By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Powell’s NXT 2.0 Hits
Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker: The build to their NXT Championship match at the Halloween Havoc themed edition of 2.0 has been well done. NXT desperately needs to create new stars and they have clearly identified Breakker as their top candidate. I’m still baffled by the company’s decision to not acknowledge Breakker’s family history. So many fans are aware of it, so why not lean into it?
Diamond Mine video package: This is one act that has been improved coming out of the switch to 2.0. The additions of the Creed brothers and Ivy Nile have breathed life into a faction that previously felt DOA. The video package was well produced and spotlighted each of the faction’s wrestlers.
Pete Dunne vs. Cameron Grimes: A good television match. These two are capable of filling much more time in a compelling manner, but the format of the show seems to call for mostly brief matches.
Mandy Rose vs. Ember Moon: A nice opening match. Moon rarely disappoints in the ring, and Rose is the featured player in the heavily hyped Toxic Attraction trio. It was no surprise to see Rose go over, but they also seem to be telling a story of building frustration with Moon. The creative forces are clearly excited about the Toxic Attraction trio and they have done a nice job of quickly making them feel like threats to the NXT Women’s Championship and the NXT Women’s Tag Titles.
LA Knight vs. Odyssey Jones: A good bounce back win for Knight, who took a pair of pinfall losses on the premiere edition of NXT 2.0. Jones clearly has charisma and upside, and he can easily absorb these early losses.
Joe Gacy vs. Ikemen Jiro: I’m still not sure what to make of Gacy’s character. It’s received some buzz for spoofing wokeness, but is there a way to actually turn it into a money drawing character? I’m definitely open to the possibility, and I assume the character will be revealed as a big hypocrite. Unlike a number of the wrestlers who are getting their first pushes in NXT, Gacy is doing a lot of little things well in the portrayal of his character. The sinister smirk he flashes at key times is perfect. Meanwhile, Gacy spotting the monster wrestler who was shown looking down at him from the bleachers was intriguing.
Cora Jade vs. Franky Monet: Scoring an upset pin over Monet in a debut match means something. It doesn’t mean as much as it should because Monet just lost an NXT Women’s Championship match last week and just hasn’t been booked to be a dominant force in NXT thus far. In fact, I was hopeful that Monet was main roster bound via the WWE Draft and that’s why her NXT push has been so underwhelming.
Tony D’Angelo vs. Malik Blade: The Italian mafia stereotype is a turnoff, but D’Angelo is playing his part well and the live crowd seemed to enjoy it. He also seems to be more ready for prime time than some of the other newcomers.
Powell’s NXT 2.0 Misses
Von Wagner: Wagner was so stiff and forced in his backstage talking segments that I’m still in disbelief that they actually aired. I’m waiting for his father Wayne Bloom to show up and say, “I’ll handle this one, Von.” If you get that reference, you’re either a student of the game or you are just plain old like I am.
“MSK” Wes Lee and Nash Carter vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen vs. Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams in an elimination match for the NXT Tag Team Championships: The match was mostly well worked and would be a Hit for match quality, but I really don’t understand the call to have MSK plow through three teams in one match. While the elimination stipulation made for a more entertaining match, the NXT tag division is thin and two of the teams that just formed have now taken pinfall losses to the tag champions.
Indi Hartwell vs. Mei Ying: The match was fine. This is more about the fall of Tian Sha. While I wasn’t a big believer in Tian Sha beyond the introductory vignettes, I was still looking forward to seeing what the previous creative regime had in mind for the trio. With Xia Li called up to the main roster and Ying losing her monster heel status in this loss to Hartwell, it seems like they are no longer a priority.
Mei Ying would have been a perfect fit for Bray Wyatt’s Fire Fly Funhouse and would have been a potential fun storyline with Alexa Bliss after she cost the Fiend the match at Wrestlemania. Oh well.
Give me more Robot Wagner promos please!!
My guess with going with Bron Breakker instead of acknowledging the Steiner name is letting him get by on his own merit, and once he does, then reveal the Steiner line (if you will). I’m guessing they’d rather him end up like Charlotte than Ted DiBiase Jr, or some of the other 2nd generation people who couldn’t get over, despite the family lineage.