By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker vs. James Drake and Zack Gibson: Just the right amount of tension between the champion and next week’s challenger without slipping into retread territory. Breakker looked strong as he effortlessly put away Drake with some impressive power moves. NXT 2.0 is all over the place, but the creative forces have done a really nice job of setting the stage for Ciampa vs. Breakker in just a matter of weeks.
Johnny Gargano and Carmelo Hayes: The return of babyface Gargano is a welcome surprise. It makes sense from a storytelling standpoint as he laid out that he’s lost The Way (due to his wife’s pregnancy and Austin Theory moving to Raw). And while I got a kick out of comedy heel Gargano, he’s done his best work as a babyface. With reports that Gargano’s contract will expire in December, the goal may be to have him elevate Hayes before he leaves the company. If that’s the case, there’s no one better to task with that assignment, and we should get some great matches along the way.
Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner vs. Julius Creed and Brutus Creed: The dominant Creed Brothers squash matches have provided some of the best moments of NXT 2.0. I never expected the Creeds to lose this early in their run. I’m not saying they needed to beat Barthel and Aichner, but why did this match even need to happen? Nevertheless, it was an entertaining match. The post match angle with MSK attacking Barthel and Aichner was fine, but NXT creative has to be concerned that some vocal fans at the WWE Performance Center have turned on the babyface tag team champions.
Io Shirai vs. Persia Pirotta vs. Jacy Jayne: The idea that the winner of the match got to spin the wheel as a reward was ridiculous. It would be a different story if there was a $1.00 slot on the wheel and you could reach into Vic Joseph’s jacket pocket and pull out $100 if you landed on that spot. Speaking of which, how about a Plinko game with match stipulations replacing dollar amounts? No? I digress. Unfortunately, Jayne was injured when her feet hit the ropes on a suicide dive and she crashed to the floor. WWE is featuring a lot of young and inexperienced talent on the show and it’s on the company to make sure that the wrestlers aren’t trying to do things beyond their skill set, but I don’t blame them in any way for allowing this routine spot. Accidents happen and I sincerely hope that Jayne will be okay. Ultimately, I gave the match a Hit because Shirai and Pirotta were able to adjust on the fly. That’s no surprise with Shirai, but the less experienced Pirotta seemed to handle this challenging situation very nicely.
Cora Jade vs. Elektra Lopez: A nice upset win for the likable Jade character. Lopez needs a new dance partner now that Hit Row has been called up to Smackdown, and it looks like Jade will fill that role.
Tony D’Angelo vs. Ru Feng: As much as some of us have grumbled about the Italian stereotype character, there’s no denying that D’Angelo is one of the most over new acts with the live crowd at the WWE Performance Center.
Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen: I could have done without the pre-match attack angle that gave Briggs and Jensen an out for losing, but at least Wilde and Mendoza went over. I continue to hope that NXT creative will showcase Wilde and Mendoza as a top tag team to make them feel more like strong stable mates rather than lackeys for Santos Escobar.
NXT 2.0 Misses
LA Knight vs. Grayson Waller: The match was fine. The Miss goes to Waller dressing like a boxer for no good reason. He is charismatic and has upside potential, so hopefully this turns out to be a case where they show classic footage several years from now and we’re all left wondering what the hell they were thinking. Knight winning was logical, as he has the gift of gab to carry the hosting role next week. Something tells me Knight will have a little more to say than last year’s host Dexter Lumis.
Odyssey Jones vs. Andre Chase: A basic spotlight win for Jones, which is fine. But Chase’s gimmick is channel changing material. Hopefully the creative forces aren’t married to all of these gimmicks they created and will pull the plug on this one and any other gimmicks that are not working. Chase deserves better than this.
Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner: I’d accept an invitation to meet the Dexter Lumis character alone in the woods before I’d accept the same invitation from Von Wagner. Anyway, I applaud the attempt to show the characters bonding, but I still don’t see any chemistry between them.
Duke Hudson’s Poker Room: Impact Wresting finally got rid of Swinger’s Palace, and now we get Duke Hudson’s Poker Room on NXT 2.0 less than a week later. At least Swinger’s character is all about comedy. Hudson has legit upside and he’s been saddled with a cornball gimmick.