t a casualty of the revamp.
Tony D’Angelo: I’m all for vignettes and I wish WWE had produced more for the debuting NXT talent. But the not so subtle references to D’Angelo’s mob family background made this stereotypical nonsense. The real money is in NXT? Really? Why not just script him to say the more believable line that the real money is in WWE?